The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2.8: Endings to Begin Again

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stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest (the Story Unfolds)

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

Along with the others, Smythe leaves the Friendly Arms Inn with a slight swagger in his step. It was good to celebrate, for each member from the company had kept their heads, and something had been gained...alas, it remained unidentified.

With that thought in his head, Smythe lightly wrapped a few fingers upon the lid of his bookseller's valise. Standing there in the Inn's courtyard, amongst the sellers and the buyers of so many powerful artifacts, Smythe felt a twinge of paranoia take hold.

"How many knew about this tome," Smythe thought to himself. "How many that I cannot—for practical reasons alone—trust? The dwarf, mysteriously appearing then vanishing, plus...the leopard that dogged our trail throughout the maze. They both seemed particularly odd AND interested in this acquisition..." These silent thoughts did not help to sooth Smythe's growing paranoia.

It was then that Smythe saw Dart walking towards the gate of the Friendly Arms Inn courtyard. "Yes," thought Smythe, "Dart is returning to the Gate...I had better take this journey in good company."

Catching up to Dart was easy enough. "Not so fast scout," said Smythe as he put his hand on Dart's shoulder. The mercenary stopped a tad too rigid for Smythe's initial liking, but as Dart turned to face Smythe, he seemed to relax a bit.

"Not finished with me yet, eh bookseller?," said Dart. "Nay, Dart...if you're headed back north, let us take the journey together...I have heard that wilder and larger beasts now walk the Tradeway these days...some say there are even a roaming pack of Gray Orcs that pass through, from time to time."

Dart considered the offer, then laid out into the air an open palm. "A guard for your back is gonna be extra mate," said Dart quickly. "Bolts aren't free, and neither is Dart!" The scout's expression was a mix of seriousness and play, which put Smythe in a lighter mood....or, maybe the wine from the Inn had finally taken hold. "No need to fret, Dart...this bookseller has made a few sales...I'll make sure you have plenty to spend on old Gerty back at the gate...."

The two walked out the gate together, and, as they met with the road, a few caravans seemed to be making there way north as well. Approaching the drivers, Smythe used his usual method of getting what he wants—coin—to secure the two a faster ride to the Gate. "Coin is the great ambassador....," said Smythe as he gingerly tossed up his valise to the wagon he and Dart would ride. As they sat together and the caravan moved on, the both watched as the Friendly Arms faded into the past....

-------

Returning to the Gate as quick as the wagon wheel goes, Smythe and Dart parted ways...after Smythe landed a few coins into Dart's waiting hand. Dart quickly pocketed the coin, and with a smirk, made haste to his hideout in the docks...or wherever it seemed a mercenary with a girl would end up.

There, in the main open plaza, the paranoia that eyes might be fixed on Smythe—if not the contents of his valise—took hold again. "Well," thought Smythe to himself, "half the Sword Coast knows I've been holdin' court at the Blade & Stars...best I be findin' a better place to take some time with this tome...aye..."

Smythe made a motion to get closer to the bear fur trader's stall, where there seemed to be some commotion over the price of bear furs versus rat tails...or something...and when surrounded by many, Smythe took off his tall black hat, and brought up a low hanging hood—and Smythe's otherwise usual form started to blend in more with the other's around him. With haste, Smythe moved carefully through the streets towards the Palace District. It seemed Smythe has chosen another destination...and when he reached it, it seemed a somewhat obvious place to go to not seem the odd-man-odd, staring at a large tome: the Shelf of Many Books. Taking one more look around the street to check for spying eyes, Smythe opened the door, and quickly made his way inside.
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Within seconds, Smythe was convinced this had been the right choice: nearly deserted, the Shelf had only it's attendants milling about...and that left plenty of alcoves to disappear into...if one kept things quiet. And so, Smythe did just that, finding a table amongst the shelves that was just enough for one man, and one book. Laying his valise down upon the ground, he opened the top and pulled out the mysterious tome, still wrapped in cloth, a cloth that had a powerful smell of age...mixed in with something else more repugnant: minotaur.

Now on the table, the tome which had pulled from the tomb in the minotaur's maze still remain locked. Even a layman in the arcane arts could tell that the locks on its side held a powerful charge. "Immensely powerful," thought Smythe to himself. For a second, Smythe thought to pull out his set of picks...but then his knowledge of magical devices—and the moments when using an odd magic had backfired on him—set him straight and he let the idea of attempting to pick the lock go. "Probably should have hired Dart to try!," said Smythe aloud, accompanied by a hearty laugh.
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So Smythe sat there, at the back of the Shelf of Many Books, staring for some time at the face of the locked tome. There was nothing significant there, that he could see. He cocked his head this way, then that, tried standing above the book, then to the side...but nothing to be gained from any angle. "Would a book of any importance be so blank!", questioned Smythe out of frustration. Thinking he would have to share the book with another, a wizard or loremaster, in order to finally identify the book, Smythe laid his hands down upon the cover, slowly pulling them along the tome's face.

It was then that Smythe felt something. Yes, something bumpy on the tome's surface. Odd, thought Smythe, for he didn't see anything bumpy. Smythe then rubbed his hands slowly from top to bottom and left to right against the tome's face, and from this control, he could determine that the bumps were grouped in small forms in 3 long lines, one atop another. "It is like writing...but not!," thought Smythe to himself.

A surge of excitement gripped him. To himself, he spoke: "I cannot see it, but it is there. This tome has many secrets it does...and it has been wisely protected."

This was the angle Smythe was looking for—he could proceed...but wait, how? Smythe was himself a polyglot, but not in this form of language...for yes, it must be language in some form of code. Smythe thought to himself, and remembered hearing once something from his mother—"The Drow use hands to speak, so that they can coordinate in silence to kill our people." But speaking with one's hands and reading with them were two different things, realized Smythe. No, he would need to locate one that used their hands to make their way through this world, someone with a refined sense of touch so that whatever code these bumps were made of, at least that language could be transcribed...and from there, Smythe would push forward to unlock this tome, and learn whether it truly was the Draconomicon he was after.

-------

Refocused, Jon Smythe began to wrap up the locked tome in its cloth, preparing to place it again in his bookseller's valise. But then, he paused. "No," said Smythe to himself, "it is not wise to carry this on my person." Where best to hide it? Smythe looked across the room, at the many shelves of books, and began to run through a list of safe houses, loose bricks and other spots within the Gate that served as excellent hiding places for contraband. "Who knows who can detect this book...and it would seem out of place to any sensitive to the charms that hold it's locks fast," realized Smythe.

It was then, staring across the room at shelf after shelf of beautiful, old and unused books, that Smythe grinned...widely.

Picking up the locked tome in his hands, he slowly took away the cloth covering, and walked down the hall past shelf after shelf...until one shelf stopped him...a shelf, that up until that time, had been just short of one book, full.

------

Outside, on the streets of the Gate, in the Palace District, Smythe wandered alone, thinking.

"Aha!", he exclaimed aloud and a little too loud, as at least two proper Ladies on an afternoon walk became quite startled at Smythe's outburst.

"The blind man in Roarinshore! Exactly!"

Smythe began walking with haste towards the bulletin board in the East District, hastily pulling out a parchment and charcoal stick...and as he walked, he began to scribble down a new call...
Last edited by stevebarracuda on Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest (the Story Unfolds)

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*filler*
Last edited by stevebarracuda on Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
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Thorsson
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 1 1/2

Unread post by Thorsson »

///Ah well. Unfortunately I fly away for a week's well-deserved leave on Sunday, so I sahll have to miss it.///
Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 1 1/2

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Image
*THE FINE PRINT*

I must speak with a man in Roaringshore...if you are a man or woman of skill in providing safe escort, then we may speak more of the matter at hand. It is within Roaringshore I travel, and with that comes what Roaringshore is. Your own safety is not guaranteed in this proposition.

Interviews will start immediately (either PM me, or find my IG). This is a party of 3-4 souls total, including myself. If you demonstrate your worth in this profession, we shall proceed.

The offer is thus: 5,000 gold pieces for each hired hand. Half paid up front, the second half at the completion of the journey. As well, you will be allowed to keep 20% of all acquired gems and artifacts.

Supplies such as kits of healing, potions and scrolls shall be provided, lest you are of a stature that humbles my own.

You may leave your name, title and profession with the Inn-master at the Blade and Stars Inn.


////OOC: my plan is to make this adventure begin on Sunday, July 22nd at 9am or 9:00 Pacific Standard Time (GMT -7). Expect a 3 hour session, max. Here you go European buddies!

I found a bit of free time, but it will end at noon PST / 12:00. Sorry it's so last minute, buy hey, that's life.

THIS IS FOR TOONS LEVELS 14-18. No more, no less. As hopefully obvious, there will also be some RP!
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
Aeb Ankor
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 1 1/2

Unread post by Aeb Ankor »

A heavily armored dwarf in blue platemail, and blue gems woven into his beard meets with the human.

"Hey! Stilts, you that booksella hiring escorts? Sign me up and mi blades, U'm called Sapphire"
"It is a good bet that I like your character, more than I like you... keep it IC and close to lore and we might stay friends."

"I hate snowflakes and butterflies, die die die!'


#OrcLivesMatter
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 1 1/2

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

*placeholder*
Last edited by stevebarracuda on Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 1 1/2

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 1 1/2
A call had been put out by Smythe, in the form of a flyer, to hire a few adventurers as escorts to Roaringshore. Knowing full well that asking questions around that seedy pirate-invested outpost would be asking for trouble—how much trouble, and in what form it would take, that was a risk that Smythe didn't wish to take. Particularly, any trouble that would compromise the Locked Tome, that he had become absolutely focused on. With an entourage, Smythe was better prepared to deal with any eventualities.

Two able bodied adventurers responded to his flyer. The first to arrive at the Blade & Stars at the scheduled hour was mean looking dwarf, outfitted in bluish armor, and reeking of a bad attitude. Not altogether without manners, the dwarf introduced himself as Sapphire. The dwarf was straightforward from the beginning—he was to be paid in gems of value over coin. And, he wanted 8 bags of coin worth of gems, over the 5 bags on offer for services. Smythe realized that this dwarf was pushy, irritable, frowned constantly and was altogether a hard arse fighter...but this was exactly what was needed when dealing with the worst of pirate scum. If anything, Sapphire's non-jolly facial expression would easily keep the weak willed of Roaringshore far out of Smythe's business.

Smythe, not willing to pay more than the 5 bags of coin, did offer Sapphire all the gems that were acquired during this excursion. That seemed to placate the dwarf well enough, and then they became a company of two.

Shorty after greeting the dwarf—and during the gem/coin deliberations—the arcane warrior elf known as Nersial appeared at the door of the Blade & Stars. Smythe was pleased to see this one again, as it was Nersial's knowledge of the minotaur maze that led to the acquisition of the Locked Tome...and seeing the look on Nersial's face, Smythe know the elf was here to join the forming company on this leg of the journey to the discovery of the Draconomicon.

Nersial waved off any payment this day, for he admitted that solving the mystery of the Locked Tome was interesting enough to warrant his presence. Smythe gladly welcomed the arcane warrior into the company...and then they were three.

Offering wine that was sitting on the tabe in front of them, as they sat in the Blade & Stars, Smythe outlined their journey, and what he had come to know about the Locked Tome...which was little, but enough to take a risk to discover more. The company would collect the Tome from it's hiding place, then they would proceed with haste to Roaringshore.

It was in Roaringshore that Smythe knew a blind pirate named Peutus worked the hanging scaffolds...and it was this man that Smythe thought could shed something on the bumps that appeared to be language that could not be seen and read, but felt out through the fingers—by one with developed senses of touch—and read.

------

In short order, the company of three collected the Locked Tome from it's hiding place in the Shelf of Many Books. Sapphire and Nersial created a watchful perimeter outside the Shelf, as Smythe himself entered and re-acquired the book secretly, and placed it inside his bookseller's valise. No one was the wiser, it seemed.

The ship to Roaringshore was uneventful, even with the dwarf being on board—Smythe wondered just how well the stump would fair on the sea. Alas, the dwarf was tough enough, it seemed, and by some miracle of it's own, didn't even complain once about it.
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The company on three climbed the hill and found Puetus at his station, amongst the recently hung and dead, rotting away in the bring-out-your-dead wagon. Smythe made sure his footsteps were heard as he approached the blind man, not wanting to startle him. Sapphire and Nersial kept watch for any scallywags or sneaks that might start trouble. Nersial made a mention that it would have been beneficial to have the scout Dart along.

Knowing watching eyes were everywhere, Smythe made his intentions known in a quick fashion to Blind Puetus...but the blind man was smart, he knew Smythe wanted something from him in particular, so a greater parlay occurred, with more demands that Smythe expected...nonetheless, what Blind Puetus wanted was only more coin, and Smythe could easily provide.

The blind man ran his hands over the face of the tome, easily enough finding the raised bumps that seemed to be some form of language, invisible to the eye, but not to one that used their hands, their sense of touch, with such necessity for survival as a blind man. The blind man could discern some letters, yes...and then it occurred to Smythe that Blind Puetus must once have had been a man with sight to know what letters are... Curious, but with no time to find out more about his man's history, Smythe pulled out a piece of parchment, and jotted down those few letters that the blind man could discern. With that little bit of new knowledge recorded to paper, Smythe paid the blind man his share, and the company made haste back to the docks, where they would wait for the next ferry departing Roaringshore, and discuss what Smythe had recorded.
J UR NAL
GR AT WI AR UL AS T R

∫¬π†∞•º◊∏»‡
fl‡†ø∆∂√≈¬π
These were the letters that Smythe had recorded to parchment—and there was a full two lines that could not by "understood" by the blind pirates finger tips. Smythe carefully showed the parchment in confidence to Nersial and Sapphire as they waited on the docks.

Nersial was quick to solve the riddle: Ulcaster, the wizard of yore. The one that had lived near Beregost many years before, who had succumbed in a great battle.

Smythe thought to himself for a moment, knowing he had scoured the hills there many times of the egg of the wyvern, and realized he had indeed seen ruins in the far off hills. Nersial confirmed this, that a great many ruins were there, hidden and somewhat protected by the great fire giants Efreeti, and the wyverns that roamed the canyons.

But did this mage of old called Ulcaster keep a Journal on dragons? What did those last two lines undescernable to the blind pirate read? Could that be letters in the language of Draconic? To the three standing there on the docks, it was obvious that their journey's next step was to locate those ruins....

And so, the company of three boarded a ferry that would cross near to Candlekeep, and that could deposit them upon the shore just south, nearest to Beregost they could get.

--------
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Wyverns spilled down the valley walls toward the company of three, as they traversed the region to Ulcaster's Ruins, empowered by Nersial's arcane spells and Sapphires brutal axe. Smythe did lend a wicked strategic attack against the beasts, when he could, providing further opportunity for axe and sword to cleave down and through the scaly hides.

Indeed, it was a harrowing affair, defending against talon and claw...yet the company of three was mighty and focused...an fine fighting force. It was then that the Efreeti came, and with great axes of fire, attempted to destroy the party swing by might swing.

The company of three did not show fear nor any timidness, no, they fought with purpose and soul, felling Efreeti and many more wyverns, until, they reached the odd safety provided by the ruins, where they rested.
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There, amongst the ruins, a single door held fast and shut. The company of three had reached their goal of finding the ruins...but what did they find, exactly? What was here that could possible help unlock a magically warded tome?

Searching for answers amongst the rubble was futile. Maybe there existed answers here...answers that existed yet hidden below the ruins, beyond that single door. Yet, to access that underground lair...that would be the next challenge that faced the company.

Camp was set and the company of three did discuss options...then, wyverns struck again and in greater force, and the company fought their way bravely out of the valley, knowing that the safety of Beregost was close...a most preferred location to determine the next course of action.


To be continued....


///thanks to the players of Nersial and Sapphire, who helped make this Quest come alive, again... ;)
....and, yes, I'm aware there is a tad intsy wintsy bit of godmodding going on here...but without DM support, what is a player to do?!?
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2 begins

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

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*THE FINE PRINT*


We seek to enter the ruins of Ulcaster, that lie southeast of the town of Beregost. The ruins must hold a key to unlocking a...lock. Yes, there are secrets to be unraveled there...but first, entry must be made, for the ruins lay above what must be dungeon containing artifacts, and answers....

Your own safety is not guaranteed in this proposition. Yet, with a well formed company, we shall not fear death, only reap what lies under the surface.

Interviews will start immediately (OOC: either PM me, or find my IG). This is a party of four to five souls total, including myself. If you demonstrate your worth in this profession as adventurer and explorer, we shall proceed.

The offer is thus: 5,000 gold pieces for each hired hand. Half paid up front, the second half at the completion of the journey. As well, you will be allowed to keep 20% of all acquired gems and artifacts.

Supplies such as kits of healing, potions and scrolls shall be provided, lest you are of a stature that humbles my own.

You may leave your name, title and profession with the Inn-master at the Blade and Stars Inn.


////OOC: my plan is to make this adventure begin on Saturday, August 4th at 11 am or 11:00 Pacific Standard Time (GMT -7). Expect a 3–4 hour session.

THIS IS FOR TOONS LEVELS 14-18 (unless you don't care for XP, then show me what you got). As should be painfully obvious by now, there will also be some RP...I even heard it's pretty good too!
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2 begins...

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Jon Smythe retires to the Blade & Stars, for a good wine, a decent meal...and to rest easy—a keen eye will notice his general haggard look, and further inspection of his person would notice his leathers show many lacerations and slashing damage...even a few hints of blood stain some edges.

Smythe notices you noticing him, and returns a slow shrug. "Aye, tis best to have that mended, and washed. Let me give ye some advice, stranger: don't get caught unprepared when dealing with a half-orc beast!"

Returning to his glass of vintage Moonshae Isles wine—imported, of course—he is passed, by the innmaster, two scrolls. Unraveling each in turn, Smythe reads that the two known men who had previously journeyed with him to scout out Ulcaster's Ruins, will return to employment and forge deeper below the ruins, if manageable.


"Luck does shine upon me this evening," Smythe speaks aloud, yet still with a wounded and weary tone.

////still room for a scout/trapsman and a healer or mystic.
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2 begins...

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

Smythe returns once again to the Blade & Stars. His recent wounds from a vicious attack by a marauding half-orc have been fully healed, and he is pleased, for soon he will embark—along with a few trusted allies and/or employees— to make a final attempt at solving the mystery that surrounds one very special, locked and warded, tome.

Sitting down, and letting the woes of above-average bookseller wash away under the consumption of fine Moonshae Isle wine—imported, but of course—the innmaster again approaches Smythe...but not about his bill this time, but it seems two additional parchments have been left for him.


Smythe opens them slowly...
"Hmmm....word travels far and wide, does it not?", he says aloud yet softely.

"We will see what lies ahead, yes....."

/// still hiring for tomorrow!! Almost full! :D
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
Braithwaite
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2 begins...

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*leaves a note for Mr. Smythe at the bar writen in rose tip ink

I will gladly lend my Blessings to the aid you sir. I will be deep in the Cloakwood on this day hunting Minotuars until I recieve word you are heading out with a full party. There may be another with me that is interested in accompanying us. He an armored pugilist and quite skilled. Please send word as to when and where you plan to set off on this adventure.

Signed,

Bryanna Raystrayal
"Excuse me Sir, Is this going to be a stand up fight or a Bug Hunt?"
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Thorsson
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2 begins...

Unread post by Thorsson »

///Are you out there Jon Smythe?///
Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2: Of Ruins and Failure

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2: Of Ruins and Failure
The sun begins to set behind the western walls of the Gate, and walking, face towards the sun, is Jon Smythe, as he makes his way, slowly, to the Shelf of Many Books. He walks in measured stride with the people of the Palace District, blending in as best he can...then, entering the Shelf as inconspiciously as possible.

Finding an unpopulated alcove within the Shelf's many rooms, he quickly takes a wrapped tome from his valise, and with haste, places it amongst the sea of spines....of the literary type—a risky but perfect hiding place...for what has amounted to be a cursed thing, a cursed tome quest...and a failure at this stage in the game.

Relieved to be relieved of the weight of the Draconomicon-to-be, Smythe finds a chair across the walkway from the shelf of which he deposited the tome in, and leans back in the comfort of rest. His body aches, for it has become weakened—some curse having been bestowed upon him and others, so very recently.

Staring long at the tome nestled amongst so many others, his thoughts drift back into the recent past, reliving it in some detail....


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A new company of both known and unknown faces was formed at the Blade & Stars: Sapphire the cheery dwarf; Nersial the skilled arcane warrior; Rose the very precocious hin; Bryanna the Healer; Celegorm the warrior for hire; and of course, Jon Smythe, the simple bookseller. So many personalities put together for the first time, there are bound to hastily made judgements and taunts to test each other out, and this initial scene was no different. But nonetheless, the desire for coin and a worthwhile adventure-plan laid out by Smythe kept their attentions and focused their minds to the task.

A plan had been made: Rose would be the eyes scouting forward; Celegrom the first to see combat; Nersial, Bryanna and Smythe stay in a middle position, providing what needs providing by way of magic and healing; the dwarf Sapphire guarding what would attack from behind.

To Ulcaster's Ruins they would travel, by ferry and by foot, until they found themselves deep within the canyons of the great Wyvern...and then atop the outcropping where what existed of Ulcaster's Tower lay in stone waste.

A camp was made, and Smythe invited all to rest and prepare—Smythe, Sapphire and Nersial camped here before, knowing how to remain safe for a time. As camp was prepared, guarded and night fell, Smythe pulled Rose the hin aside, and tasked her with searching the ruins, as it was his belief that a small hin, traversing the leftover stonework, would find what he had not been able to previously. In addition, he presented to her a magical chime, for which to ring aloud if she came upon anything that seemed like a portal, or a door. "We are in a place of magic, Rose...we must use magic to do what the eye alone cannot."

As luck would have it—and being a Hin, luck oozes from the pores—Rose located a hidden door. Entering was challenging for the company of six, but necessary at any cost. Soon, the company had made their way into a realm of darkness...and a place most unknown.

Image

"There!" "Look!" "In the darkness it moves!" Before the last body wedged its way into the first hallway below ground, snakes slithered out of holes in the wall, scrorpions did drop from cracks in the ceiling, and darkness of near impenetrability confronted the company. Many weapons where drawn and swung, but chaos rulled, and only through sheer skill on the part of each adventurer did they survive this welcoming death wave.

"Nersial, bring light to our predicament," pleaded Smythe. The skilled arcane warrior cast a spell of light at once...but the darkness hung tightly around them, and little could be seen farther than a stones throw.

"Where has that hin gone?," asked Smythe, who would continue to have to ask that question many times over, as the hin scuried off into the shadows more often than not.

Traversing further into the dungeon, the company of six came upon a gate, locked and with no mechanical way of penetration. Two books stood at the gate, and Smythe was asked to apply what knowledge of reading he possessed to them. Oddly, they were written in Luskan...and it seems a riddle did lie within the text. The company sought out a nearby room, where a statue and flame did sit amidst the most wicked of cobwebs.

"Burn them down...this is what I believe we must do," ordered Smythe, in an attempt to respond to the riddle.

Nersial had the company stand back, and send wave after wave of magical fire from his fingertips, and the room was cleansed.

A clanking sound was heard from behind, for it was the gate, now opened.

"This way!" cried the hin as he hurredly scampered off into the darkness without the party. They clamored in the darkness to follow.

Taking two bridges over black and deep water, they entered a nearby landing, and immediately a wave of undead surged the company. Shade after Shade waded in from the darkness, and with the company sitting too tightly together between the landing and the bridges, no tactics could be managed besides fight until victory or death....

Here, Jon Smythe, sitting in the Shelf of Many Books, shifts uncomfortably in this chaird. His memory goes blank, for what he can remember is a great black maw of a hand striking his face, hard...and then utter blackness of mind.... Jon Smythe shakes, at the memory, and from the loss of memory. Concentrating, he begins again to remember...from the point of regained consciousness....

Bryanna lifts up Smythe's head from the floor, and bestows a few healing prayers upon him. "I live yet...," Smythe says weakly, then coughs blood over to his side. His body feels frail—something is amiss, and what natural armor he possesses in body seems to have left him (Smythe, and 2 others, those that would die, receive a death curse of -2 AC, temporarily permanently...let this be a lesson to those that want to be in DM events...;o lol).

Smythe looks up to find that Celegrom also fell beneath the onslaught of Shades, for there was no way to escape their powerful might. Sapphire, the short and usually cheerful dwarf, stands above Smythe to related what had happened: Shades, a Mimic and other other-wordly things did take all by surprise, but the core fighters of the group managed to defend against all odds. It was told by Sapphire that he even had to cut out the hin Rose from the stomach of the Mimic, which the dwarf said with a smile.

With a quick regrouping, the company of six walked further on, until their progress was stopped at a doorway, blocked by a glowing orb. Neither Nersial, Bryanna nor Sapphire could find a way around it.

Smythe, thinking up wild solutions—must have been the weakness from the near death curse affecting his judgement—he attempted to use the tome itself, it's warded power, to affect the orb and unlock/unbare the door. This action had no affect...however, at that moment, a strange voice was heard behind them, coming from the path they had recently crossed.

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Reversing direction, the company retraced their steps until they found a skeleton corpse, propped up against a corner in the farthest area they had crossed so far. Be some magic, it spoke: "Return my Baldurian sword to me and your path with be opened." It grabbed onto the arm of Sapphire, only letting go when the company agreed to heed it's request. As the company of six did start to march in a search of said sword, the dwarf Sapphire did halt the group, pulling from his bah of holding a sword he had found in the Mimic, along with the Hin. "Aye, it wasn't a gem nor jewel, so I be thinkin' it worth nothin' of it."

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Smythe shook his head at the dwarf, coming to realize that both Hin, Dwarf and maybe others of this hired company were freely looting while his attentions were held elsewhere—or while unconscious—and not sharing openly with the group. Smythe made mental notes of this fact, regarding those two particularly.

Nonetheless, the groups returned to the bard corpse, and set the sword in the skeleton hand. Sounds did ring out from the direction of the glowing orb, and the company made haste—hurriedly catching up with a running-off-without-them-in-the-shadows-Hin. Yes, the orb was gone and door unbared, and then they entered....

Jon Smythe, sitting in the Shelf of Many Books, peers out a nearby window. In the glass panes, he can see a small reflection of his own face, and it looks haggered. And, with a tinge of regret, a regret over what did not happen, while other things did happen...

The company of six entered the large hall, filled with four main pillars, and four large and odd magic circles inscribed upon the ground. There, at the back of the room, appeared to be a large sarcophagus. Then, between the company and the sarcophagus, a robed skeleton appeared, with burning red eyes and a glowing staff. "You do not know what you search for...", it hissed. Then, from the ground arose, magically, a small skeleton army, that lumbered in force towards the company.

Without the change to engage the robed skeleton mage, the company of six was thrust into fighting, once again, for their lives. The mage, with a powerful blast, caught Smythe in a cage of paralysis, where numerous skeleton warriors where able to slash and rip at his person, slowly cutting him down. Smythe yelled out for help, but the others where all fighting against great odds, and could not divert their weapons and magic to aid him. Again, Smythe succombed to the great blackness...

Smythe, back in the Shelf of Many Books, closes his eyes, mimicking for himself the knowledge of the great blackness...if only for a moment. "Such an opportunity lost...," he murmurs to himself, then continues upon with his next conscious thought....

Again, Smythe awoke in the arms of Bryanna. "My Lady Bryanna," Smythe spoke quietly, "a simple bookseller I am...and this place is not safe for the likes of me." The healer Bryanna just smiled and prayed, as Smythe's wounds closed up and he was able to regain his feet.

Looking around, it seemed much was lost...and little gained. The hin, Rose, had attempted to break into the sarcophagus during the battle—for whatever selfish reason—and was fried alive by a bolt of electricity. Her smolden, blackened, ripped open and crisped skin smoldered in the darkness, and her lifeless body hung still to here knives which were lodged in the crypt.

Again, it seemed the combined might of Nersial, Celegorm and Sapphire brought down the robed skeleton mage...but to what end? The company was left there, amongst the now lifeless undead bones, and for what? Smythe was still as clueless to the connection of the tome to this place as he had been back at the Blade & Stars. Nonetheless, the group decided to search the hall for clues, in an attempt to reap whatever benefit there was, to outlasting the magics of the robed skeleton mage. The company converged on the sarcophagus, but before doing so, Bryanna the healer brought the electrified hin back to life...to the astonishment of all that were present. The hin seemed unaffected to what had transpired, and continued on their harried way through life.

Sapphire produced a large sledgehammer from his bag of holding, and with it took steady aim on the sarcophagus. With a number of great whacks, he broke off the lit, so that Celegrom could fish out two items—everything else that had been inside had become damaged from the bursting open of the thing.

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An amulet, and a odd canary diamond. Through attempt, potion and magical aid, Bryanna was able to determine that the amulet was of concentrated evil, and she would not touch it further. And, it seemed the canary diamond was cut to be fitted somewhere...a mystery then, where it originated from, and what would happen if it could be returned to that place...wherever it may be.

Alas, after opening the Sarcophagus, examing the room and the shelves and even a great book lodged in the corner, Smythe nor his company could find one shred of visible, useable, tangible evidence to help unlock and reveal the secret of his Draconomicon-to-be tome, still safely lodged in his trusted bookseller's valise.

As Smythe stood there, idle and broken, both from a lingering curse brought on at the first attack by the Shades as well as feeling the weight of an unresolved quest. It was the yearning of the company to leave the place at once, that broke his inner turmoil.

They company regrouped and retraced their steps, moving with purpose, but quickly, taking sharp and random turns on their own, almost completely disbanding in the darkness. Sheer preservation on Smythe's part—with the help of the reliable, friendly and protective dwarf guarding his back—was able to call them back before they were to far gone down this corridor or that.

Smythe was losing control it seemed, be it the weakened body and spirit, or the fading energies of the group. Exhaustion, most likely, was taking it's own toll on the company, as there had been no rest after so much battle, so much failure. But indeed, after some time retracing their steps, the way to the surface was spotted in the darkness, and the group ascended back...but only after Smythe, having stopped before the exit, turned to look long and deep into the darkness of the dungeon, knowing that little had been gained this day.

Upon the surface, the company breathed the fresh air, and a sense of freedom and safety washed over each and every one of them. A fire was made, after the area was determined still safe from the random attack of wyverns, and the company of six did finally rest. Pensive, Smythe sat in silence, until by some inner cue, stood to address his hired band of adventures.

"I cannot say we tell a story of great success this day, my compatriots, but alas...we all have our heads." He stammered for something positive to say, burdened by a sense of failure, fueled by a curse within this bones, a curse also felt by the hin Rose and the warrior Celegrom, who nodded along with Smythe's speech.

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"There was a desire to succeed here that did not prevail on any front. I must think heavily on another path of discovery, one that does not jeopardize our lives without gaining a thing...except a weakness."

The only gain—that Smythe was aware of, at least—was that Nesial had taken the magic staff of the fallen robed skeleton mage. It was agreed that they company would draw straws, and the winner of longest straw would reap that one reward. That straw landed in the hands of Celegrom.

Many suggestions were proposed to Smythe, to seek the key the unlocked the secret of the Draconomicon-to-be...and he did take consideration of the combined wisdom of his company. And, many did offer to rejoin Smythe shall he be in need of their services again.


Jon Smythe stood to his feet in the Shelf of Many Books. The caretakers were walking the halls, ousting everyone as it was late. Smythe was no exception to the rule, and he places his tall, black hat upon his head, shouldered his valise, and propelled his weakened body to the main entrance. Upon the streets, Smythe looked up the the Moon, and stared, for a long, long time.

"It does have a marked difference, aye, than from the Isles."

As he lumbered forward back towards the Blade & Stars Inn for the night, he found himself oddly longing for home...a home, that in reality, no longer existed for him.



To be continued.....


Status:
1) the tome is still as locked and warded as ever. To Smythe's displeasure and frustration—is it the curse that eats away at his resolve, or something more?!?
2) Celegorm didn't collect the Staff of Wizardry.
3) Celegrom has still the Amulet of Evil, plus the Fitted Canary Diamond. Smythe spoke with Bryanna about getting the diamond back, since she vouched for Celegorm, as it may be useful after all.

4) Smythe did not have time to pay off the second payment to Rose nor Bryanna
5) Rose, Celegorm and Smythe all remained cursed for -2 AC. Unknown how long that will last (Sapphire seems to have overcome his curse...damn dwarves).
6) Ulcaster's Ruins is now rumored to be filled with undead magic, undead mages....and death. NO TRESPASSING!


And...thank you to DM Lyrewyn for setting up a dark and deadly dungeon for us. And, to the players of this chapter, who kept it together while Jon Smythe died terribly, terribly..over and over again....*fist bumps all around* 8-)
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2: Of Ruins and Failure

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

It is day, and Jon Smythe finds himself at the Friendly Arms Inn. After a traveling the Tradeway north from his last adventure, the Friendly Arms indeed welcomed him for a rest, and a decent meal. The aching in his skin was still apparent, but he had learned to cope with the curse, for now.

Leaving the Inn proper, and standing in the courtyard, admiring the many objects for sale amongst the sellers and at the consignment stand (once thought to be an auction, yet, now those wise to the situation understand it's true consignment nature...), Smythe turns around to find his trusted allie Sapphire, standing there, frowning at him.

"My cheery dwarf colleague!," says Smythe to the dwarf immediately. The dwarf, ever the stout of wit and good manners, just continues to frown.

The two speak in hushed tones, over the recent crawl through Ulcaster's Ruins...and what to make of the lack of success in cracking the secret to the Draconomicon-to-be. And Smythe, sensitive to his newfound weakness, questions the dwarf to his health—the dwarf feels fine. Alas, it seems the constitution of dwarves is mighty.

As these chatty fellows continue on, the brave mercenary Celegorm appears. Smythe and Sapphire both welcome him heartedly...in their own manner. Smythe, is delighted to see Celegrom, for selfish reasons it should be known—Smythe desired to gain possession of both amulet and cut canary diamond, two objects he believes might bring this quest closer to closure.

Celegrom, honest but hesitant, hands over the two items...and Smythe, delivers to Celegorm the mighty mage staff that was ripped from the clutching skeleton hands of the wicked robed skeleton mage from the ruins.

"Tis your reward for your bravery, indeed...," says Smythe to Celegorm.

Then, the three discuss again the stalled quest of the Draconomicon. All the while, Smythe keeps an eye on each passing individual, as his inner weakness, his curse, has made him even more on edge, it seems. And, Celegrom takes the opportunity to let Smythe now that he, as well, continues to feel the effects of whatever curse was applied to those that fell near to death within the Ruins of Ulcaster.

Sapphire, always fueling the conversation with gaiety, continues to frown at the two as they commiserate.

Celegorm offers his further assistance and/or employment, shall it be needed, and offers to make inquiries as he makes his own way along the Sword Coast. Smythe, knowing the usefulness of having another active in this quest, does make it clear that all knowledge gained is equal to a healthy payment in return. This, it is obvious, appeals to Celegorm.

Soon enough, the three part ways, each with their own immediate agenda. Smythe, knowing that his trade is best plied in the open plaze of Baldur's Gate, heads north.

As he walks the Tradeway, his bookseller's valise bouncing on his back in rhythm to his stride, he considers the next move...which, had you been a telepathic mind observing his thoughts, would have seen multiple pictures of imagination, where this Locked and Warded Tome was burning away upon an open fire, and Smythe, grinning in the back ground....
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
stevebarracuda
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Re: The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2: Of Ruins and Failure

Unread post by stevebarracuda »

The Draconomicon Quest - Chapter 2 1/2: The Oracle
Jon Smythe, the simple bookseller, neither tall nor short, heavy nor underweight, wearing neither a rich man's cloak nor the image of poverty, makes his way through the Palace District. Following the stream of day traders as they make their collective way through the streets, peddling goods from far and near, Smythe ends up at the open bazaar, currently occupied by the consignment of trade and goods...as well as the gnomish arcane painter...and, most importantly, the mystic woman oracle.

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Smythe, having heard of her via rumor only, had never stopped before her before in his many days of plying his trade, but in that moment of realization, what he must do became very, very clear.

Smythe had with him the two items taken from the Ruins of Ulcaster: the broken canary diamond and the talisman that radiated great evil. These two items—collected separately from the Locked and Warded Tome but of their own, with possible great value—were still a mystery. Yes, consulting a diviner was what Smythe had considered for some time...yet had not come across one...until now.


///Players aren't supposed to godmod NPCs, but...if a NPC and PC conversation would be sanctioned by DMs, this is how it would have gone...and if a DM has an issue, please contact mea and I'll remove it, or edit:

Smythe: "Well met, lady mystic. I have heard tell of your powers...would you grant me an audience?"
Mystic Margaretta: "That is not the question you really wish to ask me, Jon Smythe of the Moonshae Isles."
Smythe: "How...how can you...you see things...it is as they say...."
Mystic Margaretta: *the women stands there proudly, within her domain, her knowledge."

Smythe: "Lady mystic, I beseech you...I need your divination...to give me guidance I can not find elsewhere."
Mystic Margaretta: "Speak my child...ask me what you will."

Smythe, talking a look at his nearby surroundings, closely takes out the two items, the amulet and the broken diamond, holding them before the mystic. She waves her hands over and near the two objects, then recoils slightly from the amulet.

Mystic Magaretta: "Away with that thing...for it benefits the wicked, my child...unless that is your path?"

Smythe holds back the amulet from her...but reaches out closer with the broken canary diamond, urging her on with this one thing.

Smythe: "Tell me...tell me...what do you see...where is this diamond from? Is it the key that I seek?"

The Mystic holds her hands near...closing her eyes...she pauses in some deep, inner moment, possibly a place between consciousness and the dreams that pass between this realm and the ones of the Gods...

It is then, the the Mystic Margaretta speaks to Smythe of her vision....

...to be continued....
As J.G. Ballard has said, "It's a mistake to hold back and refuse to accept one's own nature."
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