It’s a Living
I don’t think I could have expected a better turn out for the first week. The guild was paying well and our cohort was in line to get some rather interesting dragon-based items. Yet, work still needed to be done.
Arriving at the guild, we discovered one of our number out for the duration, Branok, for reasons know only to him. We were a rather large band so I wasn’t too worried about our numbers being depleted. Still, one likes a bit of proper magic. One of the higher-ups in the guild, a fellow named Avery, tasked us with finding out who has been peddling goods with his mark on them. Apparently this counterfeiter out of The Shades (the dicey end of town) had finally gone too far. We were given just a name of a store front, The Roadhouse, and a device, which Flynkin took charge of, that would reveal whether or not the mark on an item was genuine. We headed out immediately as it seemed from the tone of the others this Shades area wasn’t a place to be caught in after sundown or even when the sun was high.
I fairly thought our trek was uneventful until the elf, Varis, discovered his purse was missing. Apparently the cleric had had it nicked by some light fingered passerby. He certainly took the news good naturedly shrugging the loss off, which surprised me for I know I wouldn’t have been too happy.
Arriving at The Roadhouse, I tapped Flynkin on the shoulder getting his and Thyrus’ attention and spoke to the others, “We’ll go in and see what’s happening…”
However, I don’t think they heard me too well. My plan was simple–Flynkin and I talk to whomever with Thyrus as our lookout and if things go sideways, I’d use my Message spell to bring the others in as backup. Here’s the thing about plans…they need to be communicated.
Flyn and I sauntered in spying four thugs doing their best guard imitations and a fellow who looked more like a veteran soldier standing next to a fellow who had to have been the proprietor. This human had the widest handbar moustache I’d ever seen and a queer looking hat that I couldn’t even imagine served any purpose. As I spoke to him it became clear he, Tex, was a huckster. When asked about any Avery built items he gladly produced what he called “Avery Dagger of Disemboweling/Eviscerating” proudly waving it in front of us. Flyn wasted no time as he held up the medallion to confirm the validity of Avery’s mark. It failed.
Almost immediately, Tex drew back the dagger accusing us of mishandling his merchandise. I tried to explain to him we weren’t convinced of its authenticity. Tex then proceeded to flourish the dagger about in an attempt to, I think, impress or ward me off.
“You best be careful, son, this blade will gut you like a pig.”
His bluster finally frayed my last nerve. I slapped both my cheeks hard leaning in towards him never breaking eye contact, “Well, let’s see then…” As I dared him to strike me with what I was sure was at best a flimsy dirk.
At this point, I heard the shop door open as Truda and Octavia entered. They tried to act as though they weren’t with Flyn and I but it didn’t really work. Seeing their boss being confronted and two more adventurers enter, the guards tensed and it looked like a fight was about to happen. Tex tried to take me up on my offer but failed to have the gumption to strike true. I stepped back and walked around the counter unsheathing my greatsword and bringing it down flatsided on his head knocking him out. As Tex crumpled to the floor, I looked around the room at the guards speaking as harshly and guttural as I could, “We’re not interest in you. Just him.”
Seeing Thyrus now rise into the air and Flykin at the ready, the hired thugs made the smart choice–they bailed. At least, most of them did. One thug stayed alongside the veteran looking fellow. But that thug in his nervousness made the mistake of loosing a crossbow bolt at Thyrsus which lead the wee dragonkin to literally bite his face off. With the guards streaming out of the shop and passed them, apparently Noggal decided he needed to get into the fray. Bursting in screaming with his axes out, the furious halfling so frightened the veteran that he must have shat himself.
The room was chaos as Varis entered bringing with him his vibe of calm. I picked the unconscious Tex up off the ground planting him on the counter as I called to Octavia, “Put this one in manacles, I’m checking upstairs.” I pushed the soiled veteran out of my way as I proceeded up some stairs to what must have been Tex’s chamber. There I found an Engraving Kit which I was rather certain was what he was using to imitate Avery’s mark.
Coming back downstairs I was greeted by incredulity by my fellows as they made it a point to give me a hard time for what they saw as a far too direct approach. Truda and Varis seemed to think there was more to this than what we had encountered and scolded me for knocking out our only resource. “We shackle him, we take him back to the guild, we let them sort him out. He did our job.” I pointed to the trembling veteran and barely conscious thug, “These two aren’t gonna say or do anything. Right?” Neither offered any resistance. “I saw some thieves’ cant outside, this shop sells bunk. Do we really think this is the mastermind?”
I searched and found a piece of paper, ink, and a quill. I wrote a short note No one messes with the guild signing my name at the bottom and stabbing it down on the counter with my dagger.
I shrugged grabbing Tex by the manacles Octavia had put on him and dragging him across the floor and outside into the street, “Well, either he is and it’s up to the guild to decide what to do with him. Or he isn’t and then it’s up to the guild to decide what to do with him.” Begrudgingly, the others soon followed.
Our return to the guild led into great thanks from Avery as well as boons from our blue dragon kill. I was granted a new greatsword or, at least, something akin to one. Avery called it Sparkjaw. A feature of the blade was a crank of sorts at the center of the cross-guard sending a line of lightning charged dragon teeth up and around the blade whirring and sparking–something that can be unleashed for extra damage. I had to say, I shared Avery’s excitement in presenting the weapon. The others also found some interesting items made from the remains of the blue wyrmlings that will certainly come in handy down the road.
After getting our new items, we made our way through the guild to see what other assignments were available. I made it a point to apologize to the group for not being more communicative with The Roadhouse plan and promised to do better next time. Arriving to pick up our next task, we are introduced to the half-elf druid Nymeria Stormbringer who joins our cadre and have explained to us we are heading out of the city to deal with a maddened treant.
As we begin to head out, I found a stables nearby telling the rest of the party I would catch up with them. At the stables called Bundy’s and run by a fellow of the same name, I purchased a grey riding horse paying Bundy to take care of the mare for me until I return. There, I stowed away a few items crafting the beginnings of a go-bag should the need ever arise.
Meeting back up with the others was no difficulty. We were able to find the locale easily enough as a huge oak tree stood towering over a couple of ruined cottages out on the grasslands clearly sticking out. We took a few moments to formulate a plan, one where in three groups we surrounded the creature. As we approached, the tree came alive. It was clearly stricken with some foul disease and furiously angry. Noggal and myself being the most adept if not accustomed to close quarter fighting moved in on the tree as Flyn, Thyrsus, and Octavia struck at it with oil and arrows as Nymeria proved her worth by setting the creature ablaze with a spell and Varis was clever in using his Destroy Water spell to cripple the creature. We were making short work of it when it seemed to summon another like itself to its side. A nearby stump sudden came alive lashing out with its now animate roots at Truda slamming her to ground with ferocity. However, we didn’t panic and by concentrating our efforts on the main treant we won the day.
I will say, this battle was another example of Octavia getting the last killing blow in thanks in no small part to my own brutal strikes. In fact, her final hit at the treant brought whatever magic animating it to an end causing it to…burst…covering me in a queer and putrid wet, brown sap. As I stood there draped in this, Flynkin came over and scraped a sample off my body as the Guild had requested. We found some charred remains and a couple of pieces unburnt to bring back as well. As we turned to leave, I spied Noggal essentially cutting off the treant’s face and running after us with a shield-size bark mask as a trophy. I don’t know what the little one plans to do with it but I’m sure it’ll be interesting.
Pampering & The Spectre
Our return saw us all in good spirits and we decided to take our good mood out into the town. I was in need of a bath sparking the idea in Octavia to visit a bathhouse as she and Varis were already well into their cups. It seemed a fine idea to me. Truda was reluctant but nudging the fighter I convinced her it would be a good ‘team building exercise.’
We arrived at a place far too exquisite and high class for us. Fortunately, the guild pays well and we were all flush. Soon we had driven off the prim and proper patrons leaving us to drink and ramble rouse in peace. Although, more than a few of the employees seemed unnerved by our presence. Seeing this, Varis made a point of leaving a large tip.
By the next morning, we all awoke feeling the revelry of the night before, I most especially. It’s good fortune to have a cleric of Varis’ skill and experience with hangovers as he was able to cast a spell and mitigate the sensation of my brain trying to escape my skull. We assembled for one more job for the week.
This particular one felt easy enough. The wealthy locals had sent a contract to the city to investigate and, if necessary, put an end to whoever or whatever had been preventing servants from maintain the grounds at a neighborhood cemetery. We investigated the location during the day to get a sense of the terrain and to speculate about what might be the issue.
I was concerned about undead, specifically zombies, but found no signs of unturned soil. Still, there are a plethora of spectral creatures, haunts that plague the living. We had nothing to go on really and it could have easily been something as banal as graverobbers. We decided to have some of us serve as ‘bait’ while the others took up somewhat hidden positions around the graveyard. Nymeria stood atop a crypt casting Invisibility on herself, Noggal found a headstone to hide behind, Octavia disappeared into the shadows of a far corner, and I cast Disguise Self to appear as an ordinary wealthy noble. The rest of our troupe stood on or near some above ground crypts waiting to be noticed.
As the sun went down and evening rose, we felt a wet chill in the air. From one of the crypts emerged a black wispy mass soon forming itself into something vaguely humanoid. I recognized this creature immediately–it was a wraith.
We were prepared and outfitted with the appropriate magical items so the battle with the restless creature took no time at all. At its demise, the wraith collapses into a puddle of the same brown, fetid water that had festered the treant’s wounds. It felt like some kind of dark magic was afoot in the city. Investigating the tomb, Truda discovered the body as belonging to a family member of the last leader of the Guild. The discovery felt like more than coincidence.
Our recent successes seemed to impress the guild earning us a bump in rank to what it called ‘Verses.’ So, I reasoned, we may be getting more difficult challenges from here on out. This was especially hit home as we reported to Qwand about the graveyard. He seemed to take the information quite seriously leaving to confer with other guild leaders.
It seems there’s a deeper plot a foot…
I’ve not attempted to draw anything in more than 20 years, so of course, I attempt to draw my D&D character because…reasons… Anyway, I did about four different practice sketches and came up with this as the best one. I used some colored pencils to fill it in. A bit too much emo-hulk, but I don’t think it turned out that bad. Still, gotta keep trying…
I was also able to get my first playing character mini from HeroForge and get it painted in time. Not the greatest or most finely detailed attempt but not terrible:
And finally, I’ve been able to convince my wife she should play. So she created Octavia Willowspell for this campaign and has been very enthusiastic with her roleplaying. She saw me sketching my character and asked me to try to do hers.
So I did a few and, like Cade, they didn’t turn out poorly but rather okay for someone who hasn’t attempting drawing in more than two decades. She colored it in while I was painting my mini:
My wife also made a mini through Heroforge not long after I ordered mine. It arrived the day after our second session. With our minis acquired and painted, we’re a couple that’s ready to play.
I’ve also made a little cottage to place my mini in because even though I’m not DM-ing any more, I still love making paper sets.