Call of the Ravens

Of gypsies, ravens, and evil spirits!

My intrepid comrades and I have stumbled upon a web of deceit and treachery so tangled it is like a sailors knot! The Marques Radpen ‘The Black’ has arrived in this small fishing port by carriage, and our sturdy metal town guards have told us that this place is now under his control, given to him my the Steward of this kindgom Guy Patriks. Why we do not know, but no doubt it has something to do with the confusing tale I will now tell.
The note I found upon the body in the basement of Elliks tower turned out to be orders from the Raven to kill the Gypsy Queen… or at least this is what the symbol adorning the end of the note suggested. The Raven is a group of Wherewolves, we have been told by an old townsman called Smorg. The Gypsy Queen the head of the assassins guild. And one more twist my friends, this note from this band of wherewolves was closed by the old family seal of Lady Lilly Patriks, who was of the house of Hasell (a family name now ended due to Lady Lilly’s marriage to Guy).

So it would seem that the wherewolves are in league with or lead by Lady Lilly ( and no doubt Guy Patrik), and wish to be rid of the assassins guild.

Easy? Oh no! For now it would seem that Roddick is companions with Ellik, who also are in cahoots somehow with the local bard Pont a fellow called Gofney and some other local men. But why and for what purpose?
Mars and Cupid have been of some aid with their knowledge but are not too bright! We confronted Ellik at his tower and lo did Roddik turn up. Yet I swear upon the blood of my fathers that these snakes in the grass are not who they seem! Roddik does not recall hiring us in the first instance, the towers cellar was covered up and the barrel of body parts removed!
The slippery eels were somehow able to free themselves from rope bonds we had tied them in.
In the end through argument and confusion between ourselves, the warforged guards and the unholy dogs that are these creatures , these evil spirits pretending to be Ellik , Roddik and the rest, they slip from our grasp and escape.

I feel it in my bones, like the chill desert wind at the dead of night, that these evil spirits that are taking on the form of others are something to do with the assassins guild. This gypsy queen is being hunted by wherewolves, maybe Radpen the black is one. What we have yet to find however is any evidence of the wherewolves, … but I did hear a howl the first night… maybe… maybe.
It would seem too many people of the town are going missing only to turn up again seemingly unharmed, yet acting strange and not themselves.

Maybe we should talk to Gofneys father who is a gold miner to see if he feels his boy has changed, this for me will confirm my suspicions that they are being replaced with evil spirits!
Maybe our next task is to search out Elliks camp at night to see if further mishaps occur, or see if we can track this howl in the night which could now be the sign of wherewolves in the area. Perchance Radpen the Black may even be able to shed some light upon the matter.
One thing is sure, I would rather be in the desert in my tent with my goats than running around this smelly fishy town with all its confusion!

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Prequel: Out of the Fire and into the Fire
Tower of the Immolith

The Harpsichord has been at see some 11 weeks. Supplies were running low so the captain charted a course to Softsand Island. Only a small stretch of land some 5 miles across with few valleys and rivers. He did know that he could gain some fresh water, fruits and some small animals for his crew.
Taking several crew members and both Meriele and Sandor with them aboard the lowered long boat.

Sliding up onto the white sand beach which had a light dusting of ice and snow he directed he crew to be back in 12 hours and telling Meriele and Sandor to use their fighter know how to go hunt some wildlife.

The two set off, trudging through bracken, brush and tree. Hunting was not their strong point and little was found in the first hours.
A fast flowing river bard their way and so they took the time to hunt for fish with nothing more than their hands and a crudely constructed bow with rope attached. The river was fast and extremely cold as Meriele discovered when she stood in it in the hope of hooking a fish out of the water the same way she had seen bears do it in her youth.

Ten small fish was all they had to show for their effort and the cold getting into their bones. Sandor decided to make a leap across the river to see if the other side would turn up something more interesting. Making a huge leap for the far bank but falling short he landed witha a great splash. Disappearing beneath the icy rushing clear waters only to thrust himself to the surface gasping for air as the cold water was a shock to him. Several attempts he made to get a hold of the bank as the water slammed hard against him. Eventually dragging himself out cold and soaked to the skin and panting for breath.

Not to be left out Meriele made the same jump but this was with less success than her friend. Meriele disappeared beneath the icy water. Splashing and writhing she struggles to keep her face above water. It was moving fast and strong and carried her way down stream. Sandor raced down the bank to try and grab at Meriele but after several attempts she again disappears beneath the water again.

Sandor eventually dragged Meriele’s frozen body onto the bank. Checking he discovered that she had died from the cold. Looking about in an attempt to see someone who could help. Through the trees he spotted the familiar sight of grey stone. Possibly a building of some sort.
Throwing Meriele’s corpse over his shoulders he heads through the thick brush and trees and from atop a gentle slope he spies a tower.

The tower was hidden well within the trees and a slight dip in the land. It stood some seventy feet high with a strong door in the front and small slit shaped windows scattered about, all the way to the top.
Either side of the door stood two carved statues of great sword carrying warriors. These statues stood the full hight of the tower. Ominous and fearsome looking.
Sandor saw that no footprints could be seen in the snow so Ran to the door and with the body of the Eladrin occupying his arms he kicked the door open.

Part 2

The Tower had a feeling of warmth about it.
Several creates scattered the room and at the far side, opposite the door there was an odd iron cage. Iron struts reached the ceiling and a diamond shaped grill covered the interior to a small space within.
Sandor lay Meriele down on the floor and set about trying to break a crate to build a fire. In the hope that the cold icy water had held back the hand of death before it lay upon Meriele.
The create even though old seemed to be a lot tougher to break than he anticipated.
Sandor, after starting a fire took to searching the crates. fining nothing useful but a strange symbol attached to a leather strap. A pendant of some sort. He placed it in a pouch to study later.

Four hours later Meriele coughed and woke to Sandor’s relief and surprise.
The cage was decided was a moving floor. As there was no stairs this must be the way up the tower. The lattice door slid open with eas and the pair stepped in. in inspection found a lever that when dropped set gears in motion which in turn lifted the iron cage up.
On arriving at the second floor a set of statues could be see so the two departed the elevator to get a closer look at the statues. The room was bear and the stone features on the statues looked real enough. Meriele wondered if a Medusa had altered these men. putting them both on edge as to what could lay higher up the tower.
Then the stone floor started to crack and out crawled several fire scarabs spitting molten venom.
These creature though very dangerous to no time at all to dispatch. Leaving the two with some nasty burns.
Heading once again to the next floor in the rusty iron lift.
The second floor was filled with fire snakes. The lift stopped and they was about to get out but then decided to just continue straight on up.
The third floor fared no better as the lift breached the room so they could see through the iron gate to the room beyond flaming skeletons reacted with a fiery furiousity, sending balls of fire towards them. Which blasted and exploded against the lift bars. The gate swung upon and both Meriele and Sandor could do nothing but try and fight back. The skeletons marched forward as with a purpose to end their intruders lives as quick as possible. the battle was short but deadly sending Sandor to the floor with clothes and skin burning bright. Meriele did her best to rescue her friend and dragging him back to the elevator headed once again up the tower.
The heat was getting tremendous and difficult to breath. They longed for cool air in their throats.
The fourth floor just seemed to be ablaze but on seeing the room had crates in there they decided to enter anyway. Not until they had entered this floor did they then realise that this was no ordinary fire but two Fire elementals.
The Fire raced across the ceiling, reforming in front of them as if they had a mind of there own and that mind was set to kill. The heat was now over whelming and Sandor to the chance to move to a safer distance and taking his bow out to shots from the far side of the room. Meriele could sence some for of mind within and if it has a mind she could put that mind to sleep. she started to recite the words as Sandor continued to fire at the fire. Moments later the fires seemed to start to shrink. Receding to a smaller stae to the point Sandor and Meriele raced forward and stamped the tiny little flames out of existence.

The 5th floor was avoided totally as seeing within a Fire Acheron wandering around in there. No mater what they thought may be in that room it wasn’t worth going in.
The cage came to its final rest at the upper most floor. No fire monsters of any kind could be seen. Only a stone Sarcophagus standing against the opposite wall from the lift doors.
The two’s eye lit up as to what goodies this intricately carved stone edifice had inside its confines.
Using hand, fingers, blades and sword tips the two struggled to release the lid to this ancient box.
With a blast of super heated air the lid is blown off sending Sandor and Meriele sliding some fifteen feet across the floor onto their backs. forming and standing before them stood an Immolith. A demon that had been sealed away in this box with many guardians set to stop any wayward adventures getting this far. Now he was free again. Who was responsible. Who’s souls should he drink first. The demon Immolith was ready to strike. Meriele and Sandor thought they could take on this demon. There wasn’t much of a fight as the Immolith sent fire balls and super heat towards the two heroes. Only getting in one attack be for falling to the demon’s attack.
Sandor fell fast once again. Crisped at the edges and smouldering in the far side of the room. Meriele saw no chance of doing battle upon herself and decided to leave as fast as she could. Running over to Sandor, she knelt down next to him and then she teleported them both outside. The quickest way she could. Sideways. Seeing a cops of trees to her left through one of the arrow slit windows she ported both of them to the top of a tree. In the hope that the tree would slow their fall to the ground as she knew she had limited teleport range. Meriele didn’t quite make the full distance to the right location in the trees and they both fell tumbling to the snow covered ground some forty feet below.

Meriele looked up as she stood holding her right arm. Looking back up the tower and thinking how lucky they were to get out of there. Now the only problem was that the ship had left some two hours ago and so they are now marooned on this small island with that demon they had released.
A voiced called from the tree line. It was one of the sailors from the Harpsichord. Relief came over Meriele. Sandor stood, shaken from his wounds and burns but he was fit enough to move. The sailor lead them an easy path back to the Harpsichord. The captain had shown a softer side of himself and had waited for the two newcomers.
Meriele handed him a small wet sack.
The captain looked inside only to find it full of small cooked fish.

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Prequel: After the Sun, The Dark
prequel

The long rays of the summer Solstice Sun ran shadows across the stone columns of the Eladrin ritual site at Greenshere in the feywild.

Meriele watched the ritual of the Sun take place in an open clearing. Seven stone columns stood proud. Nature gathering around.
Meriele thought that she would get a better advantage to see this once a year sight from a vantage point in a nearby tree as she knew she was not allowed to be there as she was still young of age.

The priests chanted and raised their arms in praise and joy.

The tranquillity of the event soon came to an abrupt end as bursting through the trees came three War boars. Tusks and teeth glinting in the light of the setting sun, sending branch, twig and dirt shattering ahead of every ferocious foot fall.
The Eladrin priests were taken completely by surprise.

The boars as if they knew what or who to attack went straight for the priests. Tusks flailing. Out for destruction. The first Eladrin was gored deep in the abdomen while a second just managed to avoid the same injuries.

Meriele was stunned and shocked by this sudden attack by these creature but she knew their origins at an Instant.

A tribe of Centaurs led by Bell a warmongering Sorcerer who saw the Eladrins lands as rightfully theirs and was not averse to taking things he wanted by force.
Bell stood tall. Taller than most Centaurs with strong powerful muscles that rippled with every move. Arms that looked like they could rip trees up from their roots and atop his head, Antlers, tall and majestic.

At the next moment coming through the gaping hole in the trees came both Bell and his second in command, Brown, a female Centaur with outstanding Archery skills who fired her bow at a priest. The bow string whined from the tension and sent a thick arrow straight towards an innocent priest.

Meriele on seeing this took to action. Shooting at one of the Boars and wounding it deep but not enough to take it down as it charged again into another priest. Meriele Fey stepped to the ground and entered the fray.

The battle is short and bloody with both side taking injuries but the Eladrin coming of on the wrong side of bad. The high Priests change the chant to open a fey gate to give them somewhere to escape to. Between two stone columns a smoky spinning vortex of light and energy gradually getting bigger appearers and the priests turn to head through shouting for others to follow.

A boar falls to the onslaught but not before killed one of the young priests. Magic is cast and one wild boar is thrown through the air like it was hanging from string of a puppeteer, sending it off course as it was about to charge down another.
Bell waved his arms as light sprang from his fingers. Brown fired her bow again and again and Meriele did her best to avoid everything as she dodged around the small but bloodied battle field. But even with her agility she still seccomed to a deep wound in her left leg. That will leave a scare she thought.

A sleep spell was her now only option as the combatants were just to overwhelming for all to survive. As she saw a brave priest take the full force of a boars charge. As it raced ahead with the priest impaled upon its tusks the priest pounded upon its face and its eyes but to no avail. The boar crashed into a fallen pillar with the priest crushed between the two and his lifeless body dropped to the ground with his life blood draining from his body.

Meriele cast her spell. The effect was almost instantaneous but only Brown fell to its effects.
Given enough time she could cast it again. all she need was the time.
The high priest and companion couldn’t wait any longer and started to engage the fey gate. To get away from danger. To late the priest was gorged by a boar and both he and the boar forced through the open gate, disappearing.
Now for some reason the Fey gate behaved strange with the crackle of static and strange colours spinning. The gate was failing.
The young Eladrin Meriele saw her chance to save the the last priest and ran for the priest and the exit. The gate and safety.
She made a great leap for the gate just as a boar bit at the priest grabbing him in it’s powerful jaws.
Meriele sailed through the gate with only the priests hand in her hand

Part 2.

If we all had wings.

The gate was there to take Meriele to safety. If this was safety she hoped that she could return to the fight. At least it was on the ground.
The land spread out beneath her but was rushing up to great her at a fast pace.
Meriele found herself falling. The gate had opened up some 30 or 40 feet in the open sky.
The land below was going through some strange event, the she realised. the land was suffering and earthquake. The chances of that was incredible but maybe the collapsing fey gate had some influence.
Meriele wound never know. She fell faster and faster and she saw herself passing on to the next life before she had even started this one.
The ground below shook and trees waved like grass in a wind storm. She was going to close her eyes and except the end but unable to stop staring at the spinning green land. She saw the broken bodies of the high priest and War Boar that had proceeded her through the gate.
Then like an eye opening after a sleep the ground split apart directly beneath and like a ball at the fair she plunged through the gash into darkness.

She tumbled and span. her head struck something then her legs and the her head again and then nothing as she fell into unconsciousness.

Bruised, battered and bleeding Meriele woke. The darkness was total. Not even a hand in front of her face could she see. She cast the spell, light. It illuminated a small area around her.
A tunnel stretched in two directions, forward or backwards. Above she saw nothing, not even a hole from which she fell.

She bandaged her wounds and rested for a short while, then choosing a direction she set off walking. She walked for hour upon hour, stumbling upon rock and slipping on slime and mould. The dark was continuous and stretched out in front what seemed like forever.
Meriele slumped to the floor in exhaustion.
Rest was short lived as a noise was heard in the dark from the tunnels ahead. Expecting to find rescuers she stood waving her arms and shouting hello.

A large Bear came around a shallow corner followed by what she could only describe as a lizard on two feet. Then another then another. The bear was tethered to a cart which it was hauling. At a quick glance she also spotted a white haired dark skinned Elf tied up in the cart along with bloody meats and slimy looking fish of some sort.
This did not look good.

The troglodytes saw a chance to capturer yet another slave that their masters could sell and started towards the young Eladrin. The Drow in the cart saw a chance that he had waited for for many long days in the tunnels with these foul smelling creature and kicking out at the bears backside tried to spook it into running. this didn’t happen and the Drow slopped around in the back of the bloody cart.

Meriele turned and ran, with half the troglodytes chasing. The Drow bounced around in the cart and the bear raced also. The cart wasn’t built to move this fast over this rough terrain and it cracked and creaked and every rock and boulder it met. The Drow took another chance at jumping out of the cart but again this did not work out well. Gaining his footing he lept onto the bears back just as it turned a corner. Slipping and rolling to the tunnel wall. the cart overturning and crashing and smashing towards him. sending bloodied meat and rotten fish slimming along the moss and mould covered ground.

Meriele saw this and was partly impressed. Seeing his predicament she assisted by cutting his bonds.
The Drow , now free leapt into action . Drawing his bow which the Trogs had not though to take from him before tying him up. fired at the beasts. While Meriele cast a Chasm spell in the tunnel between them. A beast fell to the arrow and five others fell to the floor as if trying to stop themselves falling down a great hole that had opened up beneath them. All was in their minds, placed there by the Eladrin. Yet more beasts raced forward and in the back a few Bugbears could be seen drawing weapons and coming forward.
Meriele had to stop them, She drew her hands together and cast burning hands a spell of pure devastation but all it did was set fire to the bodies already dead upon the ground. This had a secondary effect as it then filled the tunnels with stinking smoke. The Drow shot blindly through the thick smoke in the hope that his arrow would strike something. He will never know as they both turned and ran. hard and fast until the sounds of the creature were no longer audible.

Part 3

Old Enemies make New friends

Running until they could not run any more. They stopped to rest in the dark. Maybe the Drow knows his way around but alas it seems the Drow is as lost as the Eladrin.
The two new companions walked alone in the dark hardly speaking to begin with but as time went on the conversations turned to their pastes.

The Drow introduced himself as Sandor. apprentice to the High priest UUsa (ooosa) of Omur a Drow City now lost to him somewhere in the Vastness of the Underdark. He had come across Tor-Gat-Oka a high commander of the Cities army and security, arguing with UUsa about what he could not tell but it was something to do with the Magic and knowledge that UUsa stored in his tower. An argument started and ended with Tor-Gat-Oka killing UUsa. Then calling the priests guards and accusing Sandor of the murder and ordered that Sandor be killed for such treachery.
So Sandor had ran. What else could he do, he was innocent and he needed time to think. Getting lost in the underdark was not hard as it is so vast. after days of hiding from the searching eyes of the City guard Sandor ran straight into a wandering slaving band of bugbear that had got dumb troglodytes to do the heavy work. so he had been a captive of them until you showed up.

Meriele told Sandor of how she had arrived in the Underdark. so over many days the tow struck up a friendship.
Sandor taught Meriele how to find food in the tunnels and Meriele taught Sandor how to cook and steer clear of minor perils.
Days of wondering turned into weeks of darkness. They saw no end to the endless tunnels and Meriele thought she would never see the day again.

Resting by and Underdark stream they both fell into a restless sleep. Only to be woken by the sting of a carrion crawlers tentacle.
Leaping to their feet they both took on the enormous creature.
The Drow drew his two shining blades and stepped up to do battle. the injured Eladrin teleported away to get around the rear of the creature. The green gelatinous monster lashed out with teeth and tentacles. catching Sandor with a heavy bite to the body. Blood found release from the confines of the Drow’s skin.
Meriele gained the high ground behind the Sluggish body of the crawler and attacked. It’s rubbery hide was thick and hard to penetrate. Again the greature lunged for the dark skinned warrior again this time biting Sandor on the head, a tooth catching the Drow in the eye and blood half blinded him. The Eladrin ported again to the head of the creature and tried to attack from this vulnerable spot. But, it’s head was thicker than it’s body. Sandor struck again taking as daring a chance as he could allow. the creature took many bloody his from the Drow and it turned to flee. Meriele struggled to keep her balance upon the green head but soon fell as it moved off trying to get away from the blades of the Drow.
leaping the Eladrin landed gracefully on the floor drawing her bow as she tumbled through the air ready to shoot as her feet planted firmly. The shot was true and before the slug could squeeze back down the hole that it had climbed in from the Arrow buried itself deep into a weak spot just below one of its shorts legs. Severing the leg and disappearing inside the creatures body. It screamed in pain then slumped to the ground slithering in a dead heap it slipped down the hole following after the severed leg that fell down the hole ahead of it.

The friends rested again, to gather their wits and then again they moved on. Days passed by until their breath became cold and visible. The warm damp air was being left behind. Was this the surface. Had they eventually found the way out.
Ice now covered the ground as they continued forward. The tunnels became brighter, the cold clawed at their skin. they had forgotten how to be cold. Eventually they saw some ice carved stairs ahead just beyond a chasm. They would have to climb.

Sandor had a short rope, he tied them both together and started around the lip of the dark icy hole that looked to go down forever. The Eladrin was not as good upon the ice, slipping several times and then falling. Dragging the Drow after her. Sandor caught hold of a small fissure and held on. drawing on all his strength he eventually pulled himself and Meriele to the safe and solid ground.
The walked on. The tunnel eventually came out. The sky was bright the snow and ice was brightening and they shielded their eyes from the glare.

The ice waists stretched out in front of them. All they could do was walk, again. Two days later, they crested a rise. down below was a small Ice covered town. The Red tile roofs lost below long covering of ice and snow. They moved closer. A sign was obscured by snow and they brush the ice as to be able to read what it said. Shiverton.

The town was quiet with a small bay. Moored in that bay was a tall ship. this was their way out of the Iceland and away from the danger of it’s Dark places. They read the name on the bow of the ship.

Harpsicord.

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Out of the frying pan into the fire
Kalamar's take on the beginning of the quest.

While it may look awesome being shrouded in flame, it doesn’t really help if you can’t even hit a cows arse with a banjo. Or in my case a bunch of rats with my eldritch blade. Luckily for myself, and my friend Sandor, we were rescued from certain death (and ratty munches) by our most valiant companion Meriele. Hail to Meriele ‘Vermin-Slayer’. So we have met Roddik, a fidgety fellow, and have agreed to emancipate his belongings from a merchants tower. Alledgedly taken from him, a guard told us they belonged to Tellik, whoever that may be. But now we are in the towers basement surrounded by rat corpses and we have found a piece of parchment with a wax seal upon it. What will be our next move? A glorious beginning to a glorious adventure, lets hope our bold endeavours continue.
Kalamar.

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Bone Bay
Story So Far...

The year is 4004.
Winter is just over the horizon, making itself known by a bitter cold chill in the air. You and your companions stand on the oak deck of The Harpsichord, watching the town of Bone Bay go about it’s nightly business before docking in at the port.

Sand ship

The rush of the sober sailors from the sand ship to the nearest inn died down almost as quick as it started, leaving our three heroes stood together; hungry and tired. A very weasely looking human with a bandaged wound upon his head, wormed his way toward the trio.
“Ah! Weary travellers, welcome to Bone Bay! My name is Roddik and I’m a merchant of all things. How was your travel on the great Bone Sea?” He grinned towards the only one in the group who was grinning straight back.
“Hello good sir! How kind it is of you to greet us so warmly on this cold night! We are well, and upon strong sea legs. Here, let me introduce you to my travelling friends!” The happy traveller stepped to one side and pointed at first to a tall elfish looking woman.
“This is Meriele, of Eladrin descent.” The high elf smiled and nodded her head slightly as not to seem rude but did not move any other muscle.
“This is Sandor, a fine Drow!” Roddik had only ever seen Drow in books and found himself staring at the deep black skin of the dark elf before him.
The cheery fellow took a step forward, “and I!” He boomed, quite loud for how late it really was, “I am Kalamar! Tiefling and proud, traveller and your friend!” He was donned in traditional Tiefling garb laced with brilliant blues and heavy blacks. Truly magnificent, Roddik thought.
“It is very good to meet you all; Meriele, Sandor and Kalamar.” Roddik started, but was interrupted by a loud call of his name.
Mars and Cupid, the town’s own war-forged watch, marched towards the new acquaintances. They were tall and broad, chest plates glinting in the moonlight. Cupid, named so for his choice of weapon and not for his involvement in love, was the tallest of the two. He was silent but had yellow piercing eyes that said more in a stare than lips could in a sentence.
Mars was shorter and squatter, the rust around his face showed his age. He was loud and bossy but seemed friendly towards our heroes. This couldn’t be said for Roddik.
“Roddik, are you bothering these travellers before they’ve even got off from the ship?” Roddik coward in to himself and averted his eyes from that of the militia’s.
“No Mars, I was merely welcoming them to our fine town. Nothing more.” The metal pair looked at the group for a moment until Mars lifted his arm and pointed towards a building at the end of the bay. Like all the other buildings, it looked to be made of bone. Mostly whale but there were bones none of them could recognise. Perhaps that of old monsters. The moon was low and shadows cast from the buildings gave the town an eerie look; like the bones were alive and dancing upon the floor. The thought sent shivers through the friends.
“That’s Serpent’s Gate, the town’s inn.” Mars turned to Roddick. “We’ve got our eyes on you.” With that, the police walked away.
“I have jobs, if you’re looking for work. Come to the inn with me and we will talk over dinner and ale.”

The sounds of owls and howls were drained out by the songs of The Harpsichord’s sailors, already drunk and some unconscious.
“Before you make your proposition, Roddik, I must have a drink of tea!” The Tiefling laughed and made his way towards the bar while the others found a table, moving drunken sailors from underneath. A short while passed and Kalamar returned with a steaming little pot, like a small cauldron and 4 cups. He passed the cups round and poured hot water and soggy leaves in to each. The tea seemed to be enjoyed by all, Roddik especially.
“Now, are you strong looking travellers interested in a job?” Roddik picked about at the leaves left in his cup. One troublesome leaf however, had somehow become stuck to Sandor’s dark face.
Meriele looked interested, and she was. Between the three of them, they had not one piece of gold. “What kind of job are we talking, old man?”
“Nothing difficult or tiring. Just a well paid favour, if you will. You see, some stock of mine has been stolen and I’d like very much if you could retrieve it for me from the tower in the east. You all look strong and capable.”
“What’s your offer?” Sandor piped up, his sudden speech throwing Roddik a little off guard.
“Er…5 gold pieces. Each!” The three heroes stared at the short man with raised eyebrows. “Okay, 6. 7. Okay, 9 but that’s my final offer! OKAY TEN! And that’s as high as I’m going!” Ten gold pieces sounded very good but Meriele thought to push her luck, reluctant to spend 5 gold pieces on a room for the night.
“10 gold pieces each – upfront, a room for the night and breakfast in the morning. For that, we we’ll retrieve your stock as soon as breakfast is over.”
“Results guaranteed!” Kalamar laughed in to his tea.
Roddik thought about it but not for too long. He agreed and told them the whereabouts of his stock and who this thief, known as Ellik, was.
Then, with no words other than ’I’ll be about’, he rose from the table and went to the bar. Kalamar could see through the screen wall that Roddik seemed to be arguing with the young bar keep but couldn’t hear what was being said over the noise of the drunken slurs. This confrontation went on for a short while until Roddik stormed out, arms in the air.

The rooms were empty and bland, with only straw beds to lie upon and thin, smelly blankets to keep warm. Sleep was difficult for the three friends; Meriele tossed and turned all night and both Kalamar and Sandor were woken by the howling of a wolf or stray dog out in the night.

Breakfast was grey cold meat left over from the night before and thick, stodgy gravy with dry bread to dip; mould and all.
Mars and Cupid were at the bar talking to Patto, the inn keeper. Kalamar, Sandor and Meriele left most of their breakfast to move closer to hear what was being said. Mars, as usual, was the one doing the talking.
“Had anyone left the inn late last night or in the early hours of this morning, Patto?” Patto couldn’t answer and shook his head but both Meriele and Sandor spoke up.
“We both saw Roddik leave very late last night. He didn’t look happy, more angry. Infuriated even.” Meriele confessed.
Sandor agreed. “I don’t know what was bothering him.”
Mars looked at Cupid. “Interesting,” he said “Cupid, we should find Roddik.” They turned around, almost in unison, and left the bar.

No more than 30 minutes had passed and the three were already at the tower in the east that Roddik had told them about. A wood elf guarded the the tower door, pacing and looking important.
He noticed the travellers and drew his wooden bow from his back.
“Stop!” He ordered, unsure who to point the arrow at, “Who goes there? State your doings!”
Kalamar took a brave step forward, oozing with charm. “Ah, my good friend! We’re here on strict business.”
“What business?”
“We’re here to check Ellik’s stock. Orders.” Meriele joined in.
“If you know Ellik, you’d know he doesn’t want anyone in this warehouse.”
“If YOU know Ellik, you’d know he’s sent us on business. Business to check stock levels.”
The guard lowered his bow, looking confused.
“Er… I guess you’d better come in then.”

The first floor was just a small room but scattered within it were wooden barrels and old books, more on the floor than on the shelves.
Kalamar, being the bookworm of the group, ran straight to the shelves in excitement at what he might find. A short search brought forward a very interesting looking book, bound in hide and with a musty smell. Kalamar recognised the language in which it was written as Orcish; a language that none of them could read, but he had a strong feeling. Something told him he should keep it with him, either to sell or to find a translator.
Rummaging through older and less beautiful looking books, the Tiefling felt a cold upon his fingertips. A glass jar was behind a pile of books. Kalamar picked it up, curious and wary. The contents glowed with magic. It was an odd, thick purple liquid. After having no luck with finding a label, Kalamar placed it inside his bag along with the Orcish book, and carried on searching through the shelves. Though he had found much more interesting things, nothing brought more joy to Kalamar than when he found the mint leaves on the bottom shelf. ‘They should call me a Tea-fling’ he giggled to himself.

Meriele and Sandor were not so lucky in their nosey search about the tower’s first floor.
Teaming up to open the biggest barrel in the room, they both fell backwards as the lid lost suction and came loose with a SQUELCH. The foul stench of stinking, rotted flesh filled the room instantly. The air was thick with the smell of disease and death. Covering her face and holding back her breakfast, Meriele peered in to the barrel. To her horror, she found the whole container to be filled with deep red, congealed blood with body parts bobbing around inside it. Hands waved and eyes peered back as she slammed the lid shut. She was curious now, and slightly angry at both Roddik and Ellik. Her anger took her downstairs where she assumed all secrets would be kept.

Being a mage, Meriele conjured mage hand and guided it, along with a burning page from a ruined book, in to the darkness of the lower floor. A brown sandy floor, two half eaten corpses and a strange sound greeted her in the darkness that the mage hand couldn’t reach. She ran back up the stairs, interrupting whatever conversation her male companions were having.
“There’s bodies and something alive down there, in the darkness and my God, it sounds BIG.”
On returning down stairs, along with Sandor and Kalamar, there they found a multitude of vile looking rats; some quite large with intimidating gnashing teeth, already on the move towards the stairs.

The battle was on. Quick thinking Meriele created a diversion by imitating the smell of fresh blood in the centre of the floor. Just a few stupid rats followed and were quickly killed when their hearts stopped by the thought of falling down a bottomless pit, pushed in to their minds by the high elf’s great magic.
Sandor drew his long black bow and reached for the metal arrows in the quiver on his back. He pulled back and shot, sending an arrow straight through the closed mouth of a nearby fat rat. It’s teeth shattered, leaving them sharper than before. The rat screeched as the arrow lodged itself in the back of it’s head. The rat was alive but in immense pain.
Sandor regretted his decision to shoot, as rats overwhelmed him, biting at everywhere and anywhere until Sandor fell, on the brink of death.
Kalamar created the most amazing shroud of fire that engulfed his whole body, making himself look almost god-like. Walking towards a group of rats, he drew his blade of epic proportions and swung back. He looked so awesome.
The strength of his swing was almighty but slow and clumsy. He missed every rat he swung at; not once, not twice but three times, getting more and more frustrated. Some rats were hit by the fire covering his body and perished. The Tiefling sucked the souls from every dead rat until a live one that had been crouching behind a rock, lunged itself at Kalamar’s neck and sunk it’s teeth as deep as they would go. A strong whiff of rotten rat breath pushed it’s way up in to Kalamar’s nostrils, causing him to choke and gag as the rat hung from his throat. He could feel himself start to heave until he was throwing up in powerful blasts in the corner. The rat, although still chomping on Kalamar’s tendons, soon died from the heat of the flames that surrounded him.
Only one rat was left. Filled with despair and adrenaline, Meriele killed it with a quick sharp blow to the head. As soon as she was sure all the rats were dead, she healed her friends and felt safe now that she was no longer fighting alone and her companions would be okay.
The three, now feeling a lot better, decided to inspect the 2 half eaten corpses that were laid on the dusty ground. All their bones were broken in a way no mere rat could do. Fear filled the room.
Searching the bodies for clues, Meriele found a set of rusted lock-picks and Sandor, a piece of gold. However, it was what Kalamar found that was most interesting.
It was a browned and slightly torn diplomatic looking letter with a broken wax seal upon it. Not one of them recognised the seal but they all knew they had to find out what was going on here and this seal was their first clue.

The game is afoot.

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