westgate warriors

Looting The Temple

Session 1 Part 10

Once the battle was over Adran was able to attend to the fallen Keothi and aid him. The rouge was still alive, barely, his pulse weak but steady. Adran was able to bind the rouge’s wounds and rouse him with his magical music.

“Time to look for loot,” Rip said after he had transformed back into his normal form. The bodies were searched with nothing interesting found on the bandits but Oscar had two interesting daggers on him. Each one had a hilt carved from bone and a long, slightly curved blade that was sharpened to a razor’s edge. Adran studied them and after a thorough examination was able to identify them as Goblin Totem daggers. Each one was enchanted to allow its wielders to have a better chance to harm opponents. Keothi and Kang each took one of them, the rogue selecting the one that Oscar had used to render him unconscious. Keothi took the opportunity to hassle the barbarian.

“So, you were the first one to fall in battle,” the rogue teased.

“But not the last,” the barbarian snapped, still feeling the effects of his diminishing rage.

“I believe that I am a kill or two ahead of you,” Keothi answered.

“But I killed the boss, so knock off the arguing and help us search the offices,” Rip said. Begrudgingly both goliaths complied with the order and helped the others search the offices. The party looked in the northern office first but found it mostly bare with only a table and a few chairs in it. No further treasure was found. The walls were checked for secret doors or stashes but nothing was discovered. The inside the southern office was a little more interesting. The room, finely decorated with a thick rug on the floor, a sturdy bed and a writing desk, had to have been Oscar’s private dwelling. Most interesting was the large locked chest along the far wall. Keothi searched the lock for traps but didn’t find anything unusual. As he was trying to determine how hard it would be to pick the lock, Xious entered the room.

“Here. I found it on Oscar’s body,” he said handing a small brass key to the goliath. It was a perfect fit. Springing the top the party found two sacks of coins, one full of gold and one silver, a small ruby and a small emerald. All of it was placed in Kang’s backpack as group treasure. Moving on to the writing desk some parchment was found in one of the drawers. Scrawled on the top sheets were plans to get rid of Sunrise and her friends and to rebuilt the Temple and in the name of the Mask.

“Well now we know why Oscar wanted Sunrise out of here so bad. And we know that the followers of the Mask are still within the city,” Adran said.

“So where to now?” Tihee asked.

“I have a hunch, Since the Mask are so fond of tunnels…” Adran said trailing off. He directed the others in helping him move the rug that covered most of the floor. Underneath was another trap door. Opening it up the door swung open on surprisingly well oiled hinges. Another iron ladder descended into the darkness below.

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Oscar Confronted

Session 1 Part 9

They had made it halfway around the central area when a small figure appeared at the front entrance. It was hard to make out much detail in the dim lighting but everyone could see that it was a halfling dressed in leather armor. He had a dagger in each hand.

“That must be Oscar,” Kang whispered to Xious. The Avenger just nodded, not agreeing but acknowledging that he had heard the barbarian. At hearing Kang speak the halfling took a step forward and called out to the party.

“You are not welcome here. Be gone all of you,” he called out.

“Just a minute Oscar,” Adran called out hoping taking a chance that the Halfling was indeed the one they were looking for, “we just want a chance to talk things out. I’m sure that we can come to some sort of agreement.” The halfling smiled a wicked grin.

“I can agree that you will all be dead if you don’t leave this place immediately,” the halfling exclaimed angrily.

“We shall see,” Adran said signaling the battle to begin.

But Oscar was ready for them. With lightning quick reflexes the halfling threw one of his daggers at Kang. The glint of silver sliced through the air and stabbed Kang in the shoulder. With a roar of pain Kang charged ahead and threw a dagger of his own catching the laughing Halfling in the thigh. Oscar’s laughter turned into a curse. He whistled and a pair of guard drakes burst from the side doors and a trio of Spiraltop imps soared down from the rafters overhead. The guard drakes were big, almost the size of a small pony. They weren’t covered in spikes or horns like normal drakes but where covered in the same thick scaly hide and had a mouth of razor sharp teeth. The spiraltop imps were smaller, almost as big as Oscar, but deformed looking with pointy facial features and thick bat like wings. All of their faces were twisted into a scowl as they gibbered and squeaked evil. Each of fingers ending in jagged and dirty fingernails that looked more than capable of rending flesh. As the large green lizards charge ahead the party moved to intercept them but the drakes were quick. Unnaturally quick. Before the rest of his companions could move up an aid Kang, the huge barbarian was surrounded by a guard drake and two flying imps. Each one took the opportunity to lash out at the goliath hitting him repeatedly, quickly knocking him to the floor and rendering him unconscious.

On the north side of the temple the other guard drake and imp quickly charged Rip’s group. Keothi had just enough time to throw a dagger at the drake as it bounded toward them. His aim was true and the dagger caught the drake in the shoulder joint where it sank in deeply. The lizard roared in pain and faltered in its charge. Looking through a break in the jumbled stonework Tihee saw Kang go down under the onslaught of the triple attack. Now that the barbarian was knocked unconscious and unable to defend himself, Tihee knew that the guard drake would short order of him. The sorceress would not be able to reach Kang in time so a melee attack was out of the question, so she launched her explosive power at the gathered monsters. A small orb of fiery force flew quickly through the jumbled stonework and hovered directly over the monster’s heads. With a deafening blast the orb exploded into a thousand tiny fragments of arcane energy that covered each monsters in a fiery concussive blast scorching all of them. The imps squeal in pain as their wings are shredded by the force of the blast. Tihee pointed a finger at the guard drake who was trying to paw at its burnt and blistered head and began to chant. A ray of dazzling light sprang forth from her finger and cascades across the gap between them. The giant lizard was bathed in the shimmering light and was further scorched by its arcane power. Small wounds open up where ever the light had touched the drake, peeling open skin to reveal pink muscle beneath, each one pumping forth a flow of crimson red blood.

With the attackers distracted, Adran ran up to Kang and began to sing a rousing tale about a courageous knight and his valor in battle. The majestic words of the song were powerful enough to bring Kang back to consciousness. The barbarian stood on unease legs and shook his head. The magic within Adran’s words quickly filled him with strength. Renewed with energy Kang roared a battle cry and swung his great axe in a powerful arc over his head and cleaved the guard drake between the shoulder blades. The beast’s life ended with a massive spray of blood. Using the barbarian as cover Xious snuck around behind the imps and slashed one of them along the spine drawing blood a line of blood. The avenger ducked as Kang spun around, succumbing to battle lust, and chopped the wounded imp in half with his great axe. Both halves fell to the floor with a wet plop.

One the other side of the temple Keothi targeted the imp that was flying around Rip’s head trying to distract him. He swung repeatedly at the imp but failed to cut the little beast. It was quicker than Keothi thought, its large bat wings allowing it to quickly dodge any attack the rogue made. As Keothi continued to dispatch the imp two bandits repelled from the ceiling on long thin ropes. They dropped to the floor on either side of Oscar flanking him and effectively guarding him from side attacks. Seeing the reinforcement appear Rip grew angry, his feral side bubbling to the surface. With a deep breath Rip closed his eyes and transforms himself into his Panther form. His body quickly melted down tot he floor to form the shape of a large cat. Where the shifter once stood the shimmering form of a translucent blue panther now stood. The sudden transformation of its prey took the guard drake by surprise and it paused for a fraction of a second. Rip-panther took advantage of the beast’s confusion and ranked it across its side with two mystical claws. Seeing its partner in trouble the imp turned away from Keothi and tried to claw the panther, but in his new form Rip-panther was even more agile and easily dodged the attack. But not having to defend himself against attacks Keothi was allowed a clear shot at the bandits who had just arrived. With a great heave the rogue was able to throw a dagger at the nearest bandit stabbing him in the eye. With its brain punctured the bandit died instantly and fell to the floor in heap. Also unhindered by any opponents and now having a clear path to Oscar, Tihee charged the halfling and unleashed a belch of fire from her maw. Expecting Oscar to be burned Tihee was startled when the breath weapon had no effect on the halfling. Oscar countered the attack with a swipe of his dagger and slashed Tihee along the arm. The sorceress flung an acid orb at Oscar but the halfling was too quick. He skillfully dodged out of the way allowing the orb to shatter against the wall behind him. The stonework sizzled as the caustic acids eat away at it. Suddenly two more bandits charged from the door to the south drawing Tihee’s attention. Seeing her distraction Oscar’s other bodyguard stabbed the dragonborn in the leg. Tihee slowly limped backward away from Oscar and his bodyguard but was too slow to avoid another dagger attack from the halfling. Oscar flung a dagger at the retreating sorceress and slashed her in the side. Behind the sorceress the guard drake was finally able to successfully attack Rip-panther savagely tearing into the panther’s haunches.

Still inspired by Adran’s song Kang slashed at the last imp that was slowly buzzing around his head. The little creature was moving slowly, its wings in tatters from Tihee’s earlier magical strike. It is no match for a vicious chop from Kang’s axe which opens a grievous wound across its abdomen. Xious lunges forward and chops it diagonally in half with his broadsword. As the last imp went down under the combined attacks of Kang and Xious, two more bandits repel from the ceiling to aid Oscar taking the place of their fallen comrade. Kang, growing frustrated at the steady stream of reinforcements, and the fact that he was the first to fall in battle, roars in anger. His bloodcurdling cry splits the battleground and announces the arrival of his rage. With his growing anger Kang changes across the battle field and to Oscar pushing his way through the approaching bandits. At the end of his charge Kang delivered a mighty blow to Oscar and cleaves the across his left arm mangling it badly. The halfling stumbles backward a step under the onslaught of the mighty blow cursing at the barbarian.

Blocking a blow from the guard drake, Rip-panther and Keothi charged ahead to help Tihee escape from the bandit bodyguards that was stalking her. With his mace held high Keothi bashed the first bandit repeatedly until the man was nothing but a blood pulp allowing Tihee to retreat away from the melee. Rip-panther ran past Keothi and around the back side of the battle to strike at Oscar’s unprotected back but the halfling, as wounded as he was, was still able to dodge the attack leaving Rip-panther to claw at thin air. Oscar laughed at the warden taunting him. Tihee had successfully backed away from the main fight but found herself confronted by the guard drake that had been left alone. Instinctively blasted it with her acid orbs covering the drake’s face with corrosive acids. But it was not enough to stop the giant lizard who proceeded to slash her with its razor sharp claws. Blood oozing from the new wounds Tihee stumbled backwards to lean against the temple wall. She barely had the strength to raise her staff in front of her to protect herself. The guard drake, who was frenzied from the smell of fresh blood, moved in for the kill but was suddenly seized by a pair of arcane hands that pulled it away from the dragonborn. Tihee looked up to see Rip-panther across the way guiding the hands that had saved her.

Two of Oscar’s body guards charge ahead the first one attacking Xious. The elven avenger dodged the attack and returned it with a successful chop of his broadsword. The other bandit engaged Keothi smashing the rogue in the ribcage with its mace. Skillfully spinning around the bandit, Keothi returned the favor by coming up behind his opponent and smashed him across the side of the head with his own mace. With its head crushed the bandit fell to the ground dead. Keothi’s daring move left him wide open for an attack by Oscar who jumped up and stabbed the rogue in the back with a dagger. Keothi, bleeding profusely fell to the ground unconscious. Trying to even the numbers Rip-panther waved his paws in the air in front of him, growling a few syllables in his feline language, and caused the ground beneath two of the bandits to suddenly split open into a giant gash that looked like a toothy maw made out of stone and earth. Greedily the hungry earth gobbled up both screaming bandits. The mouth clamped onto their legs and slurped them into itself, the bandits quickly disappearing into the ground. Satisfied the mouth slammed shut and disappeared as if it never was. With his attention elsewhere the warden’s grasp on the guard drake was released, the mystical hands dissipating into nothingness. Released from its bindings the guard drake immediately charged its original target, Tihee. Desperately the sorceress launched a pair of acid orbs at the guard drake. Both of them splashed the drake’s face covering it with corrosive acids once again. With its head already weakened the acids were able to flow into the creature burning its brain killing it. With a howl the beast fell to the ground mere inches from Tihee’s bloodied form.

Finally making it into the fray Adran slashed at the last bandit guarding Oscar and killed him. Without any back up Oscar tried to defend himself against four opposing attacks but Rip-panther was able to get behind him and deliver the killing blow by sinking his arcane claws into the halfling’s flesh.

As the halfling slid off Rip-panther’s claws and to the ground he gurgled, “you will never defeat the Mask.”

The last bandit, seeing his boss slain, dropped his weapon and surrendered to Xious. The bandit slowly walked toward Xious with arms raised in the air and begging for mercy. The avenger promptly ran the bandit through with his broadsword. “May the queen have mercy on your soul,” he muttered to the dying man.

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Into The Temple

Session 1 Part 8

After a quarter of an hour the Rip led them to a dead end. Bolted to the wall was another old iron ladder leading up. But this time Rip had to climb nearly thirty feet upward. The tunnel must have slowly sloped downward as they traveled away from the inn. Instead of a wooden trap door Rip found a heavy stone slab locking the way at the top of the ladder. He pushed slightly on the stone and found it very heavy and securely in place. Since the tunnel leading to the ladder and up it where so narrow no one was able to help the shifter push the stone block out of the way. There wasn’t even enough room from him to switch places with one of the stronger goliaths. It was up to him to move the stone slab. Bracing himself the best he could Rip placed both hands on the stone above him and pushed with all his might. At first the stone didn’t budge but then, with an agonizing slowness a crack of light appeared along the edge of the stone block as it rose. Seeing this filled Rip with hope and with renewed effort Rip was able to push the stone block up and out of the way. A slow and steady grating issued from the stone followed by a loud crash as the stone tumbled away into the darkness beyond the opening. Rip quickly jumped through the newly formed exit and followed the stone block into the unknown. One by one the rest of the party climbed out of the tunnel.

Looking around the party found themselves standing on an altar at the far end of the temple. The stone block that had blocked their way laid at the bottom of the altar across a couple of wide stone steps. Stretched out ahead of them was the rest of the temple. It was in complete disarray with walls that were covered in blue and green glowing graffiti and broken pillars and statues lying across the outer walkways. The center of the hall was a jumbled pile of broken stonework. It was hard to see through the pile making it the perfect place for something to be hidden. All of the stain glass windows were boarded up long ago and did not allow any light to enter the temple. And if not for the soft light that was shed by the graffiti the temple would be completely darkness. As it was the hall was dimly light making the far side disappear into a thick gloom.

“I guess we will need to check out those offices at the far side. How do you think that we should proceed?” Adran asked his companions.

“How about we split into two groups and make our way around all that junk in the middle?” Tihee suggested pointing at the jumble of rocks in the center of the hall.

“Sounds like a decent plan to me. A warrior and a caster on each side with another for backup?” Kang suggested. Adran also agreed with the plan and split the party into two sending Rip, Keothi and Tihee to the north side and Kang, Xious and himself to the south side.

“Be careful, there could be anything hiding in that mess,” Adran said pointing at the same jumble of stones that Tihee had mentioned.

“Yeah, maybe even Oscar,” Tihee suggested.

“Or the creatures he is feeding,” Keothi added.

The two groups slowly stepped down from the altar and made their way around the obstruction in the center of the temple, each one ready to defend themselves against any surprise attack.

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Soothing Silky

Session 1 Part 7

The party returned to the Gentle Moon Inn without running into another group of ruffians. The city watchmen were nowhere in sight and neither was Melanchu. The burnt bodies of the ruffians they had fought had also been removed. Except for the burn marks on the neighboring building there was no signs that their battle had taken place. The party headed into the inn and found that it was completely empty. Suddenly Silky burst in on them from the kitchen with a big smile on her face.

“Finally a few customers. Welcome to the Gentle Moon—oh its you again. What do you want,” she said, the smile falling off her face and a frown replacing it. She glared at Adran.

“We were hoping you could give us some information. We are trying to help Sunrise here by clearing out their temple,” Adran started and pointed to the priestess, “we can’t get into the temple the normal way and would like to enter it through one of the tunnels that run under it. We have a map that says one of those tunnels start here, somewhere in the inn. You wouldn’t happen to know where it is do you?” Adran smiled and tried to be as nice as he could. The look he recieved from Silky was venomous. Then she grinned at the bard, a crooked and mischievous smile and said offhandedly, “sorry. I don’t know anything about a tunnel under the inn. I can’t help you.”

She turned to march away when Rip called out, “maybe five gold coins could help jog your memory.” Silky suddenly stopped and faced the party eyeing up the shifter.

“A few gold coins certainly would help out with my bills but what would really be nice is a fine dinner with a handsome man at my side. I might be able to help you out if you agreed to have dinner with me tonight,” Silky said sidling up to Rip. The shifter looked at her with disdain taking a long hard look at her round and sagging figure. He sigh when he realized that it was the only way to get the information the party needed. He begrudgingly agreed to the deal. “Fine. I’ll go to dinner with you when and if I return from the temple.” He sighed again when Silky squealed with delight, her large frame jiggling as she jumped up and down in excitement.

The barmaid led everyone through the kitchen and into a backroom that was filled with foodstuffs and other supplies. Mostly covered by old wooden crates was the outline of a trapdoor. Kang and Keothi easily moved the dusty crates out of the way and got the trapdoor opened. It squealed loudly as the rusty hinges gave way. Along one side of the hole leading into the darkness below was an iron ladder that led fifteen feet down. Leaving Sunrise in the safety of the inn, the party descended the ladder in single file and found the tunnel below to be just as narrow as the trap door opening. They would have to walk single file down the tunnel with the goliaths having to bend slightly to prevent their heads from scrapping on the tunnel’s ceiling. Rip led the way as the party stumbled through the dark tunnel, the only light coming from a torch the shifter held in front of him. The confined space and stifling heat made the journey down the tunnel uncomfortable and seem to last forever. Xious was the only one who didn’t mind the journey through the unknown darkness.

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Court Records

Session 1 Part 6

The courthouse was not far from the sight of their battle with the ruffians but the walk between was long enough for the party to see that Westgate was not a nice town. Many of the buildings were falling into disrepair and most of the people that the party encountered look downtrodden, tired and downright miserable. Even the different colors of the buildings, the clothes the people wore, the few flowering plants seemed washed out and lacking luster. The entire city seemed to ooze a grayness that cultivated a feeling of depression everywhere.

“What a dreary place,” Tihee said looking around, “are you sure you want to build a temple here Sunrise?” The priestess smiled at the sorceress flashing her a set of perfect, white teeth. Her beaming face and perkiness seemed very out of place in such a bleak city.

“What better place than here to help spread a little cheer?” the priestess said in a singsong voice. Rhyming aside Tihee couldn’t disagree with her. And with that the party arrived at the courthouse. The building was nothing more than a wide and tall stone building that was square in shape and was not decorated in anyway. There were two city watchmen posted at the great oaken double door that led into the building. Neither of them said anything to the party as all seven of them passed by but kept a wary eye on them, especially the two hulking goliath and the dragonborn. Inside the building the party found a small lobby that ended in a long desk. Various clerks worked behind the desk helping their clients with legal questions. Behind the clerks were what looked dozens of filing cabinet that were lined along the back three walls. The party waited their turn standing behind Sunrise. Her two fellow priestess joined them while they waited. The first woman was named Twilight and had long flowing red hair that cascaded down her back and the other was named Midnight and had short black hair that was flipped up in a spikey hairdo on one side. Both of them were slender and shapely looking, attributes that did not escape Adran. When they finally gained an audience with one of the clerks Sunrise did the talking. The clerk helping them directed all his comments to the three priestess and never looked at the party. He acted as if Adran and his friends weren’t even there. In the end they found out it was the responsibility of the priestesses to clear out their “legally rented” property and that as the landlord Borgo Gosbaugh’s responsibilities ended once the rental agreement was signed. Sunrise looked unhappy and on the verge of crying again but Twilight quickly directed them outside to share what information she and Midnight had uncovered. Around the corner of the courthouse and out of sight, Twilight produced a scroll tube. Pulling a piece of parchment from it she unrolled what looked like a rough sketch of a building. She explained that it was a sketch of the building that they had rented and was once a Temple of the Mask.

“The Mask?” Sunrise asked already regaining her composure. Twilight went on to explain that the Mask was an evil religious order of rogues that conducted their nefarious business from within the temple.

“Oh great, religious fanatics. You know what kind of nutjobs those guys can be,” Rip said to no one in particular. He didn’t notice the intense glare that came at him from behind Xious’ hood.

Midnight continued the explanation by telling the others that sometime in the passed decade the order mysteriously disappeared and the temple fell into ruins. It had been unoccupied ever since. No one knew what happened to the order or why the religion died off. And no one knew if there were any of the Mask left in the city.

“Do you think that Oscar could be a surviving member of the Mask?” Sunrise asked everyone.

“Or someone trying to revive the order. Or possibly trying to use its reputation for his own gain. That’s what I would do,” Keothi said to no one in particular.

“Let’s take a look at that map,” Adran said and helped Twilight extend it to its full length for everyone to see. The temple was relatively rectangular in shape with two offices, one to each side of the temple’s front entrance and some sort of altar near its back entrance. There were also a series of tunnels that ran under the temple. Tracing those tunnels away from the temple the party found one that looked like it led right to the Gentle Moon Inn.

“Looks like we are headed right back were we started,” Xious said to the others.

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The Wrath of Melanchu

Session 1 Part 5

But the party had little time to worry about the lack of treasure as a merchant, obviously upset judging by the way he was throwing his hands into the air, came rushing toward the party. He was a floppish looking man dressed in a tunic and breeches that at one time were finely made but where now showing signs of rough use. Wear spots showed in the knees and elbows and an occasional faded stain tarnished the outfit in random places. The merchant also wore a thick green cloak that looked like it was made of fur and hung over his shoulders running straight down to his ankles. It clung so tight to his body that it almost looked more like a set of robes. He wore a matching green cap on his head that was pointed at its end and would have looked like a dunce-cap if not for the fact that half way up its length it flopped to one side. But the silliest thing of all was the long droopy fu-manchu moustache he sported that curled at its ends, far below his chin.

“You! You have angered Melanchu with your reckless behavior. You have taken many prized possessions from Melanchu,” the merchant said waving at the burning building behind him. The party could see that the city watchmen had already formed a bucket line and were tossing water onto the blaze. The flames already showed signs of weakening. “You can not replace Melanchu’s one of a kind items so you must pay Melanchu forty gold coins to compensate him.” He stood there his hands on his hips and a pouty look on his face.

“Forty gold for such a small fire? Ha! Where is this Melanchu so that I can negotiate a proper deal,” Adran said chuckling at the merchant. The merchant looked flabbergasted.

“You! You do not insult Melanchu, for I am Melanchu. And you owe Melanchu forty gold!” the merchant said still talking in third person. He was working himself into quite a frenzy. Adran turned back to the others and smiled. Rip pointed at his head with a finger and spun it in circles indicating how he felt about the merchant. He mouthed the word “crazy” to the bard. Adran returned his attention to Melanchu and began to haggle.

“I am sorry sir, I did not realize you were the great merchant-lord Melanchu,” the bard started. His words had an instant effect on the fuming merchant, the flattery visibly calming the man. “Let me offer my sincerest apologizes and offer you fifteen gold to compensate you for the repairs our careless actions will no undoubtedly cause you.” Hearing the word ‘fifteen’ the merchant’s face grew dark once again.

“You offer Melanchu such a pitiful amount? How will Melanchu replace such treasures lost to this hideous blaze?” the merchant said waving a hand at the charred building, the flames already doused by the efforts of the city guards, “Melanchu would need at least twenty five gold to recover his losses.”

“I can’t believe a merchant of such grandeur as yourself would store everything that is valuable to him in one location. Tell me it is not so,” Adran said pausing to see if the merchant would try and contradict him. “You are a man of great importance, surely you have bigger and better vaults elsewhere. Besides, the fire is already put out. Obviously you would only need twenty gold at most to recover your losses,” Adran said still trying to appeal to Melanchu’s ego. The merchant looked back at the building which was only slightly blackened and very wet but not on fire. He scratched his chin and a loud “hmmmmm” escaped his lips.

“You! You have a deal. The great and mighty Melanchu recognizes that you have recognized him and his worth and agrees to your offer,” he said and promptly shoved an upturned palm to Adran. The party gathered up twenty coins between them which the bard dumped into the merchant’s waiting hand. The merchant counted each coin as he dropped then, one by one, into his belt pouch. With a quick nod of his head the merchant turned and marched away.

“What a strange little man,” Kang said as he watched the merchant turn a corner and disappear from sight.

“What a weirdo you mean,” Rip said. And with that the party continued on to the courthouse.

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Thugs and Ruffians

Session 1 Part 4

“I don’t think you made a friend with that one,” Kang said to the bard in a hushed voice. Adran just shrugged and finished the last few bites of his toast. When the party was finished they left the inn with full bellies and in a relatively good mood. Sunrise walked at the front of the group, falling into conversation with Adran. The party had just walked the length of the building when a group of ruffians appeared at the opening of an alley that ran down the backside of the inn. They were dressed in patched leather armor and wielded swords and maces. Each of them wore a similar sneer on their face that labeled them as troublemakers. The party slowed their pace when they saw the group of ne’er-do-wells. The ruffians stopped at the mouth of the alleyway and the party found themselves at a stand off. Intending to head of the trouble right from the start Adran took a step toward the ruffians and announced, “hail and well met.” He tried to sound as friendly as possible.

The ruffian with the sword smiled mischievously answering, “we just want to spend a little time with your lady friend there. Everyone else can just move along.” The ruffian pointed his sword at Sunrise, then at the group waving them off with it. Adran started to speak again when Rip rushed along side him and waved his sword back at them.

“Fuck off!” the warden snarled. The grin slip off the ruffian leader’s face which promptly twisted into a raging mask of anger.

“I’ll teach you some manner pup!” he yelled as he charged Rip. As he did the ruffian raised his sword high above his head intending to bring it down to cleave the warden in two, right down the middle. But Rip was too quick, jumping to the side, causing the ruffian’s sword to bite deep into the ground. Rip laughed as he returned the attack slashing the ruffian across the chest. Blood immediately weld up and began flowing down across the leader’s abdomen. Keothi had taken the opportunity to sneak around the scuffle to get a clear shot at the other two ruffians. With a quick flick of his wrist the rogue threw a dagger at the closest ruffian hitting him in the shoulder. The ruffian grunted and dropped his mace, a shocked look spread across his face.

Without warning three more ruffians appeared from an alley on the other side of the inn. As the ruffian reinforcements charged toward them, the party found themselves flanked between the two groups. Kang, Xious and Tihee turned to face the oncoming ruffians. Knowing that being caught in the middle of flanking opponents was not good for their immediate survival, Adran stepped forward and began to chant. A dazzling sheet of bright orange flames leapt from his fingers and coated the two ruffians who were still in the alleyway. Flames flowed across them like burning water consuming leather armor and flesh alike causing the air to be filled with the stench of cooking meat. Both ruffians fell to the ground in a smoldering heap, their death screams fading away into nothing more than a gurgle. Unfortunately the flaming attack was more powerful than the bard expected and the wooden building behind the ruffians also caught aflame. Almost immediately an alarm sounded in the distance.

Kang lumbered ahead to intercept the second group of ruffians. With a mighty chop of his great axe the barbarian was able to open a large gash across the first ruffian’s ribs. Xious, who was following closely behind the huge barbarian suddenly split off to the side picking the second ruffian as his target. With a flourish of his broadsword Xious savagely hacked the ruffian to pieces. As the man fell to the ground in a bloody pile Xious mutter, “for my queen.”

After initially wounding the ruffian leader, Rip found himself equally matched with his opponent. Each one dodged and parried the other’s attack. Seeing a stalemate in the making Adran moved in to help his comrade but the warden protested, “stand back Adran, I have this one.” But the bard didn’t listen. He rushed forward intending to hit the ruffian from behind but was rewarded to a blow to the midsection when the ruffian leader kicked a foot out at the last second. Adran doubled over as the wind was forced out of him. It was all the distraction Rip needed to run the ruffian leader through with his sword.

Behind them, the combat was still raging onward. The last ruffian had come to the aid of his friend but was unable to harm Kang. As big as the goliath was, he was quick and easily dodged the ruffian’s attacks. Seeing how effective Adran’s fiery attack had been Tihee readied one of her own. Yelling out “duck!” the sorceress released her fiery onslaught at the two remaining ruffians. Kang and Xious jumped to either side as the sheet of flaming death sprayed across the road and directly into the two ruffians. They were immediately engulfed within the flames and were quickly consumed. By the time the bodies hit the ground the party had relaxed and began wiping the blood off their blades.

Rip walked over to Adran and offered him a hand to help him up, “I guess you learned something today bard.”

“What was that?” Adran asked still gulping in big breathes of air.

“When I claim an opponent, he is mine. Don’t interfere,” Rip explained, the fire of combat still burning in his eyes. Adran watched the shifter walk away wondering if Rip’s chaotic behavior and lust for battle would get them into trouble someday. Behind them the two goliaths had fallen into a competitive conversion of sorts.

“First blood to me,” Keothi said teasing the other goliath.

“But I caused more blood to flow. All you did was stick your ruffian with a that little dagger of yours. I gashed him good with my axe,” Kang said patting the blade of his great axe.

“Bah. We will see who is better in the next fight,” the rogue scoffed and turned away. Tihee shook her head in dismay and thought, what is worse, the competitiveness of men or the competitiveness of goliaths? Especially male goliaths!

Much to the disappointment of everyone there wasn’t much to salvage from the burnt bodies of the ruffians. Most of their belonging had been consumed by the magical flames.

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A Little Help From A Friend

Session 1 Part 3

Silky brought out their food, surprised that there was one more seated at the table. She hurried into the back room to grab another plate. Upon returning she addressed the party but spoke directly to Adran.

“You know, I tend to overhear plenty of things that are said in the inn. Things that could help others out, like yourselves,” Silky said trying to peak Adran’s interest. And she did.

“And did you overhear what we were talking about,” Adran asked her, every ounce of charm leaving his face to be replaced by cold, serious glare. Silky was taken a back by the sudden change in demeanor. She no longer found him attractive, quite the opposite. She could see the burning hatred in his eyes and wondered if every smile and nice thing he had said was an act. How could someone so warm and generous be able to summon the darkness she now saw on his face. “I do not like people spying on me, intruding in on my business, assuming I want or need their help. Maybe you should return to your kitchen and mind your own business,” he snapped. Silky’s sudden fear turned to anger. She snapped her mouth shut and abruptly turned and stormed away.

“Harsh,” said a nearby voice. The party looked and saw a halfling sitting at a nearby table. He was dressed like a merchant and smoking a pipe while enjoying a mug. “You’re not going to get anything out of her now.”

“Bah, we don’t need help from her. Especially from someone who enjoys prying into something that is none of their business,” Adran explained, his anger starting to subside.

“So if I told you that I overheard your conversation with the priestess but I had some free information about the halfling squatter, you’d tell me to take a hike too?” the merchant asked.

“Free is good you know,” Rip whispered to Adran. Adran waved the shifter off already knowing what was at stake. He took a deep breath and calmed himself.

“I suppose if you are wiling to offer us some help I could make an exception,” Adran said adding a familiar smile. The halfling smile back with a sly grin and approached their table.

“I am Mr. Tippit and I know the halfling that has taken up residence in your building,” he said addressing Sunrise. She looked surprised. “His name is Oscar DeFerago, a local thief and con man who’s is base of operations is here in Westgate.”

“A con man? How so?” Kang asked.

“For starters, he cheats at cards. I myself have been a victim of his treachery. He once cheated me out of a large sum of gold while playing a friendly game of Four Dragons,” Tippit explained.

“There is no such thing as a friendly game of cards,” Rip said accusingly.

“Perhaps but I would still like to see Oscar get what’s coming to him,” Tippit said offhandedly.

“And why haven’t you exacted this revenge yourself?” Tihee asked.

“Come now, I am just an innocent merchant trying to make a honest living. What would I know of revenge and murder?” the merchant said feigning innocence in a most obviously sarcastic manner, “besides, Oscar disappeared shortly after taking my gold. I didn’t know his whereabouts until you talked with Ms. Sunrise,” Tippit said.

“Would there happen to be a reward for us taking care of this Oscar character for you?” Rip asked the halfling.

“You are already being rewarded by the priestess here. Why would I reward you again just because you happen to be doing me a favor while helping someone else out?” Tippit asked and then continued, “I can offer you a bit more information to help you out. Everyday Oscar rummages through the dumpsters behind the building looking for food scraps. I’m assuming he is feeding something within the building. And you can bet its something big considering the amount of food he is hauling inside.”

“Well, just remember our generosity as we inadvertently do you this favor,” Adran said. Mr. Tippit smiled, bowed deeply and exited the inn leaving only a smoke ring to slowly expand and dissipate into the air behind him. The party finished their breakfast in relative silence. Everyone was thinking about the upcoming quest and all the possibilities that would come with it. Silky came out twice to clear away dirty dishes and refill water mugs. She, too, was silent and only acknowledged the party by giving them an icy glare which she cast in Adran’s direction.

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Sunrise

Session 1 Part 2

Standing in the center of the common room were two people who were starting to shout at each other. The first person was a tall man with extremely broad shoulders who was dressed like any other merchant in the city. He had thick curly black hair that matched the flowing beard that ran down to the middle of his chest. He was much taller than the woman standing in front of him and had to look down to speak with her. The women, barely inches over five feet tall was dressed in white robes that were tied off at her waist with a golden sash. She had long brown hair that flowed down into her unused hood. She was the one doing most of the yelling.

”...but the building you rented us is occupied. You never said anything about that in the letter we received from the carrier pigeon,” the woman said, obviously agitated.

“There wasn’t anyone there, as far as I knew, when I rented it to you. We have a binding contract, signed by you, so if a squatter has moved in and taken up residence in your rental, it will be up to you to remove them,” the man said with his hands in the air trying to diffuse the situation. With each word he took a step back toward the exit. It was obvious he wanted to leave the building an escape the woman’s ranting.

“But we tried and he won’t leave. You’re the landlord, isn’t there something you can do?” the woman asked starting to get frustrated.

“Sorry ma’am but its none of my business any more. As long as you’re paid up the rental property is your responsibility,” the man said as he inched his way closer toward the door.

“What am I going to do?” the woman asked and began to sob. Shaking his head the landlord quickly turned and rushed out of the inn not wanting to deal with the crying woman. She placed her head in her hands and wept.

“That man was an ass,” Tihee mumbled disgusted by what she saw.

“But he was right. It’s none of his business anymore,” Rip added. Tihee glared at him annoyed by his comments.

“Maybe there is something we can do,” Adran said with a smile as he got up from the table and went over to the crying woman.

“Not again,” Keothi moaned.

Adran gently placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder to reassure her. The woman looked up with a start but relaxed as she saw his smile. “My name is Adran. I couldn’t help but overhear your argument with that man. I can assure you from what I heard everything will be alright.” The woman smiled and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“My name is Sunrise and I am a priestess of Selune. I have traveled here with two other companions, Twilight and Midnight, to start a church within the city. We had rented a building from that man, Borgo Gosbaugh, to renovate but found it occupied when we got there. I thought better of renting the properties sight unseen but Midnight convinced us to believe in the honest of others. Even strangers,” the priestess said emphasizing the last part. Understanding what she meant Adran continued to pump the priestess for information adding a smile with each question.

“So who did you find in the building when you got there?” he asked.

“There was a nasty little halfling living there. He was rude and mean and a bit unnerving the way the scar on his face made one side of his mouth turn up like an evil little grin,” Sunrise explained. “I could really use some help in persuading him to leave.” Sunrise’s voice was filled with hopefulness.

“Let me talk with the others and see what I can do,” Adran said. He left the smiling priestess where she stood and returned to the others.

“Well,” Keothi said impatiently.

“We were all looking for adventure and I think we found it,” Adran said.

Xious stirred again, “no one has yet to agree to adventuring together.” Adran saw that the others were contemplating Xious’ words and frowned.

” So what exactly are we all doing here then Mr. Mysterious? We are all in need of a little gold and that woman over there is in need of a bit of pest extermination. Tit for tat. We scratch her back she will scratch ours. You understand?” Adran explained suggestively.

“There is so much that is wrong with what you just said,” Tihee said groaning, aware of what Adran was really saying.

“I’m fine with earning a spot of gold in exchange for some pest control,” Kang said with a deep rumbling voice. He folded both of his massive arms across his chest and continued to listen to the debate.

“Me too. What better way to get treasure than to kill something,” Rip said earning a frown from Tihee. The rest of the group nodded in agreement and looked to Xious. After a moment of silence he too agreed with a single word. “Fine.” Adran walk back over to the priestess, his charming smile securely in place, and told her that his friends were willing to help her with her pest problem. As they began haggling over a possible reward the others approached them.

“I hate to ask a damsel in distress for compensation but as you know the saying, ‘an adventurer has to eat’,” Adran said. The rest of the party agreed with him with a nod of their heads. Rip even rubbed his belly to punctuate the point.

“I’m sorry but I have little gold to pay you with. Every coin we brought with us is to pay for future renovations to the building. I fear it is in very poor shape,” Sunrise said trying to gauge the party’s reaction. Rip frowned and muttered something about not doing the job from free. Adran smiled and continued his haggling.

“How about this? In lue of payment you can afford all six of us free room and board anytime we are in the city and find ourselves short of gold,” he offered. Sunrise smiled immediately.

“Of course, of course, Selune would be more than happy to show her mercy to those in need. A deal then?” Sunrise said quickly and outstretched her hand. Adran took it and shook it before turning it over and bowing his head to kiss it gently. Sunrise giggled and Keothi groaned.

What have I gotten myself into? he thought to himself.

“Shall we go now?” Sunrise asked.

“My stomach is growling over here,” Kang said.

“Yes, yes. Breakfast first. Would you care to join us?” Adran asked Sunrise.

“Of course,” she said and followed them back to their table.

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Introductions

Session 1 Part 1

Nestled along the shoreline of the savage Dragon Coast, the city of Westgate rose from sandy beaches with tall jagged walls and sharp peaked buildings. Much like a cancerous lump the city tainted the brightly colored wilderness around it, the bright green forests and the white sand beaches, with it dark grey walls and ominous presence. Within, a chaotic presence filled its streets as people scurried about, each set on finishing their nefarious plans. Every avenue was choked with dirt and refuses and an occasional body, either of a drunk sleeping off a wild night or the poor unfortunate victim of a mugging who had been beaten into unconsciousness. Or worse. Lawlessness ruled in a city governed by an uncaring mayor. As long as the coffers remained full, by whatever means necessary, he was happy to let the city’s populace do what they pleased. And for the most part they did.

Along a side street, almost dead center in the Moonside District, was a large two story inn called the Gentle Moon. The building ran along a narrow street and was flanked on both sides by alleys. Alleyways were common within Westgate and most were dimly little and often home to a variety of undesirable people. The inn itself was the typical wooden structure, matching its neighbors on each side, with one large oak door leading inside. Just beyond that door was the lobby of the inn which split the rest of the lower level into a tavern and a common room. Along the back of the lobby and to the side of a large wooden desk ran a wide flight of stairs leading up to the sleeping quarters. Being located close to the Temple District, and far from the Tavern District, the Gentle Moon inn was rarely busy with most of the clientele being made up of pilgrims briefly passing through the city on some holy pilgrimage or another. The few city folk to frequent the tavern were usually ruffians and thugs or drifters that came to drown their sorrows any time they were able to scrape enough silver to buy a pint or two of mead.

But today was different. The Gentle Moon was enjoying more patronage that it ever had. Paying patronage. Silky the barmaid rushed out of the kitchen with a pitcher in one hand and six wooden mugs in the other. The group of adventurers had come in early this morning. Silky had been happy to find them not reeking of a wild night and ale. Many times drunkards would drag themselves in for a bite of breakfast and by the time they left her bottom would hurt from repeated pinches. As she delivered the ice cold water she had a chance to take a good look at them. There were six in all and as varied a group as she had ever seen. Two of them were huge men and even though they were sitting she had to turn her head upward to look them in the eye. She guessed that they had to have been over seven feet tall when standing. One was mahogany skinned and the other had a grayish tint to his skin almost as if he were sickly. But both of them had dark splotches on their arms and face that almost seemed to form a jagged pattern. Both were dressed in complex leather armor. The brown skinned man wore a thick headed mace on his belt and the gray skinned man had a huge axe and sword strapped across his back; both hilts stretching above his head.

Sitting next to the huge men, almost as big as both of them was a Dragonborn. Silky had never seen a dragonborn before and only heard of them through terrifying bedtime stories her father had told her when she was little. But Silky quickly overcame her fear telling herself that she was no longer a frightened little girl. After getting over her initial fright at actually seeing a dragonborn, Silky took a moment to study the muscular form in front of her and realized that it was a “she.” There was nothing in its form or face to reveal a feminine side only a swelling of the chest under her leather armor.

If the dragonborn women are that big, how large are the men folk? Silky thought to herself. The Dragonborn was dressed in thick leather armor that was inscribed with curious runes and symbols. Golden scales tinted with a swirl of scarlet covered the small amount of skin that was exposed. Large green and gold eyes seems to scan the room narrowing each time it detected the slightest of movements. For a moment they reminded Silky of cat eyes zeroing in on an unsuspecting mouse. A long, intriquetely carved staff rested at the dragonborn’s side.

Sitting to her left, almost looking tiny and fragile in comparison to the hulking warriors nearby, was the most handsome man Silky had ever seen. Flowing blonde hair that was tied into a ponytail by a blue string cascaded down the back of a shiny suit of platemail. He had full pouty lips and slender facial features that suggested the man was more of a performer than a warrior. His eyes were a vibrant blue and seemed most inviting. Silky was actually lost in those eyes, daydream about “what could be” when she noticed his slightly elongated ears. He was a half-elf. That explained his delicate features. A longsword was strapped to his belt and a flowing cape hung loosely on his back.

And while the half-elf was handsome that man sitting next to him was intriguing. Sitting casually in his chair picking at the pointed nails that adorned each finger was a shifter. His skin was tanned, almost a light orange in color, which matched the thick mane of fur that covered his neck and head. His teeth were long and pointed and his golden eyes shone with an untamed light. A sense of mischievousness, an unbridled wildness lived in his gaze. Looking into them made Silky’s heart burn with wildfire and made a flutter of passion, long dormant, skitter across her chest. It had been a long time since the gaze of a man had touched the portly woman in such a way. She wondered if the longsword at his side was as sharp as his gaze.

But in pure contrast to the shifter was the last man in the group. At least Silky thought it was a man. He was not overly tall or broad shouldered and was completely enshrouded in a dark gray hood and cloak that was edged with silver stitching. Try as she might Silky could not see into the hood, a shadow of darkness covering his face at all angles. The only thing identifiable was the ornate broadsword at his side that was topped with a large bird with outstretch wings at the end of its pommel. Silky was suddenly aware that she had been straing at them all and was now standing in front of them in silence as they returned her gaze. She cleared her throat tryign to give herself a second to regain her composure.

“Here is some ice cold water to get the day started. It should be refreshing considering the warmth already in the air,” Silky stammered trying to lighten the mood with some small talk. The air inside the common room was already stifling even at such an early hour. Or was that just her reaction to the two very appealing men sitting in front of her. The handsome looking half-elf turned to her and smiled a perfect smile and said, “thank you very much my dear lady. My name is Adran.” The plump barmaid smiled awkwardly as she blushed. After an even more awkward curtsey, as she was not use to the attention of a man, she found the courage to continue. He blush faded but the heat of it still resided in the tips of her ears.

“Can I offer you some breakfast? Some early dinner perhaps?” she asked pulling out a pad of paper and a stub of a pencil.

“What do you recommend?” Adran asked in a sugary tone staring intently at the barmaid.

“Um, we have a, a special that is, uh, very good,” Silky stammered. Adran smiled again enjoying the effect he had on the woman.

“That will be fine. Bring six orders,” Adran started to say and then looked at his large friends, “make that nine orders of your breakfast specials please.” Silky smiled, enjoyed one last look at the half-elf and quickly turned to rush into the kitchen, bumping into a chair as she went. Adran smiled as he watched her go.

“If you’re done playing around can we get down to business?” the brown skinned goliath asked.

“Keothi is right. Stop messing with the poor woman’s feelings,” the dragonborn said visibly angry.

“You’re just sticking up for her Tihee because you are a woman,” Adran said.

“Someone has to watch out for us. We are definitely outnumbered here,” Tihee responded looking at the five others sitting around the table with her, all of them men. The man in the cloak moved slightly, his hood falling a bit to the side, allowing the slightest peak inside. The outline of a slender face could be seen.

“Enough. We have all gathered here because of our shared interest in adventuring together,” said a voice issuing out of the hood. It was a light and air voice but still carried the sharpness of a dagger.

“Maybe we can start with introductions. Some of us are unknown to the others,” Adran said. The large gray skinned goliath introduced himself as “Kang” and the shifter’s name was “Rip” but the hooded man did not speak for a long time. Finally he said, “Xious. Just called me Xious.”

“What kind of name is that?” Rip asked with a chuckle but before the hooded man could answer a commotion broke out deeper within the common room.

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