North America

Session 003

From Burke to Oxon Hill, and into the swamp

Note 1 – as before – any player in this campaign can edit or add to this.

Note 2 – There is of course no expectation that you read all or any of it. It’s just here to reference if anyone finds it helpful for the future or just fun to read in the present.

Picking up where we left off, the battle for the mill

The party examines the mill-proper after their battle, and Seeker finds more Deecy markings on barrels in the building. It looks like the occupants were grinding bugs into slop and parts using the mill stone, and then placing the grime into the barrels.

Turibel decides to check the outhouse, the last unexamined building in the area. After propping open the door and spying 3 bodies lying in it, she heads inside and is beset by another shadow. A shadow hits her, and she sees two more. This prompts her to fire off a fire bolt at the close one, and misty step out of range.

Velya, realizing that the shadows are hiding out in a dimly-lit space where they are comfortable, lights up the area with faerie fire. Dreaming Oak takes this another step further, and uses his way-of-the-force powers to knock down the building, exposing the shadows. They are now in the bright afternoon sunlight, in faerie fire, and are set upon by Seeker and his radiant sword. After a few seconds of fighting with the shadows, now vulnerable in the bright lights, the battle is over with the party handily defeating them. On the bodies of the last set of bug-hunters, the party found a spell book, 2 silvered daggers, and 1 flask of liquid which glowed when subjected to a detect-magic spell.

Getting paid and rebuilding a town’s livelihood

The crew heads back to the hobbit-town of Burke, and Ceetie confirms to Esmonda that the mill has been cleared of danger. The party had brought back the bodies of Clement, Nora, and Lilly, which the town people began preparing for proper funerals. The villagers may have noticed a few extra holes punctured in Lilly, but didn’t say anything. Esmonda doesn’t know why the Deecy barrels were there, and was surprised to hear that there were more than just bugs terrorizing the mill and store-house.

Over the next couple days, Seeker ingratiated himself to the Halflings with his witty repartee. While they didn’t necessarily like this, they couldn’t help but be impressed with his knowledge of brewing. It wasn’t up to Edwin’s level, but it was certainly good enough to get the operation running again. Parad meanwhile started learning the intracacies of smithing for a smaller target audience as he helped the locals with their normal smithing tasks. The lessons may prove to be of great value. The halflings indicated that they’d be happy to provide food and shelter to the party should they ever stop by again, and paid them the 100 gold they were promised. As a parting gift, they also provided a cask of raspberry sour beer, the village’s specialty.

Heading to Oxon Hill

Running a bit short on time, the crew headed out for Oxon Hill to meet Vludin. Eston the thief had some business to attend to, and took off, but not before letting the party know that he knew some people in Oxon Hill that he trusted, notably Odie (a natrualist) and Juleeyah (a travel guide writer). Setting forth, the party expected to be on the road for about 3 days.

Gettin’ Knittin, and a goat in wolves’ clothing

Whereas the first day was uneventful, on the second day the party passed through Franconia again. They’re starting to be a familiar sight there, having been their 3 times within the past week. Supplies were gathered, including a free spindle which Maude could use to help with her knitting. They proceeded onwards, and on that second night, the party encountered wolves. This made Velya flip her lid.

The short melee was readily handled, in large part to an entanglement cast by Turibel at the beginning which negated the wolves’ fast movement and early attack. The weapon wielders, Maude, Dreaming Oak, Velya, Parad, and Seeker, slashed and crunched through the wolves. At the end, a single wolf’s corpse was left in the brambles of Turibel’s patch of vine, and Velya charged through it to repeatedly stab the dead beast further. Somewhat aghast at the savagery, the other party members asked what was happening, and Velya explained her story of waking up after a terrible night, in a tree, with the bodies of several wolves and her dead mother on the ground. This battle has hardened Velya, but it will take more time before her fear of wolves will be conquered.

While three wolf pelts escaped Velya’s wrath, the one with multiple piercings was cut into pieces and made into traveling clothes for L_rie the war goat.

The rest of the trip to Oxon Hill was uneventful, though when passing through the small city of Alexandria, something really captured the interest of Turibel. She thinks that this may make a good place for a library. She filed that notion away for future reference.

At Oxon Hill, meeting the residents

Oxon was a dreary, dank, downtrodden, dusky, dilapidated town. Most of the populace had left for the more exciting world of Deecy, for the city goers, or the western lands such as Franconia, for those with wanderlust. A large central street was the main thoroughfare, and most all of the town overlooked the long stretch of road.

Once at Oxon Hill, the group first sought out Odie and Juleeyah. The pair were renting an abandoned house as their base during their stay in their travels, and the outside was festooned with image-stones of Juleeyah’s making. These were images of locations and flora and fauna of the Southern Lands, etched into the stones with the clarity of a the most realistic painting imaginable. When speaking with Juleeyah and Odie, the party learned that Vludin had taught Juleeyah how to do this using her gift. The party of course wanted an image-stone of themselves prepared, and a stone was prepared, with L_rie the goat taking center-stage in the image.

Maude asked Odie, the naturalist, about ways to dye textiles red. Odie loved talking about such things, and provided a large list of local and remote berries which would produce a high-quality dye. Velya asked him about the wolves, and Odie presented a short lecture on the local canine inhabitants, making clear that wolves were becoming an issue, especially to the east. Finally, the crew learned that a man would come to town every couple weeks looking for laborers to help with some sort of construction project. It was all very hush-hush, but the towns people loved it because it didn’t seem particularly dangerous, but paid excellently.

The group then headed to one of the local inns, the Broken Whistle, where Juleeyah said Vludin would occasionally stop by. At the inn, while Velya attempted (somewhat unsuccessfully) to impress the barkeep with her flute playing, the rest of the party spoke to Tremble, one of the laborers who took part in the bi-weekly construction jobs Juleeyah told the party about. In these jobs, people were instructed to keep silent about the nature of the work, and in return, the foreman said he’d keep coming back to town to pick up workers. Since the people of the town are, as a rule, in desperate need of money, they had a strong incentive to follow this direction, and Tremble gave the party almost no useful information. The workers seem to appreciate the work and pay very much, and are unlikely to give up much info. The party was interested in checking out the work, and discussed how to find out what was happening.

Vludin returns

About then, Vludin appeared, finding the party as promised, and ushered the party to a rented-out house after making sure they paid their bar tab. Vludin wanted a couple things from the party. First, he too was curious about the contract work being done by the townspeople, and wanted the party to investigate. Secondly, he wanted the party to teach him a psionic ability for a change. He wanted to know how to heal others. The crew wanted to know what they could get in return, and Vludin promised two things. First, he would teach them to shield their minds from being probed by other gifted people. Secondly, he promised to tell them more about his organization, and as a bonus, about the world of psionics (a term now creeping into parlance over the heretofore favored “gift”).

The party agreed, and Seeker worked with Vludin to understand the art of Structural Rebalancing. Vludin then showed the party how to detect that their abilities were being probed, and how to shut down the prober’s inquiry. Dreaming Oak proved to be particularly skilled at these.

For more information on these, please see the Detect Psionics and Resisting Psionic Detection sections of the character creation page: Creating Your Character

Finding work

After an hour, a set of large wagons rolled into town. A heavyset bald man, a boy, and a male tiefling rode in the first wagon, and a group of 6 Deecy soldiers rode in the second. The man, Barron Collier (“That’s a name, not a title”) announced that he was looking for workers again this week. Seeing that there were some new people interested in work (the party members), he announced that, as always, anyone with the gift was NOT welcomed – it would make the job more dangerous for everyone.

With the party saying nothing of their abilities, the party volunteered for the job, and was brought onboard. The boy walked through the various workers, and the party noticed that he seemed to be pinging them to find out if they were psionically abled. The group used their newly-developed skill to prevent detection. Satisfied that all was well, Barron Collier announced that they’d leave in about an hour. The party took that time to decide on the finer points (hah!) of attaching metal (possibly poisoned???) tips to horns of L_rie the goat. Deciding that there wasn’t enough time to realize the dream before they were needed on the road, and not wanting to leave the goat behind with a local smith, the crew rode off with Collier, the Tiefling, the 6 soldiers, and about 10 towns-folk laborers on the wagons.

The caravan headed southwards, on the eastern road towards potomac heights. After a few hours, Barron Collier announced that it was time for the hoods to come on. The other town laborers were obviously familiar with this bit, and put bags over their heads, and the party followed suit. Collier also reminded all that no one was to speak of any of the work they were doing. He would never hire workers from Oxon Hill if any word got out that someone talked. Dreaming Oak was able to poke a couple small holes in his hood before donning it.

Into a mysterious tunnel

They traveled another 30 minutes or so, until chanting was heard from the Tiefling up front, and one of the members of the back wagon, and the area was plunged into darkness. After a few seconds, the wagons then headed down a somewhat steep incline, with the party unaware of their visual surroundings due to the hoods and darkness. After another 30 minutes, Barron Collier shouted “hoods off, it’s time to work”, and the other laborers and the party doffed the bags from their heads and found themselves in a damp (but structurally sound, according to Maude) man-made tunnel.

Everyone shuffled up to the open air awaiting at the mouth of the tunnel, and saw that they were in a swamp, and finally understood what the laborers had been building:

Collier reviewed the basics of their pay for the new people. “We need to produced 300 paces of walkway in our week here. You’ll get 10 gold each, a small fortune in these times, if we do. If not, you’ll get less. We’ve never missed our goal. However, for every 100 paces of walkway we build passed 300 in this week, I’ll give each person an extra 10 gold. This is your chance to make some serious money.”

Building a path to nowhere

In the first couple days, three of the crew, Velya, Turibel, and Dreaming Oak, slacked off during the construction to save their energy – they were going to go exploring. The two days’ work went more slowly than Collier expected, and four workers were put out of commission – one by a snake bite, and the other three by swamp fever. When night arrived, the three conspirators silently left the group via invisibility, misty step, Elvian haughtiness, and general sneakiness.

They traveled through the night down the finished portion of the walkway, and came to the tunnel. They traveled through the tunnel, and by about 2AM arrived at the other end, where two large wooden doors shut them in. With a bit of effort, the three of them heaved open the doors and found that they were about 100 feet off of the road in a fairly nondescript location. They took note of their surroundings, placed an innocuous-looking set of stones off the road a bit as a marker, and headed back through the tunnel and into camp, arriving jusr before dawn. Their return wasn’t noticed as being anything out of the ordinary, and morning broke.

Efficient civil engineering

As the party learned that the construction was going too slowly, a couple things happened. Velya and Seeker started healing the sick or injured town-laborers, Parad (quite handy with a hammer) stepped up his game with the general construction, and Turibel showed the power of thunderwave for blasting through vegetation. Collier, the guards, and the other laborers were impressed with the sudden uptick in thr rate of progression. It looked like there was going to be some major extra money earned this trip.

On the third night, Velya did a bit of scouting by going invisible and then hopping into the marshm heading in the direction that the walkway was being built. She found nothing of note ahead of her, but did find a root to help twist her ankle, and a cottonmouth snake, which she put to sleep, then killed. As a playful present for the elf in reverie, she encircled Dreaming Oak with the snake’s corpse.

On the fourth day, the only excitement was the discovery of a walker. Oddly named, the walkers couldn’t walk at all, but were large trees, with branches covering a 100 foot diameter. These walkers could batter anything of their choosing with their massive branches. Collier made the decision, welcomed by all, to build the walkway around it. Velya went scouting once again this night, being more careful, but coming back with no more information than before.

A path to nowhere heads somewhere indeed???

Also of note, around this time Parad noted that they were building the walkway westward, and were probably about half way between Oxon Hill and Potomac Heights. Someone noted that this meant that the walkway was being constructed towards the river, and Maude pointed out that perhaps it was heading to the banks of the river across from Ft. Belvoir?

Bugs, and more bugs. Caught red handed

The fifth day started out as normal, but as the morning and then afternoon wore on, the normal natural sounds of the forest quieted significantly. For the first time, the party started seeing bugs (of the farmhouse variety) off the walkway. They alerted the guards, who shot them with arrows. With the day progressing, more packs of bugs showed themselves, and Turibel took the opportunity to test out a theory that bugs sensed their environment primarily via sound. To do this, she summoned a human arm and tossed it between two packs of bugs. As the bugs converged and began feasting on it, Turibel cast shatter, and the bugs were instantly blow to bits. {editor’s note: I don’t know if this answered the question or not. I would be interested in hearing Turibel’s analysis}.

Collier had become more agitated and seemed worried as more bugs were spotted. He went to discuss the situation with the Tiefling (Chooch), and came back to oversee more work. After Collier left Chooch’s company, Seeker also took this opportunity to discuss the situation with his Tiefling brethren. In a show of great verbal finesse, Seeker was able to gain the information that the only time bug packs in this density had been seen before had happened because someone with the gift had been in the construction crew. The bugs seemed drawn to that person. The Deecy guards with the group had done a fine job so far putting the bugs down with their bows, but the sheer volume of them was worrisome at best.

Buggin’ out

Seeker relayed this information to the group. Realizing that the party was putting the laborers in danger, they convinced Collier to bring everyone back to safety. Collier was reluctant, having made so much headway since the thunderwave plant-excavation had started, but acquiesced and all were marched back to the tunnel and into the carts. The hooding process began again as the party neared the tunnel exit, and they once again emerged into fresh air and the carts took a left, heading northwards.

End of session 003.

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BoneyJoe

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