Clear Across the Barrens
At branches of the Red Dragon Inn all across Ardrana, flyers were distributed calling for volunteers to take part in a grand adventure. Those who responded met Marquire, a representative of the government of Imor. Through a crystal ball, he showed them the grandeur of the city, and then passed around a tablet to sign.
Arrival in Imor
Those who signed the tablet were brought through the RDI's transportation network to Imor, where they met Clive, the proprietor of the local establishment. He showed the individuals to the meeting room, where Marquire met with them, giving them each a device to wear on their wrist. A representative of the Imorian Bureau of Attunement, Dorella, explained to the group that the bands served both a translation device and a tracking device.
Marquire then introduced the group to Sergeant Greenedge, the mission commander. Together, they told the assembled party that they would be cleaning out an abandoned underground passage that led from Imor to the city of Drev. Gregory Kelso, a military specialist, came into the room wheeling a cart with a covered cage on it. Inside the cage were two unusual-appearing creatures, which had been found during a previous foray of which Kelso was a part. The party was asked to drive out or kill any normal pests, but to bring back any other unusual creatures such as these.
During this introduction, the party became concerned, and believed that their questions were being evaded, and was also becoming upset with Greenedge's abrasive manner. Tripper Leebow wanted more information about the creatures, and wanted to perform some kind of experiment on them, but he was denied permission to do so, which seemed to rankle the druid. At one point, with Marquire and Greenedge out of the room, Tripper went so far as to attempt to cast a spell of some kind on them, but he was prevented from doing so by Kelso.
After Marquire returned, he asked for a volunteer to serve as spokesperson for the party. SniffWind, having served as a herald previously, quickly put himself forward, and nobody else seemed to object. The party was assigned rooms, and met Marquire again in the main room of the RDI. Marquire told them that the powers that be had noted the apparent tension among the party, and that it was decided that Greenedge would be replaced, with a new mission commander to be introduced to the group the following day.
Exploring the city
This seemed to ease tensions somewhat, but it was obvious the group wanted to get out and about. To this end, Dorella returned, accompanied by a young lad carrying several maps to the city. Dorella showed the group how to use them, and described the Tenser Transit System, which seemed to spark some interest among the group, and they left the RDI to explore the city.
Several of the party got to experience the TTS first hand, including Tripper, who found himself queasy after his attempt. He got off at Granny Rose's herb and spice booth, where the two chatted for a bit. Dorella and SniffWind chatted as they glided down to A&E Scribes. SniffWind has his eye on one of the item sold there -- the EverInk pen -- although he found it much too expensive to afford.
Others chose to wander around The BountyPlace, Imor's vast marketplace. Kessa visited the Imorian Commerce Center and was fascinated by Hermes Fountain. WildFire caught the tail end of a bow demonstration and made it a point to visit Archer's Corner to express his interest in the BowMate, and was promised a private demonstration by the proprietor, Sheldon Archer. Thorodin's wanted a tour of Imor University, but was told he'd have to make an appointment. Li simply wandered about, taking in the sights and looking for opportunities to exploit later.
The group returned to the RDI and discussed their experiences over dinner. SniffWind arranged with Clive to perform the following evening while other party members watched the BaffleBall game in action. One of the other patrons, an off-duty military officer, gave them a quick primer on the game, and a couple tried it out with little success. Tripper and one of the other military types, Tom, played darts.
SniffWind created a poster for his talk the following evening and "sold" his upcoming performance around the common room. He and Thorodin chatted with a dark-haired Elven woman named Kendra WillowSight, who was from Flohrilynn Forest.
The following morning, Kendra invited Thorodin to take the university tour with her, and he agreed. WildFire returned to the market, where he saw the BowMate in action. That evening, SniffWind's performance was well-received, concluding with a rousing rendition of The Beer Song. After the performance, Dorella asked him to pass on the word to the rest of the group that the briefing would be at nine o'clock the following morning. She would pick the group up at the RDI.
The next morning, Dorella and Kelso brought the group to see the Arcane Research Center and the doorway into the tunnels. The group met their new mission commander, Sergeant Keeler, and got their final opportunity to ask questions about their mission. It was also revealed that Tom, whom they'd met earlier, would also be joining the mission. During the briefing, they learned that the insects found in the tunnels seemed to be attracted to sources of magic, and were asked to take traps down into the tunnels in an attempt to gather any additional creatures they would find, alive if possible. They also learned that they would have to contend with a group of vagrants, led by a man named Spike, that had taken up residence in the tunnel, and who they were to drive out of the tunnels if possible. This didn't sit too well with the group, but they were assured that the ruffians would be a minor distraction at worst. They were to leave at dusk.
The group spent the afternoon procuring last-minute supplies and returned to the ARC. Prior to entering the tunnel, Kelso imprinted an additional device onto each group member's armband to give them access to the tunnel and the communications devices therein. The group headed into the tunnel, finding that it was split into two separate paths, called "cartways". They proceeded down the right-hand cartway.
In the tunnel
About seven miles down, the party heard a loud creak, then a crash, from somewhere ahead. The party proceeded cautiously down the tunnel in an effort to discover the source of the noise. The dust grew noticeably thicker as they went and it was suspected that someone or something had moved through the area very recently and at a fast pace. Eventually, they came upon a beam leaning against the left wall of the tunnel with a small pile of rubble around it. Bloody footprints were discovered by WildFire and Thorodin leading from the spot. Ralnar noted the furry lump at the top of the severed beam with its front half missing and Li took a closer look. He informed the group that it was a giant rat, the front half of which had been sliced off. Tom and the two elves scouted further down the tunnel until they could no longer discern the footprints, then returned to the group for a meal. During this respite, Kessa was visited by a horned worm that was put into one of the magical storage boxes for safe-keeping.
Shortly after breaking camp, the group met up with some large critters that WildFire identified as centipedes. Kelso commented, however, that they seemed to be larger than typical specimens he's seen. Thorodin stunned the lot with a well-aimed color spray spell, but despite his warnings, the party didn't act immediately, and they recovered quickly. Kelso tried to grab one of them and got bit for his troubles. All but one were killed during the initial battle and Tripper accidentally killed the last in his zeal to capture and save it.
The group moved down the tunnel and stopped just shy of the rest area. Li scouted ahead and found nobody, but discovered an unmade bed. He and WildFire returned to the area and took a more thorough look around, while the rest of the group followed cautiously behind. As they passed through the connecting passage, a figure dropped from above, knocking Kessa to the floor. Lights revealed an unknown female keeping Kessa pinned down with a dagger at her neck. The party kept their distance, attempting to communicate with her, but she didn't seem to understand them. Neither pantomime nor bribery had any visible effect. Finally, Li was able to circle around and knock her out with a dart coated in sleep-inducing poison.
The prisoner was restrained on a bed in one of the rooms off the connecting passage, and Kelso contacted headquarters, telling them they had found an intruder and that he would give a full report later. Kelso then asked whether anyone had the ability to tell whether the prisoner was evil, and Tripper volunteered to pray to Vodyus for the spell in the morning. A spare wristband was strapped on the prisoner's wrist to facilitate communications.
Once the prisoner was awake, SniffWind headed up the interrogation. The prisoner told them that her name was Evadne, that she was from the island of Lemnos, and that she had fallen down a ventilation shaft while hunting in The Barrens. Eventually, she agreed to cease hostilities and to even help the group with their mission in exchange for the healing of her broken right arm. She was given some water and Tom was left to guard her as the rest of the group went into another room to discuss the situation. They discovered the vent in the upper wall of the office where Evadne says she fell, but Li could not get a good enough look into it to make any further discoveries. Watches were set and the group settled in for the night.
A short time into the second watch, WildFire spotted the approach of bright light coming down the cartway towards the rest area. He called over Ralnar to get a second opinion and they determined that it was likely magically created. As the trio of figures continued to get closer, the rest of the party was awakened abruptly by the very loud sound of SniffWind's trumpet. Instead of foes, however, the lights were borne by a group coming from Imor in response to Kelso's call. The leader of the trio, Lieutenant Barberry, indicated that she was from Imorian Military Intelligence and that she wanted to have a chat with the prisoner. With her were Constance Ravenwill, a priestess of Artemis, and Private Gruntley.
The lieutenant asked that all but she and the priestess remain outside as they talked to Evadne, but also that SniffWind be prepared to chat with her afterwards. Kelso expressed his concern about the trio's unexpected appearance, and that there was likely something more afoot than he was aware. After an hour, the lieutenant and priestess emerged, and Barberry presented SniffWind with a choice: to allow Evadne to accompany the party, or to have her returned to Imor. All but SniffWind himself seemed to be okay with her coming, especially after Evadne assured them that she would not attack them if they showed no aggression towards her. SniffWind insisted upon the evil detection by Tripper to make his decision.
While the group waited, they attempted to come up with a way to seal the vent opening at Barberry's insistence. Her job done, the lieutenant returned to Imor along with the priestess and left Private Gruntley with the group until they made a final decision about Evadne's future. They found nothing with which to close the vent, so Gruntley stacked some crates in front of it to block it from view. Tripper emerged with spell in mind, and he and others looked for Evadne, who had been given permission to lay traps in the left-hand cartway. The spell was cast, and the results were good, so Gruntley headed back to the city with the damaged grate. Kelso then informed the group that Evadne had had an earlier encounter with Spike and his gang in the left cartway, and thus the group would proceed in that direction.
As the group continued, WildFire saw a quick flicker of light from further down the cartway and after it re-appeared a second time, Ralnar observed that it was likely torchlight as opposed to more unusual critters. Evadne took it upon herself to move forward to investigate. Kelso asked WildFire to follow her to keep an eye on her. The torch flicker occured yet again and Evadne paused along the left-hand wall and waved WildFire over, telling him to move along the opposite wall, slightly ahead. As he did, though, it was Evadne who received a surprise when her hand was suddenly grabbed by something apparently inside or behind the wall. She instinctively went on the offensive, stabbing at the wall, while WildFire came to her aid. Together they succeeded in getting her free and she got in a jab with her dagger on the assailant, but they both tumbled to the floor for their efforts, and Evadne shouted epithets at the wall.
By now, the rest of the group arrived and began eyeing Evadne warily. Eventually, they cottoned on to what had happened, and Kessa picked up a stray pebble and threw it at the wall. When it went right through, SniffWind decided to add his own two cents and slung a second stone. By sheer luck, it hit someone behind the wall, as the party heard a yelp followed by retreating footsteps.
All but Li, Tom and SniffWind proceeded through this illusory wall. SniffWind wanted to mark where it was as he was concerned they'd not find it again. Li was apprehensive about going through as he wasn't sure it wouldn't turn solid and trap them. Tom reluctantly stayed behind to protect them.
Inside, someone told the party to stop where they were. Evadne and the person, apparently a member of Spike's gang, hurled insults at each other until Kelso decided that SniffWind's skills as a bard would do better at negotiation. Kessa retrieved SniffWind, and at first it appeared that he made some progress in conveying the urgency of their need to leave with a falsehood involving the release of gas in the tunnels to get rid of all the vermin. Meanwhile, Evadne grew impatient, and let slip that someone in Spike's gang stole something of hers that she wanted to retrieve. Finally, the spokesman for Spike's group told the party to wait in the hall and they'd discuss the situation.
In the silence that followed, WildFire let the group know that as the conversation progressed, he heard them moving off into the distance. It was obvious now that the group had to pursue them. Li's trap-finding services were needed so he was fetched along with Tom from the cartway. Meanwhile, Thorodin went cautiously down the hall and peeked around the left corner. When Li joined him, they could see a lit torch wedged into a nearby beam, but WildFire's observation had been confirmed.
Lair of the vagrants
Li spotted a metal disk above their heads, and upon examining it determined it was a mechanism that likely triggered a trap of some sort. The group proceeded cautiously until Kessa observed that the passage had begun sloping upwards. Concerned that Spike might be attempting to escape via an unknown exit to the surface, Kelso picked up the pace and went ahead of the rest of the group, but not long after was knocked over by a large object jumping out from the right. As the party moved in, they found that it was a giant spider.
The party advanced, but Li warned them of the spider's poisonous nature. Thorodin cast grease to attempt to slow it down, but instead it jumped over the grease, attempting to pounce on WildFire. It was unable to clear Tom's height, though, and it landed in a heap. The party closed in, attacking with bow, dagger, and sword. The spider bit WildFire, who was able to shake off the poison, and Ralnar, who was not, but just as Ralnar was about to collapse, Evadne stabbed the dagger in a vital spot, causing it to crumple to the ground, with Ralnar falling on top of it.
While the party checked on their fallen comrades, another voice from down the hall began calling out "You killed Bucky!", and a disheveled-looking man appeared, hands raised in surrender. He said his name was Fred, and that he was willing to go back to Imor with the party to face his punishment. He told them that the passage did, indeed, lead to the surface, but only after a long distance, and that only Spike and Melvin had been there. He also told them that "Bucky" protected them from the "little guys" -- some sort of yellow-skinned small humanoids -- and that there was a "wizard guy" living down here. When the party tried to cajole him and then threaten him in order to get him to lead them to Spike, he broke down, babbling about how someone named Bruce (apparently the "wizard guy") would kill him if he did. The party finally decided that they would be better off just bringing Fred back with them and coming up with a new plan to deal with the "wizard guy".
The party returned to Imor with Fred and turned him over to a group of healers from the temple of Apollo. They were given a debriefing by Lt. Keeler, who asked that SniffWind fill out a lengthy reporting form, and then were brought back to the RDI to await their next mission.
Cast of characters
- Evadne - run by Shelley Proulx
- Gregory Kelso - NPC
- Kessa - run by Korin Trytko
- Li-Jorus - run by John Proulx
- Ralnar - run by Rob Pires
- SniffWind - run by Phil Vlasak
- Thomas Lawson - NPC
- Thorodin - run by Aron Jones
- Tripper Leebow - run by Scott Ford
- WildFire - run by Vinny Beckles
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