Pursuit of a New Life
July 25, 2012
Zuzu – Half-Troll Ranger
Sara – Elven Alchemist
Travok – Dwarven Fighter
Squee – Goblin Ninja
James – Half-Elf Fighter
Chapter 1 – Picking up the Pieces
Our story begins after the death of Gedric Silyone, leader of the Band of the Wolf. The remnants of the mercenary group have fled for their lives and ended up at the Leaky Bucket tavern, located in the western district of Zarl. The group sits quietly around the table, trying to fathom what has happened, each one more grief-stricken than the next but none as much as Zuzu. Although Zuzu is a half-troll, a race which many consider an abomination and shun away from, Gedric took Zuzu in as his son and raised him from a very young age. Word has already begun spreading through Zarl that the Band of the Wolf has been eradicated, and all members slain. Pulling himself from his grief, the survivor in Travok takes over and he realizes that the group quickly needs to find a way to get back on their feet if they are to survive. Travok and James approach the woman behind the bar, who is currently busy cleaning a mug. “Excuse me miss,” Travok murmured, the grief still clear in his tone. He inquired about some rooms for the night, and the bar maiden gave him the bad news that there was only one room. She told him of an inn located in the merchant district of town that would probably have rooms. Travok relayed the information to the rest of the group and they decided to venture into the dark city streets toward the Rusty Dwarf Inn.
Chapter 2 – Hallucinations in the Night
It is now very late, and our adventurers are traveling the streets of Zarl under cover of darkness. The road to the merchant district is a long one, and their night has already been rough. After a few minutes of travel they are stopped by a member of the town militia who emerges from a nearby alleyway. He questions them regarding where they are from, where they are going, and why they are on the streets this late. Trying as best as they can to mask their identity and not reveal that they are from the Band of the Wolf, they answer his questions. The answers given seem to satisfy the guard, and he lets them know to be careful on the streets because the militia is very short handed as of late. They continue on, passing building after building. With an hour of travel behind them, they decide to stop and rest. The streets are pitch black and it is hard for the members of the group who do not benefit from darkvision to realize where they are. Sara begins to get a little spooked by the stillness of the city, and her fear goes into overdrive as she hears something terrifying. She hears a voice whisper her name, as if right beside her ear. Before she can alarm the rest of the group, Zuzu and Squee hear a voice as well. The voice whispers, “Gedric was a fool”. Zuzu immediately rose from the barrel where he was sitting, yelling out into the darkness in rage. “Show yourself, who dares mock my father!?” he screamed. Travok, who had been unaware of the voices noticed the door to the building closest to them was open. It had not previously been opened from what he could recall, and this coupled with the strange behavior of his friends was quite disturbing. Travok pointed out the door to the rest of the group, before making his way toward it with Squee close behind. Igniting a torch for light, Travok began to open the door, however the door completely collapsed off it’s hinges making a loud bang against the floor. Noticing something moving fast out of the corner of his eye, he quickly darted to the side evading the flash of fur that jumped through the door. Squee was not as lucky as a ferocious feline tackled his small goblin frame to the ground and swiped the length of his face, leaving horrendous bloody gashes. James ran toward Squee, striking out at the cat but it was gone into the alleyway before his weapon even came close. The tiny goblin screamed in pain, as blood streamed from his face onto the ground. Sensing the severity of the wounds, Sara scooped Squee up in her arms and burst through the doorway of the building, finding a table in a backroom that she laid Squee down upon. She ran back into the front of the building, noticing the many vials of strange things on her way in. Her knowledge as an alchemist might be able to put some of these strange components to use to save her tiny green friend. Following Sara into the building, Zuzu found himself unable to control his own body. His hand reached toward his pack, finding the skinning knife inside. He gripped it, trying to fight back the motions that his body was taking all on it’s own. Slowly approaching the goblin, who was now screaming hysterically in pain, Zuzu put the knife to his ear. With a forced flick of his wrist, Squee’s ear was severed and the goblin passed out from the pain. At this same moment outside, Travok and James turn to notice two of the town militia standing behind them. “What in the hell are you doing, and why is that goblin screaming over there in the grass,” the militia questioned the pair. James hesitated, beginning to panic as his words formed slowly trying to explain why they had entered this building. The guards looked confused, and questioned him as to what building he was referring to. James spun around pointing toward the direction of the building that Sara, Squee, and Zuzu had just entered. However, there was not a building there anymore. It was an empty lot with Squee and Zuzu in the middle of it, while Sara stood staring at a fencepost. James and Travok looked on, just as confused as the guards. The guards began to laugh hysterically, pointing out that James and his friends were obviously drunk. Giving them the same warning the last guard had, they disappeared down the street, leaving the adventurers to question what had just happened. Was it all a hallucination? Where they under a spell of some sort? What had happened was unclear, and the gash across Squee’s face was missing. His ear was also still attached and he was awake, but he could feel pain all over his face where the very realistic gash had formerly been.
Chapter 3 – A Fresh Start
Deciding to delay the discussion of what had just happened until another time, the party continued down the road. The sun was now starting to rise in the sky, and they had just passed over the bridge leading into the merchant district. Zuzu, James, Travok, and Squee decide to stop at the local barracks to inquire about employment with the town militia while Sara would go on ahead to secure their rooms at the Rusty Dwarf Inn. It was not a very long walk from here for Sara and she was able to spot the inn without too much difficulty. Upon entering, she found the place to be empty with the exception of an old barkeep. She approached him quickly, not wanting to waste time because fatigue was beginning to set in. The barkeep seemed to be a very nice old man, offering Sara four rooms for an entire month at a price of two-hundred gold coins. She quickly took the deal, leaving the keys at the front counter for her friends and enjoying a glass of milk with the old barkeep. After drinking the last of the milk, she retired to her own room after some much needed rest. Meanwhile, back at the barracks the rest of the group signed their names to the town militia’s ledger, pledging service in exchange for gold. Squee found some difficulties reaching the ledger atop the counter, even falling from a stool he had climbed up to reach it. The man in charge of the ledger wrote down the name of the inn where the adventurers were staying and notified them that a militia lieutenant would be by tonight to collect them for duties. Content with the jobs they had setup for themselves, the four made their way to the Rusty Dwarf Inn to acquire their rooms and some well deserved rest. Zuzu immediately approached the old barkeep, giving Sara’s description and asking if he had seen her. The old barkeep gave them a toothless smile, nodding his head. “Oh yes, I’ve seen the woman you’re talking about. Very beautiful, very nice.” James felt a bit of creepiness in the old man’s smile and he asked where Sara’s room was, feeling that the barkeep might have done something to her. Downstairs, Travok asked the barkeep how much it was for a room. The old man, never mentioning that their rooms had already been paid for and he had the keys, replied that the cost of a room would be seventy-five gold for a month. Travok flashed a look toward Squee, knowing that Sara and the goblin were the only ones with enough money to afford such costly lodging. Back upstairs, James banged on the door where the old man told him Sara was sleeping. After a minute of loud banging, the door flew open and James caught a fist to his nose sending him across the hallway. He looked up at a very grumpy Sara, barely clothed. His face turned red, stating that he was only worried about her because of the creepy behavior from the man downstairs. Sara decides to follow James back down into the inn, not bothering to clothe herself in more presentable attire. As she reaches the bottom of the stairs, she looks up at the barkeep asking if he had given her friends the keys to their rooms yet. Squee, Travok, and Zuzu, while very distracted by the manner that Sara was dressed turned toward the barkeep. “This man was trying to cheat us, he was going to make us pay for new rooms,” Travok declared. Angered, Sara charged the man grabbing him up in a display of strength that was very unlike herself. Throwing him to the ground, she mounted him and proceeded to pummel him. The expression on the old man’s face can only be described as the sheer happiness shining through his pain, of being beaten by a half-naked woman. The beating is quickly interrupted by two of the town militia entering the doorway to the tavern. Sara rises quickly, wiping blood from her fist and describing to the guards in a very flirtatious way that this man had tried to cheat them out of their money. Completely love-stricken at the sight of the half-naked elven woman, one of the guards rushes to her side, kicking the barkeep and relieving him of two-hundred gold, which he gives to Sara. The more serious guard begins to pass out identification papers to Zuzu, Squee, James, Travok, and he even has one for Sara, recognizing the majority of them from the barracks earlier. He lets them know that another man will be there at nightfall to pick them up and that they should get as much rest as possible. After the guards leave, everyone retires to their rooms.
Chapter 4 – Sara’s Curiosity
While the rest of the group rest in preparation of their jobs in the militia, Sara returns downstairs fully clothed and decides to go check out the merchant district. Before she leaves, she notices a board in the corner of the inn with job listings and wanted posters on it. She grabs a piece of paper from the board with strange writing on it. She begins to read the writing aloud, “Ye who seeks fortune, all that must be done is to repeat these words and it shall be yours, szadar cromkruick”. Thinking that the paper is utter nonsense, Sara puts it into her pack. She then ventures out into the merchant district to see what she can find. The merchant district during the day is much different than it was at night. There are people everywhere and the city is so alive with commerce. Sara passes many different types of shops, amazed at the variety of things the merchant city has. Getting a feeling of deja vu as she passes one of the shops, Sara decides to enter. The shop looks exactly like the one from last night, the shop where the cat attacked Squee. Looking around, she notices a frail old woman sitting at a table. As she approaches her, the old woman speaks up, “You shouldn’t enter uninvited, it’ll only get your friends hurt…again.” Sara’s mind races back to the horrendous image of Squee laying on the table with his face disfigured and blood running everywhere. Rage begins to fill her entire body and she pulled her arm back, taking a swing at the old woman. Before she could make contact with the woman her body froze, and pain began to surge through every fiber of her being. The old woman laughed sadistically before sending Sara flying through the door by some unexplained power and into the street. Fighting back the feeling that she could not move her body, Sara rolled to the side, a horseshoe narrowly missing her face. She jumped to her feet, full of fear, as she heard the old woman whisper, almost as if right in her ear “No matter, you’ll die soon enough”. Trying to take her mind off the grim message that the old woman had left her with, Sara entered an apothecary, wanting to fulfill her thirst for knowledge. Atop the counter in the apothecary shop danced a tiny little halfling woman. She was spinning in circles, singing, and throwing magical bursts of energy from her hands all over the room. The magic was colliding with potions on the wall, destroying them. Sensing Sara’s presence the tiny halfling stopped, and giggled as she floated off the counter. “Does magic fascinate you, pretty lady,” she questioned. Sara nodded her head, still in awe at the immense control over magic that the halfling had. The halfling girl smiled, and with a passing of her hands a piece of parchment formed between them. She handed the parchment to Sara. The parchment had very fancy designs as well as the words Quilo’s Apothecary Club – Meeting Tonight, Bring a Friend on it. The halfling spoke, fitting words in between constant giggling, “Just walk outside when it gets dark, then you and your friend place your hands on the invitation. I’ll teach you all sorts of amazing magic!” She shoo’d Sara away with a flick of her wrists and Sara walked out the door, feeling quite excited about the invitation. While making her way back to the Rusty Dwarf Inn, Sara noticed what she had originally been searching for, a Cartographer’s shop. She walked in immediately, inquiring with the shopkeeper who was busy behind a large book, about a map of the city of Zarl. The shopkeeper dropped his book, turning to the giant collection of scrolls and maps behind him. He pulled a specific one out and rolled it across the table. “Oh my, this map is just what you’re looking for miss. It is a speeeeeecial map, with very unique magic,” he stated looking to play on Sara’s interest and get her to spend more gold than she normally would. Sara wanted to know what was so special about the map, so the shopkeeper decided a demonstration was necessary. He asked her to name anyone. She stated Squee’s name, and the shopkeeper repeated it with his hands on the map. The map zoomed in on the merchant district, and eventually the Rusty Dwarf Inn. A small replica of a goblin appeared on the map inside of the Rusty Dwarf Inn. Sara was excited, this map is just what she had been looking for, and her curious nature toward any magical object was even more excited for it. The shopkeeper’s price for the map was six-hundred and fifty gold, but knowing she didn’t have enough Sara tried to use her womanly charm to lower the price. Her charms were to no avail and the shopkeeper refused to budge from his price. Fishing all of the gold out of her pocket, she placed it on the counter hoping to pay with it and make a deal for the difference. What she found, amazed her. The two-hundred gold that she had previously had was now six-hundred and ninety-two gold. Where had all of this gold come from? The shopkeeper took out the cost of the map and left her with it and the remaining gold. As she had done with many things the past few days, she pushed the excess gold into the back of her mind and headed back to the Rusty Dwarf Inn, a great idea forming in her mind.
Chapter 5 – A Very Untimely Plan
James and Squee were the first to wake from their sleep. Accounting for their belongings, they found all of their gold and some of their items missing. Zuzu and Travok soon followed discovering their gold and items to be missing as well. They all rushed downstairs, finding Sara with her map rolled out across one of the tables and completely ignoring the other person in the back corner of the room. They questioned her to see if her belongings were missing, to which she replied no. Normally, someone might find the huge map that she had obtained quite suspicious but they had just witnessed her get them rooms for free just by being half-naked. She decided to share the genius plan she had thought up with the rest of the group for making the gold back that they were missing. She sent Zuzu over to the board to grab one of the wanted posters. He returned with a wanted poster boasting a reward of five-hundred gold for the capture of a female dwarf named Katee Laupold dead or alive. Sara demonstrated how the map worked, saying the name of the bounty. The map zoomed in on the city, then on the Rusty Dwarf Inn. A replica of the wanted dwarf appeared, inside of the very inn they were standing in. Sara turned quickly to throw a blow, but her arm was grabbed and she was slammed into the bounty board from the dwarf’s throw. “If you were looking for me, I’m right here,” the female dwarf said through a smirk as she drew two hefty scimitars from their baldrics. These scimitars would normally each need to be held by two hands because of their size, but she wielded them each in one hand quite easily. She leaped onto the table, placing her feet firmly on the map that was just used to locate her. Zuzu stepped behind the rest of the group trying to remove himself from the confrontation. James, overcome with fear tried to flee but he was not fast enough. Katee jumped from the table, bringing the hilt of the scimitar down on his back and sending him falling to the ground. Realizing that he had no choice but to fight, Travok drew his dwarven axe and took a swing at Katee. She easily ducked under the blade and returned with a slash of her own, easily cutting into Travok’s armor and coating her blade with his blood. Zuzu, armed with a crossbow but recently missing all of the ammunition for the bow tried to swing it down onto Katee. She stepped forward, evading the blow and the crossbow was ripped from Zuzu’s grip. Sara finally climbed to her feet, feeling dazed from the blow to her head. Squee, focused on the five-hundred gold reward slashed at Katee with his katana, one of their weapons finally hitting it’s mark and barely cutting through her armor. With the loss of all of his items, James was left with a spear that he was untrained in. He rose to his feet and gripped the spear, taking a wide stab at Katee from behind, but she sidestepped, the point of the weapon missing. Travok decided to take another hack at Katee with his axe, this time from above. His axe found it’s mark, hewing into Katee’s shoulder as she let out a scream of pain and dropped to one knee. Blood flowed freely from the wound and flesh decorated the edge of the dwarven axe. Sara charged across the room, picking up the discarded crossbow of Zuzu’s and using it to restrain Katee. Katee pleaded for her life, but the group was only focused on the bounty and how dangerous this woman was. They did not want to risk sparing her life. The entire group took turns striking at the female dwarf, Zuzu’s knife missing it’s mark and stabbing Sara in the shoulder. Escaping from Sara’s grip, Katee spun around to try and get away but it was too late. Her spin led her straight into the the head of James’ spear. The spear slid through her abdomen with such force that it even came out of her back and stabbed Travok. The barkeep, who had hiding behind the bar in fear for his life this entire time peeked his head above it, to see Travok smash his fist down breaking the shaft of James’ spear and removing the spearhead from his body.
So, our heroes defeated Katee Laupold, whetting their blades with her dwarven blood in the middle of the inn. Katee was a criminal and they were now members of the town militia. As far as the law was concerned, they were completely in the right and they would not be punished for their actions. However, this is Zarl…and law is nothing more than a fake sense of power here. What wrath have our adventurers drawn out? Will they live through the night? We’ll know soon enough.