Dampbricks

Game Session 6

Grindday, Applenbreand 13th

  • Serenio meets with Pol Kanakol, receives instructions for sacred bundle.
  • Dwarven blacksmith complains to Pol Kanakol about how Wellington stole his ancestral blacksmith hammer.
  • PCs descend Smolt Hill to check in with Valdther, who tells them that the orcs raid about twice a week. Valdther and his soldiers cannot get organized to mount an attack; when they have, they have been consistently ambushed in the Savage Woods. They have discovered that there is an encampment or even small town several miles to the west.
  • Malwon uses his bardic tale to boost the morale of 2 units of soldiers (became friendly); failed with 2 units (became cautious).

Turnday, Applenbreand 14th

  • Scouted temple and the enormous tree down the hill from it.
  • Inside the tree, discovered a carving of a devilish head with horns and a gaping black hole for a mouth. When things were tossed into the hole, they vanished with a sizzle.
  • Made sketch of devil face. Got rubbing of runes/glyphs near the entrance to the tree.
  • Encountered giant termites and a band of orcs inside the tree.
  • Back in the woods west of the tree, PCs encountered and defeated 10 zombies. Eleusis bound three of them to her will using the instruments of her faith.

The session ended after the encounter with the zombies in the woods—late evening on App 14th.

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game sessions 4 and 5

Ironday, Applenbreand 4th

Ichi, Alena, Serenio, Jaxson, and Eleusis head back into the sewers to acquire a charcoal rubbing of the rune-covered door. Encounter ghouls. Jaxson and Ichi lead the group into goblin lair. Encounter a number of goblins led by a duergar priest. This priest smites Jaxson, slaying him. Ichi is mortally wounded, then bandaged by Alena. Alena is knocked unconscious. Only Serenio escapes through a trap door into the cellar of the Joyous Slaker. She tries to recuit help from a banjo-playing bard, but is unsuccessful until a few Hectorian guards led by Tedrik show up and charge into the cellars.

Grindday, Applenbreand 5th

The group recovers from its wounds; Jaxson has been raised from the dead by Deborah Jaella, the lead minister of the Temple of Nana.

Turnday, Applenbreand 6th

Ichi is nowhere to be found. In the evening, a group of circus performers arrives in Dampbricks. James Wellington shows up at the Slaker, dirty, unshaven, and seemingly quite disturbed. He drinks heavily. The party returns to the cellars to claim the contents of a chest that they had brought up from the sewers two days earlier. With some work, Malwon, a rogue recruited from the circus performers, is able to open the chest. Unfortunately, and although it had definitely contained coins and possibly other valuables when they brought it up, the chest was empty.

Darkday, Applenbreand 7th

The party traveled to Northwatch in order to contact a sage, Norune Drake, about the rubbings. Drake told them that he is a historian, not a linguist, and unable to help them with the runes. He suggested they contact a sage named Ahrens in Erwyld, a village west of Dampbricks.

Drinksday, Applenbreand 8th (Apple Festival, Dampbricks)

On the way to Erwyld, the PCs encountered several guards along logging roads. After some questioning, the guards told the PCs that there is a nest of drakes confounding the efforts of the loggers. Guards tried to proposition the PCs to kill the drakes.

At Erwyld, the PCs rented a room at the Sweetwater Bookshop. They also met up with the linguist Ahrens and showed him the rubbings of the runes from down in the sewers. Ahrens studied these and told them that he could research the document for a fee of 200 gold drachma a week, and it would probably take a couple of weeks to fully research. The PCs kept the rubbings and told Ahrens that they would think about it.

Causeday, Applenbreand 9th

PCs checked out the temple to the southwest of Erwyld. They were shut out of the temple. They scouted down the hill from the temple and faced off with eight zombies. Alena was mortally wounded, but bandaged. Wellington scouted further down past the dead forest to a giant, dead tree that seemed to actually be a hollow structure of some sort. There was a small entrance into it.

Applenbreand 10th and 11th (Bread Festival, Dampbricks)

Resting and healing at the Sweetwater Bookshop in Erwyld.

Ironday, Applenbreand 12th

Journeyed to Smolt Hill. Ambushed by four orcs and two orogs. Wounded, the party limped to the top of Smolt Hill to make it to the village and shrine of Kolhanah.

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Evening of Breadday, 3rd Applenbreand, 1010 G.E.
game session 3

The resident difficult PC, a gnome priestess of elemental fire, refused as usual to allow us all a smooth start. She wandered out to the edge of the city to look at the stars (“astrology proficiency check”, you see) while the other PCs looked for her. The stars hadn’t changed too much since she had looked at them the previous evening. “But I need practice.” Sure, fair enough.

Meanwhile the half-blind half-elf warrior priest, the druggie priestess, and the half-elf wizard are searching streets & cupboards for her.

After a rust monster, out from under the city for an evening snack, disintegrates and munches on the gnome’s mace, she yells curses and runs. The sounds come to the attention of the other PCs.

“That sounds like Serenio!” “I’d know those curses anywhere!”

By the time the other three reach her, the metal bands and working parts of her crossbow have been turned to rust. The monster munches. Only Pretty, the half-blind half-elf’s dog, can seem to penetrate the rust monster’s scales. Ichi (Pretty’s person, the nearly blind guy) slashes at the rust monster with his long sword, which crumbles to rust. The monster fixates on Ichi’s belted dagger, ignoring the plentiful rust pile at its side. It keeps missing the dagger. Serenio stabs at it with a crossbow bolt, which bends and snaps against the hard plates of its hide. Ichi tosses a flask of oil behind it. Splash!

All this time the pacifist half-elf wizard and neutral priestess opt out of this fray for personal reasons. Serenio kicks the monster and hurts her foot. Ichi tries to distract the critter and trick it into walking into the oil spill by throwing copper pennies. Rust monster wants dagger. It misses. “Throw the dagger into the oil!” orders Serenio. She stabs it with another bolt. The tip crumbles. Dagger gets thrown, rust monster follows it into oil. Serenio tosses burning tinder, but it fails to catch. RM munches, turns, fixates on dagger again. Its feet are covered in oil. Serenio tosses burning tinder: WHOOSH! Horrible agonized shrieks as RM burns.

The air is filled with the scent of thick, hot iron, burning blood and scales. The RM flares in violent flames for long moments. The pacifist hippie half-elf cries. Ichi proclaims that they have successfully defended the ferrous metals of Dambricks from certain doom. Two tipsy halflings wander by as the creature burns. “Oh, gods, it stinks! What did you do?! That’s terrible!” “Oh, you’re awful!”

After the encounter with the rust monster ended with the creature in screaming flames, the gnome, Serenio, had a headless mace and a useless crossbow, while Ichi’s long sword had been mostly consumed; he still had the hilt.

Ichi: “Let us find a tavern. I am an inveterate gambler. Surely I can win new weapons for us from some hapless adventuring fools!”

And so, back at The Joyous Slaker, they saw no adventurers. Not a weapon in the place. They crossed the street and stepped into Candlewick’s End for the first time. The place was extremely posh for the Dampbricks area, which is generally quite poor. But here, couples sat at romantic dinners in plush leather chairs, the lights were low, the staff was idle, and the grimy adventurers were unwelcome. Feeling awkward, the four left.

“Let us find a dive bar,” amended Ichi. And the diviest bar in town was the Ratskeller, out past the ruins of The Stinking Nightshade, which had been firebombed the previous night by an angry mob, and which the party intended to explore; but first, they needed to replace their destroyed weapons. And they would do so by gambling for them, since the weapons shop, aptly named The Rust Monster’s Corpse, had put out it’s “Closed. Please Call Again!” sign for the evening.

At the Ratskeller, greasy ruffians milled about the door, drinking and mingling crudely on what passed for a patio, but really was just the street outside. Ichi and the others pushed their way through, drawing dirty looks, sneers of derision, and amused stares. Clearly, there were many regulars at the Ratskeller, and clearly, Ichi, Serenio, Eleusis, and Alena were not them.

Inside the door, a half-orc bouncer stopped them. “What do you want? Who are you?”

“I’m a singer,” said Ichi.

“Oh really?” said the half-orc.

“We’d like to come in,” said Ichi.

“Sing first,” said the orc, pointing towards the stage.

Ichi demured.

“You—sing,” insisted the bouncer.

“You—orc,” mouthed Ichi.

Next thing he knew, he had been bodily moved back out the door by the half-orc. The other three, all women, were apparently welcome to stay. They followed Ichi. And on they all four went, and as they went, they passed the ruins of The Stinking Nightshade once more. It was about 10:30 in the evening.

“Might as well take a look,” Alena suggested.

“There’s nothing in there!” yelled Serenio, who had taken a quick look around after the rains had quenched the fire the night before.

“Well, let’s just have a look,” the other three insisted.

“Fine!” Serenio begrudged.

At the burnt-down wreck of The Stinking Nightshade, stone ruins remain. The party investigates a stairway revealed by last night’s fire. Eleusis starts down the stairs. She is charged by a dozen starving giant rats. They want to eat her. She uses her Priestess of Cambrisia power: incite fear! Rats promptly turn and cower. They huddle at the far end of the chamber downstairs. The party, fumbling with confusion, and scared of the scared rats, manages to open a door in the downstairs chamber while the rats cower. They head through, down more stairs.

The first thing they hear upon closing the door behind them is a terribly intimidating roar. Ahead of them, at the bottom of the stairs, they see strange two-headed, four-armed statues, carved to look like they are arguing. The statues point off in differing directions, while threatening each other with other arms.

More roars from the right-hand corridor. Clinging to each other closely with fear, the party hurries down the stairs and off to the left. Looking behind them, they see a monstrous, beaked beast, shaggy and filthy and enraged, chained to a wall. It pulls towards them and shakes the stones. Clawed paws scrabble on stone. The beast squawks and roars. The party gets as far away from this thing as possible. They run through a doorway ahead, into a chamber featuring double doors and a corridor opposite those.

Eleusis looks down the passage. The passage degrades into a rough-hewn corridor that snakes away at a 90 degree angle.

The group opens the double doors carefully. The room beyond is dominated by a steel machine. Wooden levers protrude at one end, while pipes poke from the other. These pipes have been plastered into the wall, sealing them smoothly where they pass through the stones. On the other side of the machine, more levers. Beyond the machine, there is another door to the right and a grated vent in a far corner.

Peering through the vent, Eleusis sees a passage. It is low, and actually seems to drop down a few feet. The passage beyond the vent smells fecund, like hot, damp earth, wet and humid.

Checking out the machine, the party sees there are a total of six levers, each of wood, and each currently in the “down” position. They decide not to mess with this thing quite yet, and open the door. Beyond it, two corridors stretch away from a right angle. Directly ahead of them, the party sees another door. This door has a three-foot square glass window. Behind the glass, metal bars.

Looking through the window, Eleusis sees nothing. Cautiously, she opens the hinged glass.

“Helloooo…?” she inquires. “Anybody there?”

No response. The cell beyond seems empty.

“This place is creeping me out,” says Ichi.

They travel down another corridor and reach another cell. Beyond the barred glass window of this one, a forest of fungus grows. A man-like thing of fungus sits gloomily on a rock. Slowly, it becomes aware of them. Eleusis opens the window. The figure rises. It trudges towards her. The thing has no mouth, and sad eyes. It raises stubby arms with stubby fingers as it approaches. Eleusis drops the glass of the window back into place. The fungoid figure reaches the door and grabs the iron bars with its pudgy fingers. It stares with melancholy eyes through the window. The party wonders about it. The decide caution is called for. This mushroom man drops his fungoid head in weary resignation. Its mushroom cap thunks against the door, forlorn. Some in the party feel empathy for the creature. Serenio wants to let it go. Cooler heads prevail, for now, and the group turns to check out the third cell, thirty feet down the corridor, directly opposite the fungus figure’s cell.

The third cell features a beautifully-carved statue, with bejeweled eyes and artistically ornamental fingernails. Exquisite detail.

“Treasure!” proclaims Ichi.

But what if it’s a trap? thinks everyone. Huh. Perhaps they should return to the machine or explore the other corridor in the room before the double doors and the machine room. Yes, that’s it. They do so.

After touring the strange and sparse zoo (or was it a prison?) that also held a too-ornamental statue, the party backtracked. Back through the machine room, back through the double doors, and down the rough-hewn corridor that jogged sharply to the right. And again it turned on another right angle, opening up into a small cave-like chamber. To the left, this opened up into a larger cavern. Across from the cavern opening, a worn wooden door, and diagonally across the way from that, a metal cylinder had been set into the wall. The cylinder held a keyhole. After some hushed consideration, the party opened the door.

There sat a dwarf. He sat on a crate, enjoying some soup. He looked up at the intrusion and blustered, “What—? What?? What are you doing?”

“Oh, just exploring,” Ichi said off-handedly.

“Exploring?! Exploring what?” demanded the dwarf, rising now to his full four feet.

“You know, the ruins. Of the Stinking Nightshade. This place,” said the half-blind half-elf, gesturing casually to encompass the underground complex.

“Ruins!” shouted the dwarf. “This is my home!”

Ichi frowned, fearing he had some bad news to break to this dwarf. “You do know,” ventured Ichi gently, “that the Stinking Nightshade burnt down, don’t you?”

“Yes, yes, of course I know that!” yelled the dwarf. “How—how, when did you get in here? When? Oh, damn… that owlbear was making a racket earlier.” The dwarf frowned.

“Are you a slave?” asked Ichi, perhaps with a bit of impropriety. “Has Voz enslaved you?”

“What?! No!” barked the dwarf. “I was a slave, but not Voz’s.” His brows furrowed. “Say, you all need to leave,” he said decisively.

“We’re not going anywhere, buster!!” Serenio shouted. Everyone turned to her and blinked. The dwarf’s hair stood on end.

Long pause.

Ichi cleared his throat. “Um, yes,” he said, moving forward in the space cleared by Serenio’s shout. “What is this place?”

“It’s my home!” yelled the dwarf. “GET OUT!”

Ichi and the others pressed the dwarf for information. It went on like this for long moments. Finally, the dwarf brightened, as if struck by a sudden notion. “Saaaay,” he said, taking a friendly tack. “Wanna see something neat?”

“No,” replied the four in unison.

“Oh, I insist,” insisted the dwarf, pushing past them with his stout little body. He went out into the small cave, producing a key ring. He stuck a key in the cylinder and turned. The party protested, demanding to know just what he was doing.

“You’ll like it, just wait,” he said off-handedly. Then he bolted back to his chamber and tried to lock them out. But Serenio and Alena were quicker and ducked into his chamber before he could shut the door. Once inside, the dwarf threw himself against the door, but Serenio had ganked his keyring, so he couldn’t lock it. He struggled to keep the door closed against Ichi and Eleusis, but failed. Ichi forced the door, sending the dwarf sprawling back. Ichi then pinned him. Eleusis came in quickly and closed the door. When the dwarf had turned the key in the cylinder, they had all heard a grinding noise, as if some portcullis or other thing best left shut were opening.

“What. Did. You. Do.?” threatened Ichi through clenched teeth. The dwarf was mum. Ichi, being a warrior-priest of justice & revenge, after all, let his nasty side out to play. He backhanded the dwarf, bloodying the dwarf’s nose in the process. “What did you do?! You opened something, what did you open?!”

The dwarf spat blood and looked suddenly pathetic. He gasped, then glared. Ichi threatened him again.

“Scorpion!” bleated the dwarf. “I let the scorpion out…”

The party considers throwing the dwarf out into the dungeon beyond and allowing the scorpion to have its way with him, but then think better of it; after all, if the scorpion killed the dwarf, they would still be trapped in this room, unable to leave without dealing with the creature. By browbeating the dwarf into submission, they convince him to trap the scorpion and help them set the fungus-man free.

The fungus man is happy to be free, but doesn’t know which way to go to get home. The dwarf knows. He leads fungus-man and the party down more corridors and through another lab and past another machines, down even more corridors and to a dead end. At the dead end, he taps and twists an extruding rock, and the dead end opens onto a natural stairway of slippery stone.

Everyone descends. At a landing, the dwarf asks Alena, who has been telepathically linked with the fungus-man through exposure to some of its spores, to ask it if it knows where it is.

“Nooooooooo…” murmurs the fungus-man mournfully, or sensations to that effect, through their telepathic link.

The party descends further into what Ichi conjectures is the Underdark.

“Ask him again,” says the dwarf.

Alena does.

Fungus-man hesitates, then sends happy signals through the telepathic link, and begins to trudge down a corridor.

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Breadday, 3rd Applenbreand, 1010 G.E.
game session 2

In the wee hours, after the flames had been quenched by the thunderstorm brought by Hiraevun, Serenio snuck up the stone stairs of the ruins revealed by the burning of the Nightshade. She found a storage room full of exploded glass containers, boxes of scrap metal, several skulls of common and strange animals, tubs of salt crystals and other minerals, a jar of copper pennies, and tucked away in an eastern nook, untouched by the fire, several hundred sheets of unused parchment. Bored by this, she took none of it and stuck her head through the burnt doorway to the west. The floorboards beyond had been ruined by the fire and the structural integrity of the remnants of the room were clearly compromised: fifteen or so feet from where she stood, the floor had collapsed, revealing the dirty pillars of a stone foundation, charred and choked with fire-dust.

After sunrise, another festering worm broke through from the sewers, along Candlewick Way between Candlewick’s End and the Joyous Slaker. The worm was defeated and retreated to the sewers, although Jaxson (a polytheistic paladin serving the ideals of both Nana and Hector), Ichi, and Eleusis fled in fear as it expelled an uncanny and foul shriek of retreat. Alena hurled a piece of debris at it as it retreated, which smacked into wet chitin plates and slid down the worm’s side.

After attempting to enter the sewers through the first worm hole and finding that too difficult, the party used a rope to lower themselves into the grid underlying the city at the freshly-burrowed hole on Candlewick Way. Once in the sewers, the group headed northeast, attempting to navigate their way towards Nana’s sacred grove, but became confused when they ran into some shoddily-constructed walls that had clearly been placed more recently than the original structure. After an attempt to break through these barriers, they turned back and returned to their point of ingress, then traveled southeast.

The eastern corridor immediately south of the point of ingress seemed suspicious to Serenio, and the party hesitated, noticing a fractured plate of glass shoved into an alcove about eight feet up the wall, just east of the intersection. The paladin Jaxson threw a piece of debris in an attempt to shatter the plate; the missile fell short, but did not fail to trigger a sonic alarm trap, which shattered the plate of glass. Glass fragments rained to the ground, but the group stood clear of this shrapnel, safe in the intersection and western corridor.

Moving through the broken glass, they discovered a wall carved with grotesque faces blocking any progress to the east. Eleusis was curious about the carvings, and although she could not identify anything familiar about their style, she did notice that the largest one, about eye-level to her, had blue quartz stones inset into it as eyes. When the priestess touched the face, it screamed a tirade of accusations and called for help, then fell silent. The face’s fearful cry was followed immediately by a bellowing voice somewhere in the corridor behind them: “Kill them all!” Prepared for some horrible onslaught, the five turned to face whatever opponents approached, but were confronted with nothing. Settling their nerves, then, they directed their attention back to the wall. An alcove was noticed some fifteen feet up. Several attempts were made to climb the structure, using the carved faces as hand- and footholds. More screaming accusations and insults issued from these carvings, and every attempt at climbing the wall ended in the climber either slipping or being startled backwards. After some consideration, the group organized itself into a living ladder, and the half-elf Alena stood on top, peering into the alcove. Scattered in the shallow space were some two dozen silver denari, a disappointment after the group’s efforts. Sensing another trap, the group hesitated to take the coins, and before any action could be taken, a contingent of goblin guards arrived on the scene.

The goblin threat was neutralized as Alena charmed the biggest of the three filthy humanoids. Incredibly, this goblin spoke a fractured rendition of Semnassin common. Gazing affectionately at Alena, Vee (one of three; its companions both being named Vee as well), agreed to lead them to an entrance to the area behind the grotesque wall.

The group was led to the south and then east, where another contingent of goblin guards waited. Recognizing that a fight was nearly inevitable at this point, Alena led her charmed friend back up the corridor and distracted him while the others struggled against five goblins. Four were killed, some of which suffered various states of dismemberment, while the fifth goblin fled through a previously concealed door in a northern wall. Learning from Vee that this led “home”, the group decided they were currently too weak to confront an entire lair of the little goblin fiends, and turned back the way they came.

Another fractured conversation with Vee revealed that he and the other goblins pointedly avoided an area east of their lair. Alena asked if he could show them the way to this area, which he agreed to do only after being promised a few shiny coins from Jaxson and Ichi. After he led them to some stairs by a waterfall of sewage, he refused to go any further, although the bribes he had received and his fondness for Alena were enough to keep him near the stairway, waiting for the group. After feeling some incorporeal thing brush by, Jaxson concentrated to detect evil, which he felt leaking powerfully from the corridor at the top of the stairs. Likewise, Ichi cast detect magic, but wasn’t able to sense anything out of the ordinary.

At the top of the stairs, the party was confronted with a corridor of hanging corpses, an exact image from Eleusis’s recent nightmare vision. Pushing their way beyond this carnage, they came to a large grotto filled with smashed wooden furniture and other signs of struggle. Eleusis recognized worked limestone columns of crude animistic carvings as totems typical to Moorlock tribes.

Once again detecting for evil and sweeping the area for magic, Jaxson and Ichi sensed strong presences of both coming from a couple of areas across the stream of sewage. A crude wooden bridge stood on the northeastern edge of the grotto, which the group crossed cautiously. Evil streamed from a dark corridor directly eastward, while the lure of magic pulled the group to the southeast. Here, they encountered a rune-covered door, closed against them, with no handle. The priestesses studied the runes, which were in some ancient foreign script, and noticed that here and there the door was marked with astrological sigils. A pale green moon, representing Meerhu , shimmered briefly as the two pored over the symbols. As the group was wondering about this puzzling phenomena, a disturbing series of chuckles echoed off the walls of the corridor directly east of the bridge.

Instantly and foolishly, Eleusis left the door to peer around the corner. She saw what was coming: a pair of clawed hands of burning coal-like skin scraped across her face in quick succession, followed by a lurid visage which shot forward in an attempt to bite. Her wounds bleeding and steaming, she retreated quickly. Jaxson and Ichi moved forward to face the creature, which seemed to be some sort of fiery demon composed of magma and pitch. From the rear, Serenio sent arrows at this searing adversary while Alena threw her dagger at it. The demon landed a punishing blow on Ichi’s shoulder before being driven back by a powerful blow from Jaxson. It collapsed into oozing magma, and as it slithered its way down the corridor, Ichi hurled holy water after it. On contact, the holy water sizzled and steamed, causing fragments of the fleeing demonic lava flow to harden and break off. The remnants of the creature found several fissures to squeeze through.

In a mostly bare lair at the end of the corridor, the party found the severed body parts taken from the murdered people of Dampbricks: ears, fingertips, stolen bones. Oddly, hidden in a cache in one corner were three gems and a stowage of Thulian nickels. Gathering up this treasure, the group of Dampbricks adventurers egressed to the worm hole that they had entered through, and Alena left charmed Vee to pine after her in his sewer, although she did promise to return to visit him soon.

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Millsday, 2nd Applenbreand, 1010 G.E.
game session 1

The citizens of Northeast Dampbricks had spent the previous day restless and anxious over the latest in a string of related murders. The Abbey of Hector recruited both courageous citizens and young initiates from their own ranks, forming organized shifts of watchmen to patrol the streets and maintain posts in at-risk areas. This vigil may have deterred the murderer from striking, as the dark hours passed without incident.

Shortly after dawn on Millsday, two roguish figures passed through the streets, each tending to his own business. Petty Agent Wellington spent a few uninvited moments inside the ramshackle Hall of the Urchin Kings. Unimpressed by the vacant and dusty ground floor, he ascended the unstable stairway. Unconcerned with stealth or caution, Agent Wellington attracted the attention of one of the Urchin Kings, who curtly asked him who he was and what exactly in the hells he thought he was doing there. Unable to produce a satisfactory answer, the rookie agent was told in no uncertain terms to leave. As he descended the stairs, he felt at least one set of attentive eyes on his back.

A few blocks west, a cocky and underemployed private investigator by the name of Traudek Utgarde, of dwarvish lineage-complete with a background of years of enslavement which often haunts those of that stout race born within the borders of the Greater Gearmorgian Empire-posted himself on the fringes of a group gathered at the Community Market. Here he heard the rising of outraged voices proposing a plan to confront the suspicious herbalist Voz, proprietor of the Stinking Nightshade, a shop only a few doors down from Utgarde’s own office. Accusations of “cavorting with demons” and “witchery” were repeatedly shouted by this prototypical mob.

Around ten in the morning, crowds gathered outside the Temple of Nana. In the sacred grove, located in a courtyard protected by the walls and chambers of the temple, a pestilent rot had suddenly set into the largest of the apple trees. Several volunteers who had been clearing the ground of the diseased apples had been infected by small grubs, which oozed from the spoiled fruit and burrowed through their hands and forearms. These lay devotees were immediately taken to the infirmary inside the temple walls, where they were cared for by experienced healers. The word later in the day was that all were expected to make a full recovery.

Ichi, an eccentric and half-blind warrior priest of Hector, approached his superiors and was able to insinuate himself into a meeting between several of the Hectorians and a committee of the Nanan priestesses and priests in the late afternoon and early evening. At the meeting he learned more of the infected grove: the Nanan clergy would be conducting a protective and healing ceremony in the grove over the coming days, with the aim of healing the tree if possible, or at the very least of consecrating the grove against further plagues. The general consensus was that an unwholesome presence somewhere below the grove had tainted the soil and roots. The Nanans were eager to assemble an expedition to enter the sewers below the district in order to explore the problem. Tedrik, Chief Guard of the Abbey of Hector, had reached a similar conclusion earlier in the day, and was eager to send Ichi and a few other young initiates on this expedition.

During the commotion outside the Temple of Nana earlier in the morning, Traudek Utgarde had brashly confronted Agent Wellington. After overhearing the agent’s questioning of a local gnome recluse, Utgarde accused him of being a slaver and then threatened the young careerist with violence and dismemberment. This potentially deadly conflict was stopped by the intervention of several priestesses of Nana who were especially displeased with this bickering near the ground of their temple during an already stressful time. The scene between the two rogues also drew the attention of Chief Guard Tedrik, who called Agent Wellington over and lectured him on the authority of the Abbey of Hector in this part of Semnavoldt, as well as giving him a pointed tutorial in the unwritten law that the vigilante authority of Hector enforces in the area. He insisted that Wellington leave the area and return to his captain in Judes with the message that the investigative activities of the Department of Interior Information were not welcome beyond the Watchwalls which the Hectorians had erected as borders between the eastern and western parts of the city.

Agent Wellington nodded and agreed to the Chief Guard’s terms, then left the immediate area with no intention of acting on Tedrik’s injunction. During the early evening meeting between the two community temples, Agent Wellington continued to explore the Dampbricks area in pursuit of his own mission. He visited the Ratter’s neighborhood, where he targeted a young, bombastic gnome by the name of Lucky Silvers, who was entertaining a sizable group of local thugs with jokes and physical humor. Agent Wellington waited until the crowd dispersed, then fell in beside Silvers, attempting to hire his services for some silver. This plan backfired, and Agent Wellington found himself surrounded by hostile thugs in an alley. Quickly, he scrambled up an apartment wall to safety. Lucky Silvers half-heartedly pursued him, giving up the chase with drunken good humor and falling back into the alley with the grace of an acrobat.

At dusk, a young acolyte, Eleusis, emerged from within the chthonic stone walls of the Oracle of Cambrisia. Earlier in the day, Eleusis had received instructions from the high priestess of her order to act on a vision received during the latest Ami-Ami ceremony. El located a few local street kids and promised them a few coppers if they would send the leader of the Urchin Kings her way. After about an hour, a young Urchin King named Rasha showed up to inquire about what the acolyte needed. Slightly disappointed that no higher-ranking king had responded to her summons, Eleusis nonetheless explained her vision to Rasha, who was entranced by the story and interested in assisting Eleusis in finding the five people in her vision: “two warriors, a laughing elf, a shadowy man, and a gnome woman.” Eleusis, however, was reluctant to leave the temple; with some cajoling, Rasha eventually persuaded Eleusis to leave the sanctuary of the Oracle in order to fulfill her duties.

After a brief stop at the Stinking Nightshade to purchase cafune from Voz and inquire about the misty, other-planar humanoid called “Thusselwesset” that Voz had introduced Eleusis to the night before, Eleusis and Rasha paid a visit to the nearby office of Traudek Utgarde. While Eleusis tried unsuccessfully to get more information from Voz about Thusselwesset, Rasha was sent over to Utgarde’s. After knocking on the door, Rasha was at a loss of what to tell the dour dwarf aside from, “My friend Eleusis wants to talk to you. She’ll be here in a minute.” Utgarde was put out by the seemingly pointless intrusion, and as is his way, antagonized her in hopes of making her want to leave. Unfortunately for him, the buoyant, carefree young Urchin King, although irritated by his hostility, told him to relax and wait for the priestess.

When Eleusis arrived at Utgarde’s office, the two engaged in a tense conversation about her vision and the nature of reality and religion. On the one hand, the acolyte was determined to convince this dwarf of ill disposition and manners that his services were essential to the well-being of the community. For his part, Utgarde remained unconvinced of the veracity of her vision or the importance of her mission. Only when she agreed to bankroll him at a monthly fee of ten gold drachmas did he drop his reservations and join the common cause.

From there, this motley group of three proceeded towards the Abbey of Hector, in search of the enigmatic warrior-priest Ichi. To their surprise, Utgarde’s earlier adversary, the highly unpopular Agent Wellington, was spotted nearby. Eleusis mediated between the two rogues and eventually convinced them of the need to put aside hostilities; rather, she seemed to persuade Wellington, and reminded Utgarde that he was now working for her. Revealingly, Utgarde set his own moral code aside when reminded of the sum of ten drachmas he would be receiving as a monthly wage.

Moments later, Ichi approached, part of a group of half a dozen Hectorians. His own goodwill and interest in serving the community combined with a reverence for Eleusis’ visionary powers led him to agree to join the fledgling party as they sought the two women of the vision: the laughing elf and unknown gnome. They headed to the Joyous Slaker, where Ichi had met Alena, the elf from the acolyte’s vision, just the night before.

Before they could enter this tavern, which advertised itself as “a house of pleasures”, the dark brick of the avenue before them exploded upward. An enormous worm, dripping with grease and pungent ichor, burrowed up from below. As this horror rose like a column into the early evening air, Agent Wellington, quick of reflex, sped forward with drawn broadsword and dealt it a punishing gash. The acolyte, half-blind warrior-priest, and jaded dwarf were less successful in their attacks. Rocked by its sudden injury, the worm opened its great maw and unleashed an unfathomable scream, an agonizing bass shriek, which was accompanied by a radial expulsion of repulsive excrement and grease. Shockwaves of ichor and rumbling assaulted all within thirty feet. Overcome with fear, Eleusis and Wellington, along with Ichi’s dog, Pretty, abandoned the area as quickly as they could. Seeing her friend traumatized in this way, Rasha finally unsheathed her longsword and plunged it deeply into the worm’s putrid flesh. With a convulsion, the creature fell, dying, onto the street. Bricks broke and were tossed into the air like dust as the thing impacted the ground.

Fascinated with this grotesque giant, Utgarde approached the creature’s mouth, curious about the sharpness of its teeth. Perhaps he could pull one from its rubbery maw and fashion a crude but effective blade? Not so; the teeth were blunter than he would have liked. Yet he did notice a fascinating occurrence: the spongy gums dripped with an acrid green substance. When drops of this slime fell onto the soft limestone sections of road, it fizzed and created pock-marks. Taking one of his daggers in hand, Utgarde slid the blade across the gums, touching the metal to the weird substance. The metal held; the corrosive liquid did not effect it. Intrigued at the possibility of coating his blade with this corrosive poison, Utgarde plunged his sword into the worm’s gullet, then withdrew. He watched the dripping substance harden on the blade after only a moment. It expanded to form a thick crust which made the blade unwieldy. Grunting, the dwarf slammed the encrusted blade against the road several times, and the encasement shattered into chunks and bits. These he gathered into his backpack, suddenly inspired to take them to the alchemist Voz at the Stinking Nightshade; surely he would be familiar with this stuff.

But Voz, though clearly fascinated by the crusted corrosive, claimed ignorance. “This is the best news I’ve had all day!” enthused the herbalist when Utgarde told him of the worm. The dwarf pressed the unwashed wizard for answers, refusing to believe that this arcane professional had no knowledge of the worm that had so recently broken through to the surface. Remembering the mob from earlier in the day, Utgarde insisted that if Voz did not tell him what he knew of the worm and the recent murders, “they”-the mob-would be coming for him. Voz, disliking the dwarf’s issuing of such threats within the walls of his own shop, told Utgarde to leave. The dwarf refused. The alchemist-wizard gave a display of his power: from a distance, he caused the door on a tall, multi-leveled iron cage to open, releasing a hoard of some forty giant rats. These moved as if under the wizard’s command, stopping just short of Voz’s impertinent visitor. Still, Utgarde blustered and bluffed, insisting that the wizard tell him more. Voz had had enough. The rats lunged to consume the short demi-human. It was then that Utgarde fled quickly. As he ran away, he heard the door slam and lock behind him.

Back at the Slaker, Alena had joined the group after the battle with the worm. From inside the tavern, while they all ate dinner, James Wellington spotted, from the window at his side, the gnome woman he had met earlier in the day, now snooping curiously around the wormhole. In half a moment, the dinner party had her surrounded and were imploring her in all sorts of ways to join them. The gnome basically told them all to screw off.

Only after Utgarde had returned, fuming from his encounter with Voz and suggesting that they all go burn his shop down, did this gnome, Serenio, become interested in the goings-on in Dampbricks. But it took Rasha’s sudden comment of, “Um… Traudek… I don’t think you’re going to need to set fire to the Stinking Nightshade…” to hook Serenio into the activities in her district. And they could all see it from where they stood: some quarter-mile to the southeast, the Stinking Nightshade had been torched and was burning, casting a feverish haze of red flame and fire in far-reaching columns. The angry mob that Utgarde had heard earlier and threatened the alchemist with had indeed struck. The flames consumed the wood front of the Nightshade, but did not stop there; they leaped across the alley and razed Utgarde’s own office, as well as two other wooden buildings on the block. Only when Hiraevun decided it was time, and sent a torrent of night rains, did the flames die. Yet in the ruins of the Nightshade, a smoldering stone structure remained.

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