Chapter 03:

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Session Number: 147
Date: Sunday 23 September 2012
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog2/Clr10 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Calico Drd12 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Lionel Rgr6/Wiz1/ArcA5 (Ash) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal12 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz12 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

How to get all five party members holding the staff inside a three foot square area? Various schemes involving such magicks as Floating Discs and Spider Climb are discussed and rejected. It's just not practical. The party settle on testing the slab and staff with just two party members: cal in animal shape, and one other. ro, tr and arr fight over who else gets to go. ro pulls rank, ending the discussion.

cal Wild Shapes into an eagle and hops onto the slab. arr enters and buffs him with Owl's Wisdom and Aid. He then leaves and ro takes his place. She lowers the staff so cal can perch on its end, then straightens up. "See you soon," she says, then fits the square end of the staff into the slab's hole.

cal's magic-attuned eyes see the slab glowing brighter, then the slab and staff disappear. The pair look around. The others are still gathered around, looking on with trepidation. tr's bracers, arr's sword and necklace, lio's bow all glow with multihued magic.

cal dispenses with his Wild Shape. "The antimagic field is gone," he says.

"Has it teleported away the source of the antimagic?" ro asks.

"The staff and slab did not disappear," tr says, leaving a pregnant pause.

"We have all transported to a different place that looks the same?" ro finishes. She looks around, as do the others. They stand in the cave - but is it the same cave? The dimensions and shape are the same, but the passage mouth to the west that they entered through is gone. Instead, there are new passageways north and south.

"We have changed location," arr says. He hears nothing nearby.

The party explore. ro now stands on a mound of unbroken earth rather than a cut stone slab. she mentally calls to har; her steed does not answer. cal ventures to the wall where they supposedly entered. It is solid.

The party head south, following the winding passage. Ten minutes later it exits to the outside world. Behind them is a grassy hill, a few tens of feet ahead is a treeline that marks a forest that extends to the left and right.

ro's stomach tells her it is approaching midmorning. She looks at the sky and locates the sun. "What time of day is it, lio?" she asks, pointing up.

lio shades his eyes. "Two, two and a half hours to midday," he answers.

"About what I'd expect," ro says.

The party return to the subterranean cave and venture into the northern tunnel. It veers right, to the east, then exits to a similar vista. The party head to the right, follow the hill contour on their right and keeping the forest on their left. cal notices that just inside the forest edge there appears to be an antimagic barrier.

Twenty minutes later the party encounter the first cave entrance. ro queries lio about the tracks in the original cavern: three sets, heading both to and from the discarded staff. tr suggests experimenting with the copied staff stored in ro's backpack. arr mentions that there may be tracks inside this cavern that may yield some information. Now mindful that their careless wanderings may have already compromised any tracks, ro sends lio in alone while the remainder wait outside the south entrance. Half an hour later, he returns.

"Besides our own, there are two sets of tracks exiting here. It seems we are the only ones that ventured through the north tunnel."

"Where do the tracks lead from here?" ro asks.

"That way." lio gestures to the west. "The only tracks to the east are our own."

The party follow the tracks. cal keeps a wary eye on the antimagic field interface, visible to him inside the treeline. About a quarter hour later the treeline breaks; before them lies a sandy beach and the sea. There are no features visible upon the water, no ships or masts. The path and the tracks veer right, following the hill.

"Is this the island?" ro asks. "tr, does this bear any resemblance to the island mentioned on those three sheaves of paper?" tr pulls the books and papers out of ro's backpack. The account of the island is far from complete, but it does mention a hill with a cave in it.

cal assumes his blink dog Wild Shape and the party continue following the tracks as they round the hill to the north. Their path parallels the sandy coastline to the left which arcs towards the northwest in a shallow bay. Soon, they begin to pass the hill to their right; it gives way to grassy plain. To the north lies a sparse forest that the tracks lead straight towards.

Fifteen minutes later the party near the treeline. cal sees the familiar antimagic field just beyond. As the party venture inside, cal is forced back into human form.

The party make their way between the tree trunks when arr pulls everyone up short. "Shhhh!" he says. "A rustling, off to the right."

"I hear it," cal confirms. "Sounds like something on the move, fairly close." There is nothing visible in that direction.

"It's getting closer," arr says after a brief pause, "moving in a southerly direction, towards the hill. Let's cut it off!"

Everyone heads back at best sustainable speed. Unfortunately, without her steed, ro is soon left behind. "Tell me what happens!" she yells ahead. "Schist, I'm going to be sore tomorrow!"

The others exit the forest and its antimagic field. cal immediately resumes dog form and bounds ahead, running and blinking. The sound can still be heard to their left, now slightly behind them: they seem to be outdistancing the source. After a few minutes, cal stops and waits for the others - except ro who is now minutes behind. The noise is still there. cal Blinks east across the grass towards the cave entrance, out of sight to the east. arr and tr follow on foot as best they can.

cal stops alongside the cave entrance. His companions are out of sight behind. He hears a rustling in the woods to the north. It is closing. He growls.

arr pauses to cast True Seeing, then resumes the pursuit. tr disappears, Teleporting ahead to the cave entrance just visible ahead. cal sees the wizard arrive, then casts Eyes of the Avoral upon himself. tr passes a hand over his face, then becomes Invisibile. They both hear something coming closer, something that manifests into a person-shaped silhouette. cal waits, his fur bristling unconsciously.

Two arrows hit the ground nearby, originating from within the forest. They arced over the trees and seemed haphazardly aimed; the archer is still a way off. More shots: one thuds into the earth ten feet away from cal. The archer is perhaps something under a hundred yards away. cal Dimension Doors fifty yards to the east. tr sees two figures, one human-sized in the lead, another pursuing, less distinct. Mere seconds later and fifty yards to the north, the lead figure comes into view: a human female, blonde, with ragged clothes and carrying a staff. her pursuer is about fifty feet behind her. tr backs up towards the cliff face. More arrows shoot past the female, lodging in the grass between her and tr. The woman runs, her pursuers loose more arrows after her. None find their mark. She breaks from the trees. tr stays clear of her path, cal Dimension Doors closer to it. More arrows arc out. The woman stops, turns around and casts a spell: Wind Wall. The snapping of twigs and broken silhouette resolves into a human warrior, armoured in leather, bow in hand and short sword strapped to his side. He stops short of exiting the treeline and the Antimagic Field. His bow is bent, arrow nocked, aimed at the woman. tr Dimension Jaunts closer.

The woman casts a spell on herself: Mage Armour. The archer loose two arrows, bothe are disrupted by the Wind Wall. tr Dimension Jaunts near the woman, who now faces away from him.

"You can't hide behind your magic forever!" He turns and walks deeper into the forest.

"I don't know…" tr says quietly. "I think magic's quite a good thing to hide behind." The woman whirls around and points her staff in tr's direction. She stares at the dog, confused. cal folds his canine ears close to his head, appears nonthreatening and moves slowly forward. tr Dimension Jaunts to the side, avoiding the business end of the staff.

"Who's there?"

tr ends his Invisibility. "{speech}".

"You're a wizard?" the woman says. "In this place, you're going to die. Why are you here?"

"I'm on holiday," tr replies, a little hurt that his speech is so casually dismissed. "There's a balmy beach, nice place to go…"

The woman disappears, not before tr identified her casting Invisibility. She is indistinct but still visible to tr's eyes, thanks to his Clarity of Vision. "Don't you think there is safety in numbers?" he replies, looking straight at her. She flees.

cal casts Listening Lore on himself, then teleports to where he last saw the woman. He locates her with blindsight and follows her.

"Let her go if she wants to die," tr says, not moving. "We don't need stupid spellcasters. cal keeps following. arr hustles towards the dog.

Meanwhile, ro keeps trudging south. An arrow flies past her from left to right, from the forest. She stops and draws her bow, looking into the forest. She sees a figure closing. "Identify yourself!"

"You first! Why are you here?" A man's voice.

"That is my own business," ro replies. "Come out and talk like civilised people." She lowers her aim. She sees two more figures behind the first. She releases the tension on the bowstring, puts the arrow back in its quiver and stows the bow. "Come on, then. Let's have it out!"

Three men leave the forest. The lead wears leather armour and bears a bent bow, its arrow aimed at ro's head. He is flanked by two others in metal armour with greatswords.

"That's better!" ro says. "So, who are you, and where am I?"

"You don't know where you are?"

"I just asked you. And you are?"

"You are not allowed to be here. How did you get here?"

"I will keep my counsel until you identify yourselves."

"That will not happen. Answer now or we shall attack!" The three walk towards ro.

"I do not wish to shed your blood," ro says, hands open and axe at her side, "but I will know who I am speaking to."

"You are outnumbered!"

"I see three men. Not nearly enough. If it helps, my name is Lady Rowaine Kharag, of the Silver Hand, Paladin of Moradin and Elf-Friend. Who do I address?"

"My name is Torik, and I highly doubt you can beat all six of us."

"Six? Come out and show yourselves, then! Or if you wish to hide like children in the forest, then be my guest. The grownups are talking!"

Three more men step out from behind trees: a bowman and two that bear greatswords.

ro's attention turns back to their leader. "Your name is Torik? What duchy is this? What county? Who is your king?"

"We have no king."

"Who do you call master? Who pays your wage?"

"We pay our own wage."

"Highwaymen? Vagabonds? Preying upon the weak?" ro absently caresses the haft of her waraxe. "You will not find me… weak."

The other bowman circles around. "We will ask you once more," Torik says. "Why are you here? Answer, or we shall attack!"

ro looks closely at tor. Her ability to sense evil is suppressed, but she is still a fair judge of character. He doesn't seem the vagabond type. "Show me some authority and I will answer your question," she says. Torik and the other bowman take aim. Perhaps she was wrong…

To the south, cal can no longer sense the woman he is following. arr and tr catch up to him.

"So?" tr says to cal. "Where is she? Fetch!"

"What happened over there?" arr asks. tr briefly explains.

"I have True Seeing in effect right now," arr says. If the woman came within forty yards of me, I would have seen her."

cal Wild Shapes into a bird, flies and casts Entangle centred on where he last knew the woman to be. The grasses writhe at his behest but do not capture the woman. He flies in search of ro, tracking the path.

"I am here to follow up a lead," ro says to tor, ignoring the arrowtip pointing at her eye.

"A lead?"

"Yes. I am here to investigate a death."

"There have been many deaths here," tor says. "Specify!"

"An elf, named Alonso." The bows trained on ro lower slightly. ro notices tor deep in thought. "You know the name?"

"I do… but last time we met, he was not dead. When did this happen?"

"Something under a week ago."

tor glances at each of his men. One by one, bows and swords are lowered.

"You called him friend?" ro asks.

"We were acquaintances. You are not a bounty hunter?"

"Oh my goodness, no," ro replies. "This elf was known to me and my companions. It was a tragic loss that I wish to understand. I hope that i have answered your question sufficiently. Will you answer mine? where am I?"

"You are on an island. We do not know where this island is."

"You have spent your whole life here? You travelled here and cannot leave?"

"You no doubt came through the cave with the staff?"

"Yes…"

"There are many of those around the lands," tor says. "They bring us here. Few have ever managed to escape."

"How long have you been here?"

"Three years."

"How many others are there?"

"By my count, three hundred."

"Three hundred people have travelled here and have not found a means to leave?"

"More have come here. Some of them we believe have left. Many have died. If you found alonso before coming here, then he must have found a way to leave."

"Do you have a camp nearby?"

"Not nearby, no, and we shall not tell you where it is."

"Understandable. What…" ro's question is interrupted by a rock passing through her field of vision, a few feet in front of her. ro immediately turns towards the rock's origin, the beach. She sees nothing. "Are there others out there?"

"I told you, there are six of us."

"Why do you throw rocks when we are parleying?"

One of tor's swordsmen walks towards the beach. "Stand down, I will look into this myself." The swordsman continues walking. ro knows that she is still within the antimagic field; the Endure Elements spell that is tr's daily gift to her is not keeping her cool. she figures she is about a hundred or so feet away from the border. She spies a rock that she can sit on, heads over to it and sits down, waiting and watching. The swordsman on the beach moves south towards the antimagic barrier. ro sees a woman appear near him. He does not appear startled or threatened. The two talk quietly, the woman briefly gesturing towards the trees.

"tor," ro asks, "Is she one of your group?"

"She is."

The man and woman both approach. tor turns his gaze back to ro. "Welcome to the island. I hope you don't die as quickly as the others."

"Rather a stark welcome," ro answers, "but I take it. It sounds like it is every man for himself here. Have there been feuds between factions?"

"There are many people who stay by themselves, but there are two main tribes. I am from one, and there is another, not so nice. I recommend you do not go to the east side of the island. That is where they are based."

"Have you seen any other foreigners in the last little while?"

"None for the past two weeks."

"I am not alone," ro says.

"How many of there are you?"

"Five. Lady," she says, addressing the woman, did you throw that stone?"

The woman ignores ro, turning to tor. "Who is this?"

"Unimportant, she's probably going to die soon."

"Why?" ro asks.

"There are a lot of bad people on this island. You are easily outnumbered if there are only five of you."

"So how do you manage to survive?"

"We outnumber them. My tribe has over a hundred people."

"What do you estimate the numbers of the other tribe to be?"

"Eighty or so."

"Too risky for an assault, then…" ro poses.

"Far too risky."

"And equally suicidal for them to do the same, so you are in something of a stalemate."

"We are."

"How often do people arrive here? Did somebody come through two weeks ago?"

"Alonso."

"Did he come and go as he pleased?"

"He came to our tribe, stayed for a while, and then left."

"Then how might I seek your protection while i am here, if things are as you say?"

tor first, tell me how you found out about this place. ro alonso was a researcher. he was supposedly learning about something that is of great value to us. we heard that he met a sad and tragic end where I came from. he had been dealing with a person called Anton in a town called Lormu who reluctantly gave us information that led us to a cave. that cave took us here. tor do you have any information about this island? ro I have seen a map and i have seen words describing parts of the island, not all of it. tor if you would allow us access to this information, we would let you stay at our tribe. but we cannot promise you protection if you leave it. ro that seems reasonable to me, though I daresay the map is incomplete; you may know more of this island than the map presents. tor we have only travelled through parts of the island. it is dangerous for us to search the entire thing. we have not been able to search much of the east, due to the presence of the other tribe. ro well, for your word that you will give us your protection, then my word that I will give you the information.

tor you have my word. ro i will need to find my friends. tor we will wait here but we will not wait forever. ro how might I identify myself to others in your tribe - is your name sufficient? or the name of your tribe? tor we carry a symbol with us but we cannot give you one as we do not have one spare. you will have to come with us if you want to enter our tribe. we will give you one there. ro and you are to the north of here? tor we are. ro very well. I will now search for my friends. If you are not here when I find them, we will travel north and hopefully our paths will cross again. tor we will stay for two hours. that should give you more than enough time to get back here. ro very well. the strength of moradin lie with you. tor nods and goes over to woman who stands to the south. ro departs to the south. ro lady (as she passes the woman). she looks at ro then back at tor. they say nothing in ro's earshot. not even an acknowledgement.

cal turns a corner and sees ro, woman, and four soldiers. he lands in front of the barrier. walks through, turns back to human. cal hello. ro that's one of you. how fare the others? cal tracking down that woman. she is a mage. she was being chasec by someone.ro interesting! where? cal further south. cal fills in details. ro we need to talk as a group. cal the others are back there. what have we got here? ro I have met with them. their leader is a man named torik. it appears that this is a bit of a flytrap. people come here and very rarely leave. it is a lawless place that seems to be divided into two tribes. if they are to be trusted, they are shall we say the least deadly of the two. the woman appeared to be with them, so if she was being chased, then maybe her pursuers were from the other tribe. they offer us their protection if we share the information we have about this island. that is something I need to bring to the group.

cal leads ro back. meet up with the others. ro discusses. ro they are willing to offer us their protection and their sigil in exchange for the information we have about this island. tr I trust them about as far as I can blow them up. ro completely, then? others tell ro about the chase. ro it seems that the locals are aware of where the antimagic borders are. arr I think we need to destroy this honeytrap. this is not right. ro I agree. arr if they are to be believed, then there are these honeytraps all over the world. the only place we will be able to destroy it will be from this side. ro we must be careful though; that might be the only way to get out. tr can I have the maps? ro removes backpack and passes them to tr. tr we're not giving these to them before I have a good read. they are not trusting and not to be trusted. they will need to provide more than just their "protection".

the tribesmen are 20 minutes away. arr i am less comfortable meeting them within this antimagic field than I am with my magic. ro I can ask for them to leave the field. they are waiting only about 100' from its border. arr confirms that they have a copy of everything. tr I'm not sure they are actually the good guys. they number 5 plus the woman. If they see five of us, they may be less likely to try to take advantage of us. they didn't try anything when there was just me. they treated me fairly, to be honest. tr let's go, offer to show them the map - they can't have it - and offer to share the knowledge we have for the knowledge they have. see if they can draw the extents of the antimagic field on the map. arr a trade.

go. see them. woman still there. arr reminds ro to check for evil. ro this is the woman that you encountered? tr yep. ro hails them. tor and a swordsman approach and leave the antimagic field. other three (confirmed) stay there.

ro does not sense any evil about the pair. ro communicates this. cal does not detect any magic.

ro we meet again. tor indeed we do. have you thought about it? ro yes. my companions have discussed it. we would like to trade information. tor what information? ro we have an incomplete map; it would be useful to us to know a bit more about this place. If we share information with you, would you be prepared to do the same for us? tor the trade was information for protection. it would be a little uneven for us to give you more. ro it depends upon how valuable the information is. tr scoffs. tor the protection and information is worth a lot to you. the information you have might be valueless to us. ro as a newcomer here I actually don't know how valuable your protection is. it could be completely useless to us too. tor and our information? ro …might be as useful as ours is to you. tor your information for our protection. that was our deal, that is what we are sticking to. if you wish to have our information, you must trade something else as well. ro thinks. ro i think we can live without your protection, then. working on the assumption that you are not going to be hostile to us, however. rest assured that we mean you no harm but we will defend ourselves if attacked. tor then you will be defending yourselves a lot. without our symbol, our men will attack you on sight. ro what is this symbol that you speak of? tr yeah, show it to us. prove that you even have one. tor I am not going to be fooled by that. tr fooled by what? you don't even have a symbol. ro inspects each one, looking for anything common on their person that could be a symbol. she sees nothing. tr you say that you attack on sight. does that mean that you are showing the symbol right now? ro or do you pull it out at every opportunity? tr it seems that you are lying to us. you have no symbol. ro you offer us something and yet you are not even prepared to show it to us first? tr I don't think he has one. ro I'm not seeing anything. tr i tell you what. would you like our protection? you'll have to trade a bit of information for that, though. tor if there is no deal, then I shall bid you farewell. he turns around and starts walking away.

ro is it because I'm a woman? Sometimes I think it would be so much easier if I were a man. People don't take you seriously enough. I do my best! I wish I was a man… tr I think they were being difficult. arr I think they are used to a dog-eat-dog world, and so they treat everyone with suspicion.

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