Episode 5 - Smokey Gets In Your Eyes

The adventurers, tired and road weary, return to the town of Chantelle early in the morning. Monk and Rogue did not sleep well last night, and had come down with what the Cleric thought might have been Shivering Sickness. Thankfully, there most likely would be medicine in the town.

When they got closer to their first carriage, there was a commotion there. Upon coming closer, they could see that Sara was crying, while Emerson tried to comfort her. They asked what happened, and Emerson told them that Smokey had taken Sara aside and was mighty pissed that he saw her stomp on all his snails yesterday. As a result of a heated argument, he slapped her. Jimmi was mad as hell, and he was heading towards the tavern. Cleric decided to head there, while the Fighter and Wizard put the Rogue and Monk up in the hotel for the day.

Cleric intercepted Jimmi halfway, and attempted to convince him to keep cool, and he also wanted to talk to this Jimmi if he really did hit Sara.

Jimmi walks in, takes a look around, then heads to Smokey’s table. He takes one swing and Smokey is floored, with a bloody nose. A fight ensues. The other patrons seem to keep out of it, and the struggle continues. The Cleric tries to keep people safe by getting them to move away from the fight as Jimmi wrestles with Smokey towards a window, and then throws him out of it. Glass shatters everywhere as Smokey hits the dust, and then Jimmi continues to pummel him. Smokey then gives up and decides to cede the fight the the much younger and stronger Jimmi. The Cleric takes both of them aside and Smokey tells the Cleric that the snails he gave them were very expensive, and that they owe him. Cleric tells him that he would have not let them populate another farmer’s field with harmful snails. Smokey then gets agitated, and asks the Cleric who he thinks he is, coming into the town and interfering with the way they do things. He told him that the other farmer would not have hesitated to populate a rival’s field with those same snails, and to get out of his face. He was not going to join them for their invasion of Lyons, and neither were his boys. He stomps off angrily. The Cleric could not say anything, and internally, he felt the struggle between keeping his morals and compromising to make things easier on themselves.

The Fighter and Wizard return to the group after putting the Rogue and Monk into bed at the hotel, and managed to snag another bulletin board posting while they were at it. Apparently, a bunch of lumberjacks needed to chop down trees in the Gorgon Valley, and wanted some people to protect them from the creatures that wanted to eat them for lunch.

They returned to their carriages, to see the rest of the group intensely discussing something.

Emerson then tells them a young woman, claiming to be one of the pirates, wanted to speak with Hernandez. Against his better judgement, Emerson allowed it, because he trusted his gut on this one, and he told her that as long as she didn’t try to help Hernandez escape, she could talk to him. Some of the other people in the group disagreed with his decision, but it seemed to turn out alright, since as far as Emerson knew, they were still talking in the back of the covered carriage.

Cleric, Fighter, and Wizard all take a look in the back of the cart, and they see a young blond lady, in tears, being comforted by Hernandez. Hernandez calmed down the group and said that her name is Tawney. She is the sister of Lindenbock, who the other pirates murdered in cold blood. She joined the pirates to keep an eye on her young brother, and now he is daed. She said she didn’t know how she was going to explain it to mom and dad. She also said she doesn’t want to be part of these pirates anymore, and she didn’t know who else to turn to. Hernandez and her had become friends, and when she heard that he survived, she decided that she should seek him out.

According to her, someone had burned down the Dew Bridge, which is the bridge linking the coastal town of Stormfrost to the rest of the land. Without that bridge, the pirates couldn’t send reinforcements to Hope. Lyons, or Chantelle, and is the reason why they pirates hadn’t invaded Chantelle yet. They were looking for a very important artifact, and that’s why they are invading all these towns at the moment. The Dew Bridge, she said, was going to be rebuilt in about 3 days, and then the pirates would be able to flood the area with 20 more soldiers. She also said the pirates had sent two people to spy on this town, and she had seen them going towards the tavern. She described one as having dark skin, and the other as wearing a bandana.

Cleric and Fighter rushed to the tavern, and when they entered, they immediately saw two men turn towards the door and look nervously in their direction. Whispering to one another, the one in the bandana headed towards the window. The Cleric circled around outside and waited for the bandana’d one to come out the window. The Fighter went up to the bar and tried to make small talk with the dark skinned one. A distant and unfriendly disposition was what he got back. He did not want to talk.

The bandana’d one returned to the bar, and told the dark skinned one they had to go. The Cleric and Fighter both followed them to a merchent cart, who was leaving for Hope in about an hour. Since they had no proof that either of them were pirates, and not wanting to cause any more trouble in this town, they decided to seek out Lady Genevieve and get their reward.

Heading to the Lady’s house was easy enough, but once inside, there was much waiting. Half an hour passed before she could see them, and with Francine in tow, they finally were able to arrange a meeting. lady Genevieve stepped out, as high maintenence as ever, and greeted them. The jewel was returned, but there was a problem. Francine had decided she did not want to work for the Countess anymore. She was constantly being stretched, and putting her life unnessicarily at risk. Lady Genevieve was offended, and told Francine that nobody quits on her, and that she would make Francine pay for her betrayal. She would ruin Francine and made sure she would never work again. The Cleric tried to convince the countess to let them borrow even more troops, but she quickly changed the subject.

She asked the adventurers if the three tasks she gave them were done. Two of them obviously were in front of her, but did they kill everyone who tried to screw her? The adventurers assured her that the job was complete. She also told the adventurers that they could borrow three of the soldiers, but only for the invasion. The last thing she needed was her soldiers galavanting around the wilderness, and when they needed them, to just come to the castle, and one of the guards would get three soldiers for them. The adventurers chose to go with two archers and a spearman to add to their team.

She then also asked if they had found two swords on the guardsmen who were protecting the cart. They had taken them a few days ago, and if they saw them, she would like them back, but if not, it was OK. The Fighter interjected and told them that yes, they had recovered them both. Lady Genevieve smiled, and said she appreciated their honesty. She dismissed them.

On the way out, Gregory, the tracker who had been with them, complemented them on their ethics, and said he also appreciates good honest people. He told them that when it was time to invade, he would be glad to lend them his sword arm.

The adventurers went back to their cart, and Francine said that now that she had nowhere to go, could she maybe join their party? They all agreed it would be helpful to have a jewelcrafter with them. A delivery person went up to their cart, and gave the Cleric a letter. It was from Paladin, who was stuck back in Hope with the other Pirate. The letter:

To [Cleric]
I am sending this letter in regards to the issues that have plagued this forest kingdom for the past few months. I sat down and interrogated the other pirate. Turns out he was a deep undercover agent sent by King Marius himself. I didn’t believe him at first, but the more I talked to him, the more I was convinced. He had a few revelations.

The reason the pirates have invaded the kingdom is to harvest the Marii Tea for use in tea houses. But he began to uncover a plot much more sinister than that. The pirates have formed an alliance with another group. The Marii Tea you see people drinking is a hallucinigenic, but according to him, can be used to control the minds of people. The artifact you guys carry is also somehow needed to control people, and he said the powers behind the South Caitonia invasion desperately want to find it. Under any circumstances, do NOT let the mirror fall into the hands of these pirates, as it is an ancient artifact, and according to his sources, is priceless!

My doubts about the pirate’s true identity were dashed this afternoon when a few of the king’s men rode in on horses with papaers and freed the pirate without so much as a complaint from the townspeople. They are a little bit upset that their undercover agent was captured by us, but the pirate said that there were others who were undercover, though he would not identify them.

Stay safe and keep me updated. The pirates from the Honey Bridge have been in town lately to recruit more people to work in the swamps, and I am the only thing stopping them from taking the whole town as slave labor.

[ Paladin ]

Cleric let the rest of the group read it. The Wizard went and checked the mirror, to make sure it was still in the back of the cart. Before the image of the woman appeared, he quickly stuffed it back into the bag.

Sara came to the carriage, with Jerica in tow, as well as her sister Synergy, and her two children Starla and Rio. She asked if they were ready to go to the waterfall yet. The Cleric told them that he didn’t promise anything, and that they may be too busy to take them. Emerson then mentioned it might be worth going to try and also find that little boy’s lost goats. The group agreed, and then Jerica told them in return for the favor, she could cook them two or three meals, since people tell her she is a pretty good cook. The group then agreed to take her.

A messenger approaches the group, and tells them that the town counsel of Lyons would like to meet with them to talk about plans to retake the town from Black Dragon. They are in hiding at the moment, fearing that Black Dragon would send assassins to kill them, thereby starting a power struggle within the counsel itself. Leaving the rest of the party with the carts, the adventurers head down to the basement of a large house, arms at the ready in case this was an ambush.

At the end of the hall, a room filled with several people appeared to be talking. The town counsel of Lyons introduced themselves. There was Conway, the mayor, Sheena, a businesswoman, Preston, the president of the company that made Chalet Wine, Esmeralda, and a few others. As they sat down to discuss the situation, Smokey walks in. He, too, is a member of the counsel, being the leader of the grape picker’s union.

As they begin to talk, it comes to light that two of the town cousellors are missing, being scattered to parts unknown due to the invasion of Lyons. Without their voice, the town counsel cannot decide on anything, because if one of them is missing, a counsellor can veto any decision that gets made until such time the other members return. And Smokey was vetoing just about every decision, in the hopes of raising the wages of his workers. Leveraging the situation to his advantage, Smokey told the town counsel that breaking their own rules regarding the methods of running the town would lead to protest and strikes, with him and his union leading the way. The counsel was almost all in agreement to give the adventurers and the rest of the party some weapons to liberate Lyons. The counsel, being desperate for a solution, pleaded with the adventurers to go find the two missing counselors, fearing the longer they are missing, the worse the situation would be. The adventurers refused, deciding instead that they would focus their efforts on liberating Lyons first. After much heated discussion and angry words, the adventurers got fed up with their bickering, and told the counsel that they would be back and to sort it out amongst themselves. Smokey’s tactics of playing politics in the situation infurirated the adventurers, enough for Rouge to consider assassinating him. They decided to eventually come back and see what conclusion the town counsel would come up with. The grape harvest that year was already in jeprody, easily falling victim to a local parasite unless tended to every day.

As the group was readying their supplies, two elves who looked like they were also adventurers wandered onto the main street. The Cleric struck up a conversation with them and asked them if they would like to join the resistent movement agains the pirates. One of them turned his head an stuck up their noses at them. The other introduced himself as Xavier, and told the group not to mind Winston. He was perpetually stuck up. Winston asked him why they were wasting time talking to these people, and they should be on the way to the hunt for their next mark. Xavier replied and said that he should try and be more friendly to people. Being nice doesn’t cost a thing, and maybe one of these people could help them. Winston scoffed at the notion, and boasted he would bet five of his swords that they couldn’t bring down the Iguanadon they were hunting. The Cleric said he’d take their bet, since they needed the swords. Xavier mentioned that they were from the Hunt Club, a group of adventurers who seek out notorious monster and kill them for sport. Winston loudly boasted that the adventurers would never be worthy of such a thing, and he’d take the bet just because he would like to see them die. Xavier said that if they did manage to kill the Igunadon, they would want to keep all the items on it. The Cleric said that if that were the bet, then if they defeated it, he would want them to join the resistence and help take back Lyons. Xavier said that he would do it, although he doubted Winston would agree. The deal was made, and the group headed once more, into the wilderness.

The first stop was to help the lumberjacks in the Gorgon Valley. The lumberjacks had grown scared of the animals and creatures in the wooded part of the valley. They had grown more bold since the pirates took over, as there was no one left to patrol the area, and hence, the animals were now outnumbering the people needed to control their population.

They arrived in the woods, and the three lumberjacks headed out to cut down the trees. Two Panthrons and three Gloopers immediately smelled the scent of fine humanoid flesh, and headed towards the party. And….the party continued to miss and miss and miss their rolls! Round after round, for 7 rounds, the people charged with protecting the lumberjacks kept missing their attacks, and as a result, the first wave of creatures nearly killed them. Winston laughed his ass off watching these incompetent hunters keep swinging and missing their targets. One of the lumberjacks went down due to Panthron mauling, but luckily, the Cleric was able to revive him. Synergy decided to put both her children in the carriage, and asked her sister if these guy were really this inept and if she should be worried.

Things go so bad that Xavier, feeling sorry for the group, started shooting arrows at some of the monsters to help out.

Eventually, luck evened out, and the party was able to allow the lumberjacks to cut their wood, and to get them back safely. They made a hasty retreat as the second wave of monsters smelled blood and started gathering around the area.

Feeling shame about their last encounter, the adventurers decided to head straight to the Ransom Hills and try to take Jerica and her sister to the falls. The Ransom Hills was a trecherous piece of land, frought with little hills and thick undergrowth, full of blind spots and agressive creatures. Cliffcreepers, a type of spider known to crawl along the hills, jumped down at the unsuspecting Wizard, who was walking ahead of the party. Iron Chain Snakes jumped out from the undergrowth, surprising the party and making the trek across the hills dangerous and painful.

Halfway to the falls, they hear a distinctive bleeting of goats. These were Ballies, and according to Jerica, were not native to this area. She knew Goat Herder Ennis raised them, but other than that, they were more known to be bred in and around the Hope area.

Following the sound, they saw an old man watering the group of goats. They greeted him, and then started to ask him about the goats, and where he got them. A few bluff checks, and they knew he was lying to them. He insisted that he needed the goats due to the pirates. They followed him back to his cottage, built among the undergrowth of the Ransom Hills, and he sighed and finally invited them inside to talk about where he got the goats. His daughter was outside, busy tilling the garden.

They sat down in his living room, and his wife greeted them and put started to make some tea. Jerica and Jimmi both went inside, while the rest of the entourage stayed outside to guard the carts. The party figured that since Jerica and Jimmi were both from around this area, they would be able to quickly dispute any facts if the old man was lying. Jerica whispered to the others that they should be careful, since the tea might be poisoned.

The old man’s wife put a teapot on the table, and their fears were dispelled when the man took some tea for himself and drank heartily.

The old man explained that he had bought the goats from the Ransom Hill Griffons. Jerica explained that the Ransom Hill Griffons were a group of bandits that lived in the Ransom Hills. They go way back to when this area was first settled by humanoids. They would kidnap people travelling through the area, and hold them for a little bt of ransom. The wage was never that much, andbesides that, they were pretty friendly people. No harm would ever come to the kidnapped, but that was the way they made a little pocket money. The Ransom Hills, with its uneven terrain, thick bushes, and dangerous wildlife, made the perfect hiding spot for those not wanting to be found. The old man continued. The goats are needed, because they sold a lot of things to Lyons, but now that the pirates had taken that city, they had no one to trade with. The Cleric asked if he could just buy the goats off the old man, in which he replaied he couldn’t eat money. The goats provided meat, milk, and many other products and entertainment to poor isolated farmers.

Just then, the adventurers heard some talking and movement going on outside the house. The adventurers rushed out, and saw three men, armed with swords and knives, along with the old man’s daughter Speargirl Shaniqua, walk into the area. They asked what was going on, and if they needed anything. The Cleric asked who they were, and the leader, a man named Chief Charleyhorse, said that they were the Ransom Hill Griffons. They told the party that they were the ones who burned down the bridge the pirates needed. The Cleric said that was good, and it was very helpful. They then discussed the upcoming invasion, and the pirates attempts to repair the bridge, which would successfully be completed in about three days.. The Griffon leader could sympathyze with them, but also said the party would be taking those goats back over his dead body.

But he wasn’t totally oblivious to their prediciment. He offered them a deal. He could lend them two of his soldiers for their invasion, and they said there was an underground sewer passage that led directly under the town of Lyons and right up into one of the buildings. The sewers were filled with animals that might attack them, but it was a way in that no one else knew about. They would tell them about this passage, as well as offer aid, if they could keep the goats.

Sara interjected and told them that there was a goat farmer back in Hope that would surely give them a discount on Ballies, since they were searching for Jewel. The party unanaomously agreed to the terms. The daughter took out her spear, and impaled one of the goats, saying it was time to celebrate. The old man said they could stay at his cottage for the night, and although not everyone could stay inside the house, some of them could make due in the barn, if they didn’t mind sleeping on top of the haystacks.

A large bonfire was created, and the adventurers, Sara, Emerson, Jimmi, Richard, Francine, Keith, Hernandez, Jerica, Synergy, and the rest of them partied on into the night….



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