Ash Weighs His Options

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 1.43.22 PMIt was a bright and cloudless day in Otemshire, but inside the dingy tavern, you could barely see. “Dark, like my soul,” thought Ash. Anger welled up inside Ash and he smashed his fist against the table, not for the first time that day. A tavern maid walked by and raised an eyebrow but said nothing, having become accustomed to the tempermental, ale-sipping erstwhile holy man.

“Some holy man,” mused Ash, taking another sip. “More like a barbarian.” Ash thought back to his family. The trip to Hriflindr had reminded Ash of the snowy wastes of his youth. He’s joined a monastery at a young age as an acolyte of Lathandar. He’d left behind his prior life, forsaking the company of uncouth savages.

Now Ash was the savage.

Ash morosely swirled the ale around in his mug and took another sip. Ash and his colleagues had stayed mostly out of trouble for several weeks, and were enjoying some free time in the city. Ash, however, had sought solitude at each opportunity. He needed time to think. Time to determine what to do.

Ash weighed his options.

In Wenshire, the cursed Fish-people remained without a cure. But Ash knew how to save them. Venture to the queen of the fish-people and find her egg. With it’s yolk, and a year and a half of cleansing rituals, he could absorb the curse into himself. And maybe die in the process. Death didn’t scare Ash. What did scare Ash was the inability to acquire a complement of acolytes to assist with the nearly two year process. How could he recruit followers of Lathandar to help him when he could not even keep the faith himself? Ash grumbled in a tone that would have been a curse were he a cursing man.

Wenshire wasn’t the only calling though. Ash thought of Amon’s canopic jar — one of the four phylacteries of the Sand Master. If he and his companions could gather all the jars and destroy them — it could stave off a terrible evil from entering the world.

And Myles had been missing for several weeks, lost in some different plane, a result of the effects of the Archmage’s crystal. Barundar had sold a similar crystal in Otemshire, not knowing it’s worth. Could tracking down this crystal give them clues to saving Myles from his ethereal exile?

But there was a another thing that niggled at Ash’s mind, like a bit of rock in your boot that bites at you with every move.

Ash unfastened a pouch and produced a well-worn missive he’d received by falcon. Well-worn because Ash had read it time and again. He read over the chastisement from Br. Ambrose who called Ash to recant of his recent faithlessness. It was a call to return to his faith, and — if he were to undertake a certain penance — a return to his recently abandoned vocation. Ash read the part about the penance:

“…Br. Lochs, an old acquaintance of mine from the seminary, has recently contacted me seeking aide in his mission far to the South on the island of Dassaria.  He communicates that the land is newly colonized and the tribal natives are abundant, and in the infancy of their journey towards the Light.  In addition to the missionary work, he communicates that a band of formerly peaceful pygmies have destroyed an entire missionary outpost — killing all of those from the church to establish a presence on the island, save for Br. Lochs.

If you wish to continue your service to Lathander, please seek Br. Lochs out in the tribal village of Kalistia, on the Northern shore of Dasarria.  The journey will not be easy, but it will surely prove that the fire that burns within your chest burns in service to Lathander.

May the Light shine forth and guide your journey,
Br. Ambrose”

Ash folded the parchment and returned it to its pouch. He thought about the common thread: the forces of Chaos. It was the Chaos Cult that was behind the terrible plight of Wenshire. And the dark forces behind the canopic jar of the Sand Master — was this not just another form of the forces of Chaos? And now, a missionary outpost to the south was in peril, with untold death. Chaos. The forces of darkness. The thought made Ash begin to seeth.

He stood and folded his hands into fists, feeling the anger coming back to the surface. He narrowed his eyes. It was a trembling rage, something he had long suppressed during the spiritual formation of this youth. But now, Ash did not seek to suppress it. He sought to control it. Focus it. Turn the anger to power.

Ash tossed a coin to the table to pay for his drinks. “Back tomorrow?” asked the bar maid who whisked in to clean the table.

Ash shook his head. “Off to Dasarria,” he said, leaving the darkness, squinting as he entered the light of the noon sun.

Damien’s Crazy Ass Mystery Game! Session One…

A rather rag-tag looking group rolls into a rather run down tavern.  The barman, Slicky, greets them.

Conrad, a paladin of the goddess of one-night-stands and sex, boisterously enters the bar and approaches the first woman he sees, who happens to be the barmaid, Cynthia.  Undeterred, he buys her a drink [which she proceeds to pour for herself] but she runs to another table before Conrad could continue his shtick.

After witnessing his friend get shot down by Cynthia, Mo’pher’s attention turns to a rather… unique… looking young lady at the bar  She is draped in multiple layers of black clothing and her skin is a pearlescent white.  She reluctantly introduces herself as Lorenza, but makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with the bard.  Not taking no for an answer, Conrad buys Lorenza and Mo’pher a round of Lorenza’s favorite drink.

As Mo’pher proposes a toast, Lorenza warns him to not do what he is about to do.  She gingerly sips the jet black concoction Slicky mixes up for the duo.  Mo’pher downs the drink – momentarily remarking on the fruity finish before puking the drink back all over Lorenza, the bar, Slicky and pretty much his entire surroundings.  Between heaves Mo’pher attempts to break the awkward tension by saying, “It’s like a baby bird!”

Lorenza’s eyes burn with a fiery rage as she leaves the bar and goes to sit at a table alone.  Cynthia begins to wipe her down [non-sexually as specifically stressed by Damien].  As Cynthia rubs down Lorenza, Grimwalt physically restrains Mo’pher and Conrad from approaching them.

As Grimwalt checks that he has the pair sufficiently restrained, he notices a man at the other end of the bar.  Not liking the sideways glances that the man is giving them, Grimwalt calls out, “You got a problem down there, stranger?”  “Uhh… no… but it appears that your friend does… a problem holding his down his drink!”

Looking down at the puddle of puke, Grimwalt says, “Yea, and there’s some left over here, so unless you want me to force you to drink it, I think you should look the other way.”  Slicky looks at the man down the bar and says, “Gregory, please listen to the man.”  Lucky for Gregory that he takes the advice.

With Gregory under wraps, Slicky returns his attention to the party, “So, Mr. Sick-man… Can I get you something to help you soothe your stomach… maybe some ginger ale?  It’s ale… with ginger in it…  Let me just fetch it from the pantry.”  As Slicky unlatches the door to the storeroom, the door swings open abruptly and a CORPSE falls out!  The sudden, unexpected weight sends the dwarf reeling, knocking his head hardly against the bar.

At the sight of the corpse, a man at the bar named Harrison covers his mouth with both hands and retreats to the back of the building.  Lorenza, the goth chick covered in puke, pulls out a notebook and a charcoal pencil and begins to draw the corpse.

At the sight of intrigue, Mopher recovers from his near poisoning and he hops up from his seat to inspect the body.  He finds a female body – or at least parts of one.  Her hands and feet had been cut off by something sharp and her body is peppered with slashing wounds.  “Hmm, it appears as if this lady ran headlong through a sword store!  But… why does the ginger ale in your pantry kill people like this?”

Conrad leaps atop the bar and begins screaming at the unconscious bartender “Is this your captive!?  Your little play thing you keep tied up in the back, torturing with hot irons and bondage!?  The slave that you punish with whips and nipple clamps?!  I’ll slit your throat you sadistic fuck!”

After the commotion, Cynthia reappears to begin the process of cleaning up the body.  When she rounds the bar she wails and falls to the ground.  Through sobs she manages to reveal that the body was that of her sister that had gone missing a month ago.

Conrad pushes past Cynthia and enters the store room where he sees a trapdoor set with a reinforced iron lock.  “Who have you been keeping down here!  Slicky, how many women do you have down here?!”  He attempts to force open the lock but it is shut tight.

Mo’pher enters as well and turns the place over but finds nothing.  The pair call in Grimwalt who stomps on the trapdoor to no avail.

After shaking down many of the bar patrons (with no luck), Slicky finally comes to and explains that it was Cynthia who closed down the bar the previous night.  Grimwalt attempts to intimidate him into confessing to the murder but Slicky does not budge.

As Grimwalt turns away from Slicky, he notices Gregory peaking at him from across the bar.  Fed up and suspecting the worst, Grimwalt stomps over and confronts the man.  Gregory proves to be the ass everyone expected that he was and Grimwalt eventually lifts him from the barstool and throws him into the adjacent wall, leaving him crumpled on the floor.

A man no one had really noticed before gingerly arises from a table near the door and attempts to leave.  Conrad leaps up and begins asking him questions.  The dapper and genteel man reveals himself to be named Bartholomew and he states that he is “just another man at the bar, or, at least I was, I believe I’ll be taking my leave now.”  But Conrad convinces him to stay before turning his attention to Harrison who was still dry heaving in the corner.

The group surround the babbling man asking him what his problem is.  He claims that, “I don’t like the sight of blood, is all.”  Conrad attempts to talk the man down saying, “Don’t worry, she’s, like, waaayyy dead, come back and let’s have a chat.”

Harrison begins screaming at the party, “NO WAY, NO HOW – PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!”  Conrad continues to push the man who lashes out at the paladin.  Harrison regains control and says to himself, “No, it isn’t worth it!”  Grimwalt grips his glaive and says, “No, believe me, it is TOTALLY worth it,” egging Harrison into a fight.  Harrison rips his shirt off and transforms into a fucking werewolf!

COMBAT!

The newly donned ‘Wereison’ leaps at Conrad, sinking his teeth deeply into the paladin’s side.  The holy power of Ehlonna flows from his codpiece and provides him the support he needs to right off the bites magical effect.

[“Too bad,” Paul says, “You could have been the werewolf paladin of the fuck-goddess…”  This leads to a full 5 minutes of sexual puns, “doggy style” “have her howling”, etc]

Conrad slashes at Wereison, channeling his divine power into his rapier.  Grimwalt biffs hard, twice, severely damaging the floorboards in the tavern.

The party each take turns wailing on the werewolf and Conrad reduces the beast to the last threads of life.

Conrad subdues the beast with a flurry of blows from his rapier and the party ties up to the table.  Lorenza appears from nowhere and, again, begins sketching the body of the unconscious man.  Upon questioning her, Lorenza reveals that a homeless man across the bar, Edmund, keeps a dead body in his alleyway and lets people view it for a price.

As Mo’pher and Conrad go to confront Edmund, they notice that, again, Bartholomew is attempting to leave the scene.  Grimwalt rushes and stands in the doorway saying, “No one is leaving unless they go through me first.”  Bartholomew responds, “Heh, well, that doesn’t seem like too much of a challenge.”  Grimwalt crit fails his attempt to punch Bartholomew, his fist landing instead squarely in Mo’pher’s face.  Grimwalt isn’t the brightest man, but he could swear that it’s like Bartholomew slid out of the way.

As Grimwalt recovers from the biff, he looks Bartholomew in the eyes.  The mysterious man attempts to charm the brutish fighter.  Unfortunately for Bartholomew, Grimwalt is too stupid to fall for charm spells.  Mo’pher punches Bartholomew in the back of the head, but the man barely notices.

Grimwalt attempts to intimidate Bartholomew into staying but crit fails again.  The spectacle intrigues Bartholomew enough that he returns to a seat, triumphant.

Mo’pher moves to inspect the body for bite marks, to see if Wereison might have been the murderer but fails miserably on the check.  As such, Mo’pher is only slightly sure that the woman is even dead.

Slicky explains that Cynthia is paid under the table. “Oh yea?  That’s hot…” Conrad offers up as he walks across the bar towards Cynthia and Gregory, who are remarkably flirty for Cynthia’s sister’s corpse to still be lying in the floor not 30 feet away.  As Conrad passes, Slicky continues, “Yea, you see, she was supposed to lock up last night… if she went for a few minute walk, I’m a bit suspicious.”

Conrad ignores Slicky and, tapping his holy symbol [a unicorn horn embossed on his codpiece] he confronts Gregory.  “Get lost, chump… Go sit with Bartholomew!”  As Gregory leaves, Cynthia gives him the eyes.

“Boy, you got over your sister’s death preeeety quick…  And all so you could flirt with that dickhole?”  Conrad says.  After some persuading, Cynthia reveals that she and Gregory are a couple of sorts and that she has been stealing expensive bottles of liquor from Slicky and delivering them to Gregory’s boat.  The previous night she was gone for a prolonged period of time, delivering bottles.  “Once I had stolen enough bottles, I was going to run away with him… I have no idea what happened to my sister, but there’s no way that Gregory was involved.”  Conrad slaps the shit out of Cynthia in an attempt to get a rise out of Gregory but the man doesn’t even react.  “You see, he doesn’t care about you at all!” he says, successfully convincing her that Gregory is a scumbag.

Mo’pher and Edmund chat it up about the dead body in his alley, which Edmund reveals resembles the barmaid’s sister, only she has a different colored hair.

The party interrogates pretty much everyone in the bar.  Gregory implicates Lorenza, who he says told him that she saw a body getting dumped into a well.

Bartholomew again attempts to leave, standing at the doorway putting on layers of clothing.  Grimwalt walks over to the body on the ground and checks it for bite marks on the neck – and finds them!   He screams, “HOLD IT JUST A FUCKING MINUTE! MOPHER, CONRAD, GET THAT VAMPIRE BITCH BEFORE HE LEAVES”

“Oh mercy, all dressed up and nowhere to go….”

Mopher rips Bart’s robes off and throws the door open, COMBAT!

“You, my friend, are messing with Mo’pher, Demon-Slayer and werewolf-killer-too… I look forward to adding a Vampire to my list soon!” Mo’pher boasts and begins singing a song and throws a dagger at Bart.  The dagger hits, but amazingly does NO damage… Bartholomew is immune to non-magical damage…

Condrad blesses Grimwalt’s weapon, making it +1 to ATT and DMG and making it a magic weapon!  He also blesses his own rapier.

Grimwalt goes apeshit on Bartholomew (hitting 3 out of 4 times, dealing 45 damage in one turn) before the sunlight finishes him off.  As Bartholomew dissipates in a puff of smoke, Mopher pokes his blade in and claims the kill.

A thick black smoke rises from Barts’ clothing and wafts through the air down the street.  The party calls out to Slicky to keep everyone else [who everyone now realizes are probably all monsters] in the building and they follow the smoke.

The smoke leads them to a nicer part of town to an abandoned home with boarded-up windows.  The smoke wafts through a darkened room past the only light source, a lighted candle.   It settles upon a body lying within a stone coffin, the body of Bartholomew!

Cages of Stirges line the room, all of them are bloated with blood.

Conrad approaches the body and drives his holy symbol [remember that it’s a unicorn horn on his cod piece….] into his chest, finally killing the vampire for once and for all.

A note on the desk nearby appears to be from Bart’s journal, it contains musings regarding “his bride” and how he “lost control in a moment of passion” and she escaped.  He wishes it could be like “those days, one month ago when we sat around and discussed our long lives…”  “in a moment of passion, I bit her and she ran away”

Apparently there are three dead girls; one in the closet, one in the alley and one in the well.

The party kills one of the stirges and takes Bart’s note for proof.. Grimwalt tosses the stirge on the ground, spraying Edmund, Lorenza and Cynthia with blood to gauge their reaction.  None of them react.

The party reveals the note and Slicky reads it.  Slicky points out the passage in which Bart mentioned the “long life” of his wife…  Mopher sings many songs in his head, cross referencing stories to try to think of examples of monsters that maintain their age and presence, but he comes up with nothing, “Most monsters revert to their true forms upon death… we need to look down a well or down a homeless man’s abandoned alley.”

Mopher approaches Lorenza to view the painting of Edmund’s dead girl.  The painting is of a girl very much similar looking to the dead girl in the closet, only that the one in the picture has red hair.  Mopher asks Lorenza about the body being dumped in a well.  She explains that she saw a robed figure dumping a body down a broken well on the back of a wagon.  She tells the party the location of the well and they travel to it.

The party descends down the well and finds the bottom eroded down into a watery pit.  The body is immediately evident at the bottom of the well.  She looks pretty similar to the description of the other girls, only has brown hair.  They inspect the body and it seems like some of her hair has fallen out – like people kept in captivity, under great stress – so no physical signs of death…

Mopher bravely delves into the water.  He approaches the area where he would need to swim and pulls his sword and pokes it at the water.  Across the water, though, Mo’pher sees a massive, muscular human male, covered in short hair, but the head of a dog and the face of a man.

“Halt, ye, who attempts to enter the domain of Lord Babumbalaboo, I will guard it with my life…. I am the Dog-Human!”

Mo’pher attempts to calm the beast, but the doghuman threatens to release the Crab-Monkey-Pus… a beast with the head of a crab, but the legs of a monkey… but EIGHT of them!

Mo’pher calms the Dog-Human with persuasion, and the monster will let them pass, but only if they say the oath to Lord Babumbalabloo, which is “Dog-Human is awesome”

Grimwalt asks if he can get help across on account of his heavy armor… Dog-Human demands that he change his name to “Fluffy Mittens” but allows him to climb aboard the crab-monkey-puss.

Each person in the party repeats, “Dog-Human is Awesome”  to which the beast replies, “That’s right, Mother Fucker!”

 

The party makes it safely across the deep water and proceed up a set of stairs and enter a throne room of sorts.   A gigantic throne sits empty in the room… well.. sortof empty… a Beholder floats lazily above the throne!

“Hello my friends!  Welcome to my lair, I am Lord Babumbalaboo!  Why are you here?”  Mo’pher explains that the party is there to inspect the body out front… “Interesting!  The fellow that wished me into existence told me the same thing!  Eddy?  Edward?  Edmund?  Yes, Edmund!  He discovered a powerful wish spell and wanted someone who could see from multiple perspectives” Lord Babumbalaboo says, motioning towards his multiple eye-stalks.  Mopher asks if he about the dead girls, “Why yes! Do you like to play games?  My favorite game is called ‘fight’!”  He then steals the party’s weapons but gives them back just in time for a Liopleurodon [a huge dinosaur] to appear.

Conrad asks if there are any ladies around.  Lord Babumbalaboo says, “I can MAKE ladies, would you like ladies?”  Conrad [stupidly] says yes and Lord materializes yet another dinosaur, a Eustreptospondylus…  Conrad asks if Mopher should sing a song, making Lord summon ANOTHER dinosaur, a Jeholopterous.

Mopher begins to sing a song of all of “his” triumphs in an attempt to charm the dinosaurs and Lord Babumbalaboo, only managing to charm the Jeholopterous.

Lord summons one last creature, one that was with him he longest, the fearsome “Jeff”, his hamster.

“So… now that you’ve met everyone, are you ready to play ‘fight’?”