Speaker in Dreams

Marshal Law
Something is wrong; the town falls into fear

-Speaker in dreams visits the players in their sleep
-Durgyn works on docks, Landen finds him, tells him of letter from Shadrach
-Durgyn and Landen go to Guilded Goose, sign autographs, get gear ready to leave town
-Durgyn heads to shrine of Heroneous and hears a herold
-Hillfort begins a new batch of brew, hears the harold
-Luftwylde enters town
-Durgyn discusses with Torea and Alein about the cult. Ask if they know of baron’s address, all head to baron’s keep
-Luftwylde sees crowd at baron’s keep
-Landon sees crowd, spots Durgyn and joins up
-Hillfort spots Durgyn, joins them
-Baron’s address, spot creature
-Luftwylde hears heroes talking, asks if he can join them as he just came into town, Luft shows he’s capable
-Landen bolts to nearest gate out of town, observes scene at the temple of pelor, spider climbs over city wall
-Luft, Durgyn, Hillfort head to Hill’s home/brewery/shop. Frantically get ready to leave, sees harold in street flanked by creatures
-The group heads to East Gate, Durgyn intimidates militia guards. One leads them through, attacked by other guards and joins the party: Klobaen Riis. Kill two militia men and meet Landen in grove
-Head southwest along river path, at night they spot a campfire
-Landen sneaks up on gnome working on broken wagon wheel, they meet Largo
-They discuss traveling arrangements, Landen offers protective services, Largo refuses… I forget why they decide to travel together. Largo and Hillfort talk merchandise.
-Make camp. Landen kills gnoll while ranging around camp, comes back and wheel is fixed, Luft takes next watch.

A grand celebration
A party to honor the heroes of Brindonford

Landen and Durgyn take the evidence found in the Reality Wrinkle to the Brindonford guard. With the plot of Those Who Hear put to an end, all the recent disturbances in town seem to be solved. As the adventurers settle down to relax at the Guilded Goose, a messenger comes with an envelope from Shoomma, the old dwarf woman who heads the merchants of Chatterstreet.

In gratitude for the great services you have rendered to our community, the citizens of Brindinford invite you to a feast in your honor, to be held at the Stony Gaze Tavern in Eastgate on the evening of the morrow. To you we owe a debt that cannot be repaid, but we wish to express our gratitude with splendid food and entertainment.

The heroes decided they needed new attire appropriate to the affair, so together they searched out the best place in town. Durgyn realizes he’s grown in size, so he decides to get new armor that’s of high enough quality for a formal occasion, so it should fit comfortably. A minotaur isn’t one to wear fine garments of silk and fleece, but Durgyn knew the right armor could be just as fitting for such an occasion, especially if it was shining new and kept from battle-wear. The smith assured him it will be entirely comfortable and discusses the particulars of the ornate gold detail work that shall adorn it.
Meanwhile Landen discusses some custom fine silk attire in elvish style and browses for jewelry to accompany it. He also has a signet ring made for himself, and during conversation with the tailor Shadrach’s name comes up.
“Ah yes,” said the clothing merchant, “I know your mentor well. Matter of fact I have a piece on hold for him. In light of the unfortunate news, I would rather sell it to none other than you.”
He brings from a collection hidden from the general public a cloak clasp in the shape of a black starling; a small bird with wings spread mid-flight.
“I understand you have spent all your gold on the garments we’ve arranged, but because of your relation to Shadrach, I have no problem granting you this on loan.” The tailor shares warmly. Landen gladly accepts this token with a 200 gold loan, and the man told him more as he examined it.
“It’s magical, you know. It will protect the wearer from falling, but only once. The magic consumes the clasp.”

Their new attire arrives first thing the morning of the feast. They’re greatly pleased, and as Durgyn removes the cloth protecting his armor he spots a small piece of paper on the breastplate.
“My friend,” the note reads, “I hope you will find this to your liking and honorable enough for one in the line of Eidolon, descendant Of Voalrikar. I would like to bring your attention to the main armor clasp which fastens at the right shoulder. You will find this red crystal decorated with gold warm to the touch. I had a friend enchant it to provide protection from fire. Although it is obviously designed to decorate this suit I have made for you, it is detachable for use on any armor you’d like, as I imagine you may not wish to wear this set in combat. Best wishes, come see me again as you wish.”

-at the party, baron’s sister awards the heroes
-Landen shames poorly sneaky messenger with letter from Shadrach
-Durgyn arm wrestles three men
-Meet Hillfort Demitrias Thorip
-Durgyn carries Landen back to inn

Chaos in the bookstore
The mad cult tries to silence their inquisitors

Landen sneaks up to the third floor, carefully letting each of his footfalls touch the ground like a feather. As he peaks the climb to the third floor, he sees the area is similar to the last; small bedrooms and a common area, except one thing different stands out. An elaborate curtain like the one behind the counter on the main floor hangs in a doorway across the common area. Stars and moons speckle the dark blue skyscape, and at the bottom is an alien landscape crawling with the giant worms Landen is more familiar with than he’d like. A thick fog rolls across the floor seeping out from behind the curtain.
He shifts the curtain aside and the room behind is completely concealed in the mist. He hears something clamber on the ceiling above and unsheathes his dual scimtars, the steel sending its ringing song into the room.
“Ahh, someone has snuck into my chamber? Who dares to be so foolish?” The voice tauntingly calls, its owner perfectly hidden in the dense fog.
“Show yourself!” Landen calls back. “I know who you are…”
“Hah!” The blessed defiantly laughs. “Show myself to the intruder? How about I call a friend to greet you instead?” With these words, the the room seems to shift under Landen’s feet. Without any walls for reference the vertigo makes him feel as if he could be standing upside down. He can see his feet however, and when he looks down he spots a thick blue slime creeping around his boots across the floor; that same blue slime from the street. Something massive screeches, and when he hears it lurch across the floor it’s clear purple body is seen writhing in the mist. The hooked limbs whip around it’s circular, toothy mouth as the worm lunges at Landen.
The memory of his last encounter with one of these creature is too fresh in his mind, and fear racks his nerves. But still he stands and fights, swinging his scimtars. The worm, with concealment on its side, seems to whip around his attacks, then suddenly a hook digs into his arm. A sword drops to the floor and he hacks at the grappling tentacle with his free arm. Two others latch onto him, then suddenly he’s enveloped in the sick creature’s grasp. It lifts him from the floor, and Landen sees its sucking mouth dilating to receive him. The tentacles hooks dig in, and the worms teeth cut into his flesh. Landen falls unconscious from its hungering attacks, and the worms slinks off into the mist to coil up and enjoy its meal.

Torea, Heroneous’ champion in training, covers her ears. The mad blabbering and gibberish that flooded from the closet as the cabalist opened the door was unbearable. Durgyn was closer and had a perfect view of the heap of flesh inside the closet under the stairs. It seemed to take no recognizable form, and it’s surface was covered with random eyeballs and fang filled mouths. The eyes looked everywhere, they were countless. All the mouths were screaming a horrible gibbering at once, in a unison of chaos. Durgyn stared in horror, and the noise grasped his brain in mind-numbing insanity.
Torea knew she had to act quick. She took her hands off her ears to lift her morningstar, then brought it smashing down on the blue robed man behind her. He was drawing a dagger, but the spiked head of Torea’s morningstar smashed into the soft head of the cabalist.
The other cabalist drew his dagger and came at Durgyn. The attack was enough to snap him out of the maddening place his mind had been grasped. The knife cut into his thick hide calling up the rage to fight back. Neither of them expected such an ambush; one that would utilize the strange mind numbing effects of an alien creature. But Durgyn desired to show their efforts meaningless as he revealed the war hammer held on his back.
The junior paladin and the minotaur made fast work of the two blue robed cultists, and Durgyn’s mind turned to his friend. This is where Landen followed the strange bookkeeper Jellik, yet when the old man returned his thief companion had not. If they had been ambushed here, where was Landen and what had he gotten himself into?
The gibbering mouther crawled from the closet and bit out at Durgyn. It’s teeth sunk into him and he returned the pain with a swing of his hammer. It smashed into the formless mass of flesh and a few of the creature’s mouths let out a harsh growl, yet the gibbering persisted from its other jaws. Torea came to his side, and together their used their implements of blunt force to smash the alien freak into silence.

Durgyn leads the charge up the stairs, walking cautiously into the mist that has now enveloped the entire third floor. A voice taunts them from deeper in the fog.
“So glad you’ve joined us. Your too late for your friend though.”
Durgyn thinks of Landen and Torea worries for Alein, her mentor. They hear the giant worm sliding across the floor, and it lunges from the mist at them. Durgyn swings, and the alien creature grasps Torea in it’s squirming tentacles. Its lamprey mouth latches onto her side and she screams.
“Save her,” she groans. “Use this…” She drops a wand at Durgyn’s feet, and he looks down to discover a pool of blue slime creeping across the floor. He feels the floor seems to sway underneath him, then Torea hits the ground with a painful thud. The minotaur looks up and sees the disgusting worm sink into the blue pool from where it came; it recedes and the room returns to normal, save the fog.
“How?” Torea wonders as she realizes she hadn’t become a second course meal.
“Shame my pet had to leave.” Durgyn’s keen hears hone to the voice. “I will have to kill you myself!” The words guide him to his foe’s location and he looses a small pouch from his belt. He tosses it up to the back corner of the room. On impact the bag splatters goo onto the walls, quickly thickening with its exposure to the air. The frustrated grumbles can be heard of the blessed struggling in the entanglement.
Torea lifts the wand she dropped to Durgyn when she thought death’s grasp had her and uses it to heal her wounds. The magic refreshes her and clears her dedication; finding Alein is her goal, and this blessed has her. A dart of magical acid flew into Durgyn’s shoulder, burning his fur and covering him with stinging pain. Torea runs past him screaming in a rage with her morningstar raised.
“Where is Alein!?” and a thud is heard as her blunt weapon contacts something. Durgyn moves forward to join the struggle just in time to glimpse the Blessed skittering across the ceiling, free from the tanglefoot mess. Torea chases and Durgyn tries to tune his ears to the scampering of the robed menace. Torea swings madly through the fog, not quite sure where her foe is. Then she stumbles across a bundle laid against a wall. She glances down and sees the unconscious face of a half elven thief: Landen Cale!
For just a moment, Durgyn thinks he lost the blessed, then a gibbering mumble sends him a signal as clear as day. He tosses another bag from his side, determined to not let this evil escape his hammer again. The vertigo returns, yet Durgyn presses the attack running across the room. The pool of blue slime begins to form once more at his feet, then he can hear the blessed struggling in the tanglefoot’s mess.
“Curses!” the cult leader grumbles. The blue slime and vertigo sensation leave as quickly as they had come on, and this time there is no worm. It seems the minotaur had interrupted the summon by breaking the blessed’s concentration. And this time Durgyn wasn’t disappointed. The tanglefoot bag struck right on target; its thick slime covered the ceiling corner where the blessed was perched, clinging to his legs and even tying an arm to the wall.
Durgyn’s hammer slams into the robed figure, smashing the skyscape of stars, moons, and galaxies into crimson.
“UgGGHH!!!” After another blow, Durgyn pressed his hammer firmly against the blessed’s chest. “This isn’t… how it was… planned.” The blessed was still attempting to free himself. “I was chosen… chosen to hear the speaker.” Durgyn saw a spark in his eye, a determination of a still dangerous enemy. “You cannot break the will of the Ones Beyond!” Durgyn pulled back his hammer and saw the blessed’s hand conjuring an arrow of flame. The minotaur did not provide enough time for the blessed to deliver his spell, because Durgyn sent his hammer crashing back into the madman’s skull, silencing his lunacy forever.

The fog began to dissipate and Durgyn saw Torea across the room. In actuality, now that things could be clearly seen, they had been fighting in two rooms that were open to each other: one the blessed’s personal quarters and the other his study. It was in the former that the junior paladin was tending to Landen’s body. Durgyn quickly approached.
“He’s alive,” she said. “But barely.” This was the second time Durgyn had to see his friend nearly slip into death’s grasp, both times resulting in combat with a giant, alien worm. Torea put her hands on the half-elf; one on his head and the other on his chest. “Heroneous, grant him the strength to survive. Heal his wounds with your power.” Her words were as soft as a breeze, and Durgyn saw a faint light glow from underneath her palms.
“What happened?” Landen whispered as his eyelids slowly fluttered open.
“You need to rest,” Torea replied. She came to her feet and Durgyn could see in her eyes what was on her mind. They still had to find her mentor Alein and there was only one place left: the basement. The minotaur led the way back to the main floor. The closet door was still open next to the stairs, and the bodies of their fallen enemies still lie cold on the floor. The door on the other side of the stairs was still closed, and more fortified than the closet door; this was obviously the way. Durgyn tested the knob and found what he expected: locked. With a swing of his hammer the door flew on its hinges, breaking the wooden frame on the latch side and revealing a small set of stairs going down.

That sense of wrongness that was ever present in the Reality Wrinkle suddenly seems one-hundred-fold when they enter the basement room. The room itself seems to defy the boundaries of space as they understand them: a grotesque affront to their sense of reality. Distance seems meaning less, angles that should not exist clearly do, and the walls seem to ebb and flow in time to an alien heartbeat. Curled into a ball on the floor at one end of the room — it is impossible to tell how far away — is a woman in a red gown, clutching her ears and covering her face with her arms.
“Alein?” Torea says. Trying to speak the words seems to make her nauseous in this environment, but she knows this must be her mentor. “Alein!” She tried to run across the room and falls to her hands. Durgyn, not blinded by concern, carefully begins walking across the room. “One step at a time” he thinks, and it feels as if he’s walking on a curtain drawn over water. Torea looks up and cannot regain her footing, but she watches confidently as Durgyn continues his sure strides.
When the minotaur reaches Alein, he tries to get her attention. She seems unable to respond to anything, so he lifts her onto his shoulder. Even after they return to the main floor, escaping from what seemed to be a breaking barrier between worlds, the Champion of Heronious was still in a comatose state. Her eyes open yet glazed over. Durgyn had no problem carrying her further, the weight was to his strength like a bag of feathers. He even considered that if he needed to carry Landen as well, it would be slightly more difficult yet still no struggle. Regardless, Torea said he should be able to walk by the time they returned to the top floor.

When they entered the blessed’s study, Landen was indeed on his feet. He surely wasn’t at full strength and still needed to recover from his wounds, but he was alert enough to search the room while his companions were fetching Alein.
He turned to face them and Durgyn noticed a paper in the rogue’s hand. “There’s some interesting information here about the Ones Who Hear.” He lifted multiple sheets of parchment and separated one from the stack. “Certainly this piece here.”
“What is it?” Torea asked.
“A list. And it happens to contain the name of your mentor, Alein.”
Landen paused as if a ghost crossed the room. “And the name of my mentor: Shadrach Alban Oswian.”
As Landen shared the stack of information with his companions many of the horrors that had been plaguing Brindenford started to become clear. There was a receipt for a two-hundred gold piece payment to Squim, the leader of the wererat band hiding in the bell tower; a series of messages regarding a group of grimlocks given refuge in an abandoned warehouse for their services to the Speaker; and the rest made up nonsensical babblings referring to “the bells will toll the end of time” and “they must be out of the way before the gate may open” and “the Speaker in Dreams” and “the Ones Beyond” and… nonsense.
The wererats and grimlocks had been taken care of and everything else summed up to the plans of a lunatic cult. The remaining piece of evidence that captured the group’s interest was the list containing two very familiar names. Fresh ink had struck through the name of Alein, the Champion of Heroneous, as it was obvious they had nearly done away with her for good. Then there was Landen’s mentor Shadrack. Beyond those two, eight names remained. Most of them were crossed out as well, indicating Those Who Hear had gotten away with a series of murders. All that didn’t seem to matter as much to Landen. The scene he discovered in his old friend’s house flashed through his mind as he considered that name on the list, or more so considered the black line that struck through it. Could his great mentor really have been slain by a mad cult in their plans to clear the way for some absurd gate?
At least now it was over.

Of aliens, babbling, and vertigo
Investigating The Reality Wrinkle

At the Inn Torea takes a moment to rest from her ordeal at the shrine then goes to Landen & Durgyn’s room. Inside she finds Landen laying on the bed. She inspects his wounds and finds the slightly healed bites of a pincher or beak and a horrible mess of lacerations in a circular pattern: the result of the large worm’s bite. She lays her hands on his shoulders and heals him with her divine gift. Landen’s wounds mend themselves shut, and he opens his eyes to find the young paladin looking down on him.
“Your friend Durgyn sent me here. He told me you were badly hurt.”
“How long have I been out?” Landen asked as he took one bite of the meat pie left for him, then returned it to its place.
“A handful of hours perhaps. Durgyn should be returning here soon, then I need your help,” Torea explains gently. “A group wearing blue robes came to the shrine and took Alein, my mentor and keeper of the shrine.”
Shortly Durgyn did return to find his friend sitting up and well. Torea further explained what she knew of the attackers at the shrine. “I recognized one man. I saw him at the bookstore, The Reality Wrinkle it’s called, when Alein and I were there after a man was killed. Witnesses wouldn’t describe what happened, they just kept saying it was an unfortunate accident. The proprietor said he fell down the stairs, but it wasn’t right. The body was covered with small bite marks and drained of blood.”
Between the attack in the streets after Landen spied the meeting involving a man in a blue robe covered in stars, and the robed kidnappers at the shrine of Heronious, they knew it was time to pay a visit to The Reality Wrinkle.

That night as they walked down the street in West Hill where the shops are, Durgyn lifts his ears to an odd sound in the air. Seeming to come from no specific direction, he hears strange babbling of incoherent speech.
“Wait, do you hear that?” He asks his companions. It seems they’re hearing the rumored ghosts of West Hill.
Now outside the bookstore, they ascend the steps and enter inside. The three are surprised as they enter, as things do not seem right. The angles formed by walls, bookshelves, floors, and ceilings seem wrong, as if space itself were warped here. Scrolls and tomes, some bound in materials none of them recognized, fill shelves that line every wall. A small table stands in one corner with two chairs pulled up to it. A counter juts from the opposite wall. Behind the counter, a brocaded curtain hangs in a doorway, its design depicting an alien landscape filled with tentacled creatures of unimaginable monstrosity.
Durgyn notices strange smells floating in the room as well; an unpleasant mixture of odd spices. He stops and braces himself in the doorway with one hand. The disorientation to his senses being too overwhelming.
A head pops up from behind the counter, and the thin old man sets himself on a tall stool. His eyes are constantly squinting and his lower lip droops to one side, occasionally allowing a trickle of saliva to escape.
“Greetings, greetings! Can I help you find anything in particular?”
Gathering his balance, Durgyn walks into the room and speaks. “I’d like to see whatever you have on the Speaker in Dreams.”
The old man looks confused and squints even further, nearly shutting his eyes, as if studying the minotaur. “Would you? Hmm, very interesting. My name is Jellik and this is my store. Set yourselves up at the study table over there and I’ll see what books I can find that might relate to the subject.”
Jellik exits through the curtain and Landen steps silently behind the old man, following him at a short distance to the next room…

Fighting a stronger feeling of that same disorientation they felt when entering the Reality Wrinkle, Landen was now in a room full of more strange books. He could hear the old man hobbling slowly up a set of stairs and silently ascended after him. At the top of the stairs a hallway with four curtained doorways angled into a common living area. The old man approached two robed men sitting at a table and the thief slipped through the nearest curtain. Hidden in this small sleeping room, mostly bare other than a bedroll with threadbare blankets, he could hear everything perfectly.
“There’s a group here asking about the Speaker,” Jellik explained.
“How could one who is not of Those Who Hear know of the Speaker?” one robed man asked. “Only the blessed hears the Speaker!”
Landen can hear the other robed man start giggling with excitement at the mention of the blessed.
“That’s obviously why I’ve come up here; something’s not right with these visitors. One of you go up tell the blessed.”
After a small while the pitter-patter of feet could be heard coming back down the stairs to the third floor.
“We’ll take care of them, yes. Come, let’s ask them questions.” Then the three of them passed Landen’s hiding spot and returned to the main floor where Durgyn and Torea were waiting among the strange books. Now alone in their little base, Landen decided he would go upstairs and see what the blessed had to say about Torea’s missing mentor.

“I could not find an appropriate tome,” Jellik said returning from behind the curtain. “But these men may be able to help answer your questions.”
Two men in blue robes, now very familiar attire to the minotaur and junior paladin, came in with nearly maniac grins on their faces.
“How did you hear of the Speaker in Dreams?” One asked, his voice cutting the question at them like a thrown dagger. His eyes never blinked as he stared hard at the minotaur, and Durgyn made sure to return the stare.
“We have met the blessed. He said to come here that we may learn more.” Durgyn’s voice was solid and unwavering, the baritone sound of a minotaur’s speech. Yet he wasn’t the best at crafting lies, and unfortunately it was apparent the cabalists weren’t going to buy into a story so easily. The one who giggled excitedly while Landen secretly eavesdropped now spoke up.
You have met the Blessed!?” This time he giggled not with excitement, but ridicule. “And how did our blessed come to grace you with his presence?”
Durgyn tried a more direct approach. “We are agents of Heroneus look for Alein.” He hoped they would give away information with their reaction to such a direct inquiry. The two robed cultists glanced at each other, obviously communicating an alarm in their eyes. The giggly one started acting slightly frantic; his lips quivered and he looked at the minotaur with psychotic twitching eyes. The other kept his cool and smiled.
“Ah yes, I see then. Follow me, I will take you to the answers you seek.” He held out an inviting hand and turned back through the curtain behind the counter. Jellik just sat on his stool and watched as this unfolded. Durgyn never lowered his guard and kept his hand rested firmly on the pommel of his sheathed sword. As he and Torea stepped to follow into the next room, the giggly cabalist waited to follow behind them.
In the next room the robed man stood near a door next to the staircase. Durgyn fights the nauseating sense of wrongness that seems to permeate this building, and the man spoke.
“I believe you’ll find what you’re looking for here.” And he gestures to the door. Durgyn and Torea take a couple steps closer, and when the robed man swings the door open they were not prepared for the insanity that assaulted them.

Getting to the bottom of things
Unexpected attacks!

The next day, Sapphira informed her companions that she would be leaving town for a short time. Her brother‘s body was prepared at the shrine of Heronious for a proper funeral service, so she would be traveling south to Eurnoa lake to perform a ceremony.
Landen and Durgyn granted her fond wishes and sent her on her way. Then the two of them headed to West Hill to investigate these ghostly rumors. The halfling’s fair was off to another lively start this morning, but as they wandered away from Eastgate Way, things were very quiet among the small homes of West Hill. As in Silver Hill (the neighborhood of Shadrach, Landen’s mentor) this area is mostly stand alone homes with small walled yards, but the yard’s bushes in West Hill are more barriers to prevent curious passers-by from peering than the fascinating topiaries found in the previous. With nothing amiss, they knock on a random door to speak to a local about the alleged haunting. Likely, the home’s occupants are spending a day at the fair, as no answer comes to the door.
Whether it was investigate methods or Durgyn’s stomach, the pair headed to the more dense area of West Hill made up of row houses containing little shops at street level. There seems to be a good gathering at the local restaurant, so they enter and get a table.

The dining area is mostly filled with tables in the middle of the room, but the walls in the far corner are lined with private booths: walls that run full height from the backs of the benches and a curtain to completely contain the seating area. Getting comfortable in a booth, the waiter pleasantly asks what his new patrons would desire. Landen peers around the room and waves a hand to pass the waiter’s attention to his friend, and Durgyn orders a pitcher of a light drinking ale.
The minotaur perks his ears up and scans them around the room, but can’t make out any talk of the ghosts from the din of conversation in the room. Landen however, seems to have taken interest in a meeting taking place in a booth across the corner from theirs. The curtain is drawn closed, but a small opening remains revealing a man in a blue robe covered with small white stars. Whoever he is speaking to across the table is concealed behind the curtain. The waiter returns and Durgyn orders another ale as he sips the last dregs from his current pitcher. After inquiring about the quality of their meat pies, he orders 4 of those as well. When asked, Landen still passes on ordering any food, but asks about the patron in the curtained booth.
“Ah, that blue robe. He must be an employee of this bookstore down the street: The Reality Wrinkle it’s called. I see them going in and out of there.”
After some time, Durgyn drinks more beer and finishes his pies while Landen strains to overhear portions of the conversation in the other booth. With the waiter’s final return, Durgyn places an order for 2 more meat pies to-go, and during the wait Landen walks across to the booth neighboring the one containing his subject of curiosity.
“It was a pleasure doing business,” he overhears the man in the blue robe say. “Your services were of great help.”
Then the curtain slides open and the man in blue emerges from the booth followed by a well dressed man. Landen can tell a light leather armor is concealed underneath his clothing, and he spots two daggers on the back of his belt. Tempted by the daggers, Landen leans out from the booth and reaches for them. One came free with amazing ease, yet his pull wasn’t as smooth on the second. The man turns around catching Landen holding his two daggers, and a patron who witnessed the lift from his table gasps as he watches the scene unfold.
“What is on your mind, sir!?” The man angrily asks, confronting the thief.
“Merely admiring your daggers m’lord,” Landen sheepishly replies. “Forgive me, I just had to handle them to appreciate them fully.” He flips the daggers out, offering the hilts to the man.
The man replies with a cold, hard stare. A tense silence stood in the air before he snatched his belongings from Landen. “Fool. You should learn to admire with your eyes! Next time, someone might not be as forgiving as I.”
“Indeed m’lord. Thank you.”

The pair leaves the restaurant, Durgyn with two nicely wrapped meat pies and Landen with an injured pride. Durgyn seems to ignore the fact of the encounter that just happened between Landen and the man inside. Perhaps he dismissed it as the silly behavior of a thief, or just didn’t want to draw attention to it out of consideration of Landen’s dignity. Leaving without any leads on the source of the haunting rumors, the pair is not sure how to continue their investigation. Before they can consider what to do next, something very strange happens as they walk down the street.
For an instant, the very fabric of space seems to warp. Distances stretch to infinity or close to nothing, straight lines warp and weave, and vertigo assaults their senses. In the eye of this insane storm, space opens up, and a pool of thick blue slime oozes out onto the street. As the feeling of vertigo subsides, a huge wormlike creature rises up from the pool. Its translucent, purplish skin reveals strands of pulsing organs beneath it, and a ring of hooked tentaclelike limbs surrounds a gaping lampreylike mouth.

After the disorientation, Landen happens to spot a blue robed figure on the rooftop; perhaps the same blue robed man that was in the restaurant. Without time to ponder this discovery, he had to act fast, because there was indeed a giant wormlike creature writhing in front of him. He ran to a nearby alleyway, drew his bow, and stood ready to peek out from the corner with an arrow knocked.
Without enough time to react, Durgyn barely escapes a lunge from the creature. It’s mouth of tentacles came at him swiftly, but the worm didn’t have enough reach to strike the minotaur. The disgusting creature slides itself towards Durgyn, hissing defensively. Not easily intimidated, Durgyn draws his sword and moves in closer, lifting his blade ready to strike. Then suddenly, the strange dizzying effects from before arise again in the adventurer’s minds and another of the large worm rises from the pool of slime.
Landen lets loose an arrow that strikes through the entire mass of the translucent creature. Seeming more angered than harmed, it continues to direct his threat to his closest prey: Durgyn. It strikes down with it’s tentacles, one clamping it’s beaklike end into Durgyn’s flesh and grasping tight. Realizing the full danger of the situation, Landen drops his bow and runs into the street, both scimitars flashing from their scabbards. Durgyn struggles against the worm’s grasp, but it’s strength is too great. It lifts the minotaur to it’s round, tooth filled mouth and snaps at him, but failing to bite his prey the creature drops Durgyn to the ground. Landen cuts a gash into the other alien form, and it returns the strike with a flail of tentacles, some striking true and grasping the rogue.
Durgyn lifts himself from lying on the ground, and angrily lets out a minotaur war-cry as he charges for the beast before him, head dropped and horns bared. The charging gore attack strikes true, both horns piercing through the worm with devastating results. Using his strength he lifts the front end of the creature up and throws it off his horns. The results are satisfying, as it cries out and writhes in pain.
Landen, struggling in the grasp of the other worm’s tentacles, is lifted from the ground towards it’s mouth. He swings a free arm still grasping one of his swords with all his effort, and the blade strikes true. The worm reacts, but it seems the pain didn’t phase it enough to lose it’s grip. Seeing his companion’s need, Durgyn pulls his axe from his back and cleaves his foe clean in half, then focusing his attention on the second creature. It’s razor teeth clamp into Landen and his body goes limp, hanging as ragdoll would held in one’s hand. The creature’s tentacles, now with an even greater grasp, hold Landen firmly as it slithers back from the approaching minotaur. Durgyn runs with axe lifted, and he strikes true once more with the same result: an alien worm halved straight through.

Durgyn lifts his unconscious friend from the ground and searches over him for any healing potions. Finding none, he knew he needed help fast. Running to Eastgate Way with his friend in his arms, he bursts onto the street crowded with the people enjoying the carnival.
“Someone help, I need a healer! I there a healer anywhere!?”
At first, most of the crowd was frightened by the sight of this minotaur warrior carrying what appeared to be a dead body. Then they noticed he wasn’t dangerous, but in need. No one replied, and Durgyn continued to call out his need.
“Can anyone help!!”
Then a call comes from a nearby carnival booth. “Over here, come come! I may have what you need!”
Durgyn approaches the suave looking halfling’s booth: a mercantile of oils and potions. “What is it you need sir?” the halfling asks, ignoring the obvious.
“A potion of healing, quickly!” Durgyn requests.
“Ah yes, I’m sure to have one of those… let’s see…” The halfling crouches down out of view, browsing his inventory. Durgyn hears the contemplative hmms and haws of the halfling as he clinks glass bottles together, apparently searching for the right one. The minotaur however can’t help but notice the nicely organized shelves behind the halfling’s booth, one of which holds small glass vials with a liquid strongly resembling that of healing potions he had seen before.
“Come on already!” Durgyn bellowed in a deep, menacing tone. A voice so deep and fierce that only a minotaur could achieve it. “This is urgent, stop delaying!” He could tell Landen’s health was quickly fading to the black, as more blood seeped from his wounds and his breathing became shallow and labored.
His voice frightened the halfling merchant, making him jump and drop a bottle. “Okay, okay! I’ve got what you need, right here! Right here!” He pops back up to the counter with a vial in hand. Almost ready to hand it over, a glint catches his eye and the profiteer in him senses an opportunity. “Now, the matter of price.” This makes Durgyn’s anger now fulfilled against the little man, and his eyes burn toward him. “Umm um um, well… it would be one hundr… s… sixty gold!”
Still sensing this as a raw deal, Durgyn cannot waste any time. “FINE!” He grunts as he snatches the bottle from the halfling’s hand and freeing the stopper, pours it down Landen’s throat. The bleeding stops, his wounds appear to begin the process of healing, and Landen fills his lungs with air, beginning a less laborious pattern of breathing. It was obvious his friend was no longer on the brink of death, but he was still unconscious. Not saying a single word more to the greedy, shameless halfling, Durgyn set the gold on the counter and carried Landen to their Inn.

After arriving at the Inn and laying Landen in their rented room, Durgyn didn’t want to delay any further. He thought of Sapphira, and realized that now more than ever they needed her abilities. Then he thought of the shrine of Heronious, where Sapphira would go for her morning prayers and where her brother Helix’s body was prepared for burial. He knew they would help revive Landen to proper health and strength. Before he left the Inn, Durgyn was sure to set a left over meat pie on the bed side table for when Landen finally did awake.
As he walked up the small path leading to the shine decorated with iconography of Heironeous, he noticed the air becoming foggy as he progressed. When it was finally in site, he saw the shrine looming out of a bank of thick mist. A woman’s voice cries out from behing the shrine. The words are indistinct, but the tone carried a sense of urgency. Faintly he hears the clattering of armor; not as one walking in it, but a random clunking in the distance. Quickly, Durgyn ran to the shrine, using his sense of smell to guide him where his eyes failed in the dense mist. At the entry he found Torea, the junior paladin of the shrine, breathing heavily with an expression of concern on her face.
“They took her! They took Alein, my mentor!” Torea cried, recognizing Durgyn as a friend of Sapphira’s. He dashed through the mist in the direction he heard the clanking armor just moments before, and two figures in blue robes confronted him.
“Out of the way. Where is the paladin?” Durgyn said, choosing to draw his sword over his axe.
“She must be out of the way for the gate to open,” one of them replied, barring a dagger menacingly.
Durgyn positions himself for battle, and lowers the tone of his voice as he did earlier with the halfling. “Tell me where she is!”
One of the robed adversaries’ eyes opened wide, and he shook in fear saying, “No! When the gate swings wide, our world will fall into the void! She must be out of the way!” Less intimidated, the other ran towards Durgyn and screamed a pitiful battle cry. He swung his dagger pathetically, and Durgyn knocked him unconscious with a swift blow from the hilt of his blade. He approached the cowardly man still standing with his blade pointed out.
“What gate?”
“When the bells toll, they will ring the end of time… yes!” was the man’s reply. Durgyn didn’t know if he was ignoring his questions, but from the strange bounce and shake in his voice he thought perhaps this man was insane. He thought it was worth another try, in case this pipsqueak was merely trying to hold back information in being cryptic.
“Tell me where you took her!”
“Her? Wh..Who?”
With an actual response, Durgyn thought he was making progress. “The PALADIN! Where is she?!”
Now the man just burst into hysterics, babbling, “She MUST be out of the WAY! The gate will open! Yes, oh yes… then The Blessed will lead us in singing the praise of the ones beyond, even as our bodies are consumed and our minds lost… yes LOST! To madness!!”
Now utterly confused, Durgyn still attempts to press on. “Who is The Blessed?”
“The Blessed? The Blessed hears the voice of the Speaker in Dreams!”
“Speaker in Dreams?”
“The end of time will come! Yes! When the bells toll!!” The man laughs and his speech is unstable, completely lost to insanity. Durgyn decides these are the ravings of a lunatic and swiftly knocks him out with a blow to the head. Torea approaches out of the mist.
“I came here for your help,” Durgyn explains. “My ally Landen is severely injured and unconscious in our room at the Inn. I was wondering if you could aid him.”
“I suppose,” replied Torea. “But what about Alein? We need to find her, so I am also in need of your help.”
“Of course. I will take these two to the town guard, then after Landen is recovered the three of us will look for your mentor.” Torea agreed to Durgyn’s proposal, and she headed for the Inn.

At the guard post Durgyn dropped the two robed menaces off, much to the surprise of the guardsman receiving the prisoners.
“These two attacked the shrine of Heronious?” He asked. “They’re just bookworms that always hang around that strange store in West Hill. I suppose it doesn’t surprise me though. The people there always seemed a little crazy.”
“Yea,” Durgyn said before leaving. “They fight like bookworms.”

More danger lurking in Brindonford.
Meeting with the dwarf and an abandoned warehouse

Following the lead Sapphira got after communing with her brother Helix, the adventurers head to Chatterstreet Market. It doesn’t take them long to learn where “the old dwarf woman named Shoomma” kept her shop: under the quaint old sign that simply reads “Smithy”. They get the impression that the merchants in the area hold her in high respect due to her long history in Brindonford and the renowned workmanship of her weapons.

Inside they see a young dwarven man working away at the forge, and they ask for Shoomma. After explaining their learning of the wererats extortion scheme in the market, the dwarf leads them to a back room. Shoomma sits peacefully in a rocking chair, an old wrinkled dwarf with deep eye sockets… yet she is wiry and muscular. Also in the room is another young dwarf, and the adventurers learn these are her two sons that desire to continue her legacy. Shoomma explains the details of the extortion: offers of “protection” from theft and vandalism, and the victimization of those who refused. Pleased of the adventurer’s aide and information of the gang’s hideout, she sends her two sons to investigate the bell tower and asks the group to return later in the evening.

After leaving the woman’s shop, Sapphira tells her companions about the events in Southspur when she was seeking to visit her brother. With one other recently discovering that there have been a frequent number of disappearances in that area of the city, the group agrees to search around the dilapidated neighborhood for signs of the Grimlocks.

They split up and combed the streets, when eventually they came across an abandoned warehouse that particularly caught the attention of Durgyn… or should we say, of Durgyn’s nose.
“There’s a putrid air coming from that open window.”
After inspecting the perimeter of the building, they see all the windows and doors are blocked and boarded, sparing one. With ease, Landen throws a grappling hook into the window and climbs up. Inside, all that can be seen is a raised platform under the window. The stench that caught Durgyn’s attention is now overly apparent to Landen, and the place is a mess littered by scraps of wood and blanketed in dust. Unfortunately, Landen’s drop to the platform below wasn’t as graceful as his climb to the window, and the thud triggered some shuffling and grunting on the floor below. Suddenly, any light coming in through the window is swallowed up as a spell is cast and everything turns black. Sapphira and Durgyn quickly climb the rope into the warehouse as the battle with the grimlocks begins inside. Noticing the magical darkness, Sapphira casts a spell of light to counter it’s effects, just in time to see a large female grimlock that had climbed the platform to flank the following adventurers as they entered.

After dispatching their monstrous foes the adventurers explore the dreary warehouse. Human remains are stashed in various corners, some fresher than others; likely those who disappeared when attacked at night on the streets of Southspur. Underneath the platform, Landen manages to unlock a hefty chest, it’s contents including a collection of gold pieces, a black pearl, ring, and a collection of scrolls… certainly a strange collection for such bloodthirsty, barbaric monsters.

Later the group returns to visit Shoomma, and her sons had confirmed the condition of the bell tower and the exterminated wererats. To show her gratitude she gifts them with a reward. Finding an ally in the old woman, Sapphira mentions the Grimlocks in Southspur and asks if Shoomma knows anything more seeing how she is so connected to the community. She shares that the previous captain of the guard went missing after investigating reports of extortion taking place in Chatterstreet Market. Shoomma believes she very well may have been one of the last people to have seen him, just before the fair began. Also, though she usually wouldn’t mention such a thing, she decides in light of recent events the rumors may lead to something after all… although probably a little more reasonable solution than all the talk claims is the cause. The word from the other shopkeepers in the area are that many people are avoiding West Hill because they believe the neighborhood has become haunted. Residents and visitors of the area have apparently heard strange, otherworldly laughter through the streets, with no definite source.
“They’ve even gone as far to say such dumbfounded things about a scholar driven mad who took his own life,” she explains. “Completely ridiculous! I personally think it’s a group traveling with the carnival who think it’s just the most humorous prank.” Obviously not convinced there’s a haunting, Shoomma again explains she thought she’d mention it in light of Brindonford’s other serious troubles.

The finds in the bell tower...
... and a last goodbye

Sapphira begins to lift the dead guard’s body to take him out of this disgusting tower for a proper burial, but Durgyn approaches and extends a hand.
“Don’t bother, I can carry him easily.”
“Thank you,” the Cleric says, and she allows the strong minotaur to lift Elizar.
The party agrees a proper search of the tower is in order, to find any clues on what the rat’s intentions were or any others leads to their dealings… and of course, if any useful items may be around. Going to the top of the tower, where the large bells hang above the city, Landen explores. Thinking of where the great hiding spots in this tower could be, he displays his expert searching abilities. Durgyn watches, holding Elizar’s slumped body over his shoulder. Landen crawls out onto the ledge outside the large archway, and reaches out to a stone gorgoyle perched on the corner of the tower, 120 feet above the city below. Feeling into it’s lap, he notices a bowl shaped indent, and his hand grasps a leather pouch. Pulling it out he finds inside a hefty sum of gold… obviously a stash of the wererat’s funds.

On the floor below, Sapphira takes the less glamerous task… sifting through the filth of the wererat’s sleeping rooms. On the third floor, amongst the ten burned bodies that were victem to her alchemist’s fire, she finds an amber gem and a topaz. Also, scattered around the room hidden in the debris she found an enourmous amount of silver pieces. Continuing her search on the third floor sleeping rooms, a floor below, she found a total of more than 5,000 silver pieces! But during the search on this floor, she found something very unexpected.
Sifting through the fur and garbage on the floor, she looks up at one of the slain bodies. To her shock, she sees her brother, sitting on the floor slumped against the wall with a large stab wound in his chest. Avoiding denial, she knew why he was here. His clothes and the rapier that lay by his hand made it obvious… he was one of the wererats. She screamed in sadness, “Noooooo!! Why Helix!? Whyyyy!?” She lifted him into her arms, and stood to carry him. The others came down the stairs, Durgyn with Elizar over his shoulder and Landen happily carrying a small pouch.
Noticing the sadness on Sapphira’s face, one of her companions ask, “Who’s that? What happened?”
“This is my brother,” Sapphira explained. With a pause, she says, ”... he was one of them.”
Discussing quickly what they would do, Sapphira and Durgyn agreed they would take both bodies to the barracks and explain what’s happened. Durgyn was leery of the idea, knowing that a minotaur dropping of a body would draw some negative attention, but he trusted Sapphira’s leading… as long as she’d do all the talking.

Leaving the alley that took them to the bell tower, it didn’t take long for the two adventurers carrying dead bodies to draw attention in the crowded streets of the carnival. Commoners were startled, gasped, and backed away. Solomly walking down the street, Sapphira ignored the onlookers, and Durgyn followed, but was a little nervous in the situation. Soon, a small patrol of three guards approached them, the leader drawings his sword saying, “What’s going on here!?”
“This is my brother, he was slain by wererats in the bell tower. The other is Elizar, your missing guard whom we also found in the bell tower. It was infested by the beasts.”
The guard with his sword drawn appeared to not trust her explaination, and one at his side was also ready to draw his weapon in a moment. But, the third guard stepped forward and recognised the two.
“I believe her. They’re the ones that stopped the attack on the carnival from those beasts. She’s telling the truth, we must assist her.”
The lead guard looked at him, and back at the two adventurers. Possibly now recognising them himself, or believing the word of his guardsmen, he sheathed his weapon and announced they’d clear a path to the barracks. Walking up the busy street of Eastgate way, the three guards acted as an escort, clearing a path in the crowded streets and preventing alarm amongst the fair-goers.

They arrived at the barracks, and soon the captain of the guard came out to greet them. He thanked them for finding Elizar, and was saddened at his unfortunate end. He assured them a proper soldier’s burrial would be arranged, and offered to help Sapphira with any special needs she may have for her brother’s arrangements. Wishing for just a simple burrial in town by Heronious’ local servants, she decided to just take him to the shrine nearby in West Hill.
At the shrine she recognized the female cleric that was there this morning where she attended for her prayers. Sapphira explained that this was her brother, and she wished for a quick burial arrangement. The cleric introduced herself as Torea, and said Helix would be ready for burial tomorrow morning. Glad that she could rest and spend another morning praying to Heronious after the day’s events, Sapphira prepared a spell she wanted to have ready for that morning.
Returning to the shrine, Helix was ready for the ceremony and Torea greeted her at the door. Another woman was present now, and Torea introduced her. “This is Alein, she is the head cleric of this shrine and my mentor. She will be assisting us today with the rituals.”
Sapphira greeted Alein, and asked the two women for a moment alone with her brother. Gladly granting her request, the two went to the back room of the small shrine and closed the door.
With a wave of her hand over Helix’s face, and a few softly spoken words, Sapphira had a couple minutes to be in touch with her brother.
“Helix you fool! What have you done!?”
“Sapphira? Sister!? You’ve found me, oh thank goodness. I’m so sorry about what happened… I didn’t want it to be this way.”
“What? What happened? Why were you with the wererats?”
“Well, you know me, always trying to find a way to make some easy money…”
“yea,” Sapphira quietly replies. “I do know you.”
”...Well, I got hooked up with this group that was running an extortion scheme in Chatterstreet Market. They were making good money, and I wanted to get in.”
“What were the names of the merchant’s you targeted?”
“I don’t know… but the old dwarf woman named Shoomma, she knows all the merchants and is pretty much their leader. We had many shops in our grips. After I joined, they told me they were hiding out in the bell tower, and they took me there. Once I was inside, they changed into their hybrid rat form and they were everywhere! I knew I was going to meet their boss, but I had no idea. Then he bit me, and I became one of them. I couldn’t go home, and slept there with the rest of them. I didn’t know what to do… I needed your help.”
“I know, I’m sorry Helix. I’m sorry.”
“Then this minotaur and elven guy came in, and they started attacking us. I was already one of them and if I wanted to make my money and live, I decided to just fall in with the group until you showed up. I mean, with that curse what else could I do?”
There was a pause, and Helix continued.
“I’m so sorry sis… I wish I never got into this. If only you could have been there, maybe I could have gotten away from that minotaur and elven man. I wish it wasn’t like this…”
Helix’s presence began to fade, and Sapphira held back tears. “I’m sorry Helix… Goodbye…... Goodbye.”
Faintly she heard her brother’s voice in the air, saying goodbye.

The truth inside the Bell Tower
Storming into the nest, and fighting in tight quarters

The next morning Sapphira woke and headed to the shrine of Heronious for her daily prayers, while Durgyn and Landen met in the town center. While Landen looked around for the guard they were supposed to meet with, Durgyn expressed his hunger and looked for a food stand. Just them Landen spots a guard on his partrol and the two adventurers approached him.
“Can I help you citizens with something?”
“We’re looking for Elezar, we were supposed to meet him here on his patrol this morning.” Landen explained.
“Well let me know if you see him! I’m looking for him too, we’re supposed to be sharing this patrol. He didn’t show up to the barracks last night, and I expected to see him here this morning, but he didn’t show.”
The guard continued on his way as Landen and Durgyn gave a nod of thanks. Then Durgyn resumed his all important search… breakfast. The streets were not in their full hustle and bustle yet, because it was early morning and everyone was preparing for another day of the fair. Approaching the nearest food vender on Eastgate Way, Durgyn asks in his deep voice, “Whatcha got?”
“Morning! Meat pies, pastries, or some mead or ale to start your morning? We also have some fresh produce as you can see.” The merchant motioned to a display of apples and oranges.
“Meat pie,” Durgyn’s voice boomed.
“Right-o, that will be 3 silver.”
“Four of them.” The minotaur replied.
“Oh.. uh right. Well then…” The merchant reaches down into his fire oven and pulls three freshly made pies from its warm belly. He sets them on the counter and explains to the minotaur, “You caught me early, I’ll have to make up one more for you. It will be just a couple minutes.” The merchant turned around and scrambled to put the ingredients together, while Durgyn began to consume the pies he had. As the merchant had his busy back turned, Landen slid up and plucked an apple from the cart. Having most of his ingredients prepared, the merchant put the next meat pie into the oven.
“Anything I can get you sir?” He said turning to Landen. “Sorry, did you buy that apple?”
He just finished pretending to pull it from a pouch when the merchant turned around. Taking a big bite from the juicy fruit, Landen bluffed, “No…” crunch crunch “I had it.”
“Right… ok then.” He turned to Durgyn. “The pie’s in the oven now, it’ll just be a minute.” To his amazement, the impressive minotaur was finishing the last morsel of his third pie, with a ready and waiting look for the fourth. The merchant began preparing more pies for the morning rush, and when it was ready, he gave the hungry animal his fourth pie. “Thank you for your business.”

It wasn’t much longer that Sapphira showed up. When Landen asked what took her so long, she proudly explained she was paying her respects to Heronious. They went to the bell tower, knowing for sure something was not right with the guard missing. After some difficult attempts to enter made by Landen, Sapphira throws her grappling hook to the window 30 feet above and offers the sturdy rope to Landen. With a nod, he climbed into the window and using his rope climbed silently down the inside. Standing still he listened… and heard the snoring of the old man behind his bedroom door. Carrefully, Landen opened the front door and explained that he would quiet scope out the place for clues before the others come in. Sapphira and Durgyn agreed, as they weren’t as steathly as their elven friend.
Working his way up the dark stairway, Landen arrived to a door on the second floor. The stairs continued, but he decided to take a peek inside this door. Opening it slowly, he sees a small room with two doors littered with filth. Rat hair covers the room and is gathered in clumps with straw in the corners, and animal waste strongly hangs in the air. After seeing this, Landen closes the door and heads downstairs.
“This is the place. Come on, let’s take care of this infestation.” Landen motions the others inside, and despite their efforts to stay quiet, Sapphira’s armor clinks and echoes in the large antechamber. Landen listens closely, and hears the old man’s snore disrupted as he rises from his bed. Motioning to the others, they slink into the corners and shadows as the door infront of them opens.
“Who goes there!? I can hear you, come out!” The old man burst from the door into the chamber and looked around the dark, granite entry. With the entry door closed, any light that came into the window high above was quickly absorbed into the dark stone, so all three managed to hide from the old man’s eyes… but it wouldn’t last long in this small area.
Landen emerged from the shadows, both scimtars drawn to the old man’s throat; a rather rash action on a feeble tower keeper. “Where is Elizar, the guard?” Landen harshly asked with an intimidating tone. The old man trembled with fright, startled by Landen’s pounce from the shadows. Taking a step back, the old man’s body began to shrink. His hands formed into little clawed feet, and his face into the ugly snout of a dire rat! He scambled into his room screeching to alarm the nest, and climbed up a rope that dangled into his room from the ceiling.
Sapphira chased him into the room while Landen followed Durgyn as he darted up the stairs. The only light in the old man’s living space was provided by a dim lantern on a desk. His bed lay in the corner, and four ropes hung from a hole in the ceiling above, coiled on the floor; obviously what allows one old man to ring the large bells above.

The second and third floors were made of four small rooms that were obviously the sleeping quarters for the wererats. The rooms were so small, as one adventurer would enter, he would be surrounded by dire rats and wererats on either side, coming in from the other room, while the others had to wait in the hall behind. Durgyn took the second floor, while Landen helped from behind, and Sapphira ran to the third floor, finding the bulk of these nasty creatures. With a rat on the wall, and one on each side, Durgyn battled well under pressure. After using his longsword he dropped it for his warhammer, and rightfully so, because he smashed a wererat with a devistating blow. Turning to the other behind him, with a swing of the hammer he sent his reeling back into the wall. The beast fell to the ground, leaning against the wall and breathing with great difficulty, hanging onto his last thread of life.
“I’ve got a captive one here.” Durgyn grunted to Landen who was in the hallway, using his bow to drop a dire rat clinging on the wall above.

Upstairs Sapphira was surrounded by dire rats, but she faught them with no concern as they were obviously struggling to penetrate her armor. Killing one, in a matter of seconds, two more flooded into the room. She couldn’t tell how many would come from the other rooms on this level, so she had and idea and decided to go with it.

On the floor below, Landen entered the room with Durgyn and looked at the pitiful beast struggling to live, sitting on the floor propped against the wall. Putting his bow away, Landen pulled a scimtar from it’s sheath, and with a flourish, thrusted it into the wererat’s chest.
“Come on, Sapphira could need our help upstairs.” Landen ran from the room and Durgyn quickly followed, leaving their enemies in a heaping mess behind. Getting to the third floor they found Sapphira backing out of the room, fending many rats off with her mace. Raching into her bag, she lifts a glass bottle out over her shoulder and throws it into the room, producing a burst of flames. She slammed the door shut, and heard the fire burning the vermin. Landen and Durgyn continued up the stairs, and entering the door on the fourth floor, Landen sees the working of the bell tower. This large open room is criss-crossed by ropes, running through large pullies on the walls and above, with wood planks running at different levels through the ropes. The frantic squeaking of rats can be heard above…
“Get out of my Bell Tower!!” A shrill voice screamed from above. Sweaping on a rope and landing on a plank above, a wererat looked fiercely down upon Landen. Judging by his clothes and behavior, this was the leader of the pack. Durgyn ran to the floor above and found the four large bells hung in large archways that offered views to the city below. The room opened in the middle to the ropes and pulleys on the fourth floor, and looking down he could see Landen, the wererat, and two other rats scurrying in the ropes.

On the third floor, the door opens and a flaming wererat swings at Sapphira, but with a quick strike from her mace her attacker is stopped. One or two other dire rats attempt to bite at her, but it didn’t take long and the flames had consumed them all. Running up the stairs to join the others, she finds Landen in a sword dual with a wererat balancing on a rope above him. She enters the room and a dire rat climbing on th eropes above, slinks down before her and shows it’s yellow teeth.
Being at a disadvantage, Landen takes a few pokes from the rat leader’s rapier. Durgyn enters the room, returning from the floor above, and seeing Landen in a difficult situation, he runs over to help. Longsword drawn, the Minotaur swipes the the rope supporting the attacking wererat, cutting it clean from the pully and sending the rat to the ground. Just then, another dire rat drops from the ropes above, landing next to Durgyn. The minotaur turns toward the pest, fearlessly displaying his longsword and black horns to the comparitively small critter.
Angered, the rat leader rises and comes at Landen with a new vigor. Fiercely he strikes with his rapier, and lands a horrible blow to Landen’s throat, making him slump unconcious to the ground. With it’s victory, the beast turns to bite at Durgyn’s back, but moves too quickly to successfully hit him. Noticing Landen’s defeat, Sapphira casts a powerful cure spell, touching her fallen companion. Landen’s eyes open, and his wounds heal, and he stands pulling his scimtars up, ready for revenge.
The rat leader turns, angered that his defeated prey has risen to fight again. The wererat stabs him once more with his rapier, and bites firmly onto his arm. His teeth sunk deep, but in one motion Landen knocked the filthy beast off, and swinging with both scimtars cut his head clean off. Ready to end the battle, Durgyn lowers his sword… and his head. He charges at the menace before him and blows him back with a charging gore attack, leaving the rat in a crumpled pile. Sapphira makes quick work of the direrat battling her, and the tower grows silent. Catching their breath from running up so many stairs and battling so many foes, they examine the room around them, spotting a body in the corner. Quickly, they recognise the unfortunate victem as none other than the guard, Elizar. He must have come to investigate the tower, but being alone, the rats took him in, and killed him.

Another unfortunate find
Sapphira goes to check on her brother, and more than one suprise comes her way

Leaving from where the three adventurers split, Sapphira wanted to get to why she came here: to go see her brother. Heading down southspur street, she notices the buildings appear more run down in this area and the streets aren’t as clean. Finally, in the heart of Southspur it’s easy to tell this is where the less fortunate of Brindonford live. Making her way down the side streets off southspur street, she walks up the creaking steps to Helix’s second floor, one room appartment. She knocks on the door and after a short wait there is no answer. The door is unlocked so she walks in calling for her brother. “Helix? Are you home?” She finds the place in a disgusting mess. Small amounts of food have molded and decayed in a couple places of the room, and a thin layer of dust covers everything. It’s obvious no one has been here for some time, and while closely inspecting the room, Sapphira finds a group of rat droppings. A little larger than normal, this is probably not the evidence of a common pest, but more likely of a dire rat. It seems this group of attackers at the carnival has become a more personal issue.

On her way back toward the Eastgate area, small evidence of the carnival begins to show up along Southspur street. It seems a small band of amature entertainers has set up their wagon in this less favorable part of town, and only a few passers have stopped to watch their silly play. As one of the entertainers galavants on the stage in a rediculous costume, a ruckus is heard behind the curtain and a horrid grey creature with empty eye sockets bursts out with a large axe held high above his head. The large creature roars a horrifying scream as the entertainer cowers below it. Sapphira casts aid on the innocent victem to give him more strength to survive, and the axe comes down gashing him deeply… but he’s still alive. Sapphira jumps onto the stage and as she battles the Grimlock more spill out into the streets, attacking the first commoners they come to. Being the only defender Sapphira could not save them all, and by the time she managed to kill all the evil creatures more than one bystander lost their life.

With the attack on Eastgate way in the heart of the carnival by wererats, her missing brother, and now the vicious grimlocks, it was obvious something was going terribly wrong in Brindonford. Sapphira could only hope that she arrived in time… before it was too late.

An unfortunate find in Silver Hill
Landen goes to visit his old mentor, but finds something shocking instead

As the three adventurers split their ways, Landen continued to head farther up Eastgate way. As the road took him into the more weathly neighborhood of Silver Hill, the fair took to a finer environment. Items for sale here were of higher quality and mostly fine decorative things. The food was more expensive, but certainly of a higher taste. Instead of entertainers on the streets or bustling music, this portion of the fair had poetic readings and a softer song. Although interested by the fair (who wouldn’t be interested in an event of such large perportions) Landen had other things on his mind. He turned away down a quiet street that wound its way up the hill to his old mentor, Shadrach’s house. Arriving, he lifts his hand ready to knock, but then thinks twice. “Now,” Landen ponders with himself. “This IS my mentor. Would he expect me to just simply knock on his door? Of course not…”

Walking around to the alley along the side of the house, Landen inspects the building. The Silver Hills neighborhood is a much wealthier part of Brindonford, and is called so because the windows on the homes there are decorated with silver framework designs. Landen notices this, and also notices the cobblestone work of the building’s wall. Seeing that the streets are still quiet-as-can-be, he pulls a rope and grappling hook from his bag and lets it fly toward the window. It holds fast and he quickly climbs up, finding this second story window unlocked. Silently, he lifts it open and steps into the room inside. The home is dark and silent, but Landen’s half elven eyes work nearly as well in these conditions. Sneaking into the hall way he finds the other rooms of the second floor empty. Down the hallway and coming to the stairs, he notices something out of place at the bottom. He walks down and sees the living area in a horrible disarray. Tables are broken, shelves knocked over… it’s obvious there was a fight. Landen examines the room and finds a couple small blood stains, but there’s no way to tell who’s they could be. Something bad has happened here, and his mentor was certainly not home.


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