5/11/11: We had a nice full group to start off the new Encounters. John, who played Devilock in Scales of War made his triumphant return!
Anyxia the DarkBringer - Shade Mage
Esprit'e - Eladrin Assassin
Fargrimm - Dwarf Fighter
Klott - Dwarf Warpriest
Netochka Nezvanova - Elf Rogue
Peerless - Revenant Hunter
In Korvosa, the southernmost city in the Kingdom of Valor, there was a noble family called the Arkonas. The black sheep of the family, Ernesto Arkona, was ordered by his father to find a bride. It was arranged that a noblewoman called Vespa would take an airship to Korvosa to meet Ernesto. Ernesto's father hoped to arrange a marriage.
On the day of the meeting, Ernesto panicked. He hired six heroes to help him prepare and handle the event, as he had no real friends. Even his guards treated him with disdain.
And so, our heroes were each promised 100 gold (with which they could buy adventuring gear and begin their career as adventurers) to help convince Vespa that Ernesto was a worthy suitor.
Palace Arkona had open grounds where elephants and tigers roamed freely. The palace had golden pillars, minarets and spired domes. Inside, the walls were made of ebony, and were carved with depictions of monkeys and peacocks with mother-of-pearl eyes.
Ernesto was nervous as he met with the heroes, and explained he'd need help dressing and dancing. He also wanted the heroes to subtly try to influence her when she was alone.
Ernesto said, "I'm not going to lie - I'm kind of freaking out!"
Esprit'e said, "Do not worry. All these towers and pictures of animals is perfect for courting a lady."
Esprit'e went with Ernesto to help him pick out clothes from his room. Ernesto wanted to go with a pirate look, compete with earring and eyepatch. Ernesto said "Ladies like pirates! That's what I heard..."
Esprit'e was aghast. "Open shirt is OK, everything else we get rid of!"
Ernesto, downtrodden, said "I don't know if I can do this." He walked over to his bedstand and opened a little box. He began to fill a pipe with flayleaf, a Korvosan drug what caused hallucinations and drunkenness.
Esprit'e swatted it out of his hand. "This is not something for the night before the wedding!". Esprite had an extra set of clothes. It had lace and leather and a codpiece, which was quite similar to the codpiece Esprit'e was wearing.
Ernesto looked at himself in the mirror, unsure. Esprit'e sensed he needed some convincing. Esprit'e said, "Look at your ass! She will want you!". Esprit'e urged him to bend over in front of Vespa when first meeting her. Esprit'e quietly decided that if things weren't going well, he'd use his poison to drug Vespa.
Next up, the heroes needed to learn the Alehouse Jig with Ernesto. Peerless was quite a skilled dancer. Everyone had to wear clogs, women had to wear colored skirts, and men had to spin their partners in circles. Ernesto had a few of his female guards come in to help out.
Klott danced with Netochka. Klott did poorly, but Netochka was able to cover for him with some razzle dazzle. Peerless danced with a guard and did incredibly well. Fargrimm danced with a guard, grumbling the males don't dance. Fargrimm didn't do so well. Esprit'e and Anyxia danced. Esprit'e did a lot of pelvic thrusting and wasn't quite able to get it. Ernesto actually did quite well. Then, it was time.
Lady Vespa arrived. She was a beautiful half-elf, and was wearing a pink gown and silver jewelry. She had four guards with her:
Amber Roseveil: A human warlock who was quite paranoid and suspicious of the heroes.
Midnight Dragonhunter: A female dwarf who was tough and very strong.
Honor: A dragonborn paladin of Io, Honor seemed to be a perfectionist and hated things that were dirty.
Strife Maxim: A half-orc with an anger management problem
Esprit'e winked at Amber. She looked at him, unmoved and very suspicious. Anyxia, a strong believer in the tenets of Chaotic Evil, quietly cast a spell that created a stain on Honor's armor. Honor shrieked and used Amber's cloak to clean himself. Amber scanned the room, looking for the culprit, but couldn't tell who did the deed. Netochka noticed that Strife and Vespa exchanged a little look.
Ernesto produced a necklace, a gift for Vespa. Then.. whoops! He dropped it! He bent over and picked it up. Vespa rolled her eyes. Her guards did, too. She was then led to the garden and lef tthere with her guards. Ernesto asked the heroes what they thought.
"Get her drunk!", offered Peerless.
"I think she needs convincing", said Klott. Ernesto begged Klott to go out there and make him sound good.
The garden was like a jungle, a riot of color teeming with exotic birds. Vespa was sitting on a bench looking at a pillar carved to resemble two entwined cobras. Nearby was a jade statue of an elephant. A real elephant was close as well.
Klott entered the garden and asked, "My lady, do you mind if I approach you? Perhaps in private?".
Vespa asked her guards to stand away, but still close enough in case of danger.
Klott told her that Ernesto was very insightful and had a passion for her. She asked what Klott thought Ernesto liked about her. Klott said "You are quite beautiful, but also I can tell from speaking with you for these few moments that you are perceptive and intelligent." She seemed impressed. She asked if Ernesto was kind.
Klott knew that there was something weird about the Arkona fmily. He also knew that there were rumors that the Arkonas had a dungeon under their palace where they tortured their enemies. Klott said "I've spent some time with him and I can tell that he has a good heart." Vespa was wary. She said she'd heard a few things about his family. She asked if Ernesto was wise.
"Wiser than I, that is for sure. He keeps many animals of many different varieties living together without any problems." It was a good point. Vespa was impressed. She asked why Ernesto wanted a woman from across the continent when he lived in a city full of women.
Klott explained that Ernesto was different from his family, and always felt like an outcast, and he was looking for someone like himself to find a true bond with. Vespa was impressed again, and seemed very willing to give Ernesto a chance.
Klott went inside and rejoined Ernesto and the heroes. Klott told Ernesto it went well. Ernesto was sweaty, and complained that his codpiece was making him very uncomfortable.
Now it was time to try to learn Vespa's secrets. The heroes decided to try and occupy her guards so that Netochka could sneak in and eavesdrop on Vespa.
Peerless decided to try and intimidate Strife, as Vespa seemed somewhat interested in the half-orc. Peerless walked into the garden and said to Strife that worshipers of Galasis (eladrin god of magic) had killed many half orcs over the year. Peerless added, "I've been brought back here to continue his good works. And if you weren't such a coward you'd do something about it."
Strife got more and more angry. Vespa ran up and put her hand on Strife's chest. She said "No, Strife, no! He's not worth it!". she looked at Peerless and said "How dare you?!". She brought Strife near the bench and tried to calm him down.
Anyxia crept into the garden unnoticed and quietly cast a spell that made it appear that Strife had peed himself. Vespa looked down and saw the pee. She was shocked. She said "You were scared of him?". Strife roared and punched a tree.
The elephant stared at Strife. He yelled at it, "What are you looking at?!".
Vespa said "Leave the elephants alone!".Then Anyxia cast another spell to make it seem that Strife had touched her butt.
Vespa said "How dare you touch me like that? Go away."
Amber Roseveil spotted Anyxia in the garden. She walked up to the DarkBringer and said "You use magic, don't you?".
Anyxia said "No."
Amber said, "You're a liar! I'm on to your game!".
"Anyxia said, slyly, "The game of Chaotic Evil?". Amber gasped. Anyxia said "Watch yourself."
Amber urged her not to speak of it (Chaotic Evil, that is) aloud. "Chaotic Evil! Say no more!".
Amber turned away, and Esprit'e faded into view, leaning against a tree. Esprit'e came on to Amber. Amber looked disgusted, but could not resist another glance at Esprit'e's exposed chest.
Midnight, the dwarf, was doing push-ups. Her muscly arms were impressing Honor. He said, "You so bad, Midnight!"
She said, "Don't tell me something I already know!".
Klott and Fargrimm, both also dwarves. stepped up and challenged Midnight to a push-up competition. Honor said, "You two are about to be taught a lesson by my best friend here."
Midnight out-lasted both male dwarves. She won the push-up competition. Honor gave her a low five. Midnight told the dwarves that there was no shame in it.
Netochka used this plethora of distractions to sneak and creep her way behind the elephant unseen.
Esprit'e talked with Amber about his passion. "I am filled with fire!", he said. "In the darkness, my heart soars! Let us roll together on a cloud!" (he rolled a bluff check to avoid talking about his two true passions: Killing and making sweet, sweet love. He rolled a natural 20!).
This was too much for Amber. She pulled the eladrin into dense foliage to "show him something". He warned her, "This codpiece is not for show. It guards my most valuable appendage."
From behind the elephant, Netochka could hear little. She made her way closer, and listened to Vespa talk with Honor. Vespa said she'd been forced to visit Ernesto by her father, and that she had been interested in Strife until he peed his pants. The rogue learned that Vespa liked magic, jewelry, and she liked to make statues.
Then it was time for the dancing. E'sprit'e and Amber were a bit late and sweaty. They danced in the trophy hall. There were glass cases full of swords, spears and starknives. There was also a suit of blue leather and ivory armor. And there was a stuffed tiger that appeared to be feeding on the sculpture of a human.
Fargrimm and Midnight danced.Fargrimm didn't do so well, but Midnight muscled him through it. Amber and Esprit'e clog-danced most erotically. Klott and Anyxia danced very poorly. Peerless jumped in to aid them and stop the whole dance from falling apart. Peerless and Netochka did exceptionally well.
Ernesto and Vespa danced shockingly well, and Vespa looked like she was having fun (they rolled a natural 17 and a natural 20!).
hen came dinner. Vespa seemed to have taken a shine to Ernesto. Fargrimm suggested that maybe Ernesto could pose as a statue for her some time. She liked that idea. Netochka brought up the arranged marriage (and rolled a bluff...) and Vespa was open to the idea! The day had been a success.
Fargrimm stared at Midnight, trying to intimidate her. But Midnight got in his face and intimidated him. Honor said "She so bad!"
Esprit'e tried to hit on Midnight too. She decided to test him by arm wrestling him. Esprit'e put up a valiant effort, but she was too strong. She said "We'll try it again some time."
Honor said "You the baddest! Nobody badder!"
Anyxia pulled Strife aside and said, "It's so horrible the way they treat you. Have you heard about Chaotic Evil? "
His eyes went wide. "Don't say that out loud!"
Anyxia explained that Chaotic Evil was just an attitude. Anyxia said that Vespa and the others didn't appreciate him.
Strife said, "I have a lot of anger. I get... ideas... sometimes." Amber Roseveil pulled him away, glared at Anyxia and mouthed the words "Chaotic Evil" at her.
Vespa and her guards departed. And that's how the heroes first met. They received 100 gold.
One month later, Ernesto hired the heroes to deliver a marriage contract in a sealed envelope to Vespa. They'd be traveling from Korvosa to Olwynn, a journey of several weeks. Ernesto gave them two elephants with tents on them to ride.
It had rained the whole time. The heroes had traveled several days and came to a town called Duponde. There, the river had flooded and the bridges went out. The heroes were stuck in Duponde for several days.
They stayed at the Old Owl Inn. They sat in the tavern area and chatted with those inside:
Nathaire: A scholar from Olwynn accompanied by a halfling servant. Nathaire revealed he was in town researching a great wizard named Evard. Evard had died in Duponde 60 years ago fighting another wizard, and his tomb was in the graveyard. Nathaire had nothing but disdain for Duponde.
Katha, Kristyd and Kildrak: Three dwarves who didn't believe in ghost stories.
Grimbold: The town marshal. He told the heroes that sometimes spectres would appear in Duponde.
Harald: The barkeep. He mentioned that Nathaire had been snooping around and talking about Evard.
Tilda Grenfield: The stout owner of the Old Owl. She told the heroes more ghost stories.
The heroes became very suspicious of Nathaire. They accompanied Grimbold on his rounds. He showed them around Duponde. It was cloudy, rainy and dreary. He brought them to the graveyard. the heroes checked out Evard's resting place. They noticed tracks... of Nathaire and his halfling. They'd been here within the last day.
The adventurers returned to the Old Owl to sleep. Anyxia put her undead goblin and kobold minions to bed, reading them a tale of Chaotic Evil. One asked "So did he kill everyone in the Orphanage?"
Anyxia said, "You;ll have to find out tomorrow." All three of them groaned disapointedly. They were tuckered out, though.
Esprit'e stood watch between the two rooms the heroes had. He crept around the inn. Downstairs, Harald was moving some things behind the bar and snapped at Esprit'e, telling him to stay in his room.
Esprit'e stayed on watch... and at around midnight, he felt weird rippling and shivers all over his body...
A powerful sensation roused the slumbering heroes. It felt like they were being wrenched in multiple directions without the ability to orient themselves. Nothing in the room was missing, but furnishings were subtly out of place, the air was cold, and the walls had gone slightly askew. Candles and lamps were strangely dim, and shadows pressed in from all sides.
Anyxia immediately knew what had happened. Dupone had slipped into the Shadowfell - the realm of the dead. Such an occurance was known as a Shadowfall.
Anyxia said, "I've been waiting for this moment all my life!"
The goblins asked, "Is it true, did it finally happen?". Anyxia nodded, and they began dancing around and cheering.
The heroes put on their equipment (Klott was in charge of carrying the note to Vespa) when..
A scream of terror erupted from the inn's common room downstairs, followed by cackles and the breaking of crockery. The Old Owl was under attack!
They raced downstairs to see the barkeep lying behind the bar. Three gargoyles were spread in the tavern area, and roared in anger. Two shadow stalkers lurked about as well, eager to slay the adventurers.
One of the shadow stalkers swiped at Netochka and melded with her shadow. The gargoyles converged on Fargrimm, knoking him prone and clawing at him. Netochka slashed into a gargoyle and bloodied it. Peerless dashed behind the bar near the clawed and unmoving barkeep. He took aim and put an arrow through the bloody gargoyle, killing it.
Fargrimm was prone, but still he attacked. He swung and killed a second gargoyle. The third swiped at the dwarf. Esprit'e teleported into the room, pulled out his garotte and began to strangle a shadow stalker.
Peerless knelt down and cheked on the barkeep - he was unconscious, not dead. Peerless took aim again, and killed the last gargoyle. The stalker emerged from Netochka's shadow and was promptly bloodied. Fargrimm sprung to his feet and helped his allies pummel it to death.
Esprit'e kept his choke going, hissing violent and passionate words that only it could hear, until at last it dispersed into a cloud of inky black smoke.
Klott healed the barkeep. The heroes then wondered if they or Duponde could survive whatever the Shadowfell had in store for them...