With the mountains and the medusas finally behind them the party set out East, towards Ocrist. The plan was to stop along the way at the Wicked Annabella, the roadside inn owned by a friend of Corwyn. Ultimately they hoped to pick up on the spy hunting mission given to them some time ago by Autumn, the mysterious agent of the DuChamp family. He had offered 10,000 gp for each undercover Coleridge spy that the party could present him with.
While traveling through the woods at night Glee spotted a pair of figures also moving through the woods, they were flanked by a pair of wolves and were armed. He pointed them out to the rest of the party and they slowed to observe the men, eventually coming face to face with the woodsmen. Both sides approached cautiously with weapons sheathed, and the party did something they had never attempted before. They talked to the strangers rather than killing them. Bizarre. The group of two was actually a group of four and they all made camp together like a big happy family. The leader of the group indentified himself as Martin, a traveling priest of Fharlaghn who had come to the island to aid the Coleridge’s in their fight against the oppression of the DuChamps. Martin described himself as a freedom fighter, going where he could do the most good. He sympathized with the Coleridges and was now working with the army to insure victory. He spent part of the night explaining the situation to the party and attempting to win them over and get them to join the cause. Eventually Martin went to sleep and Lela used her Fascinating whistling, followed by some Suggestion to plug one of the guards for some information. The guard said that Martin was a good man and genuinely cared for the plight of the oppressed on the island, though he expressed some concerns over the actual motivations of the Coleridges. There is a rumor, he said, that for years the DuChamps have been guarding a powerful treasure and that is the real reason that the Coleridge Clan wishes to unseat their power. So that they can get at whatever it is that is hidden in Ocrist. While all this was going on Corwyn was making multiple attempts to get into Lela’s pants. They did not work.
I was glad to see the party rely on wits rather than weapons for a change. They are evil and weapons are an easy way to be evil, however manipulation and deceit allow for a much greater evil that, perhaps, they may capitalize on. In the morning they broke camp and went their separate ways; the party (with Corwyn in tow) towards Ocrist and Martin and company to the Coleridge army.
Rather than skulking through the woods the party decided to actually take the road like members of a civilized society. After several hours they noticed a wagon behind them slowly gaining. As it came into view they were not prepared for what they saw. The wagon was pulled by two sickly looking ancient mares with fire in their eyes, the reins were held by a pair of skeletons, and seated between them was Ichabod. A cleric of Wee Jas, the party has met Ichabod once before and sort of took to the death-whispering creepy old man. He offered them a ride and they accepted, though it was Corwyn who was chosen to ride between Ichabod and a skeleton, the rest of them rode on the horses. Ichabod told them he was headed to the Fields of Sorrow on the outskirts of Ocrist, he was anticipating a large battle between the two armies sometime soon and he wanted to be there to harvest souls for his Scarlet Mistress. He was also pleased to sense that the scent of death was much heavier with the party then it was the previous time they had met. He also uttered some cryptic words to Lela that unnerved her, alluding to her imminent death. At one point she asked to look into the back of the covered wagon, he allowed her to do so but warned that she needed to be prepared for what was there. Ignoring his warning Lela pushed back the cloth covering and into the rear of the wagon, only to see herself on the floor, her throat slit and her body pierced with arrows. Ichabod smiled. Shortly after this Romulus offered Ichabod some gold if he would creep out Corwyn enough to cause him to defecate in his own pants. Ichabod did his job well and soon enough a rank stench hung in the air, thicker than even the smell of death that circled Lela like vultures. Corwyn tried to blame the skeletons.
Not wanting to be seen pulling up to the inn in the Ichabod death wagon they jumped out a little early and walked the rest of the way. They thanked him and he said that he would be seeing Glee and Romulus soon, he made no mention of Lela. While walking to the inn they had a serious life discussion with Corwyn. Corwyn has clearly been trying to feel like one of the party, but he does not seem to have the same attitude as them. He somewhat believes that people can be good and that there are things worth fighting for that are not greed and the love of death. The party set him straight, telling him what an evil place the world is. Just look at your uncle, they said. He sold you to medusas! All of this seemed to ring true with Corwyn and he began to look at the world in a new way.
As soon as they went into the Wicked Annabella Corwyn was greeted by his friend Gunther, it was the family of Gunther that owned the establishment. They exchanged pleasantries for a moment and then Corwyn requested a place where he could clean up his soiled pantaloons and get a change of clothes. Gunther accommodated his request and then brought the party into a private dining room and then treated them a meal. He inquired about what they were doing and how it was that they came to find Corwyn. Over the course of the conversation the topic turned to the current war and the PC’s began to pick up on the slightly anti-DuChamp sentiment in the voice of the young man. Seeing an opening Lela followed up on this, mentioning how they had spent the night with Martin the freedom fighter and hinting at the idea that they were not all that into the current leadership hierarchy on the island as well. Since the party mentioned that they were going to be heading to Ocrist Gunther asked them to deliver a letter to The Leaves of the Fall, a tea shop in the city. He alluded to it being more than just a letter. Gunther also mentioned how there was a group of DuChamp soldiers in the inn at the moment, and he believed that they were carrying something that is of great value. If the soldiers were to somehow lose it…With an unspoken agreement between them the party thanked him for the meal and went back out to the common room.
The evening’s entertainment was a musical comedy act called the Clown and the Bard; two men with a slapstick brand of humor. Apparently the soldiers stopped in the inn to see them before heading back to Ocrist. The other happenings in the inn included Lela talking her way into a whistling performance between sets of the musical comedy (the performance went very well, she was a big hit with her unique brand of epic storytelling through whistling) and Glee having sex with a buxom barmaid. Corwyn had also emerged with a change of clothing and attitude. With a pair of tight studded leather pants and a slicked backed haircut, he hung out at the bar all night flirting with some young vixens, ignoring Lela for most of the evening. He seems to have taken the nihilistic teachings of the party to heart. At the conclusion of the performance the soldiers packed up and headed out, setting off for Ocrist.
Lela, Romulus, and Glee sort of sat around and twiddled their thumbs while the soldiers left. They were not really sure how to approach it. In a way I thought it was good that they did not just draw their weapons and rush out after the prey, but the fact that they were clueless about how to proceed wasn’t all that good. It occurred to them that the soldiers may be on horseback, which sort of killed their plan of stalking them down the road and murdering them in the dark. Eventually they did go outside just as the soldiers were getting ready to leave atop their mounts. Lela cast Grease in front of their horses, slowing them down but clearly alerting the soldiers that something was amiss. While this was happening Glee and Romulus snuck up from the side and lunged at them, weapons drawn. A fierce skirmish followed, and the party was aided by Corwyn who charged from the inn and out to the stables. Romulus was dropped to one hit point but they were able to survive once again, though Corwyn struggled in his one on one battle with a horse. They looted and found a strange little box.
By the time the fight ended a small crowd had gathered outside of the inn to watch the murder of several of the local soldiers. Clearly, the PC’s had been seen. Gunther charged at them with a knife drawn, threatening the murderers and chasing them into the woods. He was also secretly signaling to them that they should get out of there. They all ran into the woods and Gunther asked if he could have the package that they had found on the soldiers. Inside the box was a single black arrow which Gunther said was an arrow of slaying. It was enchanted to kill Roosevelt Briggs, the commander of the Coleridge army. Romulus refused to turn it over, making Gunther very angry and having him question whether or not the party were the right people to deliver the letter. Their short career as double agents appeared to be on life support until Lela came in and used her silver tongue to smooth things over. Ultimately the party did turn the arrow over to Gunther and he thanked them.
I thought that it was a real good night of adventuring. Having a small party let each player have moments to shine and use some resources that they may not normally employ, such as Lela and her fascinating musical effects. Role playing was also strong throughout the group with everyone acting in character and pursuing their goals. I thought that it was interesting that no weapons were drawn until the very end of the evening. This is a party that is usually very quick to slay anything in their path, so it was a change of pace to say the least. Also, the lecture on morals that all three of them gave to Corwyn was a lot of fun.