Monday, April 19, 2010

Mid-Afternoon, Above the Altmuhl Valley

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Not too long after turning down the new road, the party will find that it drifts to the west and towards the south, and that the elevation gained in travelling north from Ingolstadt threatens to be quickly lost, as it is evident that this road promises to descend into the Altmuhl Valley ... several glimpses of this valley are gained in just two miles of travel.

But it is two miles from the Ingolstadt-Nuremberg road that the party stumbles across the disturbing scene.

The first sight is not wholly informative; where the road takes a dip and turns to the left, about twenty yards beyond - below a stout apple tree, and partly concealed by it - the party can see the torn body of a horse.  It appears to be quite dead.  Just beyond, there is a body hung over a fence stile, on its side and facing away from the party.  The body is covered with blood, but there is something familiar about it.

Now, it should be understood that all is relative silence.  There are a few birds, and a gentle wind, but no indication at all that anything has happened, except for this awful sight.

80 comments:

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'm loading and half cocking my crossbow.

"Let us send only one person out to look at the person. Andrej? Avel, you and I should stay on the carriage and be watchful."

(Frying pan. Fire. !#@$!@#)

Andrej said...

"Hmmm. Watchful. Yes."

Andrej will cross himself and draw one of his maces with his off-hand, keeping his primary hand close to the other, stuck into his belt. He'll cautiously approach the body slung over the fence once Avel and Delfig seem ready.

Alexis said...

The quiet is very disturbing, although it isn't complete. Upon moving down the slope of the road, Andrej can see a second horse, standing near the decimated remains of a small brick-and-timber house. The horse is alive, but its flanks are soaked in blood. A leg, detached from a body, hangs in the horse's stirrup.

The house has a facing of perhaps twenty-five feet, with a door in the center and two windows. The door has been ripped off its hinges, the bricks on either side of the door have been - to some degree - torn out. One window is broken, and an arm hangs through it, and a stain of blood shows on the wall beneath.

The odor, the color of the blood ... Andrej understands at once that whatever happened, it was within the last hour. He moves forward, and looks at the other side of the body hanging over the stile.

It is wearing the livery of a soldier of the Palatinate of Upper Bavaria.

Andrej said...

Andrej draws his other mace and returns to the carriage, moving backwards the way he came and not taking his eyes from the house. Assuming he reaches witin a few yards of the party he states "Upper Bavarian soldiers... most likely those four that passed us on the road. More in the house are also most likely dead. Recently."

Avel said...

"We need to check the house. There could be someone left alive. At the very least, we can gather some kind of identification and report their deaths.

I do not want to debate this. If you both believe it to be too dangerous, I will go ahead and you can prepare an escape for me if necessary."

Andrej said...

"That's four trained and well-armed soldiers cut down to nothing, Avel, with no sign of who or what did it... consider that before you decide to go, Avel. If you still must... then I will go with you."

Alexis said...

Delfig?

Alexis said...

Delfig is clearly tied up. If Andrej and Avel wish to go down ahead (and I believe we may assume Avel is in agreement), then I shall move forward with both of you.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Avel, having watched people dia all around me, I think it best we leave this alone and move away from it. Death comes quick and you poking around might lead to the death of all of us. I would not have your curiosity be the death of me. Let us GO!"

Alexis said...

Ah, this party ... Avel, do you still intend to go? Andrej, do you still intend to accompany him? The DM would like to know what to describe next.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - with the scene you just painted, you can describe me just about crapping my pants... sheesh!)

Alexis said...

(OOC: Yeah. Purty world, ain't it?)

Andrej said...

"We have Dachau at our backs, where harm may await us. We have this grisly bit of business before us, where harm seems almost assured. Perhaps the time for passivity is over. It is time to become more active (slams mace heads together). Avel, let us proceed."

Avel said...

Avel will draw his sword and shield and lead the way down to the building. The goal is to approach, shield first, through the front door, checking the right side of the room I enter while using my shield to hopefully protect my left in the event something is lurking there. After taking the quick glance into the right side of the room, I will glance at the left, then enter the room.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll keep about 100 feet behind them, covering them with my crossbow, fully cocked.

Alexis said...

What Avel sees, upon entering the room.

The interior has been torn up. The furniture consisted of two chairs by an extended fireplace to the left, reaching out from the wall, where a pot would have been placed on a metal frame. The location of the pot is, at the moment, in the far, left hand corner of the room. An unmoving body is next to it.

A very large table, 12 feet by four, which would have dominated the right side of the room, is split in half. There is glass, everywhere ... and a few pieces in good enough shape to suggest to Avel’s eyes that there might have been a laboratory.

He can now see the body who’s arm is hanging out the window; it is hung on several hooks below the inside of the window - it is unarmored, in a gray and dull purple cloak. At first glance, Avel perceives that the person is dead ... but he realizes this isn’t so, as the body is, in fact, breathing. And just beyond it, wounded but with eyes open, a guardman glares blearily at Avel, their eyes meeting.

But in the other corner, the near right, the last thing I have not described - is an enormous brown, furred mound. There is a spear buried deep into it, and a bloody sword on the floor next to it. It is, as far as Avel can see, dead. It does not make any movement, or sound of breathing - which it would have to do, were it alive, with the spear buried in it as such.

Avel said...

"Andrej, help the guardsman. I'm going to keep an eye on that... THING over there. See if he can be moved, and get him out, please."

Avel will put himself between the guardsman and the brown mound, moving slowly and never facing away from it.

Andrej said...

"Munich, put that bow down and come. We need your doctoring skills more than your arhchery skills it would seem." Andrej calls to Delfig from over his shoulder.

He will then put both maces back into his belt and check first the guard and then the man in the robe to see if they are responsive. Can they speak? Do they know their name? Do they know what country they are in? Andrej is trying to ascertain which of them is worse off.

Alexis said...

Avel is able to confirm that that furry mound is dead. It is huge, 1200 lbs. or more ... with large, round eyes and a mouth like a beak. Avel cannot be certain what it is - Andrej, with a knowledge of beasts, might know, but of course Andrej is busy. Avel can see there is a body beneath the thing, the head almost removed from the body.

The man in the robe is not responsive at all ... while the man against the wall will manage to say aloud, looking at the window: "help him ..."

Andrej said...

Alexis, when you described the robed man you mentioned he was hung on hooks. Is this to say his clothign is somehow hooked or his flesh. In either case Andrej will want to take him down before casting cure light wounds on him, but will not move him yet if he beleives it could cause further injury.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - my comment did not post.)

I will put my crossbow to the half-cocked position and start assisting the man on the robes. Can I safely get him down off the hooks? Is he mortally wounded?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

My posts are not showing up? Argh.

Alexis said...

It is his clothing that is hooked ... but the man is nevertheless seriously wounded; on the very edge of death, in fact, and he is barely hanging on to life as Andrej and Delfig lower him to the floor.

(OOC: This has been a pervasive problem with blogspot lately, Delfig; I’ve taken to writing my posts on word before posting them on the site, so I have a backup)

Andrej said...

Andrej heals the robed man 7 hit points.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Since Andrej has healed the man, I will attend to the wounded guard.

Alexis said...

The robed man, after being healed, will roll on his side and spew out a mass of vomit and blood ... but he will lay back in Andrej's arms, and his eyes will focus.

"Who are you?" he will softly croak.

The other guard, on being approached by Delfig, will look down at the right side of his chest, where it is bloody. Folding back his tunic, Delfig will find a deep wound there; it will need a bandage to be pressed against it.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(One of my eaten posts had me calling out to Emmanuel to fetch water)

I will rip the guard's tunic with my dagger to create a bandage and press it to his wound.

"Avel! Grab one of the dead man's tunics, he will not need it. Bathe it in water to clean it off as best you can and bring it here."

"Be still and we will tend to your wounds." I say to the guard. "We are travelers who saw the signs of battle and have come to assist you."

Andrej said...

To the robed man: "Just a passer-by. Rest now." Andrej will remove his cloak and make the robed man as comfortable with it as he can. He'll then look him over for any wounds not tended by the healing spell.

Simultaneous to tending to the robed man, spoken to the guard "Do you recall what happened? Is there any other danger about besides that?" (indicates the dead owlish-bear)

Avel said...

Avel will take his clean shirt out of his backpack and hand it to Delfig. "It will likely serve better than a grimy tabard."

Avel will move through the rest of the building, making sure there are no other threats or injured.

Avel said...

"Wait, no, on second thought, take this, it's a bit easier to replace than a shirt."

Avel takes back his shirt and hands his kerchief to Delfig.

Alexis said...

The guard, tended by Delfig, will say, "Robur sent us a message - that the creature was coming. We hurried here, found it in the courtyard. It killed Frank, and fully ate Nicolas. Jeroen killed it with his spear, but even then it was too late."

The robed man will say to Andrej, "A stone ... a loose stone ... in the fireplace ..."

There are no other threats that Avel can find.

(OOC: Andrej has clearly figured out that it was an owlbear.)

Andrej said...

Assuming Avel is now nearby, "Avel, check inside the fireplace for a loose stone..."

to the robed man "Are you Robur? What do you seek?"

Avel said...

I move over to the fireplace and look for a loose stone. If I find anything of importance, I bring it over to Andrej.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"What is your name and where are you from?" I inquire to the guard. I'd like to do some basic aid that would keep this gentleman alive and able to recover.

"Who's house is this?"

Alexis said...

The guard gives his name as Branden. The bandage seems to be doing him some good, but he is quite weak. "It is his house," says Branden, looking at the robed man. "Robur's house."

Avel finds a loose stone, and it reveals a hollowed out hole - it is deep, about four inches in diameter, and all that Avel can see is a leather strap that reaches down into the darkness.

Avel said...

I will tug on the strap and pull out whatever it is attached to.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - good thing it's not PAINTED RED! LOLOL... )

Alexis said...

The strap is long, about three feet, and upon the end of it is a ceramic bottle, two inches in diameter and five inches high. It is marked with dirt and chilled to the touch, no doubt due to it being underground. There is a cork upon the top of it's narrow neck.

(OOC: I suppose I should be, but I am not clear on the painted red comment - the chinese red string of fate?)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(American cartoon humor - Ren/Stimpy and the BIG RED BUTTON. If you push it, it's the end of the world. You dangled something, a few spoken words and they were opening and pulling and tugging w/out really asking "WHY" or "WHAT"...)

Alexis said...

Robur will say, in pain, "open the bottle ..."

The guard Brenden will nod, a spasm of pain gripping him, and fresh blood suddenly soaking the bandage in Delfig's hand. Brenden will manage to say, "the creature, it's claws were poisoned. We are both dead men."

Alexis said...

(OOC: I don't sink to the level of Ren and Stimpy, Delfig. Shame on you - I'm much more the Heavy Metal sort of fellow)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(Oh, I am too. But there are moments from Ren/Stimpy that are priceless. And from having children, I've memorized whole swaths of cartoons, from them to Spongebob and others...)

"Is the bottle an antidote or merely to slow the poison down?" I ask Robur.

I will attempt to use my meager 3% chance of curing poison to possibly stretch the potion to help both me, if that can be done. Otherwise, if this is a one dose deal...

*gulp*

Andrej said...

(OOC: I'll be touch and go today, but will check in and post as I'm able to)

"Where is the nearest town where we could expect help, Brendan, and which way do we travel upon this road to get there?"

Awaiting his answer, Andrej will beckon to Emmanuel and the two of us will go about the business of bringing the carriage closer to the house and pointed in the direction Brendan indicates.

Alexis said...

Does 'gulp' mean you've uncorked the bottle and that you've taken a drink?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

No, "gulp" is the involuntary reaction at the anticipated ass-fuckery of having to choose who lives/dies if that bottle is antidote and is only enough for one.

Did Robur answer my question as to what the bottle is?

Alexis said...

Neither Robur nor Brenden are in any shape to answer questions; despite the cure spell, and the binding of wounds, both persons are sinking fast - losing consciousness, their lives draining from them.

Alexis said...

I meant to say before, you cannot make use of the 3% ability with poisons without actually examining the contents of the bottle ... which was what I thought you meant.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Then I will take a sip of the bottle to attempt to identify it.

If it is antivenom or "slow poison", is there enough for two or one?

Alexis said...

Ah, Delfig never gets to find out.

Upon opening the bottle, there is a rush of air, and visibly tendrils of light, similar in appearance to spun webbing, is suddenly drawn from the bodies of both Brenden and Robur. Delfig finds his hand clenched on the bottle, his body tense and frozen, unable to move, watching the light-webbing rise in waves, filling the air between Delfig, Andrej and the bodies. The light twists and turns in circles on that side of the room, moves through the bodies of both party members, who are strangely warmed and comforted by the experience ... but as I say ‘through’, I mean that the light does not remain in Delfig or Andrej, but passes from one side to the other ... and ultimately, the light sucked into the neck of the bottle.

Avel, standing outside of this swirl of magic, is more clearly able to see the image of both Brenden and Robur in the light - from his perspective, it is the souls of both persons, pulled from their bodies and into the bottle.

In a flash, it is over; but from the neck of the bottle, a bright blaze shines, making a spot on the ceiling in the dimly lit room.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I think I'm as stunned as my character is.

I look at Andrej.

"..."

Alexis said...

(OOC:

"I think I'm as stunned as my character is."

I love that)

It is plainly evident that both wounded men are now dead.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(I've developed quite an emotional attachment to this game.)

I set down the bottle on the ground as gently as possible and take several steps away, barely breathing.

"In God's name... Andrej! What happened?"

Andrej said...

"This thing is beyond my experience, my brother. I would guess, though, that Brendan and Robur are alive still and in that bottle. We must take their bodies and the bottle to the church or perhaps a wizard. If the bodies could be restored to health then perhaps the souls returned."

"Avel, Emmanuel... let us gather up what we can of the men and load them on to the carriage, yes? Delfig, perhaps you should meanwhile make a search of the house for more clues to its inhabitant."

Andrej said...

Alexis, would any of us reconize any particular significance to Robur's robes? If I recall correctly the guild wizards of Dachau dress similarly in blue robes, yes?

Alexis said...

It would be fairly certain that Robur, from the lack of armor, from the amount of glass in the room, some of it substantially the parts of a laboratory, would be a mage.

Andrej said...

Hmm... I suppose I was looking for a bit more. That is, would the cut or color of Robur's robes signify any specific allegiences, such as to a guild? I'm trying to connect the dots between he and these four soldiers and knowing ahead of time this monster was showing up.

Alexis said...

You would not be able to detect any allegiances. But I would draw your attention to something simple, that you may not have considered. Have you read the first-level message spell?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - I have now.)

(If this clue was meant for Andrej, I'll keep my mouth shut. )

Andrej said...

I see. Based on that, then, Robur might have used the spell to summon the guards from... Ingolstadt, most likely. If one wanted to return the bodies and the bottle that would be the place to go. Delfig, avel... how should we procedd given our delicate situation with those in Dachau?

Alexis said...

In a D&D world, the knowledge of certain magics and abilities possessed by any class would be well known - a paladin's worth in fighting evil, for instance, or what spells a cleric might be able to throw. It is fair to assume that the characters would be aware of spells that would equal the same level as themselves ... that they would know a cleric could detect a lie, or know one's purpose, as they know a cleric could heal (they would have had some experience with these things growing up). Just the same, it would be a failing of your individual teachers not to warn you of the dangers a mage or a monk might present, in teaching you how to use the sword or when and how to use magic.

This kind of information would be something every education person would be aware of ... and being leveled, it is presumed that Avel, Andrej and Delfig are all educated (some more than others).

Alexis said...

May I point out the bottle is not corked.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Andrej... what do you want to do with the bottle?"

I'm going to look out the windows to see if I can see other structures, towers, buildings, visible from this house. Something that is in clear line of sight.

Andrej said...

Also, let's cork the bottle.

Alexis said...

(OOC: sometimes I'm not sure; it may say in the PH that message needs to be within line of sight. I don't require that it be so; also, I believe that I have reworked the spell so that the message can be sent one mile per level ... apologies if this differs from the original spell)

Andrej said...

I've got the OSRIC pdf at work, but not my actual player's manual, so looking up Message, and not the 2nd level cleric spell Messenger in OSRIC, I see where Delfig appearts to be going re: line of sight. Unfortunately this now confuses me further. So... I need to take care of some work stuff and will return later tonight to help puzzle it out if necessary.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - OK, I'm still looking. Never hurts to look out the window.)

"These riders came from behind us. Perhaps there is one of his kind here. I would suggest that we keep this bottle and perhaps make inquiries once we've started our work for Hornung, cleared my name and otherwise dealt with any other misfortunes that happen to heap themselves upon us."

"There are days I think I should have been a farmer..."

Andrej said...

(OOC: forget my confusion, Alexis seems to have cleared it up. I do have to go, though, so will catch up tonight.)

Avel said...

(Ack! Had a very difficult time posting anything today.)

"Delfig, I think holding this bottle would be irresponsible. These men's friends and loved ones will find these bodies and mourn them. Plus, getting their property back if they have any greedy relatives will be Hell. We are not far out of Ingolstadt, and really, YOU are the only one who could get himself into trouble by showing his face.

Andrej, Delfig, is there anything you can do with your magic that could get the word out? If not, perhaps one of us can take one of the living horses and get the word to someone."

Andrej said...

"I have no such magic, Avel, but I agree. We must return all bodies for burial on holy ground and find some responsible person for this (now corked) bottle. Delifg, would you feel safer returning to Ingolstadt together and you laying low outside of town while Avel and I put this behind us... or would you rather continue down this road to await us elsewhere? Think on it."

While Delfig decides, Andrej will perform the necessary rites to send the dead souls to the afterlife and keep these bodies from rising as undead until we may find someone to turn them over to.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

really, YOU are the only one who could get himself into trouble by showing his face.

I look at Avel and feel a burst of anger. I am sure that it flashes across my face.

Instead of responding, I simply pick up my crossbow and walk out of the building and back to the carriage.

"Emmanuel, be well and may God and Jan above keep watch over you."

I'll begin to get my things into my pack, plus a little bit of food and water. Once finished, I'll begin to walk down the gravel road back to the main road.

Avel said...

I will yell after Delfig - "Wait, damn, Delfig I didn't mean it like that!"

I'll look to Andrej, unsure of what to do. - "I'm sorry. Should I go after him?"

Avel said...

(ooc - I have decided Avel is a sufferer of foot in mouth disease. =) )

Andrej said...

"No lad. Help me here with these men. Emmanuel and I won't be able to move that beast by ourselves (points to owl bear). We'll catch up with Delfig before he reaches town."

Let us put things in order here, stack the bodies into the carriage and I'll take along the bottle. All three of Emmanuel, Avel and Andrej will then ride atop the carriage back to the main road.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(2 miles will take me ~20 to 30minutes of travel.)

Once I get to the main road, it's my intent to turn to the direction where Avel saw the group of guards and head towards them. (North, IIRC...)

Avel said...

I will try to wrap the bodies individually in tabards, bedsheets, whatever I can scavenge from the house. I'll let Andrej tell me what to do and set about being Mr. Manual Labor.

Alexis said...

Should take about 30 minutes for Delfig to reach the road, as he is fairly encumbered.

Avel,

As you are looking for things about the house, under the mattress you will find three leather books, which have scribbling in them. There's a fair collection of other valuables, copper kitchen ware (cups, plates, pots), about five dozen printed books, 8 parchment scrolls, a pewter jug, three fire irons, the aforementioned iron pot (which is more than 140 lbs and fairly valuable), about 34 g.p., 105 s.p. and a sack that seems to half filled with copper pieces (you'd estimate more than 400.

Avel said...

"Andrej, I've found many of Rober's possessions. I don't want to be thought of as a looter, but if we leave anything here it will certainly be picked clean by others. Do you think we can throw these things into the carriage and safeguard them for now?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

So at the 30 minute mark, I'll head in the direction of the guards that Avel had spoken to.

Andrej said...

"Sack them up, we will bring them along."

However long this takes, Alexis, the idea is to finish then drive the carriage quickly back to the main road.

Alexis said...

And examine nothing, understood.

I will begin with a new post within an hour or so. It is time for my lunch.