A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections


    When done with their business in Fork and as confident as they can be that Filge will keep to his word, the party sets out for the Free City of Greyhawk, each a bit more somber and aware of the heavy burden they bear. Failure to stop the Age of Worms will have consequences...

    As they get closer and closer to the Free City, traffic on the roads increase and soon they see the two great edifices that bear the name "Greyhawk" - the first is the great, walled city. A shining gem in the crown of cultured civilization where paupers become princes and all can prosper, the city of Greyhawk is the greatest free city in the Flanaess and a bastion against tyranny and villainy. The enormous city walls dominate the immediate view, though many spires and towers can be seen reaching for the heavens beyond the city gates.

    The other three buildings are less obviously majestic, but full of their own mysteries and legends - the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, abandoned over two hundred years ago by the mad wizard Zagig (now the insane demi-god Zagyg). Rumors have it that within its tri-towered depths lie magic artifacts of unknowable power and purpose, though few survive such expeditions to tell about it. It was in dungeons of these towers that Zagig used his "God Trap" in a bizarre series of experiments that led to his eventual ascent to deity-status. Now, the tunnels beneath the three towers remain some of the most dangerous in the world, with countless adventurers entering them and never being heard from again...


    The party's business does not lie in that fabled dungeon, however, so they pass it by and continue towards the city proper. Before entering the city, however, you must get through one of the gates. The line into the nearest gate takes about two hours of waiting before you are seen. Once they recognize that four of you have been to Greyhawk before they perform a basic search, just enough to be good enough, and wave you through. Though not evil, it is well known by residents of the city that the guards are often lazy and looking for bribes, but they are generally smart enough to avoid getting caught asking.

    Inside the gate the streets of the Free City are cobbled with well-worn stones and scored by deep wagon ruts. Throngs of people of all races, some bearing exotic raiment, crowd the streets. The creak of wagons and neighing of horses is interrupted by the call of merchants hawking their wares and the shouts of customers haggling over prices. The air hangs heavy with the smells of civilization - the stench of sweat and refust mixed with the aroma of freshly baked bread and fire-roasted meats.

    The Free City of Greyhawk is iconic and full of enough adventures for an entire campaign there. I am collecting maps and such to share, but they will be going in the OoC thread, not here. I am going to assume that you all are rather focused and head directly for...somewhere? You have the following options that make sense to me:

    • You head towards the home of Eligos, one of the many sages in town and an apprentice of Tenser the Archmage.
    • You go to the Temple of Heironeous to report to the church about the Age of Worms and Filge.
    • You go to the University to try and find someone there willing to help Filge recover from his current state.

    If you have other ideas, let me know. In you post, please look into your choices and provide me with clear direction. Enough of the PCs have been here before that the directions you have from Allustan will get you to Eligos without too much trouble, if that's what you want to do first.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    As soon as the group is through the gates, Marzena smiles as her nostrils fill with the unmistakable smell of home - the city of her birth, the illustrious, always exciting metropolis, where so many of her memories were formed. She turns to her companions.

    "My friends, I know we are here pursuing a quest, and that's no joke. But... The road has been long, and I am famished. And as I mentioned, my family lives right here in the Free City. I haven't seen them for a year. I'll be happy to introduce you, and to invite y'all for dinner!"

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Frederick's characteristically dour expression is downright caustic as the party approaches the "Free City." He waits patiently in the line, his demeanor unfazed by the utterly predictable delay. As the guards perform a cursory imitation of their duty, he frowns severely. When prompted he only grunts "Frederick Armstrong. Paladin of Heironeous." His heavy glare all but dares them to cross a line. When the guards remain perfunctorily honest, and send the party through the gate, he smirks for the first time in days. "Rubbish. Only place that smells worse than Diamond Lake." he mutters to the interior of the heavy stone walls.

    Inside the city in earnest, Frederick's displeasure is only made more apparent by Marzena's obvious excitement. Her animated features prompt curiosity from the Half Orc, and he nods slowly as she voices her own motivations. Surprising himself as much as anyone else, Frederick shrugs. "I wouldn't begrudge you the visit, and wouldn't want to pursue our errands without you." He turns to Lydia, his expression respectful and probing. "Everyone has to eat, eh?"

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Lydia nods in response to Frederick's question. "They do, but the Temple has quite an excellent cooking staff and I'm sure they're up to the task of..." she begins, but the look on Marzena's face causes her to relent. "Oh, very well. Another few hours won't do any harm. Lead the way, soldier." As the group traipses through the streets she is lost in thought, familiar enough with the sights, sounds, and smells of the Free City to find them unremarkable. She is thinking out loud about their next moves: "Once we make our report the paragons may need some time to decide the best course of action. In the meantime we can search out this Eligos that Allustan spoke of. And perhaps the Doctor wants to confer with some of his colleagues at the University about his findings on the Kyuss worms..."
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    Waylan, Kestros and Auspice (Wrath of the Righteous)


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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    After the monotony of the last leg of the trip and the sheer tedium of the wait at the city gates, Jan darts as fast as her tiny legs will take her into the Free City. She seems simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by the gamut of sounds, smells, and sights that assault her senses, and the country-born gnome clearly wants to see it all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynfrid View Post
    "My friends, I know we are here pursuing a quest, and that's no joke. But... The road has been long, and I am famished. And as I mentioned, my family lives right here in the Free City. I haven't seen them for a year. I'll be happy to introduce you, and to invite y'all for dinner!"
    In her daze, the gnome almost fails to detect her companion's speech, but turning from her (somewhat awkward) stare at the flamboyant garb of a passing dandy, the gnome grins broadly at Marzena. "Well, I wouldn't say 'no' to a nice sit-down meal, not after the days of trudging through the countryside! The world won't end quite that quick, will it?" With a twinkle in her eye, the gnome looks to the Heironeans, and seeing their approval only widens her smile!

    "I can't wait to meet them! And they'll want to hear everything that happened! Well..." she trails off slightly, "maybe not everything. We can leave out the messier bits. Can't have them worrying about you, even in as good a company as us!" The gnome giggles noisily to herself, before her attention finds itself caught up in yet another of the endless passing fascinations of the busy city streets.
    Lehasti Gesmeha and Azkin for Mummy's Mask
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    Janstina Silentall for Age of Worms

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    Frederick glances at his spiked mail, for the first time a bit self-conscious at Jan's praise. "Heh. They're gonna love us," he barks, laughing.

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    Ollofire is happy to return to the place where he completed his studies and see his professors once again. But with the mention of a homecooked meal at Marzena's parents residence, the weariness of the last few days travel and events since his drunken rant at the Hoffman farmstead takes hold and he can't help but get a little misty eyed. He follows the group as they make their way, being certain not to lose sight of Jan or the taller members of their party in the crowds.

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    "Come on, Sir Frederick, Lydia, don't make such faces! I promise they won't eat you." Marzena sends a wink in Jan's direction. Ignoring any further comment, she animatedly leads the group towards the city's merchant quarter. On the way, she stops by a couple of food shops ("Won't be long!"), happily saluting the owners, as well as a great many patrons - it seems like she knows half the locals in this area of the city. She comes out, carrying a big, expensive cured ham and a sizeable flask of wine. "It wouldn't do to drop in for dinner unannounced, with a large company, and not bring anything, would it?" she says with a bright smile.

    She brings her friends to a large, comfortable house, not the most impressive in the quarter, but pleasant and nicely furnished. The group's arrival surprises and delights the family: Her mother Arcena, her father Temerius, and sisters, two of which are still living in the home, and three others who are promptly send for and show up, husbands and young kids in tow, at various moments of the evening. Marzena's parents welcome her and her friends with open arms. Not having seen each other for a long time, they have a lot of stories to share. It turns out that during her travels, Marzena has found the time to find, buy or make little gifts for every adult, child, and servant in the house and extended family. The dinner is joyous, messy, full of questions, good food, jokes, hugs, interruptions of all kinds, and lasts late into the night.
    Last edited by Gwynfrid; 2021-01-17 at 06:07 PM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    The unexpected family gathering is a happy one indeed, inspiring a myriad of emotions from both Marzena's family and her new colleagues. It's clear that most of Marzena's family expected her to retire from the army to a quieter life, but they are proud of her service and glad to welcome her companions into the extended family. As for the adventurers, they find the joy of family brings up memories of their own families and all of the mixed feeling such a reunion does. Frederick remembers his family, some of whom lay buried in Diamond Lake, their bodies recovered by his own efforts. Olofire wonders what his relatives would think of his discoveries and the changes they inspire in him. Jan's memories of family are generally happy, though the many things she has seen make her wonder how Grossetgrottel is doing and if they are staying safe from the threats of Kyuss worms. Lydia finds herself distracted a bit but also inspired - families like this are who she defends.

    As the night winds down and the families with younger children excuse themselves Marzena's mother brings out her own set of harrow cards and gestures for Marzena to do the same. They take some time, letting the cards fall and the magic of fate flow through them both. "You face dangers...brave allies help...seek knowledge - it will guide you...guard your mind...do not trust your eyes...shifting faces...worms...Kyuss..." The stream of dark portents flows from both women as their voices speak in unison, though clarity continues to elude them both. When done Marzena's mother explains that in most ways her daughter has surpassed her in skill and power with the harrow cards. She's proud of Marzena and glad she is home.

    "But you're not safe, not for a long time still. You mentioned going to see Eligos for help...I think that is wise, he's well respected. Near his home is an inn, the 'Crooked House.' You cannot miss it - there's not a square angle in the place. I think you should stay there while in Greyhawk. We don't have the rooms for all of you and the inn is nearer to the places you will go.

    Your father and I love you - keep making us proud.
    "


    After saying their goodbyes, the party makes their way down the streets of Greyhawk towards the Crooked House. They find the larger streets well lit and still somewhat busy, despite the late hour. Side streets grow dark, but it seems the Free City only rests, not sleeps. Following Marzena's mother's directions they find the Crooked House easily enough in the Foreign Quarter. It's a larger building in a neighborhood called the "Midnight's Muddle" and just off tilt. All the walls are at odd angles and none of the windows or doors are quite square. Despite its unusual construction it appears to be in good repair, freshly painted and clean.

    Spoiler: Image (Map) of the Crooked House
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    It appears that at some point in the last decade the building's foundation began to fail. Rather than abandoning it, work was done to take advantage of the situation and create an unusual and charming inn. Nothing looks unsafe, but you doubt there are any level floors in the place.

    Walking inside the party finds a lively taproom full of locals and guests alike, Decorated with humerous trophies - primarily owlbear heads - the tables have uneven legs so that the table tops are level. The staircase leading upstairs looks treacherous, and there is a pair of musicians playing a lively jig on a small stage in one corner. "Greetings! Newcomers, eh? Can I get you something to drink or a room?" calls a high-pitched male voice from behind the bar. Looking over the party sees a smiling male gnome with a rag in one hand and a clean, glass mug in the other. "I'm Tarquin," he introduces himself as they approach. "This here's the 'Crooked House,' my pride and joy. You all look tired...my rooms are all singles, we have ones for both the big folk and little...though few are as tall as you, Sir Knight," he says, gesturing to Frederick with an impressed expression. "Six silver nobles per night, breakfast is included. I guarantee the rooms are clean, and we can arrange for stables for any mounts you may have for the same price..."

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Jan quite thoroughly enjoys the evening with Marzena's family, joking with the adults, entertaining the children with her talent for illusion, and generally giving free reign to her outgoing and gregarious personality. After enjoying more of the ham (and wine) than one might expect, given her stature, the gnome finally lapses into comparative quietude to watch the battle-mage and her mother with focus and delight as they consult the cards for insight into the future. The gnome seems wholly out of her depth in either following the process or in interpreting the results, but she seems not to mind, in her state of mild inebriation.

    After bidding the family a farewell every bit as fond as though they had been lifelong friends, Jan saunters out into the evening, yawning as they seek out shelter for the night at the Crooked House.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkOne7141981 View Post
    "Greetings! Newcomers, eh? Can I get you something to drink or a room?" calls a high-pitched male voice from behind the bar. Looking over the party sees a smiling male gnome with a rag in one hand and a clean, glass mug in the other. "I'm Tarquin," he introduces himself as they approach. "This here's the 'Crooked House,' my pride and joy. You all look tired...my rooms are all singles, we have ones for both the big folk and little...though few are as tall as you, Sir Knight," he says, gesturing to Frederick with an impressed expression. "Six silver nobles per night, breakfast is included. I guarantee the rooms are clean, and we can arrange for stables for any mounts you may have for the same price..."
    Jan grins broadly at the fellow gnome. "I, for one, 've had plenty to drink!" she chortles, "But a room our size'd fit the bill for me!" Navigating the crowded taproom surprisingly well, the sorceress approaches the bar, scrambling up onto a seat to address the owner. "What a delightful place you have, here! Why, with all these off-kilter angles, might there even be secret doors, or passages? Hidden chambers with delights, or even horrors untold?" Jan grins excitedly at the fellow gnome, displaying her twinkling eyes and dimpled cheeks to devastating effect!

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    Diplomacy check to improve attitude: [roll]1d20+12 19, rolled OOC
    Last edited by JWallyR; 2021-01-17 at 05:03 PM.
    Lehasti Gesmeha and Azkin for Mummy's Mask
    Morevek for Wrath of the Righteous
    Janstina Silentall for Age of Worms

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    Her elation still high after happily reconnecting with family and finding them all in good health and cheer, Marzena smiles brightly at Tarquin's welcome. "Greetings indeed! It looks like we're going to be nice and warm in your place. Say, it's quite a feat that you've done. I wager the house was falling down and you managed to salvage it, must have been quite the job! It gives it a rather quirky character, doesn't it?"

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    At Marzena's house, Frederick is demonstrably out of sorts. He's polite, courteous, and laughs easily around the children, but a quiet sadness rests around his eyes while most enjoy themselves. It's not hard to guess why, and he puts a good face on it, but there is a longing in the broad-shouldered warrior that he fears will never be met.

    During the harrowing, he waits in vain alongside the others for some clear portent of what's to come. The ultimate lack finds him scowling irritably, but he doesn't take it out on the women. He knows even less of the fates they dare to tempt.


    He leads Leeroy through the free city, his mood somehow both lighter and sourer after the meal, and ducks under the lintel into the off-balance room beyond. Almost immediately he stumbles slightly, unprepared as he is for a floor that isn't, well flat. "Aye, if you're able, I'll take it," Frederick grumbles, removing his gauntlets in preparation for removing the rest of his armor. "I've a horse to stable as well. The roan gelding" he adds simply. The hulking paladin counts out a dozen nobles and lays them gently on the counter.

    Turning back to his friends, he murmurs, "Don't be up too late. We've got work to do tomorrow." He nods his good night, and turns back to Tarquin. "Which room, if you please? I'd like an early start to my night."

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Tarquin serves the party drinks if requested, sends a runner to help stable Leroy, and then sees to everyone's rooms. In keeping with the building's unique style, the rooms are askew and seem completely devoid of right angles, but they are comfortably furnished with everything a weary traveler could need. Frederick's bed is large enough for him, in spite of the gnome's self-deprecating statement, and after about an hour everyone is enjoying the peace and quiet of a good night's sleep in a safe place.

    The morning dawns and polite knocks wake each of the PCs to breakfast and the option to renew their room rentals. The party agrees to stay at the Crooked House until their business in Greyhawk is done - breakfast is delicious and the setting pleasantly quaint - and they discuss their plans for the day.

    Please decide how you want to proceed - are you going to see Eligos first? His home is about a ten minute walk from the Crooked House. The Cathedral of Heironeous and the University of Greyhawk are both in a different part of town, about thirty minutes walks, respectively. Alternatively, you could go about shopping if desired.

    This can be a time when the PCs split to different tasks, if desired. Violence in Greyhawk is only about as frequent as one would expect in a large city, and experienced heroes of your level are not in particularly great danger from being mugged or anything. Let me know how you wish to proceed.

    I do recommend everyone be there for the meeting with Eligos - it will make the story a bit less fragmented later.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Jan stretches, her strangely elongated arms making the gesture somewhere between comedic and terrifying, as she trots down into the common room, selecting a large table to accommodate her expected companions, and waving cheerily at the barkeep. "Let's see if the cooking is as impressive as the other accommodations!" she calls softly over the still mostly-quiet room.

    As the others make their way into the room, the gnome seems completely preoccupied, sampling the various meats, baked goods, and miscellanea that are arrayed before her. It seems that she has ordered at least one of everything on the menu, with nearly every dish showing evidence of multiple gnome-sized bites having been removed. Of course, the tastiest treats have been devoured entirely, but she beckons welcomingly at the items that remain, encouraging her friends to sample as their hearts (or stomachs) lead them.

    After a distinctly un-ladylike belch, Jan sighs happily, carefully scooting her tall chair (to boost her gnome height to the human-sized table) back from the table, and turning to address the others assembled. "Well," she begins, "I suppose you religious sorts are going to want to talk to the highers-up, no? And then maybe we talk to the wizard guy?"
    Lehasti Gesmeha and Azkin for Mummy's Mask
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    Having finished her own breakfast, Lydia's attention turns to preparing her gear and securing numerous small compartments in her backpack. "Yes, of course - I must make my report to the Cathedral at once. It would be helpful if you all were to accompany me - you have additional firsthand experience with these worms, not to mention training in science and prophecy," she nods to Olofire and Marzena. "But if you have other business to attend in the city, I will not insist. We should meet back here for lunch, though, and then go speak to this 'Eligos' all together. Wizards are crafty and love to speak in riddles instead of giving straight answers - we'll have a better chance of learning what we seek if he can see that we are serious."
    Last edited by MuffinMan; 2021-01-20 at 06:18 AM.
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    Waylan, Kestros and Auspice (Wrath of the Righteous)


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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Frederick rumbles down the stairs in a fashion typically reserved for bovines and delicate dishware. His language isn't vulgar, but it's decidedly impolite. "Blasted landing isn't even flat!" he barks, struggling to keep his footing on the irregularly-spaced stairs.

    Finally, he stumbles to a seat, and begins an effort to regain some composure. "Might be for the best," he grunts. "Otherwise, these accommodations would risk making me soft." Somehow, you're not quite sure if he's praising the innkeeper or lambasting him, but the reality is surely one or the other. ...maybe.

    Still, the broad-shouldered paladin partakes of much of Jan's leftovers, surprised to find a few savory crumpets among them. "You chose to not eat this?!" he demands of the little sorceress, eyes twinkling with fondness. "Surely, someone has replaced my Jan with a poor fake!" Mockingly aghast, he none the less devours the meaty pastries with gusto. No one is more surprised than he when the Gnome's appetite outlasts his own. Almost embarrassed, he climbs the stairs to retrieve his gear while Jan begins to pick at what must be her tenth plate.

    He stumbles back into the room in time to hear most of Lydia's response, and isn't quite so dimwitted as to doubt the question. "Indeed, we've already waited too long. A life without family and friends is perhaps not worth saving, but still, it is our duty to bring these omens, however ill." He meets Lydia's gaze deliberately. "I would much prefer we stay together. The Free City is a big place." Having reached the table, he lowers his voice. "Things happen here."

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    At breakfast, Marzena marvels and delights at Jan's antics, and happily partakes in anything the enthusiastic gnome suggests she should try, until her appetite finally gives up. "I don't know how you do that. I have to say, all of these taste great, but one more morsel and I'll explode", she chuckles.

    Their meal finished, she listens to Lydia as the Hieronean priest gets down to business. "Right. Better all be there to tell them the story right." She heartily thanks the innkeeper for a great night and a delicious meal on her way out.

    She leads the group through the maze of streets in the great city. She's at home here, and without even thinking about it, she takes a slight detour here or there to let the company enjoy a few of the most impressive sights Greyhawk has to offer. At one point, though, she slows down, and falls in step with Frederick, for a private conversation.

    "I'm sorry, you know. I mean, I'm sorry that our evening last night was such a reminder of your loss. It's just... unfair." She doesn't meet the paladin's eyes, but there is no mistaking the sadness in her voice.

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    Frederick tromps through the Free City with his helmet tucked under and arm like a rhino in the savannah- there's no doubt about the nature of things, but he won't make it easy for any would-be packs of hyenas. At Marzena's approach, Frederick nods subtly- not wanting to be overbearing but recognizing her intent. When she speaks he blinks in surprise. For several seconds after, he remains silent (other than the clattering of plate and weaponry). "It is," he finally grumbles. "It's unfair, as are a great many things."

    He looks down at the woman with all the expression of some of the more capable geological formations. When he speaks, there is a strength only barely tinged with deep, righteous anger. "This is my lot; to stand in the gap. Understand, Marzena, though I may wish things were different- even envy you in a way, I have accepted who I am and what I have been called to do. As much as I can, I make damned sure that your parents and sisters can have nights like that without an empty seat at the table." By this point, he's almost openly sneering. "And to send to hell anyone and anything that intends otherwise." As suddenly as it came, the fierce, fiery tenor dies away, leaving a man that looks nothing so much as tired.

    "Perhaps someday the gods will see fit to grant me a wife, a home, a hearth that smells of food and drink instead of cauterized wounds." He smiles, a little sadly, a little fiercely.. "But if I stop now, nobody will have it."

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    Spoiler: Map of Greyhawk for the Players
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    The party entered Greyhawk through the Druid's Gate and visited Marzena's family in the Artisan Quarter last night. They passed the outskirts of the Low Market and arrived at the Crooked House without seeing much of the city, yet.

    After the party ends their meal, much to the relief of the Crooked House's kitchen staff, they step out onto the street and head back into the center of the city. In the daylight the city has come alive with merchants of all kinds, travelers, and more, and the heroes head directly towards one of the busiest intersections in Greyhawk - the Low Market. On this bright morning it is as active as many town's most festive holy days, though most of the PCs recognize this as a normal business day. Skirting the edge of the busy market they pass the Burrow Heights on their left and several of them note that Jan might find that neighborhood quite comfortable - it is home to a large community of underground-dwelling dwarves, gnomes, and halflings that enjoy the coziness of a proper burrow.

    As the party approaches the Garden Gate (which leads into the more affluent and open Garden District) they pass the sprawling grounds of "Clerkburg" on their right. This part of the city is where the famous Greyhawk City Arena and various schools and universities reside. Olofire notes that there isn't exactly a single "Greyhawk University" technically, but that the various colleges all sort of congregate together as if they developed that way organically over time. There are administrative offices in the "Grey College" that are shared by many of the schools and most students live in joint dormitories near the city walls, but not all of the seats of learning work together in this way. In that direction also lies the temple of Boccob, the Uncaring god of magic and knowledge. In general, the name "Clerkburg" accurately describes most everything that takes place there.

    Passing through a gate set in the heavy stone walls of the city, the party enters the Garden District where they find a very different scene from the crowded streets and close buildings of the southern half of the city. This area is full of open, well-manicured gardens and lawns surrounding majestic palaces, temples, and a few mansions. In the distance they see the Grand Citadel, the ruling seat of the government of the Free City, but first they pass through a much less frenetic market than before - the "High Market." As they pass through they see that the merchants there are more subdued in tone and selling merchandise of significantly higher quality than seen in the Low Market. Turning right past the enormous Grand Theater - the site of many great performances of drama and music - the party sees the High Quarter on their left as they head towards the Sanctum of Heironeous. After passing two more temples on their right, they finally reach the seat of the Church of the Shining One in Greyhawk.


    Looking less like a temple and more like a small fort, the Sanctum sits on a rise with a a spiraling road leading up the steep slopes to a well-guarded gate. Frederick and Lydia usher their companions inside, where they find the oval temple opens into a large, open sanctuary. Unlike many temples to Heironeous, this one has the training grounds for war on the outside of the walls, relying on the heavy defenses of the Free City for its first line of defense. Once inside they are greeted by several pages, one of whom scurries off to find a priest for the two holy warriors.

    It comes as a bit of a surprise to both the Heironeans when the page guides back not just a priest, but the high priest - Jaikor Demien. The old man is thinner and less heavy-set than he once was, but both of them know he was first a soldier in the Free City's army as a youth, rising up in ranks to that of a Battalion Commander, before he entered the clergy. Though old, he carries himself with the steely presence of a man used to leading men and women in battle against evil. His sky-blue eyes seem to see right into the soul of those around him, and the many scars on his face speak of the countless battles he has fought and won.

    This is not a man one trifles with lightly...

    Spoiler: Jaikor Demien
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  20. - Top - End - #20
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    After giving the remnants of her hearty breakfast scattered across the table one final, wistful glance, Jan allows herself to be helped down to the floor of the inn, and she trots along at Marzena's side, excitedly reacting to the sights and sounds of the city. Easily the battle-mage's most enthusiastic listener, the gnome darts toward the landmarks that punctuate the company's walk through the Free City, scrambling gracelessly up onto carts, fences, and whatever else she can to break through the visual impediment presented by the largely human-sized foot traffic to ogle and gawk at monuments, oddities, and all other manner of sights to be seen.

    As closely as she was following Marzena's guidance and comments, the gnome couldn't help but notice when the battle-mage began to grow quiet, and turned her steps to bring her closer to Frederick. Noticing the change in her companion's demeanor, Jan affects an air of nonchalance, giving the pair some space, but furtively inching close enough to listen to their conversation. A world-weary sadness begins to creep into her eyes as Frederick shares his innermost thoughts and motives, but the fierce determination of her oldest and dearest companion provokes a very different reaction in the tiny gnome. With brows furrowed in fierce determination of her own, she begins to stride through the streets with purpose, drawn up to every inch of her (still diminutive) height.

    Giving away any hope of subtlety, she turns to Frederick, catching the half-orc's eyes to give him a jaw-clenched nod, her sparkling eyes speaking her pride in the paladin more than worlds would ever have captured. As the party marches forward, it seems that the crowds are parting before her at the head of their procession, the imposing presence of the robed gnome sorceress somehow cutting soundlessly through the bustle of the streets.




    As they make their way into the temple proper, Jan turns from her curious examination of the martial exercises being performed by the novice Heironeans to look at the temple itself. "Not the most interesting place, architecturally speaking," she blurts out idly. "But I suppose that stands to reason, with the whole 'soldier' thing that you folk do. Can't sacrifice function for form, can we..." the gnome trails off as her Heironean companions stiffen, the body language unmistakably suggesting that something unexpected has happened.

    Turning with a practiced, placid smile on her lips (to mask both her curiosity and perhaps a hint of suspicion), she prepares to greet the new arrival, but something in the man's piercing, steely gaze sets even the precocious Jan aback. With an uncertain sideways (and upward) glance at her companions, the gnome reaches a decision; standing confidently and with a guarded, but friendly expression, she simply curtseys at the Heironean high priest, before rising once again and watching him intently.
    Lehasti Gesmeha and Azkin for Mummy's Mask
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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Lydia leads the party with quick, sure strides through the bustle of the city, not pausing to gawk at the wonders she has groan accustomed to. She does note Frederick's discomfort with the bareness hint of a smirk. "Come on, Sir Frederick - we don't want any things to happen to you!" As they draw nearer to the Sanctum her mood lightens and she seems as relaxed as anyone in the party has ever seen her, almost bordering on happy - she is going home. She walks through the familiar doors and effortlessly gestures for a pair of acolytes to announce their presence. She lets out a contented sigh as she takes in the familiar sights and sounds of the temple.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkOne7141981 View Post
    It comes as a bit of a surprise to both the Heironeans when the page guides back not just a priest, but the high priest - Jaikor Demien. The old man is thinner and less heavy-set than he once was, but both of them know he was first a soldier in the Free City's army as a youth, rising up in ranks to that of a Battalion Commander, before he entered the clergy. Though old, he carries himself with the steely presence of a man used to leading men and women in battle against evil. His sky-blue eyes seem to see right into the soul of those around him, and the many scars on his face speak of the countless battles he has fought and won.
    Quote Originally Posted by JWallyR View Post
    "But I suppose that stands to reason, with the whole 'soldier' thing that you folk do. Can't sacrifice function for form, can we..." the gnome trails off as her Heironean companions stiffen, the body language unmistakably suggesting that something unexpected has happened.

    Turning with a practiced, placid smile on her lips (to mask both her curiosity and perhaps a hint of suspicion), she prepares to greet the new arrival, but something in the man's piercing, steely gaze sets even the precocious Jan aback. With an uncertain sideways (and upward) glance at her companions, the gnome reaches a decision; standing confidently and with a guarded, but friendly expression, she simply curtseys at the Heironean high priest, before rising once again and watching him intently.
    "C-Commander Demien! Sir!" Lydia hurriedly snaps to attention, planting her spear at exactly the regulation angle while giving the traditional Heironean salute, marred only slightly by its hastiness. "I didn't realize that - no, I'm glad you are here! I have just returned from Diamond Lake with Sir Frederick Strongarm, paladin of the Faith, and his companions." She gazes intently at the others, nonverbally urging them to show the proper respect. All trace of her earlier relaxation is gone. "I am ready to give my report on the worm prophecy! Sir!" She waits stiffly as her mind begins to race. The High Priest! I should have polished my armor before this! What if he doesn't believe me? By the Archpaladin, why is it Demien?!
    Last edited by MuffinMan; 2021-01-27 at 10:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    On the way to the sanctum, Frederick immediately notes Jan's unquenchable curiosity. When the party approaches the low market, he reaches down and scoops up the sorceress, planting her firmly on one shoulder (with the spike as an awkward but capable handhold). On the other side of the frantic square, he points out the burrows before returning her to the ground and offering his attention to Marzena.

    Quote Originally Posted by JWallyR View Post
    "Not the most interesting place, architecturally speaking,"
    Frederick snorts, even as Lydia requests an audience. He takes a relaxed posture, looking about the training grounds with an unreadable expression. Neither pleased nor upset, he simply watches, waiting for the priest to arrive.

    As soon as Damien strides into sight, Frederick's eyes widen and he drops to a knee, giving a similar salute to Lydia's- but distinct as their roles demand. He waits in that position until the high priest indicates that he should rise, at which point he returns to a parade rest- just a hair more formally stanced.

    His head inclined only slightly, Frederick grunts out a response after Lydia's statement. "I am here to offer whatever assistance and evidence I can, honored high priest."

  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerbink View Post
    Fittle fiercely.. "But if I stop now, nobody will have it."
    "Right you are. That's why I shall stand with you. Until this ends, one way or another. So at least someone in this world can still have a chance at a peaceful life."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Marzena chuckles at Jan's remarks on the architecture of the Temple. She doesn't bother explaining, sure as she is that the gnome doesn't speak out of ignorance, but just for an honest opinion. Just like when I got in trouble with the Night Commander. But she's just with us pals, more lucky than I was. The memory brings an amused smile to her face.

    Her humor vanishes in the presence of Demien. OK, here comes the big honcho. No kidding. She hesitates. Army salute, or the Hieronean one? Meh. I'm just a civilian now. And not a church member in good standing. She settles for a polite bow instead, and waits for others to speak.
    Last edited by Gwynfrid; 2021-01-30 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    The High Priest returns the proffered salutes with a casual preciseness that suggests he does it dozens of times every day. He smirks a bit at Jan's commentary before it is cut short by Lydia and Frederick. Taking a deep breath he looks at the assembled party and speaks in a voice deep and calm, though not particularly loud. It sounds as if he could be heard by an entire army if he tried, but is deliberately controlling his volume. "Well met, Children of the Shining One and allies. May this Sanctum keep you safe from harm while you are here," he intones, subtle emphasis on the words "Sanctum" and "safe" as he looks at Jan with unspoken intensity. To Lydia he says, "Priestess, take a deep breath - there is no need to stutter or rush such an important report, nor need to announce it publicly. Let us go to my office. We can speak there in privacy."

    He turns to the acolyte and says, "Send for the other elder priests - I wish them to hear Priestess Lydia's report." Then as the page runs off on his errand Jaikor Demien leads the party towards the side of the Sanctum and a large double door. The two armored Heironeans on either side of the doors open them in silent unison as the high priest approaches, allowing the party to enter a sitting room large enough for three times their number. "Please, have a seat," instructs Demien as he gestures to a crystal pitcher of clear water and glasses. "If you are thirsty there is water here. When the other priests arrive I will hear your reports. In the meantime, let us speak of other things. Sir Frederick, you look well - better equipped and with a stronger presence than when you left. Tell me, how have you put forward the purposes of your chit? Have you helped others to look past your heritage to see the chivalric nobility of which we are all capable? And who are these, your companions? Are any of you in need of blessings or healing? Which deities do you honor?" he asks, starting his questions with Frederick but gazing over all of the assembled heroes as he continues to speak.

    There won't be time for extended story-telling. Everyone has an opportunity to say something, but unless your PC approaches this with a "less is more" sort of mindset, your responses will be cut off - not rudely, but still cut off. Both Lydia and Frederick will automatically know this. A DC 10 Sense Motive check will ensure others know it even if they aren't inclined to be brief in the first place.

    In no more than five minutes the other four elder priests will arrive and I will continue the scene.

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    Like Frederick, Dr. Olofire is quiet at Marzena's parents house. He enjoys the change of scenery and lighthearted company as well as trying their home cooking. It is such a different dynamic from the night at Filge's homestead, that he isn't entirely sure how to react for fear of another outburst. At the crooked house, he too turns in early and continues his studies for about an hour before passing out on the halfling sized bed.

    In the morning, he joins the others and is surprised at his mood and appetite, both better than in days passed. He speaks politely and with a smile towards the others, thankful for Jan's antics.

    He makes sure to point out the University, but agrees to join everyone at the Heironian church to make an official report. He doesn't make eye contact with the high priest however. His piercing blue eyes were too much for Olofire to try to return a gaze let alone talk. Instead, he chooses to wait in turn for the other priests to arrive and avoid having to repeat his thoughts to every one present.

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    Frederick follows as instructed, and takes a seat- making no effort to actually get comfortable. Back strait and head held high, he nods in acknowledgement of Demien's praise. "Well and not so well," he admits, without embellishment. "I daresay most of the region around Diamond Lake at least recognizes the distinction between inner and outer virtues." In turn, he introduces Jan, Olofire, and Marzena- though the last with room for the possibility that he already knows the military woman. His head falls, as it always does when he considers Lyr and Arkiana. "In truth, there are others who should be meeting you as well. A few companions I would call friends have already fallen in service to the report to come. It has been a... difficult season."

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    Upon being introduced, Marzena bows again. "Thank you, Sir Frederick. Yes, Marzena is my name, I am a native of this city. My family honors the Great Guildmaster. Former student of Tenser's school, battlemage in the Army. Then, I joined Sir Frederick and his companions in their quest. It was the right thing to do." Marzena begins to explain what happened to her in Blackwall Keep, but soon enough, the high priest moves the conversation to more urgent matters.

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    Sense Motive (1d20+1)[5]
    Last edited by Gwynfrid; 2021-01-30 at 11:38 PM.

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    Lydia waits patiently while the others make their introductions. Sensing Olofire's hesitation, she clears her throat and makes an introduction on his behalf. "And this is Doctor Olofire Lightouch, a surgeon of some renown and a graduate of the alchemical arts here in Greyhawk. He has been conducting research on the nature of the worms and I believe his insights will be quite interesting to the elders." She pauses for a moment, reflecting that none has addressed Demien's question about deities. "Truth be told they're not the most pious lot," she spreads her hands, "but they have proven to be quite capable, and have shown their valor in battle. In deed if not in word, I believe they have some affinity for the Valorous Knight, himself."
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    Default Re: Age of Worms - The Hall of Harsh Reflections

    Jan giggles quietly as she helps herself to a glass of water. "'Pious'... nope, I don't think I've ever been accused of that. But one could do worse! Certainly if Freddy and Lydia here are in good company- not to mention your own hospitality-" she smiles winsomely at their host, "then I'd have to say the Valorous Knight is well-recommended by those of his devotees I know!"

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    Lehasti Gesmeha and Azkin for Mummy's Mask
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    High Priest Demien listens to everyone speak without interruption, nodding and listening with interest and smiling back at Jan's impudent joviality. At Lydia's explanation and Frederick's description of deceased companions his expression grows sympathetic and he says, "The bonds of friendship, forged in adversity, are powerful. I am sorry for the loss of those heroes who have died beside you and hope that their sacrifices inspire some faith in all of you. I remember those days, long ago, and am glad to see a young generation prepared to stand in the gap against the evils of this world."

    As he speaks there is a confident knock on the set of double doors before they are opened and the four remaining Heironean elders enter. All four stand tall, still fit and strong in spite of their ages. The three men and one woman enter with the fist-against-chest salute and make their way to open seats, turning to look at the assembled adventurers. Frederick and Lydia recognize three of them - Lord Vanderbilt the Shining Blade, War-Priest Priscilla Holly, and Sir Artur Jakartai, the head of the White Paladins of Heironeous.

    Spoiler: Frederick
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    Sir Jakartai was never exactly a mentor, but as leader of ecclesiastical White Paladins he interviewed and taught all of the paladins of Heironeous who come through Greyhawk in one way or another. While not a racist, he has no love for orcs as a result of many years of waging war against worshippers of Gruumsh One-Eye. He always treated Frederick fairly, but never made it a point to get to know him well.

    Lord Venderbilt is recognized as a talented swordsman, devoted to Heironeous, but a little odd. His unusual talent with lightning is well known and his order is respected. At the same time, the Shining Blades of Heironeous are not well understood by the rest of the church and often looked as as eclectic believers who focus a bit more than they should on Heironeous' holy symbol and what it may or may not represent.

    Spoiler: Lydia
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    War-Priest Holly has always been an advocate of Lydia's, though she clearly believes that young clerics need to stand on their own feet first. She has been friendly, supportive in word, and utterly ruthless in her assignments for Lydia in the past. So far Lydia has lived up to the older woman's expectations, though War-Priest Holly was not in Greyhawk when Lydia was assigned to find Frederick and return with evidence of the rumored Age of Worms. It is difficult to know how the woman will react to Lydia's report.

    "Ah yes, everyone is here. Acolytes - ensure we are not disturbed!" calls the High Priest as the doors to his sitting room close. Then he turns to introduce everyone, finally ending with the unfamiliar cleric, Father Gilbert of the Chalice. "And these fine young people have returned from Diamond Lake. Father Valkus Dun serves at the garrison there. Sir Frederick Strongarm has been adventuring out of the little town and we sent Priestess Constantine there to find him and collect a report on his actions.

    Now, we are all settled - what do you have to report?
    " High Priest Demien asks, sitting in his own chair and looking at the party intently.

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