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 Bad To Worse

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Number of posts : 761
Registration date : 2007-04-26

PostSubject: Bad To Worse   Tue 7 Jun - 12:48:35

Bad To Worse

We remained in the village as the storm swept around us and the mine remained shut. We befriended an elderly storyteller known only as the scholar, met a bullying agitator named Anton and at every turn heard resentful tales of the halfling storekeeper’s greed and monopolies.

Overnight rest concluded rudely as a snowy dawn broke. I woke in my usual doomstone induced state- soaking wet with algae growing from various embarrassing orifices. Before I had a moment to conduct my clean up routine, there was a creaking like the death throes of a worked out ore pit and the whole ramshackle hovel that was our temporary home collapsed around us.

Several residents were killed or badly injured, but our party escaped lightly, especially Getz who was otherwise detained with his new paramour across town. I was almost unscathed, but was however trapped for several hours whilst rescuers shifted tonnes of rubble.

The lead miner surveying the wreckage concluded that somehow the mortar in the structure had become weakened, and we very reasonably concluded that the mere presence of the doomstone was now having a debilitating effect on structures as the power of the elements did its destructive work.

We had now somewhat fatalistically renamed ourselves as the Doomstone Enabled Armoured Delvers or DEAD for short: We felt that hit pretty much the right note, and subsequent events only reinforced this impression.

Andilwei, who had once held the title of sanest non human party member, now decided to pass the baton and relinquished his title in style: He decided to use the doomstone to replace our shattered accommodation. I am just re reading that last sentence and even now it appears incomprehensible, but it is no misprint, it is a true statement of what happened.

He conjured an impressive hovel that rose gleaming from the bowels of the earth to form a structure that promised warmth, security and shelter. The amazed miners and their families watched on in astonishment as this mighty feat of magic was accomplished by the great Andilwei, and then slightly less impressively, they watched as it fell down.

Now there was a moment of transformation as the crowd’s mood hung in the balance. How would they react to seeing the exercise of such raw power amidst the unrelenting pounding of a surely supernatural storm?

Our appearance only added to the problem, what with Getz looking like a charred corpse half the time, Syrilliac looking like some sort of storm daemon personified, the elf reeking of the earth and me just a giant drip, a motlier crew would be harder to find. Oh, and of course the Arab highwayman psycho, a proud new addition to add to the overall impression of disquiet our group imparted.

An ideal situation for an agitator who liked nothing more than stirring an already simmering pot, and by lucky chance we had the delightful Anton on hand. He very reasonably began suggesting to the crowd that we were not unconnected with recent disastrous events and an examination of our entrails might be a sensible course of action given our obvious links with chaos.

The Arab decided to reason with our hostile friend, and employed his favourite reasoning device: This worked by a complicated process involving certain scientific principles that apply to the action of rapidly superheated gases in confined spaces, a spark and the miraculous power of certain black powders.

The bullet passed through the chest cavity of the surprised irritant formerly known as Anton, leaving a neat entry hole and a somewhat messier exit wound that left the nearest members of the crowd looking like refugees from an exploding jam factory.

The great man, whose name is something like Alfie Saladbowl, now expressed his willingness to reason similarly with any other members of the crowd who might like a discussion about what should happen next. No one seemed keen to join that debate, so our new effendi announced his surprise election as new ruler of this fair parish. Joy was unconfined, in fact many good citizens were so overjoyed that they found it just impossible to express just how much.

To celebrate we returned the halfling’s shop and commandeered the best accommodations there. Getz’s lady seemed even more impressed with his new found status and the Arab was beside himself with happiness at his imagined future prosperity and power based on this brutal act.

After spending another nervous night, we rose to find our blind guide moving out of town having suffered a beating; no doubt the thanks of a grateful populace for his guiding of us to this place. We did our best to heal him and sent him out of this insanity. We still were mystified as to how this mine had survived for so many decades on such slim pickings but decided to move out to the mine after a spot of free re equipping in the shop.

Our musings were then interrupted by shouts of alarm. The local peat dealer was having a problem with his highly inflammable stock which had chosen this morning to spontaneously combust. Getz did his very best to look innocent and failed almost completely. Fortunately, the villagers were already used to him looking guilty and the populace were distracted anyway by the need to extinguish the flames that were spreading out of control in the storm force winds.

Now the madness took me: Perhaps I could gain the villagers’ confidence by a little heroic extinguishing of the conflagration that threatened their community’s very existence, after all as I reasoned like all the other doomstone wielders before me, what could possible go wrong?

After the tidal wave had passed everyone was pretty upset and amidst recriminations about how and who had started the fire, we decided to quietly slip away, take what we needed from the store and cut our (considerable) losses. The Arab however wanted to get involved and assert his authority, and brilliantly nearly succeeded in bringing the mob back down on all our heads.

Somehow we managed to extricate ourselves and make a strategic withdrawal and we began our mission to borrow such modest equipment as we could find to assist in our quest whilst the townsfolk resumed their arguing. With a few paltry items so looted, we set off, the Arab however, still looking for more profit, reasoned that there would be plenty of coin languishing in a lonely existence in the halfling’s rooms somewhere, and sure enough after a determined search he came up trumps with a cache of money which he decided to re home.

As we departed muttering our sincere intentions never to be found again in this pit of despair, we found ourselves on collision course with a large and formidable looking party of knights, led by the returning blind kid. Our escape was cut off and we fell back. The new arrivals were well equipped: Three knights including a woman in full plate, plus several others at least one an obvious user of magic, a halfling and puzzlingly, a prisoner in chains. They bore an unfamiliar banner, but one that was unmistakably Imperial in origin.

We returned stealthily to the shop and divested ourselves of the freshly borrowed equipment. As we did so, our unsuspecting Arab left the front door and ran straight into the new arrivals, causing him to drop his freshly harvested loot. He turned and ran, pursued by a big bald warrior who tripped and fell as he entered the shop.

Our man hesitated, and an uncharitable mind might have thought he was toying with the idea of cutting the throat of the momentarily helpless pursuer, but any such thought was banished by the prick of a sword at his throat. One of the stealthier members of the newcomers had cut off his retreat, and now threatened to cut off something else.

We watched as he was taken into custody and disarmed. We were now in a delicate situation: The locals had watched us unleash many fearsome elemental powers and seen us hire the Arab, whose wide circle of friends consisted on absolutely no one at all. On the other hand, the newcomers looked equally daunting and who could say what danger they presented?

In the end our hosts seemed to take the ‘say nothing and hope they all go away soon strategy.’ We held conversations with the new guests and learned various bits of intelligence: Getz recognised them as members of an elite Imperial order answerable to the Emperor himself.

I talked with the halfling and learned names and some opinions on the warriors, one who sounded like a bit of a berserker. We told them we were travellers lately escaped from the siege of the Aerie. The elf discovered that the Arab would be released sans pistols when they left.

Syrilliac sucked up to the haughty third level wizardess amongst them and it was from her that we gleaned the worst news of all: The prisoner was an Imperial expert on dwarf lore who had convinced his masters that a great threat to the Empire had arisen south of Winters Teeth Pass, in the shape of four ancient doomstones that would present a terrible threat once united. The expedition was looking for various dwarf holdings where it was thought these fabled objects could be found.

What an interesting if unlikely story…

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