Maze Rats Season 3 – Isle of Blight – 4

*Isle of Blight – part 95: Slimeball*

Somehow the priests must have come and gone through here without dealing with the spikes, so the adventurers bend their mind to finding some mechanism or hint to find out how they did it.

This takes some time, as they inspect the walls for levers and the floor for irregularities.

Harmony begins to see a pattern. There are some areas on the floor, in the trap zone, where more people set their feet. “Aha! There is some special way of setting the feet to avoid springing the trap!” As she is concentrating on that, something gathers above her – some greenish-blueish ooze is creeping out of the ceiling and gathering as a mounting drop, right above the unsuspecting elf.

She is lucky to have perceptive friends, though: Phoebe notices the slimey blob and grabs Harmony to pull her away.

“Hey!” cries the elf, as she is unceremoniously yanked back and away from the interesting spot.

Just a moment later, a slime-entity plops onto the area where she was crouching – and kind of … turns around to face the two adventurers. It is shorter than a human, but fatter. Considerably fatter. It almost blocks half the corridor.

It has no face, no eyes, no appendages, not even a visible brain, it is just a slime, but it gives the impression of being aware of the adventurers.

Oswald draws his sword, not yet sure how to confront that creature, when he notices a similar, albeit smaller collection of slime above Ursula. He steps towards her and hastily drags her aside. Her slime gives up the sneak and oozes out of the cracks while its companion is waiting. Finally it plops down just five or six feet apart from the first one.

Then the two of them – slightly see-through so that stones and walls are visible through them – start oozing towards their prey at a leisurly, but steady pace – still Harmony and Ursula.

“Great,” complains the latter. “They don’t even have vital organs! How do we fight this?”

– Attack with blades

– Attack with magic

– Attack with the torches

– Flee

– Lure them off

– Try to communicate

– Something else (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 96: Helpless*

The party retreats step by step and stays away from the blobs, bristling with pointy things, when Constance lines the slimey entities up from her viewpoint on the party’s flank and speaks. Arcane words materialize in a hazy block forming around the two blobs. It is a close call, capturing the two moving targets in one area. One of them gets a DEX-save to escape the spell effect’s area when she lets loose. Fail! 7 is not enough. Both of them are caught. The slimey opponents slow, freeze, they get a bit harder to see through, and quickly harden as almost perfect spheres… truly round balls of slime, spinning slowly around their own axis until they stop.

Constance gasps as the spell leaves her, and Reinhold stays by her side to watch her and to aid her if needed. “I’m fine,” she says, waving him off.

The others poke the slime balls with various items and notice that the slime balls are harmless on the outside, but their insides are highly corrosive or acidic, so sticking things into them damages these things. A caltrop and a sewing needle are ruined in this way.

“What are we going to do with them?”

– Roll them aside and investigate the clues Harmony found

– Burn them with fire

Push them along the trap corridor

– Something else (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 97: Corrosion*

They take the first ball and roll it along the corridor. As it rolls, it triggers the traps, yet the first two sections miss it, only the third hits. The spikes ram right through the ball, which starts to leak a blue-ish liquid. As the spike traps reset and the spikes get pulled out of the ball, they stick, and then they break off at the area where the ball was resting. As the middle section of the floor opens, the ball with the corroding spikes in it falls into the ditch.

After everything resets, they take the second ball and shove it even harder. It makes it until trap section six before it gets pierced, corrodes the spikes, and falls into the waste ditch.

Now there are two sections, after five and ten yards, respectively, where on the left side the spikes are broken and a save zone has been created, with room enough for one and a half person, crouching.

Fernsby’s eyes light up.

Harmony and Phoebe warn him, though: The floor still tilts to swallow debris and victims.

“But only after the spikes retract, so it is possible to run on at that point.”

Phoebe shakes her head. “I think it is too risky.”

But Fernsby likes the idea better and better. “Two short sprints, then one long, and there is the outside area.”

“With maybe another trap.”

“Not very likely.”

“What would you propose?” asks Reinhold.

Harmony points to the slightly more and slightly less worn flagstones. “I’ll analyze these stones further and identify a safe path… the path the priests of old took.”

“That could take ages!”

“But it will be sure to allow safe passage.”

– Try to run through in sprints

Analyze the priest path

*Isle of Blight – part 98: Signs of Life*

While Phoebe keeps the restless calm, Harmony goes on investigating the flagstones, and bit by bit a pattern emerges. She tests it with a handful of rocks, and at least for the first two steps, that works.

Pushing the rocks off the identified spots with Ince Acsa’s handle immediately springs the trap again.

“Anyone have chalk?”

Reinhold steps forward and digs a handful of broken chalk shards out of his backpack.

“Thank you, Reinhold!”

Harmony marks the first step with an X, then jumps forward and steps on it.

The trap remains still. She bends over and marks the next step with an X. And steps over. She is now clearly in the death zone, but the trap remains still.

“Fantastic!” says Reinhold.

Harmony looks along the corridor. Still a way to go. She gets to it, identifying the correct steps, marking them with an X, and stepping forward.

While she is busy with that, sounds of combat erupt back at the arena. Especially the fizzling and sparking of magic, and the commanding language of wizards reciting arcane words.

Oswald flinches. “Damn. The elves are back. They will surely mind if we make off with the chalice.”

Phoebe looks south towards the bend in the corridor. “They sound prepared. I guess they will make short work of the wights.”

“How long will it take them to get here?”

“Very little time if they go towards the “exit” sign. But I am pretty sure they will try to break open the door to “Beauty”. Our tracks lead there, and the wights were besieging it. Lots of reasons to expect something interesting in that direction.”

Ursula looks at Harmony’s progress.

“Harmony will take a while yet. We could slow them down if we collapse the small tunnel through the palace basement.”

“Risky.”

“Not riskier than waiting for them to catch up.”

– Wait for them unworried

– Prepare for a confrontation

Collapse the small tunnel

– Something else (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 99: Rumble*

All are in favour of collapsing the narrow tunnel. With any luck, the tableau of dead priests and the chest in the room will be enough to keep the elves occupied for a while if there is no exit available.

But it has to happen quickly, before they force the portal and enter the room with the altar, or they will suspect foul play when they hear the stones falling. Phoebe hefts Basil’s warhammer and runs into the tunnel.

She peeks up to the sagging roof. In theory, it should not be difficult to collapse this. One swing of the hammer, and the roof is doomed. The trick, however, is escaping the falling rocks.

Starting right outside the danger zone, she attempts to create enough damage to the wall to drop the ceiling. There is too little room, though, so her hits against the wall remain weak. But she trusts her agility to escape the falling roof even if she collapses the room from within. She climbs in, looks for a good spot to target and stands on top of the exit hole, her feet braced on either side. Then she swings away.

Smash! 10.

She hits the spot she aimed for, and the ceiling disintegrates.

Phoebe covers her head and dives out into the narrow tunnel.

She has advantage on the attempt, because she was well prepared.

11.

Phoebe lands right on top of Oswald and Reinhold, bowling them both over.

Right behind her, the room collapses, and piles of rubble block the exit.

“Made it!”

“Good! Then let’s get lost.”

Acutely aware of the elves most likely investigating the numerous tracks the party left, it is almost physically painful to watch Harmony’s agonizingly slow progress, but she finally reaches the other end.

Harmony gives them the thumbs up.

The team now must follow the marked path, one by one.

Meanwhile, should Harmony

– Wait for the others to follow

– Take a quick look ahead

Take a slow, careful look ahead

*Isle of Blight – part 100: Crit with Advantage*

Harmony satisfies herself that the others are able to follow her lead. She watches them jump from marked step to marked step, carefully leaving a safe distance between each other. Harmony smiles. Then she takes a good look around. She has passed the trap area, and the exit is close. But it cannot hurt to take a look around, she thinks.

Slowly and carefully, she moves towards the exit, winding her way between plant roots and climbing vines that shield the exit from outside view.

She expects some danger on the floor, so she moves with extra care.

Suddenly, she notices something dripping. But it is not water. It is a thick, viscuous mass that drips on the floor in front of her. Looking up, she notices another slime creature, like the other two, but flat, hanging right there on the ceiling!

This explains a lot. This is why the tunnel is so clean. These treacherous fiends are to blame for the weird absence of anything that would normally gather in such a tunnel after a couple of years, or, in this case, centuries.

The creature lets go from the ceiling and tries to drop down on the elf, but Harmony has already started rolling away. She rolls over her shoulder out of the tunnel and into the depression that separates the woodgrowth from the city walls.

She rolls with advantage.

And she rolls three sixes. 

If that isn’t a critical success, I don’t know what is.

With a wet slap, the green slime flops onto the ground. And Harmony not only elegantly rolls out of the way, she also rolls right into something useful: She rolls onto a patch of sand, and immediately starts kicking waves of sand onto her opponent. The slime forms up, but it has to get rid of the sand clogging its system, so it is occupied for a while. Unable to act, it pushes sand out of its body. For all intents and purposes, it is stunned.

Attacking the slime with weapons is out of the question: It will just dissolve them. Pushing it is not possible, because it is not petrified. Harmony has no torch.

Keep it occupied with sand until all the others are here

– Try magic. Vines don’t make sense, so Spawning Rot.

– Retreat from here and climb out of the depression

– Something else (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 101: Slime Torture*

The Slime quickly learns to rue the day it decided to drop on the elf. Every time it succeeds to push a handful of sand out of its body, it gets two more poured onto itself. The slime learns the meaning of pain.

Meanwhile, the others reach the tunnel exit, and Reinhold, who goes last, spends some of his water to obscure Harmony’s markings; just in case the elf party ends up arriving here. It is not a complete success, but at least it is a valiant effort.

Finally they are all there, and see Harmony torturing the slime.

Apart from these two, the depression is rather peaceful, covered in uneven grass sproutings, low bushes, and patches of stones and sand. From the outside, the tunnel is kind of visible, but not obvious. A generous wilderness of wood and undergrowth surrounds the depression, suggesting an arduous trip fighting brumbles and roots through difficult terrain, but at least it seems to be absolutely not blighted. Whatever this magical catastrophe was, the city walls seem to have stopped it from reaching these parts.

Looking up, the sandy city walls rise up high and mighty, crowned with a tough-looking tower that is higher than any of the buildings in the harbour.

There is the question of how to proceed, and what to do with the poor slime.

– Attack it with magic (Spawning Rot or Dividing Shard)

– Attack it with magical weapons (because mundane will be destroyed)

Just go into the wood and leave it be

*Isle of Blight – part 102: Wilderness*

It is not difficult to climb up to the wood, and the party disappears in the underbrush long before the slime has finished shedding the sand.

Exhausted, it retreats back into the tunnel to find refuge in the gaps and cracks of the stonework.

All considered, this was not a good day for the slime population of Told-o Estel.

The wood is clearly an untamed wilderness, left to its own devices and untended by the hand of elf or man. It is difficult to navigate, but with a number of winding paths that go in no particular direction, left by wildlife. It seems most prudent to move along the outer wall and return to the blighted area where the party first set foot onto the island.

The adventurers hack their way through wild sprouting brambles and thick outgrowths of bushes or enterprising tree branches. In this manner, the going is quite slow and exhausting. Soon, they grow weary, their arms and shoulders hurt, and they must rest and eat to regain their strength.

– Find a suitable place in the wood

– Find a suitable place close to the wall

– Press on to reach the blighted land sooner

*Isle of Blight – part 103: Fur Apes*

The party hacks a way towards the wall and finds a small clearing right at the foot of the yellowing wall. They sit down and relax, none of them in the mood to talk. Suddenly Phoebe jumps up and grabs her axe. Harmony rises slowly, her eyes narrowed.

Crawling from tree to tree along the thick branches they notice a weird tribe of animals: Centipede Apes!

Thanks to their multitude of claws that grip trees and branches, the beasts have their hands free while climbing, and many of them grip stones and flex their shoulder muscles.

“Shields ready!” Phoebe warns, although she herself has none.

“They seem unsure how to proceed,” observes Oswald.

It is true. The apes have closed in on the place from several sides, apparently trying to surround the intruders. But so close to the city walls, their preferred tactic fails the jungle-dwellers.

They crawl up and down tree trunks, bare their impressive teeth, and bray weird calls as if to motivate each other and assert dominance on their turf. They act hostile and apparently want the party gone from here. Several of them wave their fists gripping stone shards, but none have thrown – yet.

“Looks like they want to assert their macho status,” muses Reinhold, watching the apes over his shield rim.

“You would know all about that, of course,” Ursula grins.

– Run in abject terror
Retreat along the wall, out of their territory

– Attack with arrows

– Attack with magic

– Scare them with shouting

– Speak to them

*Isle of Blight – part 104: Young Punk*

The adventurers form up in an approximation of a turtle formation, using their shields to ward against the threat of thrown rocks. Carefully, step by step, they retreat, using the wall as a shield against one side.

Phoebe, Fernsby, and Oswald have no shields any longer, so they shoulder the task of clearing the way for the shieldbearers. They furiously hack away at any shrubs and outgrowth from the wood, while the others huddle together and protect the whole group.

They move unmolested for about twenty yards, while the apes go wild with screeching and braying and posturing. Then a young punk ape throws his first rock, which bounces off a shield harmlessly. He quickly follows with the other rock whild shouting incoherently, spittle flying. The rock hurtles towards a gap between the shields, but Ursula takes it on her bracer and it tumbles to the ground.

The group continues on without trouble, and the overeager young ape has lost face in front of his peers. He cowers and slithers off into the tree crowns.

His failure dampens the enthusiasm of other aggressive apes, and they continue to screech, but none throw any more rocks. Soon, the party makes it far enough from their territory that they break off pursuit. Only two of the beasts climb through the treetops on a course roughly parallel to the wall, watching the intruders from a semi-safe distance.

Crisis averted, the group moves on quickly and finally reaches the yellow blighted plain, the former crop fields of Told-o Estel. The apes break off pursuit and disappear in the foliage, and the party can see all the way down to the undercity and the coast outside the wall, where they made landfall.

Finally they can see the sun again, and they understand it is mid-afternoon. They can reach the coast in twenty minutes, if nothing stops them, and the signal they agreed upon with the captain was to light something on fire.

To their right, there is the “Machine Tower”, and in it another gate to the city of Told-o Estel, the “Machine Gate”. The portcullis is down, but there is a small sally port a bit north of it.

Harmony hesitates. “Hugo is still in there. I have to go in and give him another order, or he will stand there until he rots.”

Reinhold pulls out his crowbar. “We can crack that sally port here to get in.”

Phoebe frowns. “Why ‘machine tower’? That sounds ominous. I’d rather use the Earth tower we already know is safe.”

– Go in here to fetch Hugo as a group

– Let Harmony go alone here

– Go to the Earth tower

– Forget Hugo, it is just a golem

*Isle of Blight – part 105: Earth Gate*

They go south towards the Earth Gate and pass the yellow plain without incident. Soon they are back in the undercity and can smell the humidity of the water.

“I didn’t even realize how odd it smells back in there,” says Fernsby, pointing a thumb at the entrance to Told-o Estel. He shrugs. “Shall we?”

“Maybe I should go alone,” offers Harmony. “It is I who must give him the order.”
“Or one of us with a piece of paper you give us,” laughs Reinhold. “How hard can it be to shove that into his mouth while he’s standing still like a pillar?”

Harmony shakes her head. “You have to do it right. Otherwise just anyone could contradict a given order.”

“Okay, okay,” says Oswald. “So it has to be you. But we can come with you and help you.”

“Sure – I just don’t want to endanger the Chalice now that we have it. I would feel better if at least Phoebe stayed out here in the undercity with it, to keep it safe. And Reinhold should stay to watch over her.”

Reinhold raises his eyebrows, opens his mouth, confused, and closes it again.

Oswald looks equally confused, but then takes a step to stand with Harmony without saying a word.

Ursula pipes up. “You are afraid the elves will come for the Chalice?”

Harmony nods. “Or the bugs, or worms, or slimes or spiders or wights, or whatever else crawls around back in there.”

“Fine,” says Ursula, “let’s decide. I’ll be with Phoebe, wherever she goes.”

And Phoebe points at Constance: “And Reinhold will be wherever Constance goes.”

Who goes in to fetch Hugo?

– Harmony alone

– Harmony with Fernsby and Oswald

– The whole bunch

*Isle of Blight – part 106: Taking Water*

“Let’s not split the party,” says Phoebe, and after giving it some deliberation, the others agree. Together, the team sneaks in through the Earth Gate and once again stands inside the old Elven City.

Constance walks a handful of paces to take a look at the ship the elves came with. She makes a sound that captures the attention of the others, and they join her to look over to the dock.

The ship has a list. More to the point, it lies at an angle that will surely see it take in water within a very short period of time. The sailors, accordingly, are very busy, crawling along the dock like ants. Some of them are on board and throw out bucketfuls of water, others are busy unloading and a few are dragging all the items that are rescued from the ship and carry them into the city proper.

Fernsby is fascinated: “Just like our captain said!”

Harmony nods. “The corrupting influence of the calamity. Wood goes first, but metal will too. And golems. So let us find Hugo and get him out.”

– Go along the wall and then left

– Go the way they already explored

*Isle of Blight – part 107: Watchman*

The party chooses a new path close to the wall. It is surprisingly easy to get through there, there are no obstacles and no signs of life. As they near the palace, they notice that small bands of armed humans from the sinking ship are patrolling the streets of the city. The elves have pulled as much manpower as possible towards the temple district.

Luckily, they are not focused on the wall and the machine gate.

The party can close in on the house where they left Hugo and remains undetected.

However, there is someone standing right in the doorway.

A single human with a crossbow uses the small niche to lean there in the shadows and watch the road coming up from the harbour.

Harmony stays out of sight and stops the others.

– Hide and wait for him to leave

– Look for another entrance into the underground network

– Take the guy out

– Make contact, find out what’s going on

*Isle of Blight – part 108: Pincushion*

Phoebe does not like to murder a man in cold blood. “I’ll surprise him and knock him out,” she declares. She circles back and peeks around the other corner of the house. The plaza lies empty. She checks the windows, but they are also dark and void. Good. She dashes across the house front and looks for the guard.

He looks away from her, down the street – which lies empty as well.

Phoebe has her axe handle ready and carefully sneaks up to him.

But fail!

Her boot crunches on a stone in the dust, and the guardsman whips around, bringing up his crossbow.

Reinhold and Harmony were ready for this.

They jump out of hiding and fire their bows:

Both hit!

Harmony gets the man in the chest for 3 hit points, already a heavy wound.

Reinhold scores a critical hit on top of that, nailing the man to the door like a butterfly in a collector’s case. He’s out.

The fight is over in a second, and the whole party piles into the house. They unpin the dead man and close the door.

Outside, all remains quiet. Nobody has heard.

“That was a close shave, Phoeb!” says Reinhold sternly. “Too close!”

She nods. “I had to try. We are supposed to be the good guys around here!”

“The risk wasn’t worth it. What if we had missed him?”

“Well, enough with the pillow talk,” says Harmony.

Ursula snickers at that, Oswald fumes and glares silently, while Reinhold and Phoebe check themselves and look at Harmony with big eyes. “What in…??”

Harmony cuts Reinhold off. “We have to get Hugo and get out of here.”

Constance relieves the fallen man of his crossbow and darts. “I am the only one around here without a distance weapon, looks like. So if there are no objections, I will take this.”

Nobody has objections.

They leave his short sidesword, because they are all bristling with weapons anyway. In his pocket they find three gold pieces, though, and add those to their loot. On second thought, they also add his sidesword to the loot, to sell.

Hugo is still standing as they left him, holding the hammer up.

Harmony looks down into the underground network.

“Do we leave the way we came … or down there? That is important to know how to phrase the order for Hugo.”

– Topside

– Underground

*Isle of Blight – part 109: Old Orders*

Harmony thinks it through and decides to take a two-step approach. She opens Hugo’s mouth and puts in a scroll with the order to take a step back and let the hammer fall, then wait for new orders.

He promptly does so, and the hammer crashes down with a hard crack that shakes the ground. Getting hit by that thing would have liquefied any mortal, regardless of armor or strength.

Hugo’s new set of orders is actually the old one from way back: Follow Harmony and protect her and her friends from attackers.

It takes a moment to process, then Hugo blinks and is his old self again. The party members are happy, whereas Hugo looks on stoically as always. “Come, Hugo!” She gets back into the living room and they all make ready to go, with Hugo standing behind them watching their activity.

The adventurers are almost ready to go, when they hear someone outside.
“Osian?” someone asks.

“Osian?”

There is no answer.

A group of four humans walks past the window, looking concerned.

“Where is that no-good halfwit?”

“I bet the elves fetched him for some task. They never tell anyone what they are up to.”

The humans round the corner and move away to the west.

Harmony waits for a few moments, then opens the door. Nobody there.

She looks around the corner. The humans are gone.

“Perfect! Let’s go!”

The adventuerers file along the street towards the Machine Gate and duck behind the nearest townhouse.

No alarm cries follow them, no one is running after them or shooting any arrows.

Reinhold smiles. “Looks like we did it!”

“Not yet,” warns Phoebe. “We will have to look out for patrols all along the way down to the Earth Gate.”

Indeed, at the first intersection Phoebe looks west and spies the group of four sailors walking down towards the harbour along a parallel course to the party, at a distance of three blocks.

– Let them go on and move south at slower pace

– Close in on them and take them out

*Isle of Blight – part 110: Enemy at the Gates*

The humans advance, the party follows a bit behind them, each in their own street.

Farther south the Sword Academy comes up and would block view of the group for two blocks, but right at the corner before it the sailors meet a couple of others from their ship, and discuss things.

They are not quiet, and the party can pick up the unhappy cry: “What, why the gates?”

One man shrugs and makes pointy ears with his hands.

The others appear to be dejected and accept the order.

Apparently some or all of them will go towards the gate next. Usually the party would wait until they are gone behind the building before crossing the street. But now it is possible they may take a direct route towards this intersection to get to the Earth Gate, or even to turn left towards the Machine Gate and run right into the party.

However, they could also move farther south and turn left there. In that case it would be better to wait as per usual and dash on only after they are gone, and overtake them.

Another option would be to find a hiding place and wait what will play out.

– Dash over intersection now in full view

– Wait to see if they disappear to dash unseen

– Hide in a house

*Isle of Blight – part 111: Going Coastal*

The party is in luck: After discussing their orders, the sailors do not head their way, but continue on south to turn to the gate at a later intersection. The adventurers seize the opportunity and dash forward, head right through the gate and out into the undercity, with Hugo in tow.

They are free! 

Or almost so.

The team gets some buildings of the undercity between them and the Earth Gate so they cannot be spotted, and walk on south until they reach the shore, where the waves of the ocean lap at their toes. Far out to the sout-southeast there is a small, dark dot; that is, without doubt, the “Adrianna” waiting for them to set something ablaze and signal that they want to get picked up.

There is only one problem: The elves and their human retainers. When they agreed to that signal, they did not know that there would be other adventurers on the island. If Phoebe and her team light up a building by night, the light will be picked up by the sailors guarding the Earth Gate and possibly by anyone manning the wall.

If they build a fire to signal with smoke by day, the smoke will be seen from every place in the city and they will get visitors long before a dinghi from the “Adrianna” will hit the shoreline. So it must be by night.

– Watch the Gate and the Wall to learn about the guards

– Just risk it

– Try another way to signal the ship (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 112: Guards & Lanterns*

The adventurers clear a small house close to the beach and start blocking all the windows that look anywhere near the city. Only the entrance and the forward windows remain open. They plan to use this house like a lantern and light a fire in it. They also want to use their mirrors to direct additional light towards the ship.

Meanwhile, Ursula and Phoebe are watching the guards at the Earth Gate and look for signs of activity on the wall.

On the wall, there are none. The elf party either doesn’t care or doesn’t have enough manpower to provide crews for the gates and the towers.

At the gate, four sailors make camp in the corridor. They usually guard towards the inside, exchanging guards every two hours, but those off duty wander out towards the undercity from time to time to take a look around or relieve themselves against the outside of the city wall, then return back inside. They are obviously unaware of the presence of the adventurers in this area.

At one time during the afternoon an elf comes by and speaks with them.

Just to be on the safe side, Phoebe and Ursula keep their heads down until he is gone.

At two other times, three humans swing by and check the status of the gate, then quickly move on.

As it is getting dark, there was no definite pattern to the movements of the humans, but it seems clear that there will always be four sailors at the gate, with two on duty inside the city wall — out of sight from the beach.

Ursula nods towards the gate. “You know, we could take them out easily.”

Phoebe shakes her head. “It is ugly enough to leave them stranded here without a ship. We are the good guys.”

But Ursula is not convinced. She pats her hatchet absent-mindedly.

– Take out the Earth Gate guards

– Stay low and light the house-lantern

*Isle of Blight – part 113: Pickup Signal*

The firelight is focused out onto the sea, but it could reflect from the beach or even from bright surfaces like the inside of the doorframe. So the adventurers burn some old furniture and textiles during the day and use the soot to blacken as much of the possible reflectors as possible.

Meanwhile, others are gatherin furniture and other useful materials for the night, trying to keep it quiet.

As darkness sinks over the undercity, the guards light their own fire inside the Earth Gate, and those who are not on guard duty spend their time playing cards at the fireside. Suddenly an Elf appears with two more humans, and leaves them behind to reinforce the guard team. Now they have three shifts, two on guard, to on reserve in case of an attack, and two off duty.

“Good that we did not attack them,” says Phoebe. “We would have run right into the Elf.”

Ursula grunts noncommittally.

“And good that they have their own fire,” adds Harmony. “Not only will that be a signal too, it also limits their vision.”

Finally the party positions the mirrors so that they will reflect firelight towards the distant ship, and start the fire, and feed it. It smokes a lot, but in the night that does not matter.

Then they wait, and watch. Some watch out to the sea from some way off so the fire does not curb their night vision, the others watch the guards to see if they pick up on the signal.

They do not.

But lo and behold, after some three hours of keeping the fire going, the shape of the sail materializes some ways out, and the ship signals back with a lantern.

That is bad, but it cannot be helped.

Captain Carvolo will send a small boat.

– Wade out to expect them

– Wait for them on dry land

*Isle of Blight – part 114: The Boat*

The adventurers wait and finally hear the pat of oars in the water.

The ship has a lantern up, but the boat comes through the darkness.

“Ahoi!” cries one of the sailors. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Silent!” hisses Phoebe, but he can’t hear her over the crash of the waves. 

“Quiet!” calls Fernsby as carefully as possible.

But it is too late.

The guards at the gate have no clue what it was, judging by their stunned reaction, but they have heard something, and they get active.

– Rush them

– Wait and fight if they come looking

Wait and talk if they come looking

– Hide and keep quiet

*Isle of Blight – part 115: Bargain*

Phoebe and Fernsby are busy getting the message across that there are opposing forces on the island. Meanwhile, the guards at the tower form up and three come out to look what’s going on,covered by two with bows.

Being sailors, they immediately grasp the implications of the lantern bobbing out on the sea: “A ship! There’s a ship!” one of them calls out. “Right here in front of these houses!”

One of the guys with the bows calls back through the gate to the last one to keep him informed: “There’s a ship out, not far from the shore! Go and tell the elves!”

“Wait!” commands Harmony.

The sailors go alert. “Who goes there? Show yourself!”

“Listen to me!” commands Harmony, stepping forward from the cover of the houses. She stays out of the light, though, so she is only a vaguely elf-like shadow.

“An elf!” cries one of the sailors.

Ursula is on a roof, ready to cover Harmony from attacks.

Reinhold steps out to stand beside the elf, carrying Alma’s bow nocked and ready, but with the arrow pointing down to the ground. Hugo the golem follows him and stands not far from Harmony, grabbing his sledgehammer, ready to protect her and her friends.

The sailors hesitate. It is clear that they are looking at the opposing party, the ones they have been told to stop from leaving the city, and they are clearly armed and dangerous. But Harmony commands a good deal of authority, with pointy ears, heavy armor, man and golem at her side, and her charismatic WIL roll result of 11. They are prepared to listen.

What will Harmony tell them?

– Run, sailors, run!

– We are not the party you are looking for. Here, take some gold.

– Come with us if you six want to live

– Sharing is Caring: We keep the Chalice, you all hitch a ride

*Isle of Blight – part 116: Ticket for Six*

The sailors feel threatened by the party, and flex their hands on the weapons.
“Listen,” says Harmony,

“This ship here is going to sail for Woodbridge in a very, very short time. You certainly cannot stop that from happening. And you have no ship yourselves. But if you want, and if you are no troublemakers, we could take you here with us.”

The sailors are taken aback, but they let their arms sink.

“What about our friends? What about the elves?”

“No time to wait. We are boarding and the ship goes.”

Two of them waver, but one says: “We can’t leave the others. We would be traitors and blackguards! What will become of them?”

“We cannot fit everyone on that one ship. You are welcome to stay here on this island with your friends. But if you come with us, you can send help to them once we reach the harbour. If you stay here, who will do that?”

The men think about it, but there is not much to think through. Yes, Phoebe’s gang could tell authorities about the stranded party, but that could get them in trouble, so why should they risk it?

“Aye, we’re coming with you.”

“Fine.” Harmony nods. “Then put down those bows, sheathe your weapons, and come.”

Confident that they will do as she says, Harmony turns around and walks down to the shore.

The sailors hesitate only for a heartbeat, then they scramble to get their comrade from the gate and follow.

“Damn,” says Ursula, eyeing the new passengers with suspicion. She likes to make sure of people.

The boat is small, so it takes two trips to bring everyone.

The sailors are ferried over, and lo and behold, two of them know some of Carvolo’s crew, and their tension dissipates.

“Sail?” asks Captain Carvolo.

– Set sail

– Leave a message for the elves

– Try to save more sailors

*Isle of Blight – part 117: Smooth Sailing*

The “Adrianna” douses the lights and set sail. It takes a while to catch the right drift, but as the new day dawns the ship is far enough out to leave the Island and the city of Told-o Estel behind as a small dark smear on the horizon.

The ship catches a good wind and sails west towards the Bay of Stones, and it is in luck: The weather keeps, and they do not encounter any ships at all along the way.

Bit by bit the tension falls off the party, and they begin to enjoy the voyage, trusting in Captain Carvolo and his men to get them home safely.

The six sailors from the Elf team are not used to passive sea travel, so they soon do their part in the various tasks that keep the crew busy.

A fine and relaxing time, that sees everyone heal up their wounds and repair or mend broken or torn equipment.

Finally they cruise back into the Bay, and cruise up to the Splinter of Sorrow, a sharp rock just outside of view from Woodbridge. Naturally, the Splinter of Sorrow is a favourite anchoring ground for smugglers. And indeed, there are two ships tied down in its lee.

“This rock is where we are supposed to meet the man who takes on your piece of equipment, but these ships don’t look familiar,” says Captain Carvolo.

“Is this place usually like this?”

“Nay, there is usually only one ship at anchor, and maybe some small fisher boats come to fetch or bring things.”

– Drop anchor there like you own the place

– Stay off and watch from afar

– Change course and sail into the harbour

*Isle of Blight – part 118: Home Port*

Captain Carvolo has been unhappy about the other ships as well, but the idea of going to the harbour instead of meeting the agent makes him pause. He scratches his head. “To Woodbridge?”

Then he shrugs. “I remember the Peaceful saying that it is you who runs the show, and I should do as you say. So Woodbridge it is.”

The “Adrianna” dips the sails and crosses against the wind until it gets into the lee of the cliffsides. Then, as evening comes, it is smooth sailing with a leisurly breeze from the north, and soon the homely lights of Woodbridge pierce the dusk.

Adventurers and sailors cheer happily.

“Home sweet home!”

They close in on the port, but as they get quite close it suddenly becomes apparent that something is different: Usually the harbour is bustling with tradespeople and seafarers, but now the personal guard of Count Hasimir and a smaller number of housecarls of Elven lords seem to dominate. The captain raises a spyglass and takes a closer look. It is true: There is order on the usually chaotic docks, and controls at every alleyway. Guard troops control the harbour.

“No wonder those two ships rather stay at the Splinter of Sorrow! I am astonished that it is not more!”

Phoebe bites her lower lip. 

“When Elven troops search this ship they will find the Chalice for sure. They will detect the magic.” 

Reinhold frowns. “And if they find our elven coins, they will take those too. We should turn away.”

Captain Carvolo shakes his head: “Too late for that! If we turn and run, a warship will follow us.”

“What can we do?”

“We could fend them off with magic. We have some harsh spells, like Spawning Rot and Dividing Shard. If it is only one or two ships, they have no chance.”

“Except if they have casters on board and retaliate!”

“We could drop our treasure into the water and retrieve it later.”

“Risky! What if others find it by accident? Or if we do not find it again?”

“We could hide the coins, but one of us could take the chalice and swim. They will not notice a single swimmer. Oswald or Fernsby are strong enough to make it.”

Fernsby does not welcome the idea of swimming through the Bay of Stones. Suddenly he has another idea: “Or we could give our loot to Hugo!”

– Hope for the best

– Turn tail and use magic against pursuit

– Drop the loot, seek it later

– Single swimmer with chalice

Hugo underwater with loot

– Other idea (Comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 119: Hugo’s Hour*

Harmony gives Hugo a new order: “Carry these bags and everything that is in them three miles south. Then turn east and carry them out of the water. Then carry them east until you find trees where these bags and everything that is in them will not be seen by passing creatures. Then put the bags in that place. Then wait in the open west of these trees and protect the bags and everything that is in them so no creature that moves on two legs goes near, and no creature that wears clothing may touch them, and nobody may touch you, until your master or Phoebe Hicks or Ursula Moon comes. Then wait for new orders.

“Lordy, those are tricky,” Harmony sighs, as she scribbles all of that on a small strip of paper. “I always feel like I have overlooked something and Hugo will misunderstand and be gone forever, or useless. But they must also be simple or he cannot process them. And this is the longest one yet. The paper is almost full now.”

The others look it over.

“Sounds fine,” says Phoebe.

“Yeah, but what if there is no wood?”

“Well, even if he happens to hit a stretch without wood, he will go on east until he reaches the Darkwood, and I tell you, he can’t miss that! Then we won’t find him near the shore, but near the King’s Street. But find him we will.”

– Order looks fine

– Order needs something more (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 120: Bad Elf Day*

“Fine!” everyone agrees, but Harmony, on a whim, adds a tiny remark: “try not to be seen by creatures on two legs on the way”. Then she puts the little scroll into Hugo’s mouth and snaps it shut.

He is processing, then stands ready.

The party packs up all the loot and finally, with heavy hearts, add the elven weapons, because while a common ancient blade might be argued for, there is no way the elves in the harbour will let Harmony walk away with Ince Acsa, or Reinhold with Ecet i lindele.

Weighed down with sacks and baggage, Hugo drops over the side of the ship and sinks. For two heartbeats, his shiny head is still visible, then he disappears in the grey ocean.

“May the gods walk with you, Hugo!” breathes Ursula.

The “Adrianna” enters the harbour and docks. As soon as the lines are secured, a score of guards swarm the deck and holds, and inspect everything.

“What’s going on?” asks Captain Carvolo, “on who’s orders are you invading my ship?”

“Ask the Count,” grunts a soldier. Otherwise they act as if the sailors were not even there.

Two elves come on board and stare smoldering holes into Harmony’s face. “Harmony Silverbirch! Traitor to your people! Where have you taken these humans?”

Harmony snorts. “Keep it civil, Eldran Browngrass. We were just going out on a fishing trip.”

“A fishing trip! In heavy armor! With magical amulets! And where are your fishing rods?”

“That’s exactly why we needed the amulets. There was a fish that was twice as large as this ship, and he ate all our fishing rods. But the amulets protected us.”

The elf sneers. “Childish lies will get you nowhere. We know everything!”

Harmony spares a glance to the second elf. “Hi Sprigs. Good to see that there’s at least half a brain for two elves.”

He shakes his head. “This is no joke, Harm. I am with Eldran.”

The guards open every chest and every backpack, but they don’t find any single piece of elven items.

“Not one thing? That is highly suspicious!” says Eldran Browngrass angrily.

“You are all coming with us! To the temple. Sergeant, arrest them. The captain too.”

The soldiers hesitate for a heartbeat, surprised. But then the sergeant shrugs.

– Come peacefully

– Resist without blades

– Fight them as mortal foes

Protest and question authority

*Isle of Blight – part 121: The Law*

“To the temple? An elven temple? Why to the temple?” asks Phoebe.

She addresses the sergeant directly: “On what grounds do these elves hold power over humans?”

The sergeant hesitates again and thinks through his orders. “Well, the new Heritage of Elven Pepole’s Protection Act gives the Elves authority to judge every human who infringes on their … ah … well … heritage.”

Harmony laughs. “So, fishing is Elven heritage now?”

The sergeant scratches his head. “Well, no. Elven treasure, Elven magic items and Elven scrolls, as well as Elven constructions.”

“Nothing about weapons?”

The sergeant rubs his chin. “Well, the Count himself has a pretty nice collection of Elven spears, swords, and daggers…. So as long as they ain’t magical, they are good to trade and own.” 

“Enough with this drivel! Take them away!” demands the Elf.

“Not a single item of elven heritage has been found on this ship,” says Harmony. “Take your HEPPA and take it to the goblins who live on our ancestral land.”

The human soldiers waver.

“Arrest them!” cries Eldran.

“This is a HUMAN city,” answers Phoebe coldly. “We answer to Count Hasimir and the Crown of Alys, not some pointy-eared, flat-chested temple dancers.”

Both elves blanche, and even Harmony raises both eyebrows.

But several of the soldiers grin and the sergeant can’t stop himself from nodding to this affectionate display of loyalty to the Count.

“Sir Elf, I believe the woman has it right. There are no elven artifacts here, so we should move on to the next ship.”

Eldran explodes: “But THIS IS THE SHIP we were waiting for, you imbecile!”

Not the right choice of words. The sergeant’s face closes like a drawbridge.

“Enough. The Law says you get to decide about elven heritage items, and these people have none. The ship is free to dock, stay, or sail as it’s owner pleases. We move.”

The soldiers walk down the plank, and the sergeant hits his chest with his fist in a warrior’s salute. “Welcome back from your … eh, fishing trip. Sir Elf, move it. You leave with us.”

“You cannot tell me what to do!”

“I can tell everyone else to do what you want, so for once I can tell you something.”

Eldran wants to argue the point, but the one Harmony called “Sprigs” grabs his arm and pulls him away. “Not now, Eldran. Come, I have an idea.”

Phoebe and her friends are free, and even the six men from Team Elf, although worried about the fate of their comrades back on the Isle of Blight, are glad to see those types go.

“Thank you!” says Captain Carvolo. “For a moment there I thought it was all over.”

– Go to the Cunning Cock to celebrate

Go to “The Peaceful” and report

– Go to meet Hugo

– Stay on board for a while

– Something else (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 122: Shadows*

The elves show little interest in the next ship and leave it to the Guardsmen to inspect its cargo. Instead, Eldran and Sprigs speak with their brethren, which involves some pointing at the “Adrianna”, and then leave the harbour, taking a route approximately towards the main temple.

“We should visit The Peaceful,” says Phoebe. “He needs to know about our mission, and we need to know what the heck is going on.”

The others agree and the party says their goodbyes to Captain Carvolo.

“Good luck!” he says, pointing at the Elves with his chin. “And watch out.”

“We will.”

The team has no trouble crossing the dockside, as the soldiers have marked them as “not carrying Elven heritage”. They take the main street out of the harbour and swing south towards “The Hill”, where the wizard’s townhouse is located.

It takes no genius to notice the handful of elves who follow them in some distance. Four of them stay on their trail, but keep their distance, more or less trying to blend in among the normal townsfolk or using random objects as cover, but failing abjectly.

– Run to lose them

Split up so some can get to The Peaceful unobserved

– Stick together and just visit him

– Confront the elves and demand explanations

– Attack the elves

Go to random places to frustrate them

*Isle of Blight – part 123: Merry Chase*

The adventurers decide to troll their shadows by changing course frequently and visiting random places. The elves, however, persevere, and follow them from place to place without fail, even, as they notice that their cover is blown, without any pretense. They just match the party’s speed and follow them. And they don’t seem to get bored, either.

Not everyone has that kind of patience, though. After a good while that promises to go on well into the night, if nothing happens to change it, Phoebe has had enough.

“Okay, this is what we are going to do. We split up. Harm, he knows and trusts you. So one of us has to reach his house. The others try to cover us by distracting the elves.”

Easier said than done! It turns out the elves think along the same lines. They take extra care to follow Phoebe and Harmony, and ignore Reinhold as he splits from them.

It takes a crowded place to get rid of their pursuers, so the adventurers zone in on the marketplace, and *there* they split up. Phoebe, Oswald, and Harmony go west, the rest of the crew goes east. That is enough to make the elves split up, with two following Phoebe’s group.

Then Harmony and Phoebe split up, and the elves mirror them. Oswald stays with Phoebe, and remains by her said as she moves back onto the Hill.

“We need to shake that elf,” says Phoebe. “Can you stop him? Without violence?”

“I can,” promises the fighter. After they round a corner, he stays behind, and when the elf comes after them, Oswald “stumbles” into his arms.

It is all the break Phoebe needs: she runs and soon reaches the townhouse of the Archwizard “The Peaceful”. The butler opens the door and she tumbles into the house.

Meanwhile, Ursula sees an option to split from the party without notice, as the two elves on her group don’t seem to direct any special attention to her. She wonders if it is a good idea to go and meet Hugo right away, or if it is better to wait and go in force when the elves withdraw their people.

– Let Ursula leave town and seek Hugo

– Stay in Woodbridge

*Isle of Blight – part 124: Political Games*

Phoebe looks up from the cup of dark green juice the butler has served, and finds herself face to face with Archwizard Mundy Fairie, nicknamed “The Peaceful”.

“Tell me what happened. And I tell you what happened here.”

Phoebe quickly retells their journey and adventures in abbreviated form. When she gets to the decision to sail into the harbor, the wizard frowns. “I do not like this turn of the story. My agent was actually at the Splinter. But you do not look like you lost it. Pray continue.”

She tells him about the guards, and that the golem smuggled the Chalice to the Wight Hills.

“We have to meet him. The longer he is alone, the greater the risk. But the guards found nothing. However, the elves followed us through the city, and we had to split up to get them off my back.”

Mundy Fairie sighs. “They know I sent you out. This whole week has been a battle of attrition at the Count’s palace. The Elven people has long been unhappy about humans wielding their artifacts, trading them for looks instead of true significance.

Recently, their new High Priestess has reinforced these sentiments, which led to tensions and protests. Count Hasimir used to support the frontier laws, which say that we keep what we find. But no longer.”

“Count Hasimir himself is an admirer of Elven Culture, and Elven Weapons. His whole Fiefdom struggles economically and depends on the activities of adventurers like yourself, and the trade they bring. But the High Priestess has visited him every day this past week, and pushed her case. My associates among the nobility have pushed back, so she got the Archwizard of the Royal Court in Alys to write a pledge of support to her cause. Hasimir wavered.

In the end she offered him a legendary pair of elven swords, the famed Drake Teeth of the Hero Sannar, the Rámaloce carcane.”

“The blades that were forged from the poisoned fangs of the Shard Dragon! So they bribed him.”

“All politics is bribery in some way or other. But the law is due for revision in fall equinox. And an alliance of Houses has already pledged to oppose the elves.”

“So in the long run, this will hurt the elves.”

“It will. But for the Items of Kesh they are willing to pay that price. There are three. I strive to own them all, as does the High Priestess. However, it was I who first gathered the Idol – with your aid – and now I am quite close to gaining the Chalice – again with your aid.”

“How do we get out of town unseen?”

“The harbour is tight. That will not work. You can try the gate, but the guards know you, so you will have to disguise yourself. Or I can get you out with a boat, but the river is being watched.”

Risk the Gate

— Risk the River

— Other idea (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 125: One Ear*

“I will collect those of my companions who were able to shake the elves and we will go through the gate.”

“Fine.” He nods to himself. “If anything untoward happens, take this.”

The archwizard presents a short stick. “It is a magic item. Break it and release a spell that will provide you with a Transporting Chariot. Good for a quick escape, but it will be quite a spectacle, so do not use it lightly, and only use it outside the city wall.”

“Bring the Chalice of Insanity to the shore. There will be an agent of mine who can collect it. He will get there in half an hour and wait for you. He is an elf, but do not worry about that. You will recognize him because he has only one ear.”

Phoebe leaves and makes her way to “The Maze”, the eastern quarter where poorer workmen reside in a warren of little alleys. She passes the Wood Gate in some distance and notices the Count’s guards controlling who goes in or out.

Inside “The Maze” she meets only two of the gang: Fernsby and Constance, the newbies.

Constance explains: “As soon as the elves were aware that you had disappeared they each picked a target to watch and didn’t leave them any more. They were especially interested in Harmony. So we all split up, and each of us tried to shake them in the alleys. But only the two of us made it.” Fernsby looks grim. “They probably thought we were not important enough to watch.”

“What will the others do?”

“They will keep walking their rounds and pass the Cliff Gate every now and then.”

Fernsby balls his fists. “We will need Harmony and Urusula. We could waylay their followers and take them down.”

Constance is against that idea. “Attacking people inside the city is one of the worst offenses possible. We will end up hanging from the judges’ oak!”

“We could surprise them inside one of the houses. Nobody will see. And we will not kill them, obviously. It will look like a simple robbery.”

– Make do with only Fernsby and Constance

– Try to get the others

*Isle of Blight – part 126: Spies Eyes*

(online access limited)

Phoebe is not happy about it, but the sensible decision seems to be to leave now. After all, the others are doing their rounds exactly with this outcome in mind.

Phoebe, Fernsby, and Constance watch the Wood Gate and see that there are indeed not only Hasimir’s guards doing person checks, but also spies on the ramparts.

They have to make a decision.

  • Sneak out with a bigger group of people
  • Disguise as harmless travellers
  • Hide in a farmer’s wagon

*Isle of Blight – part 127: Shallow Faith*

The three fugitives wonder if they should ride out of town hidden in a farmer’s wagon, when they see a group of pilgrims in wide grey robes and straw hats slowly walk towards the gate. In a flash of inspiration, they grab some robes and hats of a not quite identical, but similar make from a stall, pay for them, and join the end of the pilgrim group. Heads bowed in pious prayer, they move towards the guardpost.

All looks well when the guards check the first couple of pilgrims, find them uninteresting, and begin to wave the rest through.

In that moment a wide-bellied, bearded pilgrim and a gap-toothed, thin friend of his notice the party. They see the guards well enough and quickly deduce what’s going on. The wide-bellied guy grins, falls back to join the fake pilgrims, and suddenly grabs Phoebe and Constance by the hands.

“Oooh, glory be to our loving mother of pain!” the man cries in a fit of hypocrisy.
In a much lower voice he hisses: “You are hiding from the Count’s men, right? For a 100 gold pieces, Aldus and I will make sure you pass them without trouble. What say you?”

“A 100 gold? What for?”

“Well, we will lend your performance weight! Without us, you will be found out for sure. That would be a pity! But pay quickly! We are almost upon them. Pay and we will guarantee your success!”

Pay them

– Reject them

*Isle of Blight – part 128: Drama*

Phoebe hands over a gem and the bearded guy appraises it. “Wonderful! I like it when people are prepared.” He gives his associate a nod, and gap-tooth falls to the ground wailing at the gods.

The bearded guy gives an alarmed cry and throws himself at him.

The  focus of the guards and spies turns to this scene, and Phoebe, Fernsby, and Constance can slip toward the gate, although most of the pilgrims have turned aroun and stay to look what’s going on.

At the last possible moment one guard looks in their direction, but the bearded guy has them covered: He grabs the soldier at the shoulder and yanks him around, pointing at his friend: “A vision!” he shouts. “He has a vision! He is truly favored by the gods!”

The adventurers are able to slink out of town and intermingle with other groups waiting to enter. With the pilgrims’ garb ditched they can no longer be associated with the drama that’s going on at the gate. Soon they cross the Wood Bridge and are on the King’s Road.

They must go west to reach the coast and, hopefully, Hugo.

– Turn west along the river

Go further along the road, then through the hills

*Isle of Blight – part 129: Shore*

Amazingly, they meet no-one. They move down the road unmolested and turn west when they are out of sight from the city. On their way through the Wight Hills they come across animal tracks and the tracks of a group of a dozen people moving north through the hills, but nothing bigger than a songbird shows up.

Soon, they reach the shore and jog it up and down to find hints of Hugo’s passing.

It is Constance who finds them: Hugo’s unmistakable footprints coming out of the sea and leading into the shrubs. They are deep, but alreay blurred or erased where the seawater can lap at them. Tracks of two boots join Hugo’s path and follow him east over the first dune.

They follow and quickly find Hugo. He is standing in front of a copse of wood, hefting his sledgehammer. Two humans in frayed clothing stand just out of reach and shout at him. They are not well equipped to handle a golem. One of them, a gaunt guy with curly hair, has a mace, the other, slender boy with a shaved head, brandishes a stiletto.

– Watch the show

– Tell the two to sod off

Ask them politely to move elsewhere

– Attack them

– Something else (comment)

*Isle of Blight – part 130: Rent*

“Hey,” calls Phoebe, before things can get ugly. The two worn-down guys disengage from the golem, and he stands down.

The adventurers come closer and meet the two guys at the usual distance of two sword lengths. Both men look positively poor, worse than the folk who lives in The Maze. They eye the weaponry and good boots of the newcomers and remain ready to fight.

“Come now,” says Phoebe, “this is our golem. Please don’t damage it. We would ask you kindly to leave us and let us conclude our business. No harm done to anyone.”

“Yeah?” asks curly hair. “But this is _our_ wood, and this golem of yours just took it.”

“I see. Sorry that he disturbed your peace. But no worries, we will all be gone in a minute.”

Baldy shifts from left to right and back again. “This is our wood, so if you want to do business here you have to pay.”

Curly takes a moment, then nods. “Aye. Our wood. But you can rent it. For… say…” He thinks about it, and young baldy cuts in: “Ten gold pieces!”

“Aye.” Curly nods. “Ten gold pieces to rent our wood for an hour.”

– Attack them

– Scare them away

– Give them five

– Give them ten

Give them twenty if they take a long hike in return

*Isle of Blight – part 131: Scarred*

Phoebe counts out ten gold, then looks the two men over. “You know what? I’ll double it. Here, take twenty, and go to Woodbridge to buy yourself some nice boots. These hills are no place for scrap shoes.”

Stunned, the two men take the money and slowly retreat, as if afraid the party might come after them to get the money back. Soon they are gone.

Fernsby doesn’t trust them either and goes looking, only to see them disappear across the next hill, towards Woodbridge.

Phoebe turns to Hugo, who powers down and opens his mouth.

“Oh yes… Harmony told him to wait for new orders.”

Fernsby watches over the powerless golem while the women search the wood. It doesn’t take them long: Everything is here. The weapons, the loot, the Chalice of Insanity.

Together, the three of them carry everything closer to the shore, where, as promised, a boat arrives. Two rowmen stay in it, but two other guys debark and wade ashore. Both of them are elves, one a warrior, as his economic movements in plate mail suggest. The other one has the air of a wizard, and only one ear peeks out from his raven hair.

Phoebe steps forward and the warrior positions himself between her and black-hair.

“I am Phoebe Hicks,” says Phoebe. “Who of you is one-ear?”

The warrior frowns with displeasure, but the long-haired wizard chuckles.

He draws back his hair with his hand and reveals a nasty scar in place of his ear. A burn scar! Constance gasps and draws back her own hair to reveal the disfiguring scars on the side of her head, which mirrors the wound of the elf.

Smiling, he nods at her.

Then he turns business-like.

“The Chalice?”

Phoebe presents the sack that holds it.

The elf puts on gloves and unwraps it, in awe.

“The Chalice of Insanity. It is real. And it is here.”

He looks at Phoebe with respect, then at the warrior.

“Adamant! Pay them.”

The warrior’s frown gets even deeper.

But he frees a purse from the folds of his tunic and hands it over to Phoebe.

“2.000 in human currency …” and he continues as if it would bring him physical pain: “… plus 400 as a bonus.”

The wizard bows. “It is an honour, Ms. Hicks.”

She bows in return.

– Offer to sell the rest of the (mostly illegal) loot

– Keep it an sell it on the black market

– Offer them some of it

*Isle of Blight – part 132: Sales*

“Wait a moment,” says Phoebe, as the elves turn to go back to their boat.

“Yes?”

“We have some items that we would sell to the boss.”

The one-eared elf nods.

“What do you have? I do not have the funds here at the moment, but we would certainly pass your items along and make sure you get compensated.”

*Isle of Blight – part 133: Finale*

The elves take the cultural loot, the elven gold, and the unused elven weapons with them. They also take the amulets to return them to “The Peaceful.” Phoebe writes an order for Hugo: “Follow Phoebe Hicks around until Harmony says the Word: “Hugo”. Then wait for new orders.”

“Not creative, but it should work.”

And it does: Phoebe goes straight to the Cunning Cock and takes the attic suite. Fernsby and Constance fetch the others, who are happy to end their charade – as are the elves who follow them around, because by then it is crystal clear to everyone that they are just running in circles.

The Peaceful sells the Elven swords for double price to a collector. He changes the elven coin for 80%, a better price than the party would have got. After paying some costs for the animals and enjoying a hearty meal in the Cunning Cock (and refusing to tell their story) they have 3600 gold pieces to share.

Phoebe shares equally, and so everyone gets 514. 2 gold pieces remain, and the others vote for Phoebe to get those — plus Harmony, Ursula, Oswald, and Reinhold pay for her expenses in the following month in addition to their own, because she ponied up at the Wood Gate.

The Elves are relentless. They never stop watching and shadowing the team.

So the party has to keep their elven weapons and the rest of their loot – wands, magic blade, and magic book – well hidden and guarded by Hugo.

The behaviour of the elves in Woodbridge leads to a small uprising, though, when a little boy falls off a roof and the rumor spreads that he was on the run from elves and died. Both is factually wrong, he really stole an apple, ran from a shop-owner, and still lives, but in the clashes that follow, fifteen humans and six elves get hurt; of these, three humans and one elf die. Count Hasimir has the two leaders of the mob hanged, but ends the Elven Heritage Law on the grounds that no important Elven Heritage has been found in the harbour, but the search policy has made the harbour in Elm’s Bend a more favourable point of anchor for trade ships, and that’s bad for Woodbridge.

The six sailors who came with the party don’t dare to speak with the Elves about that, but right before they sail away on Captain Carvolo’s “Adrianna”, they inform a scribe that there is a crew of a stranded ship on the Isle of Blight, and needs rescue. So the Elves send a rescue ship to pick up the survivors.

The rescued tell their story and “The Mother”, High Priestess of the Elves, orders Harmony to appear before her and subject herself to the law of elves, but Harmony, a famous heretic, knows that with her past as a prophet this can only end badly and elects to ignore these summons.

With the XP from this adventure, the third-level-characters remain third level yet, but Fernsby and Constance level up to second-level.

Fernsby and Constance also have to buy heavy armor, which depletes their resources a good deal.

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