After our previous experimentation with the Water Clock outside the lost town, I decided it was time to take our experiment up a notch, and with the help of Garva we moved the water clock inside the town. Tarin and Bram continued urging caution towards this artifact (or cowardice as I like to call it), but I would not be dissuaded, so with Felior at my side, we flipped the water clock one last time inside the town.
The same scene played again, but this time, at the far end of town, we could see the villainous brother and sister responsible for the Vale’s destruction, and as we watched, they turned and looked towards me with their sinister yellow eyes and demonic horns half-visible. Of course, no one believes in demons, but these two looked a lot like what one would expect a demon of legend to look like, and given the barkeep calling me a demon as well, it seems these two are at least not native to Dinah or Therinad.
After taking in our final vision, it was time to depart with our water clock safely stored in my backpack. Our largely worthless guide, Garva, offered his expertise in navigation, and suggested we follow a narrow canyon back towards a trap (Trap? I mean Snowmelt). I made my misgivings about going into a narrow ravine well known but Tarin and Bram had a point: We’d rather not tangle with any Lobera if we can avoid it, and the only other route back was straight through Lobera country. So we set off back home to report on our findings, and deliver the clock. After following the ravine for a bit, we were set upon by a most deadly foe…
Sitting atop a Lobera was a Macabra, the first one I’ve seen in the flesh. I know why some originally called them Manhunters, he looked and moved like an apex predator, almost more beast than man. He came directly for me, or more precisely, my backpack, and I immediately knew he was after the water clock. On his initial pass, I managed to dive out of the way, and my comrades engaged him in battle. For a moment, I thought we had the rider within our grasp, dismounted and prone on the ground. As Bram, Felior, and Tarin closed in for the deathstroke however, the Macabra quickly turned the tables, knocking them all to the ground before reclaiming his feet, and in short order, his mount.
Aednoth’s bombs were once again an awe inspiring cacophony of incendiary chaos, but regretably, they were insufficient. Though we felled the rider’s mount in the ensuing battle, the rider himself was not so easily defeated, and he made off with my backpack, and most notably, the water clock. As a general rule, nobody steals from me and lives, and I was out for blood. Unfortunately, my comrades could not be bothered to dirty their elegant skirts and silken undergarments, so it took a bit of convincing to motivate them to pursue our foe, and even then I had to compromise for locating the enemy camp. During our conversation, it seems our friend, the traitor Garva, slipped off into the snow, undoubtedly to return to Snowmelt and sully our good name before our return, but having convinced my compatriots of the necessity of our task, I decided Garva could be handled another day.
Between the fresh snow and a solid blood trail, we easily tracked the Macabra back to the cave we originally located on our journey out towards the Lost Town, and found my pack, sans water clock. Naturally, this only spurred me on harder, and cowed my compatriots, with the exception of Felior perhaps. Still, after making camp, we sullied forth and continued to pursue our quarry further, right up until a fork in the road. At the fork, we discovered a pair of grave stones and a rather unusual coincidence.
It seems Aednoth had picked up a sort of dog tag from the lobera we slew in the battle with the macabra. This dog tag was written in the long dead language of our lost town, and interestingly, the same name on the dog tag was engraved on one of the two graves we found. We pondered this mystery for a bit, but soon the conversation turned to food. Unfortunately we were low on supplies, and though I craved the sweet taste of revenge, my companions desired warm beds and hot meals. After so long on the road, I was forced to acquiesce, and we agreed to return to Snowmelt to resupply before any additional pursuit.
We set up for the night, and my alchemist compatriot set about demonstrating his prowess in his chosen craft, that of the culinary arts. I must say, though I appreciate Aednoth’s confectionary treat he calls a “waffle”, I don’t have the same burning desire for them as our paladin. They are rather tasty, but I don’t personally consider them the end all, be all of cuisine that Bram does. Still, they fill the belly and satisfy the tongue, so I shouldn’t complain too much. After a satisfying supper, we turned in for the night, only to be roused from our slumber by the hungry dead.
I remember as a young man, first learning the ways of the world, my adoptive father gave me a bit of advice. “Son, never sleep where dead lie”. I always thought he was referring to the smells and diseases carried by corpses, but it turns out there’s more dangers to the dead than just the mundane. We awoke to Tarin Silverspring rousing us from our slumber, and the unmistakable moans of walking corpses. Alas, my powers of mental manipulation matter for about donkey dung in the face of the undead, so I was relegated to impotently thrusting my rapier while my compatriots dispatched the beasts. Bram Boulderhammer especially delivered a punishing blow with that hammer of his. He may have an entire tree crammed up his backside at times, but I’d never doubt the paladin’s prowess in combat, and I was most grateful for him this evening.
On our journey back to Snowmelt, I was reviewing my plans for dealing with the traitor Garva, and to my surprise, he came topside with a few mages in red robes to greet us. I decided to move quickly before he could further poison their minds with his traitorous lies, and sent the fool to slumber while I laid out his crimes to the red robes. It seems nobody really wants to have a conversation in the snow, so we moved the dreaming Garva into the elevator, and rode down to see the council.
On the way, a particularly ugly and ill-tempered half-orc attempted to coerce us into sharing our information, but I wasn’t about to let some low level thug harass and intimidate us. I gave him a good staring down and convinced him to back off. Little did I know the sniveling whelp would run back to his elder brother, Grothnar Vall , and my decision would later come back and bite me in the flank.
In the council chambers, our conversation mostly focused on the lost town of Halmond Vale, rather than Garva’s treachery, but I suppose one treasonous dwarf can wait when compared to the wonders and mysteries we found outside the town. We discussed the clock, the illusionary townsfolk, our discovery of a journal and map in the burned out mansion, and our journey back, complete with the macabra attack.
At that, Grothnar spoke up and made mention of “The Rider”, a macabra capable of taming lobera he has seen in the past. Grothnar and Frogar were a bit perturbed that The Rider chose to involve himself with regards to our journey. About this time, a delectable little human morsel by the name of Rini appeared. She was a wealth of information and offered her knowledge and expertise regarding the history of Therinad. After a bit of harumphing on the part of the council, it was off to see the mages guild for some information.
We were greeted by the beautiful youngas we arrived, who was happy to provide us with yet more information on the lost town, and the history of Dinah. She mentioned the possibility of a hidden treasure, located under the town and lost to the memory of mortals. At this point, I thought Rini could use a little magical adjustment, and with a wave of the hand and a flick of the wrist, I had her convinced to keep the knowledge of that treasure a secret for a little while….
But as my father used to say “All good things are spoiled by paladins”, and this would be no different. Bram and Aednoth could not be persuaded to allow this omission from the record, and as a result, Rini shook off my compulsion and after a few choice words, departed. On our way out, we had the opportunity to bend and scrape before the Grand White Wizard who chose this particular time to come parading through with all the pomp and circumstance of noble maiden on her wedding day. I let my allies show their deference, but I chose to abstain, for no man deserves a bow simply by right of office.
Anyhow, we returned to the council chambers at this time to report our findings at the mages guild, and hear their decision on how to handle the situation. Surprisingly, Rini and Tenac chose not to divulge the treasure below town to the council, and after a few heated exchanges , the council voted to destroy the town. Of course, knowing of the possibility of treasure below, I tried to dissuade them from this course of action, however I was foiled by a pint-sized troublemaker by the name of Tenac. Somewhere during the discourse, he disappeared for a time, only to return with Adice Manka in tow, the poor gnome woman my colleague Felior Frostbrow chose to deceive when we left Snowmelt a week ago. I knew it was a bad plan when Felior first came up with it, but I played along with the intention of making things right upon our return to Snowmelt. Besides, what difference does one week make with regards to free advertising?
I had a sinking feeling from the moment Adice arrived, and before I had time for another word, I heard guards pronounce “Theydrin Durjss’Axle, you are hereby under arrest, for the crime of theft”. And so here I am, with bad food, no wine, no women, no smokable weeds… Hopefully Felior will be able to convince the rest of my compatriots to stage a daring rescue, but I’m not holding my breath…