The party spent some time familiarizing themselves with Flatrock as well as some of the inhabitants there. It was a nice change from dungeons and combat and the party was giving some serious effort in finding a cure from the plague.
Not much to say except at the end the party got a "hard on" to hunt down Vanir and the Lycos Suns so trekked out of town to Kreladale.
Write up follows:
Watermonth 21st, about 3 PM, the party left the Grey Raven Hospice and followed Goodman’s Court until they arrived at the alchemist’s tower. It was a wide building, roughly circular, standing about 40’ in height. A series of tin chimneys stuck oddly out the top of the building, a number of oddly colored smokes sieved from the bent over stacks. The door was closed and it was obvious someone was inside.
We knocked on the door loudly and heard the sound of breaking glass within and someone crying out an expletive. A few moments passed and the door opened revealing a disheveled woman in her late 40’s. She had some elvish ancestry as evidenced by her ears but the rest of her was human proportions and then some. She was a large woman, thick of ass and chest, her brownish/red hair was pulled back in a severe ponytail and her left hand was dark purple from her fingertip until the stain faded to nothing at her elbow.
She identified herself as Morei, the current proprietor of the alchemist’s lab and tower. We entered and shared who we were as well as our intention to help the town and work on a cure. She was the last alchemist here, her master and two of the other journeymen had succumbed to the plague. There were 2 assistants still in town but they were taking a leave to care for ill family members. There were no more healing potions or potions of curing or just about anything that might help combat the effects of the plague.
What was looked for was a distillate, a point of contagion that Morei could work with and generate an actual cure. However all the people who have the plague now have what she referred to as a 2nd generation version. Any distillate made would make only a single person immune to the disease and only until they are infected again by another person. Other adventuring groups had also gone looking for the first patient or where the disease might have originated and brought back samples. But to date, nothing has worked.
We offered to leave Mebali there to help out Morei and then made our way to the west end of town and the Three Dog Hotel. We acquired 4 rooms, doubles, for the entire week and in order to possibly throw off anyone who might be looking at or for us (ie – Lycos Suns) had the proprietor shuffle a couple of keys around so our room did not appear to be taken. Then we went to the well and changed our water for the same water that the town uses, after learning that the properties of the enriched mineral water actually offer some resistance to the plague’s effects.
We noted a number of rats near the granaries, the large clay holding bins were only half filled and the millhouse nearby was not churning the rye and wheat to flour. From here we crossed town square once more and next to the Gibbets and stocks was the large outdoor donjon known as Sinner’s Towers. A onetime dwarven edifice, the main block tower stood 60’ tall, 20’ at the base tapering to about 15 at the top where a large 60’ diameter buttressed platform was affixed, a series of iron bars encircling the perimeter and curling upward and around, providing an open air prison to any within.
There were a 6 count of liveried guards wearing tabards and padded jerkins, sporting a variety of barbed spears. We had some words with a desire to interview/check out the prisoners above and faced the hostility of a single guard, Ornan, who had apparently lost a few family members during the intervening 6 months. Some of the party was curt, others gave the bereaved guardsman a few coins and comforting words.
We were escorted to the top where we saw the deplorable condition of the donjon. Of the 15 prisoners here, 8 were already dead from the plague and of the remaining 7, 5 had obvious plague effects. We garnered their respect and aid with some fresh food and water and a well timed bless spell from Ludwig. One of the prisoners, a loquacious fellow named Rience, filled us in on some of the findings and goings on as seen from up here. We discovered early on that there was no starting of the plague here as it had indeed started out in the town somewhere. A point of reference was a man who had killed his wife and been hung here and then shortly afterwards the first plague victims were found.
We also learned that a few of the prisoners had ties to local slavers, one of them being Candlekeep and the leader who was named Bendelene. We thanked them for their efforts and honestly, they appreciated all the food, water, and company we brought them, and then we left.
Once out in the street (6:45 PM), we decided we had enough time to go to Zinthar’s Herbs and offer the magical dirt we had that would speed up the growth of any seeds planted within. On the south end of town near Cheapside Ave, we found the ¾ acre land around the Herbalists shop to be a rather well tended herb garden. Irrigated, orderly, weeded, terraced in places – it was a very impressive sight. Detheron took the lead on this one, escorting us to the herbalists shop (after knocking on the gate for some reason) where we were met by the eccentric Master Zinthar himself.
Taken out of retirement from the passing of his son and his wife, his grandchildren severely lacking in the herbalists arts, Zinthar lived here with only two ravens (Joe and SKCWAAA) and about 15 wild looking tabby cats. He was pushing 80, cataracted eyes, liver spotted skin, hunched over, supporting his weight on a 3’ gnarled wooden cane/cudgel. He launched into a treatise on the difficulty he has, the troubles with the town, how he refuses to die until the plague is done, and the unsavory nature of dwarves.
It was about halfway through our conversation that Detheron gleaned that the crazed white haired man was actually a druid of name level and more than capable. We had Gwyn show him the properties of the fast growing dirt and he was amazed. Bargaining occurred as he wanted the entire pound and Gwyn did not want to give it up. He offered booze, bits of shiny metal, anything a dwarf would want. Then he turned to Detheron, thinking the druid was the owner of the unsavory dwarf, and tried to get him to force Gwyn to just give it to him.
He eventually gave up his prized possession, his cane/cudgel, and Detheron took it reverently. The rest of the dirt was given to Zinthar who was going to use it, analyze it, and also continue to grow more than enough of the abundant herbs needed to make and fill the physickers masks the townsfolk (and us!) had taken to wearing.
We left Zinthar’s happy and took a detour to the granaries where Detheron wanted to try and learn what he could from the rats there as well as displace them from the granaries. A single guard tried to stop him but was convinced to keep watch. From there Detheron used his speak with animals spells and had a difficult conversation with the rodents who were convinced of their superiority and that they would one day take over in a large dark wave. They referred to the people as slaves and that they should all bow to them.
It was shortly after the conversation started that while Detheron was holding the acquired cudgel that a tabby cat appeared, fully at the druid’s command and happy to be there. The rats declared Detheron a traitor and friends with the cat lover in the south end of town. Then the cat was unleashed on the rats and it slew two of them before leaving. The conversation ended with Detheron reminding the rats to avoid the granaries and instead live/eat elsewhere or he would bring the cats back again.
We retired at Three Dog Hotel and rested for the night (a few of the party worked on scribing scrolls with mixed results) awakening the next day feeling pretty good. Mebali informed the group that Morei had mentioned that there used to be a roll maintained by the priests of Odin before the plague really took over of who died and when, what circumstances. If we wanted to find patient zero, that was a good place to start. Currently the priests rolls were severely denuded and it was suggested we go to the High Magistrate, a thick skinned dwarf named Corvallis Trueborn, who held office at the Black Court on the north end of Market Square.
Once inside we had to wait only a short time before the dark bearded dwarf saw us. Within the first few moments he identified Thurin as an elf and refused to have dealings with him. The rest of us talked for a short while, learning that he had attained the position mainly due to the fact that his family had lived here before the dwarves had left long ago. He had a copy of the death roll drawn up for us, highlighting the area of time around when the plague started. We thanked Corvallis and left.
Outside we went through the list and noted as had been told, the first death was the drunk outside Dog Gate and the next instance of a death was from a Madame Lili, proprietor of the Split Tail Brothel attached to the Split Beard Tavern. Our next location in sight we went. It took a few coins pressed into the right palms and we were allowed entrance. The brothel catered to both human and dwarven clientele and it was only a few minutes before we were engaged in conversation with Madame Bie.
She had taken over after Madame Lili’s passing about 6 months ago. We talked to her about Madam Lili’s death and learned that she came down from the plague fast and hard, wasting away in just over a week. She was not a working girl any longer so did not seem to contract it from a patron. We asked her about her predilection to sad cases (thinking she might have spent time with the 1st case, the drunk by Dog Gate) but was told that she rarely had any dealings with anyone like that.
We talked about what to do next. Further investigation? Head to the Far Travel Hotel and confront the Lycos Suns and Iohannas? Instead we opted to go to Kreladale, the forgotten trading town about 3 miles or so to the north on the other side of the Flat Rock Mesa. We strongly suspected through our conversations around town that the Lycos Suns might be there and doing something and some of the party still felt the slaving organization was partially responsible for the plague at all.
We left the town through High Gate and took our time going around Flat Rock Mesa, breaking for lunch and then hiking across the badlands and scrub that made up this area of the country. Brambles, shale, rocks, thorns, and all manner of beetles and snakes made up the landscape and travel was slow and plodding. About half a mile from town we stopped and Detheron called on Frey’s will, transforming himself into falcon. We affixed one of the Lycos medallions to his right foot and claw and Gwyn sent the druid aloft with a tossing throw.
Detheron flew up to about 400 feet and riding thermals approached the town to get a decent look at it. He saw a number of orcs in the streets and at some gates, but on the northwestern section of town was the Krelian Cemetery and within there were half a dozen men digging up bones and graves. He strafed a bit lower and one of the workers was an 8’ wolfen humanoid – who looked up and saw the druid. Detheron poured on the speed and flew away from town.
Behind him a figure appeared in the sky, a 12’ wing spanned, brown feathered blood eagle. Shit, almost 3 times the druid’s size. Detheron pulled a wing over, angled himself south and began flying faster, dropping altitude and gaining speed, very quickly passing 80 mph and speeding up. The blood eagle tried to keep pace but the smaller falcon was much faster and left the larger avian behind. It was only after it turned lazily in the sky and went back towards town that Detheron hatched a daring plan.
Using his already considerable speed, he angled himself upward until momentum brought him to 1,000 feet. Then he stayed almost 800 feet over the eagle higher in the sky and began a steady dive that would hopefully bring him down on the larger bird. His speed grew to 60, 70, 90, past 100 mph. He brought his wings in closer, neck straining and entire body aerodynamic, goosing himself to over 120 mph just before he brought his talons around and slammed like a hammer against a wet sack of mud into the blood eagle’s back.
There was an explosion of feathers, blood, and gore as Detheron hit, twisted wildly in the air, and streaked around like a brownish whistling blur and returned to the party where he transformed back to human shape and redonned his clothes after filling us in on the rough layout of Kreladale and the fact that our presence was still unnoticed.