Thursday, March 31, 2022

Weird Dreams, Pirate Edition

Let myself crash last night, and so had an amazingly weird dream; I probably need to do that more often. 

In the dream, we (some nebulous group of "us", I'm not sure exactly who) were staying in a mansion and apparently a group of pirates had taken over the basement. And that was weirdly all fine until a couple of us tried to go downstairs and ran into the guards, who started shouting orders and pointing guns and generally acting all piratey and what-are-you-doing-here-ish. In the midst of this, one of them demanded my cell phone, which he promptly used to call the rest of the pirates to come and deal with us. 

If the dream turned violent then, I don't remember it; I don't think it did. The next thing I remember is that in order to make my escape, I had to follow a couple of other guys by climbing up a ski slope that was both steep and still covered in snow. It also got narrower and narrower until I reached the top, where I had to reach across to this sort of extended rock wall that had ledges along the bottom to make a sort of bridge over what seemed to be a very deep (if not very wide) canyon or split in the mountainside. On top of that, I had to really get right up on the thing before it tilted and the back end came down on the much wider ledge that was the path to the top of the slope. It was properly terrifying, and the idea of someone in skis trying to edge their way across in the other direction to get to the top of a ski slope that was maybe eight inches wide at its peak... Let's just say that we're well past double diamond territory and into, generously, a double-suicide rating for this ski slope. 

After that I'm at the airport -- or trying to get to it -- and I'm wandering around pulling my stuff together and (I think) also talking to a couple of people from the unnamed "us" who just escaped the pirates. 

Which is when I realize that my cell phone is still missing; the goddam pirate didn't give it back. So I end up going back to the mansion (just as another bus is pulling up with people who'll stay on the upper floors!) and down to the pirate area again. The guards remember me, so this time they're more chatty than threatening, and I make my way back into the pirate rooms. 

The guy at the electronics/booty desk agrees to help me out, and does something -- but instead of getting my phone back, other phones start flashing all over the room. Apparently he's just taken my number out of all their phones, as a favor. Nice, but not what I need. I explain that actually I need my physical hardware back, he's like, "Oh, you have to talk to the boss about that."

It turns out the pirate chief is Lizzo

Lizzo sort of vaguely recognizes me from earlier, and so reacts to me more like an underling who's stepping out of line than an intruder. I ask if there's anything that I can do for her, and she says no. I tell her I was hoping she'd say yes because it would be a lot easier to ask for a favor if I'd just done something to help her out; then I explain about the phone. 

She says she doesn't have it anymore, it's been sold off. I tell that she has whole pile of phones back in the treasure room, and I just need to look them over and grab mine. She gives me this reassessing look and then says, "Oh. Right. You." 

This mansion must have really been something before the pirates took over, because their entertainment room down here has a couple of doors with a keypad between them, which looks like the opening for some kind of escape room. Lizzo says, "If you can get out of the room, you can have your phone back," and punches in a code. 

Problematically, what slides open isn't a full door. It's more of a narrow slot, which presents two problems: it looks like a trap, and also I'm honestly not sure I can fit. I'm debating about what to do next when I wake up. 

Thinking about it (while I'm lying there trying to figure out if I can go back to sleep) I decide that the next section should have been that the room opens up, and once inside I just start tearing it up trying to break out; to hell with problem-solving. I've never been good at escape rooms, and Lizzo didn't tell me to solve the puzzles; she told me to escape the room. Plus, the pirates might just let me back out if they didn't want their escape room wrecked, which I'd argue constitutes an Escape. 

Not sure if the whole thing would have ended with me getting my phone back and possibly even making my flight home, or if I would have wound up joining the slightly-wacky pirate crew, but whatever. It was a long, convoluted, interesting dream and I haven't had one of those in a long time.

Now, of course, it's eleven thirty at night and I'm going to take a break and have a little food before I try to go to sleep again. Still, all things considered I do feel better rested.

Also? Somebody hire Lizzo to play a pirate queen in something, because that was awesome.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Challenge: Mythological Animal

(This post is part of the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. You can find links to other writers' answers over at Long and Short Reviews.)

Prompt: what mythological animal you'd want as a pet.

Okay, this one is trickier than it sounds. The obvious answer is that I'd want some sort of mythological critter that gave me magical powers, like something out of the Knightmare Arcanist series (and honestly, the titular knightmare is very cool and hits several of my sweet spots powers-wise). 

On the other hand, you have something like The Crow, where the apparent pet only comes to give you powers so that you can take vengeance after something horrible has happened. Much as I love the comic and the movie, I'd just as soon do without the something horrible. I don't need any more horrible in my life right now, thank you. Cool powers good; horrific trauma in need of avenging bad. 

As for more classical mythology and more traditional pet-roles... I don't know. I've always thought that basilisks were very cool, but having a pet whose gaze can turn you to stone and whose breath can split rocks seems... kind of problematic. Probably not the sort of issues you could solve with a tic-tac and mirrored sunglasses. Pegasus, or a griffin, so we could fly around? That might be fun. Need a saddle with a decent safety harness, though. 

No, you know what? If it isn't going to give me powers and it really will just be a pet, I want that goose. You know the one. I could do things with a regular supply of golden eggs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Evil!Party: Onward to Rockdale!

We’re sitting in Garamond when Cardinal LaRoche appears. 

Jenny: “Can I kill him?” 


LaRoche: “I’m on your side.”


Durest: “The lassie jes wants tae kill things. Do you have things for us tae kill?” 


We stop for drinks and conversation, and he brings us up to date on the rest of the war. Maodeus is pleased. “Of course, we’ll have to destroy the bridge at northfair before the Tarrasque gets there. Still, we’re patient, we’re just going to take it slow.” They’re taking their time to let their armies enjoy the spoils of war. “Our eventual goal might surprise you,” he mentions, off-handedly. 


Chuck: “Have we not earned our way into the inner circle at this point?” 


Cardinal LaRoche: “So you’ve heard of Thoughts of Vecna, and like that? I am a Vision of Vecna, one of seven. Cassadia Armanda up in Janbridge is another. And, of course, Kaz Lucien, one of the highest and High Provost of Annon. I have been charged with matters along the cliff road.”


Durest: “Excellent! Have ye any black onyx on you?”


LaRoche: “And now we reach the best part of my job. You see, when we sent you here we weren’t sure you’d succeed… but you’ve proved yourself.” He starts pulling out new equipment for us, including magical protections. For Durest, a sun ruby and some more black onyx… and a scroll that would allow him to create regenerating undead of the sort we’ve encountered before. We’ve also got some treasure from the palace at Garamond, including a crystal ball with detect thoughts, which is… useful. He assures us that if we continue to further their cause, there are more rewards and more knowledge to come. 


“Do we remember the two mages? The Baron had recalled them. And the baron at Rockdale has recalled some of his, so each of them thins the ranks of the Solari army.” 


He also goes down a list of our prisoners: the baron, his wife, his children and their spouses… including a young man who might arguably be the Baron of Springhollow (though the King likely would disagree). We ransom back the nobles, Chuck eats the Chancellor, and we leave the Chamberlain in charge of what’s left of Garamond. Also, the king’s acceptance of the ransom is full of complaints about how much the ransom costs and how much he hates Barons who get themselves captured. Chuck eats the rest of the nobles, and we take Theophilus Boulon the chef with us. It’s getting to be a bit of a wagon train by this point. 


Durest makes Bob a regenerating  skeleton, and generates a new retinue of undead: 

Bob, new and improved, wielding the Ogre Solari's sword and armor. 

4 wraiths

2 ghasts

2 mummies

Samson the Ogre Solari, who is now a skeleton.


LaRoche gives us a little more info on Rockdale: “I have good news. You’re going to get to kill a lot of Solari. Unfortunately, they’ve called in help. Father Raphael Montaigne has sent a cardinal and a contingent of sun priests to reinforce the baron. You’ll probably be facing a cardinal, and some backup troops equipped with sun and fire spells. This is rarely done – the highest ranks of the order of Helios rarely leave the temples. This will be a problem, especially since they’ll be expecting you. We’ve also got the Baron’s Solari, including the master of the monk school and two disciples. Then there are three more Solari. Two are elves, a master of the bow and another of the two-bladed saber, and a retired pirate turned wizard who specializes in elemental magics. Rockdale is a smaller city than Garamond; the Baron, Maxine Gerard, is thirty-seven. He has a wife and one child. He has two brothers, one of whom runs the family winery there in rockdale. He has a fairly standard retinue of advisors. The local economy consists of stone quarries, some furniture-making, plus taverns and inns for travelers and traders, plus a handful of wineries with their own distinctive vintages.” 


Taverns in Rockdale include: The raging cockatrice, Furkin and Sons, and Dragon Senders which was supposedly once burned down by the dragon that lives in the dragon mound. 

 

The castle is a strong stone structure near the center of the city.


Chuck has a plan. We’re going to break them economically, and in the process try to draw out some of the baron’s fortress. 


We arrive at the outer wooden walls, and one guard VERY reluctantly steps forth. “Um… would you guys mind wating just a few minutes? The constable wanted us to tell him as soon as you arrived.”

 

We give them the benefit of the doubt and wait. 

The constable actually does come. “So, um… it’s my job to make you feel at home.” He tells us that the Baron and his family are up in the mission temple. ”The castle is empty."


Chuck: “Tell the Baron that if he surrenders himself, we’ll leave the townsfolk alone.” 


So the baron is apparently hoping that if we know where he is, we’ll go try to kill him and leave the townsfolk alone. 


Chuck: “Tell the baron he has forty-eight hours to meet us a Caramel Ridge with whatever he wants to bring.”


Forkbeard: “So there’s a manse waiting for you on the far side of town, and these rings will let people know to give you things. But I’m supposed to keep you out of trouble.”


Chuck considers: “I like you, Forkbeard. Maybe you should come and work for us.” 


Forkbeard’s got about 180 guards; he’s the only member of the council that isn’t up in the mission. We offer him a fair amount of money to come over to our side, then we pull out and find a decent cavern or something that we can take over for a headquarters.


Next morning we wake up and find this huge group marching towards our camp. It’s Hogan Forkbeard and his mates. They want to take us up on our offer. They’re very concerned about their families, though. We pledge not to destroy the town. They don’t think they can help us assault the temple; they're pretty sure Master Fedoki and the other monks would take them apart. 

 

They are now Forkbeard’s Fellows, and they work for us. 


That night, Forkbeard tells a little more about the temple: a main building with the towers of meditation on top and sleeping cells for the monks on the bottom. New monks sleep outside or up in the towers of meditation, mostly to build discipline. There’s a fighting/training room on the second floor, alongside chambers for the upper echelon of monks. The lake in the back is rumored to have no bottom. Then there’s a shorter second building, which is the Citadel Of Trials. There’s a trial of fire, a trial of ice, and a secret final trial. 


We’re not going to be able to starve them out, but we have basically cut their connection to the town. Using the crystal ball, we learn that the Baron is occupying the Master Monk’s chambers. 


Since we’re not raiding the town, we decide to try a surgical strike: the three of us, and Ferroustopher the iron golem. We teleport in, which will probably never work for us again. 


Chuck opens by casting Fireball, and wipes out most of the lower-level monks. The senseis are now up and on their feet, but this has gone badly for the monks. Master Fedoki is out here and barely damaged. Ferroustopher attacks one of the senseis, hitting twice. Jenny whips her chain around and takes out a couple of monks. 


Master Fedoki moves in between Jenny and Chuck, and hits Jenny with a Stunning Fist attack, but she shrugs off the effect. One of the monks tries to attack Durest but misses; we teleport out, taking the corpse of Deschim with us. We question the corpse, learning a bit more about the mission and Master Fedoki, who is frighteningly skilled. 


We receive a message about mid-morning. The Baron wants to know how much it’ll cost to get us to move on. We respond with 600,000 GP and do not receive a response to that. (We think that's about three times what the whole Barony generates in a year.)


We poke around a little bit, and learn that there’s a temple of Helios in town. Chuck starts a tradition of nightly orgies for anyone who wants to attend. We Unhallow the castle, and fix a dimensional anchor to prevent good-aligned people from teleporting in or out. We also turn over the mansion to our troops. 


Next day, we go into the Temple of Helios in town and Unhallow that as well, adding Deeper Darkness for the pure sake of adding insult to injury. Then we chip the sun sigil off the altar and send it to them. We do not receive a response to this either.


So Chuck commissions a painting of us desecrating the temple... as depicted by the least competent painter in town. They don’t react to that, either. Okay, fine: we'll try another strike.

 

Durest tries to teleport in and bounces off a protection; he drops into the lake and sinks like a stone. At the bottom of the lake he finds a cavern and, since he can’t cast Teleport underwater, he just starts walking along the bottom until he gets to the far end and emerges in this underground room. There’s a wooden door, with writing indicating that He Who Is Sound Of Mine WIll Let No Obstacle Prevent Him. 


Durest: “I’ve nae had enough drinks fer that.” He teleports out. 


So, our plan for next time is to go back in and UnHallow the Hall of Trials, bring in the undead, and then make these guys come inside and fight us.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Still Writing

So... I think I mentioned last week that I started another writing project. It's... actually coming along. Like, I have actual writing on it. And some idea of where it's going, and what the basic dynamic is for the main characters. Doesn't mean it won't stall out at some point, but (irritatingly) it's a lot more progress than I've made on the wonderfully-outlined project that I was working on previously. Maybe pantsing this one will work better for me.

This despite an enjoyably busy weekend of mead, D&D, and visiting family. So, yeah: really a very good sign. Secondborn asked me to help him set up a tent in the back yard, and then slept out there both Friday and Saturday nights; Firstborn, meanwhile, has had a good time with his friends. 

I need more writing time, more rest, and more brain, but I'm taking the fact that they came into my thoughts in that particular order as a good sign.

How're the rest of you doing?

Friday, March 25, 2022

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Challenge: Favorite Podcast

(This post is part of the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. You can find links to other writers' answers over at Long and Short Reviews.)

Prompt: Your favorite podcast

I... honestly, for the most part, I don't listen to podcasts. At all. It's nothing against them. I've had some really brilliant-sounding podcasts recommended to me, and I know people are doing some really great work out there. It's just... well, for one thing I'm way more visual than auditory, so the format isn't really ideal for me, and for another thing there are only so many hours in the day. 

So the closest thing to a podcast that I do regularly is join The Analog Demon for his Wednesday night horror movie watch parties. (He hosts them through Twitch, but you'll need to have an Amazon Prime account connected to watch along on the movies.) Maybe that even counts as a podcast; I dunno.

Shows include an appropriately-themed suggestion for an alcoholic drink, a certain amount of background and commentary, and then a bit of commentary as he watches the movie. The audience can participate in the chat. Sometimes he does blind watches of movies he hasn't seen before, and sometimes he uses audience picks, and for me it's just a fun time to take a break and hang out with a friend online.

(Seriously, if you're going to be friends with a demon, make sure it's a demon who's willing to host online movie nights.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Evil!Party: Burn the Manor, take Garamond

We continue the battle! Jenny is still murdering people and getting hit by lightning, Chuck is renewing his Greater Invisibility, and Durest is moving towards Jenny – and in fact ahead of her, so he’ll be ready when she goes up on the wall. 

Chuck has moved over to the manor, but can’t see anybody through the windows. Unsurprising, since the front of the house is on fire. Jenny comes up onto the wall and clears out a crowd of archers. Durest heals her, and she jumps from one side of the front gate to the other and wipes out a bunch more archers. Two are still alive. Lightning continues to strike Jenny. Durest moves over and restores Bob, who has been moving down the wall killing archers. 


Soldiers are swarming the mummy, and actually injuring it even as they die. (Commanding higher-level undead is fun.) Jenny continues her glowing rampage. (She has Light cast on her chain so that she can see, which is also why everyone on the field is targeting her.) Over at the manor, Chuck kicks in the door and jumps in past the flames. There’s a wizard waiting; he can’t see Chuck, but he fires a lightning bolt through the door the moment it opens. Chuck manages to stay silent, so the wizard isn’t sure what happened. Jenny continues killing and attracting enemy fire. 


Durest looks around and spots the druid up o the balcony of the manor, and teleports over there to get between her and the door. The soldiers are still trying to put down the mummy, and making some progress. 


Inside the manor, the wizard is trying to figure out if he’s actually killed somebody invisible. He decides on discretion and runs away. Over the balcony and down on the lower level there are a bunch of servants engaged in alarums and excursions. One of them sees the wizard run away and yells: “Please! Take them, not us! We’ll show you where they are!” This is a smart servant and we should keep him. 


Chuck gives chase to the wizard. Jenny, meanwhile, is annihilating archers. The druid turns around and does a touch attack on Durest, attempting to hit him with a Baleful Polymorph. Fortunately, Durest shrugs it off. Then the doors open behind Durest and a dire bear attacks, and just slaps the crap out of him with a claw. Bob finishes off the last archer on his section of wall; as a frost giant skeleton, he's just been moving down the wall and squooshing people, one at time. We're going to have to teach him "little bunny foo foo". 

 

Durest hits the druid with Destruction, damaging her, and is still getting scorched by the house. 


The wizard is still running from Chuck, who is still healing (and still invisible). There’s a second wizard on the far side of the balcony, and since he can’t see Chuck he moves around and throws a lightning bolt down the balcony, hitting Chuck by just aiming for where he might be. Chuck ripostes with Feeblemind, but the wizard shakes it off. Chuck decides to withdraw, and silently slips around a corner. 


The druid, meanwhile, takes a five-foot step and casts Bull’s Strength on her bear. The bear then attacks, hitting Durest hard. Durest drops Mislead and floats off the side of the house and out of the flames. He leaves an illusion of himself behind, and is now invisible. 


Chuck is still healing. The wizard fires off another lightning bolt, but Chuck isn’t there anymore. 


The Bear moves out onto the ledge, and an ogre follows it out. It’s a very well-dressed, well-armed ogre. Clearly, this is the other Solari we were told about: Samson. The bear swipes through the illusion, and the ogre yells, “Muriel! Look for invisibility! It’s an illusion!”


Muriel: “I don’t have that ready! Get the wizard!” she calls another lightning bolt towards Jenny.


Durest moves a bit further away and drops Fire Storm all over that side of the house. The druid and the bear soak part of it, but they’re all pretty displeased with the amount of damage that just did. 


The ogre jumps down to the ground. The wizard who was exchanging spells with Invisible Chuck flees down the hallway. “Holy Shit! What the hell happened in here?” Invisible Chuck moves silently to pursue. One of the downstairs servants calls: “I hear him, up on the balcony!” Smart Servant responds: “No you don’t! Secret passages! We can help you, just save us!”


Jenny, meanwhile, is still out in the courtyard and amusing herself by murdering archers. The druid realizes that she’s pretty damaged; she throws a Flame Strike at Jenny, then ducks back into the house. The bear follows, and they shut the door behind them. Bob is still coming. The mummy is still just beating down the footmen around him. 


Durest drops Hold Person on the ogre, paralyzing him, and heads for Jenny; she’s going to need to be at full strength for this. Chuck, meanwhile, reverses direction and comes down over the balcony. “I’m here. Tell me. I’ll save you and your friends.”


The servants starts leading the way, and Chuck follows. The servants opens a secret door in the back wall. Bob changes direction and heads for Jenny; he’s going to be flanking the ogre, we hope. The mummy is still taking out troops. Durest swings down beside Jenny and drops Heal on her. The archers step back and try to shoot at her… but her chain can hit that far out, and they go down. The remaining archers are still sleeting arrows at Jenny, and she’s still mostly shrugging them off. 


Chuck follows the servant through the secret door. “We have two options. We can come in behind the lord’s quarters, or we can come in behind his wife’s quarters.” Chuck: “Lord.”  So that turns out to be the second ladder, and the servant again leads the way. “This comes into the treasure room just outside his quarters.” Chuck can hear people spellcasting in the room above; somebody is casting Mass Cure Light wounds. 


The ogre charges Bob and power attacks. Bob shatters into disconnected bones. The druid and the bear have been healing and considering spells. The ogre makes a challenging gesture at Jenny, and Jenny focuses on the mithril breastplate with its solari symbol and his greatsword; then she moves in and attacks. He rocks with the blow, then nods at her. Jenny: “You are very handsome man. If we did not have to fight, we would do other things.” 


His face turns bright red. 


The druid continues layering on buffs. The mummy is still taking out troops. Durest casts Mass Cure Moderate Wounds on himself and Jenny, bringing her health back up and curing a bit of the damage that the bear did to him. 


The servant is still explaining the layout of the upstairs to Chuck, who promises not to murder him. He moves into the treasure room and renews his invisibility. 


Samson the Ogre Solari squares off with Jenny. He pulls a straight attack, hitting her twice. Jenny blows him a kiss. The mummy has removed all but one of the footmen, and Jenny leans in and power attacks cautiously. 


He dies. 


Durest brings Bob back, and instructs Bob to grab the ogre’s +2 greatsword. Jenny gets shots with arrows some more, but mostly ignores it. Chuck is still healing. Maximilian the rogue has been sneaking up behind Chuck, and stabs him. He shouts a code word: “Banana!” 


Yep, the smart servant was actually the Solari rogue. The problem is, he’s attacking a vampire and so even though everything hits he really doesn’t do much damage. Chuck: “This is going to end very badly for you.”


Then a wizard opens the door behind Chuck, and another shoots him with scorching ray. One manages to connect, despite Chuck’s being invisible. 


Chuck drops a fireball in the room with the wizards, hurting them and wiping out their mirror images. He also moves to the side, getting out of the doorway. Maximilian tracks the sounds of movement. Jenny heads for the next batch of archers. 


Muriel the druid drops a flame strike into the room with Chuck and Maximilian, and Max rolls deftly under a table while Chuck is reduced to invisible mist and starts drifting back towards his coffin. The mummy finishes the last footman and starts shuffling forward. Bob is back up and now wielding a magic sword, and heads for another line of archers. 


Jenny, meanwhile, is murdering archers again. The archers nearest Bob try to shoot him, but Bob’s a skeleton and arrows are a trivial concern for him. Between Jenny and Bob, the archers’ morale is broken. 


Bob and the mummy are moving forward, and Bob crashes into the first floor through the window. Durest flies up towards the second floor, and arrives outside the door on the ledge. 


The archers begin to flee. A wizard appears in the courtyard and attempts to Hold Person Jenny; then a rogue pops up behind her, and stabs her. Jenny turns around, and even though she only hits Maximilian once she does a lot of damage. Meanwhile, the druid and the bear have shown up beside Jenny. The bear is under a Blur effect (among others) and the druid has dropped most of her spells in the process of buffing the bear. She calls for another lightning bolt. Bob reverses course and comes to Jenny’s aid, while the mummy moves to come up behind the bear, and slams it; the bear soaks most of the damage, and shrugs off the mummy rot. This is a bear that's been protected with a lot of spells.


Maximilian tries to sneak attack while Jenny is flanked, but Jenny is a barbarian so he fails. He keeps poking at her with his daggers, but not to good effect. The wizards manage to tag her with Hold Person, but Jenny shakes it off a moment later. The druid drops another Flame Strike, but she’s running very low on spells now. The mummy slams the Druid, but fails to inflict mummy rot. Bob attacks Maximilian the rogue, but misses. Durest drops Inflict Serious Wounds, damaging everybody and healing the two undead. 


Maximilian tumbles away and skulks off into the shadows. Trust a rogue to run from the fight. The wizards turn their scorching rays on Jenny, but mostly miss. They manage, just barely, to take her down. Muriel takes a step back and calls lightning on the mummy, but fails to put it down. The mummy attacks the druid again, and this time connects. Bob charges the wizards, and takes one down with his lovely new magic sword. 


Durest touches ground and Cures Serious Wounds on Jenny, who comes up ready to murder everything. The wizards, meanwhile, are reduced to using Magic Missiles, and attack Jenny with them. Jenny lays into the bear, managing to damage it even through the spells the druid has put on it. The druid steps back and heals herself. 


Bob moves up and takes out a wizard’s mirror image. The mummy pursues the druid, but misses; Durest cures Jenny some more; the remaining wizards zaps the mummy. The bear attacks Jenny again, and Jenny attacks again, injuring it despite all its protections. The bear attacks again, injuring her further. 


The druid steps back, and cures herself a bit more. Bob moves over to help the mummy with the druid, but misses. The mummy does manage to hit, but doesn’t do much damage. Durest drops a Mass Inflict Moderate wounds and takes down the bear and heals his undead. Maximilian attacks him by surprise and does some damage. The undead continue harrying the druid, and actually do some real damage. Durest turns on Maximilian and takes him out with Slay Living. 


The remaining wizard runs. The druid moves and casts again, even with the mummy still harrying her; she manages a Cure Serious on herself. The undead are still harrying the druid, and Durest heals Jenny back to consciousness again. Jenny charges over and attacks the druid, but misses. The druid is now largely surrounded, and not in a good position to escape; she casts Cure Serious again. The mummy misses her, but Bob tags her with the greatsword and takes her down. 


Jenny promptly quits raging and passes out. 


We spend the next month living off Garamond, before we receive orders to go take Rockdale; there's a temple full of monks there. (Durest: "Aye, and they must be desperate if they're callin' in monks tae help."


While we're settling in, various things are happening. In the north, Duke Corbin's wizard has called back her Solari from the front. The dwarves also fall back to Janbridge. Lucien convince the Elf King to send to New Aramar for assistance, and a force of dark elf priests of Asmodeus shows up a month or so later... that probably isn't good news. The tarrasque was fought to the point of collapse at Morcoast by a heroic group of Solari... but woke back up the next morning and destroyed the city. The King has sent more Solari to try to slow the tarrasque and defend the coastal towns. They keep driving it back, but it keeps coming back and killing more of them. They call for even more reinforcements, and manage to drive it away. In March, while we're relaxing in Garamond, the Solari are holding the tarrasque at bay... but at that point Maodeus comes out of the swamp and his forces inflict heavy losses on the weakened main force. After five days, the battle turns and king's troops retreat to the dragonmound. They are now down to 145 Solari in the main force, and 109 on the south road.


The tarrasque takes advantage of the opening, and wipes out the town of Southfair instead. This isn't warfare so much as chaos. In the north, the dark elves are in Annon and the Janbridge forces have pulled back, leaving the general Joselle guarding the force by herself. It's now April of 558; the other party won't make it back from Fanaxia until May of 559. 

 

If I've got the math right, Ruin's children will be two years old before he finds out about them.  

Monday, March 21, 2022

Sure, yeah, new story...

So I was sitting at my desk in Ye Olde Writing Closet on Friday night, alternately reading The Kaiju Preservation Society and shitposting on Twitter, and wondering if I will -- at any point -- have enough brain and energy to get to work on my current writing project. I was also noting to myself (with a peculiar species of disgust that I suspect a great many would-be writers will recognize) that this has been my current writing project for well over a year, and while I've filled in a lot of things around the story I've barely done any writing of the story itself. (I keep stumbling over the opening, I think, but that's neither here nor there.)

And somewhere just a bit after bedtime, all of that sort of fell together in my head and I wrote out an opening scene for something that deals with a lot of the same concepts, but with a very different dynamic for the main character(s) and a completely different storyline. 

I cannot, at this moment, even begin to guess whether this is something worth pursuing, or just a momentary enthusiasm brought on by stress and exhaustion. No idea. Give me an entire week of getting full nights' sleeps, and I might have some perspective. 

In the meantime, I'm just going to run with it and see where it takes me.

I guess I should figure out some way to tag things related to this new project. So, at the risk of being a bit... obscure... I'll be putting them under the Long Shadows tag, which I've just added at the bottom of this post.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Tentacle Check

So... we wound up making a visit to the emergency room Wednesday night. Basically, Beautiful Wife came down with something over the weekend, and whatever it was seems to have set off some sort of rash on the front of her torso, right around the areas where she'd had her surgery. Now, the most recent surgery was back in December, so this wasn't anything directly to do with that, but still... worrisome. Especially as one area was hot and swollen -- almost hardened -- and painful. 

So, we went to one of those Quick Care places (which turned out to be more like Eventual Care, but never mind that now). And we waited. 

Time has no meaning here...

When the doctor finally came in and saw us, he basically took one look and said, "You should go find an emergency room where they can do a proper CT scan of that thing. I'll call ahead and let them know you're coming." Which he evidently did, and it saved us some time on checking in. 

So it was... maybe seven o'clock? ...when we headed down to the hospital where Beautiful Wife had gotten her surgery, and where they'd have all her records. And then we checked in. And then we waited. 

And then they took some blood and moved us to another waiting room farther inside the building. 

And then we waited. 

Eventually they got us into a room. 

And then we waited. 

Finally, Beautiful Wife got looked over by a couple of doctors, and we explained the whole thing and our concerns, and they agreed that they needed to do a CT scan to see if this was something just on the skin, or if there was a abscess or something happening deeper down. 

And then we waited. 

The secret to waiting in a hospital is to come prepared. I hadn't, exactly, but we had phones and Kindles and some chargers and a plucky, can-do attitude... and also, I managed to cadge a dry-erase marker off of one of the nurses.

So we managed.

It's important to make sure the doctors understand your concerns, after all.

So, we did eventually get the CT scan and we did eventually get the results from the CT scan, and the doctor on duty and the plastic surgeon who happened to be available looked them over and concurred that we could go back home and deal with this with oral antibiotics. There wasn't any sort of abscess, and even more reassuring they found absolutely no evidence that my wife was growing a tentacle out of her belly. 

But it was still three in the morning by the time we got home, and Thursday was -- understandably -- a day when not a whole lot got accomplished.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

EvilParty: So much for subtlety...

 

So last episode we wiped out about half of the local Solari by luring them down to Durest’s newly-implemented nest of ghouls and then, well, murdering them to death. There are three Solari remaining here in Garamond: Muriel the Druid, Samson the Ogre, and Maximilian the spymaster (rogue). There is also our one-armed prisoner Wolf, who was just sure he was being rescued until we came back in.

Chuck dominates him and he tells us about a safehouse that belongs to Maximilian. We decide to turn everybody invisible (including the undead) and go there. The guards outside the place notice when Bob drops the animated severed arm, and sound the alarm. The ghouls swarm them, but it’s too late. Wolf opens the door for them, and promptly gets a chest full of arrows.

This appears to be a low-level thieves’ den, and we move in and annihilate them.

Chuck drains Wolf’s corpse, and we give the other corpses to the ghouls. Durest heals Bob and Jenny, and then Durest and Jenny go to sleep.

About two hours in, Chuck hears some scratching at the window. He peeks out the window and scares off a smallish child. Jenny takes second watch, and about two hours in she starts coughing because the air in the room has gone bad. She wakes up Durest, and we manage to avoid being affected by the smoke. Durest yanks on the tube, and someone smacks their face against the window. Jenny yanks on it, and rips it out of the bag, which causes the nasty smoke to fill the whole alley outside.

Durest settles back to pray for new spells. Then he settles in to take watch, and notices someone trying to slide another tube in the hole in the window. Irritated, Durest uses Stone Shape to close the window around the hand; then he instructs the ghouls to take turns touching the hand and paralyzing the person outside.

A couple of hours later, Jenny wakes back up. She finds some warm water and puts the hand in it, thus causing him to pee himself. It’s about three hours until sundown, but nobody bothers us. Once Chuck is up and about again, Durest strolls outside to look at the person who got their hand caught.

We head out into the streets, undead following behind us. Jenny’s idly swinging her chain around. Chuck sees a couple of kids towards the back of the crowd ducking away, and pegs them with a Magic Missile. Five kids die; one kid escapes into the crowd. The crowd is parting around us anyway. Now they’re backing away and a few are panicking over the fallen urchins.

Chuck: “You will remember the day that I came to your town, but for me it was only another Tuesday.”

There are no town guards in evidence.

We head for the fanciest tavern in town, the three-billed duck: manicured hedges, outdoor tables with well-dressed waiters hustling between them. The patrons are well-dressed and elegant.

Durest sends the mummies around to the back to keep anyone from leaving by the back door; the ghouls spread out and start herding people inside. We find the maitre d’ trying to hide behind the podium. He’s terrified, and just sure that the great chef and the lesser chefs have fled, but… they tried, and found the mummies blocking the way.

Chuck: “Three things are going to happen here. We’re going to have a lovely meeting. Second, some of your friends and guards and whatnot are hopefully going to alert the baron. And three, the Baron and his Solari better get here by dawn, or I have some very bad news for you.

Jenny chases one of the rich guys off of a table, takes his monocle and his chair, and we settle down to try everything on the menu. The rest of the patrons are required to stay at their tables and eat with us. Also, just for Jenny, they make up a plate of tiny, fried duck legs and she really likes that. They also have really good umbrella drinks.

By midnight, nobody has come to rescue the nobles and we’ve had about a thirty-course meal. Jenny: “This was the greatest idea, I am so glad we did this.”

Durest finally leans back and belches. “Aye, at last a worthwhile meal. Still, we need to get moving before dawn, so my friends here will just wait long enough to make sure we have a head start.” He stands up and hands the bag of insanity mist to Chuck.

Chuck considers this, and then says: “You’ve been really good sports, so I’m going to do you a favor.” He starts turning people into vampires, which triggers a panic; by time he’s done a fair number of the nobles have died trying to escape. Armand the maitre d’ is spared; he stays human. The head chef Theopilis, we dominate and send back to our chateau in Springhollow.

Jenny: “This was so much fun, we should do this all the time.”

We head for the keep.

Someone shoots a ballista bolt through one of Durest’s ghasts.

Chuck turns into a bat and flies up to the corner tower that the ballista bolt came from. Jenny just starts yelling. Durest uses Dimension Door to take himself, Jenny, and one of the mummies up to the tower with the ballista. There are archers up here; they try to attack and get Jenny’s spiked chain to the face instead. Jenny is all but undamaged by the arrows.

Chuck joins us on the tower, and one of the mummies kills the last of the archers that’s up here with us. Bob kills another. Durest casts Light on Jenny’s chain so that she can see, and moves a bit away. The archers target Jenny and again do minimal damage, because she’s a barbarian and resistant to damage. Our arrival has now set off an alarm spell, which is making everything very loud.

Chuck spots a group of archers on the wall, and fires off a Magic Missile to take out two of them. Durest heads further along and sets the thatched roof of the stables on fire. He also sends Bob and the mummy the other way along the walltop, with instructions to clear the wall. The archers take shots at him by the firelight, doing minimal damage.

Jenny leaps off the wall and down to the courtyard, landing in superhero pose. She moves out into the courtyard and runs into a bunch of the town guards. A bolt of lightning flashes out of the sky at Chuck, lighting him up for a moment. Durest continues along the wall away from the flames of the barn, looking to find the next tower.

Jenny takes another batch of arrows. “This is so fun! I am so excited to kill you all!”

Chuck regenerates, because vampires do that. Somebody drops a Fireball on Chuck, Bob, and the mummy. The mummy is vulnerable to fire and goes down; Bob is badly burned, but still functional. Chuck is really pissed. We’re having some real difficulties because our enemies can see us but we can’t see them.

Jenny gets hit with a Hold Person, and is suddenly paralyzed. Chuck retaliates by dropping a fireball into the bunch of archers. Jenny rages and manages to shake off the spell. She steps forward and takes out two of the remaining archers. Bob kills an archer on the wall. Durest drops a Fire Storm where he thinks the fireball came from. He fails to hit anybody, but sets the manor on fire. He hears a scream, but can’t immediately determine its source.

The archers fire on Jenny again, and again fail to do much damage to the raging barbarian. Another lightning bolt tags Chuck, but with the manor on fire he can now see some enemies; he casts Greater Invisibility on himself and moves to be out of the area where he was standing. Jenny moves forward and kills the last two archers.

Another bolt of lightning strikes right where Chuck was standing. Bob kills another archer. Durest casts Fly on himself and heads towards the center of the keep. The fire in the barn is continuing to spread; so is the fire on the manor. As the fire spreads, a wizard come into view on the roof of the manor... Just as he casts Scorching Ray on Bob. There are screams from inside the manor.

Chuck drops a fireball near the front of the manor, and… a lot of troops die. He makes sure to include the wizard, who survives. There wasn’t supposed to be a wizard here; it seems that Maximilian might have called in reinforcements.

Jenny, meanwhile, has found another batch of archers and wipes out everyone in reach of her chain, but takes damage from a bolt of lightning. Durest drops a Flame Strike on some soldiers in front of the manor as the undead come charging in through the gate. More soldiers charge at Jenny, and die.

Chuck continues regenerating, and a pair of trees suddenly animate and attack Jenny. Chuck drops a fireball on two treants and a bunch of archers, clearing some trees from around Jenny. Jenny attacks the closest treant, and absolutely murders it. Lightning strikes her again.

Durest drops another flame strike, taking out more archers as his undead charge in through the gate. Chuck is still regenerating. The Treants move in and attack Jenny; on misses, but the two others hit, one of them quite solidly. Jenny: “Finally!”

Chuck drops a fireball on two of the treants but fails to kill either of them; Jenny kills the first one, then the second one, then the third one. She has cleared the field around her. Another lightning bolt hits her, and Durest changes course and heads directly towards the Barbarian.

We’ll pick up on Sunday to hopefully finish the battle.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Blogging Challenge: Lucky

(This post is part of the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. You can find links to other writers' answers over at Long and Short Reviews.)

Prompt: Something "lucky" that happened to you.

Y'all... that's my wife. 

"Send tweet," as the kids say these days. 

Thing is, I don't mean that I'm incredibly lucky to have her in my life -- though that, too, is true. No, I mean that the fact that we managed to connect and get married only happened because of an apparent coincidence of truly cosmic proportions. I did my best to tell the story and explain the absolute absurdity of the circumstances surrounding it here.

It was the kind of luck that feels like fate.

 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Forgotten Family: Youth Group

 "Ma! There's someone to see you! Says he's part of the clergy!" 

Aviarra winced as her daughter's voice echoed through the house. Like as not, the child still had her hand on the speaking stone and her shout had carried out into the street as well. With a sigh, Aviarra turned to make her way to the door. Old eno' to be forgin' decent throwin'-steel, but nae a lick o' sense in her skull... "Coming!" 

Flushed with embarrassment, Aviarra began working the crank beside the front door, turning it over and over. The clicking within the wall was the sound of adamantine chain running through the series of heavy, mounted pulleys that allowed a dwarf of her size to raise the massive stone block of the greatdoor. It was time-consuming, and most dwarves left the outer door up and contented themselves with wooden inner doors. Aviarra would have too, but Tavra seemed to be going through a phase where she was terrified that someone would break into their house while they were sleeping. Aviarra had no idea why, but keeping the greatdoor closed seemed to help. 

"My apologies," she said, as the door rose into the wall overhead and left the doorway fully open. "We don't mean tae be unfriendly--" She turned to the doorway and added with a touch of dismay, "--Stoneshaper Braekan."

The head of the local temple of the Stone Cabal smiled genially and asked, "Is't yer will that Ah enter?"

Aviarra nodded, feeling slightly intimidated. "Ah so will it."

She stepped back as the stoneshaper entered, and gestured for him to move into the entry hall while she closed the wooden inner doors behind him. "Ah would know what brings ye to our dwelling.  Would ye share?"

"Aye," he answered. "'Tis yer son Andrik. Ah'm told he's been causing a bit of trouble 'mongst his peers." 

Belrab, Amun, and Sardion, what's the boy done now? Frowning, she kept the question to herself, and instead said, "That seems very strange tae me, Stoneshaper. He asked permission specifically tae join his age-group in the temple." 

"Aye, and we're glad tae have him," answered Braekan. "In general, aye, but his tutors there speak well of him also. It's just that..." 

With a horrible feeling that combined something of deja vu and premonition both, Aviara said: "Indra."  

The stoneshaper nodded. "The temple is nae exclusive, for all that we worship Belrab. Indeed, if'n your husband would see fit tae return tae us, we'd be more'n pleased tae have his wisdom and Indra's power workin' tae our benefit."

Aviarra started to shake her head, but Braekan continued on. "'Tis merely that we cannae have Andrik encouraging his cohort tae renounce all other gods and worship Indra alone. We need 'im tae tone it down a bit, tae stop at encouraging the others tae worship Indra as well and not Indra only."

"Ah," said Aviarra, "Ah'll talk tae him." 

"That's all that Ah wish," said Braeken. "'Tis no me volition tae place additional burdens on yer shoulders. I will to depart now." 

Aviarra nodded gratefully and escorted the stoneshaper to the doors, then closed them behind him. After a suitably respectful time, she lowered the greatdoor again as well. My life, she thought, is a constant march of indignities, and most of them arise from my husband and our children. Still, fair or not, this was hers to deal with. She would speak to Andrik, and they would sort this out. They were dwarves, after all; there was no other way...

...She hoped.

A note: Dwarven language is, I think, very focused on the concept of volition. A lot of the things that would be more passive in Common/English require a much more forceful and direct statement of intent. Thus, instead of "May I come in" and "Yes, of course" we have "Is it your will that I enter" and "I so will it" or "It is my volition."

This is part of the reason that Dwarves are perceived by other races as lacking charisma.

Monday, March 14, 2022

EvilParty: The Forgotten Family

"When is Daddy coming home?" 

Whenever Indra damned well pleases, and not a moment before. Aviarra suppressed a sigh, and left the thought unspoken. Durest wasn't what she would have wanted for a husband, but she thought he'd been as good to her as he could manage. It was just that the traitor-god Indra was his first love, and she and the children could never compete with that. So she set the last of the dishes aside and told her youngest daughter, "I dinnae know. Yer father's doin' important work for Indra, may his name be praised, and it'll take as long as it takes."

Tavra held up the crude hurling-axe she'd just finished forging. "But I wan' him tae see what Ah've done!"

"He will," Aviarra assured her. Possibly because I'll sink it into his forehead, especially if he lets anything happen to Vandraka. "Just ye wait, and dinnae worry." 

"I just wish he'd come back," said Tavra. "I miss him. Everything was better when he was here." 

Aviarra nodded. "We'll tell him as soon as he returns." 

"Soon," insisted Tavra. "We'll tell him when he comes back soon."

"When he comes back soon," Aviarra agreed.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Music: Children of the Dark

Mono Inc:

A bit of Friday music because I barely made it through yesterday and honestly I don't know what I've got left for today. So much to do, so very few spoons to do things with...

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Challenge: I'd Like To Visit

(This post is part of the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. You can find links to other writers' answers over at Long and Short Reviews.)

Prompt: Book setting you'd like to visit and why

In my youth, I would have liked to visit Midian, the fictional necropolis from Clive Barker's Cabal where the last of the world's monsters live (or at least dwell), and practice arts and abilities long forgotten by the daylight world. I would have wanted to go there and join them, become one of them. 

That's a little more complicated when you're married and raising children. I'm not as feral as I was in my youth. 

But I still feel like if I get the chance to visit the setting of a book, I should really take advantage of it: find a magic sword! Learn sorcery! See strange sights and meet fascinating people! Live a little!

So... I'd probably go with Amber, from Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles. (Another formative influence on my early writing...) It would be the perfect setting for all that, plus I could take the whole family. And even those without royal blood could potentially learn sorcery, or how to follow the paths from world to world, or perhaps create objects or creatures of power... or maybe just visit the Forest of Arden, and see Prince Julian's stormhounds.

And Amber itself, as the One True World, exists at the center of a fractal array of other possible worlds that spread out all the way to the Courts of Chaos. Our Earth is one of those worlds, so it would be possible to visit Amber and still be able to return home -- or to make multiple visits. And being in Amber seems to have a strengthening effect, lengthening lifespans and improving health... Yeah. 

Amber. All roads lead to Amber.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Music: Set The World On Fire

Did some writing last night, so I have nothing today. Instead, you get music.

Symphony X:

Monday, March 7, 2022

Spring Break

So the boys are on their Spring Break, and I... honestly don't really have anything to say. I've been reading more than writing, and kind of enjoying that -- though I wish my brain would get back online sometime fairly soon. I am emphatically not on Spring Break, and have more than enough major projects coming up to need all the grey matter I have available. Still, I got some quiet time to myself and managed to get a solid night's sleep with a lot of rapid eye movements, and I'm feeling much the better for *that*. 

Some of the reading I did was on my old Pulp High Fantasy novel that I've been meaning to revise for years, and it's... honestly, not bad. Not perfect, but I did some worthwhile things in there. Might be worth throwing it up on Amazon and seeing how it does, though the dark and forgotten gods know how much I suck at self-promotion. 

I also fell down a rabbit hole trying to remember a song that we used to put on at a particular store where I worked during my brilliantly misspent youth. We'd do this for the sheer pleasure of watching people's expressions as they figured out that the elegant classical music they were listening to was actually Metallica's Master of Puppets, and that was why it sounded so familiar. Only I couldn't remember the name of the band, and YouTube is absolutely buried in Metallica covers. 

Fortunately, one of my Twitter friends came up with it: the band is Apocalyptica. Here's a YouTube playlist of their greatest hits: 

Friday, March 4, 2022

No words, brain empty

I haven't had the energy or the focus for writing; Secondborn declined to go to sleep earlier this week, and I've been in one of those not-getting-enough-sleep-means-that-I-keep-getting-less-sleep-to-compensate spirals. Doubly irritating since I've been specifically trying to back off from other things and just focus on sleep, exercise, and eating decent food.

On the plus side, I've been reading back through the unpublished pulp fantasy novel I wrote ages ago (and always meant to revise) and honestly? It's not bad. A bit of revision wouldn't hurt it, but I did some good things in there. I should probably figure out something to do with it: either revise and submit, or just make a final edit and self-publish somewhere. It's not a masterpiece, but it wasn't meant to be; it was meant to be a fun fantasy novel that I could actually finish, and it was and I did.

Fortunately, today is Friday and bedtimes tonight don't need to be as strict; if I go home and put myself to sleep, it won't really disrupt anything. So that, my friends, is the plan.

Sleep. Sleep is a good plan.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

EvilParty: Infiltrating Garamond

So, we’ve been teleported just west of Springhollow and on the road to Garamond. We’ve brought a bunch of undead with us: 9 ghouls, 3 ghasts, and 2 mummies – plus Bob, of course. We disguise the undead as lepers, except for Bob who we make invisible. 


Garamond is a small city of 11,000 or so people; the surrounding area is about 33,000 people or so. The castle has multiple sets of walls and an inner keep; Baron Fabrese Poitier is in charge. He is now on his third, younger wife, and has three adult children who are mostly betrothed or promised to the neighboring nobility in Springhollow. The town is big on furniture factories. Trowel and Hammer, the Golden Sun, Mistress Frumpy’s, the Three-Billed Duck, and Last Stop are all taverns (except the princess one, which is a brothel). 


Chuck scouts ahead as a bat; there are two guards at the gate, and Chuck flies down and attempts to dominate them. He taps the first guy on the shoulder. The second guard whips around and says, “You! There! Who are you?” He levels a halberd at Chuck, and Chuck dominates him. 


There’s an archer on the tower, who’s trying to figure out what’s going on; this is collecting a lot more attention than it really should. Chuck Dominates the second guard: “Tell them it was swamp gas,” he says, and assumes Gaseous Form, leaving them to their guard duties. 


Chuck comes back as we’re getting close to morning; he disguises himself and off we go. We walk up to the gate and… there’s a new pair of guards. The archer on the wall is leaning over and accuses Chuck: “It’s him! The guy who was messing with Mordid!”


Chuck: “What? There’s nothing here but these lepers.” 


One of the guards flees, but the archer on the tower keeps shouting orders. Jenny growls at the guard, and Chuck Dominates the archer. He gets the archer to let us pass, and the other guards don’t object. 


We proceed to the mouth of the alley and yank up the sewer grate; then we proceed down into the sewers. Jenny and Durest keep talking to Bob, which is making Chuck crazy since he doesn’t hear the giant skeleton talking. There’s an old portcullis down here, and somebody moving around on the other side. 


Chuck makes himself invisible and then Gaseous Forms his way through the gate. He sees three lizard-folk down here, signaling to each other. They draw their clubs and seem to be about to ambush us. Jenny also notices a winch on the wall just beyond the portcullis. She whistles, but Chuck ignores her. A moment later there’s a bolt of lightning, and these two die. 


More lizard-men come, but Chuck has already opened the gate. Jenny comes through, and after a while there are no more lizard-folk. We find where they’ve set up (along with fifteen gold and some leather armor and clubs and silver pieces). We equip the ghouls with the armor. Then we try to go to sleep for the day. 


Durest awakens because of a tremendous crashing and screaming; Bob has a guy in his hands, and has ripped one of his arms off. He looks like some sort of rogue: hand crossbow, all daggers. Durest has one of the ghouls paralyze the guy, and then he heals him. “Jenny? Would you like to ask this nice young man some questions?”


Jenny comes into the room. “Do you consider yourself good lover?” 


The guy blinks twice for No, looking terrified. 


Jenny: “Are you a spy?” 


No. 


Jenny: “Are you lying to me?” 


Nothing. 


Jenny: “Are you a spy for the handsome sunburst-man?” 


Yes. 


Jenny: “Durest, I want to keep him.” 


Durest: “Aye, well, he cannae have his arm back.” 


After a while he can talk again. His name is Wolf Stonegate. He’s one of Maximillian’s spies – as we suspected. He will cooperate with us to save his life. If he doesn’t return, Maximilian will know that something’s up. Bob has taken a shine to his arm, and is not giving it back.


We serve him some lizard-folk moonshine, and he immediately throws it back up. 


Apparently Maximilian heard that a group had penetrated the city and thought it was maybe a rogue thieves’ guild, so he sent Wolf to investigate. We strip him down and tie him to the top bunk for Jenny’s amusement. He wasn’t too terribly well equipped; a +1 dagger and some masterwork leather armor. Durest dresses up one of the ghouls in his equipment. 


Chuck wakes up as night falls: “Hey, is anybody keeping this? Or did you leave it as a snack for me?” 


Wolf: “Are… are you a vampire?”


Chuck: “YES.” 


Wolf pisses himself. 


Durest, meanwhile, has turned the severed arm into a Crawling Claw and set it loose. Chuck gets ready to go up top and visit the brothel, while Durest gets ready to send the ghouls out to kidnap people and turn them into more ghouls. 


Chuck shows up at the brothel, and the madam greets him cordially. “You look like someone of peculiar tastes. We have boys and girls at your disposal.” 


Chuck: “I’m here for a good time. Someone told me this was the place.”


She invites him to have a drink by the fire while some of the employees demonstrate their skills at dancing. It turns out that she is the current Mistress Frumpy. 


So various entertainers come by and try to entice him. There’s also a guy in officer’s clothes at another table who seems fairly drunk. After a couple of likely candidates, an older woman comes up, takes Chuck’s drink, and pours it down the front of his shirt before slapping him. Chuck: “Now that’s more like it. We’re gonna need a room.”


Two hours of really rough behavior later, she’s laying back on the bed with a spliff of Chuck’s best gold, and starts asking questions. The guy in the main room was Cecil somebody, the captain of the guard. He’s rich enough that he come in fairly often, especially since half of the Solari got called off to war. The baron kept his more loyal Solari close to home, not that he needs anybody other than Samson – the ogre. The war has mostly bypassed Garamond; Springhollow didn’t get so lucky. Fortunately, Duke Corbin came down to set things right. 


The baron’s son Michel comes down here fairly often; he’s divorced, and a bit of a playboy. His favorite girl is a Cecily. Edward Moreau, the oldest son of Baron Mroeau, is married to a Poitier and here in town; if the Baron doesn’t come back, Edward is theoretically the heir. Maximilian the Solari knows everything that goes on in town. 


Has she heard anything about the lepers? She has not. Does she like what she does here? She likes it with him. Would she like to enjoy it even more? Does she want to live forever? Chuck demonstrates his vampire abilities for her and tries to persuade her to become a vampire. She could become the new Mistress Frumpy. 


…She’s in. 


Chuck hands off some gold and heads back to the sewer. 


Durest, meanwhile, sends out the ghouls; they kidnap three people and bring them back, infected and on their way to becoming ghouls themselves. The next night, Chuck goes back to check on the prostitute and finds that she’s turned about half the brothel; Durest’s ghouls, meanwhile, bring back another five people. 

So, on the third day Durest is settling in to sleep when Bob alerts him to the presence of people coming into our sewes. 


Jenny comes at them along the passage; Durest teleports himself and some of the ghouls to cut off their escape. He reaches out and touches their mage with Slay Living; the fellow dies. 


Cleric: “How dare you slay Avron Firesoul!”


Durest: “Oops.” 


Jenny comes strolling down the passage and kills the rogue. Then the ghouls swarm over the other two, and that’s the battle. Looks like they were offered a 100 GP bounty to come clear the zombies out of the sewers. We drag the bodies further in and re-close the portcullis. 


On the sixth night Chuck goes to check on his new minion, and finds that she and the other vampire prostitutes have been slain. Meanwhile, another party of adventurers has slipped into the sewers, slain some of the ghouls, and surprised Durest and Jenny while they’re playing catch with Bob. 


The guy with the pansy-ass elvish double-scimitar steps in and attacks Durest, hitting him once. Their sorceress puts a blade barrier across the room, and the cleric drops a Flame Strike on Jenny and Bob. A half-orc fighter steps in and attacks Durest, power attacking. 


The elf guy attacks again, hitting once, and Durest calls for his mummies. He also dispels the blade barrier. Bob strides up and smacks the orc pretty hard. The cleric puts the blade barrier back, and catches Bob with it but only damages him a little bit because he’s a skeleton. Jenny rages and charges through the blade barrier and hits the orc, damaging him fairly significantly. The cleric casts Greater Command: “Drop your weapon!” Jenny drops her chain. 


The orc attacks Jenny, and the guy with the double-scimitar attacks Durest but misses. Durest drops a flame strike on the two clerics and the guy with the scimitars for a fairly significant amount of damage. Bob sinks his axe into the orc again, but fails to take him down. 


The cleric casts Mass Cure Moderate Wounds, healing herself and her companions. Jenny picks up her chain, taking some damage, but promptly kills the orc and attacks the elf, hitting him. 


Meanwhile, the mummies come up behind the clerics and lay into them with slam attacks. The cleric fails her save and in addition to damage she now has Mummy Rot. The cleric casts Flame Strike and damages Bob, Durest, and Jenny. The orc attempts to take down Jenny, but misses. The other guy with the scimitars hits Durest badly, but Durest heals himself and Bob takes down scimitar-guy. 


The senior cleric heals the younger one. Jenny charges and attacks the younger cleric, damaging her. The mummies follow up, one of them hitting her. The cleric attempts to turn undead, forcing the mummies to flee. Durest hits them with a Inflict Serious Wounds, Mass and heals Bob while injuring the clerics. Bob attacks the younger cleric and takes her down. The senior cleric steps in and casts Harm on Jenny, who avoids the worst of it. Durest heals Jenny, and Bob attacks the cleric but fails to kill her. 


The cleric casts Hold Person at Jenny… but she shakes it off. The cleric tries to Hold Person on her again, but she shakes it off and murders the cleric. 


Chuck comes back a few minutes later: “Hey guys, I think we’ve been found out– oh.”


We have not killed Muriel (the druid), Samson (Ogre knight), or Maxmilian (rogue).