Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Evil!Party: Finding the Warbear

So we’re trying to locate the warbear (werebear) in Calisthium. We’re staying in the inn, and we have a couple of things that we need to do. 

Jenny decides to scout by walking to the solitary person next door. He does not want to speak to us; he does not want to open the door. Jenny attempts intimidation: “Sir, if you do not open the door, I will break it down. I am very concerned that you might need help.”

The occupant is an old man who’s incredibly social awkward. He seems to be a wizard; at least, he’s surrounded by books and scrolls and such, and when “Jensen” mentions that the folks around here are racist, he immediately starts expounding on the local history and then explains that he’s traveling around the forest writing a twelve-volume treatise on the local cultures. 

But we’re humoring him, and he’s talking about his particular hobby/obsession and Durest manages to assure himself that this guy is not the warbear. He steers the conversation over to the subject of druids and shapechangers. There’s a local druid circle too, all of them excellent shapechangers; he gives us an alphabetical list of all the shapes that he’s documented them changing into. Ellendor is the local head of the druid circle, and she usually comes into town with Lyren and Tiriel. After a bit of wine, when he’s discussing his upcoming Volume Nine, he lets slip that Navis, the hermit on the hill, is the local contact for the druid circle and very possibly our warbear. 

Chuck and Burhea – excuse me, Tim and Tiny Tim – are out there in bat form, spiraling out from the town and looking for the warbear and possibly a deer as well. Righeera the behemoth gorilla is very suspicious, and loud enough to bring Glanduil out from his house; he transforms into an eagle, and flies up to inspect the bats. The bats flee, dodging through the branches and trying to escape and hide. (Bats do that.) Tim manages to hide, but the eagle sees Tiny Tim and goes in for an attack. The eagle tears into Tiny Tim, which should kill an ordinary bat; Burhea turns to gas. 

Glanduil drops to the ground and calls, “Come out! Let us speak!”

Chuck considers, and decides that the guy looks kind of pissed. 

But, y’know, what the hell. Tim and Tiny Tim appear in front of him, and explain that they’re just looking for a deer. 

“Why are you hunting for a deer in the dark?” 

Chuck/Tim: “They move around at night.” He's not wrong, and the druid at least acknowledges this.

So clearly they’re going to need to meet Ellendor, the leader of the local circle; he’s going to escort them back to the inn, and have them stay there until Ellendor can arrive. He’s sure she’ll be here by the end of the day tomorrow. He also gives Tiny Tim a bit of a lecture about how druids in the territory of another circle should not be using their powers at night like that.

Righeera drops onto the inn and plants herself there, right above our room. Durest and Jenny look up, then note the giant ape-hand swinging outside the window. Durest: "What in hell?"

That’s the point where Chuck walks back in with Tiny Tim. “Sorry guys, my bad.”

Durest: “Nae, lad, this is grand! Now I can visit with the mayor and say in perfect honesty that ye airn’t allow to leave the inn because Glanduil has grounded you.”

There’s a knock at the door, which is probably the last thing we need. 

Chuck opens the door. It’s the pretty, noble-looking woman who was talking to the merchant: Piravin. She’s tall, willowy even by elf standards, with a pixie cut. She’s just stopped by to introduce herself. 

Durest starts to say something, but Tiny Tim cuts him off: “DAD, we’re not supposed to talk to people, we’re grounded.”

Chuck/Tim: “Yeah, that’s what I tell my son when we're traveling.” He has the impression that Piravin is just nosy, but hey – she’s shown up with a bottle of wine.

We show her in and start trying to get information, starting with how best to deal with the mayor. Piravin gets a few drinks in and gets really gossipy. She thinks Valdir the mayor has something fishy going on. Apparently the magistrate’s assistant has acquired a new scar, and she thinks they’re keeping something in the back room at city hall. "Valdir’s not telling us everything." 

She stumbles over to Jensen, and well… He's handsome, but Piravin is a lesbian, and it just can’t happen. Might have gone another way if Jenny hadn't decided to try out being male, but Piravin doesn't know that. Speaking of her partner, she should get back downstairs. She’s very, very drunk, and Jensen helps her down the stairs. Nim and the other serving woman are kind of bedded down on sleeping pads in the hall. 

The merchant and his dudes have returned to the wagon, and the remainder of the inn’s patrons are over in the town hall. Jenny looks around the downstairs and finds a half-empty wine bottle on the bar; she swipes it and goes back upstairs, after asking Nim if she wants to play a game. Nim: “I’m… too exhausted.” 

Loris the scribe is at the full-on Sawing Logs stage of drunken sleeping. 

Jenny goes back into the room and sits there holding Durest’s hand. "Is this what they call ze friend zone?"


We need to do more scouting, but if we're going to do that we need a way to distract Righeera. So... 

Durest steps outside and turns himself into the biggest gorilla he can manage, which turns out to be a dire ape; at Chuck’s command, Burhea adds Eagle’s Splendor to increase his charisma and Enlarge to get him closer to her size. He climbs out the window and waits until she wakes up, then preens at her. 

Durest is… not terribly seductive, but he’s also the largest ape she’s seen in a while. They exchange bad attempts at flirtation, and Durest winds up with her rubbing his shoulders. He manages not to flinch, and then returns the favor. Chuck assists by casting Grease on his hands, which helps make her fur glossy and smooth. 

Fortunately, Durest has good fortitude; she's strong, but he manages not to flinch or whimper. She scoops Durest up and sweeps him away into the forest for an hour-long giant-ape snogfest. 

Chuck takes advantage of Durest’s, um, distraction, and wings it over to the town hall. He orders Burhea to stay in the corner and say nothing. There’s a grotto under the hermit’s house, which is dark and quiet, with no evidence of activity. He then checks out the town hall. 

It too seems dark and quiet, though there is some small movement in the front room – night watch, maybe. The jail cell is empty. There’s a graveyard in back of city hall, and a gravestone in the cemetery – slightly oversized, inscribed with the name John Bear. Apparently most of the notables of the town government sleep in there. In addition, there’s a warrior-woman in there who has a fresh wound on her neck, probably from a claw. There’s also a staircase leading down. 

Chuck Dimension Doors down into the grave, and then has to stop and yawn because it’s so comfy being in a coffin again. It’s a skeleton of an elvish man, but there are… changes. The bones are stronger, and there are claws. Chuck considers taking a tooth, just in case True Resurrection might net us a werebeast, and then checks for treasure: 1, 360 gold and a wand of cat’s grace. 

He then turns invisible, and uses Dimension Door to place himself at the bottom of the stairs inside the town hall. The room down there has supplies: barrels, boxes, bags of grain. Chuck is about to leave when he notices some scratch marks on the walls. Someone has piled some stuff in front of it, but… there’s a pattern to the marks. Chuck assumes gaseous form, and slips into a secret passageway. He comes to a heavy steel door that is very much sealed. He dimension doors again to the other side. There are two portcullises beyond, both lowered, and both bent slightly outward. There’s a pile of chains beyond that. 

Invisible gas-form Chuck enters the main room, and it looks like someone has set a very heavy stone slab on top of something that might be a pit or a well. There’s a sort of iron coffin underneath, with padlocks to chain the lid down. There are marks on the sarcophagus, and places where chains can be draped over it. It’s not currently chained down, though. He wisps into the sarcophagus and finds it empty, but also marked with claw marks 

Righeera, meanwhile, falls asleep… but wakes back up when Durest tries to slip away. They’re going to be at it until morning. They're up on a fairly thick branch that may not survive this experience. Chuck goes to see why he hasn’t come back, then heads back to check out the hermit’s place since apparently he has time; the grotto underneath is probably the center of the local druid circle’s worship. There are summoning circles and glowing crystals and like that. He slips up into the hermit’s house. The trap door from the grotto is hidden by a rug.  The hermit is an older-looking elven man; it looks like he had at least one guest in here earlier. 

Chuck, feeling bold, checks out Glanduil’s house. It has a basement, so Chuck teleports into it. It is sadly lacking in claw marks. He stops to look around, and finds a secret door that takes him to the druid’s grotto. 

Morning comes, and Chuck is cowering away from the sunlight. Jenny wakes up, and after a moment finds out that Chuck is hiding under the bed and Tiny Tim is closed up in the armoire. Durest has come in at mid-morning, and collapsed face-down on the floor. 

There’s a knock at the door. 

Jensen/Jenny opens up the door and finds himself looking at Kattur, the older server. “Hello, handsome. Breakfast?” She winks. "Or something a little more active?"

Jenny tosses Durest out the door, and invites Kattur into the room. Durest groans and crawls towards the stairs. Chuck is stuck under the bed, and soft weeping comes from the armoire. 

Jenny: “I am having the best time!” 

Durest, meanwhile, half-rolls down the stairs and orders a bottle of whiskey and asks for some sort of hangover remedy. It turns out that the classical elvish remedy is… running. Like, jogging. He asks for the second-tier solution, and gets a kale smoothie which is about half weak elvish whiskey. 

He is now completely ready to give up his living flesh, and become undead. 

Jenny comes downstairs, and most of the usual suspects are there. Ilsinor the priest invites Jenny over to drink with them. The priest also smells a bit of dirt and sweat and the outdoors. He fancies himself a bit of a hunter. He pulls “Jensen” into the conversation, where she meets councilfolks Ruvin and Mirren. Who is also the owner of the inn. The town actually has a lot of True Elves that pass through very regularly, but we stand out because we’re not full elves. 

After a bit the merchant comes in and sits down next to Jenny, who is Definitely Not Wealthy… but apparently nobody believes that now. Is she looking to buy property? 

Jenny: “Yes? Durest... Erm, Ruvin, have you met my friend, um, Bandolier?”

Durest staggers over. “Merchant! Thank the gods. I’ll hand you twenty gold if you can get me some proper whiskey in the next two minutes.”

The merchant does, and he does. That's us: definitely not rich.

“So,” asks the merchant, “what sorts of goods do you deal in?” 

Durest: “We backed a very successful mercenary company in the south, but… then we had to leave suddenly.”

“So, where are you headed next? And what do you have to trade?”

Jenny: “We’re headed on to Annun next because the mayor said we weren’t welcome here.” 

There’s a brief whispered conversation, and then Valdir storms out of the inn looking a bit miffed. 


The councilman immediately starts trying to smooth things over. They start trying to get information out of us, which would be a problem under the best of circumstances. With the two of us, it’s a disaster: 


Ruvin leans over to Durest. "So, who's in charge of your group?" 


Durest, "Aye, that'll be Chuck." He's well into the whiskey and missing a night's sleep. Then he realizes his mistake and says, "Ah-- for now, ye'd be best tae talk to Tim."


Ruvin winks at him. "Right. Tim." He winks again.


Jensen: "Er. Yes. Chuck will be along later. Talk to Tim." 


At this point, Jenny goes back upstairs and tells Chuck that we might have made a teensy little error. Durest comes up a moment later, explains that they want to meet Tim by the tree at 1:00, and then collapses onto the bed. 

Chuck uses the image projector projector to send his image downstairs, and uses his ring of telekinesis to move things around so it looks like he's really there. Once he’s got things settled a bit, he uses the Rod of Rulership to convince these guys that he’s actually a master merchant scouting markets in disguise. 

Chuck: “Before we bargain, I need to curry favor with the mayor. Prove yourself, and you’ll have the finest deal in all the land.” 

They promise to have a word with mayor. Afterwards, they’d like to discuss their financial arrangements. Chuck tries to persuade them to meet him at night. When they insist on knowing what we have to trade, Chuck promises to introduce them to Moon Wine, a very rare delicacy. (It doesn’t actually exist, but we’re going to fake it. What could go wrong?) We’ll meet for Moon Wine at six o’clock, since apparently we’re still meeting Ellendor the head of the local druid circle at five. 

Tim puts Tiny Tim in charge of waking him up and takes a nap. The he sends his “son” back into the armoire. Durest casts True Seeing on himself, and we head over to the meeting. Jensen immediately tries to take somebody’s hand and kiss it, except she licks it instead and gets slapped. The mayor is not entirely happy to see us but his friends have clearly leaned on him about trade opportunities. 

Chuck’s image looks over at Bandolier. “You know, you try to scout out a location for a new location, and it’s just the worst experience…” 

The high priest: “You must excuse us, we’re not used to the people of importance.” 

Chuck is selling it. “I feel like the way a town treats the least of us is indicative of the way it treats everyone.”

The priest leaps to agree with him. 


The mayor asks how long we intend to remain in town; he's behaving better, but it's still pretty obvious that he doesn't want us around. 


Chuck: “We intend to stay for a fortnight.” 

Valdir almost chokes. 

Chuck: “Just kidding. We’ll be out of your hair in a couple of days. Our representatives will be following soon, so we’ll need to establish a trading post. And, of course, any trade they establish will be subject to your tariffs. But first, we do have a concern. You see… we have a sense that there may be something untoward going on in this area. Before we make any permanent deals, we want to make sure that everything here is above-board.”

The warrior with the scar on her neck shifts nervously when Chuck says this. She’s hiding something. The others exchange glances.

Chuck: “You know, if we can’t be honest with each other, I don’t think we can make this deal.”

Durest: “‘Tis an interesting scar on the lassie, there.” 

Chuck: “To invest so much…”

Elsinor the priest: “Perhaps a… private conversation… might be in order? Could we take a walk?” 

They leave the building and stroll over by the tree. Jenny and Durest just stand in the city hall front room, making everyone feel awkward. 

They do have a shapechanger in their midst. They have taken measures to keep things safe, he swears by Artemis. 

Chuck: “I would feel better knowing the exact nature of the danger.” 

So long ago they had an elf who became a werebeast; John Bear. His offspring still lives in the village, but desire to harm nobody. They take measures to help this person keep themselves safe until the moon passes. 

Chuck: “You have it worked out. That’s good. So is the young woman going to be okay?” 

“Yes. Cleansed and safe.”

{We break there.}

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