Session VII – Strawberries and Dragons

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Edinburgh team. Players: Three returning characters – Radical Larry (Joe), Girth Greatcraic (Archie) and the Dragonborn (real name as yet unknown) that the group tends to call Rage (Andrea). This week Biblical Barry (Steve Chaffee), a gnomish druid who has (or at least thinks he has) spent 40 years in the desert and Bremen (Kate), a dwarvish Tempest cleric, follower of the God of Storms: Talos.

The Story begins, as it somehow always does, in Jarvik’s Tavern. Girth and Rage had a table and were chatting waiting for Larry to arrive. At the bar sat Biblical Barry whose time in the desert hadn’t exactly done wonders for his social skills. His repeated attempts to get the bartender’s attention failed despite Jarvik’s daughter Elsie noticing and trying to help. Bremen stood at the bar as well, chatting up a middle aged human lady. Larry then arrived with a truly fantastic lightshow, which everyone was awed by except for Jarvik who just wasn’t paying attention.

The group looked at the notice board and saw that three children had gone missing while playing in the river south of Kasdall. Barry immediately leapt upon this and decided that if he could find the children he would be a hero. He rushed out of the pub and up to a hillock to announce that he, Barry, would save the children. This attracted the attention of their parents who came up to him, grabbed his lapels and begged him to find them. They gave details about where the children were last seen and Barry went on his way. Five minutes or so down the road he decided to look for animals to communicate with, however all he could find was a dead mole, which he set to burying, giving it a proper funeral and grave.

Meanwhile the rest of the group finished up in the pub and left. Larry quickly realised they had no idea where to go and sheepishly returned to the inn to ask about more details of where the children were last seen. Jarvik told him where he could find their parents – an Elven couple named Tamara and Sieg. The group in the town then went to see the couple and found Sieg could not stop crying, which they inevitably made worse in a number of ways, causing Tamara to almost draw her sword. Some fast talking ensued and they were able to be persuaded to tell the team where their children were last seen, by a brook south of the city. Rage, Larry, Bremen and Girth then caught up with Barry who had somehow made a miniature mausoleum for the mole.

Then the team ineviatbly got a little lost, despite Barry’s magnificent navigational skills. It was at this point that they spied in the distance a huge monolith on a hill which appeared to have carvings on it. Sensibly deciding they might get their bearings by going up to the higher ground and looking around, they approached it. The stone bore a number of twisting turning carved symbols and patterns on it, but the predominant feature of it was the carving of a tree branch, laden with fruit, and a man’s face, seemingly made from leaves and vines. A successful check by Bremen revealed this to be a Godstone, an ancient structure relating to the power of a deity. Below the monument the characters found a glass vial containing a colourless liquid which they found to be some sort of distilled strawberry liquor.

In the night a pair of acolytes approached, garbed in green robes, wielding wicked sickles and burning torches. Larry, who was on watch, saw them approach and raised the rest of the team from their slumber with an alert from his trumpet. They got up quickly although it wasn’t really needed as Larry had already cast sleep on them and caused them to be unconscious. The acolytes were then tied up.

Girth suggested that Larry make one of them look dead so that interrogating the other would be easier. The acoltye, however, was uncooperative aside from saying “The Gods demand sacrifice, the bog provides” and identifying himself as an acolyte of the greedy God, Roathus, who the godstone also belonged to. Other than this he said nothing helpful and when questioned more bit down on something in his tooth. Suddenly barbed branches and vines started spreading from his mouth and wrapped themselves around first his head and then the rest of his body until he was totally engulfed, blood oozing from cuts the barbs had made through the gaps in the vines. To prevent this with the second captive they gagged him and asked him simple yes or no questions. He didn’t have any information about the children however, so Larry dispatched of him with a rapier between the ribs.

Upon the revelation that the Godstone belonged to Roathus, Bremen decided that for the glory of his God, Talos, it should be destroyed. Girth, who had a history with the worshippers of this deity, agreed wholeheartedly and watched with mirth and glee as the tempest cleric caused the sky to darken and a huge bolt of electricity to hit the stone, melting the silver veins inside it and destroying it. As the rocks fell there was an unholy scream heard across the sky…

The next morning the group looked around from the top of the hill and spied a hut some way to the south and decided it would be worth investigating. The hut was ramshackle, made from badly nailed together bits of wood, and sat on a hillock in the swamp. Its grounds looked very well cared for and it had a little herb garden to one side. By the door there were poles, each with a number of rooster heads tied to them, which began to crow as the players approached.

This alerted the shack’s owner, the hedge witch Hextia (who looks similar to the witch of the waste from Howl’s moving castle, albeit with one eye missing), to their presence and after explaining why they were there she invited them in for a cup of (horrible, but for most of the characters wierdly moreish) bog nettle tea. She identified the strawberry liquor as one of her own brewing and when asked about the children said she had not seen them but could provide information on their whereabouts if they completed a task for her. She asked for them to go to a field to the wouth west, where large strawberry-like plants grew, and harvest some for her. The group somewhat reluctantly agreed but only after she had assured them that the children were in no immediate danger of death.

Travelling onwards the group stopped for the night and Girth recounted some of his past, explaining his agreement with Bremen’s actions at the Godstone – the story of him family brewery’s brutal takeover by worshippers of the greedy god Roathus.

The party then continued onwards. They found a semi-circle of hills with a strange structure on one side, surrounding golden fields of wheat-sized strawberry plants. A strange pink fog was seen above it and on closer inspection this was revealed to be due to a huge number of tiny creatures, initially presumed to be butterflies, but then shown to actually be tiny pink Fae Dragons. At first these seemed docile and Rage attempted to converse with them (they referred to him as “big brother”) but the second Larry’s woodpecker familiar Harold pecked into one of the strawberries, their demeanour changed in the blink of an eye. They began to swarm and chased Harold. Girth used this distraction to collect strawberries and Larry told Harold to fly for his life. However the Fae ones caught up with him, clustering around him. Suddenly they dispersed, leaving a woodpecker skeleton, picked clean to the bone, which then fell to the ground.

The party dealt with the swarms using fire, thunderwaves and smoke, knocking them unconscious rather than killing them. Larry grabbed one of the unconscious Fae dragons with the intention of making it his new familiar (naming it Barold) – Rage wasn’t so impressed and wanted him for his own. In an attempt to avoid further fighting, Bremen cast a minor miracle, asking his God for help. One of the strawberry plants in the field began to rapidly grow and change, from a small plant, to a large bush, to a massive tree, bursting with huge strawberries. The remaining Fae Dragons, seeing this rejoiced and left the party alone. Bremen felt slightly sickened by the fact that he had caused creation rather than destruction and the party left.

On the way back to the hut, Barry recounted the team of his time in the desert and how the sand people there had rescued him and taught him how to survive there. His account showed fondness but the sand people’s ways appeared brutal. He also mentioned how he had a Brother named Larry but he hadn’t seen him in some time. Some abysmal (but hilarious) rolling ensued and both Larry and Barry left the campfire that night none the wiser that they were siblings.

The team returned to Hextia’s hut where she divined for them the whereabouts of the children – which turned out to be very close to Kasdall, by the riverbanks. They appeared to be held in some sort of dendritic cage and Hextia told the party that the creatured that held them was part animal part plant. She and Girth split the strawberries and she shared with him tips for growing more strawberries without Fey Dragon infestation the recipe for the strawberry liquor, which he planned to produce and market.

Expert navigation from Barry led the party to a stream where they found tracks left by the children. It appeared that they had been dragged into a cave opening by something with vine-like tentacles. Girth scouted ahead into the cave and found the children, held captive on a cage made from aloe vera-like leaves on the back of a creature with three mouths and four tentacles on a bulb-like body (which the team dubbed the Ohmygoddish). Barry, breaking any semblance of stealth, cast some fire in front of the creature, which backed away into the corner.

The Ohmygoddish did not last long. Girth, Larry and Barry all attacked it but then Rage activated his barbarian rage. He hacked the cage clean off the back of the creature, freeing the captive children inside it and then burned it brutally with his fire breath. The Ohmygoddish screamed, boiling sap oozing from his wounds, shrivelled with the flames and then collapsed dead. Barry then put out its smoulering remains. The youngest child, who looked about five, almost applauded, but settled for saying “SOOO AWESOME”.

Returning to town, Tamara and Sieg were overjoyed to see their children and thanked the party profusely. They gave them 10 silver pieces each and set to work on creating a shop for a healer who they invited to the town from the nearby border city of Bastionberg.

 

TL;DR – The party joined up, took on a contract to find some children who went missing south of the city. They got lost, found a Godstone, fought some acolytes who didn’t know where the children were, destroyed the Godstone and discovered a hut. There they met Hextia, a hedgewitch, who offered to help if they’d bring her some strawberries. Girth and Barry recounted some of their pasts. They reached the strawberry fields and found they were full of tiny dragons. They fought said dragons and then Bremen made a miracle happen and turned one of the strawberry plants into a tree which pacified the dragons. The party returned to Hextia who divines where the children are. The party find the monster trapping the children and kill it, rescuing them.

 

Party Gains: 68xp each, 10 silver pieces each, one town improvement (apothecary/healer), one Faery Dragon (Barold), Strawberries and Strawberry Liquor.


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