Grabbing Research

Olivie leads the party through caves which eventually wind their way into a corridor that seems more man-made than natural. Hnng lights a torch and stands near Olivie, volunteering to be her light. Yish wants to go home. Hnng asks if Yish is high. Yish responds that he is high on windows updates; Hnng, playfully bumping Yish’s thigh, asks if that is a euphemism for a new drug. Yish isn’t happy about Hnng’s touch, but he chooses to ignore it. Hnng attempts to reassure Yish that the touch was not sexual. Yish responds by saying that he can’t be sure with Hnng.

At the end of the corridor is a door. Hnng volunteers to open it, while Yish warns him to look out for booby traps. Hnng throws caution to the wind and pushes the handleless door. It opens a little bit, but there seems to be something on the other side preventing it from opening further. Yish responds to Hnng’s plea for help, and they eventually shove the door open.

Looking into the room, the party sees six human-sized automata total. One was obstructing the door. Hnng asks Olivie whether it is safe to enter as Yish thinks back on his previous experience with the vacuum cleaner automaton. Olivie says there is nothing to worry about and walks into the room fearlessly. Once she reaches the other side of the room, she pulls out the musty book and begins to press buttons on a panel on the wall.

Clarion inspects the automata, but she realizes nothing more than that the automata are made of some metal that she cannot identify. On the backs of the automata are inscriptions. Yish recognizes that writing to be similar to the one in Olivie’s musty book. Yish further notices that each automaton is equipped with a fold-out blade on its arm. He decides to disarm them after Olivie confirms that the automata were originally designed to guard the room. Meanwhile, Hnng nervously tries to use a pet name on Olivie for the first time: “Hey, uh babe, would you like some help?” Olivie smiles at the pet name and informs Hnng that the door doesn’t have power to open. Now that she’s unlocked the door, she needs help to force open the door, and she invites Hnng to help her—-she wants to share an activity with Hnng. The two together manage to pry open the door, which has two sliding segments that meet together in the center. They successfully open the door, with Olivie’s side opening a little faster on account of her greater strength. Hnng is turned on by this.

There are seven thick cloth jumpsuits woven with a grid of silver-colored thread, sized for humans and half-elfs, although there are eight lockers. The automata are too bulky to fit into these suits. One the other side is a large door with a big red lever. Olivie immediately begins putting on one of the suits. Clarion asks why she is putting on the jumpsuit. Olivie responds that she knows that these suits are necessary to enter the next room; when pressed, Olivie points at the inscription above the door and declares that the inscription instructs them to wear the suits before entering the room. Clarion uses rope to help adjust the suit to fit better. Hnng tries to put on the jumpsuit better than Clarion, but Clarion’s fashion is better. Clarion then attempts to convince Marda to put on some gloves of fumbling, claiming that they are part of the suit. Marda doesn’t fall for Clarion’s bluff.

Olivie walks over to the lever and makes sure that everyone is wearing the suits. After she has confirmed that everyone has put on the suit, she pulls the lever. The doors behind close as bars in the ceiling begin to shed light. The sounds of the automata booting up in the previous room scare Hnng, who reaches out to hold Olivie’s hands. Olivie does not reciprocate Hnng’s emotions, but she does not reject his hands. Lilith asks Olivie if they should be concerned. Olivie is not concerned at all; Lillith is inspired by Olivie’s fearlessness.

The next room is a large, dark, open space. On the right is a column of constantly burning blue fire on a raised dais. There seems to be something in the flames, but the flames are concealing. There are two desks in front, with study materials on top. There are bookcases filled with books along the center. Olivie rushes forward to the books and piles up a selection on a desk. Hnng lingers with Olivie as the rest of the party begins looking through the room, careful not to touch anything. Once satisfied with her collection, Olivie opens up her bag of holding and lets Hnng help her stuff the books into the bag.

There are cages with rotting corpses; the animals seem to have been left there. Marda doesn’t like the room. Against the back wall are glass panels hung on the wall, but the entire room is still in darkness. Yish notices that behind the glass panel near the blue flame, there is a gash in the wall, through which a small box with three faintly glowing blue shattered crystals can be seen. The crystals must have been shattered when the gash was made into the wall. Clarion creates water on the blue flame; the water immediately evaporates, but it seemed to have had an effect. Encouraged by the effect, Clarion continues to create water on the flame until she catches a glimpse of some flesh on the other side of the flames. Clarion then continues to investigate the other three raised daises. She notices that the three daises without flames have a small groove in the ground, each one placed nearer to the center of the room than the inactive circles. The dais with the blue flames has a groove occupied by a small, blue crystal. There is a skeleton wearing the eighth suit lying on the dais with the blue flames, with one arm stretched into the blue flames.

Lilith picks up the crystal placed in the groove on the dais with the blue flames. The blue flames suddenly go out, and she looks straight into the eyes of a three-headed chimera. Lilith immediately places the crystal back and the blue flames resume. Clarion takes a swipe at the blue flames with her 30 foot long metal scarf, standing next to the flames. She finds that her scarf has ceased to exist farther than the blue flames, even the portion that should have stretched beyond the flames. Clarion then asks Olivie if she wants a live chimera taken back to Bandu with her. She responds that she doesn’t even care for a dead chimera. She just wanted the research. So Yish suggests that everyone should chill and enjoy some pizza bagels. But he decides to help Olivie search through the bookshelves. They find some scrolls (1x protection from evil, 1x unseen servant), some precious stones, and some potions (1x eagle’s splendor, 1x protection from arrows). There were also 300 gold pieces worth of change lying about.

Meanwhile, Marda approaches the blue flames, where Lilith is guarding the crystal. Marda wants to kill the unnatural chimera. She voices her intentions to kill the chimera by following Yish’s idea of coaxing the chimera out of the circle halfway and then reigniting the flames. Yish threatens Marda with a sleeping-potion filled souper soaker. A battle of words ensues, and Olivie steps out of the room with her library. Despite Marda’s earlier victories, Yish ultimately convinces Marda not to pick up the crystal while others are still in the room. And then Yish pumps Marda full of sleep potion. The party drags Marda out of the room, and the doors into the farther room close as the doors of the room of automata opens up. Everyone takes off suits; Yish chooses to keep his in his pack. The automata do nothing as the party passes through the room.

Leaving the Mansion

The party stands over the defeated manticore. After searching through the basement, the party finds a number of items and some money. Hnng compiles a list of the loot as Olivie informs everyone that she needs a few hours to decipher the tome. She believes that the tome contains information on where the lab is. She then starts reading the book.

The party begins to be concerned with the smell in the room. Hnng approaches Olivie to see if he can help in any way, even offering to give her a massage. Olivie is so engrossed in reading that she doesn’t respond to Hnng. Hnng is hurt by this; so he apologizes for disturbing her. Hnng mentions something about being grieved and desiring to kill something as he attempts to sneak up the stairs opposite from the manticore’s nest. Clarion follows. The two squeeze through the blockage and find a way up the stairs, which are narrow—-meant for servants’ use and not for the master’s.

Hnng and Clarion find themselves on a landing. Two sides have a closed door each. The third side is a tapestry. From the southeast, Hnng can hear a whispered conversation. He can’t tell what exactly they are saying, but it is clear that the conversers do not want to be heard. From the southwest, snoring can be heard. To the northeast, where the tapestry is, there are sounds of grunting.

Hnng carefully opens the southwest door. There are many bunks with trunks at the bases of the beds. Hnng sneaks up on the sleeping bandit. As Hnng punches his dagger into the bandit’s throat, the bandit’s eyes open up, meeting Hnng’s as life drains away. Hnng feels a little bad, but he also feels slightly aroused. Hnng looks up and meets eyes with Clarion before he walks back down the stairs. Clarion searches the room and finds a number of items, including three masterwork daggers, a masterwork longsword, and some trashy novels. Clarion then takes the blood from the bandit and writes on the wall: “Nowhere is safe.”

The two halflings come back down the stairs. Hnng is wiping the blood off his dagger and looks very satisfied. Hnng stares at Yish expectantly. Yish is sitting on the ground with his eyes closed. Lilith decides the stench is too much to bear and so heads out the door. Hnng informs Olivie that people are leaving; Olivie is so engrossed in her reading that she doesn’t respond until Hnng touches her arm. Olivie then looks up from her tome, smiles at Hnng, and then asks, “What’s up?” Hnng repeats what he says, at which Olivie picks up a piece of wood as a bookmark for her tome and follows everyone out. Clarion stays behind, writing “Nowhere is safe” with the manticore’s blood. She then swaps the manticore’s head with the murdered bandit’s, and she leaves a bear trap set by the door.

Clarion returns in the morning as everyone else is waking up. Although she is excited to tell about her exploits, no one wants to hear her. Olivie informs everyone that she has figured out that the lab is a half day’s journey back toward Bandu. Yish yells at the sky, “I told you it wasn’t there!” Marda thinks that Yish is crazy.

As Clarion begins to tell her story, Yish attempts to stop her. Clarion tries to convince him that it would be a good idea to return to the mansion. She just wants to show off. Yish puts down his foot and declares that the party will not return to the mansion. Clarion tries to argue that it would be glorious to go back to the mansion, but Yish argues that they shouldn’t go back and kill a bunch of losers in the woods. After all, no one knows who they are. And then it dawns on him that those bandits are exactly like them, a bunch of unknown losers wandering in the woods. Yish then goes on an existential tirade about how he just wants to leave the forest and stare at the poster of the band he always wanted to make but never did. Clarion becomes upset at her unappreciated efforts.

Manticore in the Cellar

Night time is fast approaching. The party convenes to break into the mansion through the cellar. It is agreed that once they’re in, Olivie will make the decisions (the party is the security detail, after all).

The back side of the ruins is built onto the edge of a small cliff face of the hill. Large windows are at the top of the cliff. Besides, the labs are supposed to be downstairs. Clarion summons a greataxe to break down the boards against the door. Yish and Hnng are not sure why Clarion decided to make so much noise. The boards happened to be mostly rotten wood, so Clarion’s swing causes the wood to crumble. Clarion pulls on the door knob, which falls off. So Clarion pushes the door open. The party enters the cellar.

Everyone is overwhelmed by the stench of compost decay, except Marda. Hnng and Clarion hear breathing. There are littered boxes all over the floor: it’s a storage room. One side used to hold wine, but the entire room seems to be filled with gnawed pieces of wood. Olivie begins rummaging around.

Hnng shoots his crossbow against the far side to see how far it might be. Clarion lights a fletch on fire with magic so that they can see how far the bolt goes. Within a second, the bolt hits the far wall, making a loud sound of bolt on stone; the fire goes out. At this point, Hnng regrets his decision, and everyone hears growling from the darkness from somewhere in front and to the left. (Meanwhile, Olivie was looking at the rotting curtains, which caused Yish to ask Hnng whether he wanted to take some soiled curtain; Hnng asks Yish to forget the past and claims that he is turning over a new leaf.)

Olivie immediately reacts, puts her back against a column, and feels slime. Hnng lights a torch; Clarion summons a magical lantern. Lilith moves to protect Olivie. Yish shoots into the darkness; the bolt sticks into something not stone, based on the sound. Olivie also shoots into the darkness; there is sound of breaking glass. Hnng uses his torch to light the torch on a pillar. The party then hears a scuffle come from the direction where growls were first heard.

Marda is the first to see something suspicious. It is behind the far right pillar. Hnng approaches where Marda points out, and a monster jumps to attack him. The creature has a vaguely human face, the body of a lion, the wing of dragons, and a spiky tail. It is a manticore. Lilith asks Olivie to hide behind the pillar and stay out of combat as she strides out to join the combat. Yish prepares his souper soaker. Marda charges forward with her trident, although she misses with her attack. Lilith magically lights some kindling under the monster, which causes it to get spooked for a second. This is enough for Yish to take advantage of the situation to charge the monster and then squirts the sleeping potion into the monster’s. The monster shakes its head, wipes its head with its paws, and then prepares to growl at Yish. But the monster succumbs to sleep. Marda delivers a coup de grace; it dies immediately.

Clarion searches the room. In the far left corner is the monster’s nest, which completely blocks the stairs up. The far right corner also has stairs going up, but all sorts of stuff blocks the way.

There are many books in the boxes. Olivie finds one that has been ciphered; she doesn’t totally understand it, but she does understand that the lab is not at this mansion.

Yish offers to spend the night in the cellar to let Olivie dissect the corpse. Olivie suddenly finds Yish attractive. The party reasons that the bandits are probably still scared of the basement and so agree to spend the night.

There are taxidermied flamingos in the cellar. Most are mutilated (thanks to the manticore). Marda notices on one that there is a precise incision. It must have been killed for science.

Another Approach

The party wakes up the following morning, glad not to have been caught by the bandits. Hnng wrote a sorry note to Olivie during his watch. Marda plays tic-tac-toe with a squirrel.

The party decides to go back to the mansion. They decide to be careful about this by having just Yish and Clarion and Hnng go scout out the door from yesterday. They attempt to stealthily approach the door, using bushes as cover. A voice from the roof once again calls out, asking why they’ve come back. Clarion attempts to use diplomacy, but the being on the roof doesn’t seem to care. So Clarion decides to go up and open the door. She meets four bowmen and gets hit by one arrow. She ducks behind the door and yells back what she saw.

Hnng runs away in a direction somewhat away from camp so that the bandits won’t know which direction the camp would be. Yish magically closes the door and runs. Clarion follows. They hear laughing from the roof as they run away.

The three meet up and decide to try to find a backdoor into the mansion. Hnng apologizes to Yish for his past behavior. Hnng has nothing to say to Clarion. They find that the mansion is built on a cliff. There is a basement level reachable on the back side, but the doors and windows at that level are all boarded up. There are other windows, although they are high up so that it is hard to see who or what might be in those rooms. They do manage to see a little inside (the bodies of the dead bandits are under tarps in a greenhouse area, which has no doors into the main mansion area) but decide to go back to camp to inform Marda and Lilith and Olivie.

Marda is being trounced by the squirrel in poker. Clarion consults Olivie and asks what she wants to do. Olivie wants the research, so the party decides it would be better not to burn down the mansion. At first, they try to get Marda to have a PETA-MOO rally in front of the mansion to act as distraction. They decide to infiltrate via the basement in the evening.

While waiting, Hnng approaches Olivie. Hnng was concerned that the pollens might have caused Olivie’s breathing problems, he rinses off beforehand. Hnng apologizes for the flower episode. Olivie tells him not to worry and says it wasn’t his fault, since he didn’t know. Hnng leaves by kissing her hand. Olivie pushes her hand to his lips longer than he intended.

First Contact with Bandits

The party proceeds forward. Just after midday, the party reaches the grounds of the ruins. It smells like a reclaimed garden. The ruins looked like it was built by a nosy brat that was trying to compensate for something. The ruins are made of stone, but they have not collapsed.

Hnng finds a bush of blue and orange flowers. It has become overgrown, but there are a few buds. Hnng takes a few buds and stores them in rags. Yish notices this, but he is too bothered by the thought that the party won’t be alive much longer than tomorrow. Hnng reveals that he does stupid things sometimes because he is afraid that if he truly tries to do something, he might fail. Clarion butts into the conversation, which causes Hnng to storm off and sit on a bench in the gardens. Clarion asks Olivie to go calm him down. Olivie is excited at the opportunity to interact with Hnng.

Olivie comes and sits next to Hnng. She takes hold of his hand and leans her head onto Hnng’s shoulder (which is very strange, since she is much taller than him). Olivie suddenly starts wheezing and falls onto the ground, struggling to breathe. Hnng panics, asks for help, and then casts cure light wounds. Olivie suddenly gets better; Hnng keeps his distance away from her.

Now that Olivie can speak, Yish asks her what her plan is now. She explains that she wants to find the notes in the laboratory and take them for later examination. But she has no idea where the laboratory would be. Yish remembers that the ruins are famous for underground tunnels and surmises that it would be somewhere down there. Marda surmises that Olivie is allergic to the pollen of the flower.

As the party approaches the building, Hnng pulls out the flower buds. This causes her to breathe more heavily. So Hnng throws the buds away.

At this point, the party has made it to the building. As Yish and Hnng open the door, there are hurried voices and a voice from above, which commands them to stop and warns them that they are surrounded. It also commands them to drop all valuables. Yish looks around and notices six figures trying to stay concealed. The voice from above then announces that the party has had the misfortune of encountering the “Nightmare Crew”. Hnng thinks that the name is lame. Hnng then asks the leader, “What’s your beef?” The voice decides to ignore the question and tells the party that they have to the count of ten to drop their valuables before they are taken by force. Hnng suggests that the people reveal themselves so that there can be a discussion. One of the men moons the party, which causes Hnng to attempt to intimidate: “we’re here on academic business!” He then attempts to shoot the one that mooned the party. The shot is off. But this causes combat to begin.

An intense wave of hatred aura pulses out from Lilith; Yish is the only one that notices at first. But soon, one of the attackers huddles into the fetal position by the door and starts to shake with fear. He then falls asleep. Another stands up, shakes his head, and seems very confused, but then gets into the action. One more gets hit by Lilith’s mace and then begins panicking, swinging his sword in front of him.

Yish casts haunted fey aspect, screams wildly, and then moves toward the man next to the door. He wakes up, sees Yish, and runs away terrified. The others are eventually dispatched (although one manages to survive three crossbow bolts and even picks up Marda’s trident—-but he does fall to Hnng’s final crossbow bolt).

At this point, Lilith’s eyes brighten up, as if she woke up from a trance. She immediately reacts by swinging her mace at the man in front of her. Hnng finishes the man by punching him with his punching dagger.

There is commotion inside, suggesting that a new wave of bandits will soon be upon the party. One of the rapiers has bright pink gems, which Yish takes. The party retreats. Olivie quickly grabs a quiver off of one of the bodies and bars the door for a few more seconds of time to run away.

On the Road to the Ruins

There is a fork in the road next to where the party camped for the night. Based on the map, this fork shouldn’t exist. The path going north seems to be more

Everyone thinks of different ways to figure out which fork to take. Yish climbs a tree; Hnng offers to aid (he is particularly excited to catch Yish if he falls, since he wants to further impress Olivie). Yish sees that there is smoke from on the path that goes more north. The path that leads south seems to lead to a hill.

Marda decides to ask a squirrel questions. Hnng suggests asking for unicorns. Marda chooses not to. The squirrel informs her that humans come by often on these trails, and while the path that goes north seems more traveled, humans take the path south often as well. She also learns that the squirrel’s favorite color is acorn brown.

Clarion and Lilith find north and measure angles to figure out which path seems more likely to be the one on the path.

When the party gets back together and shares information, Hnng takes the opportunity to ask Olivie’s opinion on the matter. This act seems to have caused Olivie to be smitten by Hnng. Olivie chooses to go south. Marda is the only one who would prefer to go north; Yish attempts to convince Marda that the southerly path is more acorn brown and therefore would be the one that the squirrel would have chosen. Marda isn’t totally convinced, by Yish’s argument, but she goes with the party.

Yish begins to flat tire Hnng, who milks the situation to evoke pity. Olivie falls for it.

Two hours down the road, Lilith and Yish notice sounds coming from ahead. It sounds like a lot of people are making noises, as if they are drunk. At first, Yish threatens to send Hnng to check out what the noise is about. Clarion

As Yish and Lilith approach the sounds, Yish notices out of the corner of his eye that something is quickly approaching. Yish warn Lilith and draws his weapon. Two half-orcs come rushing out, but pull out their swords, blocking the way forward. The half-orcs ask what their business is. Yish lowers his weapon and attempts to talk kindly. The half-orcs ignore Yish’s geniality, but realizing that Yish and Lilith seem not to intend harm, the half-orcs invite Yish and his party to visit with the traders who hired them.

Many humans are in the trader camp, along with a halfling and a dwarf. Four empty kegs are lying about. Two people are making out, not bothering to get away from the crowd. The traders notice the party, hail them, and then offers beer. Yish accepts (though Hnng refuses, with intent to keep his faculties so that ). Yish casts Beguiling Gift and hands Hnng the beer. Hnng makes the will save and hands back the beer. Yish still tries convince Hnng to drink via diplomacy. Hnng is not convinced, but he knows that Yish will not give up. So Hnng attempts to bluff his way out of the situation by pretending to take a sip. Yish catches the bluff, but Hnng covers by actually taking a sip and then returns the tankard. Yish dumps the rest of the beer out on the ground, refusing to drink liquid that touched Yish’s lips.

The party realizes the following about how they fit on the hotness scale (out of 20).
Lilith: 22
Marda: 1
Clarion: 14
Yish: 7
Hnng: 6
These are, however, natural beauty at birth. These scores don’t actually correspond to how attracted other people are to them, since other factors can lead to attraction.

Encounter with the Boggart

Lilith has returned from her ghostly sabbatical. She mentioned something about an eclipse and something about increased ghost activity. In any case, the party gathers together for the journey with Olivie. Yish is so hung over that he is essentially unconscious. So they strap him to the cart and begin the journey.

There is discussion of hot springs. Hnng asks whether there are hot springs along the way to the ruins. Olivie responds affirmatively, but she adds that it is a research site for distilling acids. They decide it would not be relaxing to go into those hot springs.

Marda continues ranting about the importance of saving the animals. Olivie, after spend two nights with Marda, is visibly avoiding being near her.

In passing a marsh, the party begins crossing a bridge to go over a particularly swampy area. Lilith is walking behind the cart. Marda is on the horse which is dragging the cart. The cart is an open flat bed about two feet above the ground. Olivie is in front of the cart, with Hnng close behind her. A loud thud crashes into the cart; what looks like a deer’s head with very large antlers is visible, but the body is gangly, and the eyes are the size of saucers. It is trying to grab Yish. Hnng asks Olivie what the thing is; she screams that it is a boggart and seems not at all prepared for this venture.

In attempting to grab Yish, the boggart’s movement causes the cart, weakened from the initial impact of the boggart dropping into it, to crack; the boggart’s body falls halfway through and is stuck. However, Yish is still within the boggart’s reach. Olivie shoots her already loaded crossbow (Yish mentions his always loaded crossbow). Olivie is scared and inexperienced, so she points the weapon in the general direction of the cart, turns her head away, closes her eyes, and shoots. The bolt gets stuck in the side of cart. Lilith runs up from behind the cart, swinging her morningstar and hits the severely hindered boggart. Clarion dives under the cart and uses an inflict wounds spell as she touches the boggart’s pinky toe. Hnng turns to Olivie, tells her, “watch this”, and then rushes forward with the intent of vaulting over the side of the cart and grappling the boggart. Hnng manages to get himself over the edge, but his foot gets caught, and he falls straight into the cart, with his face planted into Yish’s crotch. Hnng is disappointed that he wasn’t able to impress Olivie, but he stands up. Marda turns around on the horse and shoots an icicle at the boggart, and then crawls into the cart.

The boggart struggles to get out of its compromised position. Although it remains stuck, it does manage to hurt Hnng somewhat. Olivie runs off to the other side of bridge and into the woods. Lilith also casts inflict wounds and touches the boggart from on top of the cart. The boggart begins coughing up blood. Clarion then strikes the boggart’s legs with her steel scarf. Hnng attempts to tackle the boggart, imagining himself a luchador jumping off the ropes; he is slightly aroused from the sensation of touching the boggart. Marda stabs at the boggart with her trident.

The boggart finally manages to master the cart situation. Olivie is still off in the woods somewhere. Lilith misses with her morningstar. Clarion once again strikes with her steel scarf, and the boggart falls unconscious. Hnng is even more aroused by the sensation of the body falling limp.

Hnng begins checking the body for loot. Hnng now sees that the boggart was male. Underneath its fur (all matted into dreadlocks), Hnng feels something hard on its sternum. It smells very bad (12 years of swamp water). Hnng manages to hack away the fur and finds an amulet. Hnng continues working the chain out of the fur. Once the amulet is free, Hnng shouts out for Olivie, but there is no response. So Hnng goes off in search of Olivie, with Marda and Lilith following. As Hnng runs past a tree, Olivie swings her sword out; of course, Hnng is so short that the sword goes over his head. She is very distraught and worried about the boggart, but Hnng assures her that the boggart is dead and that he single-handedly killed it to rip the amulet off of it for her. At first, Olivie totally buys Hnng’s lie, but Marda and Lilith try to get the story correct. After this, Olivie has some doubts about Hnng’s story, but her opinion of Hnng has gone up by six points. In any case, Olivie refuses Hnng’s amulet (it smells terrible), so Hnng walks back to the cart while appraising it, thinking of it as a symbol of the new level of the relationship Hnng now has with Olivie. He realizes that it is worth more than 1000 gold pieces. Hnng puts it in his chest pocket, convinced that it was the reason Olivie sort of believed his story.

In the meantime, Clarion mends the cart. Yish is still asleep. The party continues on and makes camp after the end of the marsh, where a plains area begins.

The First Trial (again, but with Cory)

Marda shows up to work and begins ranting about animals; apparently, when Marda opened her mouth about animals in the morning, Olivie excused herself, saying something about “taking care of stuff”. Yish has a little headache, but asks Marda about animals. Hnng is writing reports so that the inn stairs broken from the other day can get fixed. Hnng is standing, since sitting isn’t pleasant.

Yish asks Marda if she remembers the leader of the “army of whores”. Hnng steps out from his office and claims that Cory does not have an “army of whores”. Yish ignores Hnng and lets Marda know that Cory will be coming in today. Marda asks Yish what he wants her to do, and Yish asks her to be “so drunken on your love for animals that you will do everything he asks you to do”. Marda answers affirmatively.

Yish then looks around the office and wonders what Leaf and Lilith are up to. Leaf is now out for the third day in a row.

Hnng knocks on Nen’s door. Nen opens a newly installed panel so that he can look out. He doesn’t see Hnng, so he opens another lower panel and sees Hnng. “What do you want, Hnng?” Hnng asks whether if there is some job for the day. Nen responds that this is his day job. Yish then appeases Hnng by promising him soiled underwear from the appointment with Cory.

Cory taps Yish on his shoulder as Yish sits out on the porch of the office. Yish then attempts to get Cory to promise soiled underwear. Before Cory can answer, Hnng comes out the door and tries to introduce himself (again). Cory ignores Hnng and mumbles something about sufficient compensation.

Clarion, Marda, and Hnng get gathered. Cory asks for the blue stone. Yish asks why Cory should hold the stone. Cory explains that the one who holds the stone determines which trial is activated. Cory then holds the stone next to his mouth and whispers very quietly. No one hears exactly what Cory says, but it seems that he whispered the activation word.

The party once again finds itself on a platform suspended by ropes attached to pillars, such that the ropes are attached to a bridge far away. Cory asks Yish to stand by rope two, Marda by rope four, and Clarion by rope six. Cory stands by rope seven. Hnng is told to stand in the middle of the platform. Cory then instructs everyone to start cutting their ropes but wait until his signal before cutting all the way through. When the people are about three-fourths of the way across, Cory calls for cutting through. All do as they are told, and the platform sinks a little but stabilizes as the bridge collapses from the center. The people reach the other side of the bridge while the orcs are stuck on the other side. No one is hurt.

Once the people are safely across the bridge, a blue portal opens up behind Cory. Cory steps through. Everyone follows Cory. Clarion, though, lights the remaining ropes on fire before stepping through the portal. Clarion is upset that the last time, the platform collapsed; she also remembers falling down to the rocks under the platform last time.

The party finds itself on the porch of the office once again. Cory hands back the blue stone to Yish as Yish asks for the soiled underwear. Cory promises to send someone later with compensation. Yish seems not able ever to remember Cory’s name. Clarion asks how many such trials there are. Cory answers [some number not yet known to the DM]. The party also remembers that Cory knew how to pass the first trial but doesn’t know anything about the second trial. Cory departs.

Yish asks Nen for a job. Nen is not afraid to open the door, since Yish called out. A local witch wants skunk juice. So the party needs to handle the skunk before it sprays. Yish asks Marda for advice. Marda responds that she has a few skunks near her haven. Yish tries to figure out how to pay for them to spray into vials. Marda thinks it might work if she bargains with the skunks by herself. Yish purchases carrots; Marda takes 20 of them. Marda manages to get four vials of skunk juice. The skunks were perfectly willing, and Marda didn’t even get sprayed. In fact, Marda stoppered the vials so perfectly that she doesn’t smell like she was with skunks at all when she returns to the office to hand in the vials.

Hnng knocks on Nen’s door. The lock gets put in place. Nen opens the panel for Hnng. Hnng asks Nen for a job. Nen responds that he does not have any more jobs but suggests that Hnng go talk to his contact

Hnng takes a lunch break. He goes to the new magic shop. Hnng sees Bobby from Cleethorpes and recognizes him. Bobby welcomes Hnng to the shop (it doesn’t seem that Bobby recognizes Hnng). Hnng sees that the shop is fairly small. There are glass cabinets next to Bobby with some weapons. Behind Bobby hang amulets and rings on the wall. On the show floor, there is an enchanted torch that lights up the entire room. There is one other customer, but Hnng doesn’t recognize him. Hnng asks Bobby whether he knows where Leaf is. Hnng sees that Bobby’s eyes glimmer with recognition, but Bobby begins stammering about not knowing Leaf. Hnng calls out Bobby’s bluff. Bobby admits that Leaf is in the back but warns Hnng that he shouldn’t go back there. Hnng is satisfied to know that Leaf has been skipping out on work, so he awkwardly rests his hand on Bobby’s arm and patronizingly thanks Bobby.

Yish passes Hnng on the street but they ignore each other. Yish enters the shop, and both he and Bobby recognize each other. Yish is somewhat disappointed, but he knows he wants gear to prepare for the upcoming trip with Olivie. Yish asks Bobby for help with choosing gear and general advice for encounters with chimaeras. Bobby is now disappointed to hear that Yish, a bard, doesn’t know anything about chimaeras. Bobby fills in Yish on what he few things he knows about chimaeras. Bobby knows that chimaeras are blends of animals that may attack. Yish asks whether offering chimaeras meat will be effective. Bobby thinks that the tactic might work for the lesser ones; the stronger ones are probably not satisfied with scavenging. Yish then asks about putting them to sleep. Bobby offers a wand. Yish leaves, realizing how expensive magic items are.

Yish goes back to work. He asks Clarion whether they can get gas masks. Yish is planning to spray an area with sleep potions so that the chimaeras are easier for Olivie to study. The gas masks would protect people from falling asleep. Gas masks are available in the basement of the office, but aerolyzing the potion still remains tricky. Clarion invents a sprayer and begins working on a prototype. Clarion calls it the souper (spray operated unattended potion emitting receptacles) soaker. (It’s a glass bottle with the bottoms melted off. The tops have small holes. The bottoms are stoppered with rubber plungers, allowing for a syringe-like pump action that allows liquid stored in the glass bottle to be sprayed out the small hole.) She writes up beautiful plans and a patent for her design; she manages to build two, but she stayed up all night.

The next morning, Clarion sprays water on everyone as they enter the office. Hnng gets very agitated, shudders, and goes to his office. Yish is very excited and smilingly exclaims, “it worked!” Marda doesn’t have much of a reaction, although Yish attempts to get her excited by telling her that Clarion’s invention is a new, humane way to deal with animals.

Meeting Olivie

Every once in a while, Yish wears red suspenders. Mostly hipster, but 15% beatnik. Hnng wears all black all the time.

A new day comes. The party meets in the office. Yish comes in on the end of a high. He begins to be curious as to what the current kingdom may have done to make Cory so upset, but decides such details are unimportant. He begins searching for cheese flavored pork rinds.

Hnng comes in unusually late, almost 2pm. Hnng tries to sneak into the office without being noticed. Yish waves at Hnng, not quite realizing how late Hnng came in. Hnng gives him a strange side eye and then swiftly stows himself in his office.

Leaf isn’t in, probably still excited about the new magic shop. No one’s really sure where Lilith is.

Clarion comes up about this time, asking whether they’re going to go on a job. Hnng steps out of his office to ask Yish whether there are any jobs. Yish asks Nen for jobs. Nen warns Yish that the current job on offer may take about a week, since it’s by an archaeologist who wants to explore the ruins to the east. Yish is slightly confused, since this seems more like a job for the fighter’s guild. But he asks how much the pay will be. It will be about 7 silvers pieces.

Yish then asks what the ruins are called. Nen responds that they’re called the ruins of Warrington. Yish recognizes this name from his knowledge of history. It used to be the estate of the family named Warrington. It was abandoned 382 years ago because the last known heir of the Warrington family was experimenting with mixing humans and animals. The people in the region were suffering, since this final heir would go around town stealing people’s pets and livestock. The people rose up in anger and drove out the entire family. The people then sealed up the castle.

The archaeologist’s name is Olivie Reece. While Nen knows nothing about why she wants to visit the ruins, Yish recognizes her as a recent hire for Wizards of the Coast, although not in the Copyright division. Olivie’s division deals not with arcane scribing as Copyright but with healing and the use of magic on living beings. Olivie is also a worshipper of Nethys.

Olivie left an Angel network number but doesn’t have a demon network number. Yish asks Clarion if she has access to the Angel network, but Clarion says she does not. Yish asks whether Clarion’s denial is actually covering something due to her non-disclosure agreement

Yish comes out of the office and explains the situation. Hnng is very interested once he finds out that chimaeras are involved. Marda finds chimaeras worthy of death, since they are not part of the natural order of things. Clarion doesn’t want to go. Yish isn’t able to make sense of the rest of the party’s discussion, so he goes back into Nen’s office and to say that the party will take the job.

The party goes to the inn where Olivie is staying (she left that piece of information with Nen). The inn is the cheapest, most run-down place. It’s located far away from any of the amenities of town. It’s actually close to the warehouses. It seems that in the recent past, someone failed to take down the inn.

Yish asks the innkeeper for Olivie. He tells Yish the door number. Yish goes up and knocks on the door. A very young half-elf opens the door, looks up expectantly, and asks whether the visitor has read the ad. She seems to be about Yish’s age. Hnng tries to get a good look at her; she seems to be 15 (in hotness) on a scale of 1 to 20. Yish asks whether she’s an intern. She responds that she’s not an intern any longer and is now a junior researcher. Yish asks why she wants to visit the ruins. She responds that she learned about the ruins in her studies and so was curious. Yish gets very close to her and warns her not to support the chimaeras so that there won’t be any problems with Marda. Olivie looks past Yish to see who Marda is.

Yish then makes the terms of service explicit to Olivie: “Please don’t beset us with chimaeras. When we do get beset with chimaeras, please don’t disappear so that we have to go find you.” Yish then asks Hnng for paperwork so that the company isn’t liable if she gets killed out of her own stupidity. Hnng insists that he must meet alone with her, but Yish convinces Olivie that the paperwork can be done in public.

Marda offers Olivie to stay at her house. Olivie accepts Marda’s offer. Hnng offers to help Olivie pack her things. Olivie is about to accept Hnng’s offer, but she catches the panicked expression on Yish’s face and so decides not to accept Hnng’s help. When Hnng begins to insist, Yish kicks him in the shins. Hnng angrily stomps down the stairs (although the stomping doesn’t make much noise). Hnng’s stomping causes him to fall through the stairs. Yish descends carefully and doesn’t ask whether Hnng is okay.

The party departs. Hnng trawdles off elsewhere (he eventually goes for the “centaur special” at As You Wish). Clarion reminds Yish that Cory might come by during the week job. Yish breaks into a jog and goes to the Cat’s Paw. The new barmaid, a busty one, looks up and greets Yish by name. Apparently, pictures of Yish have already been circulated. Yish asks for Cory. The busty barmaid says that it may take a while. She then goes into the back, pulls out a pigeon, and then throws it out the door. Clarion goes to the restroom; Yish orders a slightly spiked ginger ale.

Marda begins trying to induct Olivie to PETA-MOO. Olivie very carefully answers Marda’s questions, since Olivie used animals during healing training (it was too dangerous to try on humanoids). As for favorite animal, Olivie answers hobgoblin. Marda isn’t totally convinced by Olivie’s answer.

Cory eventually enters the bar. He says that he’s surprised to see Yish. He had been meaning to get into contact in three days. Yish informs Cory that there is job that might take a week. So they agree to take the first test in the next two days before the party heads out with Olivie.

Yish then asks why Cory thought to look at Vallan’s house for the blue stone. And how would Cory know about Vallan having the blue stone but not the red stone? Cory responds that Vallan had made contact declaring that he had the stone; Vallan had come into the Cat`s Paw. Yish is curious about the pigeon, but he decides not to ask. Instead, Yish finishes his ginger ale and steps out.

Yish consults Clarion in the street. They debate Cory’s story. Clarion still doesn’t trust Cory, since Cory’s men had broken into everyone’s homes.

Cory's Visit

A week has passed. Hnng comes into work in the morning. He ignores the bulletin board. Marda notices three new bulletins. One says that the government wants more information about the princess. Another is of a new magic shop. Marda takes the last coupon attached to the bulletin. It seems that the magic shop is associated with Wizards of the Coast. The last bulletin says that there is a forest fire to the west; much of the forest had burned down, but the government reports that it has no reason to believe arson. When Hnng learns of the last piece of news, he gets very excited to himself and tries not to show his excitement to others.

Yish staggers into the office three hours late. He’s only slightly drunk, but he is pissed (as usual). Yish is wearing a black turtle-neck and jeggings, with many ear rings. The leader of the red cloaks, although not wearing his red cloak, follows Yish into the office and makes himself known. Hnng peaks out from his slightly ajar door. The leader notices but doesn’t acknowledge.

Yish is surprised that the leader was so quiet. The leader had been waiting for Yish to arrive at work. Clarion is also surprised, as she comes up the stairs from the basement, to see the leader.

The leader claims that he is heir to the monarchy. The current ruler is a usurper, a second uncle. The usurper’s done a bad job of ruling, and the leader wants to take the throne back. The leader also reveals that the blue stone is an ancient artifact. Hnng comes out on pretense of getting more coffee. Hnng has completely forgotten of the incident at the barn; he drinks noisily.

The leader continues to explain that the blue stone casts illusion spells that tests the heir to see if he is worthy of the throne. Clarion begins to wonder whether that meant that everyone was standing there in the barn with dumb expressions on their faces. The leader adds that the stone took them into a pocket dimension. Marda then asks what the leader’s opinion is on forest animals. Yish warns the leader to be very supportive of the animals. The leader responds to Marda: “Creatures are important to the ecology of L’lanon”. Marda is very pleased with this response and is willing to help him in any way.

The party then begins to wonder what the leader’s name is. The leader reveals his name to be Cory Dapia. Yish asks rather disbelievingly whether Cory is really his name and then explains that his cousin’s name is Cory. That cousin has really bad eczema. So Yish was surprised that such a non-regal name would be the rightful heir’s.

Both Yish and Marda detect no deception in Cory’s claim to the throne. Clarion thinks he’s lying. Hnng attempts to intimidate Cory into not telling lies (Hnng doesn’t even bother trying to detect whether he’s telling the truth). Cory does get uncomfortable at Hnng’s proximity, although he isn’t actually afraid; even so, Hnng convinced that Cory now fears him. Hnng slithers back to the coffee pot, now filled only with the dregs, pours another cup full, and begins grinding his teeth on the bitter coffee grounds. Yish assures Cory that Hnng is not acting unusually.

The party is now curious to hear what Cory wants. Cory explains that he wants the blue stone.

Knowing that he is in a position of bargaining, Yish makes two demands. The first is to help get Vallan back. The other is to deal with Rudolf, whom Yish describes as being a dick and living in the forest and abusing dire wolves. Cory wonders what he can do, since his rule does not extend to the western forest. But he does promise to protect Sif with his guard. Yish attempts to understand the size of Cory’s guard. Cory replies that there are more guards than whores in the town. Everyone turns to look at Hnng, who becomes very self-conscious and refuses to answer. As for helping with Vallan, Cory agrees to allow them to be served with Wizards of the Coast. In return, Yish allows Cory to use the blue stone under supervision (meaning that Yish and his friends are allowed to be a part of trials).

After Cory leaves, Yish pulls out paper, glue, and broken pottery to work on his collage. Hnng returns to his office, which has a blacked out window. Yish declares that pizza bagel bites is superior to pizza hot pockets. Hnng gets sucked into the discussion. Clarion gets ready to prepare bagel bites for the party’s lunch. But then she remembers that she’s got a sandwich (from the Philadelphia Street’s gnomes) at home and so leaves Yish to finish cooking the bagel bites.

Yish also gets notice that he gets a 10% discount on all items at the Cat’s Paw.


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