Date: Autumn, 1333 Avard
While Enialis and the team had dealt with the mystery of Sir 'Dash' Howell's murder, an emissary from the elves had visited Lok Magius. A friend of Enialis named Andrel used a few illusions to make a reclusive, engrossed-in-his-reading young elf that wanted little to do with anything beyond his studies. Andrel's illusions were apparently convincing, but the friend demanded repayment with time in transmutation magics. Enialis was happy to comply, making the river trip to Lok Magius via the swamp town of Lena.
Kethra spent time in the woods, communing with nature and attuning herself to the ways of her tribe and her people. In the end, she made a decision to follow the way of the wolf – pack animals that work well with others.
Leucis communed with the darkness, and the darkness communed back with him.
Tullia gave of her time by healing the poor and the destitute at the tiny temple of Whalin in the undertown and near the docks.
Tyra read. She stayed with her books, occasionally swapping them out from the Libranum.
Roughly a week after Dash's murder, Tyra and Leucis were summoned to the Baron Erol Longaxe. During the baron's daily lunch sessions with his people, Sir Yonalt the Red had told of strange happenings at Faleth's Brewery. Sir Tarsent was a knight who ran a decent ale brewery, supplying several taverns in Lena and Kashin. When the brewery went silent, Yonalt the Red was sent to investigate – both knights being sworn to the baron. Yonalt found no one. He helped himself to some ale, and rendered himself and his armor and clothing invisible. The effect faded almost a quarter-phase of the moon, but his left hand was still invisible, even the ring upon his finger seemingly gone to all but touch. Yonalt the Red had brought a sealed tankard of the ale with him, but of the others at the brewery or Sir Tarsent, there was no sign.
As the situation smacked of the arcane – or at least the kind of unusual happenings that the Lord of Longaxe's special team was uniquely equipped to investigate.
The Baron Longaxe wanted his team to move out immediately, catching one of the night cruises heading downstream. Tyra found Tullia and Leucis found Kethra. Luckily, they caught Enialis getting off of a ship just arriving at the docks and swept him up onto another ship just leaving the docks.
Leucis (and several of the others) used their enhanced night vision to help defray the cost of their night voyage, while the vessel's tomanth swam ahead, sending signals back to the night-seeing team.
They spied signs of elgannet beetles near the shore. The Baron Longaxe offered bounties on the carriage-sized, metallic green insects that could saw through and eat healthy adult oaks. Luckily, the elganett beetles tended to prefer softer woods like pine and tended to make natural roads through the woods that wandered randomly. They were relatively non aggressive, but during the mating season could be dangerous.
They arrived at Faleth's Path around the third hour after midnight. There were no docks, nor was there a boat. There might have been one in the past, but they surmised that Sir Yonalt likely took it with him when he left. The river sloop let them off as close as it could, and they waded onto the path. The sloop continued on its way, leaving them on their own.
Kethra slipped off into the woods for a reconnaissance, while the rest of the team moved up the path. There were signs of wheel-barrow ruts and relative use in the starlit darkness. The tiefling Leucis saw in the dark the best, and took careful point.
After perhaps a quarter mile through the woods, after Kethra rejoined them, they arrived at the brewery. The brewery had been built atop a rock outcropping some 17 feet high, on the other side of a small clearing. To the left were five wood-plank hovels, and to the right were several wood-plank storage buildings. It was obvious that the brewery had once been a lumber yard, converted to brewing after the selection of trees had been exhausted. The woods were, themselves, still exhaustive, but the Baron Longaxe was careful to preserve as much as possible so that he could return in some years or even decades.
They investigated the hovels, first, breaking up into teams. The ladies took the second hovel, while the men took the first. Leucis and Enialis checked for invisible bodies, and found only a couple of ten inch long lizards in one corner. The hovel was otherwise intact, with several tankards still on the table – two of which had the tell-tale arcane signature that Enialis could detect, matching the tankard Sir Yonalt had brought back.
Enialis' analysis of the tankard and its ale indicated an arcanogen – an arcane potion that transmuted the imbiber. The exact effect was unknown, but for Enialis invisibility was the easy suspect given what had happened to Yonalt the Red.
Leucis stuck his finger into the wine, and then popped it into his mouth, tasting of the arcanogen. He perhaps hoped to turn invisible. Instead, he began to stiffen, his skin hardening and movement becoming difficult. The effect was not instantaneous, but it was noticeable to Leucis.
The second hovel the ladies checked out had a bed filled with an oily residue just starting to go rancid. The third hovel had the back blown out and the furniture inside destroyed, as though trampled by a large beast. The fourth hovel had only clothing on the floor, as though the inhabitants had turned to vapors. The fourth hovel had a plant growing in a chair, its roots reaching down through the planks into the soil and its leaves turned towards the open door.
They began to suspect that the arcanogen had random effects. It was in the ale in several of the hovels, but not all. But, given that it was a brewery, they suspected it was related.
The storage buildings were gone through, next. There were sacks of grain, bags and crates of various plants and herbs, and several tuns of… wine. Apparently, Sir Tarsent's ale used a touch of wine in the brewing process. One of the tuns had a faint arcane trace near the stoppered, untouched cork. The tun was labeled as having shipped from Kur Maeth, but the maker's mark on the bottom indicated Aboris.
To verify that the tun's wine was contaminated, they carefully removed the stopper. Enialis verified that the wine was, indeed, the same transmutational magic as the tankard Yonalt the Red had brought with him.
None of the other tuns had arcanogen presence (and only Enialis could see it, though Leucis could feel it), although several others were labeled with shipping marks from Kur Maeth. The rest of the sheds proved unenlightening regarding the mystery of Sir Tarsent and his people.
Saving the rock for last, they investigated the brewery itself. There was a double-back ramp carved into the side of the rock, with wheel-barrows leaned up against it. There were also stairs that led up to double-doors left open wide. Off to one side was a hoist that could lift wheel-barrows up the height of the rock. No light shined, save the stars and Tullia's small orb of life-green divinity, held in her hand like an emerald flame.
They went up the stairs, Luecis' slowed movement becoming noticeable to the rest of the team, and found themselves in an office. Papers were scattered about in some disarray, but there were signs of raccoons and birds and mice that had apparently been investigating the brewery since all the people left.
Beyond the office were the vats and the dryers and other elements of the brewers' trade. Enialis found that an entire vat of ale was contaminated with the arcanogen. There was no sign of a contaminated tun, however.
At one end of the brewery, near the hoist beam, was an opening through the planks of the floor boards. A rope from the hoist beam descended into a storage room some seven feet high, filled with row upon row of tuns of ale.
Tulia lit an empty tun nearby with her emerald fire that didn't burn, and tossed it down into the store room. The lit tun rolled to a stop near a stand of many other tuns. A half dozen tuns to one side were empty and stood on their end, and three tuns to another side were filled, but with their tops not yet sealed.
Leucis went first down the rope, examining the tuns for makers or shippers marks. Instead, he found a strange three-digit number code on each of the ale tuns, along with dates. Some of them were less than a year old, while the oldest were three years of age. The code, though, made no sense; there might be three tuns in a row with an 852 code, and then no others like it. Other tuns had codes of 252, 655, 401, and so on.
All the others save Tyra descended down, investigating. The tiefling known as Tyra remained above, keeping an eye on things in the brewery to ensure they were not trapped below.
Enialis confirmed that one of the empty tuns had residue of the arcanogen. To the others, it was an empty wine tun like all the rest, but to the trained mage it glowed sharply of amber tones, indicating powerful transmutational magic.
The three untopped tuns drew Kethra's attention. The liquid in them was sloshing around in a circle, as though it were being gently shaken by an unseen giant's hand. There was no reason for the liquid to slosh around as it was, and she approached cautiously, drawing the attention of Tullia. Tullia pulled the emerald flame from the empty tun nearby and shifted it to a small stone she picked up off the floor. She tossed it into slowly sloshing fluid of the tun.
The tun and those near it erupted, engulfing Kethra in their green-colored amber fluid, attempting to drown the woman and crush her at the same time. Leucis and Tullia leapt forward to assist, while Tyra and Enialis hammered at the flowing, moving, churning ale with spells and energy.
It behaved like a water elemental, only made of ale, hammering, engulfing, tossing, and beating them, moving to where they were, surrounding them, pummeling them, and then moving on again in a riot of fluid motion.
And then someone set it on fire.
The battle turned into a rout. Enialis scrambled up the smoking rope and fled. Tyra hesitated a moment, and then joined him. As the brewery became engulfed in flames, it collapsed into the storeroom, crushing the barely alive Kethra, burying Leucis' petrified from, and cremating Tullia.
That night would haunt Tyra's dreams for the rest of her life. Her adventuring days were over. She fled home to stay with her libraries for the rest of her days.
Enialis stumbled to the banks of the river, and waited on a sloop to take him upriver to Kashin. He would make his report to the Lord Longaxe and never know that Kethra had still been alive when the floor fell in on her – or that the petrified Leucis was still alive, his dark lord still whispering to him in his timeless state.
DM's Notes: After too long without, we played at our place so Sommer could take best care of the seven week old Gabriel – who proved to be rather fussy and needy and distracted her quite a bit from her game play. David and Lynn brought a Subway party sub! I was saddened to see Kethra die, especially when the aelemental monster had only five friggin hit points left. As it was, Tulia had a save left, I think, and might could have survived, as well – especially as it was Lynn's birthday game. Leucis seemed to commit suicide after ingesting the arcanogen, moving in to do melee when he's usually such a distance fighter. With Leucis' passing and Tulia intent on attack rather than healing, I think things just sort of went to hell in a handbasket. I'm not sure if it was because of reaching 3rd Level, or if some of the party was just ready for new characters, or if there was something in the subs. Whatever the cause, I look forward to the next chapter with some new characters.
None to date.