Title: The Tongue Demons
Date: Mid Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: The ME team helps battle tongue demons in Teras and Greff inherits the Orchid's Dew.
Afternoon of the 17th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
The Orchid's Dew was a gutted mess of a tavern, filled with dead orcs and broken furniture. The great orc war drums were a mangled mess of rare desert woods and hides. The bar's owner, Nalth, had died behind the counter wielding the two glass tankards the tavern had. Unfortunately, the thick, broken glass did little against werewolves.
The ME team, tired and hungry, left the gory scene to the orcs and found a nearby tavern. Old One Eye's was set up more for drinks than food, but gold coins convinced the barkeep to put his son to use rounding up food from the vendors, while the team rested from a very long morning's battle.
Arkhan excused himself to visit a nearby altar. He felt undeserving of his recently acquired fourth holbrace, despite sending a demon lord back to Shadareth. He knelt before the nondenominational altar just off the street, and asked the God of Memories for inspiration.
At the tavern, there was a commotion on the street, as horses whinnied and people shouted in disbelief. An ape-like beast with the appearance of flayed skin was visible in the unshuttered tavern window for a moment. It was made of tongues, with rolled up tongues for eyes, and slime like saliva all over it. It grasped the window frame with fingers made of thick tongues from many beasts, and then it was gone, moving on down the street.
The team glanced at one another, and then darted out into the street as quickly as they could. Greff leapt up onto Buck's back, the horse unsettled by the beast and the smell of tongueless horses it left in its wake. Greff heeled his mount, gaining control, and drove the racing horse forward, leaping over an overturned cart. Aeron followed moments later on Justice. Demon dropped a line to Corrin down in the street, and hauled her up to the roof, where she mounted. The silik spider moved along the roof tops, following the tongue demon – and seeing evidence that it was not alone.
The city seemed in chaos.
Arkhan, deep in prayer, heard the chaos approaching. A sense of evil presaged the demon, galvanizing the paladin into movement before thought. As the tongue demon loped by on its too-long arms, Arkhan was already in the air, leaping onto Bergeron's back.
The draestrier surged ahead, it's cat-like body armored in dragon scales. Arkhan guided the draestrier around several wounded people, and then the mount moved its powerful jaws in, using dagger-sized teeth to tear into the tongue demon.
The demon exploded in a rain of wiggling tongues, and Bergeron spit out the tongues quickly. The mount cried in distress at the horrid taste of the tongues still tuck in its teeth. Of the demon, there was no sign.
Greff and then Aeron arrived moments later. From the rooftops, Corrin called down that there was another tongue demon just blocks away.
The team moved through the city, finding chaos. The guard managed to destroy one such tongue demon. In another place, enraged dwarven citizens had destroyed another. There were also many dead, their tongues ripped out of their mouths whether dead or alive.
A flight of mages moved through the air, attempting to destroy the demons wherever they appeared. There seemed no rhyme or reason to the attacks, although Aeron had his suspicions. The bells began to ring, warning everyone off the streets, indicating danger for the second time that day.
The team spent some time mopping up a few random demons, finding no rhyme or reason to their attacks. When an hour had passed with no sign of another tongue demon, the team moved closer to the ducal manor. The guard was out in force, and they seemed as disorganized the tongue demons had been. The peace bells failed to ring, and team kept waiting for word.
The only thing to draw attention in the whole mess had been the death of one the guards in an unusual manner. Rather than having been attacked out right by a tongue demon, one of the guards had died in a most peculiar manner. The name 'Ayla' was written in blood on the wall of an alleyway, just above the corpse of the guard. The mages and several knights had already witnessed the scene of the murder, and unable to put it together with the tongue demons, left it alone for later.
To the team, however, the murder told a different story. The blood streaks did not run down the wall; they ran up. Something had exploded out of the guard's abdomen, and then his blood had run up the wall to spell the name 'Ayla'. The edges of the blood were dried oddly – in lines that more than a moment's cursory inspection would have turned up. The insides of the letters had been the last parts to dry – the first part to dry was at the base, near the body.
The team let several of the guard know, but the guard were still hunting down random tongue demons. There were still scattered reports throughout the city, and close to a score of the demons had run everywhere through the various boroughs, sewing chaos, killing people at random, and panicking many an animal as tongues were ripped out.
Beyond notifying the guard, there was little else to do. The Half Crown was an upper class tavern nearby, and from it they could keep an eye on the Ducal Manor across the street. The head waiter at the Half Crown was so snooty that Aeron had to leave, and Corrin was annoyed enough to hide.
The team had been followed throughout the city by a small escort of orcs. The orcs were obstensibly there for the team's protection against further troubles, but they seemed to need something from the team that they had been lacking: leadership. The four orcs, including Bent Ear the thick-necked subleader, were treated like the country bumpkins they were – not without outright disdain, but with subtle reproach.
Arkhan and Greff kept their seats and used a combination of conversation and inquiries of nearby offended businessmen and minor nobles to learn a few things. Ayla was one of the missing caretakers for the children of the Duke. The Duke's children had proven free of possession, but the caretakers had gone missing before anyone could find out for certain whether they were possessed or not.
One of the guard even remembered seeing Ayla hobbling east towards the riverside docks, oblivious to the danger about her.
Two women walked into the Half Crown, and the head waiter treated them with near frightful respect. Both women chose to sit with Arkhan and Greff, and the head waiter was fearful enough not to protest.
One of the women was Chillean, and the other slate, though both dressed in Chillean fashions – silk robes over silk body suits, with large silk bows tying the robes closed. The Chillean women deigned not to speak or look at anyone, and the slate woman spoke for her in a quiet manner reminiscent of the Chillean culture.
Word on the street indicated that Amreth the Gaunt had been taken down by a purple gas grenade tossed off by a member of the Meridian Explorations team in Teras. The slate woman placed an amulet on the table, and offered it in exchange for one of the gas grenades.
Arkhan looked carefully at both women, seeing their myriad hidden weapons, the lethal way in which they walked, the many clues that screamed to the trained eye that they were assassins. And then Arkhan looked again. Both women were obviously from a culture of assassinations, trained in those arts, and yet there was something noble about both women, as they tried to rise against their training and traditions. The God of Memories was rarely ignored, but his insight seemed to flow through Arkhan, easing his thoughts in the matter.
Arkhan said that another member of the team carried the grenades, and then the dragonborn called attention to the halfling. Corrin, one adept at hiding in plain sight, managed to startle both assassins into freezing in place. Only Arkhan saw the reaction, but he was satisfied with it. Corrin, however, was not. She was rather miffed at Arkhan for drawing attention to her, and proceeded to berate him and stare daggers of annoyance at him, before heading outside to cool off.
The slate woman took back the amulet, and said quietly that she and her friend could be found at the apothecary shoppe not too far away.
The amulet held considerable power to heal, bearing as it did the symbol of Whalin in green lapis. The offer of the amulet reinforced Arkhan's feelings of trust for the slate woman.
Greff left some coin for the still-drinking orcs, and then he and Arkhan left the Half Crown to cross the street to Aeron. Aeron had finished his impromptu bath in a water trough, and had begun putting his armor and equipment back on while Justice stood guard.
Justice and Bergeron nipped a bit at one another, before Arkhan quietted the two down. Buck stayed out of the way for the encounter, feeling safer with Demon than with the two larger lizard mounts.
Corrin joined Arkhan and Greff and Aeron, and the four set to talking about what to do. The team had been discussing, off and on through the afternoon, just what their next step would be. The water trough discussion became somewhat vociferous, though not heated. Corrin wanted to find the beard hairs of the blood stone. Greff wanted to go back to Chasadan and let Hershel know what all had happened. Aeron's loyalties were to Chasadan, and Arkhan wanted to vanquish Chert and the other demons.
Eventually, the team decided that if they could find the Baron-and-the-Bishop, then perhaps he would send the team on their way, whichever way that was.
The four mounted up, and their orc escort followed them, as they moved across the wide way to the gate into the walled compound of the Ducal Manor. Like the guards on the street, the guards at the entrance treated the team as respected members of a foreign Guard. Captain Aeron of Chasadan and Defender Arkhan of Xynos were unmistakeable figures, and their recognition by the duke as well as their actions at the Temple of Habrem had spread like wildfire through the town after the werewolves were put down. Greff was a scoundrel known to many of the older guards, and Demon was a giant spider often associated with him – for Corrin was rarely seen. Altogether, the ME team had a reputation from even before their most recent visit to Teras.
Inside the gate, a member of the Guard of Teras took stock of the situation, assigning a guide to the team and helping ensure their mounts were stabled appropriatedly. The guide took them without question into the Ducal Manor, the clean uniform of Captain Aeron and the highly visible bracers of a paladin helping with those unfamiliar with the tales of the ME team.
The Baron-and-the-Bishop had already left for Mount Rilan, though his ship was still at the riverside wharf. The duke was thankful to the team, again, for saving his children; he also assured them that the Baron-and-the-Bishop had made it well known that the ME team and the orcs had saved the children.
Towards that end, Greff asked that the orcs be instated in the Guard of Teras. The senior guardsman present objected, but the duke overrode him; the senior guardsman had just been complaining about his staff being gutted by the werewolves, and thus unable to respond to the tongue demon threat.
Greff also asked for the Orchid's Dew tavern, given that its proprietor was dead. The duke and the orcs thought it a splendid idea, and Greff very nearly sniffled at the thought of having his own bar.
Bent Ear and the other orcs saluted Greff, and parted ways with the team to begin their civil training.
The ME team left in a hurry, hoping to catch the dwarven ship before it left. They crossed town and found the dwarven ship still at anchor. Every last one of that crew were powerful priest-warriors of the Soul Forger, but few enough spoke the common tongue. Greff and Corrin were able to talk with the priest-warrior guarding the gangplank, and ask him if he would use the Eye of Galgiran to transport the team to the Baron-and-the-Bishop.
The priest-warrior attempted the prayers of Galgiran, and the blue-white light of Galgiran's eye appeared – but it did not open. Nor did it open to take the team to Mount Lavanor.
The ME team was flummoxed, and took some time to consider. They asked the priest-warrior if he could open the Eye of Galgiran to wherever it was Galgiran wanted them to go, since the Soul Forger refused to transport the team to either previous destination.
The priest-warrior agreed, and intoned the prayers to Galgiran once again. The eye appeared – and then opened. Aeron and Arkhan wasted no time in rushing through, at the will of a god they had very nearly met. Greff and Corrin hesitated a moment longer, and then followed through the Eye of Galgiran.
Afternoon of the 17th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was left-over chicken-cheese from my mother's Easter with angel-hair spaghetti, and it made a biiiiig pot o cheesy-chickeny goodness. Mrm. Good idea, Sommer.
Sommer's had a 'natural'-looking book for the last year or so that she picked up at Barnes and Nobles because of its leaf construction and natural beauty. It's been blank for awhile, and it occurred to her to hand it over to Bill. She said she didn't mind if he 'lost' it or tossed it, but it's intended for Greff's book of tavern crawls. Whether Bill takes it and runs with it or just stares at it, it's a nifty thought. I look forward to seeing what comes of that book.
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters have 44,500XP (13th level).