Title: Curse of the Ruins of Ranis
Date: Early Dalan, 1333 Avard
Synopsis: Hershel sends the company out adventuring on Yatindar's Day, while he is stuck in cermonies; the ruins of Ranis have long been thought haunted, but the company finds a curse, instead.
Morning of Dalan the 17th, Yatindar's Day, 1332 Avard.
Yatindar's Day filled Chasadan to overflowing, with a steady stream of peoples coming into the second largest city in all Rakore. There were expected to be at least 5,000 people at standing room only in the great square, and many more people in the streets.
Hearne, Varis, Roswyn, and Greff met at Hershel's tower early the morning, despite a long night. Meeting them there was a desert elf name Ryviik, whom had come to join Meridian Explorations. Ryviik was a hunter turned mercenary, and the size of the skins and the beasts that Meridian Explorations had encountered intrigued Ryviik considerably.
Hershel, already nervous from the previous night's assassination attempt, was a bit reluctant to let Ryviik join Meridian Explorations. His own assessments had proven wrong in the past, and so he let the company itself decide whether Ryviik could join, or not. A brief test of abilities ensued, in which the butcher's sign above his shoppe some 250 feet away wound up with four arrows in it. Inside the tower, Varis, Greff, and Ryviik managed to run and jump high enough to touch the very top of the hanging boar's tail, and land without mishap. In the end, the company decided that Ryviik had the skills, and they would find out if he was trustworthy or not on the trail.
The day was expected to be filled with speakers, courts cases, prayers, priests, and the blessings of Yatindar – and Hershel, as Ducal Mage to the Janis Plains, would have to suffer through all of it. Meridian Explorations, however, would not; Hershel's familiar Meridia would observe the company as they left town and investigated some ruins nearby. Through Meridia, Hershel would be able to covertly observe the company, and at times throughout the day, obtain some sort of relief from the droll goings on of the day.
The ruins of Ranis were some twenty miles outside of Chasadan, and often completely ignored by wayfarers. The village had been abandoned some fifty or sixty years ago, due to a curse laid upon it. Built of sod and dug out of the earth, all that remained of the village was small berms of earth no more than a few feet tall on the prairie, and a wallowed out well. The ruins were thought to be haunted, but many a priest had returned from Ranis disappointed, convinced there were no undead there. Yet the locals insisted the ruins were haunted, and none would stay overnight there.
Hershel sent the party off with his vague map, and his reassurances that they would, indeed, pull double pay for working Yatindar's Day – and any other holidays.
Ryviik had a trusted mount known as Dusty in one of the stables, and Greff had to go get his horse, Buck. Roswyn and Varis returned to Roswyn's shoppe, where she picked up her goat-stead Moxy, and Varis borrowed the onyx steed statuette from Sorsha. Hearne had his enchanted bridle that summoned forth a riding horse from the bridle itself.
Together, the five of them set out for the ruins of Ranis on a beautiful spring day, with a gentle south wind blowing in off the sea to the south, sweeping across the short-grassed prairie in waves.
Nearer to the ruins, they realized that there were no animals about, save insects. Their mounts stepped on many a small bone, and the remains of men and horses' bones, some months old, were found with all the marrow and meat stripped form their bones. The signs indicated troll teeth.
The well could be smelled, diseased and putrid as it was. The well had apparently collapsed in on itself somewhat, the hole being nearly ten feet on a side. Roswyn dropped several stones in to test the depth, and water splashed some forty feet down.
And something in the well giggled insanely.
Finding nothing else above ground, they realized that their prey, troll or not, would have to be bearded in its den. Dusty was hobbled nearby, though Buck and Moxy grazed freely, having become trusted mounts that would come when called. The onyx steed and the bridle-summoned horse were dismissed.
A rope was dropped down the hole and secured, and then Greff and Ryviik went down, followed by Varis and Roswyn.
At the bottom, they found a cavern some twenty feet tall and fifty feet back, partially limestone and partially packed earth. The bottom of the cave, even into the water, was covered in cracked and broken bones. There was no sign of life, though the water beneath the rope seemed deep. The water stretched nearly twenty feet away from the rope and the near wall, and so Greff and Ryviik attempted to swing and leap out across the water, avoiding it at all costs. Ryviik managed to get some on him, and the foul waters were nastier than they had imagined.
Greff and Ryviik managed to toss a second rope to Roswyn, who tied the two ropes together. It let the rest of them slide down onto the bones of the cave without touching the water.
The giggling returned, and then they were attacked. The bones shook and moved, and a buried troll rose up and attack. Invisible things, gremlin-like in appearance, skulked about and swiped at them with claws and teeth. The skulkers interfered with everything, tripping them up and attacking when their backs were to the invisible creatures. They were barely a foot in height, but the troll was another problem.
The troll picked up Hearne and used him as a club, pounding the crap out of Ryviik and Greff. Unable to see the invisible targets, many of the company focused on bringing the troll down, though their leggings were torn to ribbons and they were tripping often enough.
The huge troll finally went down, and the company focused on the little skulkers, wiping them out, slowly but surely, one by one.
Ryviik's horse, Dusty, was thrown into the well, dead before he hit the water. Other cursed skulkers had gone out to attack things up top, and they were returning. The company barely had a moment to catch its breath, and then it was under attack, again.
The second battle went more smoothly, the company taking the offense. The gremlin-like things were difficult to see, even impossible to see at times, and yet the company worked together. Roswyn made their armors blast out powers, while Hearne sculpted the battlefield with walls of thorns and grasping tendrils of water. Greff's fists hammered anything he could find, while Ryviik and Varis did their best to deplete their store of arrows into anything that might be difficult to see.
One of them nearly tripped over a statuette of K'Tath, the God of Vengeance. Several of them realized that the curse of the village was vengeful, and they intoned the prayers to let the god know its curse was long-since complete. In a last-ditch effort, as the invisible little beasties swarmed around them, they destroyed the statuette.
And then it was over. The curse of Ranis was lifted. The gremlin-like things were gone in wisps, and only the burned, acid-crisped body of the troll remained. The troll's regenerative powers were destroyed by Roswyn's fire, and the enchanted flask she had given Greff that let him breath acid and fire upon his foes.
They took a moment to catch their breaths, and then slowly dug through some of the bones in the cave. The only enchanted thing they found was a braided leather bracelet, its natural powers infusing the wearer with primal abilities. There was a small dragon carving of a black dragon, carved from a talon of a black dragon. There was an ivory and mother-of-pearl hilted dagger. There was also gold, and silver, and random junk – such as a rusting belt buckle, the head of a rake, and the remains of a book that was too faint to read.
Hearne took the fingers of the troll to make into a choker, while Ryviik skinned the troll as a trophy, and Roswyn took various samples of the beast' innards and blood. Varis managed to get some of the filthy water on him, but otherwise, they managed to make it out of the well without too much trouble.
Up top, Moxy the goat and Buck the horse were a bit scratched up, but otherwise none-the-worse for wear.
Finding Meridia riding the air current high above, the company posed for Hershel with the remains of the troll, to give him an idea of what they had faced.
Rather than return immediately to Chasadan, they opted to remain out on the plains, digging into their stores and resting the remainder of the day away. Varis took the chills, and his vision fogged up, but careful attention by Hearne and Roswyn helped the disease to run its course and be done with.
Roswyn also took that time to use an arcane power to restore the book to its original condition. It had belonged a follower of Lul known as Ambar of Kaerling. Kaerling was the old name of the village originally at Chasadan, and the name of the town as Valen knew it in his day. Ambar's diary was some twenty years old, and detailed his merchant experiences throughout the region. Most of the diary was minutae, such as how much one horse cost versus another, or how many bolts of fabric were transferred from Kaerling to Terrace.
The next morning, they returned to Chasadan to find an exulted Hershel. He eagerly demanded the full accounting of their adventure, and was quite pleased with the group. Seeing the remains of the troll when the company came up out of the well made his day, and kept his spirits up through the full day's 'celebration' of Yatindar.
Though there had been some arguing over the items found in the well of Ranis, all the items were dutifully offered up for Hershel to peruse. The diary, Hershel selected for his brother, and the dagger he selected for himself. All the other items, he let the company keep, being quite proud of them – especially with a new skin to hang on his wall.
Hershel remarked that he was already running out of room on his inside tower walls for the skins.
Noon of Dalan the 18th, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was meatball subs. Mrm…
I had originally planned on there ever only being four players at the table at once. Last week, Ross had been out on vacation, and he indicated he would not be able to play when he returned – but a week's vacation and the return often change one's mind when it comes to getting out and getting back to some routines, such as playing. We had already told Caileb he could play, and so we made the exception that there could be five at the table for the evening.
This was my first time to use 4E rules for an invisible attacker, and I'm glad the players didn't bitch and moan too loudly about how unfair the fighting was. The troll went down awfully quick; having a controller, a leader, and three strikers all together made for awesome amounts of damage. The cursed skulkers, on the other hand, proved to be more dangerous – not for their numbers, but because the strikers had difficulty making them out.
I apologize to Sommer; I had forgotten that her gnome could see through illusions better than most, and had also forgotten that she had an aura-killing ability. The skulkers were using divine illusions to remain invisible, and had an aura that interfered with all skills checks within five squares. As a DM, I had quite a bit to run, and should've taken a closer look ahead of time at the skulkers' and even the troll's abilities, to better entertain everyone and keep the game flowing smoothly. I hope the players forgive me for not preparing better, ahead of time.
Otherwise, I think it went well, and they seemed to have a good time.
All characters have 12,000 experience points and are 7th-level.
Sure, we'll forgive you… this time.
I think Herschel needs to invest in the construction of an actual Hall for Meridian Explorations. It would be all too easy for a political opponent to point out that he is perhaps abusing his office for personal gain… especially in a tower that is not actually his, but WHOEVER the Ducal mage may be at the time. Plus there'd be much more room for skins and trophies!