By Jon Antonsen, Variety Editor originally published in Issue 3, Volume 30 of the University Register on Friday, October 20, 2017.
In the last installment of our story, our players had been transported from their homeland of Sand Point—from their homeworld of Valeria—to a different universe contained within the bowels of the Lost Coast Catacombs. In search of the last Guardian of the Gates, our players are engaged in an interplanar cat-and-mouse chase through spacetime to capture the she-demon Nualia.
Once they entered the catacombs and tumbled through their first interplanar wormhole, the players found themselves in Squall’s End, a jungle community inhabited by wood elves and ferocious dinosaurs.
Shortly after arriving, it had become clear that the people of Squall’s End were perturbed. In fact, the Magistrate claimed that a she-demon named Nualia and her Merchants of Doom had inflicted pain and suffering upon the town’s inhabitants.
Before the players could move on to the next level, however, the Magistrate commanded them to help his community—free it from the legacy of that wretched beast. After meeting with the Magistrate, the players sprung to action: Leo the Inspector, the paladin Gerald, and the elven bard Maer’n headed to the local tavern to gather information, the cleric Davor and his sorceress wife Kaye headed to the medical tent in the soldier’s camp to provide healthcare, and Mices, with Three Shiv Mac as chaperone, left to find his “wife” (who really wasn’t his wife, but a graduated infatuation who tried to kill him).
At the tavern, the Wooden Boozer, Leo, Gerald, and Maer’n split up to talk to the locals—Gerald took the left side of the bar, Maer’n took the right, and Leo spoke to the bartender. The bartender, Otaehyrn Magpeter, was a friendly fellow with a North-Elvish (Minnesotan) drawl. Magpeter told Leo that there is a problem at the Fenquinal Farm: a large rodent had killed one of the farmhands working the mill, and since then the mill has laid silent. Upon hearing this, the players jumped to action, and Magpeter distracted them from a real problem in the community.
Upon leaving the bar, the group began an eager sprint to the barn. Leo, using a spell, hastily sent a message to Mices and Davor: “Guys, we’ve got a lead on some stuff to do, let’s go!”
Davor declined—he had other things to worry about. Upon arriving at the soldier’s camp, he was greeted with a horrific sight: soldiers were strewn about on beds and makeshift straw mats covered in wounds of varying severity. He and Kaye walked around the beds and soldiers, trying to figure out what had happened. Had Nualia brought a literal army with her to fight with locals? Had a T-Rex penetrated their defenses recently? Both explanations were to be quickly disproven.
Yelling erupted from a dorm tent and shortly after two soldiers burst from its entrance flaps into the middle of the camp, beating each other with broken bottles and bone shivs. Bystanders quickly intervened, but not before one soldier fell limp on the ground, blood spurting from a neck wound. After a few moments of violent flailing, the other soldier slowly descended into unconsciousness.
“Get him in here, now!” yelled an elf at the mouth of the medic tent.
Soldiers rushed their injured comrade into the tent, and Davor and Kaye followed close behind. Davor and the medic worked hard to save this man, but their efforts were fruitless—he died on the operating table. The medic, Jaarthal Byrna, blamed it on the mead they were drinking; it caused anyone who drank it to burst into extreme rage.
On the other side of town, Mices said he would join the party on their way towards the Fenquinal Farm. He was excited because during his digging he found a locket, a burned goblin body, and part of a business card for the Bizarre Bethalium. After the heroes were done with the Fenquinal Farm, they could investigate the evidence pulled from these remains.
The party took care of the Fenquinal Farm issue swiftly. Ten mastiff-sized dire rats greeted the party with their sharp claws and menacing teeth. For any normal person, this would be the end of them, however Mices could quickly kill any rat with his bare hands. Once the rats had been taken care of, the farm workers rejoiced. When the farmhands tried to return to work, they found that the mill couldn’t turn. Leo took a swig of his flask (Out of game: which gave him a +2 to detective skills such as Perception, Appraise, Diplomacy, etc.). He found the source of the problem: the severed head of the farm worker was caught in the gears, seizing the mill’s operation.
Once the farm issue was taken care of, Davor contacted the players and urgently told them to head to the soldier’s camp. Once they arrived, Davor explained what happened and requested their assistance in identifying the magic in the mead. Leo took a swig of his flask and cast detect magic on the mead. The magic on the mead was a suggestion spell. In Nualia’s voice, the suggestion droned forth: “Your work is fruitless, Gorgoroth will kill you and your loved ones. Why do you hide under the ground like a coward? If you are not, prove that you’re not. Take out your anger.”
The party knew of one person who could be behind this tainted mead: Otaehyrn Magpeter. If you recall, he has something to hide—but what is it? Did Magpeter knowingly distribute tainted mead, following the commands of a she-demon? Or is it more complicated: does the arson have something to do with it? What was the goblin doing in the charred remains of the Iliwreak store? Tune in to the next installment of Rise of the Shitlords to discover the shocking truth.