TOREN 2000 - Stories|
The Imp's Eye
Barely a half a day out of Ersel Keep, on the road to Tathan we had a curious encounter. Our group stumbled across two guardsmen from the Clover Trading Company. Hoping they might know something about Jane Clover, the woman I was supposed to locate for a mage in Tathan, I approached. They appeared to be involved in some sort of transaction with a man in a rose colored cloak, however it was cut brutally short when one of the guards lopped off the man's head! Perhaps these weren't guards, but brigands in sheep's clothing, I moved forward, spear at the ready and hailed them. The two men reacted as if nothing had happened and bade us move along, however I was not going to be deterred and these two, whether agents of the Clover Trading Company or bandits in disguise would know something of Jane Clover. As I approached the two became noticeably nervous, and when I was within throwing range the two bolted into the light woods, fortunately the rest of the group was ready, Zandor and Dylon each ensorcelled a guard with magics preventing their escape. We quickly tied them up and got to the futile chore of interrogation. Each stuck to the same story, that they were advanced guards for the Clover Trading Company, and the man they killed was a bandit who ambushed them. The object of their transaction proved to be an even greater mystery, a note, and a ceramic glass eye of exquisite design. The note detailed how the exchange was supposed to take place, and described the origins of the eye. Apparently someone stole Shucky the imp's glass eye, and was to deliver the bauble here in exchange for 1000 gold coins. The guards of course said they knew nothing and stuck to their original story of being advanced scouts, which we knew, had been missing for 3 weeks. We searched the area and found only a small game trail leading into the woods. Mick followed it a ways in but found nothing except a small memorial statue ages old and overgrown with moss and lichen.|
Uncertain of our next move we took our prisoners back to Ersel Keep and handed them over to the sheriff, while at the keep we looked up our friend Lia Spellsinger, a well traveled bard with an ear for gossip. She informed us that she had heard of Shucky the Imp, apparently Shucky was in fact, not an imp, but a halfling rogue, who, as the story goes, ran afoul a beholder, the cost of which was his eye, in any event he had the glass eye crafted in its place and wore it till his death several months ago. Whether he was buried with it Lia could not say, but he lived in a halfling village just a short distance away. So it was that we found ourselves on the road to this halfling village, once there we confirmed Lia's story, and discovered that a reward had been offered, 500 gold for the culprits, and 500 gold for the eye. Though it was surely worth much more we returned the eye and accepted the reward. But as Arngrimnir would say, "something smells of fish", so we set out to unravel the mystery and collect the other half of the reward, I also wanted to find out how the Clover Trading Company was tied into the whole affair. As luck would have it the Clover Trading Company was based out of Tathan, the city we were journeying to before getting embroiled in this whole mess.
Once there I spoke with the mage who had originally asked me to find Jane Clover and discovered that Jane was leading a small caravan trading grain in the local communities, the entire caravan had gone missing about three weeks ago, furthermore Jane's father was desperate to discover the whereabouts of his daughter. He assured us that Jane was above suspicion, but it is possible that some of the hired guards may have turned on her. Clover didn't seem to think that was likely since the grain they were carrying was of little value, and the wagons have not turned up in any towns, furthermore no ransom had been demanded for Jane's return. It was as though Jane had vanished off the face of the earth along with the wagons. Clover offered us a 1000 gold as a reward if we could find and return his daughter. I didn't make any promises, since I felt that Jane had something to do with the theft of Shucky's eye and the murder of the courier, but I agreed to keep an eye out for her, so to speak.
Armed with that information we decided to return to the ambush site and search for additional clues, as luck would have it, we found the grain wagons, abandoned and hidden well off the road, but with no signs of struggle and no clues. Our only clear avenue was the small game trail leading back into the forest. We followed it for a great distance, well past the small statue until it opened in a large clearing. Once there we found a large white wolf resting on a grassy knoll eyeing us curiously. The wolf did not appear frightened or menacing, and in fact almost appeared to have a glint of intelligence in his eye. Daltree approached it, and the wolf got to its feet and began to trot off, occasionally looking over its shoulder to see if we would follow. Daltree suggested that we follow the wolf as it obviously had something to show us. I for my part felt it was a trap, and kept my weapons and wits close at hand. Nonetheless we followed the wolf for a short ways, as it lead us through the wood to a small home built into the side of a hill. As we approached we noticed that the area was well kept, and that someone had been tending to several bee hives, we also noticed no less than eight wolves milling about the small home, though none seemed any more concerned than the great white wolf had been with our presence. Daltree surmised that a powerful druid lived here, and had summoned us for a reason, though he could not say what that reason might be, so we waited, and waited, until finally I had the clever idea of pulling one of the Clover Trading Company surcoats from my pack. That seemed to get their attention; apparently the wolves did not care for the Clover Trading Company. A short time later, Daltree was able to convey to the wolves that we were seeking those who wore the same tunics, and once again a wolf took off down a game trail with us close behind. As we traveled, the wolf lead us past a peculiar sight; a large clearing at the end of which stood an armored figure sword in hand, his sun bleached bones showing from beneath his heavy armor. While this site intrigued us, our "guide" did not leave us much time to look around, so we continued onward till we came to the edge of large swampy area.
From what we could see there were a few man made structures, first a makeshift dam, that seemed to be the source of this unnatural swamp, second a small wooden guard tower with an operating mechanism for the dam, third the roof of a large decrepit shack rising above the reeds in the distance, and finally the remains of a ruined tower rising out of the swampy morass. We sent Mick to investigate the dam, unfortunately he returned with two Clover guardsmen on his heels crossbows at the ready. One fought and was killed quickly, the other ran but his heavy armor prevented him from getting very far before we over came him, I would have preferred to capture him, but he called out an alarm and we could ill afford the time it would take to subdue him. Cautiously we continued our investigation, and found that there were no other guards at the dam. We continued onward crossing planks and boards leading to large patches of firm ground deeper into the swamp, ever closer to the stone towers and large building. However the reeds made it difficult to see, and soon we were taken unawares by giant wasps the size of large dogs that rose out of an unseen nest. We were able to dispatch them quickly, but not before Daltree was stung, I suggested he speak to Dylon about his wounds, but he told me no creature of nature could harm him, giant or no. It was only moments later that the already enormous Daltree was swollen to nearly twice his size. While not graceful to start with, the painful swelling of his joints made walking a chore for the poor druid. But we could not give up the chase now, and Dylon informed us that the swelling caused by the bee's venom would be temporary, and that he could alleviate some of the symptoms with magic, so we continued, onward despite Daltree's protests.
We could see the shack through the reeds now, and the guards must not have been alerted by our combats or had time to prepare. They did have a simple defense set up however, a low stone wall with two crossbowmen behind it, beyond them supported on stilts was the shack, and on its crude steps stood Jane Clover and her personal bodyguard. We took them by surprise, and I was able to get the jump on them hustling forward I engaged the further of the two, leaving the nearest to Arngrimnir who was right behind me. It didn't take long for the guards to gathered their wits and draw their swords, the bodyguard also drew his sword and engaged me, he was a powerful man and I was barely able to deflect the brunt of his assault with my shield, but it did nothing to protect me from the electrical shock his weapon delivered. I could tell he was a skillful warrior, and his magic sword made him doubly dangerous, but I knew a few tricks of my own and was able to trip him up and soon he was overbalanced and toppled into the mud, this gave me the advantage I was looking for and I took it by delivering a savage blow penetrating his defenses. Meanwhile the others had crossed the makeshift bridge and engaged the guards, the first of which fell under Arngrimnir's magical axe. Soon it was the two of us, Arngrimnir and myself against the warrior, and not long after that, it was just the two of us. Jane had retreated into the barracks, and we gave chase. Mick found a window and quickly reported four guards inside pulling on armor, Zandor cast a magical spell within the confines of the shack that exploded thick adhesive webs everywhere, unfortunately Zandor and I were both caught up in the sticky mess. Arngrimnir, who avoided the conflagration, tried the door, but he found it mired in webbing as well, though it didn't take him long to sunder the door with his axe. It was then that Arngrimnir noticed that Mick, who had been detailing the contents of the barracks, was suddenly silent, he sent Daltree and Dylon to investigate, and that was when we heard the compelling chant, "People hear my words!" followed by Daltree calling out for assistance beckoning Arngrimnir and myself, but I continued to cut a swath through the webs. Before me, completely entangled, was Jane along with one of her guards, and in the center of the room a gaping hole had been broken though the floor, and once again I heard the compelling voice "people hear me words!" I looked through the hole and found a hunchbacked man holding some trinket chanting while struggling with reeds that writhed and swayed of their own volition in an attempt to pull him under. I figured the twisted man for an enemy, but spared him the keen edge of sword just in case, and instead brought the flat of the blade crashing into his skull, knocking him senseless.
With the fight over we captured and secured Jane, the guard, and the man, who was a one eyed hunchback, We nearly had to restrain Mick as well, apparently the man was a wizard of some sort and ensorcelled Mick with magic. It was then that I was able to begin sorting out the mystery. Apparently the trinket was magical, and the twisted man was able to use it to bring those hearing the chant and seeing the charm to come under his thrall. That explained the mysterious disappearance of Jane and company, and once we had discovered a diary he was keeping the rest was easy to figure out as well. The man had been taunted by the people of nearby Cherry Knoll for his deformities and wanted revenge. His plan was to create this reservoir, then flood the hamlet of Cherry Knoll once the waters had risen high enough. Included in his notes were mentions of a powerful mage known as Redeem, who apparently was once the original owner of the tower whose remains now lie at the bottom of the swamp.
It's time to head back to Tathan; hopefully Zandor or Dylon will be able to break the enchantment on Jane and Mick before we arrive. It will be good to turn Jane over to her father, and even better to collect the reward, however it gives me pause to think that so many good men had to die for one man's twisted revenge. We will have to return him to Cherry Knoll to face justice, and continue on to Ersel Keep to see about the release of the two guards we turned over to the sheriff there, I only hope he hasn't hanged them yet, the sheriff seems too long on rope and too short on compassion. With those chores completed, we can once again turn our attentions back to the swamp, the ruined tower, the wolves, and the mysterious armored skeleton.
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