Week 1, We're not Dead?
We left our heroes cooling off from a mass resurrection that left them naked, standing around a well near a city called Eastmarch. Soon, a man from a nearby temple showed up, gave them each a robe and a silver coin and some background information.
Based on that information, the party made its way to the Great Troll Inn, run by a great troll, or at least a sizable one. His name is Boomeroble, Boomer for short, but he isn't, standing 15 feet tall when straightened out. However his normal posture is all hunched over. He has green, scaly, warty skin, bat-like ears, and enormous walrus-tusks. He gives a free night's lodging to folk from the well, which is why we are here.
There are lots of other people here, too, many carrying arms. Most are dressed in the quasi-Medieval fashion generally found in fantasy worlds, but one is in dress reminiscent of the late 1700s and is carrying a pair of PISTOLS. Lorelei and Chris approach this person, who is friendly, talkative, and Irish. His name is Jeremy Stone, Ruddy to his friends. He arrived at the well in 1661 and has been here ten years or so, by the local count. Last glimpse he had of Earth, he was about to be splattered by a cannon ball. He also recalls a chap from Earth who told outrageous tales of ships traveling among the stars, so it seems the well sucks in and re-embodies souls of the violently slain from other times and worlds, or at least from Earth's history.
He got the pistols at the shop of Canterbury & Kent, here in town. They're magical and don't use gunpowder, but rather exploding pellets. Gunpowder, it appears, doesn't really work right in this world. Chris, who has a degree in chemistry, is interested to hear this and examines the pellets. He tries a Detect Magic spell, which worked in the world of Hreme and Chyoxus but not on Earth. It works fine; the pellets are magic. (Telepathy, on the other hand, worked on Earth, but not in the Hreme/Chyoxus world. It works fine here.)
Jeremy goes on to tell Chris that there are other notable differences between this world and home. For instance, the stars don't move in the sky. The sun and moon rise and set normally, but the stars are perfectly fixed. The gent from the future, by the way, died at the fangs of the Wolf of the Gods, which was then back up into the sky by the Wild Huntsman. So the local gods are highly interactive -- something to keep in mind.
Alag, meanwhile, has found another elf in the dining room. He looks more or less like Alag and Daewen, only sharper-featured and less human. He tells Alag of some possible jobs and places where elves live around here. This particular elf has been engaged in cleaning out the catacombs under the city, which are somewhat icky and riddled with bush-league monsters left over from when the giants and orcs had control of the town. The baron offers a small bounty for orc-heads and such. This leads the conversation into politics and we learn that we are on the northeast edge of a vaguely Greco-Roman empire.
The elf then remarks that the barkeep, Boomer, was once a warrior hereabouts. He points out the big war-hammer hanging over the bar. It looks like dwarf-work, scaled up for a troll, but closer inspection will show it is elvish. Very curious history behind it.
Meanwhile, Tom has obtained rooms for the group and decides to go to church. Nate and Sophie, the (former?) missionaries go with him. The Temple of the One True God is a grand, open affair without imagery of any kind. Tom asks an attendant if there are any special procedures he should observe. His brown robe makes it clear that he's new in town and how he got here, so the man isn't surprised at the question. No, just keep your voice down. Right. Tom goes on to explain he'd like to give thanks for deliverance, but would also like to ask WHY he got delivered. The man says that if Tom gets an answer, would he please tell them.
Tom doesn't get any answers. On the way back, he asks Sophie if he could please probe her memories telepathically. She agrees and Tom has a look at her brush with death. Unfortunately, it was even vaguer than his, in which he started down that famous dark tunnel, then unaccountably took a left.
Starting back at the inn, Alag and Chris take themselves off to an elven fletcher to apply for work. Informed telepathically of this and inspired by their example, Tom goes off to the gunshop of Canterbury & Kent, to apply for a job. He finds neither Canterbury nor Kent in residence. The journeyman in charge explains that Kent, a magician of some rank, got in serious trouble some time ago and his friends went off to rescue him. None have been seen since. (I see, someone else's quest passed through here.) Tom gets hired on a piecework basis, with the possibility of richer deals for new gun designs. (These people have flintlocks, for instance, but no revolvers, which Tom knows how to make.)
Lorelei gets a job as a bar maid at the Black Falcon Tavern. Sophie gets a job with a seamstress. Wu (who looks oriental again for the first time in ages), applies for a position as assistant to a local doctor. The doctor takes him on his rounds and is much impressed by Wu's abilities. However, he notices that these are in part magical and advises Wu that he might want to join the local magician's guild. Membership is not strictly enforced, but new and struggling wizards might find it advantageous: you get a place to sleep, library privileges, and discounts on supplies. In return, you give them a tenth of what you earn by magical means.
Wu thus goes to the guild and joins up. In the process, he demonstrates a Deryni hand-light. In the Gwennedd/Middle-Earth world, it was just a ball of light; in the Hreme/Chyoxus world, it looked like a ball of flame; on Earth, it looked like a free-floating flame. Here, it looks like a pure ball of light again. Interesting.
Picking all this up on the telepathy net, Chris decides he could use a secure roof over his head and applies to the magic guild, too. He demonstrates levitation and dicing for them and innocently asks if they consider that magic. Yes, they certainly do. They've never seen anything like dicing before, but it's certainly magic. Chris asks if anyone else does magic like his. They recommend he try over at the Golden Boar. This was one of the three taverns that takes people newly arrived from the well.
Chris goes over the Golden Boar with Sophie. The crowd there is even more mixed than at the Great Troll, with a lush mix of costumes. The proprietor, Elias, is a big barrel of a man with bushy blond hair and beard. He smiles when Chris says he's looking for outlandish folk, particularly psychics.
Elias says that, before he answers, Chris should know the house rules. These are, in part:
Back at Boomer's, Pfusand asks the troll what he did before he became a taverner. In accents reminiscent of the Cookie Monster, Boomer says that he used to live in the catacombs with his brother, robbing passing adventurers. Then one day he "befriended " (was enchanted by, we learn elsewhere) a mage named Lavalon. After some adventures with Lavalon and company, he joined the baron's army and was a great success in cleaning out the catacombs. He then retired to tavern-keeping. Would the "critter" like to join the army? Pfusand declines.
Instead, as a pastime, she offers to arm-wrestle the troll. Boomer sizes her up and smiles (an alarming sight). In fact, he is just barely stronger than Pfusand, so he wins but not easily.
Pfusand brings up the matter of a job. Boomer isn't much help, but after a while, he recalls that he used to have a job catching horses for a horse-breeder at the other end of town. Also, she might scare the horses less when she picks them up. Also, the taverns and inns in town need ice and snow for various culinary reasons. Pfusand might may a living hauling it down from the nearby mountains.
Around then Daewen returns from the Golden Boar and asks Boomer, "Are there any High Elves here? I felt some of their kind or their works in this tavern. Near the back." Boomer gets rather defensive and tells her brusquely that "no one there. That Boomer's job." Okay, okay. Let's go see a man about some horses.
Pfusand and Daewen go to the horse breeder, who is considerably less startled to see Pfusand than one might expect. (On the other hand, with that well near the town, maybe his behavior is expectable.) He takes her on at a low salary and agrees to teach her the lariat. Daewen announces that she wants to check something out and vanishes.
We all gather for dinner at the Great Troll Inn. Daewen reports that there is an amazing amount of glamour in town, high elven glamour at that. There are two concentrations of it here in Boomer's, one quite fantastically high. Also, there is a dwarven smith with an oak-tree growing through his smithy (which strikes her as an undwarvish thing to begin with) and the tree is heavy-duty glamour too.
After a little looking around, we decide the lesser of Boomer's two glamours is the outsized elven/dwarvish war hammer hanging over the bar. Tom feels out its magic, which is plentiful. He will be able to recognize the enchanter of this hammer if ever he should see his magic again. Also the aura of the wielder (Boomer). The general type of magic resembles the elven magic of Middle-Earth, but more vibrant and genuine. Well, after all, the Middle-Earth magic was a worldbender mock-up. Might this be the real thing?
We ask Boomer about his hammer and he proudly tells us that Lavalon made it for him. It comes back when thrown and is somewhat self-targeting, too. Lavalon, we learn, left on a long journey and told Boomer to take care of his stuff until he got back. (Putting pieces together, Lavalon left on the journey to get back Kent of Canterbury & Kent Gunsmiths. The other, greater glamour that Daewen feels is presumably more of Lavalon's "stuff.")
Pfusand offers Boomer a re-match for the general entertainment of the patrons. Boomer thinks that is a fine idea but suggests they start with some tug-of-war matches to stimulate the side-betting, then work up to a grand finale. (Boomer's Common Tongue may not be that good, but perhaps one shouldn't mistake that for stupidity.)
So Boomer claps his hands (everybody stops talking), and announces the upcoming games. First Boomer defeats four men in a tug-of-war. Then Pfusand does the same. She then ties two dwarves. (Make a note: A dwarf is half as strong as a Naza, i.e. about five times as strong as Tom.) More matches come and go and the betting gets heavy. The two dwarves come back with a third (The other four are perhaps waiting back at their table?), but lose to the Naza when one of them slips. At last, Boomer and the Naza have their rematch and once more Boomer wins, but not easily. Politically, this is the ideal outcome. Pfusand has shown she is no pushover but has not disgraced the local champion. Meanwhile, the table they arm-wrestled on is now kindling.
We break up for the night. Most of us are staying at Boomer's, but Chris and Sophie are going to the Golden Boar. Daewen goes with them and feels something magical about the threshold. Feeling out the vibes himself, Chris notes that, from the outside, the inn feels psilenced, while from the inside, the outdoors feels psilenced. He asks Elias about it (his one allowed question for this trip). Elias explains that this is because the inn opens on many different worlds. (...oh!...)
Sophie asks her question: "Can you leave into another world than the one you entered from." "I can. You can't." Chris steps outside and broadcasts this discovery on the telepathy net.
Next morning, Tom goes to the monotheist church and asks about local cosmology. He learns that this world is flat. It is at the tip of one branch of the tree of worlds. Tom speculates that the stars are the suns of other worlds at other tips of the tree. They say that this is a common supposition. Presumably the stars flash on and off from time to time when one world's sun goes through the tunnel under that world, through the branch.
Going on to the magic guild, Tom learns about the nearby continua (or "planes" as the locals call them). There is this one, Faerie, Godhome, Hell, and maybe more. Lavalon, of whom we have heard so much, left to seek Kent on another plane. Faerie? (No.) Not Godhome surely? (Well, no.) Hell? (So it is said.) In a handbasket? (Huh?)
So we are not, as Tom first thought, in the world of the Black Mage. On the other hand, this place leaks like a sieve, metaphysically speaking. There's the well, though that is only one-way coming in. Then there's the rumored gate to other worlds in the catacombs under the city. There's the Golden Boar, though we can't use it directly. And the local mages are able to traverse the planes. Plenty of possibilities.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.