Week 3, Looted by Gorlach
We left our heroes in the village of Two Willows, waiting for a south-bound caravan that they hoped would be by later in the day -- their second day in the village. They spent the day variously.
Tom and Pfusand went to the local smithy. Tom tried Faen but found that the smith didn't understand it. Using pantomimes of flexing muscles and empty purses, Tom applied for a job and was refused. So Pfusand tried. She held up a corner of a wagon while the smith worked on it. This impressed him enough so that he asked her (by gesture) to move his anvil. This she managed, though with some help from the smith himself. Then she helped the smith lever up the forge and Tom set to work replacing worn out bricks. Pfusand learned the smith's name was Grendelbach. He paid the two of them a silver and a copper each for their labors. On consideration, he gave Pfusand another copper.
Chris, meanwhile, had learned the location of the village hypochondriac, an elderly widow. He decided to try selling her some wine, spiked with medicinal herbs located by Pfusand. She, too, spoke neither Faen nor Earthron. Imagine yourself a door-to-door salesman deprived of effective speech. It took Chris some time to make it clear to the woman that he was trying to sell something. Unfortunately, once it was clear, she made it clear she wasn't interested. They parted politely but profitlessly.
David went hunting in the nearby woods and caught some small game, which he sold to the innkeeper (who DOES speak Faen). Wu and Cantrel went scouting through the woods but discovered nothing beyond David, hunting a rabbit and a local creature resembling a South American capybera. Daewen also went scouting and stumbled across Wu and Cantrel.
While these folk were amusing themselves with follow-the-leader (the leader being an unwilling and short-lived small animal), Alag kept out of trouble up in a tree, watching for the caravan, and Lorelei went to the village market, hanging around trying to pick up bits of local language.
By evening, no caravan had appeared. Chris unslung his lute and performed for the diners at the inn. He sung in a foreign language and probably in an equally foreign musical idiom, but he got applause and some small change. Net profit for the day: 2 eagles, 5 silvers, 2 big coppers, 8 little coppers.
We decided to conserve financial resources by sleeping out in the woods, which we are well used to doing. Daewen found her camping skills seemed even better than they were in Middle Earth, when she was an elf.
In the deeps of the night, the weather got rainy and misty with remarkable speed. Wu, who was on watch, spotted movement in the branches. The infra-red binoculars showed dim humanoid shapes, too thin to be unmen. We were already surrounded. The company roused just as unmen began showing up on the scopes. There were about three dozen enemy; there are eight of us.
The rain gave way to mists, but the attackers were by now so close that they were obvious: unmen, zombies like those we met before, and creatures with skull-like faces.
Wu had put wards around our camp. He now dropped them and probed out into the dark, to sleep an unman in the direction where they were thinnest. We hoped to make a break that way. Cantrel tripped up another with telekinesis. Five unmen charged. One struck at Tom and was struck at by Daewen. A wave of zombies followed the unmen and--
--and the smoldering campfire billowed up in a great cloud, out of which rose a figure. It was a very nasty figure, a sort of slimy mummy with a face nearly as skeletal as some of the undead troops. He dressed in gray and white rags and bore a staff made of a single bone. The staff was tipped with a silver hand holding a white sphere. He spoke some apparently magic words and everyone but Wu and Chris were paralyzed. He then cried out in Faen, "I am Gorlach the White!" (We guessed.) To Wu he added, "And I will have no truck with upstart magicians in my domain!"
Two more figures appeared in the smoke -- a thing like an albino bulldog and a large white vulture. To Cantrel, Gorlach said, "And we'll have no Heroics here, either!"
Wu: "I don't understand what you're upset about. You haven't been challenged, and we were leaving anyway."
Gorlach: "Feel the hand of death!" (What Wu feels is his pulse and respiration stop.) "You call slaying my men nothing? Practicing magic in my domain, nothing?"
Now, Chris has the psychic power of affecting random events. He tossed a rock into the embers of the fire and sent the ashes up Gorlach's nose. Gorlach threw a spell at Chris, who fell over. Wu took advantage of the break to heal himself and get his heart and lungs working. He then tried apologizing.
Gorlach smiled and said, "Smiles aren't necessary. I'll take tribute." He grabbed Wu's pack, which ROTTED off his back and fell to pieces in Gorlach's hands. Tom felt a psychic touch; Gorlach then knocked his disflorger out of his hands. The wizard had a skeleton rummage through Tom's pack and fetch the diadem detector -- which was glowing. Gorlach then rotted open Cantrel's clothes and tossed his disflorger into the growing loot pile. Followed by Daewen's sword. Followed by Alag's sword.
Gorlach seems to rot everything he touches, whether he wants to or not. He had his numerous underlings pick up and organize the loot. Either he can't help it, or he can't turn the power on and off easily. Or he just likes it.
Wu TK'd a disflorger into his own hands but got struck down. Gorlach pulled Alag out of the tree he had been perched in just as Cantrel and David began to unfreeze. Cantrel gave Gorlach a TK wallop and grabbed for a disflorger. Gorlach responded by squeezing his heart and sending up a huge cloud of mist. We all blacked out.
When we came to, the enemy were gone, but so were most of our best hi-tech tools, notably the disflorgers and the diadem detector. Wu was at death's door. Pfusand patched him up and he tried another psychic healing on himself. It didn't work very well. He was much too weak to move, so Tom (less wounded and the most fluent) ran back to the inn for some food and bandages. He hinted to the innkeeper that the party had been attacked by someone the innkeeper probably didn't want to know about. The innkeeper asked no questions.
Next day, Wu was recharged enough psychically to heal himself out of danger. He then started in on Cantrel and Tom and the others. We spent a week regaining our health and stewing. As Tom quickly pointed out, even if we found our way back to the pantope, we can't resume the diadem search without the detector. So we plan to head south anyway. But now we are looking for allies against Gorlach. He seems like the sort who would accumulate enemies.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.