Snyth – a long term friend of Rolandius and an acquaintance of AineSilver found himself on an adventure with Krotchet, who was searching for the legendary “Lost Laboratory of the Plated Mage”. Recruiting Rolandius and Ainesilver to the venture the four of them followed Krotchets recently acquired map and travelled from the Rodian island of Suhl to the Duchy of Valnwall, landing at the duchy’s capital city, Dolmvay before taking passage on a riverboat and heading up the river Dolm to the village of Larm. After a number of days heading upstream into the hills, with the mountains drawing ever closer, the riverboat arrived at the village of Larm, encircled with a wooden palisade. Mooring at one of the four landings, the adventurers alighted close to a watermill, next to an old and sickly looking oak tree, making themselves scarce as the captain began to unload supplies he was delivering to the village. Spotting a nearby notice pinned to a wall, the party pulled it down and read it out, finding it to be a proclamation offering payment for assistance with problems around Larm.
Krotchet decided to indulge one of his pastimes, knife juggling, failing to impress the local children whilst the others headed over to a large square building. Entering they were greeted by a middle aged human male with a wide smile, who introduced himself as Trademaster Osmund. It transpired that he was paid by the administration in Dolmvay to keep track of all trade in Larm. Enquiring as to their business, the party explained that they were looking for adventure and that they were following a map. Describing roughly where they were heading, Osmund suggested that it sounded like it was in the area of the infamous Stonehell Dungeon.
Seeing the notice in their hand, he gave them directions to the Mayors house and told them that the Mayor was looking for help with a number of local issues and that they might be able to earn some gold, whilst helping the people of Larm in the bargain. He also directed them to the Borderland Tavern, where they could find lodgings whilst in town.
Heading there next they found yet another copy of the mayoral proclamation nailed to the door of the tavern. Entering they found a rotund halfling by the name of Haldo Bramwise polishing a flagon behind the bar whilst his wife, Darby swept the floor. Buying a round of drinks, a powerful tasty brew known as “Beckes Beer”, the party took a group room for Ainesilver, Snyth and Rolandius and a private room for Krotchet. Asking questions about their map, they explained that they were seeking adventure and that Trademaster Osmund had suggested that it might be at the same site as Stonehell Dungeon. Haldo explained that a number of adventurers had come through Larm heading for Stonehell. Many of them had not come back to town, but a couple that had retired here and might be able to tell them more. They were Dagolas the Fletcher and Withold a Woodcarver. Haldo gave them directions to find them.
Visiting the Mayor next they met Caius Rusticus, a thin middle aged human male in mayoral robes who welcomed them to Larm and filled them in on the various issues that the town was currently facing:-
- The sickly oak that they saw when they arrived is known as the Olde Oak, and is symbolic of the community spirit that the people of Larm are so proud of. A lot of villagers believe that a catastrophe will occur that will destroy Larm if the tree ever dies. Lately it has started ailing and wilting and no-one knows why.
- The baker has a problem with rats in his mill and has been unable to produce flour for 3 days. Guiskard the baker is running out of flour to make bread.
- A tribe of Goblins has plagued Larm for many years and recently Commander Arbogast got word of a small goblin gang that was preying on dwarven caravans has set up camp nearby.
- The old Sept to Father Thaxon in town is rumoured to be haunted by undead and Septon Ansbert at the Sept of the Mother is seeking help with clearing it out.
- River pirates have become a big problem of late and a number of river captains have reported skirmishes with them recently.
- A local shopkeeper Dankmar who runs one of the two general stores in town is repeatedly getting his warehouse robbed during the night.
Thanking the mayor, the group decided that they should investigate the mill before leaving town. Heading over to the watermill they approached it cautiously. Peering through the window they saw see a muscular young man, sweeping the floor in a large open room. Scouting out the perimeter, they eventually knocked on the door and the young man came to the door, introducing himself as Nantwin the Miller.
Initially shocked at the appearance of the three rodians due to their ratlike anatomy, he gathered himself and explained that giant rats had infested the two rooms in his cellar where he kept his flour and that he needed help clearing them out. He also added somewhat shame faced that that Thorkell, Dankmar’s apprentice, tried to help him three days ago, but Nantwin heard screams and Thorkell hasn’t been seen since. Nantwin was too afraid to open the door and find out exactly what had happened. The party explained that the Mayor had sent them to clear them out and they asked him if he could pay them a bonus for helping him out. Although he has no money as he hadn’t been able to sell any flour for days, he offered to broker a deal giving them “as much bread as they can eat, whenever they are in town”. The party accepted and Nantwin nervously wandered off to give them “space to work” and broker a deal with Guiskard.
Drawing their weapons and lighting a torch, the party headed into the mill. Stairs lead both upstairs and down to the cellar and despite the fact that Nantwin has told them that the rats are in the cellar, the party decided to “check out” upstairs first. The party headed up the stairs and found that the hall at the top of the stairs was completely empty, and they couldn’t even see a speck of dust. Nantwin must be a highly organized man. One thing was for sure though: the mill’s interior could have done with a woman’s decorative touch!
Opening a door they found a Bedroom, with a small mattress in the southeast corner. An open book was lying next to it, as well as three candles and a tinderbox. Apart from that the room was empty. The book dealt with the fauna of the Dolmvay region. Snyth insisted on taking everything. Another door opened into a small library containing a shelf with 20 books on it. Ten of the books dealt with chess, eight with the animals of the Dolmvay region, and two with the history of Larm. From the latter two books the party learned that:
– Larm was founded 42 years ago by the father of Caius Rusticus’ the current mayor.
– The first Sept in Larm was a Sept to the Thaxon the Father, god of Nobility and Justice.
– Something terrible happened at the Sept thirty years ago and it was abandoned immediately.
– The rumoured guardian of the Sept can only be killed by magic.
– Thaxon’s holy symbol can help you pass the guardian.
Snyth tore these pages out of the history books and stuffed them in his pack, replacing the book on the shelf. The last room upstairs held a table in the middle with two chairs. The two chairs were facing each other. On the table was a chess board with chess pieces in the starting position.
Heading back downstairs, the brave adventurers descended the cellar stairs into a storage room with 3 doors. This room appeared to be empty, but close inspection however, revealed some scattered grains of wheat. This room was presumably the only storage room Nantwin had access to during the past few days and it was now empty.
Opening one door, the party found a room filled with empty sacks, approximately 70 in total of various sizes and a second door led to yet another empty room.
However, Snyth’s keen ears picked out the telltale squeak and scurry of large rats from the final door and the party spread out with weapons drawn. The door was thrown open and in the flickering light of the torch, the party saw many big round eyes staring unblinkingly at them. As their eyes adjusted to the dim light, they saw six rats as big as large dogs. Sacks with grain were stacked to the ceiling. A trail of blood led to a door in the opposite wall. The giant rats were very hungry and attacked immediately.
With bow and blade, the party battled the giant rats, who proved a vicious and cunning enemy, Rolandius alone killed three of the number, but was badly wounded in the melee and forced to fight whilst withdrawing. Snyth and Ainesilver intercepted his attackers and each killed another rat before the final creature routed and dashed out of sight up the stairs.
Nursing their wounds, the party cleaned their weapons and then followed the trail of blood to the door at the rear of the rat room. Steeling themselves for combat and with Snyth mumbling warnings about rabid humans and “taking a defensive position” behind the door, Ainesilver opened it. A stench billowed out of the room and the party were shocked by the sight of a dead and partly eaten corpse which must be the merchant’s apprentice who tried to help Nantwin. In the far corner, where some water from the river has been leaking into the cellar, they spotted sudden movement and made out the silhouettes of three rapidly moving, very long, worm-like beasts with legs. Their antennae twitched in anticipation as they caught scent of Ainesilver and bowled forward to attack. These three giant centipedes, for that is what they were when they entered the ring of torchlight, proved voracious predators and attacked as fast as they could.
Before he could react, two of the creatures lashed out at Ainesilver with their wicked jaws. One of them finding a gap in his armour, bit deep, releasing a highly toxic poison into the startled half elf. The third centipede was pinned to the floor with a crossbow bolt from Rolandius. The poison of the centipede made Ainesilver violently ill and weak and he found himself at the mercy of the nasty insects. They bit and tore at him, but his sturdy leather armour this time saved his life. Lashing out weakly with his sword he still managed to wound one of the creatures, whilst Rolandius finished off the other with a thrust of his scimitar. Finally Krotchet pulled his dagger and darted forwards, sinking it into the final wounded insect and finishing it off.
Rolandius sheathed his weapons and helped Ainesilver stand as the poisoned half-elf was vomiting hard and was weak as a kitten. Snyth emerged from his “defensive position” and searched the apprentice, Thorkell who only had a knife as a weapon, with nothing else on his body. Realising that one rat ran away, the party limped upstairs to fight it, but found that the creature had smashed out a window and fled.
Heading back into town, Krotchet and Snyth went to get the 100gp from the Mayor, whilst Rolandius took Ainesilver to the Sept of the Wise Mother to see if they could heal him. They were met by Septa Ansbert, head of the church, who explained that she could cure his poison with a particularly expensive scroll that they owned, but that she would expect them to clear out the Sept of Thaxon the Father in return. Having little option, they accepted and the Septas of the Mother set to work, purging the centipede poison from his body with healing magic.
In the meantime Krotchet and Snyth had received the payment, but decided to steal 40gp from the money and split it between them, saying that the Mayor had refused to give them the full 100gp as a rat had escaped. When Rolandius and Ainesilver heard this they were quite understandably upset and Rolandius pointed out that most of what had died today had died by his hand. Krotchet agreed with him and gave him 10GP’s of “His money” to compensate him and then further offered to return to the Major and demand the remaining funds.