Gods of the Realm

Episode 17: A Fresh Start

The night passes uneventfully with everyone resting and carrying on with stories of their past. The morning breaks with a sweet, cool dew covering the ground. The chill morning air is overly refreshing and the feeling is calm around them. The dawn crests the horizon, making this cold and haunting place not seem as dead and uninviting.

The party wakes and discusses their course of action for the day…

The panther stretches its paws. Early morning. And just the way he likes it. His stomach was empty and was nagging Belimir. The panther takes a short walk, trying to find a stream to drink water. He`ll go hunting from there. But first to make sure the rest of the party is still OK. A peek through the bushes revealed that they were sleeping. Good. They`re alive. Although he wouldn`t admit it openly, he was growing very fond of the party. Even the new guys. His stomach talked back, evidently dissatisfied by Belimir`s current thoughts. This is not a way to start the day. Now off we go. Better find some breakfast. A nice and tasty rabbit. Or a fat, juicy quail. His stomach responded again, this time in agreement.

Wilam wakes slowly… the peaceful air is refreshing. Wilam begins to take account of himself and finds he feels much better than he expected. He didn’t have any nightmares—no dreams at all, in fact. That’s odd… especially since we’re so close to a place of such great power. I guess no dreams is better than bad dreams.

He stands and stoops to gather his bedding. As he does, he remembers the gash in his leg from the kruthik battle. It’s gone! The deep wound was nothing more than a scratch. I guess The Day has set out to give me nothing for which I may complain. He finishes collecting his belongings and heads over to meet with the others.

“Find day, this one, wouldn’t you say?”

“find day?” Varro cocks his head at the unusual salutation “Wilam, did ya sleep on a rock?” belly laugh

“To be honest, Varro, I can’t remember ever sleeping so well.” I can’t believe I’m saying this… we’re in the middle of a rocky hilltop, for crying out loud! “Don’t tell Belimir I said that, or he’ll see to it that I never lay my head on a feather pillow again.”

Tootle-oo-toot tweet-tootle-tooFWEEP! Panpipes shriek to a discordant halt as the gnome trips and falls.
BUGGER these blasted roots with a flaming half-orc’s knobby fist! They’re EVERYWHERE!”
Stumbling over yet another tree root, Vigo shares his heartfelt feelings with the woods,
“I swear, whoever built trees is a sap!” Momentarily mimicking an old man’s voice, he continues, “Go to the old keep, there resides ancient and powerful magic there… My ASS! There’s a shit-ton of wood, scattered about the forest floor in a sadistic web of woe and trees blocking my view every which-way! When I get my hands around old Nimoz—- NIMROD’S neck, I’m gonna play him like a friggin’ bagpipe. Why do old people hate me so much? It’s not my fault they’re on death’s door! It’s not my fault I can expect to outlive ‘em by a couple centuries! Sheesh! Sonnova… oh, my toes… I need to find out if there’s a god of toes I’ve offended… might explain my new-found limp better than root-kicking…”

The foppish little gnome pauses his tirade as he notices the forest’s sudden silence. “Right,” he mutters to himself, “creepy stuff around here. Snap it together; this calls for the role of Vigorous Vigo… but with subtlety.”

Pushing his miniature top hat back in place and dusting himself off, Vigo takes stock of the surrounding forest. Up ahead it looks like the top of a hill is near. Is that stone ahead? I may not have many more roots to bumble over.
“Thank-you, oh God of Toes, whose name I, in my mortal feebleness, do not know. Your mercy is greater than my pain… almost.” Making his way onward, he finds his hopes fulfilled as the ruins slowly resolve themselves, distinct from the surrounding forest. As the walls loom closer and footing improves, he straightens up, drawing himself to his full three foot seven inch height. Quickly transformed into a dapper little gent, he steps confidently through a break in the outer wall, eyeing the surroundings with aloof curiosity.

“Heck, this place isn’t that old… older than me, sure… I wonder if any ghosties heard that last tune. Heh! Might’ve scared ’em off with that last note!” He shrugs, takes a deep breath, and begins to sing:

My brother’s a priest of Bahamut,
He saves fallen women from sin!
For five gold he’ll save you a redhead.
My gods how the money rolls in!

My father sells sheep’s guts to sailors,
He pricks every head with a pin!
My mother sells backstreet abortions,
My gods how the money rolls in!

My gods how the money, my gods how the money
My gods how the money rolls in!

“See ghosties? I’m not all that bad… just misguided.” Chuckling to himself, Vigo begins to wander the perimeter of the ruins, piping a gentle tune as he goes.

The most unusal sound can be heard echoing around the ruins as the party goes about their morning rituals.

It sounds as if something is singing…and it seems to be getting closer…
Wilam doesn’t hear a thing.

Arden rubs his eyes in his bedroll as he hears the other stir about the camp. Yawning and streching he stands; taking a look around him he begins talking to himself, “What is that echoing noise? We may have another drunken dwarf on our hands by the sound of it! Doesn’t sound too unfriendly but we best be prepared.”

Arden moves to wake anyone who is still sleeping and make them aware of the singing which seems to be getting closer to their camp. Seeing Wilam is the only one up, he turns to the old man, “Do you hear that singing Wilam?”

Wilam strains his ears…“Eh? What’s that you say?”

As he wanders around, Vigo pauses from time to time, extending his senses through his music to the world around him, feeling the arcane energies present through the harmonics of his song.

There once was a Robin who lived in the West
He discovered a very strange egg in his nest
He turned to his wife with an angry remark
She said “Don’t get ruffled, I did it just for a lark”

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

A sparrow and vulture once met in the air
Soon they were coupling, a love hungry pair
The passionate vulture emitted some bleats
The sparrow inquired, “Am I hurting you sweets?”

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

Sniff, Sniff Varro drops what he is doing and sniffs the air .. Sniff. sniff… “I be smellin sumting” sniff, sniff “it …. it … smells like …” sniff, sniff, Varro looks at the bottom of each boot in turn. He then looks to each of his companions “did sumbody step is sumting?” sniff, sniff " I be smellin …yep… I be smellin"

Varro darts into the forest and towards the keep, axe in hand.

“Well, there goes Cannonball… I guess we will hear him if he needs any help, I’m not about to chase after him until I wake up.” Arden stretches and yawns again, rubbing his sore back due to the hard ground.

Varro zigs and zags thru the forest like an experienced elven ranger, sniffing the air the whole time. As he approaches the gnome, he identifies his prey and stalks him like a cheetah in the Savana stalking a zebra, ready to spring on the unexpecting prey.

Varro pounces from the underbrush and gets right in the face of the gnome.

sniff, sniff hmmm, you ain’t much bigger den da half-pint." sniff, sniff “ya smell like…like …ya dat be wut ya smell like.” taking the gnome by the arm he leads him back to the camp and the others. "da udders are goin ta love meetin ya… jus wait till da lich and da dragon met ya … ummm … me dragon died, very sad, so ya not be metting ’im … but wait till ya met me lich. He be very interested in meeting ya … ooo oi an da devil cat will just eat ya up … well not eat ya, per say but I recken he be likin ya too … " Varro continues his standard greeting to all new party members as he leads him back to the camp in his vice like grip.

“Wha-? Yer…but… Yes, well. I can finish the song as we walk. So uh, how is it you can smell anything when you clearly haven’t bathed in, what, three days? A week? Oh… I uh, I’m not complaining or anything, just uh, y’know, making an observation… complimentary, of course, on your sharp olfactory senses… naturally.”

Vigo considers his options and decides the worst concern is likely a large cooking pot. With any luck, it won’t be gnome-stew-sized, and he decides to see what he can see.

“A lich you say? How uh, how evil is this lich, exactly?” he asks, as he prepares to talk his way out of slavery to an undead necromancer of unknown might. “You don’t mind me singing a bit, do you? I find a tune is perfect for travel, over any distance, great or small.”

How to kiss a duck’s bum without tasting the down
This answer has come from the men of renown
Endless experiments have those them the trick
First you blow, then you kiss but you’ve got to be quick!

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

There was once a parrot with strings on his feet
If you pulled on the right string he’d recite Della Bleat
If you pulled on the left string he’d act out a farce
If you pulled on them both he’d fall flat on his…beak

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

Thinking quickly, Vigo weighs his options, comparing them to what he’s heard of liches and the undead. A surreptitious sniff or two reveals no stench of corpses, bones, or rotting flesh… just road-worn dwarf. Perhaps a fake lich? I’ve certainly pretended to greater power than I can honestly claim, when it suited; could be a similar ploy here… though spilling the beans may be unwise. Yes, playing along is best, whether it’s music or lies, at least until the jig is up. Not willing to drop his guard, the gnome again stretches his arcane senses through his music, seeking any sign of a lich on the path ahead.

As the gnome continues to protest in the most flattering of ways that a bearded gnome can, Varro doesn’t cease his pace of foot or of tongue. “well ya see dat whens Is first be sniffin ‘im out I be knowin dat it be lich by dat smeller sulfer, it be kinda smellin likes bad eggs but it be a lil diff’ernt, buts when I be catchin ‘im he be swearin ta not bein a lich, I be reckenin dat iffen I bes a lich, den I be swearin dat I not be ones too. It justs be commons like sense and all. Did I mention I used ta be havin me very own dragon toos… well … I don’tin be havin den both at da same time.. Me dragon fell ta some critters in da road, and den whens we reached da town and found fittin burial fer me dragon dats when I be findin me lich. well wouldn’t ya be knowin it I just be loosin me Eduh, he be dis persistant kinda bounty hunter, I be thinkin he used ta be part …we he be part sumting … I be seein him more den once sprout des wings and fly tru da air. He musta been part sumting, not be sure wut but he got ate by rats, we fixin ta have him buried too, I recken. and nows I be meetin you …wut are yous anyway … I be knowin wut me sniffer tells me yous are, but I guess I be figurin dat I ask yas wut you are and den I be figurin dat iffen you be sayin wut I be figurin den I recken dat yous it but Iffen yous say sumting diff’ernt den I be proven dat yous wut I be figurin yous be from dat start and yous just tryin ta hides it like da lich be. So wut are yous?”

“Son of Muradin, with these words you’re murderin’… what I am, is confused.”

“Wut?” Varro asks as he comes to a dead stop and looks at the gnome with his head cocked to the side.

“I’m a gnome… you’re a dwarf… The rest remains a mite vague, but I sense a story worth telling again and again, as soon as I have the threads untangled and woven into a proper yarn. My name is Vigo. An ancient old fella by the name of Nimozaran mentioned old magic around here, and I came to see it for myself.”

“Now is dat Ve-go, or Vi-go?” the Stubborn dwarf doesn’t seem to hear the rest

Vigo pauses for a moment, eyeing the dwarf. Looks battle-hardened…talks like a…well, he’s survived at least a dozen concussions, so he can’t be a worthless fighter, graceless words or no…

“Truth be told, my name is a pun. My whole name is Vigo Dhatway.” Pointing forward, in the direction he’s been walking, he says in an odd accent, “Veego Dhatway, yez?” and continues walking, dropping the accent, “Yes, of course we go that way… where is it we’re headed, anyway?”

“So wut ya be sayin is dat ya name is We-go, and ya ain’t no leprechaun?” Varro starts to loosen his grip then tightens it and renews his pace towards camp “LiksIsaid, Iffen I be a leprechaun den I be sayin dat I weren’t one too. Oh boys, oh boys, I be bettin me mudders best ale dat ol’ devil kitty ain’t n’ver bes layin his eyes on nos leprechaun… OOO Oi is he goin ta bes gettin a tickle out ov yous, So ya be tellin me, where it be da best place ta be hidin a pot ov gold at anyways … I be reckenin ya be damns good at dat.”

As the duo approach the camp, Varro stops talking to Vigo and starts announcing their arrival “Ya alls come and see wut I be findin off in da woods, I be catching me a Leprechaun!” Varro nearly lifting the gnome off his feet as the dwarf shows off his prize.

Arden chuckles as the “Leprechaun” is introduced. Varro sure does have a way with words.. I hope the little one isn’t offended.

Francis breaks from his morning meditation when the Vigo and Varro come to camp. He opens his eyes and remains quiet, gathering information to assess the visitor.

“Mmm… leprechaun, yes. But sadly, the last dwarf to find me took my gold and now all I have is a song.”

“dats um ok, I weren’t be lookin fer ya gold, I be hearin dat kinda stuff be cursed anywho, I just wantta be showin, er… intruducin ya ta me udder finds, and maybes we can be helpin ya find dat missin golds ov yers”

So here’s to the birds, let us sing loud their praise
Their Plumage, their habits, their natural ways
We’re grateful for birds flying up in the sky
Just think of the fall out if Horses could fly!!!

Toorala, Tooralay.
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so they say
Sing along, learn the words,
It’s a wonderful song, but it’s all for the birds!

Varro trys to sing along but always seems to be a beat or two behind.

That quail was DELICIOUS! It`s been a while since I had wild poultry for breakfast. I even had to chase it! The panther was walking back to the camp when he heard some noise coming from the direction of the keep. He hid quickly and found out that Varro was dragging something. I already had breakfast, but what the hell. An extra meal wouldn`t hurt! With sudden burst of speed, Belimir (in his panther form) charges from the bushes, knocking both the dwarf and the gnome down on their stomachs. He turns the gnome so he can see his face, saliva dripping from his mouth, his tongue slowly circling the panthers lips. Good hunting Varro. We can eat for a whole week now!

Hitting the ground hard, Varro flings the gnome called leprechaun towards Wilam and the others
“ya damn devil cat, ya can eat em after da udders get ta meet ’im, DAMNIT!”

“You did mention something about critters, as I recall, didn’t you?” Vigo quickly takes stock of those around him, noting a distinct lack of lich. Better than it could be…

Dusting himself off once again, he rights his hat and sits himself down acting, for all the world, as if he owns this particular patch of dirt. “I’m Vigo… you folks ever met Nimozaran in Fallcrest?”

Wilam’s ears perk up at the name of Nimozeran. His eyes narrow, but he does his best to hide the fact that he’s noticed. Nimozaran, that dog’s name should be outlawed. Wilam becomes lost in his anger concerning the Wizard and quickly forgets that he’s suppose to be hiding his disdain. He’s instantly suspicious of the gnome. No doubt this fool was sent here to spy on us!

“Well met Vigo, my name is Arden, I hope that Dwarf isn’t giving you too much trouble!”

“A pleasure, Arden; no trouble, just unexpected excitement (which is the best kind, usually).”

“Nimbo who?, I be hearin dat ol’ Sneaky does a mean Limbo … but never heard ov no Nimbo, ow about ya Darky, ya everin be hearin about any Nimbo-sumting-or-anudder?, or ya Wilam da Lich, ya be da type dat has ta ov heard ov a Nimbo, dat be soundin like a lich name iffen I ev’r heard ov one.”

“Oooh, I’ve heard of him, all right,” Wilam scowls. “He flaunts his magic for every child or wench he can find. Sells it cheaper than a floozey with crabs sells a trick.”

“oh wait … ya ain’t be talkin about dat ol’ half crazy, half loony bugger ov a finger waggler dat lives in da tower back in Fallcrest are’s ya… he be about a bellfree short of a bat’s nest. Oh and he be doin dos god-awful shows all da damn time … I be seein a mule wit da squirts be puttin on a better show. How did ya be luckin out ta be knowin dat ol’ coot?”

“Luck?… well a sort of luck, I suppose; and yes, ‘belfry short of a bat’s nest’ that’s the very one I mean. I came to Fallcrest to see the greatbigwooptydoopty show of theirs and missed it by a bit. Lucky me. So I headed up to that ghastly green knob and knocked on the door. Long story short (not something I’m oft inclined to, mind you) the old Geezer of Wheezer pointed me this direction.”

“Fer Wut?”
“I understand there’s supposed to be some magic around here beyond his ken… and what with his wrinkles, I assumed that meant magic worth looking at.”

" I be seein"
“So far, no dice… just roots, trees, and broken walls.”

“Well, If me lich ov a friend, der Wilam be assistin me, in da story tellin den I suppose dat ya be right, der be Majiks in der keep buts it bes da diff’ernt kinds den ya be hopin fer… it be majiks of da death gods …or was it demon god …. er Wilam Help me out ’er”

Wilam is unsure about how much he should be explaining at this point… his trust in Vigo is far from substantiated. “The Prince of Demons,” Wilam offers. He attempts to change the subject, “And for the record, I’m no more a lich than you are a leprechaun. Varro has a way with names… he refuses to respect their propriety.”

Wilam continues to pay attention Vigo’s mannerisms and looks for clues of lying. His head is cloudy from the morning and Vigo’s energy seems to be one (or two) steps ahead of Wilam’s observational prowess.

“Prince of Demons? Oh Nimrod… what’s your game, senility or sadism? Well met Wilam, glad to hear you’re not a lich!” Vigo peers at the older man for a moment… then nods briefly to himself, as if satisfied that Wilam is indeed not a lich.

Varro`s friend, eh? So I don`t get to eat him. Oh well…. The panther slowly steps back from the gnome, goes a few steps away and then thumps to the ground. He starts licking his paws and his fur.

“dats a good demon kitty, Lets be seein iffen we can be usin him befer we eat ’im … iffen he be turnin out worthless den I be volenteerin ta be da first to turn da spic da we be roastin him on” Varro turns to the gnome and grins an innocent smile. “no offence”

Oh my, what’s all this commotion. What a strange night.

Brann tries to recall the flashes of his dreams but they fade away without revealing themselves.

Well let’s see what has got everyone up and about. Someone new at the camp, this should be interesting.

“Greetings, young lad, I’m Brann. I’m sure Varro has been his usual charming self, but if he hasn’t already offered, would you like some food to start your day?”

Vigo hops up from his seat on the ground and executes a precise bow. “Sir, I would be delighted in some real food. I’ve subsisted on these journeybread things for the past fortnight (minus a couple days in Fallcrest) and they lose their appeal in less than a week, I assure you… Though, if you’re not tired of them yourself, I’ll happily share.” The gnome dips his hand into his nearly-empty pack, producing a few wafer-shaped packets of waxed paper. “Ol’ Nimrod’s nice enough for being decrepit, but I think his teeth are likely an illusion. This stuff’s all I saw in his pantry when he was preparing me for my journey out here. He told me, ’Go to the old keep, there resides ancient and powerful magic there. What you seek is beyond my means, but the old keep is certainly that!” though I suspect now, that he was just trying to get rid of me… I fear he may have tired of me rather quickly, what with his advanced years and crotchety ways. Y’see, I make my way in the world with story and song, being an adherent of the illustrious bardic profession… and I think Nimrod hates music."

Vigo’s toes still smart a bit and he limps slightly as he wanders toward the hospitable dwarf, proffering his food. “So uh, have you gents seen aught of mighty magics that might make for a tall tale, hereabouts? That is one hell of a cat you’ve got there! The Prince of Demons isn’t really my cup o’ tea, per se, but stories on the subject go over pretty well in taverns, when the night is stormy.”

Wilam decides to hold his tongue and pretends he didn’t hear the question.

“We’re not really sure what’s in those ruins yet. So far just a bunch of goblins and slimey creatures… oh, and rats…” Ehud’s half eaten corpse flashes into Arden’s mind, just fast enough to catch him off guard and make him flinch.

Arden clears his throat, “So it sounds like you’re meaning to join us in searching the ruins…. it will be nice to hear some melodic sounds other than that ones mumblins and grumblins, and gaseous noises.” Arden jerks his thumb towards Varro with a smirk.

Faking that he was insulted “Hey!… whatdahell be dat?”

Varro watches and enjoys the new party members induction ceremony as it seems to be. Soon after a short and jovial exchange between Arden and himself, Varro also partakes of the breakfast and the lightened spirits of the day. Hell ov a group we be havin, a darky, a sneaky, a half-pint, a lich, a demon cat, brudder Brann, and a cannonball. Now wes got us a leprechaun, Damn iffen I only still had me Dragon and da udders …dis would be a perfect team. but I be saying it be damn good da way it be … indeed damn fine “Damn fine!”

Varro eats some more to make it seem that he was talking about the meal.
Varro smiles and enjoys the rest of the morning with his companions.

The group talks amongst themselves throughout the morning, getting to know their newest companion, Vigo.

Jiles goes about his business this morning, rummaging through his things, fixing a short breakfast of sweetwater biscuits and spring water.

As he sits on a log near the rest of the party, his mind trails back over the past few days. He thinks back to his most recent time in Fallcrest, all the jobs he pulled and the scraps he got himself into.

“Huh. I can’t believe I forgot about this.” Jiles thinks to himself as he pulls a necklace out from a pocket hidden inside his cloak.

A radiant necklace made of solid gold with very intricate patterns carved into ivory beading along its length. It feels somehow warm in his hands.

“This little beauty almost cost me my left foot!” Jiles finds the unyeilding urge to put the necklace around his neck.

“I wonder how this would look with my armor…”

As he slips the necklace around his head, the warming sensation flows through his body, enveloping him in a very comfortable feeling of relaxation and serenity.

Jiles stands to introduce himself to Vigo.

He walks over raising his hand in greetings.


“……” Jiles opens his mouth to say hello, yet no words come out.

“…..” Try as he might, Jiles has become silenced somehow.

He tries to remove the necklace, but is unable to as it is magically fastened to his neck.

Jiles has been cursed with a silence spell!

Embarrassed, Jiles does his best to hide the fact he was foolish enough to fall for such a simple dweomeanor.

Vigo looks over at the white cat, pondering its abnormal behavior. Pounce and release? Last time I saw that it was followed by pounce and release and pounce and CHOMP. "Your kitten friend here seems well-behaved at the moment, and by your acceptance of it, I assume it’s a pet of some sort? And, perhaps more importantly, will it bide it’s hunger while we break our fast? I’m not fond of being nipped at while enjoying my first real meal in awhile… " he trails off expectantly as he waits for an explanation.

A pet? A PET? Did he just call me a pet? Why that little! Next time I`ll just eat him! I don`t care if gnomes or leprechauns aren`t good for ones stomach! I`ll just eat the little thing!
The panther shoots darts from his eyes at Vigo.

Varro looks to Belimir … Recken I be tellin ‘im … na … better ta see da look on ’im face when ol’ Belimir changes in front of ‘im … Varro smiles a bit at Vigo
“jus n’ver can tell wut mood dat da cat be in, ya jus watch ya back an be quick on ya feet when he be hungry. Belly Laugh

Sensing there’s more to Varro’s joking manner than meets the eye, Vigo examines the cat from his vantage point, a safe distance away, clearly trying to sort out the situation then smiles and shrugs. Seating himself, he begins to eat. After a light repast, he takes out his panpipe and begins to play, listening as always to the flow of energy behind the music. As the tune wanders through a gentle melody and climbs to a wistful refrain, hinting of unnamed longing, the flavor and form of the magics in play around him slowly reveal their harmonies to his mind: a tuneless singing in the voice of snow on the wind whispers to his senses and the cat’s two-legged nature unwinds in his mind’s eye. Druid, eh? Makes sense… can’t say I blame him for his fun… can’t blame me for mine later… the deeper hum of the Earth throbs a basso thrum near him as well. Ah yes, the armor. A faint but sharp buzz, almost like a nearby mosquito sings out from the burly dwarf’s helm. What in the..? Well that’s most interesting, Varro’s well-defended indeed! The familiar tinkling trio of his wand, armor, and amulet play their familiar three part song as well… A clear, susurrating vibrato emanates from the calm dwarf’s vicinity… Holy symbol or somethin’… seems bright and cheery; no lichness to it.

Hmm… Nimozaran, did you know about these folks? They are well-prepared to meet some formidable challenges, clearly expecting to find such here… and they speak of Orcus Himself… Unless this is pure happenstance, it would have been good to warn me, instead of just bustling me out of your way as swiftly as you may… I’ll remember your selfishness when I see you again, and repay you in kind… Okay, maybe that’s not fair, as he did tell me that creepy legend about this place. Still, there must be a song or three I can play at the Inn to make Nimrod look the fool… well, likely not more than he already does, but a fella can try. Setting his pipes aside, the gnome looks at the white panther thoughtfully. “Cat, you and me, we need to come to an understanding if I’m to wander these ruins with you… Ever been eaten by a mouse before? Of course not… not yet. I don’t take kindly to assault, half-hearted or otherwise, though I do appreciate a little mischief. As a creature of Nature, I’m sure you’re familiar with how She balances the scales, and they’re loaded in my favor after your unprovoked scuffing of my person. You didn’t know, so I’m not offended… but now you do, and it’s your only warning. We square?” Vigo winks at the cat, and begins to sing while drumming a simple rhythm on his thigh with both hands.

A worm he met a lark, high among the heather
The lark said to the worm, “Let us talk together.”
And she sang so sweet and clear, with her voice so tender
And the lark she killed the worm, high among the heather.

The lark she met a hawk, of the shiny feather
The hawk said to the lark, “Let us fly together.”
And they flew so high on the wind, as they soared in splendor
And the hawk he killed the lark, high above the heather.

The hawk he met a fox, and he looked so clever
The fox said to the hawk, let us dine together
So the hawk flew down to the ground, as a bird should never
And the fox he killed the hawk, high among the heather.

The fox he met a man, with fine boots of leather
The man said to the fox, “Let us run together”
“You have fine fur.” Said the man, “Warm in cold weather.”
And he killed the fox as they ran, high among the heather.

The man he told a Thief of his trick so clever
“That is fine fur,” Said the Thief, “And fine boots of leather.”
And he killed the man, with his knife, there among the heather
And the worm said to the man, “Let us lie together”

And the worm said to the man, “Let us lie together”

He`s threatening me? What does he think he is? The panther starts showing his teeth, obviously displeased with the gnomes attempt to use words and diplomacy in that manner. I don`t like you one bit. And your singing is off!

“I see teeth. Cats don’t usually smile, and I learned that song from the only druid who ever bothered to talk to me… Lemme put it another way…” Vigo reaches into his pack, digs around for a second, and pulls out some dried meat. “It’s not exactly fresh, but it’s the best I can offer, unless you’re into these terrible biscuit things the Geezer of Wheezer gave me.”

Varro watches the exchange with a smile on his face, under his beard where none can notice, of course, that is until the wrinkles around his eyes nearly cut off all vision, to any who is interested the bellicose dwarf is quite amused.

Dried meat? The panther makes a disgusted face. He`s horrified at the thought of eating that. Feeling he had enough of this game, he changes back to his human form. “…………I take care of my own breakfast……..Thanks for sharing but no. I don`t eat that stuff. Belimir is my name.” He sits near the others and lets them enjoy their breakfast.

“From your expression, I’ve offered you garbage or worse. My apologies. What with my diminutive stature, can we keep the pouncing on me to a minimum? I break easily… I’m good at mending, flesh or stuff, either one, so I’m worth more than the meat on my bones, honest!”

“Belimir be preferin his meals freshly killed”

“I was just trying to see what Varro brought. He`s not very good with explaining what…….who he found……..Maybe my predator instincts got me carried away a little. I`m sorry if I got you bruised.”

Vigo looks himself over. “None the worse for wear, no harm done… and I can uh, understand the confusion with words in Varro’s case; he had me baffled at first. I learned that little ditty from a sweet lady by the name of Red Frond… she had a habit of waking me up by dropping nuts on me from the branches I slept under. Not sure where she is these days, as she stayed in the forest while I followed the road… but she’s the only druid who deigned to speak with me, besides yourself. Pleased to meet you Belimir.”

Unsure as how to react properly, Belimir just nods to the gnome, trying to put a nice smile on his face……somewhat failing in the attempt.

Varro cocks his head to the side, “wut be wrong wit yer face, Belimir?”

“Music and magic are almost the same to me… and I must say, the music of your cat form is quite peaceful. Like snow blowing over crusted ice, all shushing and whooshing without making me cold. Red Frond’s song was more like water laughing over rocks… definitely laughing at things though.”

“What is this Red Frond? I`ve never seen a female druid in my life. You think she`s looking for a mate? What`s her Primal Beast?” Belimir speaks without tact or a flinch. This is obviously the way he thinks people talk about this stuff.

Vigo pauses for a moment in thought. “I’m not sure I know the answer to any of those questions, exactly. She is human, but I doubt that’s what you mean when you ask what she is. I only saw her take another form once, and it was no animal I recognized… almost like a blend of natural aspects, rather than any one creature. As to mates, well, I have a hard enough time telling when a lady-gnome has noticed anyone, let alone a druid who suddenly sprouted thick fur, feathers, and sharp claws. I suppose you could ask her, but I expect she’d laugh at you like she laughs at everything… it’s a kindly laugh, though.”

Looking around at the group he asks, "So, I take it these ruins aren’t just busted rocks and such? I was actually assuming Nimrod was just a doddering fool telling me a tall tale. I figured “tall tales are my stock in trade, so why not go for a walk?” but I see from your gear and apparent experience that this place might be more than an old story after all."

“I`ll take that as a promise!” Belimir thinks for a moment. It`s been………..forever since he had a mate……….And last time didn`t end quite well…But he didn`t want to spend the time remembering stuff like that. Who knows what this Frond is like. Giggly, eh?

Francis stands next to Belimir. “Stay calm, my unaligned friend,” he whispers in Elven. “It is passions that destroy us.”

He puts his hand on Belimir’s shoulder and then turns to face Vigo. “Good sir,” he begins. “If it is true that you are apt in…mending, then there may be some mutual utility in a shared expedition to the ruins.”
He slowly walks toward Vigo, keeping his eyes fixed on his audience. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone shorter than myself, he thinks as he nears the gnome. “Be prepared for more than a story, however. For even the smallest dangers may prove lethal. We lost…” He looks down at his feet, composes himself. “We lost a friend yesterday.”
He faces the ruins, his back now to Vigo. “It is important, for your sake and ours, that we can rely on you. That you can hold up in the heat of combat.” He stops. Letting the silence add to his words.

Vigo meets the halfling’s gaze directly, measuring his words. “I’m sorry for your loss. I’ve faced riots and war in childhood, leading ultimately, to a life on the road (which is not entirely safe). As you may have noticed, I can keep my cool when surrounded, outnumbered, and outmatched. That said, I’m not one to overlook or underestimate… several dead have done so. I would know more of what you face though, as I try not to overestimate myself, nor promise what I cannot provide.”

Vigo pauses, considering his next words carefully. If I don’t pass muster, I’ll miss my best chance yet to see beyond the last five years… Coming to some sort of conclusion, the little bard takes a slow breath and continues,“When I met Nimozaran, I came to him seeking magic mighty enough to pierce the strongest veils, for my family and my past are hidden by such a thing. This was beyond him, he claimed, but said such power may reside here. Nimozaran then told me a tale of this tower’s history, involving a demon lord and the tower commander. He implied that the common belief is that the commander was overwhelmed by dark powers and slew most of the tower’s garrison, starting with his own wife and children… He also said the commander’s ghost is rumored to haunt this place still. As you can imagine, I took this for fanciful embellishment of a grisly story… but your presence and battle-ready state seem to imply that this legend may be less fanciful than I would like. Honestly, I’m absolutely certain that I’m no match for a Demon Prince… but I’m willing to bet my life that no such being is here, else we’d not be safely having this conversation. Can you clarify the tales I’ve heard with a little reality? What have you seen in this place? What has happened?”

“We be seein Goblins, and devil lizbugs, ooo an a blob of goo, and I recken ya be hearin about da rats. Den we decided ta take a break an rest an den tackle it again fresh … speakin ov which how much longer we goin ta be hang around ere chinwaggin. wes gots a keep ta be clearin out an I be figurin dat da new feller be da new mapper. Ya gots any mappin skills der leprechaun?”

Francis turns around, facing both Varro and Vigo. “The longer we spend out here, the closer Kalarel and his followers get to their goals.” He begins packing up his things. I’m not sure about this one, he thinks to himself. I’ve a mind to put him on a very short leash. Metaphorically, speaking of course.

“I can map the path of music relatively well, but cartography isn’t something I’ve ever studied or practiced, really. As long as a simple drawing will suffice, I believe I may be adequate to the task. I do have a well-developed sense for magic, though. Depending on what’s afoot in these ruins, that may be useful, or not. Aside from that, my skills largely revolve around travel, tales, and sartorial magnificence.” Vigo tugs his vest into place with an automatic gesture, striking a pose that might actually seem impressive on a full-sized person, then turns to Varro. “I’ve played with goblins before, but I’m unfamiliar with ‘devil lizbugs’ or ‘goo’.”
Squaring his shoulders, Vigo pulls out his pipes and begins a light, upbeat ditty. “Shall we proceed?”

Wilam finally speaks up, after silently observing the previous conversations, “Francis is right. I’m ready when the rest of you are. Today we should make our way down to the second level after a quick scour of the first floor. We should know if someone else found our… handiwork.”

Arden stands from eating his breakfast as the others begin to gather their belongings. The morning banter was the perfect compliment to his meal, and left Arden feeling more refreshed and happy than normal. Hard to feel dark and alone when you are surrounded by jovial companions. A smile on his face, Arden packs up his things and is ready to go. “Well then, let us see what the day has in store for us… perhaps we will find some of these Arcane Mysteries that have led us here. I’m also thinking more than a few evil creatures will be meetin’ their maker today.” The smile remains on his face, but a flash of anger is briefly apparant in his eyes.

“True enough. We must find those behind this evil. Kobold minions and large overgrowing blobs aside, there is a far more dangerous foe still lurking. The toll has been high but we must persevere,” Brann sighs quietly as he looks over to Ehud’s corpse. It looks calm and serene after the ritual but serves as a painful reminder of the cost of battling evil.

“As Wilam mentioned, it is likely our battles yesterday have not gone unnoticed. We should expect a more dangerous foe than some unwary miners. I shall be keeping an eye out to assist those of us more prone to finding themselves on the wrong end of painful implements,” he tosses a quick glance at Varro and Belimir, “but do let me know if I should be paying extra attention to your health Vigo.” smile

Noticing the wrapped corpse for the first time, Vigo’s momentary shock is unmistakable. “I’m sorry, I understood you had lost a friend, but I didn’t comprehend the immediate nature of the loss. Again, my condolences. If you would like… well, we don’t really have the time for that now, but perhaps later, when you’ve shared the tale of his life and passing, I can… oh, now I feel silly. If a song will do, I’m happy to offer one; I don’t mean to re-open fresh wounds, however.” Ouch, classy there Vigo. Way to stomp on their feelings with all the grace of a drunken mammoth. Perhaps I should spit on the corpse as well, just to complete my inept display of callousness.

Looking to Brann he continues, “As your skills and mine are somewhat complimentary, let us look after each other as well as our fellows. But, for the record, though I’m small, I’m durable enough for what I’ve faced so far. While we make our way along, can you tell me of what you seek? I heard mention of one ‘Kalarel’ and his followers. Considering this site’s history, do I assume rightly that they have an interest in Orcus? I must confess an extreme curiosity in all things story-like; it’s the curse of my profession, you understand… though I’ve found it wise to contain my interest where it comes to others’ secrets; keep your own counsel on these as you feel appropriate.”

Vigo returns to piping a tune, the melody wandering into a somber progression, hinting at deeper darkness alternating with a hopeful bridge piece. As always, his senses stretch with the music, but his preoccupation with his recent social blunder blinds him to finer details.

“It would be an honour to tell you of Ehud. My ancestors have kept many records in song and otherwise of our heroes and clanmates and it is a fine way of keeping their memory alive. We shall sit once we have dealt with the masters of this keep and toast some ale to Ehud. Although my acquaintance with Ehud was brief, he acted in a manner befitting a champion of good.”

“Hmm, if we are toasting to his memory I will have to try to find you some good dwarven ale.” Brann looks over Vigo appraisingly,“We’ve found that some of the other races don’t always handle it too well though. Do you think you’ll be up to it?”

“I tend to handle liquor fine, in all forms, provided I indulge in gnome-sized quantities.” Vigo winks at Brann. “I don’t think anyone wants to see me too drunk… I’ve been told my singing is truly excruciating when I’m thoroughly sauced. While some may complain at my apparent lack of enthusiasm, I just remind ’em that it means more grog for the rest of the party.”

“A fine drunken song is always welcome to my ears. My voice would hardly do my brethren proud so I keep it stowed away but many of my raucous brothers have turned out a tavern after a strong night of drinking.”

“One thing I’d keep an eye on though is keeping yourself well clothed. I knew a gnome once who after indulging in a particular northern stout would lose all modesty and dance naked on the tables. I’d prefer to avoid dealing with that particular situation again.”

“Clothes make the man, as they say… I sacrifice my threads only when I have no other option… which is to say, I don’t recall stripping down when drunk, but there are many things I don’t recall that did happen.” Vigo gives a little shrug. “Let’s pray I never find out otherwise.”

“I’ll make sure to spend some extra time in my prayers to Moradin to ensure we are all spared such a sight.” wink

“I think we should probably start back to the Keep. Best not to waste time letting our enemies prepare for us.”

Brann starts heading off down towards the keep.
Varro gathers his gear and heads off towards the keep.
Francis follows closely behind.

Belimir was silent for most of the conversation. He was looking at the gnome most of the time. He understood when he was scolded by Brann, and knew he still had to learn how to fight with others. Seeing Varro and Francis move toward the keep, he changes quickly into a puma, hides swiftly in the bushes from where he`ll keep an eye on his friends.

The party heads back down into the belly of the Keep. The find themselves in the initial guard room they fought the goblins in just the day before.

The hallways west leading towards an unexplored section of the keep, and the hallway east towards the excavation site, and the stairs near the southern end of the room await attention.

As the darkness deepens, Vigo reaches into his belt pouch and pulls out a flaming torch. “Nothing like a cold torch to warm my nerves.”

Wilam snaps his fingers and speaks a word of light. His tome ignites in a bright glow, “Only the torch of the Arcane guides my path.”

“Hey taught dat lil ditty were fer me axe.” Varro holds out his Waraxe to be granted with the magical light.

Wilam tries to come up with a good excuse. “Your dwarven eyes should have no trouble down here… but rest assured, when you’re leading the way into pure darkness, your glowing axe can lead the way.”

Vigo puts on his best pouty face. “Go ahead, make me jealous… this stupid stick cost me fifty gold!” With that, he pulls his shield off his back, straps it on his left hand, and stuffs the magic torch into the strap. He then pulls a small, pointy stick, clearly well-crafted, from his belt and holds it like he means to use it. “This magic stick cost me even more, but I’m okay with that. It’s seen some nasties to their final reward… I suspect today will include similar escapades, unless you scared ‘em all off yesterday. Hmm… Wilam’s got his book… Arden, if the worst should happen and I fall over, feel free to use this wand to avenge me.”

“Sure thing Vigo! …. but what does the wand do anyway?”

“Just a magical focus. Your attacks will find their mark a little easier.”

“Aha! I have one of those!” Arden pulls his rod from his belt and holds it up, “Yup, this little bugger helps me hit those ugly Goblins! …. although I fear a wand would not do me much good, I prefer rods – thank you for the offer!”

As the lightshow competition continues, Arden looks cautiously to the hallway leading west, and the rest of the room. “Well I don’t care which way we go to start, I’m sure there are plenty of goblins to go around, but I would suggest that we have Jiles scout the path for us first. I can still feel the drop in my stomache when I fell into that pit, and I know I wasn’t the only one to fall victim to traps yesterday.”

Wilam turns to the west. “If I recall, we haven’t been down that way.”

Francis pulls out his shield and handaxe. “Shall we lead the way, Varro?”

Arden shrugs, “Warriors or Sneaks first, but myself and Wilam aren’t about to volunteer to lead the way!” He chuckles as he playfully slaps Wilam on the back, perhaps a bit too hard for the old man’s shrinking frame.

“Uph!” Wilam is taken by surprise. “Careful, young man! Bad enough the things the other critters down here do to me!” Wilam dusts himself off, as if he had just been rolling in the dirt. “But you are right about one thing… I won’t be leading the way.”

Arden grins sheepishly, “Oops, sorry Wilam, got a little carried away there.”

“Unless our sneakers can see in the dark, all dark spots will require light to search effectively, negating stealth for the most part. We may simply have the sturdiest up front to guard whoever has the best eye for traps and such.”

“Yes but I would think any of the rooms, like this one, which have Goblins or such in it are lit. We have really only found one area of pitch black in these ruins, and those were further into the Caverns – of course when we come to that situation we can worry about light sources.”

“Sounds like you know a lot about such things. Why don’t you take my light and go up front with Varro, there.” Wilam speaks the word of light again and his tome loses its glow. Taking its place, Vigo’s hat begins to shine.

Vigo looks confused for a moment, then takes his hat off and looks it over. His face transforms into the angelic smile of a child in a candy shop. “Oh now THIS is how it should be!!! Uh, here,” he hands his torch to Wilam. “Don’t need both lights up front. Uh, my eyes for traps are hardly the best, but if no one knows the workings of traps, then I’m as good as any, I suppose; I mean, I know lots of stories that have nasty traps, daring thieves, and wondrous loot.” Putting his hat back on his head, the little gnome struts to the front of the group. “Sorry if this AWESOME hat gets in your eyes, magnificence is hard to contain.”

“I second the idea of one of our sturdier companions taking the lead. No offense to the more scholarly among us,” nodding over at Wilam, “but I’m sure Varro can handle a bump or two and I’ll be ready with Moradin’s prayers to keep him going.”

Brann takes a closer looks around now that the magical illumination is in abundance.

“Looks fine enough from here, there doesn’t appear to be any more of those pitfalls we encountered yesterday. Although my area of expertise isn’t really in scouting around for danger.”

Why does it feel so different in here from yesterday? Perhaps it is just sense of failure after we lost Ehud but everything also seems more cramped and enclosing. I was feeling much more in touch with everything around me this morning after talking to Belimir last night about. That feeling seems somewhat oppressed after we entered the keep.

Having a look around for Belimir, Brann draws off back to him to have a quiet word.

“Belimir, I was wondering if you’ve noticed anything different about the keep? I’m not sure how to explain it….” he trails off, unable to fully understand, let alone explain his unrest.

Belimir was walking behind the group. He was silent, thinking about what they are to do next. Now there`s…………onetwothree………six………eight of us. The numbers should be on our side. I better keep out of trouble. These guys can handle things, and I`ll just lurk for any creature that fails to engage them………..Maybe go for the softies in the back………..
After Brann asked him to take a look around, he nodded to the dwarf. “Sorry Brann. Got a bit distracted with……….numbers.” He carefuly looks around their surroundings. Now this room……………

The guard room has not changed since the first encounter the party was in. Although the dreadful, haunting feeling has increased somehow. As if a crazed murderer is stalking the heroes, waiting to drag them off one by one into the shadows…

As the group ponders their next move, Vigo takes a minute to stretch his mind and feel for nearby magic, trying to sense why this place feels so… dark.

Arden yawns and walks ahead of the group to peer down the hall and see what he can see.

“Ya be sure ya wanta be headed dis way, der be anudder door down der in da caverns where we be losin Ehud at, ya sure ya don’t be wantin ta be checkin it out befer we be headin a new way?”Varro asks before heading down the western hall.

Belimir, worried about their original job says, “I must say I think the dwarf is right. We should finish mapping that part. I don`t want to go back and forth, and we will need to explore that area too.”

“Yes, that’s right… Dare I say I am getting ahead of myself due to the excitement of the day?” Oh Wilam, you do love this, don’t you? You’re going to die down here, you know…

Vigo pulls out a small book, flips to a blank page, and begins scribbling as he peers at the walls; slowly, he makes his way around the already-explored portions of the floor, noting what he sees as he goes.

Jiles just shrugs his shoulders and awaits the others to give thier opinions.

Not getting a response from anyone else, as they all stand there slack jawed, and Jiles only shrugging. “a’ight den, I was jus tryin ta present the options … a’ight den … Lets be checkin dis way out”

Varro lets Jiles take the lead and follows behind him about four or five paces.
Jiles turns the corner and not seeing anything continues into the next room.

Francis follows Jiles. If today is anything like yesterday, we’re going to be surprised.

Brann follows along trying to keep his focus on the keep around him to watch for any other trap.

Can’t get this strange feeling out of my head. Need to focus though. Feels like something is itching to get out of this cramped space.

He whispers over to Belimir, “So Belimir, we talked last night about the natural spirits of the world but I never found out how you discovered your ability to shift forms. Was it something that you had always been able to do or did it require training and teaching?”

“Oh it required hard work. Very hard work, patience, pain, blood, dedication to a cause, and an animal, of course. You know. Stuff like that. You can`t really change into an animal without an animal Why do you ask? Varro put you up to this, didn`t he? I already told him how one can become a shape changer. You dwarves are a funny bearded lot. He could have just asked you know. I`m happy to share my knowledge. But honestly, I don`t think he has what it takes to become a fierce animal. His head isn`t in the right place for such a thing. Look at him. It`s under a helmet! A HELMET! Name an animal that wears a helmet?”

“No no Belimir, this has nothing to do with Varro. Indeed his helmet would be a sizable issue.” Helmet? What exactly does a helmet have to do with transforming your whole body? Wait a moment, lets stop getting sidetracked, helmets aren’t important. I was more interested for my own curiosity but perhaps another time would be better."

Brann attempts to set aside the unusual thoughts and images swirling in his mind by settling into a meditative prayer to Moradin asking for clarity and guidance.

“You serious about this? Because I already told Varro what to expect and what the ritual is. You must be awake for three straight days, and that the last creature you fought was the one you want to change into. And the creature must bite you and you must not kill it. but you must defeat it. Then some herbs to treat the wounds and ease the transformation, and of course……………The Dance!” Belimir`s face was dead serious the whole time he was talking about the ancient druidic ritual.

Arden follows behind Varro as Jiles scouts into the next room. Even though Jiles has already checked for traps, Arden keeps a watchful eye on the floor. Damn hidden pits….

The party follows through the explored areas of the Keep. They come to the cavern where Ehud was killed, still dark and gloomy as it was when they first found it. A certain familiar feeling of dread is still found in these caverns. Could it be the passing of their friend in this cave, or something more…

The party stands before huge double doors. These bronze double doors are green with age and stained blue and purple with a thick layer of fungus. Scratched into the fungus in the Common script is this message: “Stay Out. Really.”

Wandering up to the group at the door as he finishes off his scribbled map, the gnome stares at the bronze doors. “Guys? Can we be careful about these doors? I mean, if this was where folks who liked Demon Princes hung out, I could see them being picky about the company they keep, y’know? Wilam, shall we check for devious magics? This’ll take just a minute.”
Vigo quiets his mind, listening to other senses for a minute.

Belimir takes a look at the note. “It`s written in……..common. It`s the first time I`ve seen them do that since we……….entered this keep. You think there might be someone else behind them? Now, I know we`re gonna ignore that warning, but what do you think is on the other side?”

“The kind of folks that befriend the Lord of Undeath,” whispers Vigo blankly, his senses clearly elsewhere.

“One can only wonder if there is some sort of reverse psychology behind the warning. Either way, we should probably investigate.”

In the cold caverns Arden feels a chill run down his spine, partly from the temperature, and partly from the feeling of loss this room holds. “Investigate…. as in Jiles checks for traps and then we open the doors? Ready when you are!” Arden pulls his rod out of his belt, ready to point it at anything less than friendly.

Wilam puts his hand on Arden’s shoulder to hold him back, “One moment, Arden. Vigo is in the middle of a Magic Detection ritual. He’ll need a little more time to determine if there’s anything magical nearby.”

No magic emminantes from the large bronze doors. The fungus coating them is unremarkable and slimey.

“I don’t feel anything within about ten yards… I’m ready for a fight. Anyone know how to find traps?”
Vigo tightens his grip on his wand, holding his shield between himself and the door and humming quietly, under his breath.

Without saying a word Jiles goes to work on the doors … checking them for traps and checking to see if they are locked.

“Sneaky, ya jus be givin me da sign and I be kickin in dem doors and we can get ta seein what be behind dem. only ways we goin ta find out anys way. sometimes ya jus havin ta go an find out iffen der be anyting der or nots.”

Varro steps back and lowers his head and draws one foot out and then drags it back like a bull getting ready to charge.

Jiles thuoroughly searches the doors for traps and special locks. Not finding any he turns to the group and shrugs, no traps to be found, or locks for that matter.

So quiet that only those adjacent to him can hear, Vigo’s humming changes tempo, shifting to a marching cadence with a rousing, martial quality; glowing hat bobbing in time.

Wilam shudders as they open the door. I bet there’s more of those nasty gelatinous things down there.

Francis takes a few steps toward the open door. We’re forgetting something, he thinks. “Of course,” he whispers. “The pass phrase.” He stands at the doorway, stands straight so as to project his voice, and says, quite loudly, “From the, uh, from the ground, some magic was found!”

Vigo chuckles quietly, “From your ass, gas will pass.”

Belly Laugh

Varro opens the door and allows Jiles to step in, then follows behind him a few paces back.

“it be open”

Jiles enters the shadows and checks for any additional traps or such.
He carefully picks his way through the doorway, scanning the walls and stone steps for traps. He is unable to find any and confident that there are no signs of traps in this small room.

“What?” Francis turns around. “Would you care to share your thoughts with everyone?”

Vigo begins summoing a minor enchantment.

Beginning quietly, a squeaky flatulent noice begins to emanate from Francis’ lower armor. The sound gets louder as it drops a few octaves into a raspberry rumble of flatulence.

“S’okay Francis, I’m a little nervous too,” Vigo snickers.

Arden holds his nose, “Damnit Varro, open that door before we all pass out in here.”

Wilam becomes annoyed by Vigo’s flippant use of his magic. “Enough!” he says, with his voice raised, “This is not play time for toddlers. Our mission here is dire and if you can’t take it seriously, then I recommend you dismiss yourself!”

“Just trying to loosen nerves; few fight well when scared… unless they completely lose it, which can endanger otheres. The way you’re all acting, you’d think you’d seen a ghost… Is uh, is this where Ehud fell?” Crap, hope I didn’t just step in it again.

Arden gives Vigo a little nudge and mutters to him out the corner of his mouth, “Don’t worry, that old man is a bit serious sometimes, comes with the age I think. Plus I think he ran out of prune juice a while back and hasn’t shit for days…” Arden snickers a little but tries to cover it up with a cough.

“A little lamp oil goes and goes and goes… least, that’s what I heard…for about an hour through the wall of the outhouse!” Vigo remarks.

Wilam resorts to a stiff glare. Silence. Don’t feed the troll and it will starve, as they say.

Arden follows behind Francis, ready to take on whatever may be in the next room.

Marching behind Francis, Vigo’s humming takes on a suspenseful tone; his hat bobs left and right to the beat while he conducts an imaginary orchestra with his wand.



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