Party trains for ten days.
If the timing pattern is correct, next dragon attack should be in about 8 days. More supplies have arrived in town, town is much happier and holding party in very high regard. Annoying Human (“Bob”) has not come back since – two obsidian creatures appeared in a similar way, turns out they were waiting in Astral Space (based on Lurza’s Experience Death spell). Lurza has no idea how they ‘flipped’ from Astral Space to normal space. Party begins to consider that the two Horrors are ‘pulling’ creatures back and forth from Astral Space to normal space.
Party uses the next caravan to send information back to Vaare to ask him to find out as much information he can about ‘stepping into and out of Astral Space’. Quick answer is “most people don’t do it – horrors can, some live in Astral Space”.
Ki-Li has a personal item of Chumara’s (one of her scales) that the party borrows so Sabrina can try using Direction Arrow – which unfortunately does not tell her anything. (GM ruling for future reference: Direction Arrow does give three-dimensional direction.) After much deliberation, the party decides that their best chance to talk to Chumara is to try to find her in her lair, in a mountain a day’s walk away. They borrow a few horses (and a Clydesdale for Kevin) and get to the base of the mountain about mid-afternoon.
Upon reaching the base of the mountain, Sabrina tries Direction Arrow again, which lands and points straight into the mountain and at a roughly 45-degree incline up. Sabrina starts flying up (not close to the ground but not too far away from it as well) trying to see anything like a cave entrance (big enough to allow a dragon to enter), or scorched areas, or downed trees. And surprise – there is a cave! She flies back down and accepts the praise of the party ( grin ).
There is no trail or path up the mountain. Maria has climbing gear, breaks it out, and the party slowly starts making their way up the mountain. Things are going well for about the first 15 minutes of climbing, but then they hit a section that is very difficult and half the party almost lose their grip! At this rate, the party is not convinced that they will able to make it up to the cave before nightfall (Kevin and Nate just don’t seem to be able to do this very well). With daylight starting to fade, the cave is now in sight!
Suddenly, a light-bulb goes off in Sabrina’s head – she can cast Sky Lattice and the party can climb up the mountain and into the cave without any problems at all!
Kevin sends a message to Vaare, telling him what is going on and if he doesn’t hear from them in three days, assume the worst. Vaare sends back “ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!?!? NOT ONLY ARE YOU TRYING TO TALK TO A DRAGON, YOU’RE GOING AFTER ONE THAT MIGHT BE HORROR MARKED!?!?!?!?!”
The party enters the edge of the cave as the sun begins to set. Considering that only two people have heat sight, the party makes the tough decision to spend the night in the cave but as close to the entrance as possible. To everyone’s surprise, the night passes without event.
As morning arrives, the party can now see the stonework in the cave – there are claw and scratch marks on the walls. Astral sight is used by many people to see if they notice anything, and Betsey starts looking for traps in the cave. The cave looks pretty much like you’d expect – 60 to 70 feet wide and it goes out of sight into the mountain. There are scorch marks and fire marks burned into the walls. Betsey does notice a trap in the pathway leading inward and marks it off. Since the cave is so wide, it’s easy for the party to avoid the trap (but a larger creature would not have the same benefit). Astral Sight has not shown anything – yet. Sabrina uses Direction Arrow again (rolls 25) – and from deep within the passageway, a voice (speaking in Elvish) asks “Why are you here?” Betsey has the best Charisma (of the people who can speak Elvish) so she gets “nominated” to do most of the talking (and kudos to Betsey for rolling a 19 on her initial Charisma test).
Betsey: “We come from Ishkarat. We come here in peace, we just want to talk, we are friends with Ki-Li.”
Chumana: “What are we talking about?”
B: “Are you the one who has been attacking Ishkarat?”
C: “I am somewhat responsible.”
Party: ( Confused and talking among themselves but loud enough for Chumana to hear ) – Is she doing the flybys, is she under duress, does she know she’s doing this…
C: “How do you think you could help?”
B: “If this is what we think this is, we believe we can help. Are you in complete control of yourself?”
C: (In Dwarvish) – “You disrespect me by speaking in this language.”
B: “It is not our intention to disrespect you. We are trying to stop the damage on the town. We know that you have had a good relationship with Ishkarat in the past, and we want to try to restore that relationship.”
C: “I do as well.”
B: “What can we do to help you? Can we help you in any way”?
C: “If you wish to help, you should settle all of your personal matters. Because you are about to embark on a journey and a fight against two Horrors.”
B: “We already knew that.”
Mike: (Jumping in speaking in Elvish) “I am Gondorf The Mighty, trained under Gronk. I am not afraid of Horrors!!”
(Betsey begins to cringe …. )
C: “You have already defeated a Horror?”
B: “Yes, we have. What we are trying to figure out is whether the Two are working together or working against each other.”
C: “The answer to your question is ‘yes’ – they are working together and they are working against each other.
Mike: “One astrally, the other materially…”
C: “No. It’s so much simpler than that. It’s just downright disturbing. The best way to describe this is that they are brother and sister, and they are in constant competition with one another.”
B: “Are you marked?”
B: “No offense – but how could that happen?”
C: “My ego got the best of me. What was offered is of no consequence, because it is of little value now. Suffice it to say that in a few days, I’m going to be forced to attack the town again.”
Side conversation – How does a Horror Mark get broken?
1) Destroy the Horror
2) Destroy the being marked
3) Other than that, this is a topic that has not been heavily researched nor extensively experimented. There aren’t a lot of in-between options.
B: “Where are the Horrors?”
C: “I don’t know.”
B: “Do you hear a voice in your head, or ..”
C: “No, I don’t hear voices, I effectively just get taken over.”
B: “Is there something that dragons fear or avoid (in general)? Is there something you are afraid of?”
C: “I don’t necessarily like being underwater, but I don’t think that’s going to help here.”
B: “Do you know why they want you to attack the town?”
C: “No. I can only imagine that it has something to do with their competition.”
B: “Can we see you? We want to make sure that we’re not being deceived by the Horrors. We’d also like to confirm the Horror Marks.”
C: “You’ve seen the Marks before?”
B: “In a way – Lurza from Ishkarat found the Marks on two obsidimen that attacked us yesterday. We’re just trying to put the pieces together.”
C: “I know Lurza, but she does not know me. I know everyone in the town. Even though I disagree with her discipline, she is of good body and good spirit. What did she tell you?”
B: “She was the one who determined that there were two marks, and that the obsidimen stepped out of Astral space.”
C: “So you wish to look at me to confirm the information Lurza gave you? Very well. Stay there, I will come to you.”
( Betsey needs a Wilpower Test to make sure she doesn’t go after Chumara’s treasure and rolls a one! )
You hear the sound of claws scraping against stone, and the party starts to arrange themselves in the cave. After 5 to 7 minutes, a head appears in your line of sight. That’s a BIG head (about 6ft by 10ft).
C: “Do I have your word that you are only looking at me with Astral Sight?”
C: “I don’t know why, but I think I trust you.”
B: “Maybe because we climbed up here with imminent danger …”
C: “Yeah – why didn’t you just use a Sky Lattice”?
( DM ducks from the dice being thrown at him. )
Maria and Mike start working on Astral Sight – you do NOT see a white circle with a black X and a black circle with a white X – you will see A BUNCH of them – about a DOZEN of each type.
Maria: “Does only one or both Horrors take over your body for the attacks?”
C: “They combine their efforts. I have no control of what happens, and I have no way of knowing what the results of the destruction are.”
Mike: “Have you tried to leave your home.”
C: “This is my home. I’m not leaving my home. I have been in my home since the attacks began.”
Mike: “Why couldn’t you just fly away from here the day before?”
C: “I have tried to use my willpower to prevent from being taken over. The event usually lasts for about 12 hours – I feel as if I am having a very bad dream.”
Mike: “But if you flew away ahead of time, the Horrors would have to expend more energy to get you back here…”
B: “Have you seen the Horrors?”
C: “Only in my dream state. They are more odd shapes than actual solid form and very hard to remember.”
B: “So they don’t have any resemblance to say a human who can pop into and out of Astal … “
C: “Oh let me guess – he’s about 6’3” blah blah and describes Annoying Human perfectly. I would like to ask a favor of you all – I would like to kill that person myself. He’s effectively a construct of the male Horror, and he has a female counterpart.”
B: “We haven’t seen her yet.”
C: “They are twins.”
Kevin sends message to Ki-Li – “is there any reason for the town to be destroyed – maybe there is a kaer underneath or a large treasure?”
Ki-Li messages back – “Not that I know of, but I’m on it”
Kevin sends message to Ki-Li – “watch out for Bob and Babs”
C: “I know everyone in Ishkarat – I do not recognize Bob and Babs, so chances are pretty high that they are not from this town.”
B: “The windling would like to know how long Ki-Li has been mayor.”
C: “About fourteen years.”
B: “How long have you had the dreams? Do you remember a time when you didn’t have these dreams?”
C: “How far back would you like me to go? I’ve been alive for over 200 years.”
Mike: “You’re a youngin”.
C: “I’m NOT young! I’m a semi-mature adult!” ( Mike dodges dice thrown by DM )
Maria: “Do you think you were marked before Ki-Li became Mayor?”
C: “No. Probably within the last year.”
Maria: “When were you offered the ‘bribe’? We’re trying to build a timeline.”
C: “Nine to ten months ago.”
B: “Did they offer you a want or a need?”
B: “Was it specific to you or would it also be valued by all dragons.”
C: “Both or either depending on your viewpoint. They took a love of my life away.”
B: “And they offered to return it to you if you did what they asked …..”
C: “Yes.” ( very sad )
Maria: “Who originally approached you? Can you tell them apart? What are they like?”
C: “I don’t think I can say. They try to outdo each other with their animosity towards life and whatever items they want to possess. When they work together, it is extremely difficult to resist.”
C: “So you want me to fly away for a few days? What would happen to my belongings?”
Mike: “Your belongings are more important than the town?”
C: “By remaining here, I attempt to gather and garnish my own strength to prevent attacks on ANY towns. So far my efforts have been in vain.” ( She sounds strained. )
Kevin messages Vaare – “Any ideas on how to help resist Horror Marks?”
Mike says “Help her Willpower or teach her Bear Mark talent.”
C: “If I fly away, my belongings would be ripe for plundering.”
Kevin: “Can you collapse this entrance? If you do so, would the other entrance be difficult enough so that no other creatures could come in?”
Mike: “What if we guard your treasure for you? The goal is to prevent you from attacking the town.”
C: “I will consider your offer.”