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Max_Writer

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition: Redcap's Rampage Session One Part 2 - Setting the Trap

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* * *

Tarmak had been walking for some time. Two miles north of Luskwald lay the ruins of the fallen keep. The ivy-covered structure was partially obscured behind the skeletons of dead trees. Both the gatehouse and the keep itself showed signs of collapse, and one of the courtyard walls had completely crumbled. The roof’s tiles had peeled away from the rooftops, leaving plenty of holes for the rain to trickle through.

He went to the front door of the gatehouse and could see light beyond. A muddy path led to an arched entrance in which two wooden doors stood splintered and agape. Although ruined by the ravages of war and time, the doors were still affixed to their rusted iron hinges. Without going any further, he cast a spell to detect evil and felt an evil presence somewhere ahead in the place. It felt worse than the orc evil and he quickly retreated and headed back to town as quickly as possible.

When he got back to the town, he was surprised to see three cats apparently hunting together. They stopped as if they were talking and then continued their hunt. They disappeared around the side of a house and when he went to look for them, they were gone.

* * *

Arthelion returned to the inn, having to knock to be let back in. He hung out at the inn, still trying to train the cat to do a back flip. Elriya soon arrived with a load of cloth that she gave to the commoners who were still in the building hiding from the curse. She had also purchased needle and thread from the merchants in the hopes one of the commoners could sew.

* * *

Kilb looked around the messy room.

“What could they have been looking for?” he pondered.

It was obviously not coin and not the amazing gem he’d found.

“They were looking in different places so it’s obviously something they haven’t found,” Noiree said.

“Why would they look in the mattress?” Kilb said.

“They were really looking for something,” Noiree said.

“Don’t you think some of the neighbors would have heard all of this commotion?” Kilb said.

“I wondered the same thing,” Blackwood said.

“They probably did when it happened,” Noiree said.

“Have you been to the clayworks house?” Blackwood said. “They’re right next to it.”

“Not yet,” Kilb said.

They also found a loosened wall board through which someone tiny would have been able to crawl.

“Someone that big killed these dwarves?” Noiree asked, unbelieving.

“Didn’t you see those handprints?” Kilb asked. “They probably have tiny, little knives.”

“Even a kobold can be dangerous,” Blackwood said, turning and walking out of the house.

“What a sick burn,” Noiree said.

Blackwood went to the glazier’s house, entering the back door. The other two followed him and found him inside doing a more thorough search of that house as well. He showed them the tiny footprints in the spilled flour. Noiree grabbed the silver coins on the floor. There proved to be 112 of them.

“How could something that small move furniture?” Kilb said when he saw the mess in the building.

He also looked into the metal stove in the glassworks room and he found tiny footprints in the ashes. They appeared to Blackwood to be the same size as the prints in the flour. When they looked up the stovepipe chimney there were numerous scratches on the sides of the metal.

They returned to the Devek’s and asked if they had a fire in the fireplace, learning the family did. They discussed how the thing might have gotten into the places and wondered if the chimneys were the way the thing might have entered the house. The dwarves had a fire as well but there was the hole in the wall of their house. They were of the opinion they needed to tell everyone to make sure their fireplaces are lit.

* * *

It was getting close to noon and they all met at the Dragon’s Flagon Inn for lunch. Elriya gave Kilb his bow and arrows. Tarmak was already there. Coryston told them there was leftover stew for lunch and chicken, mashed potatoes, and warm bread for dinner.

“Where were you?” Elriya asked him. “I thought you were going with me to get cloaks.”

“Uh …” he replied.

“Hey, Tarmak,” Arthelion said. “You have any more …”

“Actually, I don’t have the money anymore,” Tarmak said. “I gave it to …”

He pointed to Elriya.

“Because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen at the keep,” he said.

“Oh no!” Arthelion said. “Why are you so tired?”

“I went up to the keep to check thing out,” Tarmak confessed. “And we’re dealing with some sort of evil─”

“Wait, you went to the keep?” Kilb asked.

“There’s something─”

“You’re cursed for life now! At least that’s what I heard.”

“I didn’t go inside. I just went to the door.”

“Oh.”

“Checked it out. There’s something evil in there.”

“Well, we found tiny footprints all over the houses. They’ve got in through holes in the wall and chimneys from what we figured out … hypothesized.”

“You can’t even read and write and you say words like ‘hypothesized,’” Arthelion said.

“He’s very learned,” Tarmak said.

“That’s rude,” Noiree said.

“They didn’t get in that one house last night because they had their chimney lit,” Kilb said.

“But they did get in,” Arthelion said.

“Oh,” Kilb said.

“They didn’t attack or anything,” Noiree said.

“Well, that’s interesting.”

“They didn’t say they got in, they said they heard noises.”

“They heard footsteps inside of the house,” Arthelion said.

“Well, it could have been in the chimney,” she replied. “In the house?”

“The wind,” Kilb said. “It was the wind.”

They discussed what they had learned that day. Tarmak told them about the strange cats.

“Maybe it’s the witch lady,” Elriya said.

“Can anyone talk to animals?” Kilb asked.

“Where did this happen?” Blackwood said.

Tarmak said it was around the Mirklar residence.

“Wait, was this cat acting weird?” Arthelion asked, pointing at Nod, the black cat at the inn who was sleeping on the mantelpiece of the fireplace.

“It wasn’t that cat,” Tarmak said.

“Of course it’s not!” Arthelion said, petting the cat.

“They say there’s a witch that lives in the house across from the laird,” Elriya said.

Blackwood told them about the messages he’d read, relaying what they said. Arthelion spoke several languages and didn’t recognize the words from any of them.

“Maybe there’s a little hat,” Noiree said.

“Give my hat?” Elriya said.

“Give my hat. I love that thing.”

They laughed.

“What were you talking about with the cats?” Arthelion asked Tarmak again. “That sounds like something weird.”

“There were three cats,” Tarmak said. “Looking like they were talking and then they walked around the corner of the house.”

“Maybe we have to sacrifice the cat in the inn,” Noiree said.

They discussed which house, Arthelion noting it had not yet had anything happen to it. He also noted it was in line with the others that had been cursed. He pointed out there were young men at the house who worked at the keep. He thought whatever was seeking the revenge was attacking people who had worked at the keep before.

“That would only make sense,” he said. “We could … if you actually think what the cat’s were doing was really suspicious, we could stake out that house tonight. I’m sure whatever attacks, will attack again tonight.”

“We should probably talk to the house of spirits too, before we do that tonight,” Noiree suggested. “They might know something.”

“What’s the House of Spirits?” Arthelion asked. “I haven’t been there yet.”

“We haven’t either,” Noiree said.

“Well, you know of it.”

“Yes.”

“So what is it?”

“A house of spirits.”

“You know as much as we do,” Kilb said.

Blackwood went over to the cat and petted it as well. It enjoyed that very much. Then he left without a word.

“Bye,” Noiree called.

* * *

Blackwood searched the village and soon found three cats. They seemed organized and acted as if they were looking for something in the town. He approached them and the cats stopped long enough for him to pet them. They loved him and were very friendly, obviously domesticated. He looked around and found they were over by the laird’s house.

He crossed the center of the village and went to the house Arthelion said he had seen them before. There, he met Doland Mirklar, and questioned the man and his two apprentices. He asked if they owned any cats and they said they didn’t. When he asked who the cats belonged to, the man said several people in town owned cats.

* * *

Noiree picked up one of the dogs in the inn and it struggled against her.

“What do you think you’re doing!?!” Coryston asked.

“I’m petting them!” she said.

“Leave Winkin and Blinkin alone.”

“Aw, those are terrible names.”

“That’s their names and they go where they want.”

He looked at the dogs.

“Right?” he said.

The dogs both gave him a nod.

“Holy shit!” Arthelion said. “They’re dwarves in dog suits!”

“Those aren’t dogs!” Noiree said.

“They are dogs,” Coryston said. “They’re good dogs!”

He petted one of the dogs.

“I’m going to the witch’s house,” Elriya said.

“Let’s go to the spirit house,” Noiree said. “I’m going to the spirit house.”

“Yeah!” Elriya said. “Let’s go.”

They all headed for the House of Spirits though Arthelion tarried behind to tell Coryston about the strange behavior of the cats. The dwarf agreed it was strange but he didn’t know much about the other cats in the village. Arthelion asked if they could hire the dog for the quest or if someone in town might loan him their dog for the quest. Coryston wasn’t about to loan his own dogs but noted that Emily Dalcus owned a couple of dogs. He noted they weren’t as good as his dogs. He noted his own dogs protected the inn. They lived there, it was their home, and they’d protect it.

When Arthelion asked how to get there, he gave the wizard instructions, noting she was the village chandler.

* * *

A curious sign hung above the doorway of the modest residence. It read “House of Spirits.” Given the mystique of the eerie little village, they could only imagine what kind of spirits lurked within. They knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” an old woman’s voice called.

“Iunno,” Noiree said.

“Whoozit?” Kilb said.

“Who’s there?” the voice called.

“We’re travelers,” Elriya said.

A moment went by.

“What the hell does that mean?” the voice called. “What are you talking about?”

“We’re from out of town,” Elriya said. “We’re here investigating─”

“Are you the one’s killing everybody? Slitting throats and─”

“No, we just got here.”

“That literally makes no sense,” Noiree said. “What are you talking about?”

“What are you talking about?” the voice called. “What do you want?”

There was a strange rattling, hissing noise from inside the house. A lot of smoke came out of the chimney.

“We just want to ask about what your business is,” Noiree said.

“Okay,” the voice called. “But I can defend myself.”

“Okay,” Kilb said.

“I can too!” Noiree said.

The bolt was drawn back and the door opened. The woman was older, probably in her 40s, with frizzy, fly-away hair and a wacky-looking face.

“Hey, what’s your names?” she asked.

She pointed to Tarmak.

“You, what’s your name?” she asked.

Tarmak just looked at her.

“Just a cleric a Fharlanghn,” he said. “My name doesn’t really matter.”

“I didn’t ask who you are,” the woman said. “What’s your name?”

“Does it matter?” he replied.

She turned to Elriya.

“All right, what’s your name?” she asked.

The Halfling woman just stared at her.

“Oh my Gods!” the old woman cried out.

She slammed the door shut and sent the bolt home.

“Way to be rude, dudes,” Kilb said.

Tarmak cast a spell to detect evil but detected nothing in the area.

“I’m sorry about my comrades,” Noiree called through the door. “My names Deidre.”

“My name’s Kilb!” Kilb called. “I’m not lying.”

Noiree looked at the kobold. They heard the bolt drawn back once again and the door opened.

“I’m Hazel Glaghorn,” the woman said.

She looked at Tarmak once again.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked.

“I’m Tarmak,” he said.

“Arya,” Elriya said.

“Deidre?” Hazel Glaghorn said to Noiree.

“Yes,” the dwarf replied.

“And Kilb,” the old woman said.

“Yep,” he replied.

“Why you have a kobold?” she asked.

“Well, he’s not my pet, but he is my accomplice,” Noiree said.

“I didn’t think he was a pet,” Hazel Glaghorn said. “Why would you call him that?” She looked at Kilb. “Are you with her? Why do you have a dwarf?”

“I’m not his pet either,” Noiree said.

“That remains to be seen,” Hazel Glaghorn said.

“‘Cause everybody … wonders why I’m here,” Kilb said.

“Well, most kobolds are trying to murder us,” Hazel Glaghorn said.

“This guy’s not,” Noiree said.

“All right,” Hazel Glaghorn said.

“Sometimes they’re not,” Kilb said.

“Some - well, you’re not going to murder me, are you?” Hazel Glaghorn said.

“No!” Kilb said.

“Fair enough,” she replied. “I won’t murder you either. What do you want?”

“We want to know what this establishment is,” Noiree said.

“It’s the House of Spirits!” Hazel Glaghorn said.

“What does that mean?”

“I make spirits.”

“You make spirits?” Noiree and Kilb said together.

“Yeah!” Hazel Glaghorn said.

“Can we see?” Noiree said.

The woman looked at all of them.

“All right,” she finally said. “Wait! I’ll give you the tour! But it costs a copper common.”

They all paid a copper coin to the woman, who bit each of them and tucked them away before taking them into the house. They noticed she wore a fine ring on one finger. She led them into the house where they saw a pair of orange cats, snoozing on a rug.

“That’s Rapscallion and that’s Ragamuffin,” she told them. “You-you get out now. You go looking.”

The two cats obeyed, heading out the door, which she closed behind them.

Hazel Glaghorn took them to the back room where the rattling metal and whooshing noise came from. Almost the entire room was filled with a very large still made of steel and copper. She was obviously making alcohol in the back room.

“That better not be the spirits,” Kilb said to Noiree. “I’ll be pissed.”

She showed them the still.

“Yeah, I’m pretty proud of this,” she said. “Hold on. Hold on. Hold on a second. I gotta go in the next room. I’ll be right back.”

She left them for a few moments, returning quickly and looking at them with a mischievous smile.

“What do you need?” she said.

“We’re not talking about ghosts, are we?” Kilb said.

“What? Ghosts? Well I might have heard some things. What’s it worth to you to know?”

“I thought that’s what spirits meant.”

“Spirits are … it’s this.”

She showed off several varieties of wine, numerous kegs of ale and an ample supply of more exotic elixirs.

“What’s it worth to you to know?” she asked again. “I have to run a business, you know.”

“Well, this is not what we expected,” Noiree confessed. “We expected a sort of oracle.”

“Oh! Who says I’m not?”

“Are you?”

“Maybe. I might be a powerful wizardress. You don’t know.”

“Show me magic.”

“Just because I don’t wear a hat - what? Why should I prove myself to you?”

“Why shouldn’t you? I don’t believe you otherwise.”

“How much is it worth to you to know?”

“A copper?”

“Pshaw!”

“A copper?”

“A copper common? For me to waste a spell?”

“You don’t have a spell to waste, do you?”

“I do!”

“What is it?”

“Maybe I’m a powerful wizardress.”

They looked at her.

“What’d your cats go to get?” Kilb suddenly asked.

“Oh, they’re looking,” Hazel Glaghorn said. “I can tell you that for … how much is that worth to you?”

“I don’t have money.”

“I’m poor. I need money.”

“A copper,” Noiree said.

“No,” Hazel Glaghorn said. Then she said conspiratorially to Kilb: “Don’t let her negotiate for you. She’s bad at it.”

“Well, what do you two think about this?” Noiree said to Tarmak and Elriya.

“They’re quiet and rude,” Hazel Glaghorn said to her.

“How about I give you a gold piece and you tell us everything we ask you,” Tarmak said. “Or answer everything we ask you.”

“Hm,” she replied. “How about you give me a gold piece … for every question!”

“Uh-uh, you’re asking too much!” Noiree said. “You ain’t going to get any money! You like money, right? You get one piece, you get something.”

“Maybe a couple silver per question,” Tarmak said.

“There’s not a lot of people who come around here!” Noiree said.

“Three silver per question,” Hazel Glaghorn said, ignoring Noiree.

“Two,” Tarmak said again.

“You already said two! This ain’t no way to negotiate! I came down seven! You’re going to go up … nothing!”

“Two silver and three copper per question.”

She held up three fingers.

“Three silver there … normal-man,” she said. “You’re so very plain-looking. I knew somebody, when I was a kid, looked just like you. I did.”

She cackled.

“Oh, sorry,” she said. “That slips out sometimes.”

“Two silver or we leave,” Noiree said.

“There’s the door,” she said.

“There’s silver all over the floor in the house across the street!” Kilb said. “Just give her the silver!”

Elriya slipped over near the woman.

“What’re you doing, Halfling?” she asked.

She pulled aside her coat and they saw a dagger on her belt.

“Three silver,” she said. Then to Elriya: “And stay away from me. You’re already rude.”

“How do we know you know anything?” Noiree asked. “Give us an answer we haven’t heard before.”

“Because I know things because I’m a powerful wizard,” the old woman said. “I told you this.”

Noiree went to the door, opened it, and walked out.

“Okay, good luck with that,” Hazel Glaghorn called.

Kilb also walked out without a word, intending to track down her cats.

“Well, average-man,” Hazel Glaghorn said to Tarmak. Then she looked at Elriya. “Hey! No! Stay over there. Stay away from me.”

“You’ve got to give us something,” Tarmak said. “I mean we don’t know for sure if you have anything. We don’t want to be cheated out of it. If you would answer the first one for a single silver─”

“What are you?” Hazel Glaghorn said. “A priest?”

“Yes, I’m a priest.”

“Can you tell when things are magic? Why don’t you check on that on me and then you’ll see how magical I am.”

“Hm.”

“Hm?”

She looked at him.

“I know you can afford it,” she finally said. “Don’t act like you can’t.”

Tarmak sighed.

“Trust me, I know things,” she whispered to him.

“You a witch?” he asked.

“I am. I’m a good witch.”

“If you would answer at least the first question for a silver, I’d do three for the rest.”

“Give me a silver.”

He handed over a silver coin.

“Do you know what’s been going on in the village?” he asked. “What’s been attacking people?”

“I have my suspicions,” she said.

“Suspicions?”

“Well, they say that goblins are hiding in the dungeons of the keep and they’re stalking the villagers one by one, until no one in Luskwald remains to stand against them. But that ain’t true! You hear anybody say that, it ain’t true. ‘Cause I seen something.”

“Seen something?”

“Seen something.”

“What exactly?”

“Well, that was your question.”

“Here’s three more.”

“Well, what’s your question?”

“What did you see?”

“Well, I use a magic spell. I can see through the eyes of my cats. With this magic ring, I tell them where to go. And then … I peek inside my neighbors’ houses … because I think it’s funny. By chance, I caught a glimpse of something two nights ago over at the workman’s home. I saw me a sneering leprechaun!”

“Leprechaun?”

“That’s right! I can tell you more.”

He sighed and handed over three more coins.

“He was searching the workman’s house with a knife in his hand,” she said. “Then, all of a sudden, he just disappeared! So I’ve been … oh! But I have a plan.”

She held out her hand with a smile.

“This is the last three and that’s it,” Tarmak muttered, handing over the coins.

“I’m using the cats to scour the village for him,” she said. “Find that little mother … that little …”

She muttered profanities.

“He’s little and he’s wily and he’s mean-looking,” she said. “Ugh!”

“But there’s just the one?” Tarmak asked. “There’s not multiple …?”

“I only saw the one,” she said.

He nodded.

“Now do you believe that I’m a powerful wizard?” she said. “You go tell your dwarf Noiree friend that she’s full of shit!”

“Thank you for your help and I apologize for my previous rudeness,” Tarmak said. “Ma’am.”

“That’s all right,” she said.

He left the place though she tried to get him to buy some wine.

Noiree waited for the two of them outside and asked what the old woman had said. They conferred to her what they’d learned.

* * *

Arthelion, meanwhile, had gone to the Dalcus residence on the south side of the village. The sound of barking dogs—large ones—echoed from the residence. A candlelit pumpkin lit every window of the house.

“Who’s there?” a woman’s voice answered his knock.

“Uh, I was told to come here by the innkeeper to inquire about … hiring a dog,” he said.

“They’re not for hire!”

“I really need one.”

“Nope! I’m not letting ‘em go!”

“How many do you have, ma’am?”

“I have two! You can’t have ‘em!”

“They would be returned to you. I just need one.”

“Then I’ll be killed in my sleep!”

“You’re not going to be killed in your sleep.”

“The curse will kill me!

“Uh─”

“It’s gonna slit my throat!”

“Ma’am, I know─”

“Pull my tongue right out that hole!”

“I─”

“I know how it happens.”

“I know how to end the curse! I just need a dog!”

“No! No no no. No dogs.”

“Then I can’t end the curse.”

“You can’t have my dogs.”

“All right, I didn’t want to tell you this but it’s coming to your house tonight.”

“What?”

“It’s coming to your house tonight.”

“You’re just trying to get me to give you my dogs!”

“I just need one dog.”

“No, you can’t have ‘em.”

“All right, well, rest in peace. What kind of wood do you want for your coffin? I’ll go tell the guy.”

“I want it make out of … teak.”

“Well─”

“You can pay for it!”

“Well, that’s the one wood I’m not going to get, so …”

“Get away from door, you rapscallion.”

“Your candles suck. Everyone says it behind your back.”

“You get out of here, you bully!”

* * *

Kilb was finding none of the village cats and it suddenly struck him that there was no gold in the houses of the deceased, just silver and copper. Leprechauns loved gold! He thought it terribly important.

* * *

Blackwood found Tarmak, Elriya, and Noiree and they told him about the wizardress Hazel Glaghorn and her need for money. Tarmak noted the houses that were attacked didn’t have either a cat or a dog. Then Kilb ran up to them.

“Guys!” he cried out. “Gold!”

“What do you mean?” Noiree said.

“Let’s set a trap with gold!” he said. “All of the houses were turned inside out but the only thing we didn’t find in the houses was gold pieces.”

“I have no gold,” Noiree said. “Who has gold?”

“I don’t either!” Kilb said.

“Setting a trap inside the inn probably wouldn’t work because there’s a cat and a couple of dogs there,” Tarmak said.

“So, we should all wear green,” Kilb said.

“I think we should talk to the mayor to see if they took anything from the keep when they rebuilt it,” Blackwood said.

Kilb mentioned the jack-o-lanterns and Noiree noted they weren’t really working. They all went to the laird’s house.

* * *

Arthelion got back to the Dragon’s Flagon Inn and asked Coryston about other dogs in town. The dwarf didn’t think there were. He decided to go to the laird’s house. On the way, he saw three cats walking in a wide line, keeping the same distance between them and sweeping back and forth as if they were looking for something in formation.

He cast a spell to detect magic and got magic on the cats. Concentrating, he figured out it was a charming or enchanting magical spell on the animals and one of them had a divinatory magic upon it.

He sprinted to the laird’s house and found Blackwood, Elriya, Kilb, and Noiree at the front door. They had just knocked and Laird Yanek opened the door to see the five of them.

“Oh!” he said, surprised. “Thank goodness. Come in! Come in!”

“Guys, someone’s using magic to control the cats!” Arthelion said.

“Yes,” Kilb said.

“We know,” Blackwood said.

“It’s the old lady at the spirits place,” Kilb said.

“What!?!” the laird said.

“Good job everyone,” Arthelion said without skipping a beat.

“Well get in,” Laird Yanek said. “Get in. Quick quick quick!”

He let them in and bolted the door behind them. They found themselves in a fine parlor with a fully stocked cedar wine cabinet, a pair of leather armchairs, a cushioned sofa, a wooden coat rack near the front door, and a pile of wood by the wide fireplace. A portrait of Laird Yanek was over the mantle and three other doors led off the room.

“What do you need?” he asked them. “What do you need? Is everyone all right?”

“We need to know what you took from the keep when you were working on it,” Blackwood said.

“Yeah,” Arthelion said.

“Nothing, Laird Yanek said. “Nothing’s been taken from the keep. There was nothing there. The place was trashed. We sent stone and wood and stuff out there to make … to do repairs but we didn’t finish. Some of the stuff got left behind when people were scared off from the terrible place. Have you found anything? Do you know what’s doing these terrible deeds?”

“I’ve figured out that dogs are really important,” Arthelion said.

“Dogs?”

“Houses that have animals will not be attacked.”

“Oh.”

“And it also seems to attack businessmen or people with money,” Blackwood said.

The laird looked nervous.

“I’m poor,” he said.

“Specifically─” Blackwood started.

“Bullshit!” Arthelion said.

“You’re the mayor!” Kilb said.

“You have a garnet!” Arthelion said.

“Well, that’s to pay you,” Laird Yanek said.

“How did you know about the garnet?” Kilb said. “I didn’t tell anybody.”

“I overheard it,” Arthelion said.

“According to Hazel Glaghorn, it’s a leprechaun,” Blackwood said. “And your kobold friend thinks he’s only getting gold from the houses.”

“Can we suggest to tell the villagers to put all their gold into a pile and put it at the keep and see if─” Noiree said.

Arthelion burst out laughing at that suggestion.

“I don’t think they’re going to give up their gold,” Laird Yanek said. “They don’t have much. We’re very poor.”

“I have a little,” Blackwood said.

“I mean, it’s a tiny town.”

“I can donate.”

“It would be the dwarf to suggest they pool their gold,” Arthelion said.

“Well, do they like living?” Noiree asked.

“I have convinced the candle lady that she will die tonight,” Arthelion said. “So if you could just reiterate that story─”

“What?” Laird Yanek said. “Emily Dalcus is going to die tonight?”

“That’s what I heard.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“Hey, rumors spread, alright? Just tell her, if you see her, to give us her dogs.”

“What?”

“Do we want to have a town meet?” Noiree said.

“Well, hold on just a second,” Arthelion said. “Where did this leprechaun stuff come from? ‘Cause this is the first I’ve heard of leprechauns. Why do you think it’s leprechauns?”

“Spirit lady,” Kilb said.

“She … looks through her cats,” Blackwood said.

“Oh, the cat lady,” Arthelion said. “All right, well, she’s definitely got some magic so I trust anything she does. Magical people know everything.”

They all looked at him.

“All right,” Noiree said. “All right, bud.”

“Why don’t we turn in our silver for gold?” Blackwood said. “Make a trap and have the woodworker make a cage or a trap that we could put it on and trap the thing?”

“But it disappears,” Noiree said. “Unless we have some kind of magical enchantment.”

“Maybe it just turns invisible,” Blackwood said.

“We could just kill it,” Kilb said.

“I think maybe the leprechauns might suspect a trap,” Arthelion said. “Maybe we should be inside of a house with a lot of gold and plant a trap. And also, maybe not all of us be in that house. Because I have noticed, from what I’ve seen, it seems like the leprechauns are attacking houses that have very few people, whereas this lady’s house, which should have been next in line, she has so many kids, that I think the leprechauns might have found it difficult to attack.”

“I found that weird too,” Noiree said.

Arthelion suggested putting the trap in one of the houses where people had already died. Elriya wondered if they would attack the same house twice. Noiree was also unsure about that and suggested having the Devek family go to the inn for the night and using their house. Arthelion suggested they might have better luck at the Mirklar house as he had boys there that worked at the keep. He felt if the leprechauns were connected to the keep at all, they would target that house because people there went to the keep.

“Are you a hundred percent sure that nobody took anything from the keep?” he asked the laird.

“Well, no,” Laird Yanek said. “I guess somebody could have picked something up, but I don’t think so.”

“You never heard mention of it?”

“There was nothing there. The place was ruins.”

“Who else worked with the now-deceased?” Blackwood asked.

“What?” Laird Yanek said.

“The people that were killed. Did everyone work at the keep that were killed?”

“I hired out-of-town stonemasons as we didn’t have any. But the remaining crew were all Luskwaldians. There was Hans Bellinek, Gustav and Justin Orlesky, Erne and Homme Shyndle, Karn Ironstar and Bryne Bellowforge, Ezekiel Devek, and Donald Mirklar and his two apprentices.”

They recognized Bellinek as the same name as the cobbler. They also recognized the dwarf names and remembered meeting Devek, as his house had been terrified the night before, and Mirklar.

“I think we should talk to the carpenter,” Blackwood said.

“I second that notion,” Arthelion said.

They returned to the Devek residence, Blackwood telling Arthelion on the way that Devek wanted to leave the town. He suspected Devek might be trying to get out of town because he had money. They found the people there still unnerved, afraid it was going to happen again that night. When Blackwood asked if they’d taken anything from the keep, the man said neither he nor anyone had taken anything from the place. There wasn’t anything there. He corroborated the laird’s tale that the place was a wreck but nothing had been brought back to the village. When Blackwood asked if the man had any gold, he said he only had a few silver coins. He didn’t even have anything made of gold in his house. Like the rest of the villagers, he was very poor.

“That’s why they didn’t kill him,” Kilb guessed.

“That might be why,” Elriya said.

Arthelion suggested going to the Mirklar house again, avoiding the house of the clayworker whom he knew was armed and dangerous. They questioned Doland Mirklar, who had worked at the keep, but he denied bringing anything back to the village. He reiterated how the apprentices had been injured at the place as well. Mirklar wanted to end the horrible events in the village.

“Oh, you want to end it?” Arthelion asked. “But business is booming right now, isn’t it?”

“People are dying!” Mirklar said.

“Yeah, that’s good for business.”

“My friends are dying. No, it’s not.”

“Pfft.”

“That’s terrible! What kind of person are you?”

“Aren’t you making money?”

“I’m making coffins! I’ve been making a lot of coffins lately!”

“So, people’ve been paying for these coffins, correct?”

“The laird’s going to pay me eventually.”

“Is he going to pay you in gold?”

“What? It doesn’t cost that much.”

“Do you have any gold?”

“No, I don’t have any gold. Who are you?”

“Do you really have no gold? For real?”

“No, I don’t have any gold.”

“Well, okay.”

“We’re not rich city people like you folks.”

“Don’t be spreading rumors or nothing but, if you have gold, you have a higher chance of being attacked.”

“What?”

“That’s just between me and you.”

“What makes you say this? What?”

“Listen, man, I’m just trying to help you out. Also, Emily Dalcus told me to tell you she’s going to need a coffin sometime soon.”

“What?”

“She says she’s got a tab. Just put it on her tab. She’s expecting to die very soon.”

“She doesn’t have a tab! Why does she expect to die?”

“That’s just what’s going around town, man, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s who we’re expecting.”

“What?”

“You see anybody, you say ‘Emily Dalcus dies tonight.’ All right? That’s what you tell ‘em.”

“No!”

“She said she wants her coffin made out of the shittiest driftwood you got.”

“We don’t have driftwood. There’s not even a river here.”

“Listen─”

“Why would she say that?”

“It’s her last request. Can you just find some driftwood?”

“There’s not driftwood anywhere within 50 miles.”

“Take all your payments in silver and copper. That’s my last word to you.”

“What?”

“Right? Peace out, man.”

“Where are you going? What’s going on?”

They left the very confused man.

“Okay, so he doesn’t have gold,” Arthelion said.

“Don’t you have gold?” Blackwood asked Tarmak. “You’ve been paying for everybody’s meals with gold.”

“Yes,” Tarmak said. “We going to use that for the trap? But how are we setting this trap.”

They discussed setting a trap but no one knew how to set snares. They didn’t know of any trappers or hunters in the village though they suspected the two dead dwarves possibly were. They approached Devek and Mirklar about making some kind of trap and both agreed to help, though it would take some time to make a little cage. Blackwood suggested some kind of trapdoor. He also suggested they talk to Hazel Glaghorn to see what she might know about leprechauns and their weaknesses.

“Somebody else can go back there,” Tarmak said. “I’m not going back there.”

“I’ll go back there,” Blackwood said.

He returned to the House of Spirits and talked to Hazel Glaghorn.

“Oh, I know a few things,” she said.

“How much does this cost?” he asked.

“Five silver … 10 silver pieces.”

“Total?”

“Sure!”

“How about seven silver and five copper?”

“Is that all you got, honey?”

“No.”

“Well, then, no!”

“Fine.”

“Nine! Nine silver.”

He paid the woman, who didn’t know much. She’d never heard of leprechauns attacking people as they weren’t evil. She said they were merely mischievous and usually didn’t murder people. She described the thing she’d seen to him. It had long hair, no hat, and an evil-looking face. When he asked how she knew he was a leprechaun, she said he was tiny, no more than a couple feet tall. When he asked if there was anything else that could fit that description, she said there was nothing that she knew of. She thought it was an evil leprechaun. He didn’t think that made any sense, nor did she. That’s why she was trying to get the cats to find it and kill it.

“Are leprechauns attracted to gold?” he asked.

“Leprechauns have gold,” she said. “They don’t like when you steal their gold.”

She fixed her hair.

“But they’re not naturally drawn to it?” he asked.

“No, they can’t detect gold or anything like that,” she said.

“Yeah.”

“If they see, it like anyone else …”

“That’s weird.”

He returned to the others and relayed the information to them. Elriya was of the opinion they should just go to the keep.

“I feel like, if we waste another night, they’ll attack someone,” she said. “So, we should just go to the keep and find them.”

“That or we could always try the gold trap, if it’s drawn by gold, whatever it is, even if it isn’t a leprechaun, it might come after it,” Blackwood said.

“Maybe it’s best not to go to the keep at night,” Tarmak said.

“What if we go there and we’re there over the course of the night?” Blackwood said. “Somebody could still be killed in town here if it’s not at the keep.”

“I think the trap idea and the keep tomorrow is what I’d do,” Arthelion said.

They agreed to that and made plans to set a trap for the horrible little creature. Arthelion thought they should switch places with people and letting them stay at the inn. Blackwood suggested using a house with the chimney but not lighting it, setting up the trap at the bottom of the chimney. Arthelion noted they should remove all the jack-o-lanterns from the house as well.

Then they tried to figure out which house.

“Who have you not talked to?” Blackwood asked Arthelion.

“I think we should just put the gold out in the open,” Kilb noted. “We don’t have to put it in a house.”

“I think that’s too suspicious,” Arthelion said. “I wouldn’t fall for that.”

“Who leaves gold out on the front porch?” Tarmak said.

Arthelion was of the opinion they should talk to Doland Mirklar and try to use that house.

“I did talk to this guy, but I didn’t say anything mean to him,” Arthelion pointed out. “I just told him that candle lady’s going to die.”

Blackwood wondered about flues in the chimneys. He suggested waiting in the house without having a fire but tying a rope to the handle of the flue. If something dropped down, they could pull the flue shut so it couldn’t climb back up. Tarmak pointed out the thing only attacked houses with a few people, and perhaps only half the party should be in the house. Though Blackwood and Elriya suggested hiding, he noted they shouldn’t be too close.

Mirklar was willing to go to the inn though he suggested they might should talk to Emily Dalcus as she was apparently supposed to die that night.

“We’re trying to prevent that,” Arthelion said.

“How is staying here preventing her from dying?” Mirklar asked.

“It’s too complex. You have to understand.”

In the end, he allowed them to stay in his house and they paid for him to stay the night in the inn.

The house was long and had a layout that was similar to both the glazier’s house and the house the dwarves had lived in. There was a large room that served as both a living area and a work area. There was a narrow kitchen and two bedrooms, one for Mirklar and one for his apprentices, which also served as a storage room. Arthelion asked how much gold they had. Blackwood noted he had five gold coins. Tarmak said they had 103 gold pieces. Blackwood suggested they use about half of the gold.

“Yeah, just in case this goes wrong,” Arthelion said.

They could picture the terrible creature grabbing the gold, yelling “Thanks,” and disappearing.

They tied a rope on the flue and figured it would be easy enough to pull it shut if the thing showed up. They made sure all the jack-o-lanterns were gone and stomped out the fire. It started to get chilly very quickly. Arthelion looked for any other ways to get into the house but found nothing out of the ordinary. Blackwood got sticks to jam the windows shut and they made sure to bolt all the shutters as well.

In the late afternoon, there was a knock at the door. Arthelion peeked out the window and saw Coryston, the dwarven innkeeper, was there.

“He wants his money,” Arthelion said.

They opened the door.

“I found a burrow or something in the stable,” the dwarf told them. “Whatever that thing is, I think it tried to get in the inn by digging underneath.”

“Huh,” Blackwood said. “We’ll check it out.”

“I’ll show it to you,” Coryston said.

“Okay,” Blackwood said.

The dwarf led Tarmak and Blackwood to the stable on the inn and they found a hole dug from outside the stable into one of the stalls. The hole had been covered by leaves outside and hay inside. Blackwood looked around and found kobold prints everywhere, inside and out.

“Penelope came in here to clean up and noticed all this hay,” Coryston said. “She looked under it and she found a hole and I looked outside and found a pile of leaves where somebody had covered it up. This is very suspicious. Is that thing … what is it?”

“This is just … a groundhog,” Blackwood lied. “Probably trying to stay warm.”

“That’s a giant groundhog!”

“Maybe … maybe a wolverine. But … you should be fine. I don’t think it’s what is causing the stuff around town.”

“Can I close it up?”

“Uh-huh.”

The dwarf got a shovel to fill the hole back in. While he worked, Blackwood leaned over to Tarmak.

“That’s your kobold friend,” he whispered.

“Oh,” Tarmak said.

They returned to the house and continued preparing it for a trap. They had gotten a key from Mirklar. Blackwood got some of the spilled flower from the glazier’s house and spread it out on the floor around the small pile of gold coins. Arthelion suggested three should stay in the house while the rest were outside. Blackwood didn’t think the things could actually detect how many people were present. He was of the opinion some people could hide in the bedrooms while others hid in the main room. Arthelion agreed to that so long as the ones hiding were good at it. Blackwood also suggested putting sheets or blankets over some of the furniture to aid in the hiding.

In the end, Blackwood, Elriya, and Kilb would hide in the main room with the gold while the others hid in the two bedrooms. Elriya had her whistle ready. Noiree actually lay down in the bed in Mirklar’s room and quickly fell asleep. In the apprentice’s room, Arthelion and Tarmak lay in the beds but managed to stay awake.

In the wee hours of the night Arthelion, laying under the blankets in the comfortable bed and trying to stay awake, and Elriya, huddled in the cold living room holding the rope to pull the flue shut, each heard yelling and screaming coming from somewhere in the village. It didn’t sound very far away and seemed to be somewhere behind the house.

Elriya blew the whistle loudly.

* * *

In her room, Noiree immediately woke up when the whistle was blown.

* * *

“What are you doing?” Blackwood hissed at Elriya.

“I hear yelling,” she said. “It’s over that way.”

She pointed to the back wall of the house.

“Lead the way!” Blackwood said. “Go!”

They heard a door flung open somewhere in the house and footsteps run to the back door. Arthelion struggled to get the door open. He crashed his shoulder into the door but slipped and fell to the floor.

“Who’s got the key?” he cried.

Blackwood had the key.

Elriya ran to the back door and found Arthelion on the floor. She shook her head as Blackwood and Kilb ran into the kitchen. Tarmak ran by them, heading for the living room to scoop up the gold. Noiree burst out of the room she’d been sleeping in.

“What happened?” Blackwood asked Arthelion as he unlocked and unbolted the back door.

“I heard screams behind the house,” Arthelion said, getting up. “It’s somebody over there.”

“All right, let’s go!” Blackwood said, flinging the door open.

They ran from the house under the leafless trees of the village. Luna was waxing and nearly full in the sky above, giving plenty of light. Celene, waning from her fullness of nearly two weeks before, was closer to the horizon, glowing bluely in the distance. Ahead of them, yelling and crashing noises came from the house of the village mender: Ylandra Morgyr.

Open all hours, Blackwood thought.

“Bust the door down!” Kilb called to Noiree.

Arthelion ran by the outhouse behind the house and found the back door. It was closed and locked as was the entire house. Screams and sounds of breaking things were coming from inside. He tried to peek into the window. Kilb was next to reach the door and found it locked. He got out of the way.

“Bust it down!” he said to Noiree again.

A childlike scream came from inside the building.

Noiree and Blackwood crashed into the door and it flew open under their combined strength. The sounds of a struggle continued in the house, as well as a child screaming and a woman shouting “Get out! Get out of this place you evil thing!”

“We’re here to save you!” Arthelion cried out.

He ran into the house and found himself in a darkened kitchen with a door in the opposite wall. He stumbled to the door and flung it open. In the dim light of the coals from a fireplace, he saw Ylandra Morgyr standing in the middle of the room with a mace in her hand. She swung it around herself wildly. He smelled blood and saw the glitter of broken glass on the floor. She screamed for “this devil” to get out.

“Who wants this gold!?!” he cried out.

Blackwood ran through the kitchen, dagger and long sword drawn. With his infravision, he could clearly see the main room of the mender’s house. Nothing else was in the room except for Morgyr. He saw blood on her arm. He saw no footprints on the floor. He moved towards her, looking for her attacker.

Elriya ran into the room and stood by Arthelion, looking around the room.

“We’re here!” she called out. “What’s going on?”

Kilb also ran into the room. He moved to the other door to the room and flung it open. It proved to be a hospital complete with bed and locked medicine cabinet. Unlike the other room, nothing was damaged in the place.

Morgyr swung wildly, backing up until she bumped into the fireplace.

Noiree ran into the room and then rushed by Kilb and into the hospital room where she made her way to the window and flung open the shutters.

“It’s here!” Morgyr cried. “It’s here! I can’t see it but it’s here!”

Elriya looked around and spotted a fallen candle in the corner.

“Does anybody see anything?” Kilb cried out. “I don’t see it!”

He had his bow ready but had no target. Arthelion chanted and waved his arms as he cast a spell to detect magic. He saw that Morgyr had a magical scroll tucked under her clothing but didn’t see anything else. He realized if the thing was invisible, such a spell wouldn’t allow him to detect it.

Noiree, in the next room, got scared from the chanting in the next room. She stopped what she was doing and looked around the hospital room. An unlit candle was on a stool. She didn’t see anything strange in the room. She didn’t have anything to light the candle.

“There’s a candle in here!” she called out.

In the other room, Blackwood dropped his dagger, which was tied to his wrist by a leather strap, took out a bit of foxfire, and started chanting. Elriya ran to the far corner of the room where the fallen candle lay, taking out her flint and steel and grabbing up the candle. Then the spell went off. A strange, greenish fire seemed to outline Morgyr. There was no sign of the invisible thing in the room. Then a cut appeared on Morgyr’s shoulder and she let out a cry.

A strange, high-pitched giggling laughter resonated through the room.

“Keep the doors blocked!” Kilb yelled, standing in the doorway to the hospital.

Blackwood started chanting again.

In the next room, Noiree closed the shutters and bolted them again. Then she ran to the doorway where Kilb stood.

Blackwood’s spell went off and suddenly a tiny, two-foot-tall figure appeared, running at him. The green flames outlined his figure, showing his horrible little face and the tiny pikestaff in his hand. He appeared to be a gnarled old brownie with sharp, protruding teeth, long and tangled hair, and wide eyes. He had a tiny knife on his belt. Most of them could even seen a ring on his finger. Arthelion saw that the ring on his finger and a long stick or wand tucked into his belt were both magical.

“Get ‘em!” Blackwood called out.

“There he is!” Arthelion called out. “His ring and his wand are magical! Watch out!”

In the corner, Elriya lit the candle with her flint and steel. The horrible little creature cried out like a stuck pig.

* * *

Tarmak reached the back door of the house just as he heard someone yelled “Get ‘em!” He stopped and looked for some stones outside of the house but couldn’t find any. He headed into the house and stood near Arthelion.

“What is it!?!” Morgyr cried out.

The tiny, green-glowing man ran to the fireplace, jumped over the coals, and scuttled up the chimney and out of sight. He was terrifyingly fast. They heard him crawling up the chimney and saw bits and pieces of creosote fall down. A ghastly howl came from the fireplace.

“I’ll go try to head him off!” Kilb yelled.

He ran out of the room and out the back door of the house. He moved along the side of the structure.

Inside, Tarmak ran to the fireplace and flung a few logs onto the hot coals. They immediately started to smoke. Arthelion ran out of the room, also exiting the back of the house. He saw Kilb off to his right and so went around the left side of the house, moving away from the building until he could see the chimney. A green glow came from within.

“He’s still in the chimney!” he cried.

Inside, Elriya went to the front door and found it locked and bolted. She pulled the bolt back and then took out her picks and tools and got to work on the lock. She unlocked it and pulled it open.

Outside, Arthelion saw the horrible little creature pop out of the chimney and onto the roof. The thing seemed to look around and tried to wipe off the green-glowing flames. Then it headed towards the opposite end of the house, closer to them.

“He’s out the chimney!” Arthelion cried out.

Blackwood ran out of the front door and saw the horrible little creature on the roof.

“I’m following him!” he yelled.

He ran along the side of the house, trying to keep up with the horrible little thing. The little thing ran all the way to the far end of the roof, squealing like a pig and still trying to wipe the flames off himself. Blackwood found himself near Arthelion.

Noiree ran out the back door and looked around, running around the left side of the house. Also in the back, Kilb moved away from the house and spotted the thing on the roof. He pulled his arrow to his cheek and shot at the horrible thing. His arrow just missed it.

Inside the house, Tarmak and Elriya watched Morgyr cast a healing spell on herself

The horror on the roof leapt down to the ground, stumbling but not falling. It ran towards the road, heading towards the house there which had a pumpkin patch growing on one side. The terrible little man continued making a awful squealing noise.

Blackwood started to cast another spell, chanting and touching his holy symbol. The little monster let out another squeal. Then Tarmak burst out of the house and ran after the terrible little thing, curving around and ending up in front of it, staff in hand. He jingled when he ran. Elriya ran after him but couldn’t match his speed, lit candle in hand. Noiree came around the other side of the house and rushed after the thing as well, crashing through the night. Arthelion also rushed after the thing, striking the horrible little creature with his staff. It shrieked in pain and Arthelion noticed, when it opened its mouth, the green flames outlining its every feature, it didn’t have a tongue.

“Give me the gold,” Arthelion said to it.

Blackwood stopped chanting and the grass, leaves, trees, and every plant in a huge area that surrounded the horrible thing, Arthelion, and Tarmak, came to life. The trees reached down to grab at them. The grass and bushes reached towards them. Leaves billowed up to obscure their vision. It was as if the plants in the area were all trying to kill everything within. The vines, trees, bushes, and grass grabbed Tarmak and the horrible, glowing thing. The plants thrashed around Arthelion.

Just then, Kilb came around the side of the house and spotted the strange overgrowth going crazy. The little, glowing creature shrieked and screamed as the grass grabbed him and held him in place. Kilb moved towards the area without entering it.

“Hit him at a distance if you can!” Blackwood yelled.

“Are we trying to kill him?” Kilb called.

“It doesn’t seem like he can talk!” Noiree said.

“He’s killing things at will!” Blackwood said.

Arthelion quickly moved out of the horrible area. He readied his quarterstaff. Blackwood dropped his weapons and drew his bow, getting out an arrow. Noiree, having no ranged weapons, stayed ready with her axe. Kilb moved to a better position and pulled an arrow to his cheek. The horrible thing in the entangling growth screamed, shrieked, made strange noises, and cried like a baby. Then Kilb shot the horrible thing in the left leg and it squealed. Blackwood fired too quickly as he was still aiming, missing completely, the arrow striking Noiree in the right leg in his haste. Blackwood’s mouth was an “o” of surprise.

Elriya moved closer to the horrible little creature and fired a sling bullet but missed the creature completely. Blackwood ran to Noiree and looked at her wound but decided to wait until he had a healing spell before he tried to remove the arrow. He looked up at her, embarrassed.

“Sorry about that,” he muttered.

She frowned and shoved him over.

“Aw man, that must have hurt bud,” she said.

Tears came from the dwarf woman’s eyes.

Arthelion took out a piece of beef jerky and sat down to watch.

Kilb pulled and arrow back and fired at the glowing little man just as the fairy fire started to fade away. It lasted long enough for them to see the arrow go through the horrible thing’s abdomen, coming right out the other side. The thing shrieked one last time as there was a gush of blood. The fairy fire went out as the thing disappeared. Then it exploded like a firecracker and vanished. Through the magic glow of the vines, Arthelion could see the ring and the wand had survived the blast and still glowed in the light of his spell. He concentrated and found the wands was some kind of divination magic and the ring was some kind of conjuration magic. He guessed it was some kind of protective ring.

The arrow had been grabbed by several vines and grasses and hung there, dripping blood.

They heard the front door of the mender’s house slam shut.

“You’re welcome,” Kilb called.

Several minutes passed while they waited for the spell to dissipate and the vines to disappear. Once that occurred, they found a few shreds of cloth, the scorched wand and ring, a tiny knife, a tiny pikestaff, two small, iron boots, and a single split tooth. Tarmak was happy that the entangling ended. The priest cast a spell to detect evil and found residual evil about the tooth and the boots. Arthelion grabbed the wand and the ring as well as the tooth, hoping there might be a spell that needed a leprechaun tooth. Kilb grabbed the tiny knife.

Tarmak examined Noiree and removed the arrow, patched up the wound, and then cast a magical healing spell upon the dwarf woman. Blackwood yelled through the Morgyr’s door they had destroyed the thing

They returned to the house where they’d been spending the night, closing up the doors again and, this time, lit a large fire in the fireplace.

Arthelion took the tooth to the laird’s house and knocked on the door.

“Come look at this!” he called.

“Go away!” Laird Yanek called from within, probably from under his bed.

“Come look at this!”

“Go away!”

He wouldn’t come out so the wizard returned to the house and settled in with the rest of them.

* * *

In the early morning hours, Blackwood crept into Noiree’s room and quietly cast a healing spell upon her, completely healing her. He crept out of the house and left the village.

* * *

The 10th of Fireseek, 592 Common Year, was greeted with a thunderstorm that lasted from 5 a.m. until about 8 a.m. It was cold enough that the thunder and lightning was accompanied by snow instead of rain and it dropped about seven inches of snow on the ground before it broke up into overcast and cloudy skies. It warmed up after that and most of the snow melted.

They talked to the laird and told him what they had dealt with the night before. He seemed quite relieved.

“I said I’d paid you what?” Laird Yanek said. “Ten gold?”

“No, a bunch of garnets!” Arthelion said. “All your garnets!”

“I think I promised a garnet …”

“All your garnets! There’s probably more of these.”

“Then I’m not paying you until they’re gone.”

“Just kidding. There’s not.”

“Uh-huh.”

He ended up paying them two garnets, telling them they were worth 100 gold coins each. He handed them to Kilb and Arthelion though the rest saw them take the stones.

Ylandra Morgyr found the party that day as well to thank them. As she approached them, Arthelion asked her for a reward.

“No, you get nothing,” the woman said to him.

“Oh,” he said. “Man, being an adventurer is hard. They don’t even pay you.”

“Being a jerk is easy though, isn’t it?” she said.

“Yeah,” he said. “Bring it. You would have died.”

“I want to reward you all,” she said. “I don’t have much I can give you.”

She was, however, willing to give all the rest of them a healing salve that was not magical but would heal them. She gave each of them one, even Arthelion.

“Here,” she said to the mage. “You can have one too, I suppose. Perhaps you should work on your manners. Just because you’re a wizard doesn’t mean you have to be jerk.”

“That’s what I’m talking about!” he said.

Hazel Glaghorn found them and wanted to see the thing. She was disappointed when they told her it had exploded but, when they described it to her, she recognized it as the thing she had seen before.

“That’s the one,” she said. “Why was it here though? Why was it here? Oh well.”

She left them.

They had not found any gold on the thing. They were still unsure why it was in the village.

Laird Yanek, once he learned of the terrible thing and it’s power, asked if the thing was going to come back as Tarmak told him about detecting evil at the keep.

“I don’t know,” Tarmak said.

“Could it?” Laird Yanek said. He turned to Arthelion. “You’re a wizard. Could stuff from the keep come to the town.”

“No, you’re safe,” Arthelion said.

“Okay,” Laird Yanek said. “Because I might pay you some more money if it poses a danger to the town if you clear it out.”

“Well, when it happens it happens,” Arthelion said.

“Okay,” Laird Yanek said uncertainly.

He walked away.

“Wait wait wait!” Tarmak said. “We’ll clear it out.”

“Really?” Laird Yanek said.

“Yes.”

“I can give you … another garnet if you clear it out.”

“Yo, what, you got a garnet mine somewhere?” Arthelion said. “What’s going on?”

“I just came into a few,” Laird Yanek said.

“A few?”

“Three.”

“Oh.”

“I’ll give you my last one.”

“I’ll accept that,” Tarmak said.

“Once it’s cleared out, let me know,” Laird Yanek said. “You’ve done a great job. Thank you so much adventurers. You’ve saved our village!”

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