Redeemers of Agasteel: Raising Bards Part 1
Agasteel. This land has been sundered and rebuilt many times over the millennia. Fresh off one such event, the unknown evil behind the attack remains a mystery. The lands have been changed forever with evil creatures roaming where once only good had thrived. Even nature itself seems to be altered with the very flora coming to life with evil intent.
My name is Annathyst, a level 1 bard, and former dancer of the traveling circus. The appropriate kind of dancer, you know, not the red light district sort. My co-hort, the lazy Randall Graycastle, and I ran away from the circus. Not together, actually, it was more like at the same time. And we are definitely not a couple. I’d rather swallow my daggers. Plus he can’t even hold a violin correctly, and he calls himself a bard. I think we both take pride in annoying each other. However, a familiar face at one’s side is preferable in these dark times.
We find ourselves in the city of Orm looking to make a few gold pieces. Word in the street is the Adventures Guild is putting a team together for a reconnaissance mission. For 120 gold a person, it sounds worth it. A team of three adventurers headed north to deliver items and communications to a nearby city. Three weeks have passed, and the adventurers never made it to their destination or back. Our task is to find the three adventurers, alive or dead, and retrieve the cart of missing goods.
Our squad is a team of six: Randall the actor, I the dancer, Nala the barbarian, Lavi the fighter, a Drow warlock who’s too proud to give us his name, and a dwarf cleric with a name so long we call him by his initials “MOM.”
Luck is with us the first 3 days, encountering no creature or being of ill intent. We don’t even see any signs of the adventurers. On the third night, we set up camp. The Drow is on watch when he sees something approaching us in the distance. He readies his swords, but six pairs of eyes appear out of the nearby forest. He whistles. The rest of our team assembles swiftly. Lavi and Mom didn’t even have a chance to put their armor on. Six large, white, mutated turkeys encroach on our camp and we spring into action.
Mom and Lavi each take shots at their own birds. Nala scoops one up and tries to strangle with her bare hands. I throw my dagger at a fourth and sink it into its flesh. The Drow lights them up with fairy fire, but only 2 illuminate in red. Randall, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, casts Minor Illusion, conjuring up a staggering roar. Three of the birds flee, including the one that has my dagger embedded in its flesh.
“Seriously?” I yell at Randall. “You either go get that or you owe me a new one!” He yawns and waves me off.
The Drow pursues his lit birds back toward the forest with Randall walking with no sense of urgency behind him. I turn and lunge my dagger at Mom’s prey, but I’m so shaken with rage at my fleeing dagger that I miss. Mom and Lavi finish off their targets and Nala successfully strangles the one in her hands.
Randall follows the Drow into the edge of the forest and triggers a pit trap. With his performance skill, he’s able to odge it and convince the Drow he did that on purpose, but I know a clumsy idiot when I see one. They ignore the pit for now to pursue the birds since the sun has yet to rise. It’s too dark for further exploration.
Randall casts a sleep spell, and the three remaining birds fall over like dead logs. He pulls my dagger out of the sleeping bird and hurls it back toward me. It grazes by my ear, taking a lock of my hair off. I stare death into him.
“I think you should’ve done that move first,” the Drow sighs.
Cooking two birds and smoking the other four, our ration supply is set for at least a week or two. The sun rises to the noon position, and we investigate the pit. A human man is impaled upon a spike, but he appears to have other puncture wounds in him. Mom sets up a grappling hook on a nearby tree and the Drau lowers himself in. He throws up the dead man’s sword and shield and observes that the punctures were made by a goblin spear. The shield bears the mark of the Adventurer’s Guild, and we know that he is one of the missing team. Mom performs last rites on the deceased, and we bury him, using his shield as a headstone.
We stay another night to finish smoking our meat and take a long rest we deserve after those monstrous birds.
Night arrives again, and the Drow alerts us to what appears to be a large animal in the distance. We rise from our slumber. Lavi and Mom have time to get their armor back on this time. As we draw closer to the pile of fur, we discover that it is not an animal at all, rather a mound covered in tattered hides. Mom, Lavi, and Nala stay at a distance while the Drow, Randall, and I draw closer. Randall walks right up to the hovel, prompting the Drow and I to take stealth behind nearby trees.
“Hey!” Randall calls out.
“What are you doing?” the Drow hisses in the darkness. I facepalm.
“Is anyone home?” Randall asks.
There’s an exchange of grouchy voices under the furs and it goes quiet. Randall walks around the hovel and finds a small trench and a shovel. He lifts it from the dirt.
“I have your shovel!” He yells to the hovel’s inhabitants.
“Put it by the door and leave!” one responds.
The others realize that the abode isn’t just any hovel, it’s an overturned cart covered in furs. The cart we’re looking for. They draw closer to tell us and the Drow and I step out of the shadow. Randall sets the shovel by what he assumes is the door, but Nala knows a prize when she sees it. She scoops it up for her own use.
The goblins shove a spear out of a hole at us, and I quickly snatch it, wrenching it from the creature’s grasp. He curses, we hear scurrying and then nothing. Nala and Lavi try to lift the cart with no luck. Mom grabs the cart shafts and flips it onto its side.
Under the cart, there’s a five-foot hole with a ladder leading down to it’s depths. We step forward to peer down.
“That’s about your size,” the Drow says as he pushes Mom into the darkness. He lands with a loud thud and flurry of curses.
“That looks fun!” Randall says and shoves the Drow into the hole as well. He lands on top of Mom and another, louder flurry of curses echo from the pair. Randall laughs and retreats, nearly stumbling into a second, smaller hole. He enchants a stone with Fairy Fire and it plummets into the hole in a puff of blue light.
“Well, I’m going in.” I say. I descend the creaking ladder behind the Drow and Mom. The others guard the holes from the top. Mom leads the way down the cramped tunnel, lighting the way with his glowing hammer. I follow and the Drow takes the rear. The walls are reinforced with wood planks, and none of us say it, but there’s something much smarter than a common goblin down here.
We hear voices in a room ahead where a faint blue glow is coming from. We enter to find two goblins curious about the blue rock that fell from above. The Drow dashes into the room and sinks one of his blades clean through the smaller goblin. The other one jumps backwards, and in the glow of Mom’s hammer, we can see this goblin is sporting a headband and all manner of junk strung around it’s thin neck. He holds up his hands and issues forth a fireball, hitting all three of us.
I feel most of my life force drain away, and I stumble back to my feet. The goblin dashes between the Drau and I, and we both get a quick stab at him. He curses and keeps running back up the way we came. The Drow is breathing heavy and looks weak on his feet. To the right, Mom lays unmoving.
“Mom!” I call out. I grab my viola and play the Song of Healing from Majora’s Mask. Mom stirs. I bolt back down the hallway and slam a harsh chord on my viola instead of the my charming melody. A string breaks, and I switch my instrument for a dagger. The Drow runs at the goblin, tossing me his short sword as he passes. The goblin hits the ladder and climbs. The Drow lunges at him and misses.
A warmth radiates through me, and I feel most of my life force returning. I look back over my shoulder at Mom, resting with a hand against the wall behind me. I turn back toward the scrambling goblin.
“Duck!” I yell, hoisting the short sword in the air.
“You can’t throw that!” The Drow yells.
“I’m a Tavern Brawler! Of course I can!” I yell back and throw. The low ceiling makes it difficult, and I embed the sword in the dirt instead of the goblin. He makes it to the surface, and I hope the others have it handled. The Drow is glaring at me, seething, and I shrug.
“Hey, you gave it to me,” I say.
Above us, four goblins emerge. Nala shoves Randall toward the smaller hole, and he takes shelter within it. Before he can get below the ground, a goblin sinks an arrow into his right shoulder.
He screams and sings his sleep incantation at the top of his lungs. The four goblins fall over, and Lavi and Nala make quick work of two. The other two are bound with rope when the headband goblin emerges from the other hole.
Nala and Lavi lunge at him and miss. Under his breath, Randall starts singing.
“Let the bodies hit the floor. Let the bodies hit the floor. Let the bodies hit the…. floor!”
The goblin drops to his knees and clamps his hands over either side of his head. He screams and falls over, shaking at first and then he’s still. We join the others above the surface
The Drow casts his Friends spell, charming the goblins into submission. For a better chance at answers, Randall disguises himself as the Drow and slips into acting mode.
“Are there other goblins like yourselves?” Randall asks.
“We were a defected group,” a goblin says. “The others are far away.”
“Where are the other adventurers?”
“A mile back.”
“You will lead us to them.”
The goblins lead us a mile back and reveal the bodies of the other two travelers, each with multiple stab wounds and what appear to be rope burns. The Drow takes out the two goblins at the same time with a quick stab in the back of their necks. It’s odd for a Drow not to torture, but he seems to think it’s a waste of time. A large, stray bag is perched against a throny bush. The Drow walks over to investigate, but I stop him. I offer to go instead, and he lets me.
I stealth up and slip the bag open. It’s full of silver pieces.
“Guys! It’s all silver!” I call back.
They cheer, and then their faces lose emotion. I cock an eyebrow at them and hear a slithering under my feet. Vines from the bush are moving and working their way toward mm. I leave the bag and use my skills in ballet to dodge all the slithering vines until I’m out of reach.
Nala, who we’ve dubbed Dad at this point, rushes in enraged with her maul flying. She gets several sizeable hits in before the octopus-like-creature spits a poison into her face, knocking her to her knees. Lavi swings his sword and makes some progress with the tentacles.
The rest of us keep our distance. I throw my spear, which hits with the butt end and bounces off the creature. I throw a dagger, and it misses, disappearing into the woods behind it. I curse, but keep my distance. The Drow casts fairy fire and misses. Mom blasts the creature with holy light while Randall plays his violin to offer boons to both Nala and Mom.
“Drop your wrist!” I shout to him.
“What do you mean?” he calls back between songs. “You have your wrist pressed up against the fingerboard. How do you possibly play like that? Drop your wrist!”
He rolls his eyes and keeps going. He wonders why his notes are flat and the boons don’t offer much. Dad can no longer move, the poison seeping into her skin freezes her in place. Mom casts a blast of holy light, and the creature writhes and shrivels up.
I go searching for my missing dagger with Nala, who’s now able to move but aching from her burning skin. We find a small stream she can wash in. As I step near, a see a glint of silver in the rushing creek, and I grab the dagger and slip it into my belt.
Mom performs last rites on the other two adventurers, and we give them proper burials. We hulk the dead plant creature carcass into the cart with the bag of silver. Dad and Lavi take turns pulling the cart while we walk beside it. We return the cart to the Adverturer’s Guild in Orm and inform them of the adventurers’ untimely demises. We receive 120 gold each and we hit the shops to make it rain. I got a few upgrades on my studded armor and 8 more daggers, so now I’m packing a lot of throwing power. I just need to work on my throws.
(First paragraph written by our Dungeon Master in his description of Agasteel.)