Sword of Ruin

One Thousand Enemies

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Prologue: High Tea at Talbot Manor

As we entered the garden, the first thing I noticed was that the garden grew for status, not for the enjoyment of the manor. Even the begonias put on airs as we, a Snake Oil Doctor, a Thingfinder, a Charming Wizard, and a Briar-Hailing Holy Sprite, strode by them. The petunias seemed sad and without souls.

The food was fantastic, and especially good to go! Our hostess spared no expence; on herself. I will say the cookies were worth adding to my formulae book. The crumpets too, but for a very different reason. Gutbombs, all of them.

Miss Talbot happened to be human. Some treat it like a curse, some like a badge, but she was money. And money invited us to sit at her table. She also kind of creeped me out.

We were entreated to find a family bauble, no value, only sentiments and family memories. I’m also thinking family secrets, for five thousand gil would ensure a handsome reward to adventurers with a sense of quiet decorum. I don’t think my new friends trusted her very much.

Our quarry was a thief that took the griffon amulet, Zed Mandrake. He left his calling card, a small square token with the letter Z on it. He was last seen in Callimaco, a short wagon-ride to the west.

Then she dismissed us, like a pack of hounds after a bunny.

Scene One: On the Road

The wagon made our travels mostly comfortable. It was helpful that two of my new companions were very small, but I thought about some possible upgrades over the course of a few afternoons. I even drew some carpentry sketches to make installments with some of our reward money. More wagon, more space, more security, but that all depends if my new companions wish to continue companioning with me after the job.

The crazy pine spires were on the horizon when we came across a foolish creature that demanded a toll for passing. The wizard talked him down to a minimal toll and the wagon passed without injury. One bomb woulda made a gremlin puddle, but it wasn’t my turn to play hero. Not that day.

Scene Two: The Broken Gate, The Boarding House, and The Pancake.

We arrived at the city late at night; a tourist trap for sure. Or would have been, if the Bottle had seen my investment scheme as clearly as I had. I fully intend to buy her out of that town and tar and feather her with kindness, or maybe just with tar and feathers.

The spire-pines crushed the town like troll teeth on a bunny.

Very few buildings avoided their masticating scrutiny. Somehow, commerce and mining grooves on. Speaking of which, we were quickly shown to the boarding house and the restaurant. The boarding house was a well enough place to hang our hats (we mostly stayed in the wagon anyway) and the Pancake was a charming but sad place. The miners were salt of the earth, briny and sad. They had a potential for something more than digging but they’ve accepted the career as their lifestyle.

Scene Three: First Morning in Calico, The Temple of Jocasta, and the Ephraim Mining Company.

Woke up to the sound of dwarven children searching for acorns of the giant trees. This gives me an idea for a future enterprise to make money. Crazy and silly candy; could sweep the market. Breakfast was good; not memorable.

We briefly stopped by the Temple of Jocasta and witnessed a lashing of three acolytes by a chastising cleric. This Marlowe took his business serious as he went about it, praying as he did. We found out later that they were punished because they were caught in the act of sneaking out of the temple without permission. It’s a savage act that they receive without complaint.

The Cleric does not find us friendly, or at least, finds our character wanting. We don’t find any clues toward our pursuit, Zed Mandrake, so we press on.

The Ephraim Mining Company would be a great boon to commerce and tourism to the area if only the people in charge of it weren’t so prepared to stagnate their investment into ponds, rather than feed them into business streams. Money should be able to be free and randy, like a bunny.

We touched base with Pegwin Bottle, turned down for a meeting to invest commerce within Calico. Rescheduled for the next day unless I wanted to part with more tokens, even after she heard my symphony of business sense.

Scene Four: Dinnertime and an Oath

We’re propositioned to explore an old family household, mainly because within our party we had a paladin of Jocasta, who could open the way to explore it.

We meet later in the evening and proceed. Two denizens of the undead guard the path, but they’re easily pushed aside by our paladin’s holy might. We move down the hall and come to a room baring a magic sword and an oath. Our ThingFinder Ratkin makes an oath and takes the sword.

I am forbidden to make use of all the valuable gemstones that litter the old establishment.

Scene Five: The Adamant Mine

We persist in pushing The Bottle into allowing us to take some bats up to the Blue Mile, still under the guise of researching the place as a tourist trap. We’re given access and a guide.

The bats were amazing, tough simple minded in their task. They fly us up to the top of the mine and we enter the straight tunnel. Following it, we see the rigging and equipment of the past littered about the mile. Vick, our Old Pal and guide leads us down the tunnel without incident. We’re all as excited as bunnies as we come to the end of the line.

There is a blue net stretched across the opening of a bend in the tunnel. Some tiles are littered as if absently tossed into it. However a pattern was quickly observed. A – M – A – _ – I – N – G is the easy puzzle. Though without our own tile, Z, one couldn’t complete it. We stick the Z within the wonderword and the net falls to the floor of the tunnel.

Within, we are met with cash and prizes, which we quickly collect. Also, there is a note, which reveals the source of our reward: Zed Mandrake. He congratulates us and offers this haul as a peace offering. Our continued pursuit of him will be taken as villainy. He seems like a nice guy.

Before we can consider the implications, Vick and some other miners make to take our take. We bluff them with fake bombs and leave them stranded, taking their bat mounts. Vick broke our hearts that day. He shan’t be forgiven, unless he asks for forgiveness.

Like a bunny.

All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.

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JeremyLMiller

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