Invasive Maneuvers

Master Apprentice
Let the Training Begin

Our heroes leave the forest heeding Dertaal’s advice and seek training, but not before Ander and Apotropaia get

Merlot, Ander, and Apotropaia go to Stute’s. Jubeln greets them with a smile at the door. Merlot asks to be a member of the town guard and is directed to Stute’s office. There in he asks again and is told very bluntly that there is no need for another guard. Without another word he heads for Albern’s shop.
Apotropaia and Ander inquire about any townsfolk they can train in combat with. Jubeln recommends Paar, as he comes from a long line of champion fighters. Edel, the smithy is also an option as he always seems to be training his body to keep in in peak physical condition. The final option would be to train with Dresler as she’s known to have minor Clerical abilities. Deciding that Paar is most likely the best option they head for his farm and through the trading post.

Meanwhile Merlot visits Albern. Albern asks where he’s been and how he’s doing.

Apotropaia and Ander make their way to the trading post and find a vendor selling a shining orb that he calls an essence crystal. He offers it for 10 gold, but when he sees how desperate the duo are for the item, he raises the price to 15 gold. Not to be outdone in radical price adjustments, Apotropaia and Ander offer him their cookies in exchange. He acts like it’s the deal of a lifetime, grabs their baskets, and makes a mad dash into the vendor’s tents. They give chase and find him amongst the crowd, Apotropaia throws a dart and strikes him in an artery in his leg and he falls to the ground, quickly passing out from blood loss. Shocked by this dangerous event, a few crowd members run off to find the town guard and return quickly. By the time the guard has arrived the man has already had most of his items taken and his wounds tended to. Ander scares the guards away with his ferocious looks and Apotropaia agrees to see Stute for further questioning on the matter.

Meanwhile Faen has made it to Dresler’s Church. Dresler is a bit shaky on showing how her cleric spells work, but gives a solid demonstration as Faen takes notes. Satisfied, Faen prepares to leave when Merlot comes through the door. Dresler, having never seen him and rarely getting guests, wells up with excitement and seeks to prepare a sermon for him. Wanting not to frighten him away, as she is known to do with her sermons, she asks Faen for the guidance she offered before. Faen tells her to simply preach on the benefits of living a wholesome life under Goda; as opposed to the detriments of not following and being tortured by Drof in the afterlife. Being rather new to this concept, Dresler fails miserably and Faen attempts to apply her own aid to the sermon. She is thrown off by Dresler’s complete lack of understanding of positive reinforcement and fails at following up any better. The two stumble over one anothers’ words, interrupt both each other and themselves, and lose track of what they were saying mid sentence. Merlot stands, staring at the two. He is completely baffled by both how terrible and incomprehensible the sermon is and how flustered the two are getting as they progress. Dresler wraps up and asks if she did well. Merlot telepathically asks Faen what the heck was going on and Faen simply responds by prompting him to nod. He does so and Dresler is instantly relived. Faen and Merlot quickly leave, wanting to put that display behind them, and head towards Berlis’ wagon and Albern’s General Store respectively.

Ander heads to The Mill. He orders juice and heads to the back where a man asks him to pick a door, tell him how long he’s staying, and pay. He picks the door with a short haired slender woman and says he’s staying overnight. Ander shows a gold piece to the man and is quickly ushered inside. There the woman greets him, gets under the covers, undresses, and asks him to join her. Ander is confused by this and simply lays over the covers. This in turn confuses the woman who begins to rub his hair; Ander responds by rubbing her hair and giving her a flower. She asks if silence is what he prefers and asks if she should be silent. Ander shows her his tongue and she responds “I guess we won’t be kissing then.” Ander begins to cry and she comforts him, so he offers her a flower. She dresses and comes back with the flower in a cup full of water. Ander is pleased and she asks if he would just like a room for the night and if it would be alright if she left him. He requests that she stay and she questions why he didn’t just go to the inn, remembering it was recently burned down, explaining all the weird visitors the past few days.

Apotropaia, Essence Crystal in possession, is taken to Stute’s office. He asks her to return what she found on the man, but she denies having anything and that the man took her cookies. Stute asks if that justified her nearly killing him. She says yes. He responds with “I too respect cookies” and takes a bit of a cookie and puts it in her bag.
With that Apotropaia begins to make her way to Paar’s farm again. She’s given nasty looks from the vendors that she passes along the way. Finally reaching the farm she challenges Paar to a fight and he allows her to set the rules. She simply states that as long as nobody dies, anything goes. Paar comes running at her, greatsword in hand, and swings down. Apotropaia, swift and on guard, dodges the blow and counters with a bite. Paar jumps to the side proclaiming “Jeez that hurts! What you eat, hot peppers today?” Apotropaia runs at him and swings, but just as the swing is about follow through, he counters with a quick upward sweep of his sword, knocking her unconscious. As he rouses her awake, he asks if she’d like to stay there for the night, and she says that she would and not to tell anyone of her defeat.

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Naked Premonitions
In the clearing all is made bare

After being tied up to a tree in the clearing, our heroes are met with a Pixie sitting on a huge stump. The fairy court is now in session; Judge Merigold presiding. She questions your intent and asks you to defend yourself. After much debate she decides that she will leave the sentence up to the heroes. They may choose between seeing The Companion and having him judge them or something that translates to “The Shaming” in Sylvan.

Faen, Patchan, and Apotropaia see The Companion, Dertaal. Merlot and Ander undergo “The Shaming.”

Petalsent the sprite escorts the group to Dertaal’s shack along with and Tilbow and Shayz the satyrs. Dertaal welcomes his visitors with a smile on his face and they discuss what to do with Apotropaia, Fane, and Patchan. Dertaal says that he doesn’t have a clue what to do with them and might send them to the tiefling outpost near the mountain path when he’s finished with them, just as he did with the “last one.” Dertaal sends Petalsent, Tilbow, and Shayz on their way and they head back to the clearing.
After they depart, Dertaal forces the group to drink poisons. His cheerful demeanor disappears with a final laugh at their fate and he warns the three heroes of a great blight headed towards The Clearing. Taking a more grim tone, he explains of how the blight is an unnatural phenomena that came to pass three years ago where a tree was struck by a magical lightning from the heavens and corrupted. Plants near the tree twist and into vile figures seeking nothing but to destroy and expand their corrupted domain. The tainted abominations will rise up and attack within two weeks. Though they were weak and easy to fend off before, his prophetic vision predict that this time they will experience a power stronger than before. He allows them to leave with a final warning: if news of The Clearing or the fey residing there makes its way around town they’ll never get the antidote. He also states that he doesn’t want the fey to know about the blight. The would sacrifice their lives to protect the clearing and he doesn’t want that.

Tilbow and Shayz prepare for The Shaming and undress Ander and Merlot. Pixies, sprites, satyrs, and dryads walk past them, laughing at their naked bodies. They are sent back to town, unclothed. They are informed if they cover up in any way, they fail the ritual and will not be allowed to have their possessions back and the fey will seek them out to punish them fully.

The group meets up. Faen is completely disturbed by her naked companions and rushes to Dresler’s church to cleanse her eyes with holy water. Ander decides to go to Shootren’s, Apotropea goes to The Mill, Merlot hides in Albern’s General Store, and Patchan camps out amongst the trees of the forest.

Ander reaches Shootren’s house. He knocks on the door. Shootren peeks through his window, sees Ander’s head and prepares to open the door. He looks down further and sees that Ander is shirtless and becomes suspicious. He looks even further down and sees that Ander is naked and he mutters “why?” to himself as he makes his way upstairs.
Ander thinks this is the cue to let himself in and does so. He lays down on the floor as usual and Shootren’s animals lick him all over. Shootren comes down to see the commotion and tells Ander if he needs to take care of something like “that” he shouldn’t use animals, he should just go to The Mill. Ander takes this advice.

Ander passes by The General’s Office. Jubeln tells him that he can’t walk around like that. She has Stute pick him up and take him inside. Jubeln questions Ander, but without paper for him to write on, she doesn’t get far. Ander mimes to Stute that he needs to go to The Mill. Stute understands and tells Jublen to let him go and she responds with a scowl.

Saft talks with Apotropaia. Ander barges in and confuses everyone. Drunken antics in the bar with Ander and Apotropaia.

Dresler explains that she has minor clerical powers.

Merlot buys flowers for the fey. Merigold happily accepts and is a bit taken aback by the kind gesture. (Merigold approves)

Ander and Apotropaia wake up in The General’s Office. Apotropaia notices a terrible smell and sees that Ander has vomited and wet himself in his sleep. Jubeln checks up on them and sees the mess. Apotropaia apologizes for her companion’s misbehavior and Jubeln says it’s alright, she’s used to taking care of kids so it doesn’t gross her out nearly as much as it confuses her and that they have enough money to replace the mattress. Stute lets out a deep chuckle as he sees Ander walk out and quietly comments to Jublen “I’m glad we let him go.” She scowls at him again.

The group clears up some questions with the fey while Merlot cleans up Ander and they clothe themselves. The fey don’t know of the upcoming blight. They notice that some items happen to be missing and were replaced with berries and nuts.

The group moves on to meet with Dertaal and they clear up questions they have for him. He explains that now would be the best time to obtain some battle experience and that if they couldn’t find anyone to train them in town, they could practice on a few wild animals in the clearing, but it might not be much help.

With that our heroes set off… but how will they prepare for the upcoming blight? Will they seek aid from others and risk Dertaal refusing the antidote? Will they battle one another or with friends to train their bodies for combat? Will they delve deeper into the forest to train on the monsters within?

YOU DECIDE NEXT TIME ON: INVASIVE MANEUVERS!

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Into the Woods
Faredstad and Ferrets and Fey!

(Work in Progress)
Our heroes are summoned from their respective homes in Zenterkern by the king and are told to venture Faredstad, one of the largest towns in Arenula to investigate a disturbance that is believed to have originated from the woods. The woods are highly suspect as they’re one of the easiest passages from the Orient to the Westerlands, and dangerous beings are rumored to lurk past the mountains that divide the continent in half.

Jubeln, wife of General Stute, welcomes you to the town with gift baskets made by the children and informs you that the inn has been destroyed. With no lodging she invites you to either stay with her or one of the many welcoming townsfolk she has marked for you on your map. As you discuss your first course of action, Albern comes from his shop and passes by. Just as he’s about to invite you in, Ander makes his way south to the hermit’s house and Apotropaia makes no delay in going to investigate the inn. Fane and Patchan decide to decline Albern’s offer, leaving just Merlow to visit the shop.

Apotropaia begins the investigation and finds little of note. After Fane and Patchan arrive to assist her, the investigation bears fruit in the form of some strange twigs that don’t come from an identifiable tree and claw marks that appear to stop halfway through their path.

Ander reaches Shootren the hermit’s house. Though knocking does nothing to attract Shootren to the door, she spots his eyes through the window and opens the door herself. Shootren quickly darts upstairs in a panic. After hearing a commotion from the animals downstairs he descends to find Ander covered in animals who are licking, pawing, and playing with him. Convinced that Ander is a respectable individual, he asks what he came there for. They do a quick exchange of flowers and Ander pulls out his pen and paper to explain his lodging situation; to which Shootren responds by agreeing to let him stay with him on the couch. They talk a bit and Ander takes note of the ferret glaring daggers at them from the corner. Shootren states that the ferret is very spoiled and probably doesn’t appreciate the new company. The ferret also only eats Shootren’s food, which would explain why Shootren is so emaciated. Ander vows to capture the ferret for Shootren. Shootren informs him that he’s fine and capturing the ferret won’t be necessary.

Merlow visits Albern, the curious owner of the general store. Albern gives Merlow a place to stay.

Apotropaia makes her way to Shootren’s and scares him and Ander upstairs. Apotropaia lets herself in and makes herself comfortable on the couch downstairs. The animals cower before her. Shootren sees how the animals react to Apotropaia and eventually sneaks downstairs with Ander and signals his ferret to attack her to scare her off. Finally seeing the elusive ferret, Ander darts to it and catches it, just before it escapes. Shootren asks politely for Ander to let the ferret go and after some back and forth Ander loses sight of his original goal; this animal is special, and he seeks to make him his own. Shootren follows Ander all the way to Albern’s General Store, attempting to hide from cover while quietly pleading for Ander to let the ferret go. Ander ignores this and knocks on the door and summons Albern, who sells him a fancy cookie for five copper. Ander wishes to buy the ferret’s affection, but the ferret doesn’t take the bait. Ander then gives up after noticing the shy hermits determination and gives the ferret back to him. After Albern notices “Shooty” he invites him in to stay the night and catch up. Merlow simply looks on in confusion.

Meanwhile Fane makes a visit to the local priest, Dresler. She informs Dresler that she was sent by the king and of the rooming complications and Dresler agrees to give her a room as the church is never all that crowded anyway. They discuss religion and Fane shares a small sermon, but due to a combination of fluke, lack of preparation, and Dresler’s hardheadedness she doesn’t impress. Dresler says that she’d be willing to share her technique if Fane could use her people skills to give advice on how to attract more patrons for her church. She claims that even though her sign is awesome looking and she updates it every morning nobody ever shows up. Fane informs her that a fire insurance policy of “If you don’t devote your life to Goda you could end up tortured by Drof in the afterlife, do you want to take that chance?” doesn’t attract followers, but her advice goes right over Dresler’s head and they agree to swap advice some other time.

After a long nights rest the group meets up and agrees to venture into the woods to see if the innkeeper was either lost or captured. After a bit of inspection they find a ring of flowers. The group knows what is likely the cause of this, Fey beings. Just as they begin to retreat, poisoned darts whiz by them from an unknown source and the grass reaches up to grasp at their feet. Ander is quickly paralyzed and sprites are discovered to be the culprits. Merlow asks the sprites what their demands are and if they can leave as Patchan and Apotropaia drag Ander to cover behind a tree. The sprites respond by declaring that if the party wants to leave, they must leave without the incapacitated members of their team. The group refuses and Merlow delivers an Eldridge blast to the face of one of the sprites, incinerating it completely. A small pixie descends to the blast site and weeps over her lost fey friend. Fane seeks to aid his team, but is grabbed by grass and the roots of trees. A dart is delivered to his neck to incapacitate him the same as Ander. Apotropaia makes her way to the other sprite and releases fire from her cloak, completely incinerating the other sprite. A different pixie flies over to the sprites corpse to grieve over his charred remains. Apotropaia is overcome with a sense of guilt and comforts the pixie, apologizing for her rash actions. Meanwhile, Merlow suffers the same fate as Fane while Patchan climbs a tree. Thinking he now has the upper hand in this situation, he waits to save his friends, but a dryad emerges from the bark of the tree and grapples him, incapacitating him as well.

Our heroes are left to the fate of these creatures of whimsy. They are tied up and carried further into the forest, pondering and dreading what their fate may be…

List of townsfolk that you have heard about who have not been visited:

Paar the Farmer
Techniker the Genius Inventor
Edel the Smithy
Berlis the Showstopper
Saft the Town Drunk
Bevoll the Caretaker

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