OSR: Tomb of the Serpent Kings, Session 4

Continued from here. In which the party strikes a bargain, four characters learn to fly, and cutlery is the only source of XP.

The Party:

A nameless human Paladin of the Voice. Not very bright, but unshakably faithful.
Thomas, a toadling elementalist wizard, formerly a shepherd. Accompanied by his last remaining sheep.
Franklin, the Iron Frog. A frogling, a knight, and a sensible man.
Antonia Barracuda, a fishling thief, and a sensible lady.
Spackles. Slugling illusionist wizard and children's entertainer. 

The Party, as of Session 3

Session 4:

The Paladin rode into Bogrest just past midnight. Unable to communicate his need for a healer to Gelwib the barkeeper at the Black Stone Inn, he resorted to using command and saying "HEALER", woke up half the village, but managed to ride out a few minutes later with Grunwalda the Herbalist in tow. The matronly and seasoned healer, veteran of a thousand agricultural injuries, fell asleep while riding on her mule's well-cushioned back. Late night journeys were common for her, she explained, and her mule usually knew the way to go.

But the night was dark and moonless, and the Paladin's lantern soon ran out of oil. Suddenly, a glowing triangle of light appeared overhead, flying along like a thrown plate and casting light like a torch. It hovered ahead of the Paladin, leading him and his unconscious companion back towards the camp of Corvus, the Magpie Knight. They arrived by dawn, but the glowing triangle vanished before anyone else saw it.

Grunwalda examined Corvus and announced that the party's former foe was beyond hope. "He needs a priest, not a healer," she said, stepping back from the knight's tent. Most of Corvus' feathers had fallen out and his lungs were full of purple foam. The Paladin, though not an ordained priest, took Corvus' confession. The magpie knight said that the Paladin was a good man, even if his companions were "dishonorable and grasping wretches, the worms of the earth", and before dying gave the Paladin a mysteriously heavy pouch, asking him to spend it "as the Authority would have it spent. The Paladin stored it in his tunic.

After sending Gunwalda on her way, the Paladin returned to the camp outside the Tomb of the Serpent Kings. The camp was in utter confusion, and Thomas the Elementalist Wizard had vanished.

A few hours back, while the party was still preparing breakfast, a powerful wind began to blow from the west. Thomas spent the morning nervously looking around the camp. Antonia spotted a baffling figure in the air, floating along, held up by a giant blue silk scarf. By twisting and turning the scarf, and by the aid of the wind, the figure descended at a run, hit the ground at top speed, and while running, wrapped the scarf up to form a sort of shirt or toga.

"Thoooommaaaaas", the flying wizard bellowed as he ran towards camp. "Your Wizard Student Loans are past due!"

Thomas took one look at the approaching Elementalist, saw his stern eyebrows, steely glare, and magic staff, and ran into the woods. The other wizard followed him. Franklin found them a few minutes later. Thomas was suspended upside-down by one leg, held by a stone arm growing from the ground. The other wizard was shaking him down for coins.

The party offered to help, but Olbrech, Debt Collector for the College of Elderstone, informed them that Thomas owed over thirty thousand gold pieces (with penalties included). He would be taken to the College, examined, and released on a debt collection plan. A few minutes later, with Olbrech's allied wind returning, the Debt Collector unfurled his sail-scarf and was carried back to the west, hauling a terrified Thomas higher and higher.

"I'm sure he'll be fine," Spackles said. "They won't hurt him or anything."

"Do you have Wizard Student Loans?" Franklin asked the slugling.

"I paid all mine off by doing," and then Spackles paused, and a look of terror crept into his moist black eyes, "graduate studies."

"That doesn't seem so bad." Franklin said, but Spackles didn't hear him. He was preoccupied with his memories of the last disastrous expedition into the Mirror Realms, an expedition he had barely survived.

After discussing the Tomb, the undead wizard Xiximanter, and his offer of magical power in exchange for "living creatures, preferably intelligent, and ideally wizards", Xiximanter had promised them magical tutoring or potions from his storehouse.

Spackles, despite never meeting 
Xiximanter, had become obsessed with the idea. He proposed a cunning scheme. 
"We'll trap an elk," he said, gesturing wildly, "and then drag it into the dungeon and give it to the horrible old snake-man. He'll give us spells and potions! Glorious potions!"

"I'm not sure if there are any elk in this forest," Franklin said, "and even if there are, how are you going to catch one?"

"I'll use my illusion powers to disguise myself as a lady elk and then..."

"Vetoed," Antonia said abruptly.

"Now if you wanted a troll," the Iron Frog continued, "this is a great area. The hollows in these hills are full of limestone and salt. I bet there are 10 trolls in a one-mile radius."

"Even better," Spackles agreed, to the dismay of everyone else. "Now here's the plan..."

Three hours later, Franklin had identified a troll-infested hollow. The knot of trees and shrubs stuck between two hills smelled rank, like a rotten salad mixed with lime. Tracks lead in every direction. Franklin was reasonably sure only one troll lived inside.

"Positions!" Spackles whispered, and disguised himself via a spell as a corpulent, nearly naked human with an apple in his mouth and illusionary ropes around his arms. While Spackles climbed onto a spit and hung below it, like a fowl prepared for roasting, Franklin, Antonia, and the Paladin prepared for an ambush.

Instead, the troll ambushed them, lumbering out of the forest from an unexpected direction. It glared at the party with four small and hungry eyes, for this troll, overtop its green mottled belly and two wiry arms, sported two heads. Moss and mushrooms sprouted from its back. It wore rags and tatters. With a twin bellow it charged the delicious-looking illusionist.

Spackles had a cunning plan. He would drop off the spit just as the troll reached him, evade its legs, and then let his companions slaughter the troll. It seemed foolproof to him, but the troll didn't cooperate. It scooped him up with one hand and gave him a painful, rib-cracking squeeze.

Franklin charged in and was bowled over backwards. Antonia remained at a safe distance and peppered the troll with poison-dipped arrows. The Paladin, on his horse, prepared for a mighty charge. And Spackles, dangling over one of the troll's maws, drew a dagger and started frantically stabbing anything he could reach.

Unable to hit the troll, the Paladin shouted "DANCE", but only half of the troll's body obeyed. Luckily it was the half holding Spackles. With a flick of its green rubbery wrist, the troll tossed the illusionist high into the air. Spackles landed on top of a pine tree. The Paladin charged and was punched straight off his horse, flying backwards and landing in a heap.

Meanwhile, Franklin had lost his sword, shattered his shield, and was lying dazed on the ground. Luckily, his predicament allowed the Paladin to charge and skewer the troll in the back. Helped by Antonia's poison, he hacked both of the troll's heads off. Wary of tricks, Franklin split the body in half.

"That wasn't so bad," Spackles said, after a long and painful climb down the pine tree. The slugling's body was coated in pine needles and his jaunty fez was dented. Luckily, the troll had filled its pockets with silverware. The party recovered hundreds of fine silver forks and knives from its rags. Though it wasn't the fabulous wealth Spackles had envisioned sharing, it was still a considerable haul.

The party dragged the quartered troll into the dungeon, to the delight of Xiximanter. The emaciated snake-man gave Spackles a powerful spell-improving potion, Antonia two potions, one that would make her "skin as hard as stone" and another to "command or influence a person." That person was hinted to be the Paladin, who was hissed out of Xiximanter's hall and left potion-less and worried.  

Franklin received a potion that would "enable even a frog to fly", and downed it immediately after returning to the campsite. The rest of the party was startled to see their friend transform, with a loud popping sound, into a seagull. After determining that their friend understood them and was otherwise unharmed, Antonia carried seagull-Franklin into the dungeon and to the huge unmapped chasm. After determining that seagulls can't see in the dark, the party gave it the Paladin's refilled lantern and chucked it into the air. The seagull-knight, confused and overburdened, flapped around and explored the chasm.

On the opposite side, once accessible by a vast stone bridge, stood another set of carved stone doors, statues, and monuments. Franklin descended, his lantern light playing across the stone. He spotted narrow staircases leading down, but as he descended, caves and tiny boltholes dominated his view. Red-eyed goblins peered at his lantern and scuttled backwards into their dens. Strange insects with too many wings fluttered past. When the party above were distant pinpricks of light, Franklin saw strange white salamander-like creatures on a thin bridge. They followed the seagull with their heads, red gills flared. One of them threw a stick at him. Franklin immediately began to climb.

It was at this point that he discovered the potion's effects were temporary. One of his claws popped back to its usual frog-like foot. Another foot swiftly follow. Flapping as hard as he could, Franklin, transforming  limb by limb and inch by inch back into a frogling in chainmail armour, managed to reach the ledge and the rest of the party just as the potion wore off.

His descriptions were deemed "interesting."

The party returned to the world outside and debated their next move. They were all - except for Spackles, who was rich only in cutlery, and Franklin, who was used to wealth, and the Paladin, who had no conception of money or its uses - richer than they had ever been in their lives. Really, it was just Antonia who felt the true impact of her newly acquired wealth. She suggested breaking camp and riding to the great city of Elderstone in the morning.


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