On Monday, December 1st, the Citadel House adventurers decide to answer a several-weeks-old request from the Archivist (Tasglann) gnomish faction for help with troubles in their menagerie. Most of the adventurers are engaged hunting or helping to salvage some extra crops to make up for the lost winter stores, but three, including a new arrival, depart for the North:
- Rovert (TrS): Level 4 Human Magic-user (Death and Mental Harm)
- Drej, Level 3 Pseudodragon Familiar
- Q (TrS): Level 3 Human Thief
- Chiron (TrS): Level 1 Human Hunter
- Tulzriryg, Riding Horse
Expecting to spend as much as a week in gnomish lands after reaching the capitol, they take with them 15 days of food each, carried on Chiron’s horse along with some of their other equipment. With unseasonably warm weather and good roads, the first three days of their journey are undisturbed, but on Thursday, as they travel in the Gnomish heartland they come to a village where three Cerada are raiding their food stores.
The battle is fairly short, with Rovert employing magic liberally to bring down the tough fighters, one of which significantly damages Q with a head-down charge. The gnomes are grateful and offer for them to stay there, but sure they will arrive in Stalla Airgid not long after dark, they press on.
Friday morning, after a night in a Stalla Airgid inn, they ask directions to the Tasglann and find their way to their headquarters in the North of the city. The Tasglann are eager to see them (though disappointed there are no elves among them) and soon provide a guide to take them to the hidden menagerie. They go about a day further North from Stalla Airgid to a village off the main road an hour or so. Before they leave the main road, they pass a large group of gnomes, some of them armed and armored and others in the clothes of traditional gnomish warlocks. The gnome group insults them in gnomish, as their guide explains, but no conflict arises.
The village they arrive in looks like any other farm community they have passed on the way, though perhaps with somewhat higher quality houses. It is situated at the back of a small canyon forged by a stream springing from the rock at the back of the village. In the morning, Saturday, they see doors in the back of the canyon that the curator of the menagerie leads them through, giving them a tour of the facility, which boasts dozens of cells containing various fey and many other dangerous and interesting creatures. Rovert is intrigued by the many specimens they pass. As they go, the curator points out several empty cells and cells that are missing one specimen among others. Between cells in the same block are open, artificial fields with trees and other plants lit by glowing vines from above. The stream that breaks out near the village runs through two of these common area.
They decide to split up, each circling a block of cells. As they patrol, Q comes under attack from a small creature (3 inches tall) that he incapacitates before gathering the others and bringing it to the curator. He is astounded to see a troll so small, but they soon realize that it has a miss-sized finger of a slightly larger troll from which it apparently grew. They soon realize that such a small creature must be the product of the anthropterist which they saw in one of the cages, the one the Citadel House Adventurers helped capture. They go to confront it and find the other specimens.
The anthropterist denies having the missing creatures and accuses them in return. Seeing it will not be helpful, the curator goes to get a sedative while the party keeps a watch on the anthropterist. It attempts to attack them covertly, taking an arrow but succeeding in shrinking Chiron. Chiron passes out, but the others attack the anthropterist through the bars, evading shrinking attempts and eventually bringing it down with a beam of death.
The curator arrives, aghast that they killed the anthropterist, but finding it only unconscious. They search the cell and find shrunken iron bars and food stores where the anthropterist was keeping its rod. With no immediate sign of the missing specimens, the curator takes Chiron (who has awakened) and the collector’s rod to a dryad in one of the cells. He attempts to persuade her to use the rod to return Chiron to normal size, but Chiron threatens her and she uses her charms to obtain the rod from the curator. Six-inch tall Chiron attacks, but when he withdraws from the cell at the threat of being killed by her kicks, she shrinks a bar and pursues him, stomping him out of consciousness.
Rovert and Q are searching for the missing creatures near the stream, where Q was attacked by the troll, when the curator arrives, telling them that the dryad has taken Chiron. They start searching, but the now fully active staff of the menagerie find the Dryad poised the throw Chiron into the subterranean stream if her demands aren’t met. Q quickly gets the curator to agree to send her free if she will grow all of the specimens and they approach her to negotiate. She insists that the rak (tiger man) who had gone missing also go with her and that she keep the rod. The curator agrees.
With all of the keepers gathered (lamenting that there are no elves to help solve this problem), they remember seeing the athropterist repeatedly visit one part of the green it was allowed to visit. They go there and find the missing creatures, including a centaur who asks to be let free, convincing Rovert to help him. Though the gnomes are not persuaded by Rovert’s claims that the centaur doesn’t belong, he resolves to get him out.
To that end, he uses his time pocket watch to pause time, grab the centaur, and cast a spell to erase all memory of the centaur from all present. This is the spell he developed alone in the castle ruin, but this is his first test and a lucky 102 (1d100+5) on his magical intuition check and strong targeting roll make it a success. He himself can only remember he was casting the spell to protect something in his inner robe pocket. While he is frozen, Q covers for him, only remembering that Rovert asked him to and he agreed.
With all of the creatures gathered, they allow the rak to go to the dryad and she grows it. With Chiron still a prisoner, they lead the rak and the dryad out of the menagerie where the dryad grows all of the other specimens (but the centaur). According to their agreement, Rovert and Q follow the dryad and the rak a mile from the village before, at a distance, the dryad returns Chiron and the centaur to normal size. When they awake, the centaur, Dohasan, is grateful to Rovert for the risk he took in freeing him and offers to accompany him to the Vale and stay with him, at least for a time.
On their journey back to the Vale, they are sure to pass through Stalla Airgid after dark to prevent Dohasan being recognized. Between the late hour, gnomish Sabbath traditions, and heavy rain, they don’t see anyone on their way around the city. They set camp in the rain and weather the storm through the night.
They continue South, with the down hill and Dohasan’s help, they are still well rested when they arrive in Rathad Oidhche Tuesday evening. In the morning, Wednesday, a gnome sent by Dargos intercepts them before they leave Rathad Oidhche, informing them of Ar-a-mach activity near Troighean Uaine (a large city a little beyond Stalla Airgid on the north edge of the mountains) they heard of days before. They agree it is a priority and that they will soon be returning North to hinder their efforts.
The rest of their journey to the Vale is uneventful but for some hindering weather, but they push on to arrive Thursday evening. At this point, continuity required knowing what would happen next week, so we discussed some of how that might go. I’m excited to complete the story.
It’s tough to get a good session going with one character, but TrS has long had a desire to get some clerical work out of the way with the magic system. It was a session well spent.