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Predictions and Predations

Drusilia’s Journal

Sunday, Flocktime 16, 592 CY

I’ve only rested once since we arrived home 48 hours ago. Knowing Aramil and Fafnir would be shut up in Fafnir’s house/lab for the next week or so, I tried to get back into the routine of this small town. Pockets decided to stay with Ghelt (he’s just the most un-elflike elf I’ve ever met!) and Valon stayed at my house— he’s actually pretty quiet for a bard. I started my morning in Pelor’s temple, accompanied by six of His flock, then headed over to the Rat’s Egg Tavern to catch up on the local gossip. There really was none. I thought I’d check in on Ghelt and Pockets at least, but couldn’t find them and went back home. Pockets was there waiting, remembering I’d promised to make him an item with continual flame on it if he had the ingredients needed. Of course, he had the rubies, but they weren’t in powdered form. I suggested we take them over to the forge Ghelt’s father runs, to see if he could smash them on his anvil. He was happy to do so, and now Pockets has a glowing ring— which he keeps on a chain tied in a bag. Ghelt’s father asked us to check on her, as she hadn’t yet risen and most of the morning was passed. It took us a while to convince her to open the door to let us in. I guess one of the undeads’ touches had more of an effect than we realized, as she looked quite unhealthy when she came to the door! Thankfully, a divine restoration spell got her back on her feet. This was good, as it turned out she didn’t get any more rest today either. Pockets decided he needed to see if he could outdrink a dwarf. We headed back to the Rat’s Egg to find out.

We had not been there too long when Farmer Durpin’s wife Carla burst into the tavern, very much distressed. Her little red-headed son Timone had gone fishing some hours earlier and never returned. I confess I was almost thankful that there was someone for me to help, and, thinking this a small matter, quickly told her that we’d head down to the Realstream and take a look for him. Ghelt was eager to help as well— Pockets came along too.

We asked the locals in the haunts down by the river if they had seen a small boy— the proprietor of the Warrior’s Dingy had seen him earlier and pointed to where the child’s bucket and fishing pole lay on the edge of the water. It was obvious Timone had stood there for quite some time as his footprints were clean and deep enough that even those of us not trained in tracking could see them. Odder still, they didn’t appear to have moved in either direction— he hadn’t apparently walked from the spot. I feared that he’d gone into the water and not fared well; Ghelt suggested maybe something had swooped down and caught him. Pockets wanted his fishing pole— we let him go, hoping he might accidentally find the boy in his meanderings.

Thinking it would be good to have some townsfolk help find Timone on the chance he was safe and merely wandered off, I went into the Sweating Mermaid Tavern and told the barkeep that I was offering a reward of 10 gold pieces to whoever could return the boy safely to us. I am embarrassed to admit that after our travels, 10 gold pieces didn’t seem like a lot to me. It is, however, enough to make the average commoner rich. Before dusk, the entire town was calling Timone’s name and searching every inch of Smallville. Ghelt and I eventually met up with Valon, who of course was eager to help.

By dawn we had not found him. Not really wanting to bother Fafnir, but needing some supplies for a divination spell, I went over and asked him for some incense, and let him return to his studies. I hoped to catch him while he was out tending his chickens, but all was quiet.

Stopping in the temple, I cast the divination, hoping to find Timone. My results were simply “Look to the earth.” Now, Earth is one of the domains of Moradin (and therefore, Ghelt!) and I hoped that meant there was something she could do. Before we could decide what though, we heard a woman scream— the villagers still looking for Timone rushed with us to find Old Woman Pasten looking pale on her porch stoop, shouting that the basement wall had devoured her husband. We rushed into her house and down the cellar steps. Sure enough, there was a pool of blood, but no Pasten, and no obvious visible signs of disturbance in the basement. She assured us that two arms had pulled him right into the wall and devoured him. I have a sinking feeling we won’t be seeing him or young Timone, but we are dedicated to removing this threat from Smallville. We decided to talk to the local druids from the edge of town, who didn’t know much but were at least aware and willing to help look.

I figured we’d best go see if Fafnir or Aramil had any ideas, even though I didn’t want to disturb their studies. When we got there, we found out a few odd things. Fafnir’s chickens had been there right up until we returned home, at which point young Hastings had gone to him and reported them missing. The second odd thing was that it appeared that Aramil’s toad had been twinned— he now had two. We had to rule out a doppelganger though; the new toad was much too rude to be trying to blend in. I was fortunate that I could cast speak with animals, which I did, hoping the new toad could provide us with some insight on its sudden materialization. It was Pockets, and it appeared that an old woman at the carnival had turned him into a toad. Asking him why she had done so resulted in total silence (or the toad equivalent of blowing a raspberry). I attempted to cast Break Enchantment, but Pockets still remained a toad. Aramil, feeling that this situation was apparently none of his concern, decided to nap, while Fafnir agreed to head out with us for a bit, now that he was aware that more than his chickens had disappeared. We looked in his side yard— it was possible that the dirt had been disturbed, but then, it is a chicken yard. As we pondered this we saw all six of the town guards running towards the Rat’s Egg. Of course, we quickly followed.

Unfortunately, there had been a death in the basement— a serving girl had gone down and never returned. Upon going down into the cellar, we found that all that remained were her limbs and head, and a few of the worked stone pieces of the wall were knocked out, revealing otherwise smooth packed dirt behind it. While Ghelt examined the stone and earth, I attempted my first “Speak with Dead” spell ever. The poor girl didn’t see what hit her, and only knew that she’d been grabbed by the ankles and felt searing, burning pain.

The villagers are becoming afraid of walking on the ground or touching it now, and we must figure out what is doing this! While we worked on some different strategies (many of which involved getting “bait” from Farmer Marsten), we headed to the carnival to see if we could find the old woman who had turned Pockets into a toad. We quickly were pointed to Zorlla, a fortune teller. Not knowing just how much true sight she had, I offered her a potion of Detect Thoughts as payment, figuring she could use it in her “act.” We have attempted to promise that Pockets won’t be “borrowing” near the carnival again, and she has restored him to his former self. Just out of curiosity, or maybe desperation, Ghelt asked her to divine what was happening in the town so we could put an end to it. She looked into her crystal ball and said:

A creature seldom seen passes through earth as we do through air.
Beneath Smallville are tunnels throughout, with its lair in the center.
Its sole purpose is to feed.
Light is its enemy, and light prevents it from attacking.

Thinking this sounded like pretty well-divined advice, I thought to next ask her about the Temple of the Void:

Shrouded in mists... many entrances... not all open at the same time.
The next entrance will be to the south,
at the highest peak in the Hellfurnaces, in 14 days.

She also says the carnival will be in Hookhill during that time. I am sorry to say I asked for my own fortune next:

You will be the bringer of destruction to the world.
Darkness will spread from your wake.
Choose well when the time comes.

That, of course, was not at all what a Radiant Servant would want to hear, but hopefully, having heard this, I will make the right decisions.

Pockets had slipped out during that bit of fortune telling, and the rest of us returned to Fafnir’s to plan (and maybe rest). We arrived to find Aramil and Pockets passed out together, looking like they’d had the snot beat out of them. Fafnir’s weasel Fingers was standing watch over them and said they had performed some strange mating ritual. I’m certainly not going to use my healing power to revive them from that!

Posted by Kristin on July 22, 2003, 17:01 | Drusilia’s Journal