Leaving Yarles to pretend to sleep, Grindell Mistfist escorts Cherry and Aeron to the cage hanging on the wall where the prisoners can see belongings the guards consider too dangerous to allow them to keep on their person. This includes anything that could start a fire, be used for escape or used to harm self or others. The three realize they’re going to have too difficult a time cracking the lock on their own, and Grindell’s cell key won’t open the cage. He asks Lox Silverdew, a thief in another cell, if she can make use of a bent fork left from this morning’s glistening feast of aromatic scrapple, fruit, coffee and juice. She agrees on the condition that she and Other Grindell. The three agree to bring along Lox and Other Grindell. Lox struggles with the locks, saying that she’ll need five minutes with the improvised tools. (Yes I named her beforehand without a thought to the pun, and introduced her after everyone joked about how I was going to name her Lock Pickerson or something) Aeron gets a critical success at listening at the door, and is able to discern that the approaching footsteps will be here in two minutes. The would-be jailbreakers lock themselves back into their cells, and a pair of guards named Ben and Jerry walk up to the cell.
“We’ll take the salver if you’re done with breakfast”
“We’re not quite done, but thanks.”
“Well, in any case, we need the key back. There’s a guy upstairs scheduled for release.”
Grindell hands over the key.
“Hey, I still need to do the dishes. Can these guys come help?”
“You can do that, sure.”
The three are escorted to the kitchen by the easygoing beardos, who then leave them in order to take care of the prisoner release on the second floor. Grindell gets to work washing dishes. In theprison kitchen, there is running water, pouring from hole in the ceiling through a hole in the floor like a little waterfall. Aeron and Cherry ponder diving through.
“Oh my god guys, don’t do that, you’ll drown!” says Grindell, scrubbing a pan.
Aeron searches for an escape while Cherry locates an enormous tenderizing mallet she can use as a mace and a long handled ladle she can use as a greatclub. Aeron locates a portion of the stone wall of the pantry that makes a hollow sound when struck. They take the shelves out of the pantry and set them on the floor. Cherry rears back to hack at the stone with her tenderizing mallet, but before she can start, Grindell interrupts.
“Hey wait, before you start, teach me a song.”
“You’re a monk, right? You know some hymns to the ”/wikis/mowelanity" class=“wiki-page-link”> Mowels? Teach me a lively one so we can sing it together."
“Hopefully we can mask the sound of you hitting the wall.”
The sing-along begins. Somehow Aeron knows a hymn about washing dishes in the prison kitchen. It’s not a great song, really, and it only kind of helps to mask the sound. As Cherry makes a hole first big enough to peek through, then big enough to poke her face through, and finally large enough to walk through, an appraoching guard shouts “Will you cut it out with that damned racket?”
Grindell motions the two through the hole “I’ll cover for you, just go.” Aeron slips through quickly, and Cherry fits the last shelf into place and closes the door behind her just as the guard enters the kitchen.
“Oh jeez, are they escaping?”
“Whoah, is that what’s happening? Well I’m sure not going to chase them. You?”
“No way. More than my job’s worth.”
The two emerge into a dark room. Aeron can’t see, and remembers seeing a tinderbox on one of the pantry shelves. He feels his way to it and lights the candle WITH HIS MIND! Cherry searches the floor of the room, finding a decaying linen war banner, a key in the shape of a smith swinging two hammers, and notices a few relatively fresh animal droppings, about the size a large dog would leave. Meanwhile, Aeron, searching the rubble pile finds a pair of beautiful dwarven forged wings covered in finely tooled silver feathers, attached to a human-size leather harness. The wings fold up when not in use to the size of a briefcase. Aeron eagerly straps in and folds the wings down.
On the far side of the room is a door. It opens outward. Cherry cautiously opens it a few inches and peeks out. She sees that the floor is made of large tiles, almost like a sidewalk. She pushes the door a few more inches. Its hinges make a soft click. She very cautiously pushes the door open with her long spoon. A heavier click emerges from the door, and the floor in front of the door drops several feet. The door swings itself wide and a block almost the same size as the one that just dropped falls from the ceiling into the pit. So now it’s just a smooth floor again. The two cautiously emerge, Cherry probing the floor ahead of them with her long spoon. They stand at a T-junction, and can see that in each direction is another T-junction. They turn right. On the right is a seemingly impenetrable pile of rubble. On their left is a longer hallway that ends in another T-junction, with a small pile of rubble narrowing the corner.
Following the left passage, they notice giant slashes in the walls. At the end of the passage, it’s clear that to the left is a long corridor that neither of them can see the end of. To the right is a large room. They enter the large room, smelling fresh air from somewhere. Cherry thinks it’s coming from the left, but Aeron (who rolled a 3 on perception) thinks that fresh air is better for you than stale. On the sides of the walls of this room are two doors. Heavy slabs cover most of the open end of the room ahead. Cherry, still minesweeping with her spoon, discovers a tripwire, which springs a pair of heavy halberds that slice down from the walls through the space they would have been in if they had not done the spoon thing. They shove the halberds aside and make their way through the door on the left. It is full of unusual long cylinders of metal and stone that hiss with a sound like running water. There are a few small waterfalls like the one in the kitchen here, but in various sizes. In the back of the room is a shelf full of dusty and musty old supplies, including ball bearings, wrenches, wax tape, ball bearings, callipers, workboots and oilcloth coats. Aeron takes a pair of boots and a coat. I guess he doesn’t put the coat on over his wings. Cherry fiddles with the valves on the hissing metal cylinders. Some of them hiss more quietly. She sets them all back the way they were.
They make their way to the other door, behind which is a room that was clearly once a larder. There are remains of food long rotted away and dessicated bodies of long dead weevils and maggots. There is some honey, and a fistfull of rice that looks okay. There is cutlery and dishes that might be worth something. Aeron pours a quart of honey into a small jar to have on his scrapple next time he’s arrested.
The two make their way past the fallen slabs to a long narrow room that faces a single metal door. Finding noting to either side, the two enter the door and find themselves in a large circular room with a spiral staircase in the center, eight doors, and a hairy animal bigger than a horse that is clawing at the stone near one of the doors. They’re able to recognize the creature’s activity as a burrowing behavior. (It’s a lestodon.)
They try the doors in order, beginning in the direction away from the lestodon. The first door leads to a somewhat dusty hallway with two doors. They make their way back to the circular room. The next door contains a very similar dusty hallway that also has two doors; the only real difference is this hallway has a slight bend. The next door has a similar hallway, that is evidently more recently cleaned, though still dusty. The next three doors are very difficult to open and seem to be blocked up with rubble. They yield slightly when Cherry smashed at them, but it seems like more work than it’s worth with all these other doors to try, and stairs to climb.
THOSE STAIRS THO!
The spiral staircase leads up and up and up. It’s at least an hour of climbing before the two of them think they can see the ceiling. They reach a landing where they stand before a really sturdy looking door. They can see a glimmer of lit torches inside through the keyhole. By peeking through, they can see a massive guard wearing extremely fine armor emblazoned with the symbols of all ten of the Mowels.
Cherry knocks on the door.
“Who goes there?”
“I am Cherry Diamond-Studd of the Diamond Studd Clan of the Midlothian mountains.”
“You need to turn around and leave now. There is nothing for you here.”
“Really? I mean, please? It was such a long climb.”
“You need to leave now.”
Aeron makes the torches in the guard room go out.
“You are practicing heretical magic and are enemies of the kingdom. Leave now or be killed.” (fun fact: Aeron isn’t practicing heretical magic at all! It’s Mowelian monastic elemental practice, which is totally holy. Except maybe if Aeron is an apostate it’s heretical again? It’s complicated, probably.) There’s a long pause. “Cherry Diamond Studd and Aeron Mandol, leave this place now.”
They’re scared by him knowing their names without being told, and run down those stairs. Near the ground, Aeron tries out the wings and manages to neatly swoop around the circular room, but bends several of the silver feathers out of shape when he lands. He plucks the silver feathers and pockets them, then folds away the wings again.
In the circular room, the burrowing creature has left to go get a soda or something, but the groove in the floor helps them orient themselves in the room. They open the first door they tried again, and open the first of the two doors inside: they find a lot of cleaning equipment, and on a small shelf, a taxidermied mouse with diamonds for eyes. Behind the second door there are stairs leading up.
They return to the circular room and open the second door. they find another cleaning closet and another staircase. What the hell, let’s climb these stairs. At the top of a little more than two stories worth of stairs they find themselves at a landing that opens into a crawl space under a building. There’s more of those mysterious metal cylinders hissing with the sound of running water here. They locate a trap door and emerge through it behind a woman’s feet.
“Oh, can I give you a hand up? You must be the plumbers. Have you gotten Gunter to sign off on your contract so you can get paid?”
“No, not yet. We’re just going to run out for some lunch. Can you recommend anything nearby”
“Well there’s the goat dog cart. If you’re not familiar with goat dogs the first thing to say is they’re not made out of dogs, they just call them that because they’re sausages shaped a bit like those little dogs you sometimes see the nobles with. You can get them with mustard, which is this really good exotic spice from ”/wikis/anber-province" class=“wiki-page-link”> Anber Province which probably means they won’t have it for long because of the whole thing with the regent."
“What happened with the regent?”
“Someone tried to assassinate him. They think it was someone from Anber. It looks like there’s a chance of war there. That’s why they started requiring the medallions again, I think.”
“Wow that’s intense. We’ll definitely need to get some of that mustard while we can.”
Valdosta’s Session was manifold and varied, and I’m having a difficult time remembering all the things that happened.
She began the session where we left off , having a breakfast of scrapple, eggs and coffee in a tavern near the prison. She decides that she can count on her comrades to make a break for it, and dedicates her day to pursuit of the mythical hammer she believes can restore her homeland. She asks the waitress some important and interesting stuff. What was that stuff? Then she leaves without paying her check. The waitress rushes out to chase her down, but she’s hiding really well. Eventually she decides to not be awful and goes back to pay the check. It’s 12 copper pieces and how that breaks down in gold pieces is a chore, so the DM says “fuck it”.
Next she encounters a merchant who sells helper monkeys. At his feet the monkeys pursue repetitive tasks like knitting little sweaters, rolling cigars, pitting cherries, washing dishes and other stuff. He tells her that he has sold mokeys to the palace. Valdosta slips an orange from a passing cart and surreptitiously tosses a segment among the monkeys. The nearest one picks up the segment, carries it to the merchant and chitters. The merchant identifies this monkey as Li’l Pete, his starter monkey. He offers to sell Valdosta Li’l Pete for 25 gold pieces. She refuses, but is impressed. He probably told her something interesting and important too.
The name “Thundertoes McBingley” is in my notes.
Valdosta stands in a busy lunch cart line and strikes up a conversation with a man in advocate’s robes. He tells her this is the line for goat dogs. They’re really good. A lot of people like to have them with mustard but he prefers them without. I think maybe he tells her that she should visit Baron Clayridge, the noble house most associated with scholarship, information gathering and history. The Baron may have had an accident recently, but if nothing else, the boy Zeqoia should be able to help. The man gives Valdosta a sliver of ivory which he has pencilled his office address on. His name is Calina and he is an advocate focused on property law. Valdosta identifies herself as Tizwin Burdinazko, Tizzy for short. Then she sneaks invisibly out of line. Nobody would have cared.
Upon entering Bloody Hill, the posh neighborhood of noble mansions, a pensive person in humble clothes approaches Valdosta meekly.
“What is your opinion of slavery?”
“I’m against it.”
“I am running away. I was sold to the Glotmee noble house after being captured as a spoil of Rochenna’s war of expansion on Andique Apel, a quiet island on ”/wikis/lake-sherarda" class=“wiki-page-link”> Lake Sherarda. My name is Burmy.Will you help?"
Valdosta drags Burmy to an alley of light industry where tinkerers tinker, cobblers cobble, and coopers coop. There she makes use of her disguise kit to cover Burmy’s nose with putty and maybe some glasses or something I don’t remember.
“From now on, use the name Harper. Never answer to Burmy again, understand?”
Burmy nods. “I like the name Harper. In my village, before the soldiers came, the harp players were how we made devotional music to our god.”
“You’re really uptight. You’ll never pass if you look like you’re trying to hide something. Let’s get some liquor into you.”
“My god doesn’t permit drinking, but I suppose my god is the the god of Andique Apel, and shouldn’t be concerned with what happens here.”
“That’s probably perfectly sound theology.”
The two of them duck into a tavern named The Angry Crochet Needle and tie on a couple of drinks. Following the road south, they make their way to The Giant Duck where Valdosta introduces Harper to Dalgure. Dalgure asks if Valdosta has heard about the baby Saloua disappearing from Brynn Quickwhisper and Adra Battlebeard‘s cottage after the arsonist crashed through their roof. Valdosta says that she did hear about it. Dalgure mentions that the baby had been in the care of Alexandra and Noah Levingley until she Dalgure agreed to take the baby to Adra and Brynn in exchange for Alexandra discharging some of her fees. The baby’s mother could not be sold with a baby, and so the child was left in the care of the Levingleys. Noah is known for showing care and kindness to the new slaves when he performs the traditional blessings. The two speculate that the kidnapper may be someone with some loyalty to the birth mother.
Valdosta helps Harper get settled in her hotel room, and promises to be back for her soon.
Returning to Bloody Hill, Valdosta encounters a man in a ceremonial version of a baker’s apron. This is Terry Baker, head of the Fonhenge Baker’s Guild. Valdosta pretends to have a brother in Swinghammer Alley who is a member of the guild, and Terry asks if he works for Delilah’s Donuts and whether he will be at the induction ceremony tonight. He invites Valdosta as well. I think she asks him about the hammer and he seems to think he once heard something about it from one of the priests in the cathedral in Battson’s Vineyard. He can’t remember the priest’s name, but he’s got kind of an unusual appearance – he’s not as tall as an average human, but taller than most dwarves, just really unusual, oh and he’s covered in soft white fur, I guess I buried the lede there. Terry tells Valdosta how to get to the Clayridge mansion.
It’s smaller than most of the ones around it, and it faces the tarpaper shack neighborhood the party passed through when they first arrived. Valdosta knocks and is greeted by a young man of no more than fourteen. He stands with a crooked posture.
“Oh, hi! What can I do for the Levingleys today?”
“Er, I’m here to see, the, baron.”
“Well, I guess that’s me. Want to come in?”
The house is flooded with delicious baking smells.
“I’ve just taken some cakes out of the oven. I’ll be frosting them shortly and if you like you can try them. In the meantime, I have a pot of tea.
They sit in the little mansion’s front room sipping tea. Valdosta describes tha hammer she’s interested in.
“That sounds a bit familiar. I’m sorry I can’t help more, I’ve really only got a mind for recipes, most other things I forget about quickly. These scrolls and books here, more than any other person has in their home anywhere, I’m told. To me, if I can’t find a recipe in its pages, it doesn’t mean anything. Since my parents passed away I’ve been all on my own here, and I hope you’ll forgive the clutter, I’m not much of a housekeeper I’m afraid. I don’t want to own a slave and managing a servant sounds like as much work as doing the cleaning myself.”
“I met a merchant who was selling some very talented monkeys. I think that might be a way you could have some help around here. The starter monkey Li’l Pete was 25 gold pieces.”
“I need to stay here in the mansion. My constituents need to be able to call on me. There’s at least thirty barons in Bloody Hill, but only two of us actually hold baronies here. Most of them control lands in the country or in the other cities. But if you would be willing to buy me a monkey I’d be most grateful.”
He unlocks a drawer and hands Valdosta a silver Clayridge house medallion and a purse full of gold coins.
“There are a hundred gold pieces here. Get me the most talented monkey the merchant sells.”
“I might get you two for a hundred gold pieces.”
“I suppose that would be good, but I think I’d rather have one really good monkey. I leave it to your discretion. Now about that hammer. It sounds a bit familiar. I feel like there’s something about that in one of these books. Maybe father read something to me about the gods forging a precious weapon of justice when the need arises. I don’t know when there hasn’t been a need for justice to be honest.”
The cakes are very good.