Fastidus is delighted to have access to his laboratory back, and is already starting to putter around with a large tome from one of his shelves. The kids decide to patch up the crack in the wall, just in case more nasty critters crawl through. While they fix up the wall, Fastidus reads out excitedly from the tome. "See here?" He points to a diagram of a gem which looks identical to the gem on Sharpblade's skull. "This is written in a long-forgotten, ancient language, and I only can read parts of it, but this says that the gem can trap spirits! I think this is why Sharpblade can still think and reason, unlike a normal mindless skeleton..."
Jojo looks at Evan thoughtfully. "Hmm.. I wonder what happens if I smash that gem..."
Evan ignores her. "I want to look at armour. And then go find a battle ground and fight monsters."
The kids decide to check out the shops in town, so after perusing the town map, they make a stop over at Sheva's Armoury. After polling the kids for suggestions, Sheva turns out to be a replica of the shop-keeper from Frozen complete with Scandivanian accent. "Hoo hoo! Big summer blowout! Very pleased to meet some new customers! You would be interested in some weapons or armour of my own making, yah?"
|"That would be in our Magical Weapons department, yah?"|
"Do you put things aside for people?" she asks as she reluctantly returns it.
Sheva waves his hands. "Oh no, I normally do not, but for you, I will make special note in my list, yah?"
"Maybe you guys should try earning some gold from adventures?" I advised, hoping to get then out of town. The kids discuss their options; Jojo wants to go out to find the Elven huntress Shalelu who's supposed to be out on patrol, while Evan wants to explore the ruined lighthouse in Sandpoint marked on the map as the Old Light. Eventually, they agree to stop by the lighthouse on their way out of the town.
Fastidus meets them in the street. "Thank goodness I managed to catch you before you left! Here are some potions I made for you." He hands Jojo a potion of Cure Light Wounds and a potion of Feather Fall. "Unfortunately, I have nothing that Sharpblade might use. A skeleton can't drink potions, after all."
Evan looks shocked. "I can't WHAT?!?"
I grin at him, somewhat evilly. "You're a skeleton. Although you're immune to cold and poison and stuff, you can't drink anything which means no potions. I mean, where's all the liquid going to go? It'll just pass straight through and wet the floor!"
"But how am I going to heal up and stuff?"
"You'll just have to find some other way."
"Haha," voices Jojo as she writes down her new potions.
The kids arrive at the Old Light. "You see ruins of what must have been a huge tower at the top of a cliff. You expect to see no one here, but you're surprised to see a group of townsfolk gathered around something. Do you want to approach them?"
Jojo and Evan approach together. One of the townsfolk notices Sharpblade and greets Jojo. "Hello there. Nice skeleton you have with you,"
Jojo shakes her head. "First off, he's not my skeleton - I'm just here to keep him out of trouble. Secondly, I'm here to find Shalelu - do you know where she is?"
The townsman doesn't know where Shalelu is. Meanwhile, the rest of the townsfolk are gathered around what seems to be a hole in the ground.
"Did a monster make that hole?" asks Evan eagerly.
"Oh, no. A boy fell into this hole this morning and we just got him out. He's over at the temple now for healing. We're trying to work out how to fill up this hole. It seems to be a room under the lighthouse ruins. Could be dangerous things down there, so we're not too keen to go down there ourselves."
|Nothing attracts curious heroes more than an old ruined lighthouse|
So the two adventurers leave town. I draw a close up of the road map for them. "You travel out of town following the road. You're on the Lost Coast Road, a road built a long time ago during the old kingdom days. At first there's quite a number of people of the road, with wagons and horses and such, but as you get further away from town, you see fewer and fewer people."
"Because people who leave town... don't.. come.. back! Dun dun duuun!" Jojo breaks out into evil laughter.
I push on. "About 3 hours out, you come to a strange sight. You see in the distance, a caravan hitched to two horses. The caravan and horses are not moving - it's just parked on the road. Near the caravan is the edge of the forest. Do you want to go closer?"
They decide to approach the caravan. Cautiously. "As you get closer, you hear someone calling out in the forest,'Gaffi!? Gaffi, where are you!?"
"I'll go into the forest towards the voice," says Jojo.
"Well, I'm going to check out the caravan," declares Evan.
Jojo enters the forest and finds a small boy aged about nine who is calling out for Gaffi. She introduces herself to the boy, who looks a bit frightened, but tells her that he's looking for a man named Gaffi who isn't his father, but looks after him. They live in the caravan and stopped on the road because Gaffi needed to relieve himself in the forest. "That was an hour ago, and he hasn't come back," says the boy in tears.
Meanwhile, Evan is checking out the caravan. "You see that the caravan is weathered and well-travelled. The two horses pay you no heed, and there is a small platform at the back of the caravan where you can step up and enter through the back door."
Evan climbs into the caravan, checks out the little stove and kitchen and bunk beds. "Okay, I'm going to... climb into the drivers seat, and drive this caravan away!" he chortles.
"You sit in the drivers seat, and take the reins, and go 'Heeyah!'... but the horses don't move! You try several times, and the horses just look back disinterestedly at you."
|The caravan on the road|
"I approach very slowly, and watch that suspicious-looking rock," she instructs. Jojo gets close and reaches the man. He is still alive, but unconscious. There is a bloody gash on the side of his head.
"You can try to wake him with a Heal skill check," I tell her. Jojo tries but fails to wake the man who Bilbi confirms is Gaffi. She decides to carry him back to the caravan.
Meanwhile, Evan has gotten off the drivers seat and is trying to move the horses by scaring them. But even with him standing right in front of the horses and shouting menacingly, the horses refuse to move. He's convinced that these must be the bravest horses he's ever seen.
Jojo carrying Gaffi, and Bilbi come out of the forest to witness Sharpblade in front of the horses shouting at them. "What on earth are you doing...?"
Just then, the ground starts to shake, and a huge mound of earth rises out in between Jojo and Evan. "A towering figure rises out of the ground made out of rock and patches of moss and twigs! You see.. THIS!" I show them a picture of an Earth Elemental from the Game Masters guide.
Evan throws himself aside with a successful Reflex save. "Wait! As the horses go by, I want to jump on them and ride away with them!"
"Okay, it's a tough jump, but make an Acrobatics skill check." Evan rolls and fails the skill check. "You jump high in order to land on the passing horse - but the horse moves by too fast and you miss and slam into the side of the caravan instead! You land on the ground, sprawled on your back!"
We all make our initiative rolls, and Jojo moves first, followed by Evan and then the Earth Elemental. Jojo launches a sneak attack with her rapier, only to have it glance harmlessly against the elemental's rocky leg in a shower of sparks. Evan gets up and says determinedly,"I'm going to run after the caravan and jump in through the back door."
With a dazzling display of acrobatics, Evan lunges after the fleeing caravan and hurls himself in through the back door to land inside the caravan.
"The earth elemental turns its head with a grinding growl and moves after the largest thing it sees - which is the caravan! With a dive underground, the elemental swims through the earth like a fish through water, rapidly gaining on the caravan!"
Momentarily out of danger, Jojo decides to try to wake Gaffi again. She succeeds her Heal skill check and Gaffi opens his eyes. "Where am I?" Gaffi explains that the last thing he remembers is going into the forest and peeing against a large rock before something smashes into the side of his head.
"Ohhhh no," groans Jojo as she puts the facts together.
Evan sees the elemental gaining on the caravan and throws his war hammer at it, which misses just as the elemental dives into the earth again. He desperately starts throwing anything he can find at it, and soon pots, pans, and ducky underwear all start flying out of the back of the caravan, some hitting the elemental as it continues its relentless pursuit.
"I'm going to give you one more turn before the elemental catches up with you," I tell Evan.
"Cut the horses loose and jump off the caravan!" suggests Jojo.
"Can I jump on the horses, and then cut them loose?" Evan asks.
"Well, you'll have to make an Acrobatics skill check to do that. And if you miss, it could get real bad because you might land on the ground and get run over by the caravan."
Evan thinks a bit. "I'm going to take the reins... and turn the caravan!" He makes a Riding skill check, and succeeds!
"The caravan swerves dangerously on two wheels as you make a mad turn, and then you're racing past the elemental which is going the other way! The elemental growls in surprise and turns around to give chase!"
Jojo stares in shock as she sees the caravan racing back straight towards her. "I push Gaffi and Bilbi into the forest and tell them to hide. And this is probably going to get me killed, but I'll wait for the caravan to pass and then stand right in the way of the elemental, hold up my hand and say, 'STOP!'"
Gaffi and Bilbi hurry into the forest as the caravan with Evan driving it speeds past. Jojo steps up in front of the charging elemental and yells STOP! Incredibly, the elemental stops in front of her and draws itself up menacingly over her.
Jojo clears her throat. "Um.. I know that you're mad because that stupid guy peed on you - I don't want to know where! But it was an accident, umm.. so if you let us leave, we'll umm.. forget this ever happened!"
I get her to make a Diplomacy skill check and she barely makes it. "The earth elemental growls at you, but at least you can see it is less mad than before. Make a Perception check." Jojo does and succeeds. "You see a wet patch just over and under its left eye."
Evan blanches. "Eww! It got pee in its eye! No wonder it's so mad! It probably stings!"
Jojo raises her hands. "If you come with me, I'll help you wash it off in the stream." Another successful Diplomacy roll later, she's leading the elemental off into the forest.
Gaffi turns to Evan who manages to bring the caravan back. "I don't know who you guys are, but you're both crazy!"
He offers them a ride back into town, and so they do.
I find it entertaining to let the kids decide what some of the NPCs look like - that shopkeeper from Frozen was a great suggestion, along with accent and silly dialogue. I've always found it important to give PCs some sort of financial goal to work towards, and am pretty sure the Glamoured Half-Plate and Shadowed Studded Leather are lodged in their heads for now.
After chucking numerous plot hooks at the kids, they finally take one and it certainly turned out interesting. Gaffi and Bilbi will probably some in useful in future sessions as normal townsfolk. Meanwhile, that hole in the ground is just waiting to be explored.
I didn't know exactly what would happen with the Earth Elemental - the kids would have probably been able to take it on if they worked together (or at worst, let it destroy the caravan while they escape with Gaffi and Bilbi), and the diplomatic ending came as a pleasant surprise to me. Jojo is ecstatic that she managed to 'befriend' an earth elemental, and she hasn't stopped talking about going out to visit it again one day.