Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













Tarrastra Adventure 10

The party searches room #1 again and still comes up clueless. Because the second body had been drained in spite of the doors and windows being locked, Caelesti pointed out that Duncan had the key to the room. After much discussion, they decide on subterfuge: they propose to tell the innkeeper that they are moving along, save for Carric (the bait), who needs at least four or five days of bed rest. The others would circle back, sneak in through Carric's window, and lie in wait for the mystifying attacker.

Yoshi suggests that perhaps room #1 is the target, and proposes that he also remain, staying in that room, while the others return to Carric's room. Caelesti thinks that everybody should stay together: what if room #1 is the target, and Yoshi ends up as yet another dessicated corpse?

In any case, when Duncan lets the party into Dougal's room, they confirm that he had been the thief: not only was Anwyn's purse there, but also an extra pair of boots that matched the tracks Carric had found leading up to room #1's window!

As per the plan, the party tells Duncan that most of them are departing the inn to go to Meadowbrook for "more information". Duncan is shocked that the party would leave with the murderer still on the loose, so Yoshi decides to remain behind too. Caelesti and Nessey follow the road into the woods and spend the day frolicking nearby. Yoshi spends the day talking with Siobhan in the common room, although they occasionally check in on Carric who is recuperating in room #2.

After dinner, Siobhan sings and plays in the common room, Yoshi returns to his room to meditate, and Caelesti and Nessey sneak back through the window. The party keeps watch all night, uneventfully.

Before daybreak, the two women slip out through the window to continue with their deception, and spend another day frolicking in the woods. Yoshi lets Duncan in on the plan (apologizing, as well, that the secret was kept from him), and he and Carric move into room #1. Otherwise, the day passes much as the previous one, and, after dinner, Siobhan again performs in the common room, Yoshi retires early, and the women sneak back in.

After midnight, on Yoshi's watch, he suddenly notices a puddle on the floor which had not been there previously! Shivers run up his spine, and he leans over to nudge Carric, urging him to "wake everybody up!" Carric pokes Caelesti, and Yoshi turns back to examine the puddle, just in time to see the edge of it ooze up the bed and touch Carric, who falls back onto his bed with a gurgle, paralyzed!

As Caelesti sits up and rubs sleep out of her eyes, Yoshi punches the ooze twice, but is, himself, paralyzed! Caelesti calls out Siobhan's name at the top of her voice, and stabs at the monster, which now covers the hapless druid. Nessey wakes up, and slashes the creature, which then touches Caelesti, paralyzing her as well!

The valiant Nessey creates daylight in the room. She and the ooze trade blows and, finally, she slashes at it and it slumps to the floor. At that moment, the door to the room opens, and Siobhan enters, wearing nothing but her nightshirt, rapier in hand. The bard stares at Nessey, standing above the fallen bodies of her three companions, her own rapier out, and slowly starts to back away.

"Wait, Siobhan," calls Nessey. "They were all paralyzed by that oozy thing!" Siobhan looks at the gooey puddle and walks over to look at Carric. Examining him, she checks his pulse, and stands. "He doesn't appear to be injured," she comments. "Let's cover them up and let it wear off. You come stay with me; that'd surely be more comfortable for you than here!" Nessey agrees, and writes a quick note, so that her friends will know where she is, and also to let the innkeeper know what happened, should he come in before she returns.

For the next hour, Nessey badgers Siobhan with "woman talk", mentions the "birds in the trees and their chicks", suggests that Siobhan should marry Carric, and, generally, wears out her welcome, leading the normally diplomatic bard to testily request that she just "be quiet" until the morning. Eventually, the two women fall asleep and peace reigns.

Sure enough, over night, the paralysis wears off, and in the morning, the four heroes and the bard explain the situation to Duncan. The ooze must have been lurking in the basement. Fortunately, the other puddles down there are nothing but water, so the mystery has been solved and a celebration is in order, with good food and drink, music and dance. Siobhan and Caelesti both smile in anticipation of the evening.

During the day, Nessey yet again tries to talk to both Carric and Siobhan, and makes further references to "courtship", "marriage", "Siobhan's sullied reputation", and even to her "forthcoming baby". "Not a chance of that, Nessey," says Siobhan, rolling her eyes. "But you won't know for sure for a month," says Nessey. "Trust me: I understand these 'woman things'." Siobhan smirks. "Just not going to happen, unless my magic failed," she replies, and goes back to her own room, leaving the young aasimar uncharacteristically speechless.

That evening, the food and drink are wonderful, and Siobhan plays her harp beautifully, singing lively tunes not only in the local human languages, but also in Elvish and Sylvan, while Caelesti dances spectacularly. Carric, Yoshi, and Nessey all retire fairly early, but the two performers stay up late, Siobhan playing until Caelesti has danced her fill.

Hot from dancing, Caelesti loosens her clothing as she takes a seat by Siobhan. The two women drink some ale, and Siobhan offers to massage the dancer's aching muscles. Caelesti eagerly agrees and the two retire to Siobhan's room.

In the morning, Nessey panics when she notices that Caelesti had not come back to her room to sleep. She gets Yoshi, and the two check room #1, the basement, and the grounds. When they come back in, Duncan informs them that Caelesti had been up late with Siobhan.

There is no help for it but that Nessey must go to Siobhan's room. She knocks, is told to "go away", asks about Caelesti, is told "she's fine", knocks and fusses some more, and finally, a grumpy bard appears at the door of her room. "She's sleeping, Nessey," says Siobhan. Nessey peeks through the door and sees Caelesti sprawled on the bed, sleeping peacefully. "Wait! Why's she here? Is she OK?" pesters Nessey, as the door closes in her face. "Everything is fine," says Yoshi, gently pulling at her elbow. "Let's have breakfast."

Several hours later, Caelesti and Siobhan show up for their breakfast. Nessey continues to be suspicious and resentful that Caelesti hadn't "left a note, at least." Eventually she calms down. Siobhan packs up and takes her leave of the heroes, as it is time for her to visit Rowansmeade. They give her some tips about the city, as this is to be her first visit, and some messages to carry. Finally, she kisses and hugs Carric and Caelesti, courteously shakes the hands of Nessey and Yoshi, and departs. Carric gazes after her wistfully.

That afternoon, a company of the Duke's guard comes by. They patrol this road, keeping it free of bandits and other "trouble". Upon hearing about the two slayings of guests at the inn, the Captain interviews the party. Since the party has a charter, he is content to let them go about their business to Meadowbrook, but requests that they check in, once they get back to Rowansmeade.

The soldiers depart, and the rest of the day and night is uneventful.

XP: 337 each
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Copyright © 2009 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
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