Elder Players' - Interlude Seven

I will be posting the e-mails I receive between the July game and the next D&D game, when they are appropriate for the whole group to read:


The party had made its way down the snowy road, trying to get some distance from the Master and the Town of Draven. Zeek's clothing was ripped and soaked in blood, and as Oren walked he would flinch occasionally from the pain that the magical burns were inflicting upon him. Kit guided Zeek's path, for he was still blind from the spell cast by the Raksasha. It was cold and getting dark. The darkness took on a whole new meaning for the members of the party, now that they had some idea of the true nature of the Master. He was a vampire, and the people of the Town of Draven were his herd. He had milked them for blood for generations...waiting and hoping for the perpetual cold to end...and the population of the region to grow again.

The party made camp without speaking. A fire was build, and their shelters erected. They knew they were still in jeopardy camping this close to Draven, but making their way along an icy mountain road in the dark held no pleasure for them either. Food was cooked, and wine flasks passed from hand to hand. Bandages were applied, and everyone kept glancing at Oren. Oren appeared to be in a trance, and just kept staring into the orange and yellow depths of the fire. Learning something of his true history was having a big impact on Oren. What would it be like to find out that everything you remembered was false...and that you had led a life you knew very little about? The other three party members mulled this question over.

Oren broke the silence. "The Master offered his help in closing the Storm Gates. He said he wants to see summer brought to the land once again. We need to tell Javair this when we next see him."

A twig broke outside the ring of fire-light. Zeek painfully climbed to his feet staring with blank eyes this way and that into the darkness. "Who's there! Show yourself!"

The eight-year-old boy who had sat on Jeremiah's lap stepped into the light. "The town elder has sent me to deliver a message."

Kit stood up and helped the sightless Zeek sit down. "Deliver your message, young man."

"The elder wanted me to tell you that no one in the town realized that you were associated with the Master, and the elder extends his apologies. Tad has found rest, and that is all anyone can hope for. Please consider returning to Draven and partaking of warm meat, spiced oats, warm herb bread, and vegatable stew. Each of you will have a soft bed of your own, and you may stay until you are ready to travel. You have the protection of the Master and will receive no harm from the people of Draven."

Zeek's face twisted with anger. "What you people do is sick. You kill unsuspecting travelers...feeding them to the Master. Why should we take comforts from such people? How could we possibly trust them?"

Jeremiah rubbed his face and closed his eyes. "The actions of this town are indeed evil...."

Kit sighed. "We should not reject this offer without at least weighing our options...and discussing this out."

The eight-year-old boy smiled. "Please come back to town. The adults keep us from most of the travellers, and we hear very little of the world outside our town. Please come back and tell us stories...."

(from Steve) Jeremiah spoke again, "I said this town is indeed evil....but if we go back just for a couple of days I will be able to see what it going on and maybe in the future I can deal with it more effectively not to mention I might be able to help the little ones If I understand what is going on. Plus we need the rest. I will admit we will need to watch ourselves and becarefull. But we do have to think of the innocents we can't just walk away or we are no better than slaughtering travelers ourselves."

(from Chris)
What does Oren have to say? Can we trust this 'Master'? I will go to the town if Oren does. I probably won't sleep, but I will go.

(from Scott) Kit placed a Healing poultice across Zeek's eyes , turning she smiled at the young lad " There is nothing I would love more than to tell you and your friend's of the thing's I have seen and the tales I have heard the Bard's spin " She took on a serious look and tone as she addressed the party," This little side trip has depleted our ration's to the point we may not reach the City of the Forge and back without exhausting them. We could restock in Draven. If the Master had wished our end he would never have let us to leave the canyon . He could have dispatched Oren in the Castle then with his minions and Zeek wounded and blind we would have been easy meat, literally. I believe Oren is correct that he wishes to aide in the ending of Winter in the Azure Kingdom and our safety would be guaranteed to that end. We have a more critical situation at hand in that as far as I know of the Arcane Arts , I am afraid we may need to ask the Master's assistance with Zeek fore his blindness may well be permanent."

(from Mike H.) Oren causully stood up and noted, "I liked the stew. A nice place to rest is good for me. I feel we are safe." Oren then started gathering his things while repeating to himself quietly, "I am a dwarf."

(from Scott) Kit gives a nod " Yes you are my friend , that is another good reason we
should take refuge in Draven"

(from Chris) I've been eating Kit's stew again? ARRRRRRRGGGGGGH!

(from Scott) <<<PLAYER OBSERVATION. Tell him he may be permanently blind and he gets upset about the stew. Go figure.>>>

Kit started to look around outside of the camp," Ok , everyone but Zeek has agreed we need to go to Draven and in Zeek's condition we could tell him it's Greenmark for all he cares as long as he doesn't have to eat my stew he'll be happy." Kit walk's to the edge of the firelight and calls out " All right , show yourself . We need to send an important message to the Master." Crosses her arms and waits.

(More from DM) The eight-year-old boy stepped out of the shadows and into the fire-light. "I can't wait to hear your tales! What is grass like? And warm breezes? What of swimming...do people really swim in vast pools of warm water? You must tell me everything!"

Jeremiah smiled at how typical of a normal boy this excitement was. "What is your name, boy?"

"I am called Dez, though my proper name is Desmond Howard Phillips. Kick snow in your fire, and follow me to your warms beds and shelter from the cold."

Oren and Kit walked on either side of Zeek, guiding his steps on the icy trail. Exhaustion won out, and there was little conversation among the members of the group. Each of them focused their thoughts on the concept of a warm soft bed...each of them except Oren, who was mostly thinking of being a Dwarf....

They slept two to a room, with Kit and Jeremiah in one room and Zeek and Oren in the other. In the morning, they awoke late into the morning. Zeek and Oren's wounds itched with the activity of healing...and Zeek was still blind.

A breakfast of large eggs, fried slices of boar, fire-toasted chunks of herb-bread, and cold crystal clear water filled each of them with energy and hope. Hunger won out over any remaining suspicions, and each of them ate heartily. Dez helped serve them, and once they had eaten he sat with them at the table. The rest of the servers had disappeared.

Kit questioned Dez, "Where have the others gone? Why are you alone our host?"

Dez looked grim. "The adults feel that they should give you some time to settle in. When we first welcomed you to town, we surrounded you with many people, as we normally do travellers that are to be given to the Master. This morning they wanted to let you be, and not cause you any fear or stress. They feel bad that they treated guests of the Master in such a way."

The party members looked at each other, all except the blank-eyed Zeek. Jeremiah was the first to speak. "Go and tell them that we are settled in. If you had wanted to kill or harm us, it would have been easy enough during the night."

Dez stood up from the table. "I will tell them. Do you require anything? Should I ask them to bring anything with them?"

(from Scott) "Oren has told us the Master wishes for summer to return to this landas much as we do." Kit responds " With the death of Cameo we can not be sure how much time we have to get to the key before the Guardian may relies this and destroy it. We also need to be at full strength and any thing else your village or the Master can do or give us will make our chance of success better. If there is any way of curing Zeek's Blindness we need his skill's to that end. The Master has profited greatly at Zeek's expense and he deserves something in return and his sight may be the thing that brings the end to this relentless winter."

(from Steve) Jeremiah speaks with Dez, "Dez is a good name, though your proper name is Desmond.Which is also a good name and one of character, as you know my name is Jeremiah, my friends at home call me Jerry. I would like you to call me Jerry and I will call you Dez. Is that ok?"

"Dez could you ask them to bring any healing they might have for such a mission also we are going to need some more blankets and such for travelling within these wintery conditions. On second thought speak with the villager and suggest that they bring anything that they think might be of use to the bar and we can go through it just incase we might forget something we might as well use your peoples experience in such matters they are better suited to tell us what will be needed in these conditions."

Dez looked a bit perplexed. "To tell the truth, Jeremiah...I mean Jerry...We don't have any idea how to survive out in the cold. That is why the Master is so important. He keeps us warm...he has food come directly to us...he protects us from dangerous creatures and people. We will give you what you want, but I would not want to mislead you and have you believe we were experts in survival or adventure!"

Jeremiah coninued, "Dez you also stated that for a while now your village has been meeting with travelers and that is the way we are going to leave the conversation for know ok? You realize we are on a mission and the Master actually want's us to succeed on this mission. That is why he has given us the privilege of being his guest instead of just everyday travelers. What I need to know is when these travelers came to your village I am sure they came with supplies and personal gear. Did your village remove the gear before the travelers shall we say departed. What I would like to do, is find where this storage place is and take the lovely lady Kit and myself there to see if we can find anything of use for this mission." (player note; when we get there we go through the belongs and cast detect magic.)

Before Kit and myself leave I will step over to Oren and suggest that he watch over Zeek but stay in the bar. We do not want a blind man falling off any cliffs when we are so close to completing our mission. Also I will remind Oren to make sure that Zeek doesn't bounce off anything or swing at anything he might bounce off of.


(from the DM) Dez left the party alone, a worried look in his eye. "I will deliver your messages and requests...as you delivered them to me."

About 15 minutes went by, and then the door opened slowly. An old man, leaning on a cane entered the room. His flesh was old and brittle, and you could almost hear his joints creak as he slowly made his way into the room. He brought four large men with him, all of them around 25 years of age. The old man looked the party over, sitting as they were at a large round table, and then he spoke. "We, the people of Draven feel guilty that we greeted guests of the Master in such a way. We thought you were random travellers. A few days rest and food should repay our debt to you, and free us of guilt. We will also allow you to look through those traveller's items that we have found no use for. The traveller's that bore them will no longer need them, and we have simply failed to discard them. Take what you require." Jeremiah nodded, and began to give the old man his thanks, but the old man continued. "Who was it among you that told Desmond to say the words..."the Master has profited greatly at Zeek's expense...and he deserves something in return....?"

The group of adventurers all turned and looked towards Kit. She adjusted herself in her seat and opened her mouth to speak, but again the old man continued. "I am Jesra...the Elder. For 120 years I have served the Master...and fed him my own blood. It was the same for my father, and his father, and his father..." The old man's voice trailed off and he cleared his old dry throat. "I want to make this point as clearly as I can...he Master owes no man. The Master answers to no man...and to no woman. The people of Draven owe your group a debt, but the Master is power incarnate, and he rules over life and death. We will not tolerate demands upon the Master to be spoken under the shelter of our buildings, or in the shadow of our roofs. To tolerate such talk would be to condone it. I will consider this matter settled, and we can return to our former pleasantries. Are we all agreed?"

(from Scott) Kit crosses her arms and purses her lip's then ...the party seems to hold it's breath and a feeling of dread builds. She mumbles something that a few close to her in the in the party believes to be "Men" then softens her stance and smiles at the villagers and with a melodic tone, "You must understand I spoke out of anger at the pain and condition of my good friend here. Our party had been through a very stressful encounter that came close to tragedy. I have greatly enjoyed your hospitality and would not like to make it a habit of being excluded from another warm refuge. If you would convey to your master that if truly wishes for summer to return to the land anything that he could do to help out with Zeek's blindness would greatly aide in that cause, that is if you wonderful town does not have that cure, since time may be of the essence and we may have only a small window of opportunity. This cure may be critical to the success of our mutual goal. We make no demand on him other than to consider in helping us in what he himself has expressed he wants to see achieved. I am overly grateful for your hospitality and hope to make you all feel someday that your aiding was a turning point in the isolation you have had to endure here, may we see the coming of spring in Draven soon."

(from Chris) Zeek, heavily drunk from Draven's fine wine, lifts his glass and toasts the wall behind everyone. Well spoken! And begins clapping. The rest of the party follows slowly and also applauds. The bard in the town begins playing a song of spring and warmer days. Zeek taps his toe to the tune and begins to sing along.

Everyone in the room stares long and hard at Zeek, for there is no bard in the room...and the music he hears is playing only in his drunken imagination.... (this last bit was added by the DM!)

(more from DM) Jesra the Elder waits for the applause to quiet down a bit. A shadow flickered across the room, and everyone shivered from a passing chill. "We are all going to get along fine. Of that I am now sure." The Elder motioned to the four men of Draven that accompanied him into the room, and one of them left briefly. When he returned, many of the people of Draven returned with him. The old lady who knit Zeek a scarf. The blacksmith who had given Kit a dagger. There were many familiar faces, including Dez's. Of course, Tad was missing.

There was an excitement in the air, as if these townspeople of Draven were now able to get to know the members of the party without the traveller's eventual deaths hanging over them. These were outsiders that they would not have to betray to ensure the town's survival. These were people with news of the outside world...people who would actually be returning to the outside world!

For the party members there was a strange darkness to the situation. It was only the day before that they had been fighting these people in this very room. They had been snarling and growling in their throats, and clawing at the party with their open hands like some sort of animals...moving and hunting the party in a pack-like fashion. Now they were sharing food and drink, and stories and legends. After awhile, the strangeness of the situation wore off, though none were able to forget the chilling shadow that had passed over them after Kit's speech.

Later in the afternoon, after gorging on a wonderful fatty lunch, the party was taken to the empty stables. There was no reason to keep animals for travel, for the townspeople never travelled. And there was not reason to keep animals for hunting, for game animals presented themselves for slaughter at the edge of the town on a daily basis. Instead the old stables was a dumping ground for traveller's gear that the town had no use for, but which was too nice to just toss off the cliff to the rocks below.

There were saddles, blankets, tents, cooking pots and pans, sacks, empty chests, rolls of textiles, a few carpets, nails, carpentry tools, small weapons (crossbows, daggers, slings, one or two shortswords), pens, ink, and paper, candles, torches, lanterns, empty flasks and bottles, dolls and toys, shoes and boots, clothing, coats, hats, small tables, several chairs, and many other miscellaneous items. A detect magic spell was cast, and several items revealed themselves. A bronze colored dagger sitting right on top of the stack glowed slightly. A powerful glow came from under a stack of furniture, and turned out to be a large book once it was dug out. A medium bright glow came from a small toy bridge among the other bridges. Etched into the bottom of the bridge were the words, "Span the Way."

Jeremiah examined the large book, and told the rest of the party that it was a book detailing the path of goodness, and the struggle of faith. The others entrusted this to Jeremiah for him to further examine...possibly that evening once everyone retired for the night.

The party gathered these items from the stables/warehouse, and a few others they were needing (write the DM and tell him what exactly!). The people of Draven allowed them to take what they wanted, and even helped them carry some of the items back to the Merlot, where the party members were rooming. When the party sat down that evening for dinner, the Elder sat with them. "I am sorry to say that there are none among us that can cure your blindness, painted one...Zeek, is it?" Zeek nodded. "Perhaps the Master will hear the plea that you have made, and provide you with sight. But the Master's ways are hard to divine, and he may very well choose to stay out of the matter. After all, the Master is power incarnate, and he rules over life and death." This last sentance was said in almost a droning chant...as if a prayer was being offered up.

Kit bit her tongue. After all, did not the Master owe Zeek. Had he not basically lured Zeek to his Castle, and then 'sold' him to that tiger-headed Raksasha! If the Master wanted Summer to come, he better get with it, and cure Zeek! But these thoughts silently traversed Kit's mind, for she dare not speak against the Master openly again.

Zeek downed some more hot spiced wine. "Blind or sighted, it matters not. I can fight and kill, and take this Key from whoever guards it...THIS I SWEAR!" A young woman walked by and refilled Zeeks mug from a steaming hot pot.

Jeremiah continued to drink crystal clear water, passing on all the different sorts of wine he had been offered. He had been unable to erase the image of a mug full of blood, from their first night here. "Zeek, I have been praying for the ability to clear your eyes, and cure you of your blindness. I shall continue to pray, and I am confidant that you will see your own way down the icy mountain trail...and to whatever man or creature guards the Key. I have faith in the Greater Powers...so should you." And then whispered only to Zeek, "You do not want the gift of sight from this Vampire...it will come at too great a cost. Trust in me...my god is powerful and will restore you with no price...except belief."

The party continued to drink and feed upon the wonderful food. They had a hard journey ahead of them, especially if they had to guide and carry Zeek the whole way. They laughed and talked with the people of Draven, and found them to be a sheltered but interesting group of people. Late in the evening Rachen arrived, snow and frost blowing into the Merlot as he entered. The room was briefly very quiet, but when Rachen walked to the bar and quietly asked for a mug, the room returned to normal.

(from Scott, edited by DM) Jeremiah had sat quietly in the bar observing the couple across the room. It was late and everyone else had left but Kit sat transfixed listening to tales of Elven life from Rachen. Finally, Jeremiah decided to go to his room.

Rachen had come into the bar shortly after sunset and talked with Oren for awhile. Before he could leave Kit approached him and pleaded with him to tell her of what life in the Elven woods had been like. Her mother had been captured at a very young age and had not been able to tell her much. Rachen first gave a look somewhere between anger and sadness, then his expression softened and he agreed. And so they had been going on for several hours with Rachen getting caught up in his story and even showing a glimmer of a smile. Kit was wide-eyed with flurries of questions that drove Rachen further with glorious tales of the ancient race.

She looked just like the children that she had earlier entertain with her own tales of what the seasons in the lands outside the Azure Kingdom where like . The way she described the flowers in the spring , the warm summer days, and the colors of fall was as if from the eyes of a child. Jeremiah recalled that she had only been free from her life as a slave in the Underdark for less than two years and had just seen these miracles that most had come to overlook. The party had spent much of the day preparing for the quest for the Key but at the first chance Kit had broken away to tell Dez and a waiting throng of his friends countless tales she had heard from the Bards in her travels. She seemed to have spent quite a bit of time in taverns in her short time on the surface.After hour's of this the children went off home and the party met at the tavern where they still sat. Rachen finished a story that seemed to be a little too close to home and the gloom seemed to retake its place in his personality. He excused himself and went to leave but Kit stopped him and embraced him...thanking him. In parting she said, "Someday I hope to give you what you wish, I just hope you will have the will to accept it." She kissed him on the cheek.

Rachen grabbed Kit firmly by her shoulders and held her at arm's length. "Dark One, if you refer to the 'peace of the grave'...that is a gift I will never accept! If this 'peace' is such a gift, perhaps you would like to receive that gift from me now?!?" Kit shook her head. Rachen drew Kit close and kissed her on the cheek. Then he whispered softly in her ear, "One day I may choose to give you Eternal Life...I just hope you will have the will to accept it." The vampire's voice dripped with sarcasm, but he let loose of Kit's shoulders and dropped her to the floor.

Kit looked sadly at Rachen, trying to remember the man who only moments ago had spoken so sweetly of his people and his homeland. Kit turned and headed off to bed. Rachen stood there for a moment and then turned and faded into the darkness.

Upstairs, Jeremiah yawned as the long day seemed to catch up to him . He should be going to sleep, but he had felt drawn to delve into the mysteries of the large book he had found in the stables earlier. Jeremiah made a mental note that he should stop casting detect poison on the meals Kit prepared for the group. He realized that he had still been harboring the expectations, that deep-down she was still a Drow, in mind and spirit. Jeremiah promised himself to adjust that thought process and judge her for her actions. Morning was going to come much too soon, but Jeremiah could simply not resist the draw of that wonderful book....

(from Steve) Jeremiah laid on the bed in his room. He was having trouble sleeping he didn't know why his mind kept racing but all he could think about was the book and how it seemed to call to him with a overwhelming feeling of good. Every time he had touched the book he felt the warmth of it's magic. He just knew something or someone wanted him to read it. It was well after midnight when finally Jeremiah had, had enough. He got out of bed and thought he would go downstairs and see if he could get something to help his sleep. Maybe they would have some warm milk available for people who had the same kind of problem that he was having. As he made his way to the door walking beside the bed stand he had somehow pick up the book without thinking about it and headed downstairs.

Once down stairs he looked around the room and could barely make out the tables where everyone had been drinking and eating earlier. He prayed for a quick light and the room started to glow. He noticed that Zeek was slumped over a table in the corner apparently not wanting to return to his room tonight because of the drink. Or maybe he just couldn't find it...either way he was snoring loudly.

Jeremiah, walked around the bar and poured himself a glass of whatever looked like some kind of liquid that the bartender had left out for Zeek earlier. He checked to make sure it wasn't red, or even reddish. Once he had gotten his drink he headed back upstairs but before he could get to the stairs he decided to pray for guidance. He headed to a table in the corner of the room started his prayer. He had no sooner started the prayer and a rush of goodness swept over him. When he opened his eyes the book was laying on the table wide open...he had not remembered opening the book, but somehow he must have. As he reached over to close the book the first words of the book burned into his skull like a ram braking a fence. Before he could stop he had already complete the first page.

His light spell had apparently ran out while he was praying, because the room was in utter darkness again. Except for a strange glow coming from the book spreading out as he read to fill the entire room with light and goodness. He seemed transfixed to this book unable to stop reading it.

The hours passed, it seemed in a matter of minutes and the room got brighter with the light and the goodness and he kept reading. But when Jeremiah looked around at one point when the next page was somehow being turned on its own, no one seemed to be awaken from the light, nobody upstairs or from the outside as the light went through the window, even Zeek over in the corner had not woken up.

Once the final page was read, Jeremiah the book closed and the light that was in the room seemed to rush back towards the book but instead of going into the book as it had came out it engulfed Jeremiah then faded. Jeremiah screamed out to this god in prayer and a response came back in just three words, "HEAL YOUR FRIEND."

Jeremiah, went over to where Zeek was asleep and knowing how this individual might not like to be awaken out of a deep sleep decided it would be best just to wake him from a distance. Once he finally got him awake he explained what had happened and asked if it would be okay to try a prayer that would allow his eyesite to return...without the aid of the Master of this town. Zeek either half groggy or not caring due to the amount of drink gurgled something to the effect do what ever you wish so that he could get back to sleep and dream of the beautiful Kit and her many talents (with a smile).

Jeremiah prayed and another rush that could only be explained as a gift from his god came over him and the power to heal was astonishing as Zeek exploded with joy at being able to see again. The next thing Jeremiah remembered was Zeek laying...or more to the point...throwing Jeremiah into his bed and leaving. Jeremiah laid there for just a moment before he was asleep.

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M. Ludwig Stinson, P.O. Box 28204, Gladstone, MO 64188