Previously on DnDF…AKA better late than never
The temple district was in disarray, but the members of Bacon Ipsum had to continue their work. Dwarves were moving out of the streets, and while the team wanted to know their destination, Trailblazer had a bad feeling about the growing glow near her former mentor’s blacksmith forge. They were, of course, not in the same direction.
“There’s some work to be done tonight, and I think it’s on us to stop the invasion. I don’t see anybody else,” Datatello began, “maybe we should move to the fight? That’s what we do – as Bacon Ipsum!”
Kriv sighed, “So you’re saying…for free? You want us to resist for free?”
“Not for free! For the experience!”
“I can’t spend experience-”
“It’s more valuable! It’s invaluable…kind of like infamous. More famous. More than.”
“Resisting for free is futile,” the wizard argued.
Trailblazer watched the argument for a while. She tapped on the wrist device that they had received, putting her ear to it, hoping for something. No sounds came.
Datatello stared down at his new medallion, then thoughtfully at Kriv, “Hey that reminds me! Kriv, let’s do one of your funny jokes. I need an owner’s manual for this cool medallion that Erikuhl gave me.”
“An…owner’s manual? For the medallion?”
“Well, yeah. Documentation should exist for anything with a specific use, right?”
With a sigh, Kriv reached into his beleaguered cloak and pulled out a brown pile of rubber. He dropped it, rolling his eyes, then waved the half-orc closer, so he could study the medallion. It was old – older than any existing civilization, back to pre-history.
“It’s old. Ancient.”
It was a puzzle medallion, the magic reliant upon the shape of the puzzle, but more than that he couldn’t quite put together.
Hearing the conversation, Bakaryu looked over, and something about Kriv’s remarks sparked a memory. She recognized the shape, the icon itself, and from what she knew of the Nameless Generation, this was a symbol of their royalty, of a great deed. She shared her memories with the duo.
Bristled, either from not knowing more or just his natural impatience, Kriv grumbled, “Just wear the thing and let’s go.”
Trailblazer, for her part, was still concerned about her mentor – was he still there? Had he been turned into one of those…things? After confirming that there was no further support coming, the party set out, moving swiftly toward the smith’s shop.
The streets were empty, smoke hanging low in the air, as they made their way toward the water. Their journey went uninterrupted, though the heat became oppressive.
The forge itself was not on fire, the stone of the building naturally absorbing heat, but the buildings nearby were likely close to collapsing, not to mention the blacksmith’s home itself.
As they approached, a figure came into view, prone on the ground. Checking her concern and speed, the dwarf moved forward to investigate the figure. He twitched, an arm moving to push itself up. When his hand contacted the floor, the stone beneath was absorbed into his skin, moving and breaking up to cover pieces of himself. His other hand landed on a nearby anvil for support, the metal then melting away and similarly slithering up his hand. Stone or metal that he touched simply became him.
Datatello grunted in concern, “Trailblazer, maybe you should get away.”
At his suggestion, the dwarf backed away, calling out uncertainly, “Jarl?”
The blacksmith cocked his head, then turned, one eye now replaced with the angry red of a ruby. The eye that remained was glassy, almost unfocused, as it landed on her, “Can fix you.”
At those words, his blacksmith’s apron shifted, then opened on his back; a series of metallic arms extended, four in total, each with blacksmith tools or weapons at the end.
Cloudy panicked at the sight and ran forward, head down to ram into their attacker. One of the arms swung out to bat her away, making Trailblazer grunt in anger.
Datatello then rushed forward, striking out with his bo staff. Two of the arms lashed out to block the blows, as Jarl’s attention focused intently on Trailblazer. The half-orc struck out with his hand, at that point. He landed a solid blow, but with the metal and stone covering him, it did little to the dwarf.
Bakaryu was hot on the monk’s heals, raising her hand in the air. As she did, vines erupted from the ground around Jarl, wrapping tight around him and his arms. While the sight was impressive, Brunhilde’s eyes were pulled repeatedly to his worktable, where a beautifully crafted short bow was sitting. What was it doing there?
She sprinted toward the table and grabbed the strange item. It felt….right, like an extension of herself, as though it had been made for her. She knew the name of it immediately. Thunder. It was powerful in a way she couldn’t pinpoint yet.
She was closer than she’d like, but she took the shot. The arrow vibrated, almost shook, against her hand. Despite the strange vibration, the arrow soared straight, hitting its intended target. Jarl clearly recognized the bow because he visibly steeled himself, bracing for impact. A resonating BOOM followed the release of the arrow, and for a moment, his eye cleared, “Brunhilde?”
It was a short-lived return to normalcy.
Two bladed arms swung out at Datatello, each of them slashing him. A third, vice-like arm, reached down to grab Brunhilde, pinching her elbow in a way that set her nerves on fire. She gasped in pain and dropped back, unable to move.
Watching all of this was Kriv, becoming increasingly agitated. He muttered to his cloak, “I know this isn’t how it works, but we have to stop this dwarf. We have to do something.”
He reached into his robe and removed a strange, metallic wand of some sort. It was a cylinder, with wrappings on one end that may have been a handle. Unsure what else to do, he pointed the end of the wand at Jarl, and they all watched a beam of light erupt from the point. The light burned through two of the arms, as well as the wall beyond it. The wand drooped, and smoke began to pour out of the cloak. But damage had been done.
Cloudy saw her own opportunity, as the metal arms fell away. She cried out and bolted forward, head down, and pummeled into the dwarf’s side. Jarl grunted and fell, all of the metal arms going limp.
After a moment, Brunhilde moved forward. She deftly grabbed the needles that sprang out to infect her, and Cloudy bit them clean through. She turned him over, relieved to see that his eye was clear.
“Brunhilde,” he coughed, “you came back.”
“Of course! Of course I did. So…what’s going on?” Her guilt leaked out as awkward nonchalance.
“Oh, you know, just…”
“Oh, um, one second. Bakaryu, can you do that…thing…again?”
The dragonborn smiled and stepped forward, again channeling the power of her deity and cleansing the foulness from the dwarf. The metal and stone did not disappear, but his color returned, and with it, clarity. He reached out to grab Brunhilde’s shoulder, “Your father. Your father came.”
“Oh?” she frowned, “About?”
“He did this. I don’t know…what’s compelled him, but he came, and he was commanding the others.”
“Where did he go?”
“When I refused to answer, to give him your whereabouts, he did this to me. I did not see where he went. He did say something about a distraction.”
“Are you…will you be ok?”
“I will…make it.”
After a moment’s consideration, Brunhilde looked to Bakaryu and Datatello, “Can you help me? We can get him to the temple district.”
The paladin and monk helped the dwarf up, holding some of his weight, as they made their way through the abandoned streets. Jarl and Brunhilde continued their conversation about her father, as they went. He wasn’t himself. He was using big words. None of it sounded right.
At the temple, they got Jarl settled and got themselves healed.
“Be careful,” Jarl offered before they set out again, “I can feel the call still. Whatever it is…it’s powerful.”
Brunhilde smiled, “It’s alright. We’ve got some great magic users in this group.”
She pointedly ignored Kriv’s desperately shaking the still-spent wand and burning his foot with a randomly spouted flame. They had great magic users. Thinking it enough would make it true.
“We need a plan,” she sighed.
As if on cue, the bracer on her arm lit up. She looked down, then waved to her companions, “Hey! We have contact.”
Garbled sound came through for a moment. After a couple of a seconds, a clearer, “Who’s there? Is anyone there?” came through.
The ranger blinked and started poking at the bracer, hoping to respond. At contact with the bracer, it began to vibrate, and she leaned in, “Bacon Ipsum is here, reporting in.”
“This is Captain Wolverton. Who is this?”
“It’s Trailblazer! Bacon Ipsum. Datatello, Kriv, Bakaryu, Flash-”
“Oh. Oh yes,” the captain responded, though her enthusiasm seemed diminished.
“We happen to know what’s going on,” Brunhilde muttered, as others checked in.
Wolverton gave her own update – fires were centered on the Exchange, and everyone was to report there.
“So…this is the distraction, right?” Trailblazer turned to her own crew.
Bakaryu nodded, ‘The dwarves were heading in the opposite direction.”
“We have to convince them.”
All eyes turned to the dragonborn, who had proven time and again to be the most persuasive of all them, and Trailblazer and held her arm up as high as she could to capture her words.
“Listen,” Bakaryu started, “we know what’s going on. We’ve had intelligence in the field; we have an insider who knows what’s going on with the dwarves, that there is a distraction. This seems like a big distraction. We saw dwarves going the other way. This is obviously a trap.”
“Who is this?”
“Bacon Impsum!” Trailblazer shouted.
“I am a paladin of noble birth.”
“And where do you suggest we go?”
“In the direction of the dwarves.”
“And where is that? Are they traveling South for the winter?”
Brunhilde frowned, unamused.
“Toward the Scrum.” It was a guess, but it was the only major landmark in that direction.
After a pause, “Ok. All forces except for Bacon Ipsum, head to the Exchange. Bacon Ipsum, I will meet you there.”
Kriv near sprinted toward Trailblazer, shouting at her bracer, “Will we be paid?”
But the line was dead.
“Don’t worry,” Brunhilde reassured, “we’re going to a dwarven structure. There’s going to be so much loot.”
With nothing more to do except go, the party headed in the direction of the Scrum.