Upon arriving at Lavinia’s, we found her compound infested with Bullywugs (amphibious gansters), dead Jade Ravens and Lavinia held captive by three guards in her second floor master bedroom. After reconnoitering, we climbed the fence and entered the mansion. As we headed to Lavinia’s suite of rooms, Ibid quietly motioned to the blank places along the walls of the gallery we were traversing, indicating the missing art.
Having no better plan, we rushed the door, Lemmy leading the charge. The door exploded inwards and Lemmy’s head-long rush brought him face-to-face with an obese bullywug. Cazimir had a second captor caught between the doorframe and the wall, while Violetta confronted a half-orc dressed in pirate garb. When Violetta called for the half-orc’s surrender using Intimidate, he leaped from the window in fear rather than face the enraged bard. I shot after the pirate with Xrng following closely, finally losing sight of the half-orc as he slipped into the Wyrmfall crowds.
When Xrng and I got back to Lavinia’s, we found Cazimir overlaboring door metaphors punctuated by loud slamming noises, “Let me slam show you slam the door SLAM.” I felt a quick flicker of sympathy for the Insectari caught betwixt the door and wall. I hoped he couldn’t hear the metaphors. There’s only so much torture a creature can endure after all. Lemmy’s bullywug was unconscious and Lavinia was armed with a Star Wheel.
The Insectari was finally permitted to fall to the floor and a quick search of his pouches revealed three scrolls. Ibid identified the first scroll as magical clerical “porn”—“. . . magical theory, very complex,” he murmured equably and casually tucked the scroll amongst his own. The second scroll told us nothing, being composed from top to bottom with numbers. Was it a coded message? A key code? Ibid passed the third to Xrng for translation. Xrng explained that it was written in magical notation and was a lock and load spell affecting gun-like weapons.
The Insectari decided to wake then and found himself facing Violetta with Xrng’s battle arms at its throat. After a couple more door slams (minus the metaphors this time) administered by Cazimir, the Insectari admitted to being hired by Vanthus to take Lavinia and also retrieve some items from the house. Lavinia explained the missing art had been sold by her to meet expenses and not stolen as we first assumed.
We slipped back downstairs and after stopping by the training room where Lavinia loaded her Star Wheel with ammunition and grabbed a cutlass, we headed to the kitchen. Peeping into the kitchen, we watched as bullywugs methodically cleaned out Lavinia’s larders. Apparently seeing the last bite of exotic waterdavian cheese go down the gullet of a bullywug was too much for Cazimir to take and he charged in, leaving us no option but to follow. After a short, fierce battle, we found Lavinia in the library, clutching a sheaf of paper. We crowded around Lavinia and discovered that Vanth was headed to Nick the Gift-Giver’s asteroid.
During the next day and a half, as we saw to the details of our forth-coming trip (I closed up my garret with regret, storing my stuff with Lucille’s) and the securing of the house, Cazimir searched Vanth’s rooms. He found an ivory key and six signet pins. It’s decided to divide the pins up amongst ourselves and I ended up with a pin of a left-facing screaming baboon, which I tucked safely away in my pack.
We finally set off for Nick’s. I’m sure you know Dear Reader Nick the Gift-Giver. He wanders Realm Space at will, gifting the good with pleasant surprises while the bad are left something unpleasant. We followed the mad circuitous route carefully and found ourselves—nowhere. I slid a glance at Ibid who was at the helm. Just as I was about to ask about our asteroid, a rainbow shimmer filled the ship’s prow.
I blinked and saw a snow-covered asteroid where none had been before. I gasped with delight. We landed by the entrance of a large and palatial compound. After knocking, we cautiously entered a large hall with multiple doors, a very grand fir tree in the center of the hall, fires dancing in the grates and garland strung about. I jumped as a door slammed. “Boss, Boss!! I got the wrench!” shrieked a small creature. I couldn’t believe it. A Tinkergnome! The little fellow rushed through another door and was away.
We all grinned at each other and headed for a different door. A huge brass spring flew outwards with shrieks of “Oops!” in the background when Violetta opened the door. None of us were hurt in the mad scramble for cover. We entered a large workshop. Tinkergnomes rushed about, some working with wood, others with paint and yet others with small forges. We came to a gnome applying colorful inlays to an intricate puzzle box. It was a beautiful box with gilding. “Big Nick” was in the kitchen said the gnome. On our way out, Cazimir was unable to resist calling, “Oops!” over his shoulder. We shut the door hurriedly on the explosion of chaos that ensued. The kitchen gnomes explained to us that they hadn’t seen Nick in a of couple days.
So we decided to head to the stables. A warm earthy smell of straw and manure filled our nostrils as we went down the main corridor passing the large antlered beasts used by Nick to get around. At the end of the corridor stood a magnificent sleigh painted a bright, glossy red. And beside the sled, rag in hand polishing away, was Nick himself. After a final rub, Nick faced us, “It’s not all hookers and cheese Caz. It’s about time you got here.”
After Cazimir recovered from the shock of being rudely teased by a childhood folk tale, he explained that Vanth was headed to this asteroid and to take care. Nick urged us to relax in regards to Vanth, “All in good time,” and then proceeded to present us with gifts. Nick presented us with. . .
Ibid—a bottle of bull’s strength
Violetta—a lovely, carven master flute
Cazimir—a masterwork sword
Lemmy—a psionic third eye
Xrng—a vial of anti-toxin
Hissarmau—a Levitate potion
I can’t wait for the opportunity to uncork that sucker!