A First for Many

A Treacherous Exchange (DM Edition)

The brave adventurers, in the wake of their last victory, made sure to restock their supplies and rations, to include lots, and lots, of rope. Within a few days, they met a lone, silent monk, who wordlessly communicated his desire to join them, having seen an increase in orc violence on the roads. Not wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, the party accepted. Waving a fond farewell, the group set forth back to Sorpigal without incident. It was not long after reaching the city that they overheard the town crier, announcing a bounty for a great beast issued by Torvald, the Duke of Sorpigal himself. It was the gold that caught the party’s ear, a princely sum of 3500 gold pieces. The team quickly set out to meet the steward, Graverly, who informed them that the party must bring the carcass of the dead Wyvern back to the duke in order to collect their reward. Heading off to Whimsdale, the Defenders of Peloria felt ready to take on anything.

As night fell on the second night of their journey, Eloria stood watch over the encampment of snoring adventurers. From the bushes, she detected a rustling noise….and immediately began screaming her head off! Waking everyone aside from the notoriously un-arousable Queso and Belladonna, she witnessed a shaggy, wolf-like being bolt from the underbrush and slash into the still-sleeping Belladonna with wicked claws, rending the poor halfling before getting a grasp of her ankle. The party finally awoke in full. Gregor the monk sent a volley of shurikens, which did not connect. Queso characteristically charged, but unfortunately missed with a wide swipe of his greatsword. Elora flung a magic missle, causing it to release poor Belladonna. Heisenberg was able to injure the monster with his silver blade, while Elora sassily taunted the werewolf, incurring it’s wrath. The monster charged and bit Elora square on the shoulder, inflicting its lycanthropic curse on the mage. Her friends quickly flanked the werewolf, working together to finally end its miserable existence. Elora implored her comrades for information regarding her new affliction. Hofinel, having read childhood tales about were-creatures, recalled that those who had been bitten would turn by the next full moon. Dobby the druid realized that would be in but four days. Picking up the pace, they reached Whimsdale within 2 days, leaving a bit of time to prevent Elora from becoming a werewizard.

The team scoured the town, first beseeching the local cleric for disease healing magic, who pointed them to the local apothecary. This fellow was high as a proverbial kite, with a strange smelling fog of smoke filling his small workspace. Regardless, he proved friendly and helpful, providing a much needed cure disease for Elora, who, unhesitatingly paid the expected 50 gold to end her lycanthropy, along with her increasingly unsightly whiskers. After some discussion, they also procured several Wyvern antivenom concoctions from the alchemist. The group had no idea if they would work, but they figured anything was better than nothing. Having dealt with those issues, the team was then free to dig up any information about wyverns and wyvern hunting that they could, starting of course, at the local tavern. Almost immediately, they noticed a liquored-up man in a corner, bedecked in armor that set him aside from the common folk. Some easy questioning determined the man was part of another group of Wyvern hunters. Queso wasted no time and began chatting him up, and by that I mean smashing the poor fellow’s face into the wooden table until he spilled his guts (metaphorically, for once) about their plan to take the Wyvern down, involving a special-made poison. While the rest of the team settled in and ordered drinks, Queso had the battered man guide him to their upstairs inn room…only to be immediately ambushed by his two armed friends. The mighty barbarian whipped out his massive blade, only to get it stuck in the ceiling. Undaunted, he brought the pommel of his greatsword down upon one, and then the other, knocking them senseless without incurring so much as a scratch. Our reckless barbarian had no issue getting the drunk, would-be Wyvern hunter to deliver the vial of poison to him, after which he shamelessly relieved all of them of their weapons and armor. The ruckus was bad enough for the increasingly agitated innkeeper…and when Queso ambled down the stairs carrying armloads of paying customers’ gear, he snapped, ordering everyone out before he called the town guard. Our heroes were forced to sleep outside, which had presumably been where Queso was going to be all along.

At daybreak, the adventurers began to piece together a plan to find and kill the mighty beast. While Dobby’s owl, Pidgwideon, did some reconnaissance, the group obtained a bag of intensely smelly animal entrails from the local butcher to use as a lure, applying the poison to it when the time was right. Setting out to a set of a northern rocky promontory where their owl companion had led them, they began broadly surveying the area, sending out their talented, low-profile halfling rogue Belladonna to scout around. At the Western base of the outcroppings, she discovered the bleached bones of numerous animals, raising her suspicion that a large, dangerous predator…perhaps a Wyvern…was nearby. After the group took positions behind several jutting boulders, Belladonna very, very carefully placed the lure, scampered behind a rock, and they all waited. In time, they heard the buffeting of huge wings, and a shadow swept forward from the base of the rocks. The terrible, scaly creature landed directly in front of the intestines and began feasting, too stupid to question where they had come from. In short order, the beast trembled and let out a squawk as if in pain. The poison, it seemed, was legitimate. Taking their cue, our brave band engaged it in combat: Elora zapped the creature with enfeeblement, while Dobby ignited a colorful display of fairy lights directly in the creatures face as further distraction. Belladonna hurled stones at it with her tiny sling, most of them plinking harmlessly off the monster’s scales. Gregor’s shurikens found little more purchase, though he was able to sink a few into its chest. Heisenberg bravely, and stoically marched shield-first to face the Wyvern, with Queso charging into the fray from the opposite direction, attempting a strike on the stinging tail of the beast, but failing to do significant damage on the first blow. Hofniel stood adjacent to Heisenberg in support, which would soon prove beneficial. Flailing attacks from the winged wretch failed to connect, perhaps in no small part due to the poison they had wisely utilized. Hofniel, after respectfully asking permission, cast enlarge upon Heisenberg with a touch, who now stood eye to eye with the reptilian monstrosity-not a moment too soon, as it then delivered a vicious bite on our stout fighter, clamping his shoulder painfully in its jagged beak. Meanwhile, our Chevren barbarian tried another tail strike…only to trip hilariously over it and face-plant into the ground, sword skittering across the rocky terrain. It was then that Heisenberg, the MVP (most valuable player-character) of the day, delivered a series of lightning fast, wicked strikes to the creature, felling it at last. His companions noticed that the blows had not only been lethal, but had carved a large “H” pattern into its scaly chest.
Queso, Hofniel, and Heisenberg stayed with the body of the Wyvern while the rest of the group set out to retrieve their cart. Once their friends had moved out of sight, a group of three men burst from nearby cover to attack, armed with spears and clad in their underclothes. Queso guffawed in amusement, recognizing the trio as the same failed Wyvern-hunters from the inn. Meeting their advance, Queso, grinning ear-to-ear, swung in a tremendous arc, cleaving two of the three in half in a single blow. Dismayed, the last wisely chose to flee, a trail of urine in his wake. Hofniel decided to pursue something a bit more constructive. Channeling his childhood interest in monster lore and his clerical knowledge of anatomy, somehow, with a generous helping of luck, he was able to withdraw the Wyvern’s intact poison gland from the base of its tail. When the rest of the crew returned, they carefully moved the beast’s remains into the cart. The ever curious Belladonna took it upon herself to look around for a nest, eventually coming upon a single, large, well-hidden Wyvern egg. Satisfied that they had what they came for, the victorious band set off to Sorpigal for their reward.

Heading straight for the Duke’s estate, cart and Wyvern in tow, they presented the trophy to Torvald in person. The Duke was a gaudy, foppish man, dressed in regalia pieced together with what appeared to be a variety of exotic animal hides, feathers, and other bits. It became quite clear just why the Duke had wanted this creature in the first place-no doubt to add to his wardrobe. Hofniel took point to address the Duke, requesting their reward. Torvald flippantly offered them 2500 gold, 1000 less than the original bargain. The party balked at this, muttering amongst themselves, quickly deciding they didn’t feel like being stiffed. As they began packing the wyvern back into the cart to leave, the Duke’s tone changed. He screamed at them, demanding they unhand his new prize, at the same time burnishing a large, golden rod in one hand. As the rod came out, the multitude of guards in the room seem to respond as a singular mind, turning in lockstep with halberds lowered. Hofniel, immediately suspecting something, cast detect magic. He saw swirling energy coming from the rod in Torvald’s grasp moving out to envelop each of his guards. Fantastically, despite this revalation, the fearless band remained undaunted, and, exchanging glances, knew there was only one thing to do. Hofniel cast obscuring mist to block line of sight between the Duke and his guards, while Queso and Gregor bolted through toward him, intent on getting that rod out of Torvald’s hands. The guards, upon losing sight of the Duke and his strange scepter, suddenly lost their hive-minded unity, blinking as if disoriented. The rest of the group, Dobby, Elora, Hofniel, and Heisenberg, taking advantage of this brief confusion, put on their best “We’re just as muddled as you!” act, treading thin ice in their efforts to avoid inciting a pitched fight, for which they were woefully outnumbered. A few guards recovered their wherewithal enough to enter the magical fog, while Queso and Gregor scrambled to get a grip on the flailing Duke. Belladonna, having slipped into the fog behind the group, made a quick attempt to snatch it from the Duke’s hands, only to trip and fall directly in his lap. By this time, the guards that had cut through the fog saw what was going on and shouted “They have the Duke!” Queso had had enough, finally snatching up the squirming, pompous noble in one burly arm, with the golden rod in his opposite hand. Hofniel quickly lifted the fog, running to the head of the throne, delivering the most inspired speech of his young life to the tense but bewildered guards, diffusing the situation enough to allow some negotiation to take place. They managed “convince” their new hostage to double the original price from 3500 to 7000 in payment for the Wyvern. Pushing their luck to its absolute limit, they demanded the rod as well, which the Duke angrily refused to concede, at least until Queso tightened his python-like grip on the helpless man, after which he became more amenable to the idea. Sensing that fortune would only favor the bold to a point, the group carefully backed out of the hall, dropping the fuming Torvald off at the entrance. Taking no more chances, the adventurers high-tailed it back to Peloria as fast as their legs and horses could carry them.

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