Buildar Episode 12

The Hardbottle Heist of a Life (Mike GM - 11/25/08)

One Year Ago
"Willy Clark Griswald was not just a warrior who died in The Last Battle of the Elf/Orc War. He was a very dear friend of mine, and while not one I would expect to find wielding a sword… when the time came, he gave his life in battle… for friends that he had never even met."

"But Willy was like that. He had friends all over the land of Taern… they knew him through his music, and through his tales that inspired friendship over the mountains and to distant deserts he perhaps never visited. And now Willy comes to lie here, in the town of Gribale, as his final resting place…"

Ellias Lagorn looks up at Kinidod and his steely gaze momentarily interrupts the dwarf's eulogy.

"…his final resting place… where I have no doubt that he will continue to inspire new friendships… forged long after his physical passing."

Back at The Happy Halfling
Porter sits behind his desk, rubbing his hands through his hair. He can sense Ellias' frustration, though he is not as prepared as his friend to sticking his neck so far out and close to the blade… not after what they just pulled off.

Kinidod sits in a chair opposite Porter, while Ellias paces back and forth, pleading his case. "We have 30 days…" Ellias begins.

"30 days to bring Willy back."

Porter sighs, "I can't say I'm entirely comfortable with the timing of this-"

"Well you better get comfortable, because 30 days is all we have!"

"That's not entirely true," Kinidod interjects. Ellias cuts him a look and Kinidod explains further, "Well that is to say that it's not entirely impossible to bring Willy back from the dead once the 30 days has passed."

And now its Porter's turn to cut the dwarf a look. "But it does get prohibitively harder, and more expensive," Kinidod finishes.

Porter raises his hands, "Look I want it known that it's not the money that bothers me about all of this. We all know we just pulled off the heist of a life, we've got the money. But that's the problem. We've got the money, and those elves are going to be looking for it. It's not the spending of the money that bothers me, it is the act of spending the money that bothers me. People who have that much money to throw around draw attention, and when that money comes from the vault of a neighboring nation… well I just don't think it is wise."

"The danger be damned," Ellias scoffs, "Willy gave his life to pull off that heist, I don't think it's too much to risk the same for him."

"Alright, well if we're going to do this, we're gonna need a crew," Porter starts, "but I'm not using any of our regular guys. We've been playing it pretty fast and loose, so I'm going to have to go outside of our Hardbottle Guild. I'll put out the word for some new guys."

Three Days Later
Porter's still back behind his desk, only three days have passed and if not for Ellias' near frantic need to get this show on the road, the very tired owner of nearly-all-of Gribale is realizing that this is the best he could come up with, three men who have been rejected by ever criminal organization all across the Southeast of Taern.

Greenleaf the Tall Halfling may not even be a Halfling, maybe just a short Human. He swears that this was the only reason that The Hardbottle Thieves wouldn't accept him, "due to my being a tall bastard", and seeks this opportunity with Porter to prove his thieving skills.

Draconis the Dwarf who is obviously a dwarf, and judging by his tattoos, is obviously obsessed with dragons. Draconis is a ranger by trade and mostly uses his tracking skills to try and find dragons to mate with, but sometimes he has to use them for coin. Coin that can then be used to bribing a dragon to mate with him.

And Spike, Half-Elf rogue who has an affinity for stealing from the best, the most secure, and the most dangerous. He makes up for this with his impeccable fashion sense and Porter thinks it may be possible to groom this one into a more high-society rogue. God knows those are hard to come by around Gribale.

"My name is Ike," says Spike.

"Look kid, you'll be lucky if I even remember your face, much less your name. Prove yourself to me on this quest and you may have a chance."

Kinidod's Contacts
The dwarf cleric is able to point Ellias on the right path towards resurrecting Willy. However he warns about some rumors he has heard from said contacts along the way to visit the first:

"You realize that we are walking into two areas of great danger," Kinidod says matter of factly to his elf friend.

"It is the same danger that Willy would face if it were us that buried in the ground," Ellias responds quickly.

Kinidod nods, "Well we may know soon enough what that's like, if word gets out about our plans for a resurrection."

"What do you mean?" Ellias asks.

"Well, the same contacts I've been in communication with are either two things: dead or not talking. And if they do talk, they do so only with the hopes of payment in protection. It appears that clerics and in particular clerics performing the sacred rites of resurrection, are being targeted."

"And this fear you feel is the reason you disagree with resurrecting Willy?" Ellias is incredulous.

"Not at all," Kinidod reassures him, "What I fear is what Willy has come to mean to a great deal of people. We are talking about a bard with no great history of battlefield accomplishments. Our flute-playing friend has inspired thousands across the land. To bring him back… would be doing more harm than good? Does Willy mean more in death than in life?"

And though it is food for thought, neither Ellias nor Kinidod have time to debate further as the warnings of a possible attack on clerics holds true… a monastery burns on the hillside up ahead.

The group sees bodies on fire tumbling out of a burning temple atop the hill and in particular one elf cleric being chased on horseback by two Tieflings.

*PCs Fight Tiefling*

The Tieflings will warn that the PCs know not what they do, for they seek an end to the Plague of Death that will consume them all if their job can not be done.

The Cleric, who goes by the name of Yekrut, thanks the PCs and especially Ike, who saved his life. "Perhaps in the future I can save yours," Yekrut says.

Yekrut tells Kinidod and the others that Clerics and monasteries across the land are being attacked by a band of Tieflings who target clerics performing resurrection rituals. "Most of those with the power
to do so are either dead or refusing practice," Yekrut warns the PCs, "And those that are still operating… well needless to say that the price has gone up substantially."

"Perfect," Porter says.

Yekrut will give them directions to his mentor Octorus, a man who though retired from adventuring long ago, still practices medicine from the privacy of his home. Yekrut refuses to follow the PCs on their adventure, saying he had planned on leaving the fields of battle, though they may be good business for a cleric, as he isn't up to being damn-near-burned-alive-again. "I'm retiring to Halton, the home of artists and musicians such as the great Willy Clark Griswald."

Ellias proudly states that, "Willy Clark Griswald is the hero we seek to resurrect."

Yekrut, "Well in that case I hope to the gods that you succeed. The world could use a little more music and compassion. I know I for one sure could. I've seen enough adventurers with missing limbs, scars
that will never heal, and most of all death of my friends and coworkers. If ever any of you are in Halton, look me up."

They watch Yekrut stroll off to a more civilized land, and Porter scoffs, "That boy has absolutely no chance of survival."

Kinidod can't stand to see a fellow cleric sent off to certain death.

"Alright Kinidod, we'll see to your friend, but Ellias here has other things on his mind, and we can't risk losing OUR cleric to save another. SPIKE!"

"It's Ike, sir."

"I'll remember your name if you see to Turkey Backwards well-being on his trip to Halton, he seemed to take to you, what with you saving his life and all. You see to that and I'll remember what you've done for
us, and we'll forever be in your debt."

Ike leaves.

"Well that's one less hand to pay," Porter says as he and his horse ride on.

Octorus' Retirement Cottage
Yekrut wasn't lying when he said that Octorus was hard to find. The old cleric's cottage resides as far southeast as one can get and much to Ellias' concern eats up most of what's left of the group's 30 days.

Kinidod tries to reassure him, reminding him of Octorus' reputation as a Cleric of considerable power. "Sometimes men of that level can surpass the limits imposed on those of us who are young in our
training."

Unfortunately men who live to be as wise and powerful as Octorus don't do so by living without caution. The group realize this as an axe whizzes over their head and it appears that Octorus' security will
come between them and their meeting with the old cleric.

*PCs Fight a Group of Dwarven Clerics *

After The Cleric Fight
Octorus will come out and apologize for his guards (all of which are dead but one), "-but one can't be too careful with the way Clerics are being targeted by that vile gang of Tieflings. A cursed people who seek to spread their curse upon those of us who cast light upon this world of darkness!"

Porter, "Well I'm not a man of words, so I'll get right to it. We come for what what your men are going to need here, judging by the fight we were forced into: resurrection!"

"It is as I figured," Octorus nods, "The only people that come out this far are either those who would seek to put an end to my gift, such as our Tiefling friends, or those like yourselves who need me to
fix a regret that you carry."

Octorus looks to Ellias. "Tell me, is the regret you have worth the cost of my now dangerous to perform gift?"

Ellias speaks.

Porter asks, "How much?"

"250,000 gold," Octorus says without hesitation, his eyes still onEllias. "No negotiation."

"Do it," says Ellias.

"Looks like we're back to dungeon diving," Porter sighs as he opens up his duster… 250 Astral Diamonds attached all up and down his chest, and perhaps the most important reason Porter didn't have any member of The Hardbottle Thieves present on this mission.

Dungeon Diving Again… One Year Later
"I've never seen a dungeon with the armory right up front," the excited dwarf, Limrock exclaims.

"And sometimes I wonder why you were so lucky to survive our assault on Octorus' cabin," Porter scoffs, "And we were so unlucky for that very same reason."

Kinidod puts a hand on Limrock's shoulder, having mentored the young dwarf cleric for a year now. "It's best not to talk to Porter while he tries to figure out an entrance to a dungeon."

"I've figured it out goddamnit," comes the retort from Porter. "Bring me the unlocking powder."

Draconis the Dwarf and Greenleaf the Tall Halfling carry up Porter's chest of tools as Ellias enters the armory. "I found the text we need, are we set here?"

*REFLEX CHECK*

The secret door come blasting open and Porter dusts off his duster. "I really have gotten rusty with my lockpicking skills," Porter says, dusting off his duster, "And look how light my pockets have gotten." Porter's jacket is of course not carrying 250 Astral Diamonds. "Come on, let's put something in these pockets."

The group move on to a hallway that leads up until you are in a rafter of sorts that looks down at a room full of statues. "Must be the poor saps who own this place," Porter will say to no one in particular.

The group gets about halfway when they come to a latch that can easily be lifted and they can continue to pass… however a RIDDLE presents itself:

"What has no legs but can stand up high,
What has no cloak but can wear a hood?"

It only takes them a moment to lift the latch and move on as it only takes Kinidod a moment to speak the answer: "A snake".

They will pass through what appears to bedrooms, and are free to check through them as they please. It appears that only two have been slept in recently of the three (?). They will find a letter in one of the
rooms addressed to Percius:

"Percius,

It is with much regret that I write this, as I don't know what state of mind you are in, but I write you this as a former member of The Crimson Strand, and in doing so feel that it is only fair to warn a fellow (though perhaps) brother-in-arm that we are coming.

We are coming and it is in your best interest to turn off any… security measures that we once had in place. One way or the other I'm going to put an end to these attacks that have followed me to my exile in Buildar, and if upon our meeting I am not convinced that you and others from The Crimson Strand are not the cause of them… well consider this letter notice of your death sentence.

Yours,
Werric"

The group moves down a winding staircase and find themselves in a throne room, where it appears that the master of this domain is being lectured by a young girl with red hair.

"Father, I've told you before that I can take care of myself!"

"Oh I know that you are more than skilled, Merta… I've known that since you were a child, since I saved you from the goblins in The Desert of Arkalis. You were too young to remember when your father
could protect you though, aren't you?"

"Father, your trust of Werric will be your undoing."

"The one thing The Crimson Strand could always count on was for Werric to be Werric."

"But leaving The Flute out for others to find was foolish, father. Especially that cult of beggars that follows the former master of The Flute."

"You should have a greater appreciation for fallen warriors, daughter."

"I would as long as I didn't believe my father to be so eager to join them."

Percius sighs. "That's something you'll never understand child. As adventurers we put our lives on the line for others-"

"But-" she begins.

"-and we did so without any thought as to the next day, only that we could live to drink with our friends and sell the goods so that we could go out and do it all again!"

"But father, look at all that you've accomplished, don't you want a better world for your daughter? Don't you want a safer world?"

"My daughter there is no such thing… especially not with any guarantees being promised by The Nine Hells. You are playing a dangerous game with Carrion daughter… Asmodius won't go down so easily. My use of The Tieflings cost them their lives."

The Lady of Red smirks. "They may yet serve their purpose." She pulls something out of her bag and hands him The Flute. "Try not to let this get in the wrong hands again Father."

"I'm waiting on the right ones," Percius responds curtly, "and then you'll see how truly dangerous the game you are playing will get."

"You honestly don't trust me, do you father?"

Percius sighs and looks away from her. "Sometimes Merta… I wish I had never brought you back from The Desert of Arkalis."

The Lady of Red's breath stops for a moment. "Do you mean that?"

Percius looks up at her with sad eyes. "Sometimes daughter… sometimes I wish I could forget the place I have put you in. It's too painful."

The Lady of Red pulls something else out of her bag. She seems choked up. "As you wish father." She then splashes his face with the Poisoned Alcohol.

As she exits out the main door she turns to The Group and says, "Thanks for arming the Snake."

The Snake Fight
*GIANT SNAKE FIGHT*

One Year Ago… At Octorus' Cabin
"I'm sorry, but the Resurrection spell did not work."

"What do you mean it didn't work?" Porter and Ellias both command.

"His soul is no longer bound to his body… he is being protected by a God of sorts. There is another element to this… another protection. And I'm sorry to lead you on another chase… but you must find where his soul is trapped. Something important to him. Something that can not be easily destroyed. That can not burn away to nothing. Find that and you'll find your friend."

Present Day… In Percius Chamber
"GIVE US THE FLUTE!" Porter demands.

Percius won't remember The Lady of Red, but he will give them The Flute freely. He looks mostly at Ellias, and says that he has been waiting for someone to come and claim this from him. "They don't believe me. Carrion wouldn't wait. But The Griswald will turn the tide against The Nine Hells."

Returning to Buildar… With No Flute
Werric and others return to town with Percius.

Sarlansa is standing at the gate and becomes very frightened, "What are you doing? Those Griswaldians will tear him limb from limb, it's taken everything we have just to keep them contained, violence is imminent!"

Werric tells her that nothing will happen to Percius as long as he stands. The party is surrounded and Mountainbeard takes a fatal shot as a dart hits him in the throat. The Griswaldians pull out their flutes and tell Werric that he has failed them and he has failed Willy. Death is upon them. And then a voice rises, "No, it is you who fails me."

It is Willy Clark Griswald standing at the gate of Buildar.

The great Griswald condemns the act that has just transpired in his name and assures them all (including Werric) that to carry on his tradition is to do so in peace. He promises to help The Sheriff in anyway he can to find the killer, but Werric makes off with Mountainbeard's body and the look in his eye brings tidings of bad things to come for the halfling population of Buildar.

Still, the halfling celebrate tonight and the crowd pushes towards the returned hero. Someone tosses the bard a flute, and Willy smiles, perhaps he would have broken out into song if not for one of Werric's men stopping him from lifting what-could-be-a-very-dangerous flute. But with flute or no the halfling's return brings a great smile to many and The Annual Festival Celebrating Willy's Return starts tonight, and The Bartender is goingto be able to buy that beach house for certain now.

But off to the side, two seem wary over what is transpiring.

One is Porter. "I hope Willy can live up to all of this," he says and turns to Ellias. "No one can know that Willy was a part of The Heist of Dorthone!"

The other who seems none-too-happy about Willy's return watches the festivity with an interest bordering on obsession. "I warned them," The Tiefling Sister mutters, "They'll see what this brings them…Once he turns."

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