Ori and The Vaultdiggers - Episode 1

Shifty Shifters Being Shifty, Man (Mike GM - 8/9/13)

A Fighter and a Gambler's Destiny… In The Basement Of A Bar

The shifters circle each other, patches of hair and years taken off of their life in pursuit of this hobby. Every Friday evening they leave their wives (who suspect adulterous reasons) and meet in the basement of The Vampire's Kiss. They used to meet in Olden Bandit Cellar, but that cellar is actually used for drinking, whereas The Vampire's Kiss is a poorly constructed bar with a history of horrific violence.

The new owners are also incompetent deliverymen. While they technically own a bar, they still have to make deliveries. The underground fights are the only thing keeping The Vampire's Kiss running.

Davian Frostrun, whose fur is never shows its true color of white because of his lifestyle, stands on one leg. Not because he's arrogant (though he is), but because he can't feel his left one after a fight he was in two hours ago. And still he awaits Jamhand Tigerhelm (also known as Jamhand Stickyfingers) to come at him with the first swing.

Ori Vaultdigger prowls outside of the fighter's circle. He's brought you hear for a night off of carousing. You need it, especially after The Amber Penny incident. (Any mention of The Amber Penny incident brings a fatherly "We don't talk about that just yet!" from Ori.)

Right before Jamhand charges in, Ori comes up to his men with four tankers of ale (for himself), and gives his each of his vault digging crew a task for tonight, based on their individual skills. The rogue, Theodore Tangiers, will watch the fighters. The fighter, Samuel Mittens, will watch the spellcasters here to keep the fighters in one piece, and the spellcaster, Gnastacious Natalie, will watch the gambling rogues.

The spellcaster, Gnastacious doesn't know much about thieves, but he does love antiques (after all he works with famed treasure hunter, Ori Vaultdigger). As the crowd of gamblers surge around a small end table to place final bets on the upcoming shifter fight, including a piece of wood that has no business being on a pile of of gold coin and shiny weapons. However Gnasty quickly becomes distracted form his ONE TASK and watches as some poor human bastard weeps softly into his beer. Natalie approaches him at the bar and finds the man at a loss of words and dignity, seemingly gambled away his last cent on an earlier fight that featured Davian Frostrun. "Why did I take the long shot? He's out there fighting with one leg and I'd bet everything I have that he wins again! But I have nothing now! What am I going to say to my wife?"

About this time, the thief, Teddy Tangiers, has also dismissed his ONE TASK and taken his eyes of the fighter's circle to rob some of the poor, desperate gamblers and use their coin to place a bet on the hobbled white wolf, although Ori does pass him by and reminds him to keep an eye on "the little one". Theodore takes this to mean that he probably should have bet the Jamhands, who is oddly clutching one hand into a fist the entirety of the fight. But Teddy doesn't see this. His eyes are on the gold, and an odd piece of wood…

Gnastacious has decided to use his non-existent thievery skills to help this desperate and tear-soaked man, by using mage hand to-

He is immediately caught by Captain Eldac Icesword, a dragonborn warlord who has taken a particular in magic. Which is to say that he despises it and has seen to it that it is his ridden from his home land of Feldun.

To fix this failed magic trick of thievery, Gnasty attempts to convince Captain Eldac that this was no act of magic, and even if it was, Feldun has a long history of respect for mag-

"I AM FELDUN. THIS IS MY HOME. AND MAGIC HAS NO PLACE HERE," Captain Eldac corrects Natalie's inaccurate history lesson. "You get three chances here when it comes to playing with the black arts. You just used up two of them. Want to see what happens when you try it a third time?"

"No, that's alright," the gnome says nonchalantly.

Ori comes over and convinces the crowd, of which twelve men with violent looks about them have come to Eldac's side, that such pitiful attempts at magic shows that the gnome is no magic user at all… just a failed comedian. Gnasty is quickly escorted off the premises and given a new and VERY IMPORTANT task by Ori: stand outside and watch the horses. Gnasty seems genuinely distraught and apologizes to Ori for being a failure, but the great Vaultdigger corrects, "You're not a failure, you are an apprentice."

After all of this, the main event is somewhat anti-climactic to Ori's group. The Vaultdiggers (besides exiled Gnasty) watch as one legged Davian hops and kicks Jamhand Tigerhelm in the chest with his one good leg. The crowd oohs at Frostrun's agility and prowess even when wounded, but then starts to grumble as he mercilessly beats Stickyfingers once he has him on the ground.

Ori isn't much for physical confrontations but seeking out artifacts is his business, and since his rogue Theodore is off task with THE OTHER ARTIFACT, he keeps an eye on Jamhand's left clenched fist, which stays that way even as he taps out and is led over to the spellcasters who are on hand for healing purposes.

As the only Vaultdigger on task, the fighter Samuel watches as the spellcasters attend to the injured fighters; they cast some spell of which he could have no hopes of understanding (why did Ori put him on this particular task?), but he does notice that the spellcaster heals Davian Frostrun's right leg… His right leg being the one of use while he was in the ring, but he walked out on his left. "Safety first!" the healing spellcasters announce proudly, more for the crowd than the fighters standing immediately in front of them, but they look glumly at Jamhand Tigerhelm's messed up face. The fighters and healers go off to a side room, where Sam listens in and hears them speak with horror at the sight of Jamhand's face. To Sam's untrained healing ears, it sounds as if they are now at a loss on what to do, but Jamhand appears minutes later with simple bandages covering his face.

THE OTHER ARTIFACT is at first a cause of anger as a gambling man is handed part of his earnings in the piece of wood on the pile. "What is this shit?" he scoffs and tosses it over his head, demanding coin or blade as payment. The piece of wood (which has a carving of a pickaxe etched in it, and appears to have once been an arm rest on a piece of furniture) lands… well actually it doesn't quite land on the bar, as Teddy observes. It merely floats above it.

The crying man doesn't seem to notice though, even as Teddy and Ori approach the bar. The Vaultdigger convinces Theodore to make things right for the man, and give him the rogue's winning bet. Not quite happy about it, the transaction for the floating piece of wood is complete and the once crying man is now back on top. What luck! Being his nature, Teddy immediately wants to know what he has gained with this trade and reaches for the floating piece of wood, but Ori stops him. "Don't touch it. We've already had some bad luck tonight." In a move that is both subtle and yet obnoxious, Ori takes two of his depleted tankers and begins playing a song only he knows with them, all the while keeping the floating piece of wood in between the two mugs.

Sam reports what he saw and heard about the fighters and the healers and Ori nods, then asks his two remaining Vaultdiggers to walk on either side of him as they leave the basement. They are stopped by two hulking half-orcs who mean no harm but are clearing a path for the two shifter fighters to leave the building. While they wait, Ori engages with another shifter by the name of Lanks Longtooth, who the dwarf seems to be quite fond of, though Lanks is at a loss on where to place Ori.

Seemingly forgetting the ruse with the hidden artifact in the mugs, Sam asks to take ahold of the mugs, and offers to pay Lanks for keeping them. Ori now seems interested in discussing tonight's shifter fight that included Lanks' nephews, which seems to annoy the shifter as he dismisses what the crowd saw tonight as an actual fight. He laments that his nephews ("Though I don't know how you are aware that they are my nephews") are mere entertainers, not skilled at the art of combat. Sam jumps in with his own query, asking how Davian's leg was healed so easily by the spellcasters, but Jamhand's face could not be. Lanks hushes him, and tells them that their gnome friend almost ruined the jig earlier. "As you now know, Captain Eldac has outlawed magic use in Feldun, the magic healers you saw are just on hand to make the tourists more comfortable placing bets on fighters who suffer great injuries without the aid of magic on hand to heal them."

"If it were me I'd pay more money knowing that these fighters were actually taking these beatings, brave enough to face the consequences of combat without the safety net of magic awaiting them. Most of the fighters you meet don't have the stomach for it, especially those untrained in the arts as you've seen tonight. Me? It kills me that I'll probably never have another worthy fight, I had my chance at worthy combat and I fear that it passed me by."

Sam asks if Lanks was hurt during combat, to which Lanks immediately shakes his head to dismiss this notion, showing no lack of confidence in his own fighting skills. "No, I was betrayed by my commanding officer, rendering all of my skill in combat moot."

"Who was this superior of yours?" Teddy asks.

"I'm not talking about that," Lanks replies curtly. "This is what my life is now, staging fights with half-fighters for the entertainment of half-wits. I'd give anything for one more worthy fight."

Ori has been taking all of this in, oddly quiet once more after instigating this conversation with what most would consider a complete stranger to him. He leans in and whispers something in Lanks' ear, and also tries to stick a map in the shifter's fur, who is of course sitting in this basement of masculinity, shirtless. The Longtooth's eyes go wide. "What do I owe you?" And he yells for one of his employees to bring the bar's cut from tonight's fight.

The guy behind the bar isn't going for this, "Really? We don't usually count that up now… In front of all these…. people."

Lanks cuts him off, "I am not afraid of anyone here, bring these men their cut."

At this the barkeep shrugs, goes in the back, and comes back with the two half-orc bouncers who have two huge bags of gold they drag across the bar. Ori instead seems more interested in trying to stack his now empty tanker on the other tankers holding the floating artifact. Theodore just takes the empty mug from him, and keep the floating artifact concealed. The dwarf also asks cheerfully for another drink, and Sam suggests that maybe he has had enough. "You're right!" he says with some recognition, his business in this basement is concluded. "Lanks, do not worry about those," and Ori waves dismissively at the huge bags of gold. Teddy Tangiers bluffs the half-orcs, telling them that they will be back for their cut, but even he doesn't believe it.

Ori looks at Lanks with a small amount of pride showing and says, "If you are still alive after you find him, we both know that there won't be a big enough favor or a big enough bag for you to return what I have just given you. Good luck, soldier. May you find a fighter's destiny. Be it victory or death."

As Ori and his Vaultdiggers depart up the stairs, Teddy looks back and notices the location of the map appears to be Halton.

Now able to speak freely about the item they came for, Sam asks why they can't touch it, to which Ori nods at the formerly crying gambler from the bar who is now stumbling out of The Vampire's Kiss, ecstatic. "The last owner only had this item left to gamble with tonight. He was down to his last penny, and would have come to death tonight if we had not taken this from him." And while the gambler didn't win a fortune tonight, it's enough to get him through another day. With a mixture of condescension and cheerfulness, the gambler tosses Teddy one gold coin and thanks him for saving his life.

Magic Shootout at The Vampire's Kiss
Natalie has been hiding behind a horse (hanging off the side of it to be more precise) watching and listening to the two shifter fighters as they leave the bar. He has discerned that Jamhands has the artifact in his clenched left hand and seems adamant that no one see this item. The loud exit of the now happy gambler startles them even more, and they agree that they need to get further away from The Vampire's Kiss.

"The captain was there tonight. I don't know if he noticed," one of the shifters says.

"Lanks won't rat us out," the other replies.

Gnasty wants to sneak up on them to hear more about their secrets, and debates on whether or not he could or should do so with or without the horse.

Ori eyes the fighters and informs the two other two Vaultdiggers, "I think one of those boys has something is considered illegal in these parts."

"Is it a magical item?" Sam asks.

"That's exactly what it is," Ori says with a bit of disappointment that has Sam has put it so bluntly.

"Do you want that item?" Sam continues.

"I do," Ori responds, "But I don't think we are going to get it tonight."

Both Gnasty and Teddy set out to sneak up on the shifters (without realizing the other is doing so), while Sam attempts to make a distraction for them, but Tangiers is already on the shifters before there is a need to cover his approach. Gnasty made it halfway across the street and stops his approach when he sees Teddy's success.

However it's probably a good thing the gnome stopped his attempt at sneaky business as Captain Eldac exits the bar into the streets, lights his pipe, and spots Gnasty. "Oh there's the wizarrrrrrdddd! Cast some more spells why don't you?"

Teddy is struggling to discern which shifter has the item or where it is on their person. Seeing this, Gnasty has a decision to make. And he decides that he is not afraid of Captain Eldac. Natalie performs an amusing magical trick, a dancing wisp of light that raises Jamhands' fur on his left hand, also causing it to glow. Theodore looks for a board or something to use as a weapon, and notices an old messaging station (think post office) that has not been used for years that has such a board that he could possibly pry loose.

"WHAT THE HELL?" interrupts both Teddy's plot of violence and Gnasty's momentary enjoyment of his first success for the evening. Captain Eldac stands with a lit pipe in the middle of the street, staring right at Gnasty… who has just committed his third and final offense of magic use in the land of Feldun.

Gnasty the Gnome looks the Captain dead in the eye and says simply, "That's magic, motherfucker" and fires a magic missile at the feared Captain Eldac. In the seconds that Sam has to react to the upcoming bloodshed, the fighter wonders how his life has come down to protecting a magic wielding gnome against this captain who is a respected and feared man, who has been the right hand of the King of Feldun for the past decade, and leader of the country's fierce and skilled army of martial combat. "Cool," Sam Mittens says with absolutely no enthusiasm as he makes his move.

The magic missile hits, and Sam dashes at the Gnasty, picks him up like a football and runs out of town. At the exact same moment, Teddy bumps into Jamhands' left fist (which has momentarily come unclenched due to the explosion behind him), and the Vaultdigger's thief manage to run and scale the building across the street… now with the prized shifter's artifact. All Davian and Jamhands see is Sam and Gnasty running passed, presumably having bumped them and stolen the item. They incorrectly give chase.

Captain Eldac stands with a huge smile on his face, his armor somewhat blackened. He snaps his fingers and calls out to his men, "Boys, we got one today. Third strike coming up. THIS GNOME WANTS TO DIE." The twelve men who had violent looks earlier that met Gnasty's gaze come piling out. Ori is cheering them on, banging together his two tankers, chanting "Down with magic!" and makes his way across the street towards the building that Teddy has scaled. Captain Eldac barks at him to "Get off the streets. There is going to be blood tonight!" Ori reaches the building and releases the tankers, and the piece of floating wood rises toward Theodore. The thief debates whether he should touch the artifact but thinks better, puts up his crossbow, and catches the item with his pack.

Frostrun has managed to keep pace with the fleeing Sam and Gnasty, while Jamhands has stopped, looks at the presumed thieves and then looks back towards the town. He's somehow not convinced that they are actually pursuing the thief. He rubs his left hand as he thinks.

Sam throws Gnasty as far as he can, who tumbles quite gracefully towards a tunnel he spots while airborne. This tunnel looks to be a way back into town, as crates and other discarded boxes have been left behind near the entrance. Gnasty heads in.

Sam stands waiting for Davian Frostrun to catch up and when he does he crosses his arms and asks "So you don't like magic?"

"I don't give a shit about magic."

"Then why were you chasing us?"

"Somebody stole something from my cousin!"

"Oh," Sam explains, "Well we were running from the Captain."

Davian turns and sees an approaching posse led by Captain Eldac. "Dammit. We were already concerned that he was on to us."

"Why would he be on to you?"

"You were at the fights, you know the healers are fake. Jamhands has a ring that he always keeps on him. Even during the fight. Take me to this gnome, especially if he proclaims himself to be a wizard."

Sam agrees to do so, as long as they can escape the Captain. Jamhands shares this thought, although Teddy spots him leaving the town begrudgingly.

The two shifters and Sam approach the tunnel, which has now been well lit by Gnasty, and Davian scolds him for possibly drawing the Captain's attention. Sam asks Gnasty if he took something from the shifters and he replies, "I took the Captain's dignity."

Jamhands shakes his head, "You all are in for some trouble if Captain Eldac gets ahold of either of you."

Sam reminds them that they should have nothing to fear from the shifters as they didn't rob them of this ring. Jamhands doesn't even seem to care, "Whoever has it now, they are in more trouble than even the this gnome. What this magic user did? That's nothing compared to what the Captain will do when he finds the person with that item."

Gnasty asks "Is it a magic item?!?!" and everyone sighs at his question and they make their way back to the town through the tunnel.

A New Quest, Already Completed
Meanwhile back in town, Ori has been having a lengthy and passionate conversation with a dwarven lady about shoe cobbling. Teddy climbs back down into the street to to hear Ori talk about the merits of having a cobbler and proper footwear, especially if a member of a posse. He debates changes professions and then gets back to business.

"Did you get the pair of shoes I asked for?" he says to Teddy, who replies in the affirmative. Ori leads them back to the shack where messages used to be dispersed across the country. He asks for Teddy to lift the board that looks like it can be lifted, then thinks better of it and offers to help as well. "Do you really have the pair? I was just going with the shoe thing in front of that lady," Ori asks and Teddy brings out both items: the floating piece of wood and the ring from the shifter. After he puts the pack with the floating piece of wood in the ground, the dwarf looks at the ring and contemplates something. "Wow, didn't expect to get my hands on you tonight." Then he puts it in the ground as well, and covers both with the board.

Ori and Teddy head back to the basement of The Vampire's Kiss, and the other Vaultdiggers come out of the tunnel and into the room where Sam previously spotted the fake healers duck off into. The place has emptied out due to the ruckus outside. The two half-orcs are now agreeing with Lanks that if there was ever a night to give up the bar's cut, tonight was the night to do so as there must be something big going on outside to cause the tourists to go get their entertainment elsewhere. Lanks seems disinterested and troubled until his two nephews walk in.

"Do you still have it?" he asks them. But they respond no and that Sam and Gnasty swear they didn't take it. "Check their limbs," Lanks gestures toward the Vaultdiggers. "No they don't have it. And they didn't even try to use it. Boys we are going to have to find it."

"I agree," Ori Vaultdiggers says as he descends the stairs with Teddy. "Sounds like a noble quest. What are we looking for?"

And that's when Lanks Longtooth tells Ori and The Vaultdiggers what it is that they are about to look for… that Ori already has.

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