On our third morning in Port Garmsby, just hours after our warfare against the kobold invader squads, our injured group members took the time for an opportunity for rest and recovery. Thamior was willing to walk with me to an alchemist’s shop north of the city run by a man named Hombre. To protect his location, I won’t describe which hollow tree holds the entrance to his underground shop and some of the sophisticated furnishings we saw there. The alchemist was quite enraptured with his research and was taken off guard when he noticed us observing him experimenting with a star-shaped aquatic creature. We had the start of a number of fascinating conversations about the causes of the recent warfare, styles of Elven ships (and the shortcomings of other cultures’ sailing vessels), and a wealth of history about kobolds of the past and their ancient Ibex masters that could aid us in our interactions with them. Our ranger Thamior was quite skillful in arranging our purchase of healing potions from him, and he even enticed the alchemist into studying our group’s water-weird-in-a-bottle we discovered from the hag’s villainy in Fort Strade.
While discussing some of the finer points of arcane with him (and obtaining his willingness to teach me some skills in crafting magical items), he made good offer to us for testing some unusual emerald green metallic goggles he had found. It is unwise to dabble in unknown magics, I am well aware, but I felt this was a test of trust, to see if we were truly willing to commit ourselves to trusting him. I was confident the alchemist was not trying to harm us on purpose. I cautiously volunteered myself, placing the scaly leather goggles on and seeing the smoke-filled thick lenses clearing away and acting similar to my Detect Magic spell, bringing certain items in the shop into crystal clarity while all others were foggy and confused. Thamior also tried himself on the goggles, but his descriptions focused on specks of bright light in the creatures around him instead of the items I had seen. Perhaps these goggles enhance some of our innate abilities? More experimenting is needed.
Thamior and I returned to the city and our merry band, and using the goggles he had detected a person stalking us while we walked (which appeared as an ordinary squirrel to the naked eye). While updating them on our wonderment in the alchemist’s dwelling, we found it easy to encourage the group to try the goggles, and each one was most eager to try them but I insisted (for their safety) that I examine the items in more depth first. The goggles did not exhibit the nature of a typical magical item when examined, but some extra study was able to detect threads of Divination, Enchantment and Illusion schools of magic which seems like an unhealthy combination to me, an ill omen to come.
Each person tried the goggles. Mara mentioned seeing colored auras around each person, differing in color in what I believe is related to the person’s career path. Kragg saw jewels and precious metals in the clear bright manner that I would see magical items. Frodo had an overpowering vision of his unseen benefactor from where he draws his arcane power, Frodo calls him simply ‘the outsider’. This Outsider is apparently an imposing human male of indeterminable age with deep blue, almost black robes with silver glyhs running across them that appear to be mirrored on the Outsiders body in silver tattoos the villainous halfling Sid who taunted him and seemed aware of the vision, snapping his fingers to end Frodo’s vision. Our Cheetara was jumping around, batting cat-claws at unseen objects and overly enjoying herself so much that Kragg had to entangle her to end it. I took more detailed notes so I could discuss further our findings with the alchemist, but one thing is quite disturbing to me: these goggles somehow read the nature of the wearer and amplify that nature to unusual proportions. The danger of addiction and over confidence must be guarded against, and if the Outsider Sid can interact with the wearer’s vision, I question if we should be carrying this thing among us at all.
We were oblivious to the horrific mess that Cheetara’s antics had caused, and the innkeeper demanded to be paid for the damages. A courier arrived to speak with Mara, saying that Praetor Peneton had commanded her presence, and she hastily paid the innkeeper so all of us could depart.
As we awaited Mara’s return, we had a rare moment to appreciate the snowfall. The city is encompassed with war and woe, burned buildings and slain soldiers. The snowfall was already near knee height, but the new snowfall gently covered and caressed the broken city and hid the ugliness for a brief moment. It has been only days since ending our week in Pepplefen’s fateful fog, but several months had passed in the real world and this was my first chance to really notice the snow. Mara returned quite annoyed, sharing the Praetor’s protective instructions for her new squire Mahir Nassar while this new squire strode beside her with an almost imperial attitude. Nass had been closely carousing with the Praetor’s daughter Metella, a vicious fact we all understood all too clearly. We decide to quickly depart the embattled city for the stone quarry so that the Praetor does not summon us into some further troubles.
Our first hours on the journey began in a simple march, and then the many tracks in the snow ceased and we settled into our walking rhythm and kept alert. We departed the trail and went overland, stopping for the eve with a shelter campfire and a chance to help our new members learn how to keep our two-person watches. I was awoken by Frodo and Kragg who had been talking to an odd talking raven who came into our camp, asking for secrets to share. An imp, a foul shriveled creature. Frodo seemed quite eager to decide what secrets we could safely share with the thing, and we discussed quietly among ourselves. Our dwarven Kragg was quite uncomfortable with this creature, probably bristling with divine reminders about his noble purpose and his commitment to fighting evil wherever it is found. We decide to share our discoveries about the history of Fort Strade (by talking to my long-winded Gerald-staff) and our experiences with defeating the hag, and in return the raven-imp said its name was Isoceles, gave us better direction and nearby landmarks for the Ibex ruined city we were planning to visit, and described the Gondales Mystic Spectacles we were dabbling with, a 500 year old item which sometimes sapped the wearer’s soul. The thing departed only after describing how we can request its presence in the future for further secrets. No more sleep for this eve.
By midday we approached the quarry, and we carefully scouted for hostiles. My new fey-owl Aether was dancing in the stiff winds above the hills, informing us of two small six-men-and-kobold encampments and sentry patrols roaming south of the quarry entrance trail. Thamior has been well too often with those accursed goggles, and his eyes were bleeding from his recent use of them. We all felt something wrong, why the goggles came to us just prior to the raven-imp appearance, why the northern approaches seemed unguarded, why the kobolds were guarding a stone quarry which they had ruined and with no valuables for them. We endeavored to encamp for the eve while observing for ways to ambush the patrols and find our way into the quarry safely during the morrow. We readied ourselves for a killing-day.
Atrei FaintWalker, Conjurer Errant