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Pathfinder Campaign (1/?)

An experiment in story-writing whilst still in the midst of campaigning. Each update will be of a session (of varying degrees of truthfulness, as dice-rolling sometimes makes for terrible fight sequences). These are all new characters for us, so I haven't had enough interaction to get a real good hold of the different personalities.

Dismal, by snowskadi
The town of Starfall.

Session 1 (01/09/12)
Word Count: 2547

The inn’s public room was a busy place at night. Every table it had was full, and the bar counter had an ever-rotating crowd of people buying drinks and slipping back to their seats. Barstools set along it for those uninterested in a meal were occupied with dour-faced locals, though one held a tiefling covered in road dust. A tawny-haired half-elven woman scurried from table to table, taking orders and empty dishes, a small boy hopping after her with a bucket to sweep any uneaten food into. Every so often he would scamper into the kitchen to fetch an empty bucket.

An attractive dark-haired woman with a lute stood on an empty table in the center of the room, caroling the room with a tragic song of a faithful fair maiden whose love was lost down a mine the day before their wedding. She had chosen well, for the rowdy miners gathered at several of the long tables sung drunkenly off-key with her. The dwarves at one of the small tables glowered at their compatriots’ foolishness, before their attention was once again commandeered by the rosy-hued gnome who sat with them. Next to them, occupying a small table in the far corner of the room, was a fidgety halfling in stained leathers who kept furtively eying the entrance.

Behind the bar were the innkeeper and his dwarven wife, both smiling cheerfully as they poured drinks for the patrons at the counter. The unkempt half-orc woman at one end scowled as another of her race tromped over to murmur quietly with her, the metal on his quilted brigandine jacket gleaming as the light from the fireplace bounced off of it. The badger at her feet snapped its teeth as the other half-orc moved too close.

At the other end of the counter, a dwarf and a human were deep in conversation, with a small green-skinned gnome beside them, listening intently, half-hidden from the rest of the patrons by the brightly-colored wooden shield that covered much of her back.

“How long have you been a bellfounder?”

The dwarf turned from the man next to him to look at the little green gnome. “Beg your pardon, lass?”

“Dwarves are excellent metal-workers,” she explained. “And Starfall’s famous for its bells. And I overheard you complain to your coworker that the copper in the open mines was drying up. So, I just assumed, well, bells are mostly copper, chances were good that-“

The dark-haired man on the dwarf’s other side laughed. “Best draw another breath before you pass out.”

She huffed. “It’s just, I’ve been wanting to talk to someone about the tuning process, I have this idea that you could tune them after the casting, instead of before, to make it easier on their production-”

“Chipping away metal from the bell?” The dwarf interrupted. “We do that with some, when the sound’s still off. But it’s less time-consuming to just make virgin bells, and use different casts for the different-”

“No, no, I mean using a lathe. Like potters use. You’d still need some sort of tuner to check the note, but wouldn’t a delicate thinning of the hips work better than-”

The front door burst open in a swirl of chilly air, stopping her mid-sentence. All noise in the room stopped, the bard halting mid-strum to stare as three small whirlwinds danced into the room, upsetting furniture and food as they swirled across the wide room, searching for something. The little halfling in the corner gave a terrified shout and drew a crossbow, shooting a bolt into one of the whirling masses. It stopped flight upon reaching the whirling air, and clattered noisily to the ground without seeming to do the little whirlwind any damage.

As if the noise was a signal, everyone in the room broke into movement, scrambling towards the kitchen and its side exit. The lutenist held her spot on the table, eyes narrowed and a frown upon her face. Her fingers plucked a different tune from her instrument as she contemplated the moving air. The gnome and dwarves near the halfling scrambled away from their table as it was upset by the trio of whirlwinds gusting around them to get to the little man.

The little green gnome ducked under the counter as the patrons trampled over and around it. The half-orc man dashed towards the fracas, a long-handled hammer in hand, a blue-skinned tiefling right behind him.

Gusts of wind tore about the room, set off by the strange beings circling and lashing at the halfling man. He waved his arms, trying to beat them away with the small crossbow he still held, cuts appearing on his skin as their torment continued.

The big half-orc’s hammer swept through the winds, disrupting their attacks and they whirled on the two men who had raced up. Their buffets seemed to have been holding the halfling up, for he collapsed to the ground, unconscious and bleeding.

The little gnome darted her way to the man, a worried look on her face.

The tiefling, now armed with a mace, and the half-orc took turns harrying the whirlwinds. Their swings didn't seem to touch the creatures, but did keep them distracted from the fallen man. Blood poured from gashes all over the two from the fierce winds’ attacks.

“Move,” the lutenist shouted, leaping gracefully across the tables, lute in one hand, skirts held up with the other to free up her legs for movement. The half-orc dodged towards to where the gnome woman now knelt beside the halfling, while the tiefling moved in the opposite direction.

Landing on a nearby table, the woman took her lute back up in both hands and her fingers danced along the strings, harsh chords ringing through the air, visibly slicing their way to the newly freed-up whirlwinds. They crystallized, hanging frozen in the air. The half-orc shook his head, chilled by the blast that had just barely missed him.

A crossbow bolt crashed loudly into one of the whirlwinds. The dwarven woman behind the counter was already preparing another bolt, her hairy spouse standing in the kitchen doorway with a spear readied, intent on keeping the whirlwinds from chasing after the fleeing patrons.

The half-orc’s hammer crunched into the whirlwind with the crossbow bolt in it, and it shattered, frozen crystals tinkling to the floor like diamonds. The tiefling attempted the same, but his mace- not as heavy as the war hammer - did little to break it, merely chipping off pieces instead. Darts sprouted from it, courtesy of the half-orc woman who had taken the lutenist’s spot on the center table. Another crossbow bolt whizzed overhead, and the dwarf cursed.

Already, the air in the remaining two frozen whirlwinds began to move inside the ice. The lutenist frowned in concentration, repeating the same bars of music, and the tiefling dropped to the floor under the slicing notes just in time. Both whirlwinds exploded, showering the quintet with ice shards.

“Sesan za gja’ifdje pala zwa,” the gnome murmured, looking up at the half-orc from where she knelt with the halfling, an inquisitive tilt to her head.

“What did you say?” he asked.

“I knew I shouldn’t have taken it. What was I thinking?” The halfling whimpered over the half-orc’s question. While still bloody, the cuts that had covered him had all mostly healed over. He continued to babble as the gnome attempted to wipe the blood off his torn clothes. “Of course he didn’t mean the Beechwood Inn. He meant the beech woods.”

“You have a unique weapon,” the half-orc said to the lutenist as she hopped lightly off the table.

She flipped her hair back over her shoulder. “The magic’s in the music, and the fingers, not just the instrument. I could do that with a child’s toy gitar, so long as it had strings.”

The tiefling had stood up. “I hope your aim is better with the gitar,” he said in an annoyed voice, his tail clutched in hand as he tried to defrost it. Ice peppered his dark blue hair, and his leather jerkin was darkened in spots from where ice had already started to melt away. His arms were crisscrossed with large gashes, dark blue blood oozing out of them.

“I meant no insult,” the half-orc said as the lutenist twitched in annoyance. He returned his hammer to a loop on his belt. “Without your magic, we would not have been able to save this man.”

“And I expect to be reimbursed for the bother,” she said with a sniff. “Gilbert told me I’d just have to play music, not act as a bouncer as well.”

“Come off it, Settimia,” the hairy man said loudly from behind the bar, spear already returned to its place above the mug rack. His wife was heading towards them, intent on collecting the bolts she had shot. The half-orc woman was already doing that with her flung darts, bumping up against the two small people occupying the floor as she scoured the ice crystals for the little weapons.

The halfling attempted to sit up. “Sveqwa chakwa pala,” the gnome told him, pressing hands to his chest to keep him down. “Svevasa kh’ada easy for a bit.”

“You do know no one understands a word you’re saying, right?” he asked, struggling under her grip.

“I get that way sometimes,” she said, unworried. “Stop moving, these haven’t finished closing yet. You’ll tear them open. Whatever were those things after you for?”

“Pendeln must’ve had a wizard summon those elementals up when I didn’t show for our meeting,” he babbled. “Please, I’ve got to go meet him, he’ll have more sent if he doesn’t-”

“Westie, if you think going to Pendeln after this is a good idea, you’re a fool as well as a thief,” the lutenist said dryly. She marched over to her table, dragging a case out from underneath and placing her lute gently inside. “Gilbert, you’re obviously done for the night. I’m heading to the Hog. A girl’s got to eat, and if you’ve no patrons, I’ve no one to get tips from. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She swirled out of the broken entranceway, hips swaying, a heavy knapsack in one hand and her case the other.

“What’s this Pendeln after you for?” the half-orc asked, pulling gnome and halfling up from the floor to stand.

“I picked something up for him,” the halfling hedged.

“The woman already called him a thief, Ser Lorak,” the half-orc woman pointed out. “Obviously he’s been hired to steal something from someone, and his employer wishes to terminate the contract permanently.”

“Let’s see it then,” he commanded, clapping a hand down tightly on the halfling's shoulder. “Westie, or whatever your name is.”

The halfling heaved a sigh. “I’m roasted no matter which way I go,” he complained, fishing about in his pockets. “And it’s Warsaw Warnet West. Don’t call me Westie.”

“The singer did,” the gnome pointed out.

“Yes, well, she’s attractive. Nicknames are cute coming from pretty ladies.” He grinned at her. “You can call me Westie.”

Lorak cleared his throat noisily. “If I’m not interrupting anything?”

The halfling pulled a necklace out of his pocket. An unusually-cut prism hung on the long chain. “Wizard in Haritadewa had it. Pendeln told me to meet him at the Beechwood when I had it.”

The gnome picked it out of his hands before the half-orc had a chance to. “Hm,” she said, eying the prism while ducking away from the half-orc’s grasp. “A pentaprism. Odd choice of design. Looks to be made of fluorspar. There’s no real worth to it, why would someone want this so badly they’d have it stolen?”

The tiefling snatched it out of her hands. She scowled at him before grinning brightly. “Sentimental value, maybe?” he suggested, passing it the half-orc woman.

“The wizard might be using it as a focus stone,” she said, peering intently through the crystal. “This Pendeln person might have wanted some form of insurance before speaking with the wizard about something.”

“I don't know anything about it,” Warsaw said sullenly from where he was still held by Lorak. “I was just given a description and a man's name. Can I go now?”

“No,” Lorak said, taking the necklace from the other half-orc. She snorted and turned to cross the room back to where the badger sat on a travel pack. “I'll be taking you and this stolen item to the local authorities. Thievery is not to be tolerated. They will be able to inform its proper owner of its recovery.”

He marched the squawking halfling out the exit, lifting him helpfully over the door's remains. The tiefling and the gnome stared after them, and then exchanged a befuddled look.

“Dizzy Daringjammer,” she supplied, sticking out a hand.

“Hespero,” he replied with a nod, pointedly crossing his arms behind back.

She eyed her hand and shrugged indifferently, withdrawing it. “Apanapuri, right?” she asked, taking in the road dust he was still covered in.

He started. “What?”

“They've got the highest concentration of tieflings. Well, them and Yuquay, but if you'd come from Yuquay you'd smell more like salt.” She tapped her oversized nose. “There's no reason to come overland from Yuquay when you can save a week taking a ship instead. So, Apanapuri.”

“Right,” he said flatly. “That's a really odd way you have of introducing yourself to people.”

“Really?” Her gaze moved to where the innkeeper and his wife were flipping tables back over. “How strange. Excuse me.” She darted over to the couple, dismissing the tiefling from mind.

He rolled his eyes, heading back to the barstool he had been seated it. The beat-up knapsack that had been hanging off of it had disappeared and he started looking under tables for it. It turned out to have been tossed a short way away to the table the half-orc was once again seated at. Her badger was napping on it, and she nudged the little beast off of the pack as Hespero reached to grab it.

“So, Pendeln,” the gnome said to the innkeeper as she shoved chairs out of the way for the couple to flip more tables back over. Most had actually been overturned by their fleeing patrons, not the air elementals who had crashed their way in. “What's he like?”

“He's trouble,” he warned. “You best leave well enough alone, Miss Dizzy.”

“You should've gone with the half-orc and filed a complaint. Those things broke your door! He ought to pay to replace it!”

“It's better not to come to the attention of a man like that,” he said in a low voice.

“You hear things here,” the woman added. “He's got his fingers in all sorts of dark dealings.”

The man set the table noisily down and hissed at her. “Don't be putting stories into her head.”

“You saw those people,” she hissed back at him, setting her hands down on the table and glaring across it at him. “Don't tell me they weren't escaped slaves! The man trades in flesh. We should be warning people about him, not covering up for him.”

“Wynn, we've discussed this,” he snapped. Neither noticed the gnome creep away, headed for the stairs to the rooms on the floor above.