DM: You wake up.
Rue: Alive and well or on a funeral pyre?
Sent at 7:20 PM on Wednesday
DM: You don’t feel good. You still have a bite wound that is slowly healing. You are on a bed of straw in a room with sandstone walls. There are some wooden bowls near you and you see hung about on the ceiling are lots of dried plants. You hear the squeak of rats and Sand appears to be dozing next to you, seated upright, his arms resting on his knees. The only light comes through the open doorway.
Sent at 7:24 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi gives a sigh of relief the sound of rats. “Thank the gods…Dazzle can go hunting now.” If possible, she sits up to take further stock of the situation. As in, she looks for her possessions.
Sent at 7:28 PM on Wednesday
DM: Nothing but the clothes on your back. Sand starts when you wake. “Z…” he whispers. He looks tired.
Sent at 7:30 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Hi, Sand. I’m relieved to see you alive. Did you annihilate that entire pack of dogs?”
Sent at 7:33 PM on Wednesday
DM: “This one did but was bit many times. Z almost died of bite. This one carried Z until too much blood lost… then went dark. Woke up in this house. Mama Nettie is wise woman. Save Z. But…” He turns away, shamefully.
Sent at 7:36 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “You are very brave, Sand. You mustn’t feel bad about anything.” Tanzi smiles reassuringly. “After all, we’re both alive, and out of danger for the moment. I owe you my life, and I suppose I owe this Mama Nettie my mostly good health.” Tanzi looks at her unhealed bite with slight apprehension, then smiles brightly again.
Sent at 7:42 PM on Wednesday
DM: There is some smeared smelly stuff on it but it’s not extremely neatly done.
Sand says, “This one supposed to say when Z wake.”
Sent at 7:44 PM on Wednesday
Rue: She sniffs at the ointment and blanches. “Of course. I’m eager to meet our herb-wise savior.”
Sent at 7:46 PM on Wednesday
DM: Sand nods. “Then maybe Z and this one leave this place.” He walks to the doorway and then takes a step back away from something he sees around the corner. “Mama Nettie! Z wakes!” he calls.
Sent at 7:48 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Is Sand still in possession of his gear?
DM: No. He wears his armor and clothes though. And facial jewelry.
Sent at 7:50 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Gooed,” calls a deep female voice. “Sind da weezard oht. Greep, led da weezard pahss.”
Sent at 7:52 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “No secrets here, eh,” Tanzi mutters as she slowly stands.
Sent at 7:54 PM on Wednesday
DM: Sand hangs his head like a shameful dog as you rise. “This one… must stay.”
Sent at 7:56 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi peers intently at Sand’s face. “Why? And why are you looking like that?”
Sent at 7:57 PM on Wednesday
DM: He silently shakes his head and turns to the wall.
Rue: Frowning, Tanzi walks through the doorway.
Sent at 7:59 PM on Wednesday
DM: It’s a hallway with several wooden doors and a stone staircase at the end, heading up. The doors are closed, except for the one you exited from. And, right in front of you, there is a dog. It is staring at you, standing fully erect. It doesn’t appear to be one of the ones you saw outside. It seems to be missing much of its fur and skin from the left side of its head and neck. The are also small bites taken out of it. It doesn’t appear to be breathing, panting, or wagging its tail.
Sent at 8:02 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi freezes in place at the sight of the dog, arms drawing up protectively as her frown deepens. “Absolutely not,” she says. She walks back into the room.
Sent at 8:07 PM on Wednesday
DM: Sand looks at you, stricken. “Z…” Tears seem to well in his eyes and he turns away again. “Coom, coom, now, leetle weezard. Up you coom, now. Ha, ha, ha,” laughs the voice from upstairs.
Sent at 8:08 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “The dog…oh, damnation, Sand. Don’t cry. I’m starting to worry about you.” She looks over her shoulder at the dog again, turns slowly and walks out. She’s going to try to edge past it along the wall, like a mouse.
Sent at 8:15 PM on Wednesday
DM: The dog doesn’t even move to turn its head to watch you. There is a cold emanating from it, an awful cold.
Sent at 8:17 PM on Wednesday
Rue: (Is a spellcraft check applicable?)
DM: (sure, definitely)
Sent at 8:18 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi pauses just on the other side of the dog and evaluates it again. (22 roll)
DM: You strongly suspect this is an undead creature, created through necromantic arts.
Sent at 8:20 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “How…?” Uneasy, Tanzi moves away from the dreadful thing and hurries towards the stairs. She ascends them two at a time.
Sent at 8:24 PM on Wednesday
DM: There is a very strong scent in the hot, close-feeling, well-lit room you enter. The room is dominated by two enormous figures. One, a great hearth with a fire blazing away underneath a large black iron cauldron. In the stone hearth are also closed iron doors for baking, perhaps. The room is hung with many more herbs and plants and chicken and duck corpses in various states of being plucked. A live raven squawks at you from the top of one of many shelves covered in odd items, books, rolled papers, and pieces of dessicated body parts like hands and perhaps a jar of eyes?
The other large item in the room is an enormous dark, dark-skinned human woman, very fat and old and very ugly.
Sent at 8:31 PM on Wednesday
DM: She has a bone necklace and feathers in her hair and on her dirty once-purple robes. She wears a strange tall hat with feathers, bones, and jewelry pinned to it. She smokes a fat cigar, lit from one of the many black candles, all resting on the tops of skulls. She laughs deeply. “Ha, ha, ha… leetle weezard.”
Sent at 8:32 PM on Wednesday
Rue: A half-second after assessing the contents of the room and its inhabitant, Tanzi rearranges her features into a more respectful, less bug-eyed expression. “Greetings. My friend spoke of a Mama Nettie. Are you she?”
Sent at 8:37 PM on Wednesday
DM: She lets out a great bellow of a laugh at this. “Da sahvahj shooed talk like da leetle weezard, doont you teenk, Fahng? Ha ha ha ha!” You notice movement as a large snake, perhaps 12 feet long slithers up from near the rubbish near the hearth to climb up the woman’s wide stool and back. “Ah amm Mama Nettie and whoo ees thees leetle weezard, Z, hmmm?” (willpower please)
Sent at 8:42 PM on Wednesday
Rue: (8 will)
Mama Nettie blows a wide smoke ring up to the ceiling.
Sent at 8:45 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “It seems you’re already acquainted with my name. As for who I am, that’s a complicated question. I’ve only just begun to unravel the answer.”
Sent at 8:46 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Where do you coom froom and why shooed Mama Nettie noot hahv Fahng and Greep tear you apart foor cooming to steal Mama’s secrets?”
Sent at 8:48 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi takes a deep breath. “Please let me begin by answering the second half of the question first. I have not come to steal your secrets. As you pointed out, I am a wizard of no great magnitude. Surely your arts are beyond me. As for the first, I come from outside the environs of peerless Calabash, from far down the river, where vineyards cling to every hillside and wine flows from men’s veins instead of blood.”
Sent at 8:52 PM on Wednesday
DM: The large snake has crawled up to Mama Nettie’s shoulder. It stares at you from filmed-over dull eyes. It’s skin was perhaps once rich and gold with spots but it is gray and dull now. It emanates that same cold as the dog.
“Who do you serve?” asks Mama Nettie.
Rue: Tanzi suppresses a shudder. “I serve the vagaries of fate, and sometimes – when I’m lucky – my own self-interest.”
(As Tanzi’s stuff is missing, is her familiar likewise gone? What about spells? She’s had no opportunity to memorize new ones, but does she retain old, unused ones?)
DM: She bellows out another laugh. (Are you trying to keep any thoughts secret, by the way, like your mom, Potago, etc?)
Sent at 8:57 PM on Wednesday
DM: (Yes, you have unused spells. You have no new ones. You don’t know where Dazzle is… but you can sense him. He is frightened and cold.)
Rue: (Not really, but she hadn’t thought of her mother. Nevvek, sure. Potago, probably. She was mostly visualizing how her homeland looked.)
Sent at 9:00 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi frowns slightly at the woman’s infernal laughter. “I’m glad to afford you some amusement. May I inquire how we came to be in your presence?”
Sent at 9:02 PM on Wednesday
DM: “You and de sahvahj coom to Mama’s house, almost keel Mama’s doggies – eef Mama’s doggies be ded, you be ded,” she adds pointedly. “De sahvahj say leetle weezard be deef so she coom to Mama for healing boot leetle weezard heer Mama joost fyne, no?”
Sent at 9:06 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Indeed. I’d thought that was due to your expertise. I’m glad your…dogs didn’t die. I never wanted to hurt them. I like animals. Especially the living kind.” She glances askance at the snake. “Truly, I didn’t know you had fierce, people-eating guard dogs.”
Sent at 9:10 PM on Wednesday
DM: She leans closer to you and her breath stinks of tobacco and foul food. “Ehvryboody knoos Mama don’t like no veesitors.”
Sent at 9:13 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Everybody?” Tanzi opens her mouth to argue the point and then thinks better of it. She lifts her shoulders in a helpless shrug. “I’m sorry to have disturbed you. How can I set things to right?”
Sent at 9:16 PM on Wednesday
DM: Mama Nettie leans back and the snake eyes you, emptily. The raven croaks and shifts back and forth on its perch. “Da sahvahj…. he make soom gooed bargahns wit Mama Nettie. He bargahn tree times. He get Mama to keep leetle weezard alive. He get Mama to forgeev him hurting Mama’s doggies. He get Mama to let leetle weezard go. Lookie here, leetle weezard.”
Sent at 9:21 PM on Wednesday
DM: She smiles a wide and lecherous smile and holds up a small effigy, crudely made of clay and wood. It looks like a little person and has brown hair pinned to it and some small shells as well.
Sent at 9:22 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “What is this?” Tanzi demands through gritted teeth.
“What did he give you?”
Sent at 9:24 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Geev? No ting. He make tree bargahns. Gooed bargahns. May be leetle weezard radhar be ded, no? Or stay weet Mama forever?”
Rue: “What bargains?”
Sent at 9:26 PM on Wednesday
DM: “I tell you but you steel be deef, Mama tinks!” she laughs again, fully. “Mama geev sahvahj tree favors… sahvahj give Mama tree favors and dees leetle ting make sure he do.”
Sent at 9:29 PM on Wednesday
Sent at 9:31 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “This makes me very uncomfortable, Mama Nettie. I can’t imagine what you might want from my friend.”
Sent at 9:36 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Ha, ha, ha! Heem very strong, noo? Heem a leetle tuffie. Mama Nettie doont get out mooch any more. Sahvahj do soom tings even Mama Nettie cant do. Mama always make a gooed bargahn. Mebbe need sahvahj nixt week. Mebbe need heem in a year, if he be mooch tuffer. Mama Nettie can wait. Ha, ha, ha, ha ha.”
Rue: “I’m beginning to suspect that you are a very wicked woman. You made him bargain while under duress. It’s obvious he made a bad job of it.”
Sent at 9:40 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Mebbe Mama Nettie be a weecked wooman as leetle weezard say. Mebbe Mama Nettie be a gooed hart to sehv dose dat coom sneekin un keelin at Mama’s house. But Mama Nettie always make a gooed bargahn. Ha, ha, ha. Now, Mama Nettie make a bargahn weet leetle weezard, mebbe?”
Sent at 9:43 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Seems likely,” Tanzi mutters. “I’m not going to let Sand shoulder all the consequences. How can I get you to release your hold on him, oh, and limit your favors to something more immediate than whenever?”
Sent at 9:48 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Eef you want sahvahj to walk out weet you, you make a bargahn weet Mama. But Mama does not goo back on bargahns weet no body. Mebbe leetle weezard wants to learn soom magics?” She chuckles deeply.
Sent at 9:54 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “That would certainly depend on how the lesson was presented. Alright, I want Sand to walk out of here with me. If our possessions are in your possession, I want them back too. What does Mama Nettie want?”
Sent at 9:56 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Noo ting right now, leetle weezard. Mama Nettie teel you when. One favor for one favor. Sahvahj leave weet leetle weezard.” She removes her cigar to spit upon her palm, which she holds out to you.
Sent at 9:58 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi eyes the woman’s palm with disgust. “Surely there’s a more hygienic way of sealing this bargain? I, mean, it’s not like you need my spit.”
DM: She smiles and says, “Ohhh, boot ah do.”
Rue: “Boot?” Tanzi’s brow furrows with some confusion. She looks to her feet.
DM: “Geeve Mama your hahnd, chile.” She laughs.
Sent at 10:05 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi sticks one hand out, the other curling into a fist. “I can’t believe I’m doing this. May Olidammara steal your luck if you cause harm to befall me or my friend.”
Sent at 10:09 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Dahts no wey to be talkin to your Mama, leetle weezard. Ha, ha, ha!”
Sent at 10:11 PM on Wednesday
DM: “You want anoder bargahn, leetle weezard?” she says after taking your hand in her wet, large one.
Rue: “I do. I want a reasonable bargain. Something with clearly defined terms. What you offer is clearly spelled out, what you expect should be likewise.”
Sent at 10:12 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Ha, ha, ha, boot Mama not tink of soom ting yet. Mebbe when leetle weezard noot soo leetle.”
Sent at 10:15 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Do you require my verbal agreement, or is this handshake enough?”
DM: “Leetle weezard already made a gooed bargahn,” she laughs throatily and the snake slithers back down to the floor.
Sent at 10:17 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “My friend is eager to leave. Can’t imagine why. But before we depart your hospitality, I’ll mention again, our stuff? Was it there when you found us?”
Sent at 10:23 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Your tings be heer. They go weet you.”
Sent at 10:25 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi give a stiff, begrudging nod of thanks, “Well that’s something.” She looks around the room again, at all the strange and marvelously horrid things. “Hypothetically speaking, if one wanted to learn magic from Mama Nettie, what sort of bargain might be required?”
Sent at 10:29 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Mebbe you find some ting for Mama? Mebbe you bring some ting some weyhr for Mama? Weeel see.”
Sent at 10:32 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Okay. I’m going to get my friend, we shall collect our stuff, and be on our way. Should we expect a dog attack on our way to the gate?”
Sent at 10:34 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Nooo. And eeef you wanna veesit Mama, you breeng Mama’s doggies some nice bonez,” she laughs. “Mama likes leetle weezard. Ha, ha, ha!” She leans back and puffs on her cigar.
Sent at 10:36 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Erm…thank you. Away with us then.” Turning, Tanzi bolts down the stairs.
Sent at 10:38 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Greep! Let dem go! Dere tings be een da meed lockahr,” calls Mama Nettie after you.
Sent at 10:40 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi slips past Greep and hurries towards Sand, muttering furiously and incoherently under her breath.
DM: Sand is there. He looks like he’ll never smile again.
Sent at 10:42 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi walks up to Sand, puts a hand on each of his shoulders, stares him in the face, and gives a slightly maniacal smile. She nods with each words she says. “We are both leaving here right now. Let’s get our stuff from the…meat locker an go. Everything is going to be okay. Right? You agree with me, right?”
Sent at 10:45 PM on Wednesday
DM: He nods glumly but seems uplifted by the prospect of leaving.
Sent at 10:47 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Okay. Let’s find the meat locker before Dazzle goes into hibernation.” Tanzi head back into the hallway.
Sent at 10:49 PM on Wednesday
DM: Sand actually knows where it is and you can gather your stuff. It was the room next door, which is hung with slabs of meat. Dazzle is in a small jar.
Sent at 10:50 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi immediately retrieves her snake friend, scooping him out of the jar and holding him up to her face. “You were terribly frightened, little snake, but I will keep you safe.” If Dazzle is strong enough to coil, she loops the critter around her neck so he can borrow some warmth. Then she grabs the rest of the stuff. Is the scribe-board there?
DM: Yes, everything. Dazzle is very happy to be next to your warmth.
Sent at 10:54 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi kicks the scribe-board, but not very hard. “I suppose I should return this. Do you know the way out, Sand?”
Sent at 10:55 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Through Mama Nettie’s kitchen. This one did not want Z to make bargain with Mama Nettie. But Mama Nettie tell this one only three bargains Mama Nettie give this one.”
Sent at 10:58 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Z is not happy about any of these bargains. Let’s leave. Maybe we can find a way to weasel out of them. Honestly, any arcane geis sealed with nothing more than spit has to have a loophole.”
Sent at 11:04 PM on Wednesday
DM: You gather your things pretty quickly. They have all been taken out and examined, it seems.
Sent at 11:06 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Having already cast detect magic long before becoming a chew toy, Tanzi merely glares at the intrusion and checks for any obvious alterations.
Sent at 11:08 PM on Wednesday
DM: (Spot roll?)
DM: Nothing obvious.
Sent at 11:10 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Good enough. Tanzi is ready to go.
DM: Do you want to pull any fast ones while exiting?
Sent at 11:12 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Unless there’s an open spellbook propped against slab of meat, no.
Sent at 11:13 PM on Wednesday
DM: Nope. Sand is ready and the two of you can exit through the kitchen and out the front door. As you go you hear Mama Nettie say, “Now don’t you be tinkin o treeckin Mama Nettie, now, leetle weezard. Don’t you be tinkin o hurtin Mama Nettie, now, sahvahj weet your greeet reeeege. Or Mama Nettie show you what greeet reeege be! Ah ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Sent at 11:16 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Oh, I wish she weren’t so mirthful,” Tanzi seethes quietly. “How did you come to hear of her, Sand?”
Sent at 11:23 PM on Wednesday
DM: As you leave and the living dogs watch you head towards the gate with the small “Beware of Dogs” sign on it, he says, “Twig tell this one can get Z hearing here by wise woman.”
Sent at 11:25 PM on Wednesday
Rue: Tanzi lifts her hand to point out the sign, but lets it drop before completing the motion. “What wise woman?”
DM: “Mama Nettie.” He seems confused by your question.
Sent at 11:27 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Sorry…maybe my hearing is still a little damaged. Twig sent us here. Of course.”
Sent at 11:28 PM on Wednesday
DM: Once you are free from the yard, Sand turns to you again. “Z, this one so sorry. This one cause too much trouble for Z. This one go and get blood pearl alone.”
Sent at 11:31 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “Don’t say that…this isn’t your trouble at all, Sand. It’s really…” Tanzi sighs and looks towards the sky. “It’s really Twig’s fault. Just plain maliciousness. I hope the floating castle falls on his head. But you may be right about staying clear of me. I think I’ve netted some bad-luck fish.”
Sent at 11:39 PM on Wednesday
DM: “Not Z’s fault!” says Sand, angrily. “Twig’s.” Then, ashamed, “And this one’s. This one is stupid.”
Sent at 11:41 PM on Wednesday
Rue: “You are not! I won’t hear such talk about my friends. And anyway, who’s to say that any bad has come of this? Mama Nettie insisted that you had made a good bargain. Maybe she’s not lying. Besides, no need to take a share of that reprobate’s shame. It was your good heart that lead you to believe Twig.”
“We should forget about it and remain friends.”
Sent at 11:47 PM on Wednesday
DM: Sand suddenly grabs you in an embrace and heaves a great sob. “Z is this one’s only friend. This one does not wish to leave Z.”
Rue: Tanzi hugs Sand in return, glad that the boy can’t see her own guilty expression. “What a coincidence. We shall be friends evermore.”
Crossroads of Fate
DM: You wake up.