The Measure of Man

Missing Villagers, Strange Clues

Caliam and Tabris returned to Elinvale in hopes of meeting up with Valerian and to gather their things for a trek into the unknown. Eager to discover what the scarecrow was up to and where the missing farmers were Tabris left Caliam at Chance’s Cups to gather a few odds and ends from his alchemical lab. His purpose cut short as upon returning home along the outskirts of the village he noticed a disturbance had occurred within. His parents were no where to be found, signs of a struggle could be found along the floor in the common room. Tabris found a bit of shell broken off in his parents lab and fearing the worst hurried back to ask Caliam for assistance.

With Valerian in tow the group headed to Tabris’ home. As they had passed through the village they had picked up a couple of followers, some of the children that had pranked back and forth with Tabris. They stayed well out of way and did not disturb the party who carefully looked over the home and began to understand the recent assault. Caliam tracked down the path out that the creatures took. He saw that Bris’ parents were drug out to the stable and loaded into a wagon that was then lead off down the road out of Elinvale. They decided to follow the tracks from this point, heading off down the road warily, pausing only to scare of the children from following them into a bad situation. It was then that they learned that one of the more rambunctious of the children was missing as well.

For hours they followed after Caliam, coming into his own feeling all the training he had received in the past gel in the need of the moment. Onward the trail twisted and turned running in a westerly direction dipping slowly to the south. Deep into the forest they traveled and finally came upon a clearing in the tree line and a low row of hills near the edge of a tributary of the Erindere river. In the dim light of dusk no shapes could be seen as the air hung quiet save for the bubbling stream. Caliam eased ahead, proving the most skilled at stealth of the group. Weaving his way between a pair of the hills he noticed a small passage cut along the base of the hill leading into the earth between two fingers of the tributary. He noticed as well that the wagon tracks didn’t cut as deep into the earth after passing past the passage and surmised Bris’ parents had been off loaded and taken within the earth.

Caliam returned to the waiting pair and together the covered the distance and entered into the earth. A chamber spread out before them dominated by a still pool of water with a crescent of land circling it leading to a passage on each end. Strange sounds could be heard along the passage to their right clicking or gibbering too faint to be clearly understood. Valerian stared into the water intrigued by its slight violet hue. He reached down and dipped his finger in feeling nothing beyond the expected coolness of the water. He licked his palm and could detect no unique flavor in the liquid. They decided to check out the quieter passageway to their left before disturbing whatever was making the sound along the right side.

Valerian trailed behind half a step still pondering the still pool and what secrets it could hold. When a golden hued form flashed before his eyes, startling him. No features could be made out just a humanoid form. This shape seemed to be following after Caliam walking mere inches off his right shoulder. Valerian called out to Caliam, warning him of danger which neither Tabris nor Caliam could see. Ardent in what he was seeing Valerian described the shape to the two of them inciting Caliam to draw his blade and slash out around himself to hopefully catch the entity. To Valerian’s eyes it seemed to follow Caliam’s strikes with ease moving minimally and staying ever at Caliam’s back. Then as suddenly as it was there it vanished from Valerians eyes in the matter of a blink.

Another chamber lay just a few steps down the passage, it was clear save for a wooden stand in the center of the room. Caliam and Tabris readied themselves, recognizing it as a likeness for the one they had seen the scarecrow they had encountered earlier step down from. Another chamber could be seen through a small passage at the far end of the room. Silence answered their quickened breaths as they continued to the back room. Inside could be seen a large mirror with wooden frame dominating the center of the chamber. Along the walls could be seen several tables and crates with shiny bits laying upon them. As Tabris and Caliam circled around the mirror to observe the shiny bits Valerian approached the mirror, and much to his curiosity reflected within was a different chamber with a suit of armor standing at attention along a stone wall. Valerian reached out and touched the window wondering if it were a portal to this other room, the moment his finger touched the silvered glass the armor took a step off its stand and oriented itself toward the mirror.

Quickly the armor crossed the distance to the mirror and stepped through into their chamber, as Valerian called out quickly to get Tabris and Caliam’s attention. The armor, elaborate full plate turned to face the three purple light could be seen glowing through the helm’s eyes. It drew a longsword from its sheath and combat was joined. Valerian took a vicious swing and dropped while Caliam managed to work a blade between its guard. Tabris deciding that more threats could still be coming started working his alchemical knowledge to shatter the magical portal. Which drew the attention of the armor and with quick steps and a heavy hand laid the young alchemist low. Caliam withdrew to the rooms entrance drawing his bow hoping to draw the armor away from a killing blow. A shatter resounded about the room as the scarecrow stepped through the mirror expending the last of its strength causing it to shatter behind him.

With a command the armor halted and the scarecrow sighed at Caliam, entreated him to see first to the aid of his companions. Once death was halted and Tabris returned to consciousness the scarecrow apologized for his guardian’s zealousness. Questions were answered, the missing villagers were being held for observation under the strange affects of the still pool. The scarecrow entreated Caliam and Tabris to share in the villagers ordeal and offered them each a vial of the liquid to consume. Which they did, each having a vision like experience seeing far off places happening or yet to happen. The scarecrow produced a ledger and hastily wrote down their experience nodding and whispering to itself. At Tabris’ mention of his vision the scarecrow frowned and suggested that they would be needed for observation. The Scarecrow left for a moment, returning with a pack of creatures that had so vexed Caliam’s tracking. Mongrelmen each with a myriad of animalistic features no two alike their tracks difficult to ascertain. With a carried Valerian they were led back to the still pool and around to the chamber where earlier they had heard the strange sounds from.

Once within the chamber they were greeted to the sight of goblins with twisted malformed heads bulbous and ugly with sores. Tentacles burst from varied locations about their bodies, mouths snapping open and closed with terrible fangs along the tendrils. The scarecrow shared his fear that Tabris may turn out like these vile creatures and lead the group out into the open air and to another of the hills. Entering within they passed by a guard chamber with a few more of the mongrelmen watching over and came into a vast chamber deep in the earth, lined along the edges with sturdy wooden polls forming a cage along each wall. Several of the villagers could be seen in the faint light as Tabris and Caliam were lead to the center of the room. Caliam bristled at their imprisonment and demanded their release, with which the scarecrow shook his head no. Tabris realizing their situation momentarily startled the mongrelmen by calling on his heritage and flooding the room with brilliant light shaking off his captor’s hands and running for the chambers exit.

The mongrelmen gave pursuit and quickly subdued the young alchemist carrying him back to the chamber and tossing him in the eastern will with the largest population. Caliam stood his ground refusing to enter captivity, causing the scarecrow to have to strike him senseless to get him in a cage.

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Thinning frost, Strange meetings

First day of spring, last night of winter some few people of the village of Elinvale beheld a strange sight. A pulse of blue radiating from the top tower a sudden flash then gone.

Come morning the town and surrounding environs were frost free. Caliam took note as his caravan came across the frost free zone. Early out this year to continue his training with his mentor, leaving ill portents back home traveling into a uncertain future. Arriving shortly afterwards to Elinvale Caliam stopped by Chance’s Cups for a hot meal and sought out some gossip as to what the thaw was about, noticing that slowly during the day the area was getting warmer. Met only with a stare and a superstitious gesture his inquires were rudely ignored.

Valerian awoke early feeling a strangeness about the forest and took note of the line of frost, decided to investigate, ending up in the village. Walking through he noticed how lively it seemed, people teeming in the streets strange during the last throws of winter. The phenomena extended throughout the village of a frost less ground and warmer air. Bris caught sight of Valerian, surprised to see him in town and steered him to Chances’ Cups for a bit of food and a place to sit and talk.

Overhearing Caliam’s questions Bris approached bringing Valerian along in tow and proceeded to provide his recollection of the prior nights events. This grabbed Caliam’s attention and it was decided they needed to get into the tower and get some answers from the resident. As they discussed Caliam looked over and noticed one of the wagon captains seated, realizing his company may be holding the contract to make deliveries to the tower. He joined their table and started a discussion aiming to take over the delivery. He was making headway until Bris and Valerian entered the conversation and threw off the Wagon captain’s trust. After sending them away Caliam managed to talk the captain down to allowing Caliam to come along when they made their delivery.

Bris steered Valerian over to Jake’s for a few drinks in the mean time. Cracking a smile at Melli’s attention Bris ordered round after round convincing Valerian that the experience would be insightful and add to his experiences in a profound way. Caliam located the pair and after a mug himself decided to seek out the tower and examine it instead of waiting the two days till delivery. Bris hiccuped and pulled a pair of beads from a pouch handing one to a tipsy Valerian. A bit of alchemist’s kindness cleared up the alcohol’s effects and the group was on their way.

After dealing with some childish mischief Bris and the others came upon the tower and began looking around it. The smooth stone walls rebutted their perspectives till Caliam shook off the effects of an illusion that covered up a brass knocker affixed to the wall. He grasped the knocker and knocked five times slowly. Valerian managed to see past the illusion as Caliam knocked leaving only Bris unable to will his way past the warding. A door formed in the wall and opened permitting Valerian and Caliam into the tower. As they entered Bris headed home to gather his components seeking to make a door if one would not be revealed to him.

Light blossomed in the hallway Caliam and Valerian found themselves in, leading to a circle of runes that came to light as came to stand near. After a moment’s hesitation Caliam and Valerian perceiving that this was a teleport circle stepped within the circle of runes and vanished. They appeared in a barren chamber square in shape and devoid of furniture. Several minutes passed while Caliam and Valerian searched the walls for an exit, only stopping when they noticed a third form standing with them in the room. The cloaked form spoke in a dry wooden voice, “The master is not to be disturbed.” And responded by a set of chosen words to any other query. Caliam and Valerian realized they were in the presence of a construct devoid of original thought. It gestured to the slowly fading sigil’s of the circle as what they should do. It crossed the runes spoke a word of power and vanished from sight.

Caliam still undaunted in his desire to speak with the wizard of the tower mimicked the word of power and then stepped across the runes vanishing himself. Valerian followed Caliam speaking the word then stepping into the runs. They both found themselves transported back to where they began, though the construct was no where to be found. They exited the tower in frustration deciding to come back when the delivery was next to be scheduled and nearly ran into Bris. While they were within the tower Bris had returned to his home and found it a mess, as if a struggle had occurred recently and found a bit of shell lying in his fathers chamber. Caliam decided to check in with his mentor to see if he was available for guidance. Yet found his home empty that he was out on his rounds having not expected Caliam for several weeks.

Valerian decided to return to his home and gather his things, that his spells may be of use. In the mean time Caliam and Bris go out on patrol along the outskirts of the village and the surrounding farms and all seems well till they find one farm devoid of life. A quick search located the tracks of a wide assortment of creatures, to many separate tracks to be true. A small struggle had taken place in the common room, all the horses and animals set loose. And a strange scarecrow seen on a stand near the main house. Caliam immediately settled into caution and approached the scarecrow warily. It stood out strange, nearly brand new and dew free. The air which had been warm all morning and into the afternoon grew cold as he approached the figure. With a simple dagger and prodded the scarecrow shocked to find it tough and with little give, not straw filled as he expected. Caliam withdrew a pace commenting “That’s no Scarecrow” Which prompted the creature to slowly drop itself down and respond in kind, “Indeed I am sir.” After a tense few moments Caliam and Bris were able to perceive that this creature was incredibly dense of form and had long claw link fingers, a wide brim hat and a stitched mouth covered by a flap of leather. Words passed, questions of nature and it nature went answered unsatisfactorily.

The creature offered to show Caliam and Bris which way the farmers were taken and proceeded to walk off at a gait only a construct could. Caliam and Bris let the thing walk off out of sight, content to follow it at a later time then at that moment. The Scarecrow passed Valerian’s path as he headed back toward the village, he kept out of view and marveled at the strange sight.

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