Collectively we have decided that Kurdle Kutknott’s attack upon Briarton cannot go unanswered. We set off for Concord the next morning – although the journey will take several days, we had no reason to think the trip would be eventful.
Brash, Selly and I had no sooner left the Greenbriar Inn when we were approached by our cousin Cormak. It seems that Cormak’s has a wife named Gretchin. Gretchin had run off with Brash years ago. Now, since Brash’s departure, she has returned to Cormak. Cormak wants Brash to return and take Gretchin back. Brash declined.
They were still arguing about who was going to return the next morning when we noticed a large number of merchant wagons on the side of the road and a young child and her mother being treated for injuries.
None of the wagons appeared to be damaged, so I suspected a collision was not the cause – I inquired as to the nature of the injuries and learned that some “huge beastie” was blocking travel. The tradesmen were willing to wait for the beast to clear the road, but we Cragshapers were on a mission – so we sprang into action.
A short distance along the road we saw the beast: a stegosaurus. It was devouring a patch of clover. While I mulled stratagems to safely harry the beast from the road, I noticed numerous compsognathus in the high grass – obviously the source of the injuries we saw earlier.
As I was conveying the presence of the conglomerate of compsognathus, Brash announced he was going to take the beast and ride it away from the road. He shouted a war cry and charged. The beast raised its head at the commotion and with a surprising alacrity for its size turned sideways and tail-slapped Brash into the air and off into the distance.
I began the Song of Heroes as Selly and I dispatched a pair of the compies – which the locals call “Dainty Lizards”, the swarm attacking Brash scattered back into the high grass, but did not flee.
Meanwhile, Cormak had driven the beast far enough from the road to allow travel to commence. We spent a few minutes ensuring the lizards were well underway and returned to the road to continue our journey.
The rest of the trip to Concord was uneventful, and after securing accommodations for our stay, we set our for the market square to investigate Kurdle Kutknott’s whereabouts.
A brief reconnaissance of the square revealed no Kurdle or associates, so I began to inquire the tradesmen who had set up booths – unfortunately this meant purchasing a vast quantity of minor baubles, tchotchkes and gewgaws. Selly helpfully offered to carry them while I talked.
As I was haggling with a vendor and trying to steer the conversation to Kurdle’s location, there arose a commotion nearby. Selly had wandered off and angered on of the other vendors – an angry shout and a flash of smoke later and Selly was alone in a 20ft circle of space everyone in the square willfully ignored.
I turned back to my conversation and asked what just happened, indicating Selly. The vendor informed me that Mad Cursey McCurseface was a local, crackpot with a short temper and a penchant for curses. As Selly returned he unceremoniously dumped the sack of merchandise we had acquired that morning and stormed off with a figurative cloud of maledictions floating about him in a haze.
I redirected Brash to intercept Selly and make sure he didn’t wander far, and after a few queries learned that Mad Cursey McCurseface was a former apprentice of Oldy McDeadface, who has cursed numerous citizens of Concord, including another apprentice who frequents the Concordian.
Blindly McBlindface the cursed apprentice was easy to find, and his affliction had taken his sight. He was eager to help us break Selly’s curse in the hopes that he would be cured as well. He told us of a local crypt – Crypty McCryptface, which I knew to be originally known as Irongate. We discussed its history on the journey there.
Blindly McBlindface told me about a magical wand located within the crypt that would have the power to remove the curses. He described it in detail – his description was more of a sceptre than of a wand. He also informed us that once we had procured it he would divulge the ritual necessary to break the curses.
As Irongate came into view, it was immediately apparent that dwarves had not been involved in the construction – it was in severe disrepair, and the namesake gate was almost completely rusted through, as was the iron statue in the entryway.
We quickly located the stairway down, and Blindly McBlindface wished us luck but refused to enter. As we made our way down the stairs, one of my companions triggered a trap and the stairway flattened into a slide.
We landed in a heap at the foot of the stairway and found ourselves surrounded by swarms of venomous myriapods. While an imposing obstacle to the average citizen of Concord, they proved but a minor nuisance to a group of Cragshapers.
The next room was a large chamber with a granite throne upon a dias in the center and a sarcophagus to the side. Behind the throne was an arcane sigil representing Oldy McDeadface and upon the throne was a weathered pointed hat. Evenly distributed in a half circle were eighteen daggers, each bearing the same sigil etched into the wall behind the throne.
As I was studying the sigil, Brash grabbed the wizard hat and as he was about to place it on his head, a pair of daggers launched themselves off the wall at him. Simultaneously, Selly had pushed against the cover of the sarcophagus and a pair of daggers launched at him as well.
I cast a knock at the lid of the sarcophagus, which promptly opened for me, but this time four daggers launched themselves at me. Thankfully, Cormak was attentive enough to interpose his shield and catch the daggers with it. Inside the sarcophagus was a multitude of wizardry items – but no body. I immediately noticed a ivory case large enough to hold the sceptre we sought.
As I contemplated how to avoid the next series of dagger attacks, Brash opened the case and found the sceptre we sought. As he lifted it from the case, numerous daggers impaled him in the back. He fell unconscious to the ground; the sceptre slipped from his hand and came to rest against Selly’s foot.
I urged Cormak to drag Brash from the room to safety, while Selly should throw me the sceptre and join them. I then used prestidigitation upon the large sigil by the throne in an effort to confuse the dagger’s target acquisition. My ruse was successful, I was able to exit with the sceptre unimpeded.
As the four of us emerged into sunlight once again, we hailed Blindly McBlindface to inform him of our success. He described the ritual necessary to break the curses, and the final step involved destroying the sceptre. The ritual would also only affect the afflicted within a small localized effect.
I knew that we only had one chance to break the curse on Selly, and that the unlucky Concord citizens would have to remain cursed until some other way was found to save them. I carefully followed the ritual steps, and snapped the sceptre, breaking the curses on Blindly McBlindface and Selly.