CAVES OF MADNESS
Welcome to Springvale! Usually, life in our small cozy valley is quiet and peaceful. So quiet that many of us have left the valley to seek our adventure elsewhere.
But recently, something has disturbed our quiet town and threatens our neighbors and loved ones! Some folks have come back home to defend our families and neighbors from the new threat.
Prologue: Mad Caves
Visitors to Springvale may hear about the Mad Caves, and how they are filled with both treasure and danger. The locals love to tell stories about the Mad Caves, but none of the locals actually believe the stories. Really, it’s just an old copper mine, abandoned by the Dwarves in our grandparents’ time. Isn’t it?
The place where the Mad Caves meet the sky resembles a fanged maw, carved that way by the Dwarves of old who tunneled the caves. Outside the caves, a sunny sky offers warmth and peace, but inside the cave mouth there is just perilous darkness.Image by: Sheila Thomson
Scene 1: Adventure Comes Calling
Dragon Rampant Inn, midday
The midday sun casts diamond shadows through the leaded windows of the Dragon Rampant tavern. The innkeeper, Burrick, tends the fire beneath a cauldron of garlic stew. A bard sits in the center of the room, plucking out a favorite folk-tune on a mandolin, not really performing since the place is still pretty empty.
The singer loses his place when the door to the tavern slams open and a man in a ragged cloak, muddy outfit, and one good boot storms and stumbles inside.
“Someone help us! Someone! Me mate, Wat! The beast in the Mad Caves is going to eat him up! We have to … hurry and … ugh!” The crazed fellow puts a hand to his head and his palm comes away bloody. “Someone … save Wat …”
The poor fellow collapses. As folk in the tavern rush to his side, he says, “We thought we could find treasures. We thought we could be heroic … like … in the tales, but … we …”
His eyes fall shut.
Ser Alwynn Registar II
Home is never completely dull. Burrick’s garlic stew never changes, either. Not in twelve years; always too much garlic, not a lot of chicken. Some potatoes on a good harvest, some carrots and wilted celery to fill in the gaps.
The musician is borderline good, for someone who hasn’t had classical training, but they’re no Tachnaliov, that’s for sure. But it’s a warm afteroon, and other than having a mild case of garlic breath, Ser Alwynn is being unobtrusive, eschewing the heavy armor of her calling in favor of a crisply pressed muslin shirt and heavy leather vest; her short horse blade hangs from the back of her chair.
She’s daydreaming of a better day, a better musician, and garlic stew that has more chicken and less garlic when the raving fellow comes barging in. That gets her attention, but the thing that draws her eye is the fact that the fellow has only one boot. That couldn’t have been fun to run on.
Nevertheless, Ser Alwynn is one of the first to the hapless man’s side. “Give him room!” she snaps, “Burrick! Hot water and some clean sheets if you have ‘em. I’ll cover the cost of the latter, but we need to find out how badly he’s wounded!”
- Step 1 of treating the injured: ascertain the nature of the injury.
- Step 2: if still alive, stop the bleeding first, then find the biggest injury and address it first.
- Step 3: Find a priest if one is available.
- Step 4: Find a physician if a priest is not available. However, Doc Levine retired a number of years ago, and didn’t have an apprentice. At best there might be a midwife about, unless that’s changed in her time away from Springvale.
- Step 5: If neither a physician nor a priest is available, pray for aid.
Ser Alwynn hates resorting to Step 5.
Burrick looks annoyed, but doesn’t argue with Alwynn. He motions for his daughter (currently tending the stew) toward the hot water, then leaves the room, probably in search of clean linens.
It turns out that the hapless adventurer is not injured that badly, at least not physically. His head is still bleeding, but not a huge amount. He is conscious, though he is babbling incoherently and not able to form actual sentences.
Burrick returns with some mostly-clean linens and towels and hands them to Alwynn. The injured man seems to recognize him; his eyes widen and he says “Burrick! You were right!” Then he goes back to babbling about Wat and how we have to hurry.
A small party enters, seemingly not connected to the madman, especially given their immediate reactions to him. Someone who is apparently a healer of some stripe heads over and does what she can, with no signs of any particular recognition toward him. By the time the Elf enters, the madman is so surrounded that it’s likely she doesn’t see him, and indeed she is looking at the members of the newest group.
She is tall, with black hair and green eyes, wearing sensible, if exotic, clothing in shades of the forest. As with Elves in general she has a somewhat alien beauty. If her presence draws attention from the madman she won’t seem to notice, nor will she be unduly concerned if the attention stays on him.
Gravitating toward the newly-arrived party, she finally sees the madman, and gives him a long looking over, though with no offers of help or especial concern. She does notice the innkeeper, however, and when the other members of her party seem to be concerned with the madman, she approaches Burrick.
“Good afternoon, sir,” she begins, with a moderately accented tone and no apparent irony at his title. “My companions are native to this town and have a place to stay, but I am not.” This she says with a faint overtone, possibly one of humor. She continues, “May I trouble you for the price of food for all of us and a room for myself for some number of nights, as few as one or as many as necessary?”
Her companions, still half-distracted with the madman, smile at her formal tone and look over hopefully at the stew when she mentions picking up the tab for at least that part of a meal.
Gandador Blackfire is gobbling down garlic stew. It has too much garlic. Too much fire. It’d be good if he wanted to hurl fireballs at some monsters but it upsets his water magic. He gives a loud burp as the mad stranger enters. As people rush to the stranger’s side, he leisurely waddles over. He belches again and uses the garlic energy to try and get the stranger to focus.
Burrick takes one look at Mirheniel and recognizes an opportunity. Before today he had seen maybe one or two High Elves in his lifetime. Based on her appearance, he knows right away that she won’t bother to carry coppers and will probably pay for everything in silver. Plus, just having her around will give the poor roadside inn an instant upgrade.
He immediately stops what he is doing and shifts from Your-Buddy-Burrick to Squire-and-Footman-Burrick. “You are certainly most welcome. Let me show you to a room. Risa here will take your pack and bring fresh linens. Our stew is… a local favorite… but may be too spicy for your preference. Perhaps you would prefer the duck with spring onions?”
He ushers Mirheniel to the stairs, and gestures for his daughter to take the guest’s pack and follow quickly.
Meanwhile, the adventurer continues babbling incoherently, right up to the moment when the wizard comes up to him. Gandador Blackfire snaps his fingers once, and the guy immediately shuts up and turns to focus on the wizard.
After a moment he says, quite clearly, “Is that garlic? It’s quite hot in here, isn’t it?”
Now he seems awake and aware, and just a little embarrassed at the scene he just created. “Sorry,” he says, “it’s just that Wat is my friend. It was stupid to go there, but I can’t leave him.” He seems almost ready to talk.
Ser Alwynn Registar II
Burrick is a man trying to make an honest living; Ser Alwynn can’t fault him for that. But his way of telling tall tales of treasure and adventure to the locals is likely to get someone killed; at first glance, the crazed fellow has blood everywhere, but some quick and efficient cleaning of the excess reveals but a light gash on the forehead. Might leave a scar.
At least Burrick has the sense to drop off the linens before he gets distracted by another customer; she can see why, because Elves are rare in these parts, and an entourage that size (locals: hangers on?) surely will help get Burrick through the season better than making money off of watered beer and tips.
Ser Alwynn has the grace to not get annoyed when the Elf pretty much sweeps off with the tavernkeeper -and- his daughter; she’s got what she needs for the moment.
The paladin begins prodding him lightly for other injuries when a gust of garlic breath worthy of the ‘dragon’ of the eatery on King’s Way comes torrenting over her shoulder.
Her senses tell her that there’s also a magic component involved, but it could also be the obvious trappings of a wizard, and a well-fed one at that, standing behind said shoulder. The snap of the fingers is more effective than any healing she could have mustered on short notice; the man sits up and speaks coherently.
Huh. she thinks. That’s impressive. I would have resorted to something more like wasabi, but I doubt Burrick has any here.
“Easy now.” she says, in her best calming voice. The kind she uses on wild horses. “It’s a little warm, yes. And you and Wat aren’t from around here, or you’d know that the “Mad Caves” that Burrick has been filling your head with is naught more than an old copper mine, played out ages ago. Supposedly it’s haunted by dwarves of old, but it was sealed up after the last mining accident. You look like you’ve gotten your head hit by falling rock; I’d believe that more than monsters being after you and your friend. “If you can stand, you’ll be leading us back there. Once we get you another boot, anyway.” she suggests, then raises an eyebrow at the wizard hovering over her suggestively. “This a friend of yours, or would you like to come along as well?”
Wat takes a breath and looks around at the friendly strangers tending to him. “Thanks to you, all of you, for the help.”
He then looks back at Alwynn. “No, it weren’t the mine, it were the catacombs. You can’t get in through the temple, but there’s a dry well you can climb down. That leads to some crypts. That’s where we found the monster.”
Burrick enters the room again, leading the elf back down the stairs. “He’s likely right… I did see them talking to Brother Conway, and then they all left together. Best to check with Conway… he is likely at the temple about now.”