Fast Acts & Subterfuge

A Dangerous Gift

It wasn't great, but it would have to do. For an hour or three each evening, night or early morning, while he had been staying at the Three Flowers, Timm had been working on a map. A map that linked the three kindoms of Zuc Swain to the current world of Kempin. Starting with Darkhold and filling in cities and ports that he had visited or knew of, Timm drew as detailed a map as he could.

In the empty seas, he added trade lanes and currents along with notes and arrows pointing off map and giving estimates to distant lands he was yet to travel. Along the coasts, he placed the ports, towns and cities he had been to. To the north of the three kingdoms he noted the Plains of Sharonth, the Azure Kingdom and the Feron-Jacob Empire. To the Southwest he noted the Cauldron, Toroga, Eldermont, the Red Jungle, the Chain and as a last touch, Timm shaded in the areas in the Grey Kingdom and Wilds that corresponded to the three kingdoms.

The Chaos Continues

As Shade headed off to meet with the witch who castrated him, Timm started towards Trois Fleurs. First, he challenges the local boy over a girl he doesn't really care about and now he's going to challenge or plead with the boy’s mother. Timm couldn’t help shaking his head as he quickened his pace back to the inn.

Back at the Trois Fleurs, it was just starting to pick up and would be busy soon. Timm headed straight up the stairs to his room. The map was still there, in the same place he had left it when he went to the cemetery to meet Shade. He grabbed the pen, dipped it and signed the map in the bottom right corner.

Grabbing the letter, he had penned earlier that morning, Timm rolled it up with the map and placed both in a scroll case he had purchased in town earlier in the week. Letter, map, check…orb, book…check. He was ready to leave but could hear the noise downstairs. It was already full and he was sure to run into someone.

While listening at the door and wishing he had a way to get down to the alley without being seen, Timm felt lightheaded and swooned. Holding on to the wall and still leaning in and listening, a light breeze and rancid smell startled him. Pulling his ear away from the door, Timm looked behind him to see an empty alley. The wall he was leaning on, wasn’t his room…it was the outside of the Inn…there was no door. He was outside. Disturbed, but focused, Timm pulled up his hood and headed towards Bertrand’s Shop, while trying not to attract any attention.

A New Gift

At the shop, Timm tells Bertrand he will be leaving in a few days and is not sure if he’ll be able to visit again. He then asks to buy a map to <insert other town somewhere in the three kingdoms.> While Bertrand is grabbing the map, Timm places the scroll case with map he’s been working on, alongside some of Bertrand’s current projects, on a shelf Timm had seen him pull from many times during their conversations…it blended in well.

They said their farewells and parted ways. Timm headed back towards the Trois Fleurs Inn, using a route that passed behind the temple of Kempin. The small window in the southwest corner of the building had been the only outside illumination when they had met François originally. Picturing the room they had been in, Timm imagined himself there…only a dozen feet from where he currently was.

Timm swooned and for a moment was lightheaded. It was darker and the air was damp…he was inside the temple. Looking around, not much had changed since last time they were here. Turning the corner and almost running into him, François exclaimed in surprise as Timm caught his shoulders.

The Proposal

“I do not have time for words or explanations…we are back, but there is a complication…can you remove this cursed item. Can you remove all of them…some of the others are similarly cursed?”, Timm asked as he revealed the girdle he could not remove. “If you can do this, then we will turn over the book you seek…and we do not have much time…I am sure the theft from the tower has been noticed.”

<Timm will ask François to uncurse him/the armor to show that he can actually do it, while wondering out loud if Zuc is able to track them due to these items they stole from the tower…softly so no one overhears them in the temple…and how quickly they can get these ‘tracking devices’ removed. He will use his newfound ability to leave the temple and then go back to the party. If Francois was able to remove the cursed item, Timm will let the party know that Francois has that ability and used it on Timm. If Francois was unable to, then Timm will go back to the party and chat about Shades plan…and if any of them have any idea what the hell he is talking about with this angels of communication shit. In either case, Timm says he’s checking out of the inn, heads over and settles up with Rose and goes upstairs to grab his gear...mumbling something about a world with no oceans.>

The rolls:
Timm rolled three times to make the map. 2, 11, and 14…not great.

Timm rolled an 8 to hide the scroll case at Bertrands.
Timm rolled a 16 to fool Francois. Timm has Deception proficiency and the minor skill acting.
Timm rolled 18, 2 and 9 while sneaking around town trying not to be noticed…so someone probably saw him.
Timm rolled a 17 for the other deception roll. Timm has Deception proficiency and the minor skill acting.


DM CONTINUES STORY (Based on Conversations with Mark Simon)

“I do not have time for words or explanations…we are back, but there is a complication…can you remove this cursed item. Can you remove all of them…some of the others are similarly cursed?”, Timm asked as he revealed the girdle he could not remove. “If you can do this, then we will turn over the book you seek…and we do not have much time…I am sure the theft from the tower has been noticed.”

Francois stepped closer, and ran a hand over the flame patterns on the girdle.  "Yes...we can remove cursed items.  I can do that, and others here at the Temple.  It is a simple matter, really.  I would need to see the cursed items, and I'd need half a day to research them.  I would not want to blow you up...or get blown up in the effort."

Timm looked concerned.  "Blown up?"

Francois shrugged.  "I believe the girdle you are wearing is triggered whenever a spell is cast upon you.  A spell is cast...BOOM...Fireball, centered on you."

Timm looked down at the flame patterns on the girdle.  His mind wandered back to the decision to try out all of the items from the vault.  "Um...I'd like this off sooner than later."

Francois smiled.  A bead of sweat rolled down from his forehead and onto his cheek.  "Yes, let's do that.  I have a work-around."  Francois walked to his bank of book shelves and began scanning the books.  "Here...this one.  Has a version of a remove curse spell that should not trigger the failsafe."

Timm swallowed hard.  "Should?"

Francois shrugged again.  "Magic is a strange and many-varied thing.  It should do the trick.  I will be in as much danger as you.  I'm willing.  Are you?"

Timm smiled nervously.  "Yeah...wearing a magic belt that explodes when a spell is cast on you...when you are in a pocket universe full of magic...seems like a bad place to be."

Francois began thumbing through the ancient tome, looking for the correct version of the divine spell.  "Most of our spells are a divine gift.  But, when we learn a work around as important as this one...we tend to write it down."  He laughed nervously.  "Here we go.  Are you ready?"


Several minutes later, the flame-embossed girdle falls from Timm's waist, with a loud thunk on the floor.  "We still here?"

Francois laughed.  "We're still here."

Timm stepped away from the girdle.  "I'm fairly sure that Zuc-Swaine will learn of our raid on the Tower quite soon."

Francois sat on the corner of his desk.  "Wise.  I would suspect he already knows.  Things are going to get pretty rough around here."

Timm pulled out the Tome of Infinite Worlds.  "I think this would be safer here, than on me, or anywhere I could think to hide it.  But, I need your assurance that you will removed the cursed items from friends."

Francois nodded.  "Of course.  I would do so, book or no book.  I am a holy man...and cursed items such as these are an abomination.  But, I agree...the book will be safer here.  I have places I can hide it.  If I am interrogated, I have ways to resist revealing its existence...and location.  If you trust me with it, I will keep it safe until you and your friends are ready to go home.  In the meanwhile, I will study the book in secret, and find a formula that should bring you back to your Kempin when you are ready."

Timm looked at the ancient book in his hands.  So much rested on this one item.  This one book.  "I do trust you."  Timm handed the book to Francois.

Francois nestled the book under his arm.  "I won't let you down."


    • Mark Stinson

      Based on a conversation I had with Mark Simon on 4/25/22, I've added to the end of this story.  The part I added is clearly marked.


      • Marcus Auerilius

        The Letter to Bertrand

        <rolled up with the map in the scroll case Timm hid in Bertrand's shop>

        So you have found my gift to you...I wish I had had more time to work on it. I tell you my friend, Kempin is not destroyed...that is where I am from. At some point during our conversations and time spent together you had to suspect. My excuses for my stories, when I'd forget that none here have sailed the seas and oceans. Explanations for my tattoos and the creatures that none here have seen in over 500 years. My tendency to speak of Kempin in the present tense and hesitancy to speak of magic.

        I was born near Eldermont, east of Toroga and south of where these three kingdoms used to lay. By chance, I came to Darkhold and was hired to close the Gate of Oth, a passage to the Fey realms. After encountering Fey, Giants, Rangers, and Undead, I finally made it to the gate and succeeded in closing it, but was stuck on this side. Here, well maintained buildings and residents replaced ghostly ruins I had walked through days and hours before in the area we call the Wilds.

        On Kempin, the dragon, Twigtail, has been dead for over 50 years. The Heroes of Eldermont were credited with that and among them was my father...he helped search the cave it was using to ascend and believe it or not, dissect the dragon's corpse. Even with the dragon gone and all these things are most likely related, the situation did not improve back home. Around fifty years ago, the Corpse King attacked Kempin just after a huge battle between the Swalduni-Targ alliance and pretty much everyone else. Almost all users of magic died instantly, the gods stopped responding to prayers and the undead rose everywhere. It was pandemonium and chaos. Almost all the defenders...soldiers, mercenaries, war mages, priests... had all perished in the huge battle. There were none left to defend the civilians and helpless...and they lost and then rose as undead shortly after.

        The invasion ended and the tide has been slowly turning in favor of humanity. Of the other races, I cannot say, they seem to have retreated or they were destroyed, I do not know...occasionally I encounter a lone member of a race most are suspicious of, or hostile to, but now days in Kempin, that's any non-human. When I left, users of magic were not tolerated and frequently were actively hunted and killed. The aftermath of the attack by the corpse king invloved an increase in undead where was safe. Most communities were just getting into recovery and few had thrived.

        Darkhold was an exception. Somehow, after Twigtail's attack, it had thrived for centuries and was not as affected by the Corpse King's attack. Something about the Gate of Oth and it's arrangement with the Fey realms protected it. The Wilds, the area that used to be inhabited by these three kingdoms, is a huge corrupted forest. If the three kingdoms were to return to Kempin, ZS would easily be able to conquer the rest. None of them have magic. They cannot use spells or prayers to heal, they must rely on bandages and medics...all while fighting undead incursions and outbreaks. There are many new settlements along the coast, but the interior has not been penetrated.

        Thank you for your friendship, knowledge and experience!  I truly hope our paths cross again.

        Perhaps you should burn this letter.

        Best regards,

        Timm Valorson - Navigator. Eldermont, Kingdom of Eldermont, Kempin.



        • Chris Snevets

          Angels of Communication - St. Gabriel, to spread the word of truth about Kempin and the three kingdoms.