Into the Carnival
Whatever caused the Kobolds to attack, it seemed to have flipped a switch. Our heroes tried to rest, but out of the darkness and mist came a pair of shambling, undead horrors. They latched onto Jurgen Jurgenson, attacking relentlessly, but the combined strength of the party managed to destroy them. The next day, as the sun started to set on another day of nothing, they saw shapes in the mist: Wagons. A great circle of them. A cheery, large-bellied man came out to meet them. Entry to the Carnival would only be a copper a piece.
Kallisti generously paid the entry for the lot of them, further handing out several silver pieces’ worth of coppers to pay for other shows and events. The party was wary of any place that would appear in such a mist, so they stuck together and waited with Jurgen as they prepared for the Brute, prophesied by what he saw on the poster. When the fight was about to begin, Tindal explained the rules: When the fight is over, it’s over. Don’t kill anyone.
He immediately asked about some kind of reward. The only truly acceptable reward, he decided, would be the hood. After handily crushing the masked man, he demanded it; the fighter pulled him away and explained that though he respected strength, he could not relinquish the hood. When pressed, he removed the hood, away from the wagons; he was an orc! He commented that he disliked the way that people looked at him, here; he preferred the anonymity of the mask. Of course, he said, it was perfectly dashing back home, but he wouldn’t go back. Jandar accepted his reasoning, and asked to trade then his axe for the javelins Jandar carried, which he eventually accepted.
The party went, next, to the House of Horrors. Kallisti fit in quite well here, enjoying herself immensely as she picked up conversations with the workers, in particular a wretched-looking man who ate all sorts of disgusting things and a fire-eating woman. she even went so far as to explain to the fire-eater about her cult—of course, no requirements on her part, just faith. Her bargaining was convincing enough that even over Serenity’s protestations, the young fire-eater was convinced. Assuming it didn’t require anything of her, of course.
But Kallisti, even still, was not impressed. ‘Where were the real horrors,’ she asked, and the bespectacled Doctor Pacali, who ran the House of Horrors, whispered that for another negligible fee, they could see the real scares. They paid, of course, and he took them into a dark tent near the back of the House. When he lit the torch sconce, they were treated to horrible, misshapen forms — some with three legs, some with horrible, bony hands, and others with misshapen mouths. They languished in cages sized just large enough for them to stand.
These truly caught everyone’s horror and interest. They spent what felt like hours trying to get the doctor to reveal the source of these abominations, but on that he was silent. They asked for passage, and he offered it… at a price, of course.
They decided that the only answers to their questions could be had from the mysterious owner of the entire establishment, Isolde. However, they could not entice a response from her wagon, no matter what they did.
As they did that, though, they were approached by three men — Tindal, a giant 10-foot-tall man with plain-looking features, and a thin, mostly-nude man covered in tattoos.
Joining the Carnival
They explained that they had had a few guests several hours before that had been a bit rude, but when they left all was fine. They’d gotten their reward. But then they’d realized that a certain alchemical recipe had been stolen, and it absolutely could not get out. The Carnival has no fighters, save for the Brute, and though Isolde could deal with it, she could not leave the Carnival behind. So the adventurers seemed the only option. Of course, if they could find the recipe and return it, then they might be offered safe passage with the Carnival through the mist…
They rested through the night and set off in the morning. The group was not hard to find, nor were they far ahead, and by the end of the first day, the party found themselves less than an hour behind, but they were too tired to force another hour of marching, so they broke for camp. Which is when another group of undead shambled in out of the mist; they were dispatched readily, but no one got to sleep that night but for a few hours.
The next morning, they caught the group up, and battle was joined. The heroes came out readily ahead, slaughtering them easily. They found the recipe and headed off back to whence they had come. Once again, though, ill fate befell them, and they fought a group of orcs that stumbled onto their encampment. Two of the orcs, fell, but in the course of the fight, Kallisti and Serenity both accidentally struck Jurgen, and he was nearly brought low, saved by some quick healing by Serenity.
On the next morning, though, they made it out safely, and returned to camp. Jurgen offered to trade a set of three massive axes they’d taken from the bodies of the orcs for the mask; when Kallisti offered to fashion something to replace it temporarily until someone could make a new one properly, he finally relented.
The party found some cots in one of the wagons and settled down for another night in the carnival…