MERP: The Water of Life and other Secrets

The party released Thalian and pointed him towards Carrock-en-bar. They left for the north and were pursued by the friends of Thalian. Guthbrand led the pursuers away and the party rejoined at a preset landmark, then proceeded on. They arrived at Amon Blanc at the edge of Mirkwood, an elven and human trading post that seemed a welcome relief from the dangers of the past.

Unfortunately, the “eyes” that Sigrbrand had been gathering proved to be a great danger. He showed them to a trader at the post and later that day the sky darkened unnaturally and many of the residents went insane with homocidal rage. After calming the afflicted, the party fled into the Greenwood, now realizing that some great power was seeking the eyes. They sought to find an elven retreat known to Miena, but failed to convince the trees to let them in. Suddenly they were attacked by spiders. Guthbrand and Ruti fought back, but Sigrbrand was unbothered and blocked their advance towards Miena. The Beorning cast a Sleep over the arachnids. Guthbrand gleefully readied himself to slaughter them in their repose, but Sigrbrand shouted for him to stop, as the creatures were no longer a danger. Guthbrand continued, killing one before Sigrbrand sought to Sleep his comrade. Guthbrand resisted but was half asleep when five dark-cloaked figures emerged from the woods. They served “the Gardener” and sought the return of the eyes of their comrades and promised no violence if they were provided. The party refused but combat was avoided when Miena managed to finally convince the trees and they moved deeper into the woods. Once in, however, they found themselves moving in circles until they took the eyes and cut them into pieces, burying them in a variety of places to keep them from being found.

Suddenly they found a gate opened to them in the woods, and moved inward. They found themselves in the Town of Quiet, populated by Sylvan elves who seemed to have been there forever. The elves fed them but told them little, and the party slowly realized that they were unable to leave. The elves told them of Vassilva and a human who had both left, though the elves could not understand why anyone would want to. Guthbrand found Vassilva’s log and Sigrbrand used Essence’s Ways to detect a possible exit, but they were unable to make use of it. They discerned eventually that the clearing was surrounded by a dark force in the shape of a hand, which kept them here. They returned to the elves and asked again, this time being quite obnoxious, poking the women and poking the men harder. When Sigrbrand snatched the bard’s lute away, three wolves appeared. The elves were frightened, for these creatures did not belong here. The party killed the wolves easily, and the next day tried again, this time managing to escape.

In the Greenwoods again, they traveled north, seeking “the place of silence” mentioned in Vassilva’s log. They came to a tomb filled with traps. After Ekram slipped into a yellow ooze and was badly injured, they left him, Miena, Johnboy, and Perry at the entrance. At a pit trap, Sigrbrand grew to 8 foot tall and descended, aiding the others across the pit safely before climbing out and returning to normal size. Coming to a smashing trap, Sigrbrand managed to snag a sabre (worth 20 gp., according to Guthbrand) from a dead body. They spotted an inviting chest in another room, but there was a row of nine foot skeletons along the south wall so they avoided that, moved past another pit trap (covered this time). Guthbrand’s Perception and Sigrbrand’s Detect Traps helped them through the tomb. When they came to a grated floor, Guthbrand ran across, narrowly avoiding a flaming death. Edric refused to go further but Mince chanced it, and was burnt to a crisp. Sigrbrand, Ruti, and Sahiel followed safely. Sigrbrand neutralized a spear trap by setting it off with a rock. As the trap reset, the party crossed and found an enormous trapdoor covered with alchemical symbols. Guthbrand pulled the lever next to it, but Ruti and he still had to strain to lift it. Under the trapdoor they found stairs descending. They came to a room filled with giant sarcophagi. One proved to have been recently opened, so Sigrbrand opened it. Another set of stairs descended. Below was a set of rooms. A man stood next to a pool of green liquid. Sigrbrand felt ill at ease and suspected that the man was much more than he seemed. Guthbrand scoffed and went forward to greet the man, who calmly explained the book they sought was on a platform in the center of the liquid, which all believed to be an acid as they had seen in the tomb above.

Eventually Sigrbrand cast Sleep X on the man, which worked. They tied him up and gagged him, and then explored further, finding two doors that had breathing (probably snoring) behind them. They sounded like bears and Sigrbrand was hopeful, but when they opened one they found a sleeping cave troll. Sigrbrand charmed it and the rest of the party hid (so it would not be distracted into attacking them). He had his new friend grab the book for him. Of course, the acid spurted up and the troll’s arm was melted to the bone and the creature blinded, but the book went flying into a corner where Sigrbrand retrieved it. Hoping to deceive their captive, he hid the book and then rejoined the others, asking them to untie the man and telling them he had the book. The man was wary, suspecting a trap. Sigrbrand was becoming even more convinced that he was more than he projected, though the man had correctly completed the Theladrin welcome in Waildryth. Sigrbrand again put the man to sleep and tied him up, depositing him a room with a door to keep him safe from the trolls. Then the party left. As they neared the entrance, they heard a great angry bellow and sounds of violence, then quiet, and an even greater bellow and a repeat of the sounds of violence. Sigrbrand took this as confirmation that the man had been much more dangerous than Guthbrand had thought.

Moving westward they eventually reached the outskirts of a village, but camped in the Greenwood, where they read the book.

The book was easily read, being in Westron. It was an account of the wars of the first age and spoke of Morgoth chained below Tol Sulereb in the Sea of Rhun. The Master of Truth was named as Alatar the Blue Wizard, who was trying to release Morgoth. The Master’s infiltration of western civilization is detailed. At the same time, Demetrios the Mad Gardener was trying to preserve elven retreats (such as the Town of Quiet) in Gardens (pocket universes) where they would be safe. He sought to hide ancient treasures there as well, motivated by his younger elven days and the songs he remembered from his youth. The Water of Life is revealed as the Tears of the Entwives, said to have been lost several hundred years ago in Mirkwood. At this point the players realize that the book includes part of their adventures, and it seems likely that their time in the Town of Quiet also was outside the normal timestream, and that they are at least hundreds of years in the future. They fear what they will find when they reach the nearby village.

About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
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