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Dark Reading, an Elven Fire Mystery

What Really Happened (and a Map!) - For Gamemasters Only!

Before reading the following introduction to the players, have each attempt a 4vIQ, 5vIQ, and 6vIQ roll. Note any successes in each associated parenthetical below.

You are in a tavern, when a well-dressed page named Pinclod summons you to the nearby castle of Lady Ivera and Lord Rilnn. The castle is elegant and well-kept, with colorful flags flying from the ramparts and several gardeners visible tending the flowering blossoms in well-manicured gardens. The drawbridge descends silently, and the main door appears recently updated. On entry, the adventurers see a door next to a pair of crossed swords with an arbalest hung beneath; a man is seated at a table (on 5vIQ, they will notice well-matched patches in his trousers), but Pinclod stops you with “No, no, it's the Lady who seeks your services” and leads you up a steep stairway to a balcony.

Lady Ivera is waiting, her face a mask of grief and dressed in a black gown with much jewelry (6vIQ to notice that two of the pieces are well-made fakes). She hears you are honest people, and has a job for which she will pay $20k – on your word you will return what she lost.

She says her childhood friend Lord Ennydanough was killed just this morning in a labyrinth about 15 miles from the castle. It was his second foray; on the first, he found a large iron chest that was well-protected, with both traps and a mental lock. Yesterday, he had asked to borrow a book of Knock 5 from Lady Ivera's extensive book collection (she collects), but the only copy she had also contained 23 other abilities – a quite valuable book valued at over $40k. After much pleading and calling on childhood loyalties, she had loaned it to him.

She gestures to an open side door while talking. (On 4vIQ the adventurers see a small man with horn-rimmed glasses removing a book from the shelf. If questioned, she will identify him as Qua-Enoy, a local scribe who rebinds her aging books on occasion, and also keeps his eyes open for new books she may wish to acquire.)

Around 10 am, the largest Dwarf she had ever seen arrived at the gate and pled his way inside. He was dressed in chainmail, with a huge battle axe in hand and an arbalest worn effortlessly on his back – layers of grime and blood testified he had come straight from a labyrinth. He claimed to have encountered Lord Ennydanough, painfully briefly, in one such labyrinth, with a large arbalest bolt firmly planted in his back. Before he died, he had pulled Grumblefoot close and said, “Knock ... well. Tell Lady Ivera.” Believing him to be dead (though not a Physicker) and unsure what the message meant, he claims to have picked up the man's broadsword and backpack and come straight to the castle to pass along the message.

The book was not in the backpack – only a labyrinth kit and a coins worth about 500 silver.

She offers 200 bars of gold (to be split among the adventurers) to recover the body (if still there) and to find and return the book. Any loot they recover from the labyrinth is (of course) the adventurers' own, too. Since he was quite enthused about the treasures therein (though rather vaguely concerned about the danger), she offers a horse-drawn cart for the journey, and a stable hand to mind the cart while the adventurer's are in the labyrinth.

If they accept, Pinclod escorts them to the stable, where the groom Muckface is brushing down a horse, who appears to be covered in sweat and is drinking thirstily from a trough. He selects a different horse from the six stalls in the stable, and hooks up a large cart for their use.

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