The Carnival

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Following the frightening events of Vosk’s announcement, the people of Miredus tried to return to their dreary lives. Perhaps in response to this deep melancholy, news began to spread of mysterious flyers appearing throughout the city. No one seemed to know who was spreading them, and it became the talk of the town. What was this Carnival? Did it mean more horrors were coming to Miredus, or was it going to be a welcome respite from the bleakness?

When the Carnival arrived overnight, the brave Midnight Watch was taking no chances. Having been dispatched to investigate the faire before the naive and curious, our players went to the red and white striped tent demanding answers. They were allowed entrance by the mute, skull-painted guards only after they paid admission. They were met by the “Master of Cermonies” Tindol, who welcomed them to the “Greatest Show in the Mists”.

He explained that the fortune teller Madame Fortuna had expected them. Handling the initial interrogation with charm, Tindol plead that they were simple “troupers” hoping to earn pay for their trade. The intimidating gypsy guards and servants were members of the Vistani known as the Skurra. As for the mysterious flyers, Trindol claimed that they always preceded the arrival of the Carnival, and no one knew how they arrived. The heroes wisely said they wouldn’t let anyone into the Carnival until they had fully investigated the situation.

While Tindol prepared for a private showcase, the heroes of Miredus began to explore the fairgrounds. They found many pleasant, and somewhat shifty “carny” folk. The troupers explained that they had the protection of the Mistress of the Carnival, a woman named Isolde. Some of the older carnies explained that before their mistress there was once a man named “The Puppetmaster” who had been quite cruel to the troupers and the common-folk. The heroes also noticed that many of the front-house carnies were “normal”, but many of the others had deformities.

Tindol returned and ushered them into the main tent to see the show. As it was a show for a small audience, Tindol abandoned most of the introductions, which was a pity for the performers had the most amazing stories. The provocative belly-dancers and knife throwers of the Crimson Rose performed their Vistani trade. A large orc named Tosk or “The Brute” demonstrated his frightening strength. Following that, was the duo of the “Living Skeleton” and the “Wood n Head”. Their act consisted of some horrifying body mutilation, which was certain to send all but the strongest into a faint. Charlotte the Fire-Eater performed next, with a mesmerizing, and scorching act. And at the end was the act the heroes were eagerly awaiting: The Vampiress! A woman with large bat-like wings sprouting from her back flew into the main tent and performed aerial feats that would put a hummingbird to shame.

The party was impressed, and rightly so! Tindol then took them to the Hall of Horrors, the freakshow of the Carnival. While crossing the field they bumped into Professor Pacail, the master of the freakshow. He seemed displeased to see Tindol, but much less so when he saw the party. Curious. In the hall of horrors, the party did see some of fate’s cruelty. There was the Professors “Pickled Punks”—-a series of bottles abnormalities. They players met “The Imp”—a man named Claude with a conjoined twin growing out of his neck. From there they met the “trio”: Gargantuan- a freakishly obese man, “The Geek”- a squat, little man that ate anything and “The Squid Woman”—a woman with mutated tentacles for arms. And if that weren’t enough, they then met “The Terrible Man Beast”, a wereleapord with the reverse cruse—-now what kind of cruel mind would think of that!

Even with these grim sights, the party reported back to Durgan that the Carnival appeared safe. Once the people were allowed, scores flocked to the grounds. The heroes themselves returned to explore while awaiting their evening appointment with Madame Fortuna. They found Professor Pacail following them, and quickly confronted him. He offered a different version of the Mistress of the Carnival and claimed that Isolde was a fiend of some kind. He implored the party for their aid, stating that she was in control of the deformities that plagued the troupers. He offered to meet them later that evening to plan an attack.

Confused by this, and needing more answers, the players than met with the old gypsy. Her act was the usual fortune-telling shtick, and she dropped that immediately when our heroes arrived. She explained that she was Vistani and aided the Carnival as was her debt. And she had been waiting for the heroes, so she may help them. The gypsy claimed that they were the ones that could save “everyone”. How pathetically delusional. She offered them insight of the Tarroka deck, claiming it could be used to their benefit. The heroes reluctantly agreed.

The old gypsy dealt each of the heroes a card that represented each of them in the “story” they would tell that nigh. Fortuna drew another card: the three of pentacles—explaining that the number three would be prominent in their quest. They would meet three fortune tellers, but Fortuna cautioned to trust only two of them. They would face three foes. The first would be The Villain—-some interchangeable malefactor common to the Lands of the Mists. They would need the skills they learned in defeating The Villain to face their second foe: The Fallen. The Fallen was the archetype of decadence and depravity, that plunged the world into the Mists. They would need all their cunning and knowledge to defeat him. And finally, they would face The Playwrights—-the source of the Mists. Each of our heroes and each of the foes had an important place in the story. And they would face trials.

Lucas drew first and found The Judgment card. The Fallen was hunting him, and that something he was holding onto would be used against him. Barlow was shown The Hanged Man and warned that while there was enlightenment in his path to knowledge, if he chased it too far it would mean death for his friends. Saima drew The Devil, warned that her fate was tied to the Fallen as well, and that her darker nature could control her if she allowed it. Zephyram cut the deck and drew The High Priestess, symbolizing his role as a spiritual adviser of the group and his light was purer than another’s, he must embrace his beliefs but not be consumed by them. Predictably, Garret drew The Tower—-the symbol of destruction and ruin. But ruin for who? That was somewhat up to Garret himself. Finally, Goodman drew The Wheel of Fortune, symbolizing his changing fate. He was once in the darkness, but fate continues to move—-for good or for ill.

Of course their adversaries received cards too. The Villain drew The Justice card, proving that he would be the victim of the double edged sword, that one does not get exactly what one wants and that we must all pay for our crimes. The Fallen drew the Empress, symbolizing his weakness and connection to something beautiful. Whatever this was, it was his true master and could be his undoing. The Playwrights were given the High Priest, a symbol of their goals, as well as the means of their destruction.

The “Playwrights”—-such a fitting name.

Following the meeting with the gypsy, our heroes met with the Professor once again. He was eager to strike against Isolde, and quite disappointed when our players designed to investigate the matter further. In order to persuade them, Pacail lead them to one of the hidden carts. There, he showed them what had allegedly happened to the Puppetmaster and others who opposed Isolde. In the carts were horrifying abominations of flesh, people that had been warped and twisted by the dark powers of the Carnival. Even with this, they left the Professor’s cart and sought out the Mistress for more information.

They found her on the outskirts of the camp, watching the other troupers. The heroes approached cautiously and quickly felt the force of her presence. She was evasive in answering questions at first, but warmed up considerably as the conversation went on. The players were also aware of Isolde’s emotions as she spoke to them, allowing more to be communicated than was actually said. She seemed genuinely concerned about the well-being of her people and felt guilt about their woes. A delightfully tragic story was imparted through feeling and allusion, a story of an angelic being pursuing a lover that had fallen to darkness. Perhaps Isolde was that pursuer and, as she was now bound to the Carnival out of her good nature, her prey was constantly once step ahead of her. How frustrating.

With this information, the heroes of Miredus went to the Council to appeal for the Carnival and offer sanctuary for those in need. With some convincing, the Council approved and the party returned to the Carnival. They met with Isolde once again and pledged their support. Professor Pacail was quite angry when the heroes told him that they wouldn’t support him. They expected some kind of action of Pacail’s part, so after being dismissed from the Professor the heroes waited outside his cart.

They weren’t waiting for long before the Professor emerged and ran to the Hall of Horrors. Following quickly behind, the heroes were surprised when he had vanished. They emerged in time to see the barred doors open on the carts containing the Hiddeous Man-Beast and the three flesh abominations! Somehow, Pacail had made himself invisible and slipped past. As the largest Abominaiton slinked away towards Isolde with a malicious intelligence, the werejaguar and the other beasts attacked the heroes. Saimawas able to hold off the lycanthrope while the others quickly dispatched the two Carnival Abominations. Together they were able to defeat Raja without killing him, locking him back in his cage.

Our players than raced towards the back of the Carnival grounds where Isolde was fighting the Abomination with a glowing sword. Before they could reach her, they were intercepted by the Professor and his associates: Charolette, the Squid Woman and the Geek. The Professor revealed that he was the source of the “punks” and shook off multiple fleshy minions. Goodman offered them to stand down, but the heroes’ wisdom was rebuked. In the ensuing fight, all of the enemies of Isolde were slain. A fitting end to their stories. Isolde was able to destroy the former Puppetmaster and finally end his suffering.

After this, with Vosk’s Champion likely approaching, the Carnival saw that it was time to leave. The heroes were sad to see the first good people they’d met in the Mists leave, but they promised to aid Isolde in her quest in any way they could. Isolde left them with one additional message from Madme Fortuna: to defeat The Villain they would need the Key to the Tower, the Sword of the Brother and the Crown of the King. Mysterious indeed!

With that the Carnival left and the heroes returned to Miredus to plan their next move.

The Carnival

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