The Conjurer of High Hedge

The Troupe got distracted once again, after every paladin we met started trying to slay the half-orc, Dorn. Gavin was tasked by Lathander to hunt the murderer Bassilus so they set off to find him. During their search they came across a talking chicken who needed our help.

12 Kythorn 1368

Melicamp tells us that his teacher lives to the north in a place called High Hedge, which means we need to make a detour. After 16 hours travelling Braegar recognises the place we are approaching.

He spits onto the floor.

Braegar: If you ask me we should take a big detour around that hut.

In the darkness we see hollow humanoid figures approach. We hear their bones creak as they raise their daggers.

Finch destroys one with her sling, and Dorn crushes the other with Rancor.

Dorn gathers up their skulls and equipment as trophies.

We find an angry woman banging on the door of High Hedge.

I approach her to see if I can help her out.

Aegon: Your business here is to yell at this door?

Aiwell: You are oh so funny. I’m almost falling about, laughing. Can you imagine I am not yelling at this door but at the priggish monkey of a mage inside who is living there?

Aegon: Could we assist you in any way?

Aiwell: Oh, the brave hero sniffed a chance to help a damsel in distress?

How touching. But if you do not happen to be well versed in alchemy you will hardly be able to help me.

Aegon: You know the whole conversation would be easier if you would stop insulting me.

She sighs.

Aiwell: I realise that myself, sir, but understand that I’m desperate. My poor husband is sick and the only person in these lands who could help him refuses to.

Tonder and I moved into the little house which lies at the southwest boundary of Beregost. We wanted nothing but to till the lands and live in peace, but a few days ago, Tonder was attacked by a large animal! If not for Thalantyr, my husband would have been devoured.

Tonder began to feel sicker and sicker and then two nights ago it happened – he has turned into a werewolf before my very eyes!

Aegon: And what now?

Aiwell: I do not know, either.

I begged of Thalantyr to seek for a cure. But he just does not want to listen to me! And… I do not dare to even think of the only alternative.

Aegon: Shall I talk to Thalantyr?

Aiwell: Would you do that for me? That would be great of you!

I know there may be no other way… but I would never forgive m if I had not tried everything. I beg of you, talk to Thalantyr. Try to convince him to produce a cure for Tonder.

If this fails… then… do what has to be done.

She sighs heavily.

Aiwell: I only ask you… please, try every other way first. Please.

A werewolf on the loose in Beregost? I remember running away from one when I first travelled to the town. It’s still locked in its homw, but if it escapes that house it will be a massacre. And I don’t think it will be so easy to kill. What kind of man is Thalantyr that he would not help with this?

This is another quest from Ascalon’s Questpack, called Of Wolves and Men. I wonder it’s an intentional reference to the book of the same name.

She lets us inside the building and we find the man that could apparently solve everyone’s problems.

He obviously doesn’t want to talk anymore, but I persist.

Aegon: Well, it’s rather amusing actually. You see, I happened to rescue this… um… talking chicken…

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Chickens do not talk, so quite obviously it is a polymorphed being of some kind. Spells such as that wear off in time or can be dispelled. ‘Tis a simple matter and one not worth the wast of my day. Keep moving.

Aegon: I am quite aware of the mute status of chickens, thank you very much! Yes, this is a transformed man, but it is also a man who claims to be your apprentice. That is why I brought him here.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Apprentice?! I have not apprentice! I teach no one about what I… wait… Melicamp? MELICAMP, is that you?!

Melicamp: Yes, Master Thalantyr, it is *cluck* I.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: I am no “master” to you, and you are no “apprentice”! What gall you have to expect help from me!

Aegon: He is not your student? But you do know of him, do you not?

Thalantyr the Conjurer: A student wishes to LEARN, while this fool wishes only to have knowledge. I will tutor no one who does not understand the ramifications of what I have to teach! Not getting the quick gratification he wished, he instead chose to steal from me!

Melicamp: You speak of so much, but show so little! I only wished to *cluck* learn a fraction of the power you possess!

Thalantyr the Conjurer: It has taken me some fifty-odd years of life to gain the power I wield, and the will not to use it. You are but a baby in comparison. Frankly, I’m surprised you changed into such an OLD chicken! How DID you manage that, by the by? You were muddling the simplest cantrip when last I observed you.

Melicamp: I have progressed much since then… and I *cluck* “borrowed” a few items to speed the process.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: As I thought. Well, it’s obvious you can steal my tools, but not my understanding of them. Hold still while I dispel this foolish facade. Can’t very well get my property back while it’s polymorphed into y- wait a moment. I did not possess any items that allow the casting of that enchantment. Wait. Oh, dear. Melicamp, listen very carefully. What did you take?

Melicamp: Nothing too valuable, I swear! Just some *cluck* components, a few scrolls, a beat-up pair of bracers, a blank spellbook, som parchment…

Thalantyr the Conjurer: A pair of-? Oh, no. You little FOOL! The braces in my locked and trapped safe?! I certainly hope you can develop a taste for chicken feed, because you are going to be stuck that way for a very long time!

Melicamp: I know I stole from you, but you can’t leave me like this! Please Master Thalantyr, please… *cluck*

Thalantyr the Conjurer: It’s not a matter of whether I wish to help or not, simply that I do not have the power to undo what you have done.

Aegon: Is there nothing that can be done? I am willing to help however I can.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: If you are willing, then I will do what must be done. We will need a component that I do not have on hand, and it will be your job to get it. I will require the head of an undead creature, and a simple skeleton skull will do. Bring it back here and I will try to bend a few magical rules to reincarnate this foolish boy.

Melicamp: Reincarnate? But does that spell not require *cluck* the recipient to be dead?

Thalantyr the Conjurer: There must be a dead element, yes. That is what the skull is for. I cannot fully explain what I am to try, but it’s something of a reversal on the reincarnation scheme. The age of the enchantment that changed you may allow for a loophole in the laws of magic. Of course it may just kill us both in the casting. Such is life. Off you go to some dungeon or another. Return with the skull. Go.

Somehow I feel like he is more interested in experimentation than the saving of his former apprentice. We are lucky to have encountered skeletons on our way here. I ask Dorn for one of his trophies.

He takes the skull and begins to work his spell. The chicken morphs before our very eyes back into the human it once was.

This is the first time I’ve done this in a no-reload game. Time to roll the dice properly for once. Will Melicamp live or die?

But before Melicamp can say another word, he drops dead.

We all become killers in the end. Perhaps there is another life I can save on this day, however.

Aegon: I have spoken to Aiwell about her husband.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Have you, hm? That’s very noble of you. And I will tell you the same thing I’ve told her – I *cannot* help because I lack the most important ingredients for a cure: I need either belladonna, Guril berries, or the blood of a loved one.

If you really want to make the world a better place, you could kill the werewolf and bring me its body. Maybe I can gain valuable insights through an obdcution of a werewolf so that the next poor wretch can be saved.

Aegon: Tell me about belladonna.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Belladonna is a well-known agent to free people from the curse of the werewolf. Nine out of ten people will be healthy again. However, it does not grow in this area and I have no idea where it can be found.

Aegon: Tell me about the Guril berries.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Guril berries are an old remedy. Mostly for certain… intimate sufferings. I do not know if they also help against lycanthropy, the chances should be about half-half. You should ask around in Beregost. Especially in the taverns. Some innkeeper my have a supply in stock.

Aegon: Tell me about the blood of the loved one.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: As I said, this is pure speculation. In some romantic tales werewolves transform back into the original shape when they realise they have drunk the blood of their kin, or a loved one. But the chances that this is true are one of ten at best.

Aegon: Good. I’ll see what I can do.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Good. Come back with either the ingredients or the corpse, however, keep in mind that I can only brew one of the three potions for you due to the other substances that are required for the potion. Good luck!

Luck. I guess he’s hoping we will run out of it and have to bring him the corpse. We leave and I talk to Aiwell again.

Aegon: I’ll see if I can help your husbad.

Aiwell: I will pray to the gods for your success then!

I don’t want to ask her for her blood. Not yet. Thalantyr said that belladonna would be best, but we have no clue where to find it. After that would be the Guril berries, which we might find in Beregost. Time for yet another detour.

We are barely off the steps of High Hedge when we hear the growling of gnolls.

Braegar introduces it to his Ghoul Slayer.

This gnoll isn’t alone. Do gnolls always try and kidnap mages? I think they’d have a hard time getting near Thalantyr.

We teach them how to die efficiently.

One of the gnolls was carrying a scroll of Battering Ram. It’s a little too powerful for my spell book, so I store it in my scroll case for now.

They also have an interesting sword with a name inscribed on it. I think I remember someone in Beregost saying gnolls had stolen one from him. A halfling, I think.

Braegar is impressed by the craftsmanship.

13 Kythorn 1368

It takes us a few hours to get to Beregost. We go to Feldepost’s Inn first. It’s the most popular inn, so is a good place to start. We are lucky to find that the innkeeper has Guril berries for sale.

I also take the opportunity to buy some protective bracers for myself. It’s not as good as Mage Armour, but it will be useful for times when I don’t have my spell ready.

Aegon now has an AC of 4 without any spells. Not bad for a low-level mage.

I now remember a halfling in the Red Sheaf that was complaining about gnolls stealing his sword. Before we return to Thalantyr we pay him a visit. Sure enough it’s his sword.

Finch is getting most out of helping people today. She says it has taught her more about being an adventurer.

She gets better saves, another first level spell slot, and 9 more hit points.

We travel back to High Hedge to find ourselves harassed by gnolls again.

Dorn rips one of them in half almost immediately.

And he rips through the others almost as quickly.

We bother the Conjurer of High Hedge once again.

Aegon: I have brought you Guril berries.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Guril berries, huh? Well, I’ll see what I can do with that.

He goes to work and hands me the Potion Against Lycanthropy.

We return to Beregost, and I go into the hut alone. On seeing the werewolf, I throw the antidote to him.

The werewolf snatches at the flask flying towards him. For a moment confusion is written on the face of the werewolf, and then…

The werewolf growls threatening. It appears the agent did not work.

I retreat and bolt the door before it has a chance to attack. Looks like we have a werewolf to kill. Before we go back in, I heal Dorn.

Dorn leads the charge, and we go inside to engage the werewolf.

Gavin Dooms the werewolf.

Dorn severely wounds the werewolf as Finch Blesses our troupe.

Braegar’s Ghoul Slayer tears the werewolf open, and it falls to the ground.

Tonder’s body reverts to its human form after he dies. Dorn takes on the morbid task of carrying the mutilated body.

We all become killers in the end. Perhaps we should have listened to Braegar. A detour around High Hedge may have led to less death.

We search the house before we leave and find a locked chest. Dorn forces it open and finds a few gems inside.

Time to return to Aiwell and give her the news she didn’t want to hear. Maybe she can find solace that Tonder’s body could save others in the future.

Aiwell is obviously upset, but she understands. What else could we do? If that werewolf had escaped…

We deliver the body of Tonder to the Conjurer.

Aegon: I have slain the werewolf and brought you his corpse.

Thalantyr the Conjurer: Indeed, you bring me a dead Lycanthrope! That will advance my studies.

Here, this is for you. I made it for a warrior some time ago who never came back to fetch it. He’s probably been devoured. It was paid, however, so you may have it now.

He gives us a Sword of Flame. Emily says it is a good alternative to Mirthal, as it could be useful against trolls and their ilk, so I give it to her.

We are tired so we set up camp outside High Hedge. Unfortunately our rest is disturbed.

It doesn’t bother us that much. We go back to sleep and wake up in the dead of night. It is time to return to Gavin’s mission. We are on the hunt for the murderer, Bassilus.

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