Part Three – If you could see what I have seen.
The search for the staff is not easy. Incarnos knows that it is somewhere in the Squandering Snail, but it may be under it. The temple in which the staff was produced disappeared centuries ago. Nothing remains of that time, though the locations of the various temples was preserved in an ancient scroll found in the libraries of Highstone which a certain wandering bard, Carylle of Temelburh (listed in the NPC section as the barmaid Cornille). Carylle has mapped out the area, compared it to the ancient maps she copied while in Highstone, and also knows the temple of Kernunnos once stood at the location of the Squandering Snail.
While Incarnos knows the staff is here, he does not know where, and can do little to help the PCs. Further, even if the PCs silenced the Holy Knights-which may have been necessary, as the knights don’t believe in surrender-the loss of these seven will be noted. A larger group of knights will arrive the next day, some twenty in number, and they will not be gentle. They will end up starting a riot, in which they will be consumed. By the evening, Duke Javarre will have released the army to deal with the insurrection, and he will have impounded the galley of the Holy Knights. As usual, the Holy Knights will not accept the command of a secular ruler, and so Duke Javarre will be forced to sink their vessel.
However, it is hoped the PCs will be long gone by that point. The Squandering Snail is not large, and logic dictates the staff will not be in the upper floors unless someone has already found it. Incarnos can verify no mortal hands have touched the staff for centuries. He can sense this.
But the PCs have an edge. After Incarnos speech, Carylle will come and ask to speak to them. She has pieced a few things together, and thinks she may know what is going on.
“My name is Carylle of Temelburh, and I am not a barmaid. I studied at the university here for some years, but then decided to seek out the mysteries hidden from book-bound scholar. I learned much in my travels, and I believe I know who you are.” She looks at Incarnos. “Well, at least who you are. Are you a messenger from the Old Gods?”
Incarnos’ eyes grow wide. He straightens in his chair. “How do you know of the Old Gods?”
Unless the PCs intervene, Carylle will want to tell what she knows, believing she is about to uncover yet another mystery.
Carylle takes a seat at the table and leans over it. “In my travels, I reached Highstone. Forget what you have heard, it is not a dreary place infested with hell-spawned demons. It is the greatest fortress I have ever seen, and it is open to all. It has libraries that beggar anything any king or university can claim.
“It was there that I learned the fairy stories and campfire legends of the old powers were true, in a way. Some treatises of the time before Herotus still exist there. Many of the old scrolls have decayed beyond use, but some remain. One tells of the ancient city-state of Baudus, which is here, Bowden. It spoke of the Temple District which sat close to the docks. I am certain that we now stand on the site of the ancient temple of Kernunnos. I’ve been hoping to find some remnants of that time, but there is nothing. Now, a messenger of the Old Gods has come. What secrets are you sharing?”
Incarnos believes that Carylle’s knowledge will help to find the staff, so he wants to tell her about it. He will, however, at this point defer to the PCs. He believes they are divinely inspired. Carylle, though, has studied, she is a scholar of sorts, though not the type one would find in a university. If the PCs ask for her input, Carylle will offer the following:
“We know that this structure was built overtop of older structures. That’s the way of cities. In order to find the secrets of a city, one needs to dig into its roots. The problem is, I haven’t found a way into the roots of the Snail yet.”
If someone offers the obvious answer of a cellar, Carylle will reply that she has not yet found one. However, early in the morning, after the sun has risen, the building is deserted. The staff is asleep and the patrons have been ushered out of doors, except those with rooms. If someone else does not, Carylle will suggest the PCs rent rooms here and then they can all meet together to search for a cellar. Carylle will warn them that if they get caught, they are likely to end up dead. Murnac’s boys kill first and aren’t smart enough to ask questions.
Part Four – Sweet Oblivion
The staff is, indeed, in the cellar. It is hidden in a wall, part of a collapsed portion. While visibly it is little more than the end of a pole and is hidden amid the other debris created by the collapse, Incarnos will identify it immediately.
Incarnos drops to his knees. He begins to weep. Both he and a small portion of wood protruding out of the debris of the collapsed wall begin to shimmer. A faint, white light seems to envelop them both.
“The Staff of Kernunnos, it is found.” Incarnos reaches toward the ceiling, looking up. “My time has come. Damnation or paradise, I no longer care.” He looks at you. “Take it. Mortal hands must touch the staff.”
While this is a culmination of Carylle’s research and wandering, she fears actually touching the object. It will require one of the PCs to do so.
The staff comes away from the wall easily, as though being drawn from water. There is a flash. When your eyes recover, you see that Incarnos is gone. The staff still glows white, and the wood is covered in strange runes. The runes shine with a deep blue light.
The person holding the staff can read the runes. They state “The arm and mouth of Kernunnos, master of the afterlife and opener of doors. To hold the staff is to find the path.” Whoever holds the staff will feel an irresistible urge to travel north. This urge and sense will lead the bearer of the staff to Vellanti, and the next adventure.
The incorporeal voice of Incarnos fills the cellar. “You have saved me and sent me to redemption. Now you must do so for your entire world. In your hands, you hold fate. Do not waver.”
After this, Carylle decides she must return to Highstone and tell the Magnus of this event. Further, she believes more information will be found there. Should the PCs need her help, she will join them, but only for the moment. Her thirst for knowledge is now stronger than ever.
As for the PCs, she suggests they get out of the Temples as soon as possible. It would probably be better to get out of Bowden. There are more Holy Knights and they won’t be pleased when they hear the PCs have interfered. Now that the PCs act on behalf of the Old Gods, they are the enemies of Herotus and the One True Church.
This ends the free adventure The Lorestaves: At the Sign of the Squandering Snail. If you are interested in more, please drop us a line. If there is enough interest, we will see if we can provide something more for you.