The World According to Jim

The Blank Scroll Chapter 2: The Perfect Crime

“Psst. Hey, over here.” A voice called in the darkness, and a man looked over. Among a cluster of barrels he spotted two tall ears sticking up. He approached slowly and saw a youth crouching, not well hidden in the bright moonlight that shone on the dock.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Not here, we need to go somewhere we can talk freely. Follow me.”

Shrugging, he followed the youth. They made an interesting pair as they moved, one hooded and slinking in the shadows, the other walking casually beside him, the pale light reflecting off his metal skin everywhere it wasn’t covered by his traveling cloak. The few sailors on the dock tending to their ships gave them inquiring looks as they passed, but said nothing. Eventually the duo reached the south end of the dock. Here the wooden path curved in a sharp angle, following along the face of a smooth cliff wall westward back toward Urbank. Instead of continuing to follow the path, the youth stepped off into the shallow water and walked around the tall rock wall, motioning for his companion to follow. After a few steps they reached a small cove beach littered with wooden crates and trash.

“This is my spot. We can talk here without worrying about anyone hearing,” the youth said. Clouds passed in front of the moon, causing the shadows to dance across the two figures in the scene. One stood tall, the other shorter, wearing a cloak covered in short brown fur that had a hood with two long velvety ears perched on top.

“Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?” the taller one asked.

“Why are you wearing that stupid metal man suit?” the other replied, jaw set in defiance.

“It’s not a suit,” the first responded, rolling up a sleeve and exposing an arm that shone with the rose-silver of pure Mithril.

The youth’s eyes lit up. “I’m Darko,” he said.

“My name is. . . Frank,” he replied, sharking Darko’s outstretched hand. Ugh, this name is the worst one I’ve picked yet. Another that doesn’t feel true at all, he thought._ I’ll just have to keep searching. . . to keep trying them on like clothing until I find one that fits._

“I need your help,” Darko blurted. “I mean, I don’t need it, but I saw you on the street yesterday and I thought you might be interested in an, uh, opportunity.” Frank shrugged. “Well you see,” Darko continued, “there’s this old man. I mean, not pathetic-old, more like wise-old. The kind of guy who’s always right. Well he’s an enchanter, and he possesses something incredible. They’re wands, you could say, a set of them, and they’re powerful. If you had them you’d be untouchable, able to do anything. And I know where he hides ‘em,” Darko said with a grin.

Frank raised an eyebrow. “So you want to steal them?”

“Just one! Or two!,” he added quickly. “And he has a bunch! He won’t even know they’re gone. It’ll be a snap.”

“If it’s going to be so easy, and these items are as powerful as you say, why hasn’t anyone else stolen them yet?”

“Because nobody else even knows they exist. I’m the only one who’s seen them. And I know what you’re going to ask next,” Darko continued, his eyes bright, “why do I need your help? Well, there’s only one obstacle standing between us and our destiny. . .” his voice dropped to a whisper, “the beast.”

“What?” Frank asked, also dropping his voice and leaning in closer.

“It’s deadly, fangs bigger than anything you’ve ever seen. Makes a worg look like a baby osquip. And it’s a fierce guardian, nobody gets past unless they’re invited. My brothers say that even in their bear forms they wouldn’t dream of trying to fight it. But,” he said, holding up a finger, “it’s blind and deaf. Has a good sense of smell, but I happen to know that it’s getting weaker. It doesn’t work so well against small animals. Maybe there just isn’t as much scent to something small, but I’ve seen rats and even squirrels walk right past without it noticing. And I’ve done tests, released mice right in front of its nose and it doesn’t flinch. But if I step foot anywhere near it in my human form he goes on full alert.”

Frank nodded. “I see. And you think that I, not being human, shouldn’t have much of a scent.” He cocked his head. “You mentioned your brothers. . . why don’t you try to sneak past in your bear form?”

Darko’s excited demeanor promptly cooled. He gave Frank a long stare and clenched his jaw. “Are you making fun of me?” he asked.

“No, what are you talking about?”

“I’m not exactly a werebear.”

“Not exactly? Then what are you?”

Darko considered his companion, and sighed. He cracked his knuckles then lurched forward and let out a growl. It was a guttural noise, ferocious, inhuman. Thick fur sprouted from his body and his eyes darkened and pulsed with an opaque blood red glow. His body warped and contorted, new cords of muscle forming underneath his skin. And as he changed he began to. . . shrink. Slowly at first, but soon he was a small lump buried underneath the cloak he’d been wearing.

After a moment Frank walked over and lifted it, and there sat a bunny with pink eyes and fur as white as new snow. It cocked its head and looked up expectantly. “A were-rabbit?” he asked, chuckling.

In a flash Darko was back in his human form. He stared coldly at Frank. “If you have any comments you can just keep them to yourself, I take enough flak from my brothers.”
“I’m sorry, I was just surprised,” Frank replied. “If you can do that, why don’t you just sneak past this beast?”

Darko’s face turned bright red. “You think I haven’t tried? It may not smell other small animals well, or maybe it just doesn’t care about them. . . but for some reason it seems to love rabbits. It’s chased me all around Urbank before. So are you going to help or what?”

Frank looked around. The night was completely still, he would have several hours to pass until morning with nothing else to occupy his time. He wasn’t sure what use he would have for such a powerful artifact, but he didn’t see any reason to at least follow the boy for a bit and see where this path led. “Okay,” he said.

The two walked together in silence and Frank experienced a side of Urbank he had never seen. Many of the taverns had common back alleys that would allow you to pass unseen from one to another. The entrances to the alleys were completely inaccessible unless you knew where to look for them, and Darko did. He opened innocuous doors that were seemingly locked tight, scrambled up ladders and catwalks, and even led them through an underground stone tunnel that was almost certainly a rudimentary sewer system. They navigated a twisting path through the maze-like tunnel and eventually reached a wall with a semicircular opening several feet above their heads. “Come on, there’s a ladder here,” Darko said, “even though it doesn’t look like it.” His hands seemed to melt into the smooth wall as he gripped and climbed upward. Frank followed, pulling himself up awkwardly but making it to the top.

They found themselves in a courtyard of soft green grass with walls of gray stone studded with windows rising into the sky all around them. “They’re so high,” Frank said, “you should be able to see them from anywhere in the city. Where are we?”

“They aren’t actually as high as they look. And wait until you get inside, the place looks even bigger from in there. Come on, this courtyard is the only way in. Master Mertle is a pretty private guy. We’re just lucky he’s not home right now.”

“Wait a minute,” Frank said. “How do you know he isn’t home? And how exactly do you know where he hides his artifacts and all that?”

“Well, he’s, uh, kind of my teacher.” Darko sighed. “He’s the only one that sees any value in my special abilities. Everyone else laughs at the rabbit except for him. He’s always mentioning my speed and agility, and he talks about my size as if it’s an advantage. He’s even taught me a few tricks. So I spend a lot of time here, way more than my brothers, and that’s how I know so much about this place.”

“But then why steal from him?”

“Because he’s always challenging me!” Darko said, his voice rising. “Always calling me dumb and lazy, saying that I’m not living up to my potential. Not cunning enough to justify calling myself a rabbit. Stuff like that. It makes me mad. I want to teach him a lesson for once.”
Frank shrugged. “Okay, whatever. What’s the plan?”

Darko smiled. “I know exactly what to do. We go in this window over here,” he said, pointing. “Then we follow the hallway with the red curtains, never green, that’s very important. Remember that. We need to keep heading down the hall and take every single right turn. It’ll feel like we’re going in circles but we won’t be. When you see the candleholders on the walls start to have two candles rather than three we need to start watching out for the beast.”

“We? I thought you couldn’t go near him.”

“I thought of that, I’ll be in my rabbit form wrapped up in my cloak. . . it’s made of werebear fur. You’ll carry me. So I hope you’re paying attention to my instructions because once we’re inside we won’t be able to talk. Just tap me when we’re safely past that monster.”

They walked together to the window Darko had indicated and slid it open silently. The house was still and quiet. Within moments Frank was walking down the dim halls, taking right turn after right turn with a small warm bundle cradled in his arms. Some of the hallways were long, some short, but with each turn a new one opened before him. He thought of Snorri’s advice and didn’t pause to over-analyze what he was doing, he just moved ahead, taking in the new experience.

He had taken so many turns that he had lost count when all of a sudden he saw it. It was at the end of the hall, and was enormous. It was at least three times larger than a worg and had a blunt snout and four thick legs that were curled underneath it. The beast looked fierce even in its slumber, but as Frank approached he could tell that it was old. It’s eyes had dark scum around them and didn’t look like they had been opened in years. Skin and fur hung loosely from the bulky frame in loose gray folds. As Frank crept closer it turned its head, sniffed, and twitched in its sleep but didn’t wake. With a few more quick steps he was past and continued on his journey. After he felt they were a safe distance away he tapped the bundle in his arms and set it on the floor.

Darko, once again human, looked around and nodded. “Good, good. You actually even walked past it a bit,” he said, retracing their steps back to a wooden door reinforced with iron straps. “Give me a hand, will you? This thing’s built for bears.”

Both pushed together and managed to heave the door open. The room didn’t look like a place that a great enchanter would hide an artifact of untold power. It looked more like. . . a closet. There were several wooden desks, many books, and several jars, a one of which looked like it contained something that was moving. Everything in the room was covered in a thick layer of dust, including a window on the far wall. Darko immediately moved toward the largest desk and opened the bottom drawer. He removed a sheaf of parchments, and Frank saw his eyes light up. Looking over Darko’s shoulder he saw the drawer contained several dozen small cylinders arranged in neat rows. The wands were about half an inch wide and six inches long, made out of light wood and each came to a point with a very sharp black tip.

“Is this what we came for?” Frank asked. Darko nodded.

“Watch.” He removed one of the objects carefully and walked over to a wall. His arm moved swiftly and after a few deft strokes Darko was written on the wall, bold with stylized letters and the letter “o” exhibiting a pair of rabbit ears. “These are amazing. They let you mark any surface. The potential is unlimited.” He turned back to the desk and tried to write. The object slipped over the glossy surface, leaving a thin gray line that was barely visible. “Well, almost any surface,” he said.

“Looks useful,” Frank said, nodding.

“And that’s not all they can do. I didn’t show you the best part yet.” Darko knelt down and removed a small white-gray cube from the drawer. Flexing it between his fingers a few times, he returned to the wall he had tagged. He rubbed the cube back and forth on the wall, and the mark vanished. “This is going to be perfect,” Darko said, making no effort to hide his glee. “I’ll never get caught making a mistake on my lessons ever again. With this I can remove any trace of a wrong answer. I almost feel bad for the old guy, he’s never going to know what hit him. I’ll show him cunning. And especially¬—” he said, then stopped. “Did you hear that?” he said, making an abrupt turn to face Frank.

“No, what. . .?” Frank said, straining but hearing nothing.

“Footsteps. Human ones. Split up!” Darko said in a frantic whisper.

Frank turned to the door. “Wait, but—” he started to say, but when he turned back he saw a white rabbit scurrying through a small rectangular hole in the wall that he hadn’t noticed before. He sighed, and as he was considering his options, he heard something out in the hall. He quickly slipped in between two bookcases that were standing close together in a dark corner of the room just as the door to the room opened.

The door gently closed, and there was no noise for a few moments. But then the silence was broken by a voice, not speaking loudly but it was deep and rich. “I know you’re here, you can come on out, I won’t hurt you,” it said. Frank sighed again and gathered his focus, feeling the energy course through his body as he readied himself for a fight. Stepping out from behind the bookcase, he found himself looking across the room at a man. He wore black opaque glasses and had short gray hair with flecks of black that was close cropped to his head. His skin was dark, the color of rain-soaked tree bark. He stood at ease. “So you and my friend with the ears were the ones making all that racket, eh?” he said. His voice, low and sonorous, exuded calmness and power. “What was he after?” Without taking his eyes off the man, Frank pointed to the bottom desk drawer. The man walked over and peered in, then laughed. It was booming and reverberated in the small room. “Well I certainly can’t fault him for that, and I will say I’m impressed,” he said with a toothy grin. “It’s the first time that anybody ever got the best of old Hercules. Although he hasn’t been tested in quite some time. Name’s Mertle, by the way.”

“I’m. . . Frank.” He considered trying on a different name, but didn’t want to seem suspicious if Darko was interrogated. “You aren’t bothered by us breaking in here?” he asked.

“Nah, there was never any danger of you causing any real trouble. Was this your plan, or his?” Frank explained his small role in the endeavor. “Good, good, glad to hear he put his mind to something and thought outside the box. Smart idea to hire a construct. It’s about time he learned that he can’t do everything on his own, that sometimes he needs to surround himself with people that compliment his unique set of skills. The exit strategy of this plan needs work, though, to say the least. Look, there’s our friend now,” Mertle said, moving past Frank to the window. He wiped off some of the dust and watched the small rabbit scurry across the grass in the courtyard.

“I’ll have to have a talk to him about running away and leaving you behind like that the next time I see him. ,” Mertle said. He sighed. “He really is a good boy, though. Works hard at his studies. If most students these days cared even half as much as he did I might still be teaching at the academy. No point in teaching kids who don’t want to learn.” He motioned to the bottom drawer. “These are left over from those days, actually. I made ‘em out of Ashplant Trees. If you core the tree right you can just keep using these to write and sharpen them with your knife if the tip ever dulls. Used to pass them out but I kept finding them discarded and broken, so I stopped bothering. Never dreamed that someday they’d be so coveted.” He laughed again, and Frank smiled. “Tell you what, you any kind of a student?”

“So far every second I’ve been alive has been a lesson. I’ve never been given any formal instruction, but the world is so fresh to me that experiences like this,” he Frank said, motioning to Mertle and the room around him, “are how I learn.”

Mertle nodded. “I like that,” he said. “A student of the world, learning from the book of life itself. Going out and having experiences isn’t anything special, but most folks don’t bother to think about they’re doing while they’re doing it. Yeah, I like that. Here you go, take these,” he said, removing a wand and one of the soft white-gray cubes from the drawer.

“Are you sure?”

“On the condition that you use them to keep a journal. Actually, I think you may be in luck.” Mertle opened the top drawer of the desk and rifled through it. He removed a small book, bound in black leather. He flipped through it and Frank saw that although some of the pages had markings, most of them were blank. “Take this too. No point in taking lessons if you don’t write anything down. It’s the best way to keep track of what’s important, whether you’re in the classroom or out in the world, like you said. And you come by and talk with me about what you’ve learned sometime, we’ll call it an even trade.”

“Agreed. Thank you. Meeting you has been a privilege, and meeting Darko as well.”

Mertle nodded. “Sure, sure. I’m going to turn in, don’t have as much vigor as I used to. To get out of here you just have to leave this room and turn left at the end of the hall. You’ll find yourself right back in the courtyard and I think you can take it from there. Oh, and by the way,” he said, “if you plan to continue hanging around Urbank, watch out for the kid, okay? He needs all the help he can get.”

Frank shook Mertle’s hand and then left. Just before sunrise he found himself back at the dock. But unlike most mornings, he wasn’t watching the ships come in. He sat, his head down, writing furiously. He recorded his life so far as best he could. Facts, opinions, people, stories. They came to life in his notebook. As he wrote he felt transcendent. His soul was alive with the power and possibility of the blank page.

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ID, Appraisal Checks
Hopefully the next batch of loot will be quality over quantity =P

Identification:
1x Vial of Translucent Liquid: 15+6=21 (knowledge arcana?)
1x Unidentified Scroll: 17+4=21 (spellcraft)
2x Unidentified Scroll: 1+4=5 , 8+4=12(one roll for each, if it works on one I should know the other right?)
1x Unidentified Scroll: 3+4=7
1x Unidentified Scroll: 3+4=7
3x Unidentified Wand: 18+4=22 , 15+4=19 , 18+4=22

Appraisal:
1x Divine Scroll of Delay Poison: 17+1=18
1x Divine Scroll of Detect Magic: 6+1=7
3x Hematite Chunk: 10+1=11, 12+1=13, 6+1=7
1x Jasper Stone: 13+1=14
1x Vial of Translucent Liquid: 19+1=20
1x Vial of Tyr Holy Water: 2+1=3
2x Unidentified Scroll: 12+1=13, 2+1=3
1x Unidentified Scroll: 14+1=15
1x Unidentified Scroll: 19+1=20
3x Unidentified Wand: 2+1=3, 13+1=14, 15+1=16
?x Silver Bars: 1+1=2

(I have 978g 6s, I think)

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The Blank Scroll Chapter 1: A Welcoming Fuzz

And suddenly, he existed. He was lying on his back, and after a few moments, he opened his eyes for the first time. A broad sky stretched out in front of him. It was new. He stared into it deeply, immersed. He didn’t move, he didn’t think. He just was. When he eventually sat up he found that he was in a meadow of pale yellow heather that stood soft and still. With each passing moment his universe grew larger. Each blade of grass, the soil underneath, the air around him. They were all new.

The meadow stretched uninterrupted as far as he could see. He didn’t feel confused or frightened by his situation. He felt peaceful, in a state of acceptance. He didn’t realize that he had a choice. And then suddenly a ball of brown fuzz crawled onto his leg. It was about the size of his knee and brushed soil off the gray surface of his leg as it meandered its way toward his torso. It didn’t have any features apparent other than the dense hair that grew straight out from its body. He poked it. It let out a squeak and scurried in a tight circle but didn’t flee. He watched. The little creature continued to explore, climbing up the sheer incline of his chest without falling off. It perched on the top of his head, and he closed his hand around it and put it back on the ground.

He regarded the creature. So other things existed here too. Things that could move of their own volition. This was very new. The fuzz made him happy. They were connected. Comrades. For all he knew, the little brown fuzz had come into existence at the exact same moment that he had. They played. The fuzz would crawl behind him, and he would have to turn to find it. He would open his hand and the fuzz would crawl into his open palm. It began to move into the grass, and he rose to follow.

He found that he was much, much taller than the fuzz. He could easily see it by looking down between the blades of grass. Putting one foot in front of the other to move was new, but he did it without thinking. He stared downward as he followed the creature, and his world shrank as rapidly as it had expanded earlier. All that existed for him was the small animal and the ground in his field of vision. It moved left, he moved left. When it wasn’t strong enough to push through a patch of grass, he waited. And when it squeaked, he helped make a path. The creature kept moving and he followed. He was filled with a sense of purpose, and that was new.

They had been moving together across the meadow for a long time, when suddenly there was a flash of motion, the hush of grass being parted, and the brown fuzz was gone. He turned and saw a different creature. This one was considerably larger. It had a long serpentine body and two thick legs near a head that supported two small eyes and a gaping mouth. It was new. The mouth was studded with fangs, between some there were tufts of brown fuzz. He stared at this other creature, and took a step toward it. It let out a guttural hiss and he took another step. It started quivering and before he could move any closer it pounced.

He was knocked hard onto his back and was momentarily stunned. A pain shot up his left arm and he saw the monster had latched on and was tearing into the metal of his forearm. He tried prying its jaws open with his other hand but couldn’t. He smashed his fist down on the creatures head and flung it away, but before he could regain its footing it had sprung on him again, this time biting into his shoulder near his throat. It gnawed deeper and deeper and he flailed his arms to no avail. He grabbed the thick skin near the thing’s neck with both hands and began pushing as hard as he could but the creature wouldn’t release. His vision began to go dark around the edges. He summoned the last of his strength and gave one final, desperate shove, and suddenly there was a flash of light and a crystal streak sliced through the monster and sailed off into the distance.

The pressure released, and he saw the thing slinking slowly away through the grass, a trail of thick brown blood behind it. He stood and placed a foot on its tail, holding it in place. He raised his damaged left arm and pointed it, palm open and fingers extended in a grasping gesture. Another crystal streak erupted from it and exploded through the monster’s head, splattering what was left of it into the tall grass. He looked at his hand, then down at the monster’s remains. That was new.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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