The adventurer rode into the golden-hued glade, looking around. If the tribesman he had 'persuaded' to help him hadn't been lying, it should be here. Ah, there it is, he thought. A small pool, with no inlet or outlet. Dismounting, he looked into the crystal-clear water. He could see goldfish swimming around, and beneath them the bottom was covered with golden statues of men and women, mostly nude but some with a kilt or loincloth.
“I'm rich,” he exulted. “That damn tribesman didn't die in vain!” He stripped off his clothes and armor, noting in passing that the ground was mounded, here and there, with weapons, armor, and other items, mostly rusted or rotted by time, and dove into the pool to begin gathering up his wealth.
Silence fell over the glade as the new statue settled onto the others littering the bottom.
“The Armored Avenger is dead!"
"Look at him! He looks like hamburger, but his admantium armor is untouched! What could have done that?”
"Hey, Hultz. What are you doing in here?"
"It's gonna move. I don't like it when it moves," the stableboy replied, sitting by the hearth with his arms wrapped around himself.
"What's going to move?"
"The Inn. I don't like it when it moves."
Five minutes later, he gets up and goes back outside.
"What was he talking about?" the newcomer asked a burly fighter.
"Go outside and take a look."
He goes over to the door and flings it wide. "See, it's all still ... Wait! Where did the town go!"
"Welcome to the Brotherhood of the Wild Geese." The fighter comes over with a mug of ale. "Here, you'll probably be needing this. I know I did, when it happened to me."
The young mountain sheep came charging up the trail and into the Meadow of the Elders, past the startled Elder-Guards, and stopped, panting and half incoherent. “Relax,” came a deep, amused voice in his mind. “Take a deep breath, and then share your thoughts with us.”
“Yes, Revered One.” He took the deep breath advised, then trotted forward and touched his head to that of the Elder.
The Ska'ag warrior lay in his hide, watching the intruders.
“The Makers,” he thought. It had been many generations since the last one had died, but there was no doubt. They were back. “I have to warn the People.”
“So, you want to buy a horse?” the grizzled Catfolk horse-master said.
“Yes. I'd like to buy a battlesteed and I'll pay whatever you ask,” the human replied.
“No. We never sell the Little Brothers of the Clan. Find a regular horse instead.”
“But my Lord wants a battlesteed and ...”
The peddler was pulling odd things from his pack, extolling each as he laid them down – one shoe that changed colors, a knife carved from wood, a mummified bird. “And this,” he said, pulling a 1 foot square box of stone out of his pack, “is all the friends you will ever need.” He opened it up, showing the carved stone statues of warriors inside. He took one out and stood it on the ground, where it changed to flesh and blood, stretched, then pulled the sword from its sheath and saluted them with it. “An army in your pocket! For a mere thousand gold! A bargain!”
The High King is dead. He died on a quest to find the stolen Crown of Destiny. As he died, he activated the ability on his armor, Fly To The Four Winds, which randomly transported his sword, Cut-Steel, and his shield, The Shield of Hope, to far-off places so they would not be taken by his foes.
These rare, fist-sized spiders do not make webs, but rather excrete secretions which harden upon contact with air. These "droppings" resemble barley-sized spider eggs, or even lustrous pearls, once the slime coating them, dries up. In fact, dried Pearl Spider "drops" are indistinguishable from the marine varieties produced by mollusks, and hence of identical value on the open market!
Several centuries ago, they were studied by naturalists, and several observations were made. Firstly, was that these spiders "lay" these pearls for no apparent or discernible "natural" reason, and secondly, the naturalists had discovered that the more these spiders ate or were fed--and they were true omnivores--the larger the spider pearls came out.
A cottage industry began. Enterprising merchants hunted and collected these creatures across the lands, erecting spider-farms for the manufacture of Spider Pearls. It wasn't long before someone got the idea to force-feed the spiders, ala foie gras geese, and soon, the fattened spiders began pooping out pearls of great size! (relatively speaking). The regular pearl market came to disarray, and prices and value fluctuated wildly.
[b]Plothook[/b] The Mermen Mercantile Alliance hires the party to eradicate all terrestrial Pearl Spider Farms!