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  #1  
Old May 1st, 2014, 11:47 PM
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Sickness in Silverton

It is a pleasant morning in late fall. For several days, you have been traveling northward across gently rolling plains, accompanied by your faithful wolf-dog Hrr. The soil here is fertile, and the many farmers who call this region home have been hard at work bringing in the harvest--too busy to pay much mind to a traveler, however, intimidating she may appear. However, over the past hour or so the hustle and bustle have given way to a rather eerie silence. Meadows have not been mowed, the gardens are choked with weeds, and the passing breeze ruffles the overripe grain in the fields. A pair of large oaks on either side of the road cast an umbrella of shade beside a dusty sign that reads 'Silverton, home to 98 souls.'

"W-what do you want?" The unsteady, high-pitched voice is coming from one of the trees. Whoever is hiding there clears their throat. Their next words are spoken with more confidence. "State your business here. A-and be warned that if you're here looking for trouble, we've got--we'll give you more than you can handle."
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Last edited by Morathor; May 11th, 2014 at 11:33 PM.
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Old May 6th, 2014, 07:47 PM
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Passing through the untended fields, I note how quickly nature will take back its own. The silence and the wild growth are pleasant. But it is also the nature of humanoids to be upset when things don't go according to plan. Weedy gardens and unharvested grain are rarely the plan. I make a note to be prepared to soothe uneasy humanoids.

I look in the general direction of the voice without attempting to look directly at the speaker. "No trouble to you. No urgent business at all here, just passing through. If you'd rather I circle your lands instead, I'll need directions. If you have use of the services of a druid, I have time and can work." I try to modulate my voice to sound calming, but I need to speak loudly enough to be heard and my voice is naturally harsh.

Is that the right response? Make it clear that I'm not threatening or infringing on territory, offer my talents without being pushy? It can be hard to tell with humanoids. They're so much more complicated than animals.
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Old May 7th, 2014, 11:47 PM
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After a moment's hesitation, the voice answers, "A... a druid?" Slowly, a halfling woman steps out from behind the tree. She is tall for her kind, just over three feet in height, and looks up at you with a steady gaze, although her face is notably pallid. She wears light armor fashioned from padded cloth and boiled leather, and has drawn her sword--an oversized dagger in your hands--but she is pointing it at the ground. Her posture is wary, but not aggressive, although Hrr bristles a little at the sight of her and growls a little if the halfling's wavering steps bring her any closer to you. You can see that her hand is shaking slightly, the length of the blade amplifying the slight shudder. At first glance her paleness and trembling might be taken as signs of fear, but coupled with her slow, shallow breathing, it seems more likely that she is ill.

"A druid," she repeats. "Then you can do magic? Things with plants, for example. Or healing? Can you do anything like that?"
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Old May 10th, 2014, 09:33 PM
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I put a hand on Hrr's back to help calm her. This woman isn't a significant threat. "When rested I can perform some plant and healing magics, yes. Just now I have been travelling and my abilities are limited." I keep my explaination vague. Cityfolk often don't understand the complications of spellcasters: needing to predict and prepare what spells will be used, the difference between travelling spells and healing spells. But they understand being tired and unable to work well. If this woman does know how meditation and spells work, I haven't lied to her. "I also have some skills in nonmagical healing, though I can't promise better results than any other doctor or wisewoman."

While talking I glance around to see if there are any convient berries nearby that I could cast Goodberry on.
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Old May 10th, 2014, 10:05 PM
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The halfling scrutinizes you for a little longer, before sheathing her sword; because of her trembling hand, it takes her a few tries. Even though she has put her weapon away, her left hand does not stray far from a throwing knife that hangs at her hip. "It'll have to do. It's not as though you can make it worse. The farmers are too sick to tend the fields, and the wisewomen are too sick to tend the farmers. Everyone's sick. She hastily adds, "E-except the militia, of course. We're, ah, a little more wary than the others. So we're still just fine. But... come on in, I guess." She walks down the road in an awkward sideways shuffle, trying to keep an eye on you.

A little further down the road, near one of the buildings that make up the town proper, you see a couple of bushes you recognize. At this time of year, they should be bearing fruit, but the berries will be so sour that it is unlikely anyone has picked them.
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Old May 10th, 2014, 10:45 PM
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I follow the militiawoman awkwardly. It is natural for smaller animals to be intimidated by larger animals so I don't mind her nervousness, but I don't know how to reassure her. I make an effort to lean more on my staff, trying to make it look more like a walking stick than a weapon. I try to stay in her line of sight as I would with a prey animal. They don't like when someone seems to be hiding from them or stalking them.

A little more wary? What does wariness have to do with illness? I can't tell whether this is just part of her attempt to hide her sickness, or if she really thinks there's a connection. It would be best to talk with a local wisewoman about the causes and ways of spreading of this illness...

I see the berry bushes. "Just a moment, please," I say to my guide as I move towards them. "This may be useful for my magic." I crouch down and pick 8 berries. I cast Goodberry, succesfully imbuing 7 of the berries with healing powers. I discard the last.

Last edited by ProudOddball; May 10th, 2014 at 11:02 PM. Reason: to cast goodberry now instead of later at dm's suggestion
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Old May 11th, 2014, 11:59 PM
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The halfling watches you with some curiosity as you pick berries and cast spells over them, but shrugs and continues to lead you onward into the village. It's unusually quiet, even for such a small village. Not only are the streets as deserted as the fields, there's not much noise coming from within the houses. Hrr walks a bit closer to you than usual, seeming a bit uneasy.

In the disturbing stillness, it is easy to hear the approach of another person; the rapid footfalls against the dirt roads ring out clearly through the town. A halfling in tattered clothes that were probably once brightly colored rounds a corner and runs towards you and your guide. Hrr growls and crouches, getting ready to pounce, but after a moment it seems clear he is running towards the militia woman, not you or your dog.

"Peeeeeeeaaaaaarl!" the man shouts, or rather moans loudly, as he closes in. As he grabs the other halfling by the shoulders, your nose is assaulted by the stench of stale liquor wafting off of him. "Pearrel!" he continues, his words slurring. "It's terrible, Pearl."

The woman--Pearl, if you assume the drunk has identified her correctly--grabs him by the wrists. "What? What's happened now?"

The man opens his mouth and issues a sound which is half-sob, half-squeak. He sniffles, clearly on the verge of tears, before trying again. "I'm almost out of wiiiine," he says in a hoarse whisper.

Pearl gives him a disgusted look and releases his hands; without her support, he immediately falls on his ass. "Right," says Pearl, "never mind him. Do you want to look at one of the farmers?"
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Old May 12th, 2014, 10:41 PM
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Although I know the quiet and stillness are due to illness, I still feel more comfortable with them than I would in a healthy bustling village. As the drunk man talks with my guide I focus on keeping Hrr calm and directing her attention towards me. People who are already on edge won't respond well to a defensive pet. I murmer nice words to her about being a good packmate and guard dog and scratch behind her ears.

The drunk addresses my guide as Pearl but I decide not to use the name unless she invites me to. Sometimes humanoids don't like when I notice something about them they didn't want to share.

I'm focusing on Hrr and letting my mind wander, and am startled briefly when the guard starts talking to me again. "I can examine a few people today. But I think my time today would be best spent learning about this disease. That will help me treat it better later. Is there a wisewoman or healer who's well enough to answer questions?"
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Old May 13th, 2014, 02:24 PM
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"Well enough, sure. I just don't know if they'll have any answers for you. But, alright." Pearl leads you to a sturdy house of wood and brick near the center of town. While the house itself is no larger or smaller than most of the others you have seen, there is a large, fenced off garden adjacent to it. Though still thick with weeds, this garden has seen more tending recently than any of the fields you have passed, and you recognize many of the herbs planted there.

Pearl knocks on the door, two sharp raps of her knuckles, before pushing it open and walking in. Getting inside is a chore; the door is made for someone half your size, after all, and the low ceiling isn't much more comfortable. The inside of the house is dim at first, but Pearl briskly makes a round of the windows and throws all the shutters open to let more light in. Then she heads over to a heap of blankets which have been piled near the dormant fireplace; it is just barely possible to see a woman's face peeking out from under them.

Pearl kneels down and speaks to the woman in hushed tones, but with the town as still as it is, you can hear her just fine. "How are you feeling?" she asks. "Aren't you cold, do you want me to light the fire?"

"That'd be nice,"
the old woman mumbles. "But only if you're going to stay here and tend it..."

"Mom, you know I can't. I've got to help Violet with the fields and keep an eye on Holman--"

"I know. I know. But don't be so hard on that Burrows boy, Pearl, he doesn't mean any harm. Now who's this with you?"
The old woman raises her voice. [b]"Bofgrim is that you? All these years and you're still having trouble with my door--"

"It's not Bofgrim," Pearl whispers. "She's a traveler. A druid. She wants to help with the sickness and she wants to talk to you, if you're up to it."

"A druid?"
The old woman struggles to get up. "Now that's a treat, I haven't seen a druid in these parts since before you were born."

Pearl puts a hand on the woman's shoulder and eases her back down into the blankets with a soothing shoosh. "Okay. That's good. Just, don't be afraid. She's kind of big and... orc-y... but I don't think she means any harm."

On that note Pearl stands up and heads back over to you. "This is Elder Bracegirdle, our wisest and most stubborn healer. If anyone can answer your questions, it'll be her."
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Old May 13th, 2014, 11:29 PM
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As soon as I see the house and the door I know it's going to be a tight fit. I take off my backpack and set it down, and lean my staff against the outer wall. "Guard," I order Hrr. It would be too crowded to take her inside. There probably aren't many thieves out and about now, but giving Hrr something to do keeps her happy and prevents her from getting into mischief.

I crawl on my hands and knees inside. Undignified, but convenient. I sit cross-legged in the middle of the room with the bed. I don't want to get too close without being invited. Pearl introduces Elder Bracegirdle.

"Good day to you, Elder Bracegirdle. I am the druid Kristhana Pegason." I keep my voice quiet; the elder can obviously hear quiet speech and I don't know if the illness causes oversensitivity to loud noises. "I hope to help with the sickness in your town, but I need to know as much about it as you can tell me. Symptoms, how long it takes to run its course, how it's spread, anything else important." I wonder if my questions are too vague and open-ended. But if I asked every specific question I have in mind she'd be overloaded. Better to start vague and give clarification as needed. Right now I don't even know if the illness is directly life-threatening or whether the danger is from starvation because nobody is strong enough to harvest the crops.

Last edited by ProudOddball; May 13th, 2014 at 11:30 PM. Reason: fixing a tag
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Old May 14th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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The elder turns her head to look at you. "All business then? All right, I'll tell you what we know so far, which isn't much... The primary symptom is intense exhaustion. The onset is fairly sudden; folks would be doing fine, and then a few minutes later they'd barely have the strength to stand. Bedrest helps with the worst of the fatigue, but even after a good night's sleep folks have muscle aches, shortness of breath, reduced stamina. And once they're up and about, it's pretty common for those sudden attacks of exhaustion to recur. And that's just the beginning... it gets worse the longer it goes on. As for running its course... so far it doesn't. Nobody's died yet, but no one's getting better either. None of my remedies have done a damned thing. Alton has tried using magic, but it doesn't seem to do anything." She takes a deep breath before continuing. "We don't know how it's spread--"

Pearl snorts and interrupts the elder. "I keep telling you--"

"There are a couple of theories as to how it's going around. Pearl and Bofgrim and Alton all have their own ideas. Pearl, why don't you go ahead and share yours with miss Pegason and let her consider it."


Pearl clears her throat. "I think it's something in the water. Has to be. I've been boiling mine, Violet and Holman have followed my lead, and lo and behold we three are the only ones still on our feet."

"You three, plus Alton and Bofgrim,"
the elder chides. "Still, most the town has taken to boiling their water as well, just in case she's right. It's hard to say if it's helping or not. Like I said, nobody's getting better. And that's... all I think there is to tell you. Any questions?"
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Old May 14th, 2014, 02:37 PM
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Did I upset Elder Bracegirdle by being all business? Well, too late to change it now. I listen to her description of the disease. This isn't a seasonal sickness they have previous experience with. It's affecting people differently than a simple injury or poison. Exhaustion, weakness: no wonder it's been hard to treat, even with magic. My Lesser Restoration spell may be able to help with the symptoms tomorrow. I don't mention it yet. For now I want to focus on what I can do now, not distract these people with maybes and tomorrows.

Pearl tells her theory and I nod along, feeling respect for her. Right or wrong, it's a better idea than I would've expected from an untrained townswoman. "That sounds like a good theory. Contaminated water is a common way diseases are spread, and boiling is a good solution." I do not mention that water problems like this are increased due to cities crowding humanoids and their waste unnaturally close. I would also recommend straining the water through cheesecloth or something similarly tightly-woven before boiling it. "After we speak I would like to inspect all the town's water sources for signs of contamination. Less common but still worth checking for is contaminated food. Certain types of fungi growing in granaries can cause problems, for example.

"What are the other theories?"
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Old May 14th, 2014, 03:08 PM
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"Well, Bofgrim's was a bit hard to decipher," says the elder. "You might want to ask him yourself; he's been giving us a hand with the fields lately. As for Alton--"

Pearl interjects. "Alton's theory is that our years of wanton sobriety are finally catching up with us. I'm not entirely certain whether he's arguing for the health benefits of continual inebriation, or claiming this is the divine wrath of the Accidental God. Actually I'm not sure Alton is certain. He's been running around prescribing people 'emergency remedial brandy.' I think we can safely dismiss that theory."

"And yet,"
the elder says, "he hasn't fallen prey to the illness at all. Alton and Bofgrim have been completely untouched--and they're the only ones in the entire town. I'm not ready to dismiss either of their theories yet."

Pearl huffs a little. "I told you she was stubborn. Anyway, Pegason, you wanted to see the water source and the food stores, do you?"
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Old May 14th, 2014, 08:11 PM
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Divine wrath of the Accidental God? Seems unlikely. The Lucky Drunk is not known for his vengeful nature. Still, liquor can be safe to drink when water isn't. If this Alton is drinking only wine, beer, and brandy, and using water only for cooking that boils it, that could explain his health. Though it's possible Pearl is distorting his claims a bit. If following other leads doesn't work, I can talk to him.

I reach a conclusion listening to Pearl and Bracegirdle: these two are stubborn and I don't want to get between them.

Water source, singular? The entire town gets its water from one source? "Yes, the water source first. I would also like to speak with this Bofgrim. This evening, when he's back from working in the fields, would be best. That leaves until then to examine water and food stores."
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Old May 15th, 2014, 12:32 AM
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Pearl leads you out of the cottage and away from the center of town. It is a bit of a hike, but soon you arrive at a wide river that flows at an ambling pace. The water is a bit murky as the lazy current and the movements of fish disturb the sediment on the bottom, but it looks drinkable. The banks are muddy, but mostly clear of debris.

Even this short walk seems to have been taxing for Pearl; she leans over, putting her hands on her knees and panting. "This," she starts, but cannot summon up the breath to continue for another few minutes. Finally she stands up straight and waves at the river. "This is Mussy," she says. "I mean, the Mussy River. All our water, whether it's for irrigation or drinking or what, comes from here some way or other. We've got a couple of wells dug out but some of the folks who live nearest to the river come out here with pots and buckets."
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