We’ve learned the hard way that secrets have a way of surfacing, often at the most inconvenient of times. I should’ve trusted you all with the truth sooner. For that, I apologize.Alaric Bledstone
Session 19 – O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Advice to the reader
In order to interpret the structure of my gaming session posts effectively, it is strongly suggested that you peruse A Readers Guide to Play Sessions on The Old Bard, if you haven’t already.
To better grasp what I mean when I bring up Fate questions, you might find it useful to keep the Mythic Fate Chart accessible, potentially in a new window or tab in your browser.
The Story So Far
The Party had returned to Dreadmere only to find that Mara was missing. They went searching through the town to find her, and have just reconvened at 9AM to their designated meeting spot, each hoping that the others bring news of their friend Mara Jourdain
Day 18 – Scene 57
ATGM: So, at the end of the last session, we created a new scene, 57, titled Search for Mara. I also added another entry to our Characters List for Mara as a focus item moving forward. Search for Mara is our "Expected" scene but we're going to test that now using Mythic to determine if that is in fact the path we follow. I roll 1d20 for a result of 9. Our Chaos Factor is 6 so that's over, so this means we continue on with the expected scene. The party has just reconvened, but has anyone found Mara? Let's find out with a Mythic Fate Question. I say there is a 50/50 chance that someone found Mara, and remember that our Chaos Factor is 6, so we'll need to roll 65 or less for a Yes answer. I roll 1d100 for a result of 20. So Yes! Someone does in fact found Mara. But is she with them? I roll 1d100 for a result of 21, Yes! She is with them. Who is she with? I'm going to roll 1d4, and depending on the result she will either be with 1 = Eldon, 2 = Morn, 3 = Thenelis and finally 4 = Ulmog. My result is 3, so she is with Thenelis.
As the group reconvenes, their eyes widen collectively at the sight of Thenelis. Accompanying him is none other than Mara Jourdain, appearing disoriented but unharmed. A wave of relief washes over everyone as they rush forward to meet their friends.
“Mara, are you alright?” Eldon asks, concern lining his features.
Meanwhile, Ulmog clasps Thenelis’ shoulder with a hearty laugh, “You half-elf, you always have the knack for being at the right place at the right time!”
Morn nods approvingly, “We had the town worried, Mara.” He pauses and adds, “We were worried.”
With Mara safe, the group can now focus on the questions that linger, primarily where she was and what happened during her disappearance.
“Tell them,” Thenelis urges her. “please tell them what you told me.”
ATGM: To determine where Mara was, and what happened during her disappearance, we could easily roll on some of the Mythic Meaning tables for some words to see if that sparks inspiration of what may have happened. However, this time I decide to use a combination of results from the Tome of Adventure Design Revised and The Game Master’s Book of Astonishing Random Tables. Looking at the Table of Contents for The Game Master's Book of Astonishing Random Tables, I see Dreams and Nightmarish Dreams on page 194. I turn to page 194 and roll a 1d10 for a result of 5. That result reads as follows: "Bright, painful light blinds you as you try to take in your surroundings. You are in a small, doorless room and the sound of reverberating laughter gets louder and louder until your ears and eyes begin to bleed." Moving on that Mara apparently had the nightmare described above, I decide to use the Tome of Adventure Design Revised for other ideas for either the nightmare or what happened when Mara had the nightmare. On page 75 of this book is a table of Random Acts for The Villain's Plan. I'm thinking Mara had a nightmare and could see a Sinister Figure within her dream as well, perhaps this was the laughter she heard? I roll 1d100 for a result of 56. The description of the Nature of Actions, or Randomness Thereof for this result is as follows: "Unplanned assaults committed when the opportunity arises." On the right side of the page I see the word Lure within the Apophenia section of the page. Hmm, so perhaps the Sinister Figure in her dreams was trying to lure someone with these unplanned assaults.
Mara shivers as she recounts her tale. “I had a nightmare. In this dream, there was a blinding, painful light. It was so intense that I could hardly open my eyes. I found myself in a small room without any doors. There was a sinister laughter that echoed all around me, growing louder and louder until it felt as if my ears and eyes were bleeding.”
She pauses, trying to gather herself before continuing, “And then…then there was this figure. Sinister and foreboding, the very embodiment of fear itself. He was launching assault after assault, seemingly without any plan or reason.”
She swallows hard, her voice barely above a whisper now, “And…you were all there too. I saw each one of you, caught in his chaotic attacks. It was as if he was trying to lure us away, to separate us.”
Mara looks at each member of the group in turn, “I’ve never seen this figure before, but the dream felt so…real. I can’t help but feel that this is a warning of sorts. A sign of challenges and dangers that lie ahead.”
The solemn silence that follows is telling. Each member of the group is quietly contemplating the implications of Mara’s dream. Whatever lies ahead, they now know they must face it together.
Mara looks down, clutching her arms around herself as if to ward off the chill of the memory. “The nightmare, it… it was too much. I felt an overwhelming need to escape, to run away from the confining walls of the inn, to breathe in the open air. I thought a walk around the town would help clear my mind. I did not mean to worry you all.”
“Somewhere near the southern end of the town, by the marketplace, I found a small alleyway and decided to rest for a moment. That’s when the nightmare took a hold of me. It felt so real, so terrifying, and the more I tried to wake up, the more the dream seemed to grip me.”
A look of guilt crosses Mara’s face. “In my fear, I must’ve lost track of time. I didn’t realize I had been gone all night.”
Thenelis chimes in at this point, “I found her this morning, huddled in an alleyway by the marketplace. She looked shaken and disoriented, like she’d been through an ordeal. She told me about the dream, about the sinister figure and… about us. It seems like something more than just a dream, more like a premonition.”
The atmosphere grows heavy as they contemplate Mara’s words, each member lost in their own thoughts about the challenges they may face ahead.
Morn says quickly. “Mara, this is Eldon Marrowwind. He’s the one we’ve been telling you about, the sorcerer we sought in Athesa.”
Eldon steps forward, a kind smile on his face as he extends a hand towards Mara. “It’s an honor to meet you, Mara. I’ve been told about your situation, and I’m here to help in any way I can.” His voice is gentle and sincere, making it clear he means his words.
Eldon’s demeanor turns serious as he addresses the group. “Our time is running short. We must return to the carnival with haste,” he announces. “Gather your belongings immediately. Every moment we delay increases the danger.”
With the gravity of Eldon’s words sinking in, the group members exchange determined glances before setting off to prepare for their urgent journey back to the carnival. It’s clear that whatever awaits them there, they must face it together and soon.
Ulmog states “But how will we all get there? Only we have Lifelong passes that allow us to teleport back to the carnival. What about Eldon?”
Eldon, seeming unperturbed by this apparent dilemma, gives a slight smile. “You forget, I’m a sorcerer. While I may not have a carnival pass, I have my ways. Besides,” he adds, his smile broadening a bit, “Blyris and I go way back. I assure you, he won’t turn me away at the gate.”
Eldon’s reassurances seem to put the group at ease. They all understand that the task before them is daunting, and having a powerful sorcerer by their side is a significant advantage. They collect their belongings and mentally prepare themselves for the challenges that await them back at the carnival.
“Everyone ready?” Eldon asks, and with that he raises his hands into the air.
As Eldon’s hands rise, so does a faint, glowing energy begin to swirl around him, the ambient light in the room dimming as if drawn towards him. He utters a few arcane words under his breath, his voice barely above a whisper yet reverberating in the silent room.
A sudden gust of wind sweeps through the room, causing everyone to shield their eyes instinctively. As they lower their hands, they find themselves standing in a familiar environment, the cacophony of carnival sounds reaching their ears. They’ve returned to Blyris’ Carnival.
The group exchanges relieved smiles, glad to have circumvented the long journey back. Now, their work truly begins. They need to warn Blyris, figure out the connection between the Umbral Sphere and Mara’s nightmare, and most importantly, prepare for the sinister figure that haunts them.
“Eldon?” Thenelis asks, “just how was it that you were able to bring us all to the carnival without a lifelong ticket?”
Eldon chuckles, “The ‘lifelong tickets’ you hold are conduits for a teleportation spell that Blyris had imbued upon them. It’s a clever spell, actually. It’s built in a way to use your familiarity with the carnival to navigate the magical currents and get you there safely, regardless of where you are.”
He pauses to adjust his robes and adds, “However, the spell is not exclusive to these tickets. As a seasoned sorcerer, I’ve practiced similar spells for many years. I don’t need a physical conduit like a ticket; I can cast the spell by myself. I just needed a clear image of the carnival in my mind, and I know this carnival very well.”
A smirk tugs at the corner of his mouth, “Consider it a professional’s touch to your ticket’s amateur method. It’s all magic, after all.”
Morn begins walking to Moody Cleves tent, motioning to the others to follow “Quick, let us not waste time and report back to Moody.”
The party follows Morn as he navigates through the lively carnival grounds, bustling with performers and workers preparing for the day’s show. The colorful bustle of the carnival stands in stark contrast to the grave mission they’ve embarked on. The light-hearted laughter and cheer that fills the air seem like echoes from a distant, carefree time.
They approach Moody Cleves’s tent, the hub of the carnival’s magical undercurrents. Despite the whimsical facade, the seer’s abode has always held a certain aura of mystery. Moody, with his wild hair and twinkling eyes, usually appears to be part eccentric showman and part enigmatic oracle. Today, however, his eyes hold a trace of unease.
Morn steps forward, his bardic charisma on full display. “Moody,” he begins, “we have returned as per your instruction, and we have brought with us Eldon Marrowwind.” He gestures towards Eldon, who greets Moody with a respectful nod.
A look of surprise spreads across Moody’s face as he shouts “Alaric! My Gods it’s you!”
“Yes, Moody, it’s me,” Eldon – or rather, Alaric – replies, a small, warm smile on his face. His eyes, which have seen centuries of turmoil, war and peace, show a hint of relief at seeing his old friend again. “And it seems like there is a lot to be discussed.”
The room falls into a stunned silence. Morn, Thenelis, Ulmog and Mara stare in shock at the man they thought they knew. Their quest had been one of unexpected surprises, but none as surprising as this.
“We must seek your brothers council immediately!” Moody states.
Again, Morn, Thenelis, Ulmog and Mara are stunned once again.
“Brother?” Ulmog questions.
Suddenly Mara remembers the voice in her head when she mediated on the room and heard the voice say “Brother”.
“Yes, Ulmog. My brother,” Alaric responds calmly. “Blyris. He runs this carnival. Moody, lead the way. We must hurry.”
This revelation causes yet another wave of surprise among the group. The mere thought of Alaric, the sorcerer who had been a mysterious figure in their journey, being the brother of the warm, charismatic and jovial Blyris, was hard to fathom. As they follow Moody towards Blyris’ office, their minds are a whirlwind of questions and disbelief.
Everyone enters Blyris Bledstone’s office. Blyris is seated at his desk. He sees Alaric is with them and is overcome with joy.
Blyris rises from his chair to greet them, “Alaric! It is so good to see you after so many years. ” says Blyris, Yet I fear the reason for your return.” he continues.”
Alaric, always the stern one, replies, “You’re right, brother. My return is not under ideal circumstances.” He pauses, studying the familiar surroundings of the office before continuing, “We face a dire threat, one I believe you’re well aware of.”
Blyris gives a solemn nod, his cheerful demeanor from earlier quickly replaced with a grim understanding. “Our brother, Odyn,” he finally admits, acknowledging the dark cloud that has been looming over the family’s history.
A stunned silence fills the room as the reality of the situation sinks in for Morn, Thenelis, Ulmog, and Mara.
“Wait just a minute! Odyn? Another brother?” shouts Ulmog.
Alaric, holding his steady gaze on Ulmog, replies solemnly, “Yes, our younger brother, Odyn. I suspect he is behind the recent events that have been plaguing this carnival.”
“Odyn is a powerful sorcerer, driven by jealousy and ambition,” Blyris adds, his tone heavy. “He left us many years ago, vowing to become the most powerful among us, no matter the cost.”
A collective gasp escapes from the group, as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. The sinister figure, the relentless attacks, and now, a rogue brother driven by jealousy and power – it all starts making sense.
“But… why?” Thenelis manages to ask, his voice choked with confusion.
Alaric and Blyris exchange a knowing look before Alaric explains, “Our family has a legacy of magic. Each of us inherited a measure of it, but Odyn… he was never satisfied with his share. His lust for power led him down a dangerous path, one that drove him to violence and darkness.”
As Alaric and Blyris continue to reveal the secrets of their family history, the group listens in shock, the weight of the situation becoming all too clear. The fate of the carnival and possibly much more hangs in the balance, and it’s up to them to confront and stop Odyn before it’s too late.
A look of hate comes over Mara’s face and she shouts, “So it was your brother who slain my husband and put this curse on me? Why!”
The room falls silent at Mara’s outburst. Alaric steps forward, his expression a mixture of pain and regret. “Mara,” he starts, his voice strained, “we did not know the depths to which Odyn would sink in his quest for power. I am truly sorry for what happened to your husband and the curse that was placed upon you.”
Blyris’ gaze is sympathetic as he looks at Mara. “Our brother has long since lost his way, guided by his obsession with power and control. His actions are unforgivable, and he has hurt many innocent people. We should have done more to stop him when we had the chance.”
Alaric’s hand clenches into a fist at his side. “But we can’t change the past,” he continues. “What we can do is put an end to Odyn’s madness now. Together, we can fight against him, put a stop to his malevolent plans, and hopefully lift the curse that binds you, Mara.”
Mara’s features soften slightly at their words, the raw fury in her eyes replaced by a steely determination. “Then let’s not waste any more time. We need to stop him. For the carnival, for my husband, and for all those he’s hurt.”
There’s a renewed sense of purpose in the room, a spark of hope amidst the grim revelations. They may be facing a powerful sorcerer consumed by jealousy and hate, but they’re not facing him alone. They have each other, and they have a reason to fight. And that just might be enough.
Morn speaks up, “But why keep it a secret from us? Especially when it was made known that this was the carnival where Mara and her husband were during the attack. You knew it was your brother Odyn, and you didn’t tell us. And you Eldon, or Alaric as we have discovered. Why keep your true identity secret to us as well?”
Alaric and Blyris exchange looks, each seeming to gauge the other for a moment before Alaric takes a deep breath and steps forward.
“Morn, everyone,” Alaric begins, his voice steady despite the heavy tension in the room, “I understand your anger and confusion. Our secrecy was never intended as a betrayal or deception. I kept my identity hidden because Odyn was, and likely still is, hunting me. In his twisted pursuit of power, he would stop at nothing to bring me down, and I feared involving you in this family feud could put you all in grave danger.”
Blyris nods in agreement, “As for me, the safety and peace of the carnival has always been my priority. I didn’t want to trouble the carnival-goers with our family’s tumultuous past. I deeply regret not sharing the truth with you, especially Mara, given your direct involvement. But the fear of Odyn’s retribution was… too great. We never meant to deceive you.”
“Nevertheless,” Alaric adds, “We’ve learned the hard way that secrets have a way of surfacing, often at the most inconvenient of times. I should’ve trusted you all with the truth sooner. For that, I apologize.”
The air in the room is thick, weighed down by heavy confessions and hidden truths. There’s a lot to take in, but in their hearts, Morn, Thenelis, Ulmog, and Mara understand their reasons. The wounds of betrayal may still sting, but they know that standing united is the only way they’ll be able to face the impending storm.
“Of course,” Blyris agrees, understanding the weary expressions on their faces. “The stress of our revelations, on top of your recent adventures, must have left you all drained. I have rooms prepared for each of you. You’ve earned a night of rest and peace. In the morning, after a hearty breakfast, we shall reconvene here and form a strategy to counter Odyn’s schemes.”
Blyris rises from his chair and gestures to a side door, where a carnival worker waits to guide the party to their quarters. “May your dreams be free of the weight of today’s burdens,” he bids them as they exit his office, a weary yet determined group ready to face the trials of the morrow.
As they leave, the brothers Bledstone share a look, a silent agreement passing between them. The return of Alaric, the uncovering of their past, and the re-emergence of Odyn mark the beginning of a challenging time for them all. But together, they stand ready to face whatever may come.
And there you have it. As I noted in Session 18, I spent session 17 detailing some of the backstory that was revealed to the party in this post. There are still a couple more things to reveal however, so that will not happen now until after Session 20.
This will also end Day 18 and Scene 57.
I’ve updated the Threads List and Characters List on my Adventure Lists sheet. I’ve added “Deal with Odyn Bledstone” to the threads list. I’ve also removed “Who let the dogs out” as we now know this Sinister Figure was Odyn. On the Characters List, I replaced what was referring to the sorcerer who massacred the carnival to Odyn Bledstone as well, along with replacing Eldon Marrowwind with Alaric Bledstone. Since we now know what “brother” meant, I’m going to remove it, as well as “Hell hounds and Figure” , a finally removing a second entry we had for Eldon Marrowwind and Mara.
However, I feel the party still did not have control during this scene. In fact, much was revealed to them that was out of their control, so we are bumping up the Chaos Factor to 7.
Till next time!
- Dungeons & Dragons Core Rule Books
- Players Handbook (PHB)
- Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG)
- Monster Manual (MM)
- Mythic Game Master Emulator Second Edition (MGME2E)
- ChatGPT for generating a description of various elements as noted.
- Tome of Adventure Design Revised
- The Game Master’s Book of Astonishing Random Tables