The town of Manalith is quite the sight. It has spires that stretch close to 100ft towards the sky. There seems to be carved runes in just about every piece of architecture. Everything is made of a smooth white marble like stone. Being in the center of a dense forest, Manalith stands out from its green surroundings. The people in town seem frantic. You see several smacking small tools trying to get them to work again but not succeeding. Most of the inhabitants here look to be humans but there is a fair mix of races here and there. You find the town hall and head inside. Your characters only know that you all work for the same employer. As you sit in the lobby of the town hall an assistant approaches, human female of fair complexion with brown hair. She gets all your names and then heads back to the office to inform Hertle of your arrival. As she opens the office door you see a gnome with frenzied white hair who you could only assume must be Hertle.
Patiently waiting the adventurer’s arrival, Hertle paces in his office. Nervously fiddling with a rune carved tea cup. A quick knock on his door alerts him to the entrance of his assistant, Darci. “The guild’s representatives have arrived Hertle, shall I let them in?” Hertle hastily places his tea cup back down on his desk, fixed his round spectacles upon his nose, and takes his seat behind his desk and he motions to Darci, “Yes yes, let them in. Oo, I do hope we can get this resolved soon.” He continues fidgeting, his nerves clearly on edge. As the four adventurers walk in, he pulls a damp kerchief from his leather vest’s breast pocket and wipes his forehead. He stays seated, and motions to the four chairs in front of his desk, “Welcome, welcome! Please, uh, take a seat! Yes. Uh, Darci, please get our guests a cup of tea.”
He takes a moment to look over each group member carefully as they take their seats. Before anyone has a moment to say anything Hertle quickly speaks, “Well, it is good to see you have made it safely. I must say, when I first contacted the guild I didn’t expect such a quick response. Recently, we have been plagued by a.. sickness, for lack of a better term. You see, our magic items have lost their abilities, and it’s showing no signs of returning. I have never in my 117 years of life experienced this before. So. I do hope you can help us out. People are losing interest in this small town and some have already started to leave. It worries me that we could go from steadily growing to empty! A ghost town, a myth, a long lost piece of history! We cannot allow Manalith to reach such a sad end. I want to answer any questions, and I’m sure you have many. So please, ask me anything you need that could further your investigation. I will do my best to answer them so please, please ask. Yes."
Tine stands up and turns so that he can address his new companions as well as Hertle. His glowing golden eyes show no direction, but he's quite animated as he speaks. "We are happy to be of service, and are confident that we will get to the bottom of this mystery. Can you tell us - when did these magical abilities start to disappear? Was it all at once? And most importantly, did you have any travelers come through Manalith around the time all this began? This certainly does not seem like a chance occurrence."
Vosnin, a fair skinned dwarf with a red beard, stands ready in the hall of the building holding a canvass travel bag. Inside are only the essentials and an extra change of clothes. Vosnin gives the others a knowing nod to the others, no doubt part of the same guild. After being ushered inside, Vosnin take the cup from Darci and looks over the runes. As Tine is speaking, Vosnin speaks up and interjects. Vosnin believes a different route of investigation is imperative. “To me, the more important thing to know is when these magical abilities started. I’ve noticed the runes. What can you tell us about those?” Can I do check on those? History, maybe religion? “Clearly when the magic began to wane is important, we need to know where it comes from. Who was the founder of such a city? I’ve heard sometimes arcane energy can be derived from the ground a city is built upon. What lays under the foundations here? And to be in the middle of the forest...”
Velten remains seated, listening to Tine and Vosnin's questions. A wise group we have here, he thinks to himself. This mystery and these happenings are strange, over a century without an issue... and now this.
Velten clears his throat, "Both are good questions, to which I hope we have answers, sometimes in order to understand the end we must first understand the beginning."
He removes his monocle while he speaks, a simple piece of glass with an elegant metal carving resembling claws on one side, and begins to clean it. His muscles begin to tighten slightly, until he slides it back into place.
"Are there any neighboring towns to Manalith? Perhaps some that may be envious of the magic that seems to reside here?" he continues. "I'm sure there are a lot of profiting businesses nearby now that there are more customers to be had."
OoC: I also do a memory check to recall information about this famous town and it's magic. History/Religion: 16
Hertle begins replying in a long winded way, "Well Manalith is indeed old. Not much is known about its beginnings. You see, the original settlers were actually humans, we believe, but the city was struck by an earthquake and much of its history was lost or forgotten. Much of the living population didn't make it. Manalith laid dormant for roughly 70 years after that, according to researchers, the rebuild process too daunting for any to pursue. Finally an expedition lead by my father discovered and reclaimed this city, slowly beginning to rebuild it. That started 40 years ago and it was his dying wish to see this place returned to what it once was. What was recovered from the ruins now lies in the Archives of Manalith. You can speak to Lopin there for access to those archives but be prepared for long hours of study, nothing there is filed well enough to have easy access to. All findings have been dug up near the south end of town, some old collapsed ruins remain there. That is where we continue to recover new.. well.. old texts and artifacts left behind by the original settlers."
He takes a moment to pause but only to drink the remainder of his tea.
"As far as those runes, they are but simple magics any arcane scholar can imply. That one there, on your tea cup, it simply keeps your drink at just the right temperature for as long as you wish. Though, not anymore. You see, with any type of creation as such it needs a.. power source. And all these items, each and everyone, only works within this city. Once you get too far from the city's center, they all stop working. We never did discover the power source, or well. Not yet, we do hope to get to it but the ruins we've dug up don't really lead anywhere. We have yet to discover a tunnel or cavern of any sort."
"As for when this began, it started about three weeks ago. And it did not happen all at once. At first, some items simply stopped working for certain periods of time but eventually you could get them to function properly again. After a few days, they started to malfunction more frequently and after a week went by they stopped altogether. The further from the center of town the items were, the more likely it was they would stop working. The more peculiar thing is.. well. The peoples of Manalith find it much easier to work with arcane abilities while within the town. The way a sorcerer weaves simple magic comes naturally to just about everyone in town. However, at the start of this week even those ties were severed. Now only the most studied arcane scholars still have connections to their magic. I myself could summon small orbs of light to follow me when I needed that extra illumination. But now?" He traces sigils in the air and speaks a few words with effort and then.. nothing. "See?"
"The closest neighboring town is Greenvale. It is still quite some distance away though, about 4 days travel on horseback. I couldn't see them having any issue with what we pursue here. Ever since our discoveries we've only made things easier for everyone. I couldn't see anyone being against that. The only person who might be even.. slightly.. distressed? Uh. Yeah. I guess it would be Rindal, he was by my father's side when they discovered Manalith. Together they rebuilt what you see now. But Rindal always seemed like he wanted more, you know? Even so, he is simply a researcher. And life has been made easier for him, just as much as everyone else." He gives a nervous chuckle at that as his eyes dart from his tea cup to your group and back to his cup. "Am I missing anything?" He says, speaking towards his cup.
History - Vosnin
You only know what is common knowledge. Manalith is rumored to be the place to be for all arcane needs, it's splendor only a fragment of what it once was but still promises to be returned to it's old glory.
History - Velten
You are aware that the forests surrounding Manalith were much fuller of life many years ago. The travel to Manalith you had was very.. dull. Yes there was wildlife, but nothing like the tales you had heard of magical creatures peering out from the underbrush. Much has changed from what Manalith once used to be. Whatever is affecting the town itself must also be affecting the forest. You are also aware that people born here in Manalith were rumored to have a close tie to the arcane. Many young sorcerers are born here. And even after living here for some time, someone with no arcane abilities was able to produce small arcane trickery. (All of these abilities are limited to utility cantrips, there are no high level arcane users here)
Tine listens intently as Hertle goes on. The charcoal-skinned fire Genasi looks down at his palm and slowly raises it up. A few subtle flashes of light and smoke appear, seemingly to the frustration of the wizard. Tine seems to intensify his focus, and finally a flame bursts forth in his hand. He turns it, looking into the flames ponderously. Finally, he closes his palm and snuffs it out.
"Incredible. I have studied long and hard, but my elemental powers are innate - tied to my bloodline. And even they seem to be stymied by whatever is causing these issues." Tine looks around at the group, then back at Hertle. "How thoroughly have you covered the texts already uncovered? I am interested in looking through them, but defer to my companions about a next course of action."
As Tine waits for a consensus, he closes his eyes and focuses deeply on himself. He searches for any clues or feelings that might lead him toward a potential answer... Religion check: 17
The imposing Half-Orc in full scale mail armor had been content to just sit back and listen to the conversation, but when Hertle mentioned Rindal an eyebrow raised and his head cocked slightly to the side. "What else can you tell us about this Rindal?"
"I have not studied the texts at all, no. Not me. That's for the archivists to work on. There are just a handful of them but they are working day and night to find answers. It is hard as most of the text is ciphered in some way." Hertle begins to lose focus again, seeming to let his thoughts drift when he looks to almost snap back to reality. "Oh, uh. Rindal, yes. He was, erm, IS. He is a good man and.. yes. Well. He and my father had a small bit of.. a.. misunderstanding. See, uh. Rindal wanted to run the town I suppose and my father over stepped him and nowi'm in charge but hes okay with it I think but it should be just fine." Hertle's voice grew quieter and quieter to the point where you barely even caught the end of what he was saying before he yells out, "OKAY! So if that is all let me know how it goes, I've prepared lodgings at the Enchanted Inn please take advantage of our hospitality!" He begins to stand up off his seat for the first time since you've entered his room.
Easy read dialogue:
Oh, uh. Rindal, yes. He was, erm, IS. He is a good man and.. yes. Well. He and my father had a small bit of.. a.. misunderstanding. See, uh. Rindal wanted to run the town I suppose and my father over stepped him and now i'm in charge but hes okay with it I think but it should be just fine.
As Hertle finishes, Tine seems to snap out of a trance. He looks perplexed. "Something...terrible is coming from the earth," he says as he kneels down and presses a palm against the floor. "Despair...eating away..." He stands back up and looks around the room. "I think the ruins may hold more than these people currently know. Whether we start there, or question this Rindal fellow, I will leave up to you all to decide."
[OOC] Can I do an insight check on Hertle to see just how much he believes what he's saying about Rindal? Insight: 10
At this full gnome height, Hertle's eyes just barely clear his tall desk. He shambles over to the side and comes around on the side of the seated group. Its at this point you see he walks with one stiff wooden leg. The leg itself is shaped to perfectly resemble any leg except it is also carved with runes as with most of the supposedly enchanted items you have seen. "Well, I don't know about something terrible in the earth uhh. that sounds daunting and I don't want no part in it." He eyes Tine, as if attempting to understand what he was saying.
OOC [Hertle definitely has some information about Rindal he seems to not want to give up. Perhaps a persuasion could help loose his tongue.]
I will wait for everyone to post once more before finalizing this chat.
Vosnin, not one to mince words, notices the gnome trailing off. "See, now that's a problem. Normally folks don't trail off when asked a question unless they're hiding something. Now I don't want to be the accusing kind, but you are paying us a lot of money to solve this issue here. Now I don't see how hiding some information from the investigators sent here are going to further either of our resolve. What else you got?"
After the slight tell in Hertle's speech Velten glances the room and catches eyes with his companions, they can also tell something is not right.
Vosnin has the right idea. Velten moves towards the door and crouches down to match Hertle's height, just in time for his conversation with Vosnin to end. Velten now catches Hertle's eyes.
"Hertle, we are here to help you. Withholding any information relating to our business here could lead to Manalith never returning to its wonderous ways. You can see just how much we want to solve this with you, you can trust in us."
Ooc: yikes lol, we can just add these together right? ;)
Hertle sighs heavily. "Yes, you're right. I do aim to solve this. I just feel bad for Rindal. You have to understand I had nothing to do with what happened to him. Rindal is a human and he always had arcane talents even before coming to Manalith. Upon discovering this place he grew more and more obsessed in it, he started to command people to work all hours of the day no matter how exhausted. He wouldn't let people leave the dig site, a very cruel show of his leadership capabilities. He himself would also work for days without eating or sleeping, like some crazed mad man. The town started to hate him, and Rindal started to claim he was leader of the operation and those who did not listen to him were to leave. My father did his best to keep Rindal in check, but Rindal was too restless. Rindal just wouldn't stop and so he was removed from the dig site against his wishes. He has his own residence, not too far from the dig site, and that is where he was taken. But then he just stopped interacting with anyone at all. We thought maybe the worst happened and he, you know, died. But anytime we go to his home he yells out at us to leave. No one has entered his home since he was.. banished.. to it. This happened about a month ago. I do wish him well. He was a good man and he is capable of great things. His knowledge of the arcane would help us a great deal in solving our problems I'm sure. But he just won't hear it. Maybe you can tell him you're here to help? Perhaps he'll listen to outsiders."
Tine nods. "You're probably right. I just have a sinking feeling about the ruins." He looks around to the group and puts a hand on Velten's shoulder. "Let's see what this Rindal has to say for himself." He wishes Hertle a farewell and heads out toward Rindal's residence.