Each traveler finds him/herself sitting alone in a tavern at the edge of the Narosett Sea in the village of Snootenfargavelt. It is late at night and each has been imbibing in food and drink for several hours. Most of the patrons have gone to bed upstairs or gone home. The innkeeper has sent the barmaid off to her room and is nodding off in the corner near the fire, which is now only coals. An old ogre, so round and bent that his nose almost touches his knees when he stands, pushes himself from the table and stumbles to the door and out into the lightening sky. The tavern is now empty except for the four travelers and the innkeeper whose breath is so deep that it moves tiny puffs of ash from the hearth rocks where he has propped his head.
The tavern, named The Four Deuces is lit only by the dying embers in the fireplace and a few candle stubs found on the tables. The front door is open a crack revealing a slight pre-dawn lightening in the sky.
A slender cloaked woman sits at one of the central tables, she faces the door but has a clear view of the entire room. Her face is hidden in the shadows as she hunches over a large joint of beast methodically chewing and sipping from a beer. At the end of the bar closest to the door a red bearded dwarf drinks from a large stein of mead. Most of the mead seems to end up in his beard instead of his mouth. Every once in a while he swings his war hammer above his head and cries out to no one, “I’ve got all my crap with me!” At a table near the other end of the bar sits a Blood Elf. He watches the other inhabitants of the tavern from veiled eyes. He is dressed in black from head to toe in a loosely fitted swathing of cloth, the style of which is primarily worn by masters of the martial arts. On the other side of the tavern is an extraordinarily thin, tall, pale woman. She sits ramrod straight in her chair. It is as if she waits, like a queen, for her courteries to arrive, perhaps with a sacrifice in her honor. No one speaks other than the dwarf’s random assertions.
Suddenly there is a great rumbling from deep beneath the floor and from far away. Then the room gives a sharp jump up two feet and slams back down into the earth. Bottles and pots clang and sway, some fall to the floor with the sound of broken clay and glass.
A giant beam has fallen across the stairwell and another across the front entrance, for all normal purposes blocking everyone’s ability to exit the tavern and hindering their ability to move upstairs to their rooms.
The dwarf is unmoved by the quake, but looks toward the door. A large support beam has broken from the ceiling and fallen twisted against the front door, slamming it shut. The dwarf takes a last swig of mead, places the stein on the bar, lowers his head like a bull and charges the door. When his head connects with the door there is a loud thumb, the tavern trembles as if a small aftershock had occurred and the dwarf bounces backward several feet into the tables which are now in disarray. Undaunted by failure, the dwarf picks himself up and runs head first at the door again. He continues to repeat this action, each time more securely fixing the door shut and edging the broken beam more tightly against the frame.
The cloaked woman, soaked by the beer that spilled from her bottle when the earthquake hit, sweeps aside her cloak to reveal wings. She flies to the gap between the second broken beam and the damaged stairway but fails to fit through the gap. She turns to the others in the room and asks, “Will any of you help me access the rooms upstairs, perhaps we can get out that way and I have my things up stairs.” She is met by silence except for the dwarf, who, as he rises from his latest rush at the door screams, “I’ve got all my crap with me!” Then he lowers his head and runs at the door again.
The Blood Elf has watched the others carefully and then surveys the remainder of the tavern. The bench by the fireplace has been toppled. The fireplace is larger than it was before with a large crack down the back of it that must be blowing air into the coals because the fire itself has grown. The innkeeper who has been bonked on the head by a falling piece of stonework is unconscious and is slumping in toward the fire. As he holds his attention on the fireplace, the Blood Elf sees it seem to grow still larger and the crack widens. He can see what appears to be twinkling light beyond the open crack. The elf grabs the candle that was on his table and slips it into a hidden pocket. “The fireplace has an opening.” He looks around a bit more and sees the debris of the earthquake, notes the cloak racks on either side of the door and the beam across the stairwell.
Perhaps drawn by her stillness and silence, the dwarf suddenly focuses his attention on the tall woman still sitting regally at her table. He swings his war hammer in a wide arc sweeping near her head but does not strike her. Perhaps his aim is off due to the repeated runs at the door with his head. She continues to ignore what is going on.
The winged woman grasps the beam and pulls at it but it does not move. “Help me move this beam, once it is moved I will fly upstairs and see if there is a way out or gather our things for you.” Again, the dwarf yells, “I’ve got all my crap with me!” The Blood Elf stands and moves toward the beam offering help. Together the two of them pull at the beam but other than slight movement that shows it can be moved they make no headway.”Dwarf you can’t get through the door, this may be the only way out!” Shaking his head to stop the ringing, the dwarf moves over to the beam. The tall woman has moved toward the beam as well. Together the four lift and the beam shifts and crashes to the bottom of the steps opening the damaged stairwell access.
The Blood Elf moves back toward where she was sitting. “My room is # 12 at the top of the steps; my cloak is in there, bring it to me.”
The winged woman flies up the stairs, which while damaged are still passable. “I’m coming with you.” The tall woman murmurs beginning to climb the steps. They go into room #12 where the winged woman finds a black cloak on the floor in the corner behind the door. The chimney from the fireplace in the tavern runs up through this room in the outside corner; it appears undamaged. A huge tree has fallen against the window breaking the glass; its branches thickly block an exit through the window. Just as she is about to leave the room the winged woman notices three bright objects on the floor near the chimney and broken window. She investigates and discovers three large feathers that appear to be made out of solid gold. She slips them into her waist pack. The two women move on to the room next door, which is the room in which the winged woman is staying. They find the window similarly blocked by a thick mass of leaves and branches. They turn and try the room directly across the hall. It is uninhabited, neat as a pin awaiting a boarder. The window is intact but faces onto a second tall building that was built next to the tavern allowing only two inches space between window and wall of the second building. “There is no way out!”
Upon hearing this from upstairs the dwarf picks up his war hammer and runs straight at the crack in the fireplace screaming, “I’m getting out of hereee!” he slams straight through and disappears knocking the innkeeper further into the coals and ash. The elf witnessing this dwarf run notes that the cracks seems to have widened and looks even more like a cracked face grinning out at him. The elf moves around the room taking candle stubs as he goes and shifting through the debris on the floor. He walks behind the bar where he notices a small leather bag. It contains another candle stub and wads of wool. Grinning, the elf stuffs the small bag deep into one of his many pockets.
Meanwhile upstairs, the tall woman has moved into the room at the end of the hall. She finds an unmade bed and a small backpack. She rummages through the pack and finds two days of blood supply for her sustenance since she is a methusalem.
While the methusalem is in this room finding her blood packet, the winged woman goes to the room opposite her. As she opens the door, she hears a shout from inside. “GET OUT!” thunders a male voice. As if in one move an average sized but buff bald male man jumps from his bed producing two swords and falling into an immediate posture of defense. Her hand still on the door as it opens wider the man screams again taking a step toward her and brandishing the swords, “GET OUT!”
She slams the door shut but calls to the man inside, “There’s been an earthquake and we are all locked in, we are looking for way out, we can help”. There is no response.
At the first “GET OUT!”, the methusalem grabbed the blood packets and headed downstairs. Once downstairs she moved over to the innkeeper pulling him out of the coals. The smell of burnt hair and singed flesh fill the corner of the tavern. She lays him out on the floor of the tavern and determines that he is uninjured other than the bump on his head that has rendered him unconscious. She was feeling a bit peckish so she bends low over the innkeeper bites his neck and drinks deep. She leaves him alive and rises up wiping her lips clean. “Where’s the dwarf? she asks the elf who is behind the bar.
“He ran through the crack in the fireplace and disappeared.”
The methusalem takes a last survey of the tavern turns and runs into and through the crack in the fireplace disappearing immediately. The cracks widen farther and light streams through along with the smell, a breeze can be felt coming from the cracks.
The winged woman goes into the final room upstairs and looks around briefly. The room is a tousled mess but she sees nothing of interest. She heads downstairs just in time to see the tall woman disappear into the fireplace. She tosses the elf her cloak and tells her that there is no way out and nothing of interest upstairs except an aggressive man in the end room. Then she too runs to and through the fireplace.
The elf readies herself for battle and goes upstairs. At the top landing, she pulls a small candle from her pack along with a bit of wool. She rubs the wool into the top of the candle and then lights it burning the wool with the wax. Then she blows out the candle. Immediately there is the sound of four wolves howling with madness. It fills the hall and the rooms, it stalks the entire building. At the far end of the hall, a door opens and the bald man rushes down the corridor toward the stairs. He brandishes his swords as he goes. When he gets just to the landing the elf jumps doing a flying kick directly toward his solar plexus. At the last possible moment, the man ducks and swerves slipping past the elf and down the stairs. The elf goes down the hall and into the room from which he had emerged. A novel rests on the bedside table. Some toiletries are scattered about. She looks more closely around the room and notices a charred piece of paper near the nightstand. Picking it up she sees that is in elf and reads ‘cartel losse’. She places the piece of paper in a pocket near her heart and heads downstairs.
The tavern is empty. She takes a deep breath and runs through the fireplace.
There is another earthquake, an aftershock but a big one, and this time the movement is side-to side shaking. Quick as a wink the crack gapes wide; to someone with high perception it might look like a big open smile but before any reaction can occur the elf falls into and through the crack in the fireplace because of the ground shaking. The four travelers, and the innkeeper, were thrown through, roughly landing on a very hard gray stone surface from a height of about three feet.
The gray stone runs alongside what appears to be a straight black road. The stone is intersected every few feet with a line of indent; here and there the stone is cracked. Occasionally there are what appear to be crafted carvings or messages on the rock surface. Edging the rock along where the road has been cut, rise a line of gray branchless trunks with knobbed tops, these seem to have been planted at regular intervals of about every 10 to 15 feet.
Everywhere they turn signs in unknown script are proclaiming they know not what. It appears to be twilight, though it was very early morning only moments before in the Tavern.
In the distance past the stone buildings at the end of the stone path are what appears to be grass and trees but the leaves on the trees are orange and yellow and brown, the temperature is be mild and the sky is clear. There are orange and black ribbons and paper figures and signs everywhere. All of the creatures on the somewhat crowded paths seem to be human but many are poorly disguised as non-humans. Among the populace are red shirted men and women with tight black trousers and short boots. They wear a gold emblem on their left chest. There are human vampires, odd metal creatures, women and men all in black, some humans dressed as witches, and all manner of outfit strange and unaccountable. At first the travelers look toward the innkeeper who appears to be unconscious but before any of them can take a good look at him, the methusalem stalks off asking if anyone is going to come along. The other three begin to walk along in the same direction as she is taking toward the distant trees.
They can see a larger group of people gathered in front of one of the buildings several hundred feet ahead. Everyone seems to want to get into the building but a large bald black man is barring his or her way. Occasionally he lets in one or two of the waiting crowd.
BAM! The methusalem is hit by an object shooting out of an alley. A shopping cart full of all manner of things, toilet seats, blankets, what appears to be a dead cat suspended by its tail, books, bottles and cans, trash bags full of random stuff, plastic tubing, extension cords, twine, newspapers, etc. is pushed out of an alley right into one of her. The creature propelling the cart is a stubble chinned over tanned Caucasian guy, his cheekbones and shoulders are prominent, his eyes are crusty and bloodshot. His hands grip the shopping cart tightly and are shaking so that at a standstill the cart trembles and shakes making a constant background noise that at first seems grating, but as it continues takes on a rhythm that transforms the noise into almost what feels like music. This thin man reeks of alcohol and an overly sweet odor that you can’t identify. The cartman himself is dressed in filthy olive army surplus. He seems to be wearing at least two coats, each of which has multiple pockets and zippers. Everything about him is raggedy and filthy. His skin is so dirty that you can’t tell where the flesh begins and the dirt ends, it has become as one.
“hey man why’d ya hit ma cart, watch urself, watch urself. Oh my brothers, you look like you could use some direction, you just ask Clark, that’s me, Clark I know where all the places here is. Where you going? Clark’ll hep you find it and then you can hep “Clark. I ain’t had a thing to eat for two days, really brother. Clark hep you and you hep Clark with a little cash so I can get me some dinner, yep I needs me my dinner.”
“You just ran into me!"