Serpents of the Frost Blade: Part I

The bus lumbers around the corner, away from the bright lights and gleaming towers of the avenue. As it ducks into the bowels of a massive underground complex, the lights flicker on. The passengers begin to stir, including Creepy Guy, who has been asleep at your shoulder. (Roll D20 against a CHR check to determine whether Creepy Guy follows you.) You unfold your brother's letter for the hundredth time, looking in vain for a new clue. "Come at once, the mages were right," he had scribbled. "Pack light, but bring Patience - steal it if you have to. Make no mistake, we face the Serpents of the Frost Blade." But how? How could this be true? Could the prophecy have chosen the wrong sibling? The bus lurches into its berth, and the driver's voice crackles over the loudspeaker.

"This is Port Authority Bus Terminal."

"Well it certainly isn't Deerhaven Village," you think to yourself.

The fume-filled air nearly chokes you as you duck into the entry corridor. Orange brick lines the walls. From dozens of identical berths, passengers stream into building. (Dwarves: roll Detect Grade/Slope check with WIS bonus. SUCCEED - "Hm, this floor slopes slightly ... " FAIL - "Nice flat floor you have here." CRITICAL FAIL - You become disoriented and have to lie down.)

You follow the tide of travelers to the end of the corridor, towards a mural depicting two local guards patrolling the complex. The image is reassuring, but you can't help the creeping feeling that you're being watched. Past the mural, stairs lead to the main level. Some of the stairs move on their own, but this is no time for sorcery. You hurdle the motionless stairs.

"Follow the signs that point towards the subway. 'Twill not be far," the letter had said. "You will pass a news stand and a small bakery that is called 'At the Good Bread' in a foreign tongue. If you happen to stop there, pick me up a cinnamon roll. Through a large set of doors will you pass. Seek the A/C trains, emblazoned in blue circles with the legend 'Downtown & Brooklyn.' You will have to transfer to the F at some point. Good luck, and may Garonash be with you."

Choose your path for gaining entry to the train:

- Lawful, paid entry: 2 silver - Stealth: Must roll DEX check of natural 20 every 3 hexes between turnstile and platform. - Combat: Must defeat/subdue guards, raising an alert which spawns additional guards every 60 seconds at PC level +5. Flagged as hostile for 12 hours.

The train platform is eerily quiet at this late hour. You pace past steel columns, wastebaskets, and benches that look as though they were intentionally designed not to be comfortable for anything. A mysterious puddle stains the floor next to one of the wastebaskets. (Roll INT check +3. SUCCEED - You manage not to think too much about the source of the stain. FAIL - You think way too much about the source of the stain.) Suddenly, an ominous wind begins to rustle your cloak. As it builds, lights appear at the end of the tunnel. Is the train an A or a C? Nay! 'Tis an E!

- I take a chance on a swifter transit, and board the E train! Turn to page 89. - I wait on the platform for an A or C train. Turn to page 91.

Page 89

You board the E train. Its denizens are mostly revelers subdued after a night of carousing, along with a mix of tired laborers and unfortunate vagrants. (Roll D10 for random encounter before West 4th Street. 1-2: Religious zealot. 3-4: Young people selling sweets to raise funds for their athletic team. 5-6: Mariachi band. 7-8: Train stops for no reason. 9-10: Couple arguing about something inane.) At West 4th Street, you dart off the train and seek stairs leading down to the F train, emblazoned in orange. (Roll D12 against a Luck check to determine length of wait on the F platform.) Turn to page 104.

Page 91

An A train arrives, and cautiously board. You remain on the train as it passes under the East River into Brooklyn. At Jay Street/Borough Hall, you exit just as the F train is arriving across the platform, confirming your hunch that it really didn't matter which train you took. Hurry, the doors are closing! (Roll Bend Bars/Lift Gates check with STR bonus. SUCCEED - You force the doors back open. Way to make everyone wait, asshole. FAIL - Dammit. Roll D10+4 to determine length of wait for next train.) Turn to page 104.

Page 104

You enter the F train in the foremost car. Immediately, you sense that the train's denizens are more likely to shop at thrift stores, eat sushi and listen to Pavement. They regard you with suspicion. You are not one of them, and they know it. You need only go one stop - thank Garonash - and by the time you are departing, they are already turning their attention back to the glowing devices they carry.

As the train speeds away, you exit through the nearest stairway. For the first time since leaving South Station 6 hours ago, you are outside. The street is lined with merchants and restaurants, though you doubt you could afford most of the merchants' wares. "300 gold pieces for shoes?" you ponder. "Why would I pay that when the store's name ends with a comma?"

Undeterred, you continue on past Baltic and Butler Streets, turning right onto Degraw. The apartment lies just ahead, but your feet grow heavy with doubt. Could the Frost Blade really have returned? Is this all just another one of his elaborate pranks on little brother? Time to find out. You cast a spell of scrying to let him know you have arrived.

Strange, there is no answer ...

Suddenly, your nose stops you dead cold. You'd know that odor anywhere: Goblins, there can be no mistake. By the light of their campfire, you can make out two of them guarding the door.

- I sneak closer to get a better look. (Roll a DEX check. SUCCEED - Turn to page 111. FAIL - Turn to page 107.) - Goblins? Not on my watch. I draw Patience from its scabbard and charge. (Roll D20 for Initiative.) Turn to page 126.