Fair Damsels and Foul Treachery

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Welcome to my new chronicle!

This chronicle is a continuation of my old Changeling: The Lost chronicle, but with all new players.

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Kickoff Session
Starting quest from Lucianus

ACT I: LUCIANUS’S CALL FOR HEROES

Background: Seraphinus was tried and convicted of offering freehold secrets to JohnnyLookInTheAir, who had a somewhat amicable relationship with Seraphinus back when he was a Mocha Hill changeling. According to Seraphinus, the meeting was arranged to exchange information necessary to defeat TheFairDamsel, but Winter Queen Eltiana and her tribunal (Eltiana, Elbin, DrusyChrysocolla) ignored all of Seraphinus’s pleas and found him guilty of consorting with the enemy, to be Hedge-banished until WalterLucianus comes up with something quick. WalterLucianus vows to get to the bottom of all this mess, but he alone can’t sway MochaHill’s other Courts to his advantage, and needs very strong evidence of wrongdoing outside of MochaHill. In addition, Lucianus was forced to install Summer Court knights who want to see both Blair brothers ousted.

How will WalterLucianus get out of this mess? After exhausing most of his options, Lucianus’s only remaining option seems to be to find help from within Mocha Hill, in the form of a little-known band of changelings working outside the collective eye of Mocha Hill’s power players who oppose Lucianus. Enter the player characters…

Scene 1. Lucianus’s Proposition (Mack’s Tavern)

The player characters respond to a Help Wanted ad on the Mack’s Tavern community message board that only the characters can see: Lucianus wants a few good changelings to help save his wrongly accused brother.

The characters (Mack, Dico, LeighBlarfingard, and PhineasFletcher) meet for the first time at Mack’s Tavern on the day of the help-wanted meeting (May 23, 2010 in-game as well as in real life), and eventually Lucianus’s ensorcelled friend Brian (who also works for the Maryland Independent) escorts the characters up to a warded “VIP room” for changelings only, to discuss private matters with Lucianus.

Lucianus gives the characters the basic rundown on the circumstances leading to Seraphinus‘s arrest, and tells them about the dragonstone crystals that can control Seraphinus. If the PC’s agree to a boon quest Pledge, then Fyedra agrees to give the characters more information about the crystals and Goblin Markets.

Fyedra is hesitant to help the PC’s out at first, then reluctantly agrees to assist Lucianus and be cooperative in giving the questors some more detailed information on the crystals such as:

  • One of the gems held by TheFairDamsel dragon’s horde is rumored to be held by a hob known only as the Silent Witch, but she can only be found in the Hedge in a hut along the Twilight Road. Fyedra also warns the characters of “toad hobs” along the way int he marshes.
  • Most important: A rogue hob named Grumpleschnacky has a vendetta against the Fair Damsel, and can be found at remotely located Goblin Markets. Grumpleschnacky spooked Fyedra by giving her the hard-sell on seeking an old diary — which Fyedra refused because the asking price was too steep. (she won’t tell the exact deal to the PC’s) In addition, he knows far more about Fyedra and the twins than she was comfortable with, and also of the inner workings of TheFairDamsel’s Arcadian lair.

WalterLucianus explains to the characters that his hands are more than full as Lord of Summer, and that he wants hidden operatives to do some muck-raking work while his other allies protect Lucianus’s front-side, so to speak. The characters then take their leave to go questing.

Scene 2. Back to the Goblin Market

Mack guides the characters to the Purse State Park goblin market, and speaks the secret code words (“Hi, Henry!”) to gain access to the market. Today’s market was rather weak, with just the standard goblin fruit peddlers, a couple general stores carrying little of import, and Elsa’s Fine Clothing. Dico talks to Elsa the clothier for a while, before leaving due to lack of “funds” (i.e. strange goblin treasures) to pay for a Hedgespun hat. Tom has no luck finding anything from a gaggle of hobs. The only character who has any luck is Cheese, who finds out that a mysterious mapmaker and an artifact dealer will attend next week’s Market. After finding out nothing about Grumpleschnacky, the PC’s leave market to sleep in Leigh’s mushroom grove.

Scene 3. The Silent Witch

During the next day, the PC’s arrive at Mocha Hill and Kendrick greets then with a turkey sandwich (or in Leigh’s case, the “special veggie combo” made with Hedge hummus) and a warm cup of Mocha Hill joe. After their meal, the characters head along the Muck River downstream in search of the marsh, then go right at the fork which leads to a boggy marsh with a giant fallen tree. The player character spot a Hob Toad and try to sneak past the toad to go through the wooden log, but Mach fails to sneak past the toad and get a strong whiff of some Hob Toad sleep gas. The toad gas puts Cheese to sleep instantaneously, and Mack is in a drugged state from the gas, but everyone else escapes unscathed. The tree-passageway opens into a hilly mountainside, and from the mountainside the PC’s travel to the hobgoblin station. Tom, Leigh, and Dico all roll exceptional successes when evading the hobs, and escape to the cliff that Leigh and Dico scale after twenty minutes.

Eventually, this journey leads to Dico and Leigh talking to the Silent Witch, or at least trying to until the Witch notices a strange key and begins talking — or rather, bartering — over keys and crystals. Dico eventually finds out that the Witch had a dragon-stone but a pair of changelings stole the gem not to long ago — and one of these changelings had scissors for hands! The Witch provides no further assistance, as she recoils from her mirror reflection and asks Dico and Leigh to leave. Mack identifies the scissor-hand changeling as Scissorman, a dangerous Margrave with whom he clashed with back in 2007.

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This little goblin went to market...
and makes mysterious offers to the Hogs Head Quartet

Scene 4. Back at Mack’s

The characters return from the Hedge back to Mack’s Tavern, and decide to wait around and lay low until next week after a brief phone chat with Lucianus in which he said little aside from telling the crew to stay away from the MargravateOfTheBrim. During this downtime period: Leigh gathers goblin fruit, Phineas practices his gunmanship skills, Mack tends to the bar, and Dico gets in touch with ChandaniShah (her mentor) and her partner GiovannaDaSilva (“Sundown”) and fills them in on all the recent details. Chandani and Sundown are generally supportive, but are nevertheless a bit taken aback at the “trouble” that Dico has gotten herself in. However, the two FatBottomedGirls agree to accompany Dico to the Goblin Market.

Scene 5. Meeting with Grumpleschnacky

When next Saturday (June 5, 2010 in-game) arrives, the party of eight (four PC’s plus Cheese, Mr. Fifi, Chandani, and Sundown) arrives at Purse State Park to re-visit the Goblin Market. The other characters get a chance to meet Sundown and Chandani, who soon afterwards go to Elsa’s Fine Linens with Dico in search of fashion-forward Hedgespun raiments. Tom looks into purchasing a new gun, and instead finds that a mounted goblin head who only wants to part with his old-fashioned guns (including a Civil War musket and an original Colt .45) in exchange for a truly prophetic plastic 8-ball, or for magic bullets. Tom has neither item to trade, and exits the gun shop.

Leigh peruses the goblin fruit market, and buys a pomegranate fruit. Mack looks for odd trinkets, and instead is approached by an old knock-kneed hob named Grumpleschnacky, who incidentally opens up conversation with information about the Fair Damsel. Grumpleschnacky lets Mack know that the dragon gem is being guarded by a dragon back inside the Grand Mural (see previous chronicle notes), and hands Mack several maps to help navigate to the Mural. Furthermore, the old hob offers to give Mack a valuable treasure to help slay the dragon in exchange for Adilene’s diary. (which is consistent with Fyedra’s story of a hob wanting a diary). Tom asks a few other questions, which are met with evasive answers on how Grumpleschnacky needs to watch out for the Damsel and his oaths of secrecy.

Scene 6. Retrieving the Diary of Adilene

After the conversation with Grumpleschnacky, what else can the PC’s do but get their hands on the diary? After finding out Eltiana’s whereabouts (she has an antique home on the outskirts of Baltimore), the characters plan on doing a little breaking & entering to retrieve the diary. Tom scouts the place out and finds a back window that can be propped up. Cheese jumps through the window and finds a safe with protective runes, and procceeds to crack the code by the time Tom and the rest of the gang arrive on the scene. The runes lead to an illusory secret passageway to the Marionette Room, wherein the PC’s find two pinkish-colored books that, after a few glances, seem to contain the daily musings of a high-school girl who knows that she is “different” without knowing exactly why, but copes with this fact anyways. However, police start to arrive on the scene at the time Dico finds the books, leading the changelings and their Hedge companions to escape via the Hedge, which leads them to…

Scene 7. Hedge Landshark!

…a clearing in the forest with a Stonehenge arch. Cheese leads the party through the forest, then through plains, to a sea of shifting sandy rock that becomes eerily more shifting as they advance toward the distant hills. Eventually, two bright purple shark-hobgoblins appear from the sand, “swimming” aggressively towards the changelings. When the sharks appear to be clearly hostile, the changelings retaliate with Contracts: Leigh armors herself in bramble thorns, Tom reduces their resistance to fear, Mack readies a vat of napalm, and Dico performs a Glamour-infused song and dance routine intended to scare away the sharks — and performs the song and dance at such a virtuoso level that it works! (despite them being sharks and all). Leigh shoots one shark and causes it to flee. Mack wards the party off with a circle of flaming napalm, but the other shark charges after Dico quits the song and dance, and eventually snatches Mack in its powerful jaws. Mack is nearly skilled from all the chomping, but the shark eventually dies thanks to Leigh’s thorns and a lucky knife throw from Tom that hits the shark in the eye. Leigh heals Mack from near-death, and the PC’s thank their lucky stars that none of them died in the landshark fight. (The session ends after the fight, with the PC’s still in the Hedge.)

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A mysterious diary
with traces of Glamour and secrets hidden within

Scene 8. Getting out of the Hedge

The session starts with Leigh healing Mack before continuing on their merry way towards the distant hills. Fifteen minutes later, the player characters arrive at a small hill only to find a sinkhole at the top of the hill, like a volcano but without the lava. Dico heads down the sinkhole to find a small cavern chamber. Shortly after landing in the chamber, the hole starts to close up! Fortunately for Dico, she manages to escape the sinkhole just in time for the PC’s to leave the scene. The hill collapses into a ten-foot-tall mount, wherein strange white smoke can be seen from the distance after the PC’s flee the scene.

The characters return to the forest, where they find a strange silver-maned unicorn that offers to help them escape. The PC’s trust the unicorn, and follow it to the silver tree, which in turn leads to an exit from the Hedge…

Scene 9. Lucianus and the Librarian

…to an unknown farm in Nanjemoy where Leigh calls up Lucianus to pick them up. Tom went through the Hedge gate but does not appear with them. Lucianus is worried about running into the Margraves, but tells the PC’s to meet him on the main road. The PC’s walk to the main road and encounter a strange dog that follows them around, but Mr. Fifi scares the dog away and Lucianus manages to find the wandering changelings.

Eventually Lucianus finds out about the diary, and is not happy that the PC’s were so hasty to draw Eltiana’s ire. Lucianus says that he knows someone that can help them with the diary: a changeling librarian named Jeeves that knows a lot about ancient faerie lore. Jeeves starts reading the diary intently in an attempt to divine the diary’s true nature, and finds out a few things:

  • The diary reads like it was written by a high school girl at first, but the writing is inconsistent, as if multiple writers wrote the diary.
  • Facts about Adilene and her interests seem to change suddenly, and be highly inconsistent with one another.
  • The ink is Glamour-infused and thus clearly the work of a changeling

Eventually Lucianus leaves the PC’s to prepare for the Pennons festival, and Obby gets the car back from Baltimore, where incidentally it was in tow for over a week. (The PC’s returned from the hedge seventeen days after entering, on June 22 2010.) The players split up to their respective “homes”: Dico to Pandora’s Basement, Mack and Obby to their tavern, and Leigh to her glade.

Secondly, they find out more about Adilene: The story of Eltiana’s daughter is that she was adopted. Taken from her Fetch (dopplegagner of the person who’s taken by a changeling) and adopted by Eltiana. She doesn’t take her to court of answer questions about her. It was understood that she wanted to keep her a secret for her daughter to have a normal life. She has changed schools at least once. Lastly, Jeeves knows that changelings and Fetches are ALMOST always sterile, and in rare cases can have children.

Scene 10. Summer Court Shakeup!

The characters agree to meet up in 10 days at the half moon, to give the book back to Grumpleshnacky, but the Pennons festival happens before then, and Lucianus is not bestowed the Crown of Summer. Lucianus is challenged by an ogre named Sid who says that Lucianus is in line with his brother Seraphinus and thus the crown does not get handed over to the Summer Court.

Elben and goons arrive on the next day at the Hog’s Head and leave a summon note to go to Mocha Hill. Mack, Cheese and Obby arrive at Mocha Hill, with Jeeves and Dico arrive separately. (Leigh experiences weird hallucinations after eating tainted goblin fruit, and is not present.) Elben wants to ask us questions and Cheese promptly rebuffs his questions (giving the Summer Court knight a whole heaping dose of attitude in the process). Kendrick the bartender comes down and tries to talk to us and get a sense of what’s going on. Cheese says Elben is trying to cause some shit.

Kendrick says Lucianus is not captive but he’s at Mocha Hill. He and Elben and others from the Summer Court are in a discussion about their court. Kendrick gave them 3 days after Pennons to resolve it. Mack and Cheese go back to the bar and Jeeves comes back too. Dico goes to Pandora’s Box with the Fat Bottom Girls, with the diary in hand. Leigh is heading to the Hog’s Head, and Obby is going to sneak into the Summer Court deliberation and try to find out more info.

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Showdown with the Margravate
things start to get really heated now

Scene 11. Fax from Lucianus

Lucianus sends out the following fax immediately after the PC’s leave Mocha Hill:

Lucianus clearly acknowledges that tensions have risen considerably, and that the PC’s must succeed where Roscoe and Sarlandra failed: infiltrating the Margraves and finding the hidden dragon-gem cache. Our brave heroes prepare to infiltrate the Brim with no questions asked….which is undoubtedly either extremely brave or extremely foolish. Maybe both.

Scene 12. Margrave Showdown!!

The characters travel to the Brim in Nanjemoy to conduct a stealth mission: infiltrate the Brim and retrieve a cache of hidden items used to control Seraphinus. Problem is, the Brim is guarded by a dozen or so militaristic Margraves with an axe to grind against all Mocha Hill changelings. Nevertheless, our brave heroes arrive at the farmhouse surroundings (thanks to Lucianus’s map sent via fax on page 2).

Mack drives up to the entrance of the dirt road, and leaves Tom, Cheese, and Jeeves to conduct the stealth operation. The burglar trio makes it to within a hundred or so feet away from the house before getting spotted with a giant searchlight by the Margraves who happened to be patrolling, and the fun beings: Cheese climbs up a tree and creates a diversion to attract attention (which succeeds), while Tom and Jeeves continue to creep towards the house with help from Tom’s shadowy Contracts. Cheese gets shot at, and pursued by a canine shapeshifter (BlueDog) from whom Cheese barely escapes thanks to a misdirection Contract.

Meanwhile, Tom and Jeeves break into a cellar thanks to Tom’s lockpicking skill, and find the dragon-control gems in the basement crawl space past the cellar. Problem is, the Margraves are wise to Cheese’s distraction and trap Tom and Jeeves in the crawl space. Eventually, Henderson the Margrave leader himself decides to attack the burglars at any cost, even if he has to break through his own cinderblock wall with an Ogre contract. Jeeves tries to escape by breaking the ceiling above — a plan which is just crazy enough to succeed, but it takes Jeeves three rounds to break the wood paneling above him, and in the meantime Tom takes near-lethal wounds from Tom’s axe. Eventually, Jeeves rescues Tom and escapes out the first-floor back window…

…where Mack picks up the Tom and Jeeves in the getaway car, after getting past BlueDog, rescuing Leigh from a tree, and getting a tire punctured and a couple windows broken from gunfire. Needless to say, Mack’s car is in bad shape, but the characters manage to escape with their lives intact, and the dragon-gems and gauntlet (used to control Lucianus) safe with Tom the near-critically wounded thief. Leigh heals Tom, and Mack changes the tire at a gas station with decent lighting. Eventually, the changelings make it back to the Hogs Head Tavern, and the game session ends here.

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Icy Negotiations
with the Queen of Winter

Scene 13. Wintry Dreams and Tough Bargains

The players arrive back at the Hogs Head Tavern intending to relax and lay low after an action-packed day fighting off Margraves. However, when the characters go to sleep for the night, they find themselves trapped in a dreamscape foyer of a magnificent mansion, opening up into an empty meeting hall. The meeting hall then proceeds into a throne room, with Eltiana sitting regally in a lavish white dress, and she is not happy about the recent burglary. Eltiana threatens to get the mortal authorities involved in the breaking-and-entry of her home, and warns that she has informants “on the inside” that will notify the police that the Hogs Head Tavern is connected to the incident, and that the car left behind during the burglary can be traced to Mack and the Hogs Head Tavern. After making her threats, Eltiana snaps her fingers when the PC’s start asking tough questions, clearly indicating that she will not listen to the other side of the story.

Scene 14. Hogs Head Meeting with Lucianus

  • Lucianus meets at the Hogs Head to inform the characters that Eltiana is receptive to a deal involving freeing Seraphinus, thanks to the evidence he presented to her. In three days there will be a summons to Mocha Hill so that all parties can resolve this conflict. (or so it seems)

Scene 15. The Negotiation

  • PC’s go to Mocha Hill at Lucianus’s request
  • The negotiations proceed: Eltiana agrees to free Seraphinus in exchange for the diary and a promise from Lucianus to accept two Winter Court-friendly knights, and an Oath of Silence from the Hogs Head Quartet and friends (they cannot mention the Diary. Ever.)
  • Eltiana warns the player characters that Grumpleschnacky is taking advantage of them and may be a double agent.
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Random Crap
that happens between quests

ACT II: FURTHER INTO THE HEDGE

Lucianus and Seraphinus have been reinstated as Lords of Mocha Hill, and order seems to be restored. However, all is not as it seems, and trouble is bubbling from under the surface as the Damsel continues her scheming, and Adilene has gone mysteriously missing. More looming questions remain — who is Grumpleschnacky and how did he get involved? Does Seraphinus have any dark secrets that he’s hiding, perhaps making his imprisonment justified? The second act of this chronicle is where every question just leads to more questions…

Scene 16. Downtime

  • The characters go their own ways and replenish Glamour for the upcoming conflict: Jeeves plays violin at a funeral, Tom tries to stir up anger at political rallies, Jeeves and Tom both work together at churches to raise money for child victims (with little success), Leigh harvests fruit in the Hedge, and Dico recharges Glamour via Pandora’s Basement (and goes through a mini-initiation rite to become a member of the Spring Court). Dico ends up putting on a virtuoso performance at Pandora’s Basement in an avant-garde circus act, which earns her even more Glamour.
  • The characters meet up with Seraphinus, who simply wants to know more of what’s going on, and tells the PC’s that Johnny and the Margraves are also victims in this whole Damsel mess and may provide a key to taking the Damsel down. According to Seraphinus, the gem-gathering by the Margraves was a quest from the Damsel that in some way fulfills her dark bidding.

Scene 17. Back to the Goblin Market

  • PC’s meet with Grumpleschnacky at the Goblin Market, ask a few questions about the diary (which they don’t have), and get vaguely threatening responses.
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Back in the Hedge
and shit starts to get real now!

Scene 18. Another Hellgate at the Hogs Head Tavern, What Else Is New?

After an interesting but mostly fruitless trip to the Goblin Market, the characters return to the Hogs Head Tavern to take care of business. However, this brief period of normalcy doesn’t last long: after about half an hour of tending to the tavern, strange cries can be heard upstairs from an unknown source. Dico and Leigh go upstairs to investigate the strange noises, and eventually find that the mirror has become a Hedge portal with occasional cries for help from a young woman beyond the Hedge.

Dico and Leigh are unsure about what to do about this strange otherworldly influence, so they call Eltiana, and she sends FyedraIceheart over to assist the Hogs Head motley. Fyedra is of little help when she finally does arrive: instead of helping the Hogs Heads piece together clues, she attracts the attention of hostile knights who see her as a threatening dragon and rush towards the Hedge gate. Mack takes matters into his own hands and tries to shatter the Hedge portal with his trusty mallet. Instead, Mack gets sucked into the Hedge, and everyone else follows after him. The fun has just begun.

Scene 19. Hedge Knights, of the Fanatical Kind

The full Hogs Head adventuring party plus Fyedra (who enters reluctantly after being pushed in by Mr. Fifi) find themselves in the Hedge, in a vast plain with armor-clad knights charging at full speed with knightly lances. The two parties meet in combat: as the knights charge full speed ahead, Leigh readies his crossbow, Dico draws her cold iron dagger, and Tom brandishes his Uzi (yes you read that right). Tom proves to be quite the sharpshooter, incapacitating one knight before they close the distance, and seriously wounding another immediately after the knight attacks with his pointy lance (and seriously wounding Tom in the process). Dico pulls off an especially acrobatic stunt: jumping on top of a knight’s horse, with her dagger at the knight’s neck. The third knight attacks Fyedra, who envelops herself in an icy chill aura that reduces the knight’s combat effectiveness, but she provides little other assistance.

Eventually the Hogs Heads dispatch all four knights, who fight fanatically to the death while issues war-cries “in the name of the Lady of the Realm”. Uh-oh, sounds like the Damsel has bonded these knights into fanatical servitude, which the PC’s find out is exactly what happens when they find a scroll containing an oath of fealty to a mysterious Fair Damsel. After dispatching the knights and healing Tom and Fyedra’s near-critical wounds, they head off towards another giant mural in the Hedge surrounded by statues of knights.

Scene 20. The Queen’s Kingdom

The Hogs Heads arrive at the mural, which like the previous mural (encountered during the previous adventure

  • Fyedra recognizes the mural and heard it speaking to her. She feels compelled to enter. Dico and Tom also want to enter the mural to do some reconnaissance (being the stealthy ones).
  • The others hand back and sleep in the forest, so that Leigh can better protect them.
  • Inside the mural kingdom: Tom, Dico, and Fyedra head toward the castle, and manage to sneak in unnoticed until reaching the gate. Dico and Fyedra pose and emissaries wishing to see the queen (after Tom finds out there is a queen), and Tom sneaks in behind them. Eventually, the three of them have an audience with the queen — who is none other than Eltiana’s daughter Adilene!! Dico performs a circus act, which fails to impress Adilene, but she keeps them around for three days anyways.
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The Damsel's Mansion of Splendors, Pt. 1
The party divides in two, with no end in sight

Scene 21. Tricked by a Unicorn. Again.

  • Leigh, Mack, and Cheese sleep in the forest, and the next day are greeted by a unicorn in need of help.
  • Unicorn asks Mack for help, and he travels into a hedge gate in an effort to help the unicorn (Shelby). However, he is not as he seems, and Mack finds himself in the Damsel’s mansion in Arcadia.

Scene 22. The Rat Man

  • Dico, Mr. Fifi, and Fyedra are escoted to their guest quarters, which at first seems more like a prison cell than a guest bedroom. Tom skulks around looking for a way to break Dico out, and eventually finds a (normal-sized) friendly rat that leads him toward a note in the cellar. The note is written by Roscoe, who informs Tom that he knows secrets.

Scene 23. The Damsel’s Palace

  • The palace is an Alice in Wonderland-style bizarre funhouse, constructed using the bizarre geometry of the True Fae. They wander through bizarrely-shaped hallways, rooms filled with dozens of Hedgespun gowns, and old decrepit ex-knights who only want to be left alone to die in peace.
  • Eventually, the PC’s wander upon the palace armory, but unfortulately meet about a half-fozen guards as well. The guards fight Leigh, Mack, and Cheese — doing significant harm to all three but killing none of them before eventually fleeing to warn the other knights. A couple knights fall into a hallucinatory trace thanks to Otis’s venom.
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The Damsel's Mansion of Splendors, Pt. 2
Where DIco makes a deal with the Damsel herself

Scene 24. Dico’s Performance.

Dico eventually puts on a virtuoso performance for Adilene, who is completely drunk from Arcadian liquor but nevertheless loves the performance, in no small part thans to the powerful persuasive enchantments weaved by Dico throughout hte perofrmance. However, Dico plays the role of a True Fae within the play, and this makes the Damsel jealous: someone else is coming in to her kingdom and acting superior to her! The Damsel cannot stand for this, and appears in all her Fae glory to make an ultimatum: Either Dico serves her, or her allies all die. Dico eventually agrees to server the Damsel temporarily and do her bidding in the form of a quest: bring all of her escaped dragons back to the Palace of Magnificent Splendors within a year and a day. Dico agrees, and in return the Damsel grants Dico’s allies leave of her palace.

Scene 25. Back in the Real World

(the PC’s find out everything that has changed)

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