Thursday, November 6, 2008
Ademar Nightwalker will no longer be participating in our campaign and at his request we have decided to game in a different campaign. Ademar has stated that he intends to occasionally drop in and visit this blog so hopefully this is not the last that any of us will have heard his story.
Hopefully sometime in the future the story of Ademar, Cor'Nal and Luethar/Patch/Vrock will continue, but for the time being another story, one left in limbo nearly a decade ago will be brought back. (That or we'll be playing in the "Star Wars" universe which will require a second blog.)
It's bittersweet and exciting at the same time. On one hand we're forced to stop playing the campaign we've spent the last year building, yet on the other we also have an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the unfinished story of old characters long put to rest. I'm looking forward to it.
Lemonade out of lemons as they say. We may, if things work out right, even have our full compliment of gamers from that time period. Unprecedented for me since I've been playing. Of course this is a longshot that cannot become reality without the discussion of some preconditions, so we'll see where it goes but I remain optimistic.
For those who've read the blog and wish to continue to do so: I hope to continue it but at this time I'm taking a "wait and see" approach. The two PC's remaining from the last group have been unable to utilize the blog and so the point of keeping everyone up to date with recaps is sort of moot.
With all that said I bid ye farewell for the now. I hope to see ye all on the snowy trail again soon...
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Recap: The group starts out in a home of one of the camp shaman. After turning the place over for whatever they could find of use and healing themselves for the upcoming siege of Tonguescum's compound, they head East toward another single level stone structure. They enter the site unmolested, the camp at this time is deathly quiet and no orc attempts to challenge their advance. This new building has a floor plan identical to the previous one and is clearly the home of the second dead shaman. The place is devoid of life and is far neater than the last one, though still far from clean. They ransack the flat, opening any and all drawers and closets. They find likely more than they expected to as on the bookshelf a wand of Magic Missiles is found and in the nightstand near the shaman's bed a large, flat box made of polished wood about 1'x1' is also found. After picking the lock and opening the lid, a magical, golden necklace with amulet is revealed. Before leaving the stone structure, Luethar opens the door to a room utilized as a privy and blasts a pisspot with two magic missiles, to confirm the identification of the wand. He laughs wickedly as he sprays orc urine and feces on the far wall. After that, they decide to leave.
At first the PC's contemplate climbing to the roof of this structure and jumping to the wall surrounding the compound. They change their minds after realizing that the logs making up the walls have been sharpened to a point at the top. Instead, Ryan MacBrady tells the group of the legend regarding Tonguescum's ascension to chieftain here. He says that there may be a good chance that, if challenged, Tonguescum will open the gate and meet them in direct combat. After finishing the tale the PC's decide to give it a go, the only exception being Cor'Nal, who again turns himself into a hawk and perches at the top of a large, north-side pine overlooking the compound.
After approaching the front of the gate MacBrady issues his challenge to the orc chief.
A pair of sentries greet them on a parapet above the wall on either side of the immense gate. One disappears for a few moments before climbing back up, returning with a MacBrady brother, Derris, holding his beaten, bloody body up by his hair for them all to see in a gruesome display. He is beaten so badly and his face is caked with so much dried blood that none of the PC's recognize him until Ryan mutters his name. When the orcs are satisfied with Ryan's recognition of their victim they toss him over the wall. He falls 15 feet, landing in a crumbled heap at the base of the wall. Ryan rushes over to his brother and falls to his knees beside him, realizing he is alive he tells Derris to hold on while pouring a healing potion down his throat. Derris comes to, though still barely alive as Ryan stands and screams at the wooden gate. He demands that Tonguescum rebuke his cowardice and meet him in battle. After a few seconds, the gate begins to open.
The open gate reveals six orcs, four of them apparently high ranking, possibly Tonguescum's personal guard, in a staggered, two by two formation spreading out from the front. At the rear, standing in the center between two orcs about ten feet apart from one another is the chieftain himself: Tonguescum. He is flanked by a bound and kneeling Piter MacBrady. Tonguescum has his right hand holding a giant scimitar and the left, a fistful of Piter's hair. He laughs at them mockingly and tells them if they leave now they can take Piter with them.
Knowing the offer to be a ruse, Piter speaks. In a raspy, barely audible voice he says "Kill them Ryan! Kill them all!"
Without a word Luethar fires a pair of magic missiles at Tonguescum. Taking them in the chest he takes a step back, roars, and shoves the blade of his scimitar into Piter's exposed abdomen, tucking it under his ribcage. Piter's midsection takes a few feet of the steel and a geyser of blood rushes out as Tonguescum pulls it free. Once loose of the blade's grip Piter falls to the ground, face first, his bound hands at his back. Black blood pools around his body with impossible speed.
At that, Ryan lets go of a bloodcurdling, ear-shattering scream and charges toward the massive orc, ignoring those around who guard him, his sword held high over his head. Before Ryan reaches him Cor'Nal blasts the orc with a "Hypothermia" spell damaging Tonguescum and sending him to one knee. After Ryan reaches the orc chieftain and he takes a mighty swing damaging him severely. Tonguescum flies into his barbarian rage and the rest of the combatants join the fracas. A long battle ensues, at the beginning those that could focused solely on Tonguescum, Ademar and Luethar firing at him from afar with flaming arrows and magic missiles while Ryan hacks at him with his greatsword. The strategy pays off. Before flying to the ground to join the melee as a bear, Cor'Nal casts a spell on the other orcs that heats the metal in their hands and on their bodies. They take damage over several combat rounds.
As a large bear Cor'Nal assists Ryan and his brother Derris who had been given a weapon earlier after another healing potion brought him up to an acceptable fighting level. Derris fights with the chieftain's guards and doesn't last long before he is cut down. Ryan is soon after cut down by Tonguescum, he is seriously injured but alive. The shapeshifted druid-bear, with continued help from the halfling and the arrow-slinging elf, takes down the chieftain after a solid one-two bear paw combination. Tonguescum falls to his back, bloodied but alive and moving. Cor'Nal takes this opportunity to heal the fallen Ryan MacBrady, who gets up and delivers the triumphant death blow to the fallen chieftain. Standing over Tonguescum's body, his greatsword held with two hands in an underhand style, the weapon driven through the chest with such ferocity as to penetrate the ground beneath him. After a triumphant second, he pulls the blade up as a fountain of orc-blood sprays up from the now-dead monster. A few moments later the PCs clean up those surviving orcs that remain.
Ryan MacBrady kneels to his father's side and realizes he is still, barely, alive. Ryans cuts his bonds and gently rolls him to his back, he is conscious. They whisper a few words to one another as Derris, now healed by the druid, looks on from over Ryan's shoulder. Piter manages to pull himself up, ever so slightly, enough to whisper in his youngest sons ear before his strength fails him. As he is gently lowered back down his body seems to lose all tension and Ryan raises a hand to his father's face to close his sightless eyes. With streaming tears, he stands and walks out of the compound.
The PC's search the bodies and the adjacent buildings, presumably where the captains and sergeants lived, and loot what they can from them. A few moments before they start the search, they notice the bulk of the female orcs and their children lying under the trees behind Tonguescum's burned-out home. They show no aggression towards the group and the PC's decide to ignore them as well, figuring that with all the men dead, they will have to make a pilgrimage to another area.
Once satisfied with their looting the PC's head away from camp and compound. The elves follow Derris back to the ruin of Snoam-Schlabach with Piter's body while Ryan and Luethar head to Whitewall to wait for them. While in Snoam-Schlabach the elves assist with stacking the bodies of women and children inside Piter's estate for a mass burning. Wood is gathered and funeral pyres are created for all the fighting men that defended the town. A special pyre is set aside to be burned first for Magda Dervish. A rare honor for a female. While this is going on Cor'Nal secretly uses his witchery to help erect a new building to honor Piter MacBrady and the fallen. Ademar makes sure to check the cellar of Piter's estate before flame touches it to search for any sign of Fengis or his remains. He finds neither, only a dark rootcellar with dirt flooring and two load-bearing posts, attached to which are sets of empty iron shackles. Dismayed at the open-ended fate of Fengis he returns to ground level.
Stacking the bodies, creating the building, gathering the wood and igniting the pyres takes the human and two elves four days. On the fifth day before leaving, Ademar makes an agreement with Derris to give him control of Fengis' store if no one lays claim to it. Derris says it is his if Fengis or any of his relatives do not claim it for a year and a day, per custom. They then shake hands as Derris thanks them for their help in allowing his fellow tribesmen to pass on to Valhalla with some measure of dignity. With that, the elves bid farewell to Derris MacBrady, new chieftain of Snoam-Schlabach, this time for good.
While in Whitewall, Luethar decides to start asking questions of the group of women left behind. He learns that he is not the first traveling companion his new friends have had since they arrived. In fact, he finds out to his dismay, he is not even the second. He learns that his friends once had a half-orc companion who, he was told, had been eaten by a great white bear while defending his friends from said bear. He also learns of a dwarf, named Porch or Snatch or something odd like that who hadn't been with them long but was never seen again afgter they left for an adventure in the Olde Snoam Mine. Luethar is rightfully troubled by this and decides to confront them on it when they return.
Five days after splitting up the companions are reunited at Whitewall and everyone is happy to learn that Loomis is still wearing pants among the women and children. After a night of rest the PC's confront Ryan who assures them that if welcomed, he is still interested in traveling with them. They agree that he is handy in a pinch and agree to welcome him along. They leave for the mythical town of Henutsen that very day.
After packing up their five person, eight (maybe its six now I forget) horse, three wagon, one pony caravan they head east. Less than two miles from Whitewall they encounter a small group of hostile gricks that they quickly dispatch. They camp out every night for four nights and have only one encounter along the road. While camping out one of the nights Cor'Nal hears what he believes to be the sounds of the yeti's heavy footsteps, although he never sees the beast. He decides, yet again, to not tell his skeptical friends of the beasts presence in the area.
During the trek the trail takes them along the foothills of southern Snowsquall Peaks. After coming to a fork in the road they head northeast as per the instructions given by the Whitewall innkeeper. The trail becomes rockier and narrower, for miles they travel uphill at a slow pace, along a gradual incline. Eventually the slope levels out and the trail becomes wider, quickly becoming over a hundred feet in width. Along the sloped southern edge, they look down to reveal that they have traveled over a thousand feet in the air realizing for the first time (as their southern exposure had been concealed for the last several miles) that they have bee traveling up and around a mountainside. Pushing on nearly a half-mile in the distance they see a large town, seated neatly in the largest corrie any of them ever laid eyes on or even heard legend of. It was as though the gods themselves scooped a crater out of the side of the mountain and decided to conceal it with a wall of solid rock, 40 feet in height all around at its shortest. It is a natural marvel, likely unduplicated anywhere else in the world.
Once they pry their eyes away from the sight of the village they notice in the space between them a pair of smoke columns rising up nearly 600 yards from the town. Approaching, they find it to be a pair of funeral pyres, one larger than the other, a woman and her young female charge at her side. Both of them in apparent mourning. Moving on without a word they reach a wooden gate, 25 feet high and forty feet long. It is the only man-made protection required as the rest has been provided by the gods themselves in the form of natural mountain stone walls.
They stand in front of the massive gate, a single old-cockney voice is heard from behind the wooden wall as a slide-view opens at eye level.
"Well, state yer bidness then." The old man says...
Thursday, October 2, 2008
That city was to be The Citadel of Mist.
Unfortunately, as I have found out years later, it was not his original property and he didn't come up with the name at all. That is not to say this friend of mine is a plagiarist, not at all. In fact the fault is all mine as my friend never actually made any claim to the name itself. I myself had made the assumption all along, and my continued ignorance of the Forgotten Realms continent of Faerun only contributed. I'm sure this friend and fellow gamer only thought I understood that all these years and was likely, quite surprised upon finding that I had "lifted" The Citadel for my own world.
This too, was not the case. Regardless, this years long misunderstanding has created a conundrum for me. I now have a major city in my world that is exactly the same as a major city that exists in the world of Toril on the continent of Faerun in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.
I have told you all that to tell you this: We need a new name.
I cannot have our world be perceived as a knockoff of a major campaign setting. Whether the world is ever published or not is irrelevant. I just want to preserve the integrity of my, of our, creation.
So, to all those who play in my campaign world or read this blog: A challenge.
Submit to me, via email, your suggestions for a new name, or even many names, that you feel could be a suitable replacement. Keeping in mind that The Citadel of Mist is a home to elves traditionally known as "High Elves". The thinkers, scholars, scientists and aristocrats of elven society. The Citadel is a large city, the largest in square mileage and population in Kemmermere. It is made almost entirely of stone structures, as Sanctuary, The City to the South (as it is called by The Citadel's residents) is its antithesis, a city in the trees, many square miles of structures created from wood and leaf.
Keeping those things in mind about the city it would be appreciated if you would send to me any ideas you may have. The suggestions you send should be completely original and of your own creation. I will leave this open for awhile as I hope to get many suggestions over a few weeks time. I will then pare the list down and post it as a poll on the blog, whereby I hope to have a clear winner made by vote of the people. Those people being all five of us who read this blog.
Thank you in advance for your submissions.
Just in case my address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
3019 B.R.- Attin Ent'Ara is born to an unmarried human woman in an area of southwestern Futara today controlled by Toryth Vol. It is believed among the townsfolk that he is conceived immaculately. His mother is a sixteen year old deaf mute with an eight year old's mentality so this rumor cannot be confirmed. The more likely circumstance is that she was raped. When asked where she came up with it, she tells people the baby told her his name shortly after he was born. Little truth is known about Ent'Ara's life between this time and the start of his ruler ship. At the time of his birth a feudal system of ruler ship holds sway in the south. Seven kingdoms, Vairlain, Rafa Ben'Efre, Emberlynne, Shanericha, Fehring'Ram, Elsinhor and Ivilisse vie for control and war rages non-stop among them.
3000 B.R.- In a bloodless coup Attin Ent'Ara usurps the throne of the Kingdom of Vairlain, a kingdom large in countryside but lacking in governmental control. This kingdom largely rests in an area that is now western Toryth Vol bordering Kemmermere stretching northward into modern-day Arcadia and some of Westheath as well. At the age of 19 and with some 20 or so followers (the most famous of whom being his champion Ocara), Ent'Ara takes the capital city and declares himself Emperor of New Atalanxia.
2999 B.R.- Ent'Ara recalls troops formerly loyal to the King of Vairlain from strategic points across the realm. He risks losing border territory in the short term but plans to utilize the army for invasion of surrounding kingdoms if necessary. Allowing the troops to come home after many have been away for years serves to endear Ent'Ara to his new subjects.
2997 B.R.- For two years the Ent'Aran government attempts to negotiate the surrender of surrounding human kingdoms. The Emperor demands that all lords of men swear fealty to him and unite to form one government and end the constant warring that has scarred the landscape for nearly a thousand years. He calls this endeavor "The Peace". The other rulers do not take the 21 year old seriously.
2995 B.R.- Ent'Ara's army, having been centralized for three years and trained heavily under the watchful eye of the Emperor's champion, Ocara, begin to march eastward. Ent'Aran delegates head west to Kemmermere to negotiate terms of alliance. Within the year both nations agree to house ambassadors to speak for their governments. Delegates are sent north to Dweo'Morak, Kingdom of Dwarves and to the far northeast to Murgar, the home of Halflings.
2993 B.R.- After being essentially ignored by the lords of men for nearly four years the emperor launches his first strike. The Kingdom to the northeast, located entirely in what is now modern day Arcadia, called Rafa Ben'Efre, is overrun by the Emperor's forces in mere weeks. Using war-machines the likes of which the continent had never before seen, the Emperor's forces prove too much for the Ben'Efreans to hold back. The capital city is reduced to rubble, and an example is made of the Rafa Ben'Efrean King who is disemboweled and hung upon the castle walls by his entrails. His heirs, council and advisor are beheaded, their disembodied heads are sent to the monarchs of neighboring sovereign nations as a warning.
2992 B.R.- The elves reach an agreement with Atalanxia and join the alliance under the pretense that they will remain a sovereign nation. The Emperor agrees to do this with the stipulation that a marriage arrangement between himself and the eldest elven princess of The Citadel of Mist be honored once she comes of age. This is a secret arrangement known only to Ent'Ara, the Elven Regulus and his family. Four months after word of the elven alliance reaches Murgar, the Halflings join as well, figuring anything good enough for the elves... The dwarves however, hold out for a better deal. They are interested in a military alliance with Atalanxia but the ever-paranoid dwarves refuse to allow delegates to be permanently stationed within Temberdor.
2992-2990 B.R.- For two years a correspondence takes place between the monarchs of the five remaining kingdoms. They each express concern for their own dynasties citing the ease in which Vairlain and Rafa Ben'Efre, two of the most powerful and respected kingdoms among the seven nations, were taken by Ent'Ara. They assume an alliance with the elves and dwarves, both seeming a certainty at this point, would spell certain doom for the five remaining sovereignties. They meet in secret three times during the two years to try to solve the problem of Attin Ent'Ara and the Atalanxian Empire. Petty squabbles keep them from reaching any solid agreements. Alliance against Atalanxia is deemed suicide.
2990 B.R.- All remaining human nations within Atalanxian reach have now fallen under her control. Without another loosed arrow Emperor Ent'Ara now controls all of the southern third of the continent as the five remaining nations succumb. The lords of each kingdom exile themselves along with their families and closest advisors fearing retribution from Ent'Ara. Many are never heard from again. The elves remain sovereign, but Ent'Ara's influence over their ambassadors in New Atalanxia, his own ambassadors in Kemmermere and the arrangement of marriage give him almost complete indirect control over elven affairs. Believing the surrounding mountains rendering her lands too removed from society to be of help or hindrance, the Emperor chooses to ignore the Sultanate of Katja-Lor and it remains sovereign throughout his reign. Fearing no aggression from the Dweo'Morak dwarves Ent'Ara suffers their refusal to ally and does not invade, fearing a long drawn out affair that would result in an unknown outcome. He continues to discuss terms of alliance through delegates however.
2990-2988 B.R.- "The Regal Pilgrimage" begins as all five remaining monarchs and their families, advisors, bodyguards, and closest and most skilled servants are ferried north by a large combination of their separate military forces. Dozens are killed along the way as Ent'Aran assassins hunt them down. Many more die of natural causes.
2988 B.R.- The Regal Pilgrimage ends as "Nadalia" is colonized in central Futara. The "Swords of Sovereignty" are officially knighted and given title among all five kingdoms, making them officially men sworn to serve all kingdoms but subjected to no single one of them.
2989-2979 B.R.- Atalanxia solidifies as a (primarily) human nation. The assimilation of culture and the sharing of ideas and ideals begin a decade of prosperity. Resources once hoarded by greedy monarchs fortunate to find their treasures within their own borders are now shared and distributed. Ent'Ara removes old taxes and frees family heads from debtor prisons, forgiving old debts. Peace between the peoples of former rival nations reigns supreme. The Murgarian halflings are technically ruled by Atalanxia and therefore are Atalanxians but they are so geographically far-removed from New Atalanxia that most of them forget and continue to call their homeland Murgar.
2986 B.R.- Nadalia is sacked by an Ent'Aran strike force. The king of Emberlynne is killed during the attack. "The Second Pilgrimage" begins.
2985 B.R.- King William Wright IV of Shanericha is hung for treason against his own kingdom by Ent'Ara after assisting him with the sacking of Nadalia.
2981 B.R.- The Second Pilgrimage ends as the remaining (less than a thousand) exiles reach the northern center of the continent.
2979 B.R.- After eleven years of spotty negotiation the Dwarves reach an agreement with Atalanxia to remain sovereign, yet allied militarily with Atalanxia although at this time no societal enemies exist. Ent'Ara is frustrated but eager to end the fruitless negotiation with the stubborn demi-humans. By the age of forty, Attin Ent'Ara has, within 21 years, done what could not be accomplished in the preceding 8000 years of civilization: Unite the four major races. Historians who look favorably upon this period will call this the beginning of "A dynasty which embodied the future of modern government."
2974 B.R.- Against his advisors wishes Attin Ent’Ara takes his betrothed Kemmermere elfmaid, Sylis'Tar, as his Empress. Privately he longs for personal intimacy through common human interaction but to his advisors he claims a need for longevity in his line. His advisors fear that a half-elven heir would be seen as corruptible to elven sympathy. This is precisely what the elves secretly wish for. The marriage celebration lasts seven days. Ent'Ara disappears from the public eye for a year as he courts his new wife.
2974-2965 B.R.- Atalanxian influence spreads beyond her borders throughout northern Futara. The wilds of central Futara and with the exception of the Northwestern icelands (today called the Northmen Kingdom of Eldridge) and the Northeastern wastelands (known as Manchrist today) the continent is explored and inhabited. By the end of 2965 the Emperor has a detailed map of the "habitable" Futaran lands. The emperor is 54 at the end of this year, yet he appears as young and agile as a man in his early thirties. The Emperor's union with the elfmaid has yet to bear fruit. This, even at late middle age, does not seem to worry him publicly.
2965-2950 B.R.- During this period Ent'Ara's effort to eradicate all races deemed by him to be "Evil" by their very nature is accelerated. He separates his army into strike teams devoted to the destruction of specific races. They research, infiltrate and exterminate the races they are assigned to with ruthless efficiency, taking no consideration for the aggression or lack thereof from the tribes they destroy. In these fifteen years hundreds of thousands of kobolds, ogres, orcs and gnolls are hunted down and killed. This makes the citizens of Atalanxia feel safe. With no competing sovereignties Atalanxia is virtually the entire known continent.
2958 B.R.- The King of Ivilisse, last surviving king of the First Pilgrimage, dies. His death marks the beginning of the second generation of ruler ship. The Kingdom of Ulygnguard is officially formed after being planned by the heirs of the Three Kings for nearly a decade. The Swords of Sovereignty is the name given to the official knighthood. The three heirs form a triumvirate that splits power equally and heads separate government entities to form a system of checks and balances. One heir takes control of the military, another oversees commerce and the third is the lord of the common folk.
2950 B.R.- The Dragon Council begins: At the age of 69 Ent'Ara is confronted by a council of dragons that represent the three major alignments; Bahamut, Arko and Tiamat put their own differences aside and agree to helm the Council as equals. The purpose of the summit is to find the motive of the Atalanxian Empire's pursuit of "The Peace" and to express the importance of balance in all things. They impart to the Emperor the consequences of failure to adhere to the laws of the gods. The talks do not go well as the Emperor interprets their lectures as veiled threats. The talks go on and off for nearly ten years. At the end of which Ent'Ara makes the suggestion that any gods who would punish him and his people for creating a world filled with goodness by eradicating those things which are evil by their very nature, are perhaps not worth worshipping after all.
2949-2940 B.R.- During the time of The Dragon Council, disorganized groups of displaced kobolds, orcs and ogres begin to assault the outlying dwarven tribes of Dweo'Morak. The capital undercity of Temberdor does not understand the nature of the escalation but do not see the increase in violence as the legitimate threat it is until the latter part of the decade.
2941 B.R.- Abruptly, The Dragon Council ends. Later that year the three Highdragons declare war on Atalanxia. Emperor Ent'Ara anticipated aggression from the outset and had prepared by increasing mandatory enlistment in his militia. Production of war machines engineered by his most intelligent of generals specifically for battling dragons had secretly begun. Powerful heroes align with the Emperor to join in his cause for peace. The elves, wary of Ent'Ara's growing power and influence agree to assist indirectly. They send powerful wizards, capable of bringing down enough firepower to destroy entire battalions of men instead of elven infantry and cavalry regiments. The Elven Regulus believes this will appease Ent'Ara while minimally angering the Highdragons and by proxy, the gods. The elven fence-riding does not impress Attin Ent'Ara, but he accepts their wizards as they are among the most powerful in the world. The dwarves, fending off orc and ogre skirmishers are unable to receive Ent'Aran diplomats requesting assistance for the coming war. Ent'Ara sees this as a refusal to assist and so cuts off the military alliance and all further contact with them. This act seals what is now known as the "Dwarven Doom".
2940-2939 B.R.- Temberdor, capital city of Dweo'Morak, is sacked by ogres and orcs after an organized, two-year siege. It marks a swift beginning to the end of dwarven rule in the Broken Lands. Those who do not flee are killed or enslaved. Those who do flee are cut off to the southern passage and so are forced northward. A tomb is left in the bottom of the city, encased within is the "Curse of Temberdor".
Monday, September 22, 2008
He had been running for more than an hour now and still they dogged his every step. His boots were heavy with mud and his newly acquired cloak was soaked through, weighing down his shoulders and clinging to his legs. The storm had been raging on for hours now and showed no signs of letting up. Lightning crashed to the earth from time to time allowing the elf to keep track of his surroundings. Not that he needed to see, as he seemed to be running endlessly in a grassy plain once again with the all too familiar rolling hills all about him. How happy he would be if he never again laid eyes on a grassy knoll!
Although his pursuers were not gaining ground on him, Ademar could tell by the baying hounds in the distance that he was not getting away either. They were clinging to his scent despite the storms best attempts to wash it away. For many more minutes he ran on, stumbling often as his strength failed him and clinging still to the small box he had recently procured. Finally he stopped at the top of a hill, gasping for breath he dropped to his knees in the muddy turf. Letting the box fall, he drew his sword and smashed the pommel of it against the hasp on the box. After a few similar strikes the latch finally gave way and Ademar ripped the lid open. He plunged one hand inside and pulled forth a fist full of coins and jewelry while his other hand unlaced his waist pouch. Within the span of a few heartbeats he had filled his pouch yet the box was still heavy with riches. With a sigh that was equal parts exhaustion and regret, he rose slowly to his feet and adjusted his equipment before moving on again leaving the box open on the hill.
*** *** *** *** ***
He stumbled again, for perhaps the thousandth time this night. With a splash he fell to the muddy ground. The breath blasted from his lungs leaving him writhing in the tall grass. For many minutes Ademar lay there gasping for breath; the baying of the hounds growing louder and louder in his keen ears. He thought for certain that this would be his end. Laying face down in the mud, gasping for breath, he felt that he should just await his fate. He was too weak to continue, too tired to push on any further. A couple more minutes passed and still he lay there but, once again the grinning visage of Kendrick Cwik came to his minds eye. Once more he reminded himself that his goal had not been met.
Even with a red rage building inside him, Ademars’ body protested and responded sluggishly as he rose once more to his feet. The lightning had slowed and the night was dark once more. He could hear the shouting of men now mixed with the barking dogs. They were no more than a couple hundred paces behind him he guessed. Not bothering to look back, he pressed forward again slowly picking up speed.
Everything seemed to work against him this night. The gloom about him was impenetrable now, the rain had soaked through his clothes weighting him down, and the tall grass, which seemed to stretch on forever in all directions, tugged at his legs as if it were heeding the will of those on his heels. It took all his will to continue forward through the plains. The dogs had been let loose he knew, they were no longer barking but he could hear them rushing through the thick grass not far behind him.
Thin elven lips trembled as he pleaded to the night sky: “Sanastarus, if ever I needed your aid, now is that time.” As if in reply, a bolt of lightning struck in the distance, replacing the night sky with pulsing blue-white light. It was not the divine intervention he was hoping for. The light, brief as it was, only revealed his alternate end. Not two strides away, the ground fell away to a wide, churning, river flooded by the rain. The storm had drowned out the sound of the rushing waters below. He had no hope of stopping before the edge. Blackness returned as quickly as it had been dismissed and suddenly Ademar felt only the air rushing beneath his feet. For nearly five heartbeats he fell before plunging into the icy cold, black waters. Terror filled him as the current dragged him downriver, smashing him into unseen rocks along the bottom. Thrashing desperately, he clawed his way back to the surface. Ademar gasped for air and gagged as the dark water of the river flooded his throat. For minutes which felt like hours to the frantic elf, he bobbed along the river rapids, the cold water sapped all remaining strength from his body. It was not long before he could no longer feel the rocks that he was thrown against or the other floating debris which battered him, all he knew was the cold and the darkness, then, just darkness.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Before Tonguescum's arrival the warring was non-stop and brutal. The orcs concentrated on controlling the area of the Pinefore nearest the humans where Lurz Ghazrach lay. They longed to destroy all nearby orc tribes that rivaled them as well as the inferior frobolds, gnolls and bugbears that also called the Pinefore home. Before Tonguescum, before he had become chieftain, Lurz Ghazrach was just another orc-colony in just another wasteland outside the sight of the eye of humanity. Away from the real fighting, like the recent war in Westheath, or the coming doom in Eystlund led by the human warmonger Rogar, friend of the orcs. Gruumsh had, for some reason, called them to this frozen place instead of leading them to where other orc brothers were glorifyingly terrorizing the land, staining the fields red with human and elven blood. Now that he was here, all that was changing, for the better.
Three years ago he came, from nowhere it seemed, unchallenged through the pines. A seven and a half foot tall, black-skinned behemoth wearing a combination of studded leather and bear hide. His thick rippling arms stood bare from a lack of sleeves, exposing scores of raised-flesh scars, and though he seemed unaffected by the chill, their only covering were thick, iron-studded leather wristbands. From his right hand a large canvas sack, bulging and moist at the bottom, hung. In his off-hand, nothing but a clenched fist. His hair was massive, and deliberately wild. A crown of dry black braids rose from the top of his head and cascaded outward, spilling behind his shoulders ending in multi-colored iron ringlets. A pair of scimitars rested menacingly in cris-crossed scabbards across his back. His thick black boots loudly crunched upon the snow.
Emerging on the south end of the village with four bodyguards, he strode purposefully toward what would now serve as his personal compound. He was watched closely by those among the village but no one challenged his intrusion as he moved, his seeming familiarity with his surroundings would've seemed absurd to more acutely aware folk than these Lurz Ghazrach orcs. As though he'd lived here all his life he walked the road toward the walls surrounding the Lurz Ghazrach chieftain.
The wooden gates leading to the stone tower that now belonged to Tonguescum opened before him. It creaked slowly, deliberately, the orc opening it sending a message to Tonguescum that whomever he thought he was, he would wait for those superior to him.
Once open, two sentries, armed with crossbows came out from either side of the gates. They drew down on Tonguescum alone, disregarding the other four who flanked him, two on either side.
Without word or warning Tonguescum tossed the sack he held between the two sentries, a few feet in front of them. Out of the open bag spilled three bloody orc heads.
"Who are they?" One sentry asked.
"You don't recognize them?" One of Tonguescum's bodyguards replied.
The inquisitive sentry, ever keeping his aim on the massive orc in front of him, moved over a few feet and chanced a look at the ground. As he approached, the sentry could hear a low growling akin to to a snow leopard's purr coming from the behemoth he held at bay. He lifted a foot gingerly to toe one of the heads at his feet, moving it enough to see the whole of its face. He recoiled immediately after realizing his familiarity with this particular orc.
"The southern patrol," The sentry gasped as he backed away to his original spot. "They've killed members of the southern patrol."
"Not members." Tonguescum growled. "All of them."
"All of the southern patrol?" The other sentry now spoke.
"All, patrols." Was Tonguescum's reply.
"By Gruumsh's eye!" The first sentry spat. "You'll have your belly opened for that!"
A disturbingly low grumble, what passed as a cheerless chuckle emitted from him as he disregarded the threat. "Send for your chief."
In response the second sentry loosed his bolt toward the enormous black monster before him. Tonguescum stood stone-still as the bolt passed over his left shoulder, flying harmlessly through the cascade of his filthy hair. With blinding speed belying a creature of his size, Tonguescum reached over his shoulder for a scimitar and, pulling it free from its scabbard he launched it toward the offending sentry in a single fluid motion. End over end the blade flew, striking the sentry mid-chest, impaling him just under his raised arms. The impact launched him off his feet from the snowy earth and he landed several feet behind where he had stood. From his back his arms rose, his hands twitching momentarily as they made a feeble attempt to grasp the massive scimitar embedded within him. Then they stopped altogether, slowly, gently falling to his sides upon the blood-stained snow that had pooled around him.
Tonguescum drew a slow breath and looked to the first sentry. The sentry stood as he had before, though his current body language belied his earlier self-assurance. After a split-second of unwise defiance, he dropped his crossbow.
"Send for your chief." Tonguescum repeated.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Another orc strike team marches across the bridge toward the burning rectory. The PC's fire arrows while the orcs are crossing the bridge and nearly halve their number. When the orcs arrive at the tree-line the PC's are quickly spotted. A battle ensues which the PC's win easily, in fact they win so handily that the orc sergeant flees, fearing no chance for victory or glory in this slaughter.
After a short discussion concerning further strategy, they head around the outside of the camp again. First, moving westward at the north side of the camp and then south once reaching the west corner of the treeline. They observe orc women and children fleeing their homes, taking the camp roads presumably toward Tonguescum's compound. They choose to leave the "civilians" alone.
Once they reach an area close to the southwestern corner of the camp they spy another large, round one-story structure. Ademar unlocks the door, opens it and enters. The surviving orc shaman stands in the middle of a large room. The other PC's follow him inside and a long battle ensues, but the shaman is eventually cut down in his bedchamber despite casting his web spell which briefly confounds the PC's.
Another orc strike team consisting of eight orcs arrives outside of the shaman's home, and is the most successful yet. They start by ganging up on the druid who at first is alone outside. Cor'Nal turns the tide on them by shapeshifting into a bear. Ryan MacBrady Luethar and Ademar are held up inside the shaman's home because they are entangled by a web cast by the shaman before his death. Eventually they free themselves and join the fight but not before Cor'Nal and the wolf take some serious hits. Once all PC's can participate in the fight they win rather handily, although many of them are bloody and hurting.
With smoke risng from two ruined structures and what seems like most of Tonguescum's force lying dead, the PC's spy some remaining troops marching towards the orc chieftain's compund to make their final stand. They seem deliberate in their actions. As if they want to make sure the invading heroes see them retreat to the safety of the walls. The PC's do not follow, instead they decide to hole up momentarily inside the shaman's home to take status of their group and to do a quick sweep, looking for anything useful or of value. While doing so, Ademar opens a door to a room that contains two orcish women, both nursing young. As one of the women slowly, but deliberately reaches for a spear while lowering her infant charge to the floor Ademar slams the door shut. He turns to the group and tells them to avoid this room.
Luethar casts a detect magic spell and scans the massive bookshelf on the eastern wall. He sees two dusty tomes which light up a bright blue. One of them is titled "The Manual of Gainful Excercise", the other is titled "The Manual of Bodily Health". Inside the shaman's bedchamber, Ademar finds a small ringbox, but does not look inside.
It is here that the PC's heal themselves somewhat with a few spells and potions. It is also here that this recap ends...
Will the group continue to Tonguescum's compound to finish the fight and give MacBrady his revenge? If so, will they succeed or fall victim to the trap that they undoubtedly expect awaits them there? Perhaps they'll turn tail and run, figuring they've "done enough"?
What do you think?
Thursday, September 4, 2008
After casting the spell "Burrow" to tunnel under Tonguescum's home, Cor'Nal unexpectedly finds a pair of makeshift holding cells packed with women and children, apparently the spoils of the invasion of Snoam-Schlabach . He discovers a ladder leading to a hatch that opens to the floor level of the stone structure. Thinking this the obvious place to get right to the source, avoiding the nonsense of attacking the camp head-on, he returns to Whitewall Camp to round up MacBrady, hoping that once Ryan kills Tonguescum his thirst for vengeance will be sated. He deliberately neglects to tell this to Ryan.
The party rounds up and begins the trek to Tonguescum's camp the next day. There is a short encounter along the way with Frobolds that ends quickly. They dismount far from the camp and head the rest of the way on foot. Eventually arriving where Cor'Nal cast his "Burrow" spell, far to the east on the unprotected side of the chieftain's compound. They enter the tunnel and end up between the small pair of holding cells.
Believing a rescue is occurring, a middle-aged woman pleads to be released along with the rest of the hostages. Cor'Nal implores her that the rescue is imminent but she must remain patient, as fleeing in daylight with the amount of people present would lead to their ultimate doom. She persists and begins to panic. After a tense verbal exchange, she retreats to a rear corner of her cell, giving up the argument. It is clear to the group that she totters on the edge of insanity.
During the negotiation with the woman a foul-mouthed, yet child-like voice emanates from one of the cells. A halfling presents himself who states that he lived in Snoam-Schlabach for a time under the guise of a child. He does not disclose, and is not asked, why he did this. After a short discussion, he convinces the party to hand him a weapon, as he claims to be good with a sword. Ademar successfully picks the cell lock and the halfling officially joins the party. He is mouthy, dirty and small, but gutsy.
While planning their attack on the upper levels of the stone structure a sentry is sent to "check" on the prisoners. He is ambushed and overrun easily while climbing down the iron ladder. Before dying however, the orc alerts those above him to the insurrection. After the death of the orc the PC's throw smokesticks up the shaft in order to mask their ascent. Once the above room fills with the adequate amount of smoke, they cautiously climb, one by one, to the top. Their strategy seems to work as they ascend unharmed. All orcs that were in this room have left it.
After a quick, "feeling about" as the PC's are blinded and having trouble breathing in the smoke-filled room Ademar attempts to open the door. He does so successfully and nearly has a crossbow bolt take off his head as it punches only inches away into the door he'd just opened. A battle ensues and two orcs suddenly lie dead near the front door of the stone tower. Concern is raised over the ready access the orcs outside (and there are dozens of them, to be sure) have to the structure and in particular the foyer they now stand in and the two orc bodies are stacked along the heavy wooden doors. When Cor'Nal finds this scenario to be unacceptable he casts a spell that turns the wooden doors into stone. Making the tower nearly impenetrable to anyone without a battering ram.
The PC's set about a quick search of the tower's floor level. They find a trash room that apparently, from the odd placement of pisspots, also doubles as a privy, a study where two trained worgs attack and are killed, and a dining room. In almost all rooms expensive, ornate mahogany furniture is found. Obviously either left behind by the previous inhabitant or spoils from previous orcish skirmishes. Either way, the furniture seems wholly out of place and has not been well taken care of.
From the study a ladder rises upward to a third level. Without time to spare the PC's head up quickly to Tonguescum's bedchamber. It is messy, though surprisingly livable, and the massive, mahogany bed holds a large feather mattress. Out of the open windows, which are only 6x6 inch squares they see the orcish archers form 180 degree semicircle arcs on the east and west sides, 20 feet away from the stone walls, waiting to strike. When a visible target passes in front of the window's tiny dimensions, the orcs fire. Some bolts, though few, strike home.
After a quick search on this level and an assessment of their survival odds the PC's notice another ladder, presumably leading to the roof. Ademar, thinking it easier to strike from above, scrambles quickly up the ladder. The hatch is of course locked and he quickly takes care of it, opening the wooden hatch and taking to the roof. No one follows, this proves to be a near-fatal mistake. While on the roof Ademar attempts to rain arrows down upon the orcs below, before doing so, he notices a ladder has been laid against the stone wall and presumably orc warriors are presently climbing it to gain entrance from above. Ademar rushes over to the ladder and shoves it off, sending the ladder and the orc who'd climbed halfway up it down to the earth below. Ademar fires an arrow, killing an orc in the western semicircle. Several arrows are fired in return, many strike Ademar damaging him severely and laying him unconscious behind the parapet.
The others decide to stay in the upper floor and fire arrows through the eyelet windows at the orcs below. Meanwhile, checking the situation outside, Cor'Nal hears the curious "thud" noise of a ladder being placed against the tower wall outside near where he is standing. He calls out to warn Ademar but hears no return. The halfling Luethar, finds a bow, nocks an arrow and slings one into the shoulder of a massive seven-foot-tall orc. It seems to do little other than anger the beast and return fire from the orc archers forces the halfling to scamper away to safety.
After another call to Ademar goes unanswered, Cor'Nal decides to rush up the ladder to investigate. He finds Ademar alone but arrow ridden and unconscious near the parapet. After rushing over to him he spies the top rung of a ladder laid upon the parapet wall, he first hears and soon after sees a climbing orc rise into view. A highly adorned, menacing looking orc has ascended the roof however, and moves in. Luckily, Ryan MacBrady has followed Cor'Nal to the roof and meets the orc in combat. A short time later a pair of floating orc shaman rise over the parapet to join the fight. Things look grim, and a lengthy battle ensues.
Cor'Nal and the orc shamen trade spells, the druid calls forth the elemental power of lightning while the shamen use wands to fire magic missiles into their enemies. The lightning does enough to force one shaman to retreat, floating below the parapet, presumably to heal. The second orc shaman attempts to retreat as well but is less fortunate, as one of Cor'Nals bolts blows his head apart, sending the rest of his body to the cold earth below. The orc sergeant that made it to the roof is eventually killed by Ryan's sword. Cor'Nal, working quickly, rushes to Ademar's side and heals the fallen elf bringing him out of unconsciousness. More orcs climb the ladder, reaching the top.
After several seconds the surviving shaman floats back over the parapet and casts web at the center of the roof entangling everyone. More orc grunts rise to the roof via the ladder. The shaman needs to clear space for them to enter the fray unimpeded, so he casts flame sphere to achieve this. After a few seconds two more orcs are on the roof. The PC's are essentially helpless as all members of the group, save for Luethar who at this time is hiding safely under Tonguescum's bed, is caught in the shaman's web.
While the shaman is burning his web to make room for the orcs climbing the ladder, Cor'Nal shapeshifts into a bear. He uses the bears brute strength to break free of the web, as the orcs threaten to approach he shoves Ademar through the tangle of webs and into the open hole created by the roof hatch. Moments later, Ryan MacBrady breaks free on his own and dives into the hole as well, dodging the 1000 pound bear that follows through the almost-too-tight opening.
After Ademar scampers back up the ladder to close and lock the hatch, the PC's take a quick inventory of themselves. Luethar comes out from underneath the bed. Expecting the orcs to break through the hatch at any second, the PC's decide to discourage their chase by setting alight any and all items that will catch flame. Starting with Tonguescum's massive bed. They move below to the floor level, continuing to burn everything in sight, going from room to room not stopping until they reach the basement level, and the prisoners.
Where this week's recap* ends.
*Sorry it took so long...
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
***note*** DM, please feel free to assimilate or delete this information as you see fit. After all, it is your world! We just have the pleasure of visiting it. ***note***
Saturday, August 23, 2008
He watched them as they entered Snoam-Schlabach. Saw as the rogue-elf first met with his charge, Willis McDunugh. He sneered at them as their now dead, half-orc lackey ran through one of the first he had seduced, Behrogar, before he could kill the witch and be rewarded with the only thing in the world the barbarian wanted more than her: The MacBrady ancestral weapons and armor. He laughed heartily as that same mud-blooded fool wasted his own pathetic life in the Pinefore a short time later.
But when they delved into the quarry fresh with their newly acquainted enigmatic dwarf, killed the bearded devil he'd taken so much time and effort to summon, effectively shutting off his connection to Hell, even if only temporarily. They were no longer amusing to him. And later, when they tracked Briggs, Willis and the one he'd seduced in Schudlichton to the Pinefore, finding them among Tonguescum's orcs and nearly slaying them all to a man, he'd become infuriated. The death of Anna came too early and the destruction of both towns would have to wait weeks longer.
Now they had become a serious concern. They weren't men of consequence, or so it seemed. They weren't even particularly interested in their surroundings. He guessed the fire-scarred elf to be an outlaw, a mild curiosity to entertain the self-righteous druid who walked around arrogantly, oblivious to the hardships of those The Stranger meant to oppress and destroy. This disregard for the townsfolk, The Stranger was pleased to see, worked in his favor. He'd thought the leader of the group to be a crusader, a hero to the people at first, and was glad to be wrong. The destruction of Snoam-Schlabach and also Schudlichton, events that could have been prevented under different circumstances, seemed of no matter to the druid. He proved this as he ushered his charges, one of which who happened to be the son of one of the destroyed town's chieftains, southward. Away from the masterpiece to come, away from The Stranger's life's work, the snow-cursed canvas he'd just begun to touch with his crimson-tipped brush.
Yes, The Stranger thought to himself, fly away little elf. Fly as you have on the wings of the hawk you've occasionally turned yourself into. Keep your Kutenai-granted powers away from the reckoning to come. Flee with your horribly scarred mate, and please while you're at it, kill any new companions you meet along the way as you did the dwarf whom you'd befriended. Yes kill another person fooled into trusting you. There was a special place in Hell for those who murder their friends.
The Stranger knew all about that.
Now if only they'd get moving southward soon. The snowstorm will keep them from returning to Snoam-Schlabach, forcing them to wait nearly a week in the abandoned Whitewall Camp. As long as they avoid Henutsen, a tree ripe with sinister fruit waiting to be plucked, everything would be fine. Replacements for Tonguescum's orcs, who haven't the will or the resources necessary to assist The Stranger in the larger cities to the north, could be gathered there. No, the orcs have served their purpose and those seduced from the one-time fortress-city of Henutsen could more easily slip unnoticed among the northern towns, unlike the ugly orcs, who'd be killed on sight.
They'd found The Stranger's symbol, The Unfinished Triangle, were told its secret by the exiled hag, but cared not to delve further into its mystery. Another encouraging sign he thought. Maybe, if they did happen to find themselves in Henutsen, The Stranger could use them for his own purposes. Perhaps, if he showed himself to them, they could be seduced like Behrogar, Willis and Briggs had been so easily. With their easily manipulated egos and uncanny luck at his disposal, more could be brought to his cause. More of the seduced means more rapid destruction, and then She... Yes, She could be summoned to this world, freed from her prison of nothing.
No, he thought to himself, they were only selfish and greedy, perhaps even a little cowardly. After all, they weren't evil.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
After several moments passed, Ademar Nightwalker crawled slowly forward and gingerly knelt next to the hound who had attempted to kill him just minutes earlier. Over the driving rain outside he could barely make out the slight sound of the hounds breath. Gods, it’s still alive! He thought to himself. What to do now? Should he leave the dog alive or end its life before it regained consciousness? Although Ademar disliked leaving a potential enemy at his back, he was equally opposed to leaving a blood trail. Reaching out with a feather touch, Ademar searched for the dogs head. No blood, but the skin was very warm to the touch; there would definitely be a lump there soon. Ademar began to reach for his dagger resting at the small of his back.
Another flash of lightning lit up the forge room giving Ademar a vivid image of the helpless hound, the side of its face already growing puffy and swollen. His hand stopped before reaching the hilt of his dagger. He had not the heart to finish off the dog. His conscience and the elven affinity to nature stayed his hand and so he was forced to work quickly.
Without further hesitation Ademar rose from the floor and moved toward the door leading into the smiths’ building. From what he had seen during the lightning strikes as he entered the forge, there was nothing out here but raw materials and unfinished or utilitarian goods. He was looking for something a little more deadly than a shovel. He had to navigate by his memory to avoid the many obstacles in the blackness.
After several minutes, which felt like years to the young elf, he reached the door which connected the outer forge to the main building. The door itself was atypical of a small country hamlet, much like the rest of the building. As his hands played across the surface of the door Ademar could feel the precision with which the thick wood planks were fitted. The wood was not the rough hewn timber used in the previous farm house. It had a smooth finish which was polished, feeling almost like glass. The lashings and hinges were not made of the typical sturdy iron either; instead they held a smooth, polished finish which rivaled that of the wood. When he finally found the handle another luxury was revealed, a lock.
The presence of a locked door in the middle of the country frightened Ademar and intrigued him at the same time. Only those with wealth and power could afford locks for their doors. For a moment he almost turned away from the door to pick his way back out of the building. That moment was a fleeting one, as the lure of what might lie beyond compelled him to reach into the small pouch at his waist. In moments he had removed a slender pick and a suitable tension rod. As he inserted the tools into the keyhole Ademar whispered a quick prayer to Sanastarus then, with his eyes closed tight in concentration he began to slowly feel out the intricate tumblers of the lock. Working purely on his sense of touch it took several minutes and two failed attempts before the lock submitted to his will. Pulse racing in anticipation, he put his picks away and smoothly, silently opened the door and slid inside closing the portal behind him.
The door opened into a small showroom crammed with half a dozen racks holding wares in an organized fashion. Immediately the hair on the back of his neck stood on end and a chill ran down his spine. The room was lit with candle light which spilled in from an archway directly across from the door he had entered! No movement yet, no shouts of alarm… Gathering up all the nerve he could muster, Ademar crouched slowly and began to quietly slink from rack to rack making his way to the archway. Once he reached the opening he took one steadying breath, and then dared peek around the corner.
What he glimpsed then was a bit of a surprise. The room was lit not only from the many candles simmering in candelabras on various tables, but also from the fire that burned low in the fireplace. Near the hearth and facing the archway was a woman laying across the arms of an overstuffed chair. She was dressed in expensive clothing which accentuated her feminine curves yet revealed hardened and chorded muscles. A large tome rested face up and open on her lap and a heavy leather apron lay discarded on the floor. Her eyes were half open and seemed to be staring straight at him but her light, snoring respirations, barely audible above the storm, confirmed that she was indeed asleep.
Not wanting to press his luck any further, Ademar turned back to the storeroom surveying it quickly. Six racks stood in the room laden with everything from small farm implements and horseshoes to axes, picks, and… swords! A small desk resided in one corner, probably full of papers and other business essentials. Smoothly and quietly, he made his way over to a rack which held a few swords. Without any delay he selected a suitable long sword and pulled it slowly from its scabbard. The craftsmanship was very good. As the tip of the blade cleared its sheath he could feel that it was properly balanced and of solid construction. Perfect, he decided sliding the sword back into the scabbard and belting it on before moving on. A pair of daggers found their way into the cuffs of his boots shortly after. Still not everything he was looking for. After a second careful inspection of the room his eyes were drawn back to the archway. Even with a lock on the door an individual would keep their truly valuable items close to their person.
Resisting the temptation to hurry, Ademar crept back to the archway and peered around the corner once more. She still slept, her breast rhythmically rising and falling. Like a snake, he slid around the corner and into the next room finding two doors on the wall to his right. Hesitating not one moment he made his way to the first door and eased it open to spy the kitchen, tidy and well stocked for sure but otherwise uninteresting. Not bothering to close the door he moved on to the next, similarly opening it with a practiced hand keeping pressure on the hinges to quell any squeaks.
As the candle light seeped in past the door, he could make out the maids’ bedchamber. It was dominated by a large bed neatly covered in fine linens, and also held an equally large wardrobe and a chair off in one corner. After a quick glance over his shoulder he ducked into the bedchamber and made straight for the wardrobe. Quietly he slid the doors open revealing many fine garments right alongside an equal number of sturdy work clothes. What an unusual woman this was! He thought to himself as he brushed the attire to the sides to search the back of the wardrobe. In the bottom he found a box, three hand widths wide and half as tall next to many pair of shoes. He lifted the box and gently placed it on the floor next to him, its weight alone confirmed that it held many coins. Taking care not to make too much noise, he pushed the garments back into place and closed up the wardrobe. Scooping up the box in both hands he began making his way back out.
Halfway back to the storeroom a booming clap of thunder shook the floor beneath his feet. The woman shifted in her chair at the noise, letting the heavy book in her lap fall noisily to the floor as Ademar watched helplessly from across the room. Standing as still as a statue he looked on anxiously as the maidens eyes fluttered open for a moment then, slid closed again. A sigh of relief escaped his lips and instantly he knew that to be a mistake. Icy blue eyes shot wide open and the woman sat bolt upright in the chair. Ademar wasted no effort trying to hide. Tucking the box beneath his arm he sprinted for the storeroom. As he raced through the archway a candlestick bounced bruisingly off his shoulder before crashing heavily into the room beyond. Overbalanced, he stumbled into the showroom.
“Stop thief!” The surprisingly authoritative woman yelled at his back. “I command you stop at once!”
Ademar could hear her bare feet pounding the floor as she pursued him. Weaving between the racks of the storeroom, he ran on to the door throwing it open and running hard for his life.
He continued to run on into the storm, charging north with all haste, the continued shouts of “Thief!! Thief!!” rolling off his back. Ademar would get no rest this night.
- The name of the planet is Majius. (Pronounced muh-JY-uss.)
- The continent that you are currently on has been called Atalanxia (Pronounced adda-LAN-chee-uh) for over four thousand years, although it had a different name before that. Often the southern kingdoms of Arcadia, Eystlund and Toryth Vol are referred to as "New Atalanxia" originally named so by Emperor Attin Ent'Ara I. It is not common knowledge whether or not there was an original "Atalanxia".
- Westheath is a Republic similar to that in Rome before Gaius Julius Caesar turned it into an Empire. Presently, the capital city is rebuilding after it was sacked by Toryth Vol's "Army of Undead".
- Toryth Vol is a Magocratic dictatorship, ruled by the Necromancer King, Xcavere. (ex-kuh-veer) He rules from a fortress (Caer Toryth) that sits astride Mount Vol, overlooking a city of sentient undead at the base of a volcano. Toryth Vol is a kingdom that harbors ultimate evil at its core. The necrosis from the capital radiates diametrically, slowly killing everything along the way.
- The ruler of Arcadia is King Roderick I, although the country is technically a plutocracy. Arcadia's 30 governors, called Noble Lords, secretly hide behind her monarch, knowing that the people of a nation the size of Arcadia would never work, fight and die for patricians. They use the figurehead as a means of national pride. The king is of course of noble birth, but bearing an heir is by no means a guarantee of continued dynastic lineage. Arcadia's monarchs are appointed, in secret and are always one of the top three ranking Noble Lords. Noble rank is determined almost solely by wealth and the size of one's estate, although sometimes, as recent events have shown, heroic deeds can also be a factor in determining one's status. The 30 Noble Lords govern 30 fiefs that cover the entire geography of the kingdom. Each vary in size and yield and as neighbors often do Arcadian Noble Lords fight constantly over borders and control of resources. These instances almost always end in the higher ranking Noble Lord winning his grievance, although at the king's discretion. All thirty Noble Lords also have mansions in Arcadia proper. Most Lords remain in the city most of the time, never wanting to miss an opportunity to toadie-up to the king or Lords of higher station.
- King Roderick is a popular king with the plebeian society of Arcadia. Solidified by the Arcadian Civil War, when two Noble Lords and the King's highest ranking Captain, a popular warrior by the name Captain Nikle, plotted to join with a religious cult called "The Salvators of Mother Arcadia" led by a psychopath who called himself "The Messiah", with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the king, disbanding the Noble Lords, and returning Arcadian society to its post-Ent'Aran theocracy. They failed, although The Messiah, along with his cult were never confirmed destroyed. Captain Nikle and his henchmen however, were killed by heroes Darmot Kromwell, the halfling Pare, Hans of North Hembers, Arturo son of Agathar and the mage, Milimbar. Milimbar and Kromwell were given estates and title after the end of the war, at the behest of the Roderick, making each one of the thirty Noble Lords. Darmot Kromwell currently sits "Third House" from the throne.
- Eystlund is the only true Monarchy among Atalanxian kingdoms. It is ruled by King Darius I. Darius was appointed by his former liege, King Michaelangelo before he vanished, disappearing after his land and castle (Castle Longhorn) were destroyed 11 years ago. Darius is not of noble blood and so is challenged quite often, as Michaelangelo was, on the validity of his rulership. No other noblemen have presented a valid argument for the throne, although Darius would gladly relinquish the crown if one were to present proof of royal lineage, as it is a burden he bears only out of his friendship to the former King and the hope that he might one day return. Although his closest allies see him as a beloved king to the people of Eystlund, Darius secretly looks upon himself as merely a Steward.
- "The Elven Triumvirate" is a tree-city in northern Tanglewood Forest that began as merely three large, connected homes headed by three elven heroes. It was born out of the relationship the three founding elves had with their former leader and adventuring companion, and the subsequent dissolution of their friendship. The elves were Robin of Kemmermere, Erik Oakwood and their leader, Otis Greenleaf. The elves had been equal partners in an adventuring group along with the human spellsword, Michaelangelo. As Michaelangelo's renown spread over the land through the adventuring exploits of he and his elven companions his political influence gained prominence. A successful military campaign against a threat in southern Eystlund rocketed Michaelangelo to political stardom. In the span of a few years Michaelangelo went from unknown adventuring spellsword, to military recruiter, to general, to national hero, to becoming Duke of Blackfields and eventually being ordained King of Eystlund, while his elven companions who had as much to do with his success as Michaelangelo himself watched, gaining little or no credit along the way. This at first created envy, and as Michaelangelo's prominence, power and ego climbed it led to jealous rage. While Duke, and during the early months of his rule as King the elves stayed as guests in Michaelangelo's castle (Castle Longhorn, in which he remained after becoming king even though the capital was far to the north, in Eystlundtowne) but after series arguments over Michaelangelo's lust for war that led to accusations of jealousy (true) and treason (untrue) a fight broke out but was quickly broken up by the Red Falcon Guard. Afterwards, it was agreed that Otis Greenleaf should leave Castle Longhorn, and his elven compatriots elected to follow him. In honor of the loyalty and friendship the elves had given him over the years Michaelangelo granted them a land stipend of over a hundred square miles with which they could create a city-state of their own. It is with this land that they created The Elven Triumvirate. Within a year of the formation, hundreds of elves from across the Kingdom of Eystlund and the south of Arcadia flocked to join them there. Soon, what started as a network connecting three mansion-like homes in the trees became a city in the tradition of Sanctuary. Today, it is a permanent home to nearly three-thousand elves, and King Darius has granted the Triumvirate full sovereignty under the condition that it remain aligned with Eystlund and will heed any reasonable call for help when asked.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The companions (the two elves that is, as Patch is now dead) leave the MacBrady tomb. On the way out Cor'Nal casts a spell that guarantees no other souls will accidentally come across this sacred place of rest. It also guarantees that any simpleton already keen to its existence won't have a clue at how to bypass the near fortress the druid created.
Once that business is finished they set about about leaving the Olde Snoam Mine for good and returning, at least momentarily, to Whitewall Camp where and Loomis and friends await. They also must deal with dragging the stiffening corpse of former companion Patch to said camp, and to an awaiting funeral pyre. Briefly they discuss delivering his body to his ancestral home of Thorak but after careful consideration, and without coming up with a suitable excuse for killing him, decide it best to burn him here and leave it at that.
Upon returning to Whitewall they find Loomis is unsuccessful in the task he'd been charged with, that is, to find someone willing to make, or to buy the requisite materials required to turn the uncovered trailer into a small covered wagon. Seems there is no one around but the innkeeper, and a large, mostly empty warehouse. The PC's break in to the warehouse and decide it suitable for stabling the horses. The innkeeper has already been paid for the hitching and caring of the livestock but the PC's feel the weather make this a more suitable environment for their acquired steeds.
After buying enough wood to burn the remains of their little compatriot from the eccentric (but far more competent than Loomis) innkeeper they travel North to the outskirts of the camp (as per barbarian custom) to set up the pyre. While they burn the time, and Patch away Ryan MacBrady rides up on his horse, right on schedule. He asks them what the barbecue is about and after they explain to him the circumstances of the pyre he comments on how he thinks he may have made a mistake in joining with the elves, as bad luck seems to befall those who travel with them.
After they pay their final respects they return to Whitewall Camp. Where there they remain for nearly a week as a severe blizzard snows them in. To while the time away Ademar learns of a gambling game called "Dancing Dice". A simple yet slightly addicting cash game. He loses all of his copper and some silver to the innkeeper. MacBrady plays for a while as well but his luck is worse than Ademar's and he decides to quit. Ademar soon does the same.
When the snow finally lets up, the group starts to pack the wagons and get set to head south. To anywhere but here. But not before hearing of an out-of-the-way town near the foothills of Snowsquall Peaks, about thirty miles southeast of the Olde Snoam Mine. The innkeeper says its real enough and that Fengis used to route there on occasion. Ryan MacBrady tells them he's heard the same rumors but believes the place to be a bandit fairy tale. Rubbish, in other words, likely a story made up by Fengis to lend credence to the threats he sometimes made about gangsters he was in league with. In order to keep small-time criminals and orcs from ambushing his wagons and stealing his goods. Though the innkeeper disagrees with MacBrady, he can't refute his claim as he hasn't seen the place himself. It's on a road that leads past nothing, he explains, and dead ends at the town itself. Rumour is that its walled off at the western approach by a fifteen foot high oak fence and surrounded by impassable, steep and craggy mountain rock, seated within a massive corrie.
Ademar thinks it sounds better than the road back north. Cor'Nal agrees but thinks heading to Goodale is the prudent thing to do. That is, until he realizes its over a hundred miles away. He thinks checking out "mystery mountain town" might be a good idea after all, at least at first. Once they all agree they notice a wounded man on horseback arrive outside the inn. He is covered in blood and slumps off the horse into a snowbank. He is barely conscious, but speaks of an orc invasion of Snoam Schlabach. He then passes out. They lift the fallen barbarian into the inn and lay him beside the fire. Cor'Nal casts a spell that heals him enough to speak. He tells them that Snoam-Schlabach has been destroyed. He says that Tonguescum and his horde attacked under the cover of the blizzard. He said that they wiped out the already war-torn village with ruthless efficiency, killing everyone who resisted and taking away those who didn't. The barbarian can't speak to the fate of the MacBrady family when Ryan asks. Unsatisfied with this answer he leaves the inn and mounts his horse as the two elves trail behind him. He expects them to follow him to Snoam Schlabach to see with their own eyes the devastation of his home and the fate of his father. When they refuse he dismisses them for cowards. Cor'Nal states that essentially what's done is done and they cannot help the town now. Ryan argues that even if the town is gone and his family is dead that he must avenge them, or at least die trying. Cor'Nal dismisses this as suicide as it would require attacking Tonguescum's camp, head-on. (An idea he was fully in support of only a little over a week ago.) Besides, Cor'Nal says to the horror of everyone within earshot, we warned those in power about a likely orc invasion and we were ignored. Ademar stays quiet, (seemingly believing that Cor'Nal doesn't need any help putting his foot in his mouth) but his silent indifference proves to Ryan that he too has forsaken the town. This infuriates him and as he turns his horse to Snoam-Schlabach he spits at their feet and through gritted teeth, quietly tells them "I hope that someday, you both find something worth fighting for." Cor'Nal is unfazed but Ademar seems strangely affected by his words.
Before he rides away Cor'Nal raises a hand to halt him. He reaches a compromise with Ryan. Telling him that he'll scout the area himself, and if he finds any trace of living MacBrady's, he'll return and help him out. If not, Ryan's on his own. Reluctantly, Ryan agrees.
Cor'Nal turns himself into a hawk and he flies to Snoam Schlabach. There he finds the town in ruin. There are fires everywhere and most buildings have been leveled or turned to ash. A small orc party, likely AWOL looters, roam the town. Cor'Nal, as a hawk flies over them undetected, and while circling overhead he unleashes a steady stream of lightning and quickly dispatches the dirty half-dozen.
After that, he swoops into the MacBrady home. The place is a burned out mess but he finds nary a MacBrady, living or dead. He then flies toward Homebound Inn to check on the well-being of Magda Dervish. Sadly, he finds her bloated corpse behind her bar, face down with three bolts in her back. He decides that he has seen enough and flies to Tonguescum's camp. He perches upon a high pine and overlooks the orc village. A walled-off section on the eastern side of the camp protecting three small stone domiciles and a single large one reveal to Cor'Nal what he can safely assume to be Tonguescum's compound. The largest of the four buildings he believes to be where the chieftain lays his head.
A plan begins to form in his druid mind. Again nature holds the key, literally, in this case.