Saturday, July 26, 2008


The sun dipped low in the western sky, almost touching the horizon. The shadows were long and dark in the forest. All was quiet, the calm quiet just before darkness descends on the land. Slowly, deliberately, a figure slipped from the shadows of the forest raising barely a whisper as he moved through the trees. Ademar Nightwalker was on the move again.

It had been several days since he had left the city. Many days since he fled the scene of his caretakers untimely demise. He was filled with grief and guilt but on a much more basic level he was hungry and tired. Since he had fled the city he had been running through the nights and most of the day stopping only when his body finally refused to carry him any further. The only food he had eaten were berries that he had found in the forest. His stomach churned in an ever-twisting knot of pain. He had to eat but he was ill equipped. Ademar carried only the tattered and charred clothes on his back, a dagger at his belt and his lock picks in a small pouch. No bow to hunt with, no sword to protect himself from the beasts that wandered the wild, not even a bedroll to keep warm in the cold nights of early spring.

He was running on the razors edge of his luck and he knew it would not hold out much longer. Ademar needed to find food and safety and he needed to find it soon. By the time he navigated through tangled roots of the giant oaks and maples in the wood darkness had settled completely upon the world. There was no moon tonight, only the dim light of the stars. Fortunately, the gods had blessed elves with extremely good vision and although it wasn't easy, Ademar was able to see well enough to make his way through the night. Now free of the forest he had traveled through for many days his pace quickened and he stayed his north by northeast course. He pushed himself hard this night despite the protests of his stomach and his cramping legs. There was a small farming community out here, he had heard about it in the market. Just outside the forest, as the hills gave way to the plains. At least that's what he thought he remembered.

On he marched for several hours but the hills seemed never ending. He looked to the sky again and again, checking the stars to confirm his direction. Was he going crazy? By his estimation he had traveled nearly eight miles in these lands with no sign of any civilization. He glanced back over his shoulder. The forest was no longer in sight. There was nothing out here. No trees for shelter, no food, no apparent water supply. What was he doing? Standing on a small hillock in the middle of nowhere, Ademar felt alone and insignificant indeed. Was this to be his punishment then? Would this be how the gods would bring his end? Starved to death, alone, in an unknown land.

Despair began to creep into the edge of his consciousness. Ademar sank to his knees as his strength began to fail. He had to rest for a moment and collect his wits. He closed his eyes and tried to slow his breathing. He focused on clearing his mind and centering himself the way his parents had instructed him decades ago in Kemmermere. For many minutes he sat quietly in meditation. He emerged steadier and slightly refreshed. It would have to do he thought to himself. Without a clear mind he would surely die and if he died there would be no retribution for the loss of Deedra Garnet. That, would not do.

Ademar stood again and surveyed his surroundings once more. The night was at it's mid point and clouds were gathering overhead with the promise of rain. He had to get moving and find shelter. Turning back to the north he thought he saw something. Something snaking up into the sky. He breathed in deeply. The very faint traces of smoke hung in the air. He was getting close. He might yet survive this night and get one step closer to his revenge on Kendrick Cwik. Ademar allowed his anger to build. He concentrated on the smug smile of his one-time friend who had betrayed him. Kendrick would die by his hand, he would make certain of that!

It took most of the next hour for Ademar to finally reach the outermost reaches of the community. The clouds were heavy now and light, even for an elf was becoming very scarce. He would have to move quickly. As he approached from the hills he had counted the buildings, eighteen in all. There were five large farm houses surrounding several smaller buildings at the center of the hamlet. One road, more of a well worn foot path, passed through the buildings on a fairly straight line east to west.

The wind kicked up, blowing through the surrounding field in great dusty waves as Ademar made his way to the door of the first farm house. It was a simple two-story wood building with a thatch roof. The residents would be sleeping upstairs. This should be simple enough, he thought. Get in and get out he told himself as he paused with his hand on the door catch to calm his nerves. In one smooth, practiced motion he pulled at the catch and pushed slightly on the door. It swung inward easily and quietly as Ademar slipped into the common room. A gust of cold, damp, wind followed him in whipping the glowing coals in the fireplace back into flames. He cursed under his breath as he swung the door back closed. It latched with a noisy “click” and he cursed himself again. He froze for a moment and strained to hear if anyone had been roused by the noise. When all remained quiet he turned away from the door and went straight to the pantry, found a sack and promptly stuffed it full of cheese, bread, and even some salted beef. On his way out of the building he lifted a cloak from a hook near the door then, slipped outside as quiet as death.


Alas, I am out of time. There is more to come...

Friday, July 4, 2008

The History of Atalanxia Part III

After the coup in Vairlain it took the Emperor of New Atalanxia some time to time to organize and train his newly acquired militia fearing, rightfully so, that the other six kingdoms wouldn't fold so easily. In the meantime he sent many diplomats, some left over from the previous regime in Vairlain to the remaining six kingdoms. His message of peace through unity was largely ignored. Clearly no king warmed to the idea of swearing fealty to a supreme emperor. Especially one as young as the twenty year old who had inexplicably stolen the throne away from an either incompetent or indigent sovereign such as the venerable King Averus II simply must've become. King Averus was an affable King who was beloved by most but respected by none.

During this time Ent'Ara staid aggression, expecting no compromise from the six proud kings while vigorously training his army under the tutelage of his Warlord Champion, Ocara. After years of negotiation stalemate, Ent'Ara abruptly pulls his diplomats out of each country, waiting until the last possible moment to recall his foreign delegates from the adjacent Kingdom of Rafa Ben'Efre. On the last day the diplomats were stationed and once they were free from the borders of the capital, he struck. With war-machines the world had never before seen they laid siege, overrunning the city within the month. The Kings castle was raided by Ent'Ara's personal guard, as the Emperor himself had overseen this victory personally, the Rafa Ben'Efrean King's family and council were slaughtered. The king himself was disemboweled and hung from the castle walls by his entrails. Word of this gory display spread like wildfire throughout the remaining free kingdoms. The heads of the Rafa Ben'Efrean heirs and her king's closest advisors were sent to the five remaining kings as a warning. Ent'Ara used Rafa Be'Efre as an example of what consequences lay beyond the limits of his patients. The effect was exactly what Ent'Ara had intended.

To the other Kings, the boy playing Emperor had suddenly become a despot playing as a god among sheep. They realized after the easy sacking of two of the largest and most powerful kingdoms among them in less than a decade something must be done about this "New Atalanxia". In secret they convened, three councils over two years time. They came together but could not agree on how best to ally against the threat. The kings express a desire to preserve their lines, but know that alliance with the elves and dwarves seems like an inevitable certainty for Atalanxia. They believe staying to fight would take years and expend countless lives. All five sovereigns knew their time was short and that from Rafa Ben'Efre's geographical location, any of them could be the next domino to fall. Centuries of petty squabbling between former enemies could not be overcome in the short two years however. When scouts return to Elsinhor with word of eastward marching soldiers bearing Ent'Ara's crest, the Elsinhor King sends dispatches to Emberlynne, whose King sends dispatches to Shanericha and so forth. Enacting the plan they expected could be the only successful one given the amount of time they had.

They fled. All five remaining kings met at a secret and as yet, still unknown location. From there they headed northward with their heirs, families, closest council, personal guard and what artifacts and heirlooms they could suffer for the journey. Though it is looked upon historically as a cowardly act. Many, more reputable historians believe that they spared hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives to Ent'Aran slaughter and they still would've lost their crowns, and their lives.

Because of this self imposed exile, Ent'Ara was able to take the remaining kingdoms with little resistance. Some of the militia, as well as many common people still loyal to the kings who abandoned them fought various, unorganized skirmishes against the Ent'Aran military. They were quickly stamped out.

The Regal Pilgrimage as its is now known, took two years to complete and eventually settled in what is now The Dodanna Freelands, a marshy, swampy wasteland north of what is now Arcadia, just outside of Ent'Ara's reach. It is there that they officially form a union, calling themselves the "Sons of Sovereignty". They create a temporary republic, with the remaining kings acting as equal heads of state. From this region, they start their new government, its sole purpose to usurp Ent'Ara's power and restore each sovereign to his rightful place. Their dream required convincing the elves and dwarves of Ent'Ara's cruelty and true intention of ruling the entire continent as a despot, and uniting forming a joint force to invade. The hope being success in dividing and conquering his thinly spread army.

To thwart any attempt at redemption, Ent'Ara sends assassins from the many guilds of thieves residing across the southern part of the continent that he now controls. He expects the assassins familiarity with their former kings will allow them to find them more efficiently. They don't need much help, but Ent'Ara's gamble pays off. One by one, the kings' contingents are murdered during pilgrimage. Some of the assassins turn against Ent'Ara however, taking the gold he offers as well as the that of the remaining five kings (in exchange for not killing them and their families) and disappear. Many of those turncoat assassins are assassinated themselves.

Despite the assassination attempts all five monarchs reach their new temporary home. The kings individual guards unite in order to organize a counter to Ent'Ara's assassins. Without the permission of their lieges the warriors form the "Swords of Sovereignty" a contingent of nearly twenty-five elite soldiers. In a short time they become a powerful and respected mobile force through their intelligence and ability to rapidly adapt to a constantly changing environment. Something their Monarchs had great difficulty with. Over the two years they remained in their temporary home, which had gone officially unnamed as the kings didn't want any permanent attachment being made to the place, (but many had begun calling Nadalia, after an heiress of Emberlynne who had died of dysentery during the journey) only five more members of the new society fell to Ent'Ara's assassins. The Swords of Sovereignty became so successful in fact, that each of them were knighted by their respective monarchs and all transgressions pertaining to forming the group without permission were forgiven.

Assassins eventually began refusing Ent'Ara's gold and a new solution, a final solution, needed to be enacted. Ent'Ara, knowing the location of the Sons of Sovereignty fully the two years since their self-exile sent a strike force. The pompous King of Shanericha, tired of living in what he believed to be squalor, had been meeting with an Ent'Aran spy for nearly three months prior. He told the spy when and where the strike force should attack after making a proxy arrangement with Ent'Ara to be reinstated to his own throne. Believing his land, like Kemmermere, would remain sovereign once he returned to power. His betrayal cost the Sons of Sovereignty fully half of Nadalia's population and the life of the King of Emberlynne. The Swords of Sovereignty defeated the strike force eventually, but Nadalia was lost, routed by the Ent'Aran soldiers. Much of their transported riches, some artifacts and heirlooms were lost in the underground fortress they'd hastily created, some of it never recovered. Knowing they were compromised, and no longer safe in the marshes, the Sons of Sovereignty fled further north. Less than a thousand men, women and children made their second pilgrimage. Eventually landing far enough away that Ent'Ara felt they were no longer a threat. They emigrated to the flatlands between the frozen wastes of what is now Eldridge and the mountainous wasteland of what is now Manchrist.

King William Wright IV (known to his subjects as "Curly Bill" for his renown vanity) of Shanericka was spared by Ent'Ara's strike force, he and his court were allowed passage back to Atalanxia. When they returned to Shanericka's Castle Wright, Emperor Ent'Ara had them hung publicly. King William was not not given the luxury of a gallows separate from his common subjects although he was hung last. Ent'Ara's warning that a traitor, even one that worked for the benefit of Atalanxia, could never be trusted anywhere and therefore must die. The underlying message of all people other than the Emperor being treated as commoners was not lost on his subjects.

The three remaining Sons of Sovereignty and their subjects remained there, the first generation holding on to the dream to one day return to their homeland. The first city they created they called Sevenations, named for the "Seven Nations" that were usurped by the tyrant Attin Ent'Ara. A second city was formed nearly ten years after the original settlement, called Fivekings. Trade between the two cities made both flourish, soon other hamlets and small settlements began sprouting in the comparatively milder climated central region. After The First Dragonwar more common folk emigrated from the south to escape the war and Ent'Ara's influence, helping to populate all towns and villages of the new homeland. The dream of returning to Elsinhor, Emberlynne, Shanericka, Fehring'Ram and Ivalisse was sadly never realized by the first generation of kings. They were aged or nearing old age at the time of their usurping. One died, still angry at the hand dealt him by fate. The others however, were content in the knowledge that they had been able to save their families, their culture, some artwork and heirlooms and thereby securing the future of their legacy. The dream that their sons and daughters could someday return to their homelands out shined the darkness of the indignity of losing the throne.

Crowns were passed down from the first generation in symbolic coronations. The dying kings of Ivalisse, Fehring'Ram and Elsinhor bequeathed crowns which bore only symbols of a past dream that would never be realized. The new Kings understood very clearly that they were Kings Without Kingdoms, and from this knowledge comes the name of the Kingdom that would be formed, a literal translation of the phrase from an elven dialect, the word Ulygng'Uard. From this second generation the kingdom of Kings Without Kingdoms was born, The Kingdom of Ulygnguard.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Patch the Hole in My Heart *Sob*

In a short but eventful session we saw the birth of a new way to play and the death of a, uh, hmm... friend?

Recap: The session starts off with the PC's escaping the town of Snoam-Schlabach. The town is still feeling the effects of a recent two-day battle with their Schudlichton rivals and most are reeling with the anticipation of meeting them again. The outsiders go about their business basically ignored by those they don't deliberately interact with.

Before leaving they enter Fengis' warehouse and take the tobacco they left behind earlier along with some picks and shovels. They leave the doors open so Piter and his friends can pick through and freely distribute what they didn't already take of Fengis' goods. They then head to see the blacksmith who sells them a club, a quarterstaff and a heavy iron mace. After that, the group heads to Whitewall Camp and afterwards, the MacBrady(bunch) tomb.

On the way, less than a mile from town they are waylaid by a group of three dire wolves. With the exception of a brief period where Patch is pinned beneath one (reminding him of a scene from "The Two Towers") they are dispatched rather quickly and easily. They arrive at camp by nightfall. They rent rooms and put up their horses for the night and catch a restful sleep.

The next day they walk to the Olde Snoam Mine, traversing through sparse pine and thick snow. It takes half of the day but they arrive without incident. They rope themselves up the 30 foot incline and climb to the plateau. They enter the cave and inexplicably separate into three groups. Ademar remains near the entrance, Patch heads northeast and Cor'Nal heads southeast toward the downward stairs leading nearer the tomb. Patch runs headlong into a group of five darkmantles. He yells for help and is rescued by his friends but in truth probably could've handled the situation himself.

Eventually they make it to the tomb entrance but not before Patch manages to fall into Woofy's pit (now Woofy's tomb). He is brought up without further incident. Once at the entrance they spend the rest of the day and half of the next hacking through the clay wall that Cor'Nal previously created, bypassing the locked door. They walk down a short corridor and come to another locked door. An iron door taking up the whole of the east wall. It is locked, and twice trapped. They trigger it the first time filling the corridor with a strange mist that eventually ignites erupting the passage into natural flame. Patch takes minimal damage but Ademar escapes unscathed. The second attempt is successful.

They enter the tomb to find a large room, roughly 50'x50', it is filled with fifteen sarcophagi. The center one, also the grandest in appearance, holds the three dimensional effigy of a knight on the sarcophagus lid, it is made of a rare blue stone that even Patch does not recognize. They search the room. first for traps and then for secret doors. They find no traps but a secret door is located on the far east wall beneath a message written in an ancient form of the common tongue reading:

"We bury ye, and with ye, the ways of olde."

It leads to another tomb. It contains only one sarcophagus but its a big one. Fully eight feet long and five feet high, the name Pietrous MacBrady is carved out of the blue stone. Another cryptic message on the wall reads:

“Undisturbed may you lay in this tomb of the past, undisturbed as the days of old, deep with the last vestiges of the magic we’ve forsaken, and the ways we’ve chosen to forget.”

Patch decides against heeding the words of the wall and disturbs the tomb. He cracks it open with the crowbar, and slides the massive, heavy lid away from the sarcophagus. Inside he finds the surprisingly well-preserved corpse of a Knight of Ulygnguard (YOO-leen-gard), a Sword of Sovereignty in state dressed in full battle regalia. He is wearing a full set of Adamantite plate, bearing the Rampant Lion crest of the Swords of Sovereignty. He holds in his hands a magical longsword, upon which rests an Adamantite tower shield. Upon his head rests a magical helm. Cor'Nal suggests Patch close the lid. Ademar suggests the entire group leave while they still have their luck and their lives intact.

Patch decides to take the lot of it.

He dons the helmet, which seems to give him greater understanding of things around him. He puts the armor, which won't fit him anyway, into his sack. He dons the shield and takes the longsword in hand, temporarily replacing the dwarven waraxe he usually wields. He even takes the worthless, rotted boots the knight is wearing. Presumably just to anger his companions, or the gods themselves.

Ademar and Cor'Nal order him to put the stuff back. When he refuses they turn their backs on him and leave the tomb altogether. When they leave him, Patch just shrugs his shoulders and walks out alone. When he reaches the center sarcophagus in the larger tomb the door that Ademar and Cor'Nal pass through closes, and a spectre then rises up from the tomb. The spectre is facing Patch, it points to the armor he wears and hisses. Patch says, "Hey, whats goin' on?". The spectre hisses again and reaches for Patch. A battle ensues, Patch screams when he feels his lifeforce being stolen away by the ghostly spectre. His companions hear this and come back through the inexplicably closed door. They too battle the spectre. The battle is won but not before Patch has four effective levels taken from him in lifeforce which nearly kills him. Again the two elves tell the defiant, and now severely weakened dwarf to put back the knights belongings. He again refuses. Ademar socks Patch in the face and a fight breaks out between the two. Patch uses the flat of his sword in an attempt to subdue his friend (although using his fists would've worked just as well). Cor'Nal and the wolf soon join the fray when Ademar begins to lose the battle. They are playing for real however and do not pull their punches, so to speak. Patch rages when he becomes outnumbered and begins to do lethal damage to Ademar whom he eventually bests. When Ademar falls, the wolf and Cor'Nal also take their lumps for a time before Patch finally falls. When he does, Cor'Nal casts a cure minor wounds spell to stabilize him. He then brings Ademar out of unconsciousness. When Ademar comes to, they work together at stealing back the gear Patch himself stole and return it to the fallen knight. While they do this, Patch comes out of his rage and peacefully slips from this mortal coil. He dies, unconscious and alone upon the cold stone floor of a tomb of strangers.

It was unintentional, but it happened. And now the elves find themselves, yet again, without a brute to help protect them. They stood up for their principles, probably the only time either had done so thus far, and put down their traveling companion. Will they return to Snoam-Schlabach to burn him upon a pyre? Or send his body back to Thorak to have his body entombed with his ancestors?

Goodbye Patch. We hardly knew ye.