Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Stranger

The Stranger, as he was known to those he allowed see him, had watched these three who were strangers to him long of many weeks now. At first they were an intriguing distraction, then a short time later, a mild nuisance. Now they seemed to be headed south, away from his sphere of influence. Good, he thought to himself, things would transition easier in the cities farther north if they weren't poking their noses into every pie he left cooling upon a windowsill.

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.

Were they?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back to work

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.

Baden attack him!” He heard the woman scream not too far behind punctuated by a blade singing free of its scabbard. “Damn you Baden, atta-“ the words were choked off in a sob of anguish as the woman realized the hound was not waking up.

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.


Fun Facts: Short Historical Tidbits

This post covers little facts that most common folk know about the world at large. These are items that may get glossed over in the "Histories" or things that I take for granted and some of you may not know. So many players have traversed Atalanxia that I sometimes forget what I've gone over and what I haven't with those new to the world. The following is a handful of items that have come to mind, you may or may not know some or most of them. Please correct any mistakes or canon inconsistencies you find.

  • 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


In this recap we see what happens when capable heroes choose inaction over altruism. (Yay, Neutrality!)

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.


While our Blog has begun to rot, unfortunately in a way not unlike our campaign as of late, I have discovered that a minor bout of burnout has brought me to "Parts Unknown" (also known as Yahoo Answers). While away I have discovered many things I did not know before, about myself and the world at large. Many of these things I still wish I did not know. However, much hand-wringing and annoying inquiries by my superior/good friend Wethiel has led me back home for good. Or until I again come late in discovering the next internet phenomena that steals me away from my priorities. That is, writing about stuff that most of you already know about. That is to say our own beloved, yet barely living campaign. The same one I hope to resuscitate with a last effort defibrillation once Tonguescum and his friends are either dispatched or dispatch of the insurrectionists currently trying to steal away his recent people-haul from the now destroyed and no longer existing Snoam-Schlabach...

Oh, you didn't know about that? I'm sorry, wait a second while I find someone, other than myself, to blame for that. Is it too late for a "Spoiler Alert"?

In all seriousness, I apologize for the weeks-long absence. I have read the entries made by Erich and have enjoyed them immensely, but could not pry myself away from the joys (read: addiction) of Yahoo Answers long enough to leave a comment. Seems I'm not the only one lacking in contribution however, but I digress.

The point of all this rubbish is to say that I'm back, at least for now and plan to recap our last two sessions in due course. It shouldn't be hard. Not much has happened really, but thy will be done nonetheless.

And if you're at all interested in whats kept me away, look up SuperWank on Yahoo Answers, and take a gander at all the lame answers and lousy advice I've given to the poor suckers who'll listen to me. Oh, and I spend a lot of time trashing religious fundamentalists as well. It's fun...

So, so much fun...

I forgot how much fun in fact... I think I need to go back and check it out. Somebody needs my help... religious fundies need thrashing... Transsexual needs advice on dealing with embarrassed kids... Wife needs advice on how to ditch cheating husband...

Must... Give... Advice... or... Sarcastic.... Opinion....

Don't click the link!!! Don't do it!!! --->



Friday, August 1, 2008

And then...

The weather was deteriorating quickly. Rain had begun to fall. Slowly at first then, quickly picking up tempo. It fell in large, heavy drops alongside small hail stones both crashing noisily to the ground below. Sheets of lightning lit up the distant sky while jagged forks of the Gods’ wrath stabbed at the ground in a disturbing light display.

Through the storm Ademar stalked unseen from building to building of the small community, his newly acquired cloak protecting him from the brunt of the elements, as he gnawed at a strip of jerky. He was hunting for the smithy and he needed to find it quickly. He grimaced as the wind blew in strongly driving the rain and hail beneath his cowl and across his unprotected hands. The burns he had received there were not healing well and the pounding precipitation was biting at the tender flesh like thousands of bees brandishing hot iron stingers.

Finally he found it, the second to last building on the north eastern side of the “road”. The smith’s shop was of average size though it was built of stone, an unexpected luxury this far from the city. It consisted of a single story main building, a squat, rectangular structure topped with slate tiles. The forge was housed in a large square shaped annex attached to the eastern end which was open on the south side facing the street.

Ademar made haste to the safety of the forge, slipping beneath the large framing timbers that held up the roof. He was glad to be out of the biting weather and into the shelter of the forge. His relief was short lived, and quickly replaced by another feeling. The lightning flashed in a long pulsing fit outside revealing the layout of the forge and also the snarling visage of the smiths hound as it stalked around the large anvil at the center of the room. An acidic taste filled his mouth and for a moment his fear held his boots firm to the floor. The dog nearly matched his 90 pound weight and he was armed with only a dagger, not nearly an adequate defense. The animal was bound at the neck by a thick leather strap and chained to the anvil but, Ademar needed to remain undetected, a barking hound would surely wake someone. Death was often the penalty for thievery and he had no intention of meeting the gods anytime soon.

Hoping to get lucky he tossed the remains of the jerky he held in front of the hound. The beast paused and sniffed for just a moment before walking over the treat and continuing it’s advance with a menacing growl. Ademar backed away a step along the outer wall, his eyes darting all about looking for a solution. It seemed pointless, the forge room was nearly pitch black making even his keen sight nearly useless. Retreating yet another step, he put out his left arm, tracing the wall with his hand. The hound continued to advance. Another stroke of lightning outside illuminated the interior giving Ademar a glimpse of the dog’s barred teeth, raised hackles, and intense eyes promising a painful end. Ademar took another step back but the hound was tired of the game. With a bestial snarl it leapt forward, jaws wide and fangs glistening. Ademar leapt back, attempting to avoid the charge but he only managed to back himself into the corner. He was out of room. The dog slammed into him, jaws snapping, searching for his throat. Somehow he managed to avoid those terrible fangs and he responded by shoving back at the animal with all his might. The dog fell away, landing on its feet and circled back around for another attack. Ademar’s right hand brushed up against something in the dark. Another flash of lightning lit up the forge as the hound leapt again. Ademar closed his hand and swung it toward the hound throwing his entire weight into the swing.

Thunder crashed outside shaking the very ground but he still heard it. The hollow, bell-like resonance that a shovel makes when struck against something solid. In the fading light afforded by the lightning Ademar watched as the dog staggered to the side, its eyes no longer focused, and collapsed against the wall. He slumped back into the corner and the drain of the entire day suddenly hit him. He allowed himself to sag to the floor, his breath ragged and his mouth dry from excitement. Again, he forced himself to slow down his breathing and focus. He had to focus, there was still work to do this night.


Out of time again. There is more, expect this post to be edited and added to in the near future.