Friday, June 26, 2009

The Widow MonTorrey

This latest recap begins with the party outside the Widow's estate. With their new dwarf friend in tow, the badly injured party flees to Low Skye to discuss going forward. Ademar retrieves his horse from The Longest Mile while the others return on foot. Upon arrival, they all head to Cor'Nal's room where the worst of the injured are healed by the druid. While at the inn they discuss what the next course of action will be. MacBrady attempts to get the party to back out of the deal while the others goad him for cowardice. He responds by telling them that he doesn't "mess with the dead". Raell appeals to his sense of honor by telling him that if they don't back their word, no one in town will trust them. Reluctantly, MacBrady agrees.

The next morning, Raell spies the old couple in the common area that he saw two days before and palms the old man a gold piece. Presumably for his continued diligence in looking for his missing dwarf. Surprised, the man accepts the gold coin, going so far as to hide the newly acquired gold from his curious wife. Ademar notices a member of the Baron's constabulary sitting alone at a table. He decides to keep a close eye on him.

Raell heads to the east side of town to scout the rest of the village and get a sense of the geography, paying special attention to specific landmarks. At one point he stops by the busy marketplace.

When the watchman leaves, Ademar decides to follow him out the door. The watchman goes on horseback and Ademar tails him in the same manner.
Cor'Nal strikes up a conversation with Neesa that goes in some strange directions. Among other things, they discuss matters of orcs, inns burning down and Loomis' marital status. Cor'Nal orders a meal and water.

Ademar, still following the watchman heads toward Treadlight where the watchman stops and dismounts. The watchman seems to be patrolling the area when Ademar spies him approach a young man exiting the tavern. They move to the east side of the building where they disappear from view. When confident that they will not return for many moments, Ademar approaches the constable's untethered horse and slaps it on the rear, giggling as the steed gallops away to the south. Pleased with himself, Ademar returns to the Low Skye Inn before being spotted.

Following this Ademar and Cor'Nal head to the marketplace while Raell decides to further scout the east side of town to get more acquainted with his surroundings. While at market the two elves dump some more of their surplus goods and run into a merchant selling showpiece weapons. While intrigued, neither buys anything and Cor'Nal becomes insulted when asked to pay five silver pieces in order to examine one of the merchants more exquisite items. When the merchant is shown Cor'Nal's own "Wildman" scimitar he asks if he may take a closer look, to which Cor'Nal smartly replies: "Sure, for five silver". The merchant is left unamused. A few potions are purchased from the apothecary and after a few more minutes in the marketplace checking on the items left with Aben on consignment, the group decides to wait out the rest of the day in Low Skye, awaiting the cover of darkness.

Upon arriving back at the inn Luethar, who has been quietly keeping to himself since arriving at Low Skye, takes his new dwarven form to Cor'Nals' door where he knocks abruptly. When Cor'Nal gives permission to enter he comes in, book in hand, offering it as a token of thanks for bringing him back to life, despite the unfortunate form he returned in. Cor'Nal tells the dwarf, whom he did not seem to trust even when still a halfling, to set the book in the doorway, on the floor. Luethar obliges and then promptly leaves. Rising, Cor'Nal walks carefully to the book and pokes it with his staff. When sure that the item is not some sort of trick or trap he takes it into his hands. The cover reads: "The Glorious Tome of Understanding", there is no credited author. The book is thick and leather bound, it's pages edged in gold leaf. Cor'Nal is intrigued.

The party wait out the rest of the day and leave, once fully prepared, to infiltrate the Widow's home a second time when night falls. They reach the front door again unhindered, it seems as though fate itself wants them in the house. They open it and enter, quickly closing the door behind them while simultaneously bathing the room in the light of a sunrod. They head downstairs first, giving the stone basement another look to make sure they didn't miss anything the first time. When satisfied that they have looted all they can from this mostly empty room, they head back upstairs, again forsaking the large landscape painting behind.

From there they move into the eastern hall checking rooms as they go, first they encounter a couple of closets, mostly empty, though an invisible force angrily throws a set of knucklebones at Cor'Nal when he tries to examine the upper compartment of one of them. Disappointed they enter the cobweb filled archway that leads to the kitchen. After a brief discussion about what should be done about the cobwebs Raell impatiently tears them down with one of his swords when he tires of the debate. They enter the kitchen to find it unused, seemingly for years, maybe even decades as the rot of the cabinets and the thickness of the dust in the room seem to tell. Instead of moving further west into the dining room they head back to the east hall. Ademar picks the lock on a door along the east wall that reveals a large study. The study proves to be a gold mine of potential information as books on the art of necromancy are found along with a stack of letters from the Widow's husband, Stefan to her while he was away fighting in the primarily fought at sea "Freedkin War".

A painting on the wall of a galley at sea in the throes of a wild, dark-night thunderstorm is noticed by Luethar, who is now calling himself "Pudge". Pudge approaches the painting and reaches for it, in order to see if there is a hidden safe or some other such thing, hidden behind it. Immediately upon touching the painting he disappears, much to the surprise of his fellow adventurers. Raell approaches the painting quickly and, without touching it, peers into the oil painting. Looking closely, he sees Pudge appear upon the center of the ship's deck, near the mizzenmast. Moments later, Raell spies a skeletal pirate who rises up through the deck, materializing into solid form. The skeleton is clad in the trappings of a pirate captain, he pulls a cutlass from its scabbard as ten more skeleton pirates rise from below decks behind him, also brandishing cutlasses. The captain welcomes Pudge to the Crimson Chimera. When Pudge decides against polite conversation and yells "Where's the Book?". The captain attacks, ordering his men to do the same.

Within moments, the rest of the group and their animal companions touch the painting, sending them all inside of it alongside Pudge. A fight ensues, with Cor'Nal dispatching most of the skeletons via a flame strike spell. The rest of the skeletons are also easily destroyed, only the captain being much of a problem, though he too is dispatched with only medium effort. When all of the skeletal enemies have been destroyed, a door, suspended a few inches above the deck in midair appears.
Instead of inspecting the door the PC's decide to infiltrate the captain's quarters, they find a wealth of information and even some treasure as they frantically search the quarters. They also find a sizable wooden box which holds a large, ornately crafted key. In a small chest they find gold doubloons as wide in diameter as a human fist, among other treasures. After taking all they can, the PC's risk opening the suspended door and walk through it, unknowing of where the door leads.

Fortunately, they find themselves back in the Widow MonTorrey's study. They discover moments later that all the items they procured form the Crimson Chimera have disappeared, save the key. It still remains in it's box.

From the study they head north into what appears to be a washroom. There are large wash basins at the north and south of the room and a large iron tub along the east wall. Inside the tub is a disgusting, viscous black liquid from which an insidious stench nauseates those inside the room. The group decides to leave this room with virtually no inspection, only taking a cursory look into what appeared to be a linen closet at some point. They move west into a large bedroom, possibly what served as a Master Bedroom. In it they find an armoire, a large bed and a treasure chest in the upper west corner of the room.

The group finds the room in excellent shape, only slightly dusty compared to the rest of the house. The bed looks as though it were made only hours ago, the blankets at the head are turned up crisply, the down pillows look ready for a weary head. Ademar quickly goes to the chest and attempts to open it. He finds a trap, but has trouble disarming it, setting it off several times. Luckily, his reflexes allow him to escape the flames of the magical trap in each instance. He opens the chest to find an abundance of coin, a pair of "Boots of Elvenkind" bearing the symbol of the elven city of Sanctuary and a pamphlet entitled “On the Perilous Journey of Awakening They That Sleep” by a cleric named Berkely Whitecloak. The writing is essentially a warning to those who would seek to raise the dead, speaking of the horrors one would encounter in this life and the next if they decided to attempt such a crime against nature. It is not as heavy handed as one would think written by a cleric of the white. Shortly after the loot is collected from the chest Pudge finds a magical cloak that makes him appear more attractive, even more likable. They move from the main floor area of the bedroom to the closet area. When they approach, the light of the sunrod is extinguished, apparently for no reason. Then a wild mournful wail can be heard from the floor above. Undaunted, they start another sunrod and enter the closet, finding nothing of value.

They then continue south through the bedroom door and then west back through the cold and dusty kitchen. from there they move into the dining room. There they are greeted by what can only be described as a demonically possessed dinner table. It rattles for moment, before rising on two of its legs. the other two wrapping around in front to form makeshift arms. An evil, vaguely human face protrudes demonically from its surface. It grins evilly as it begins to swing wildly at the group. Despite the horrifying visage of the corrupted table, the group dispatches it with little pain, breaking it to splinters before it does any real harm to the group.

The group then heads north into a storage room, where boxes and barrels contain what sustenance the widow and her husband likely survived on before they became corrupted. Barrels are first moved away from the wall, containing various rotten or petrified foodstuffs. After moving them, a message appears on the wall amongst several symbols of the God of the Undead, Orcus. In moist, apparently fresh human blood the words "Die Whore! die, die, die, die" are scribed in finger scrawl. The crates are then moved away from the wall and inspected. More of the same inside but behind them there is another eery message scrawled by finger in fresh human blood: "You don't belong here!" the words read.

The group decide to leave quickly, but not before Raell can smash and empty two of the barrels, one of which contained what was once wine but is now vinegar and the other with chunky, fetid ale that turned ages ago, spilling their contents onto the floor, with the intent of aiding Raell in a future endeavour. They then decide, satisfied that they have inspected the ground floor adequately, to head...upstairs.
The trip upstairs is frought with peril as there is much difficulty in ascending them. Eventually, everyone makes the climb with minimal harm done. After a little healing, the group inspects doors leading to three rooms on this, the apparent top floor. The first door gives them an overwhelming sense of dread, and so they avoid it. They get a cold, but otherwise normal feel from the second door, and another feeling of dread, though less foreboding than the first door, from the third, which is the one they choose to enter first.

Inside the group finds the room ransacked. Apparently torn apart, again and again by someone, or something, searching for a specific item. In the center of the room stands a large, skeletal being surrounded by an aura of dread. The skeleton is partially armored and wears a scabbard at its side. Pieces of it's former mortal shell stretch and hang from limb and rib. Strings of sinew now petrified connect bone to joint, hanging where muscle once remained. The face is contorted and evil, it's jaws clenched in hateful rage. Pudge confronts the undead monster, calling it by the name he believed it was known by before entering eternal unlife, Stefan. Brandishing a gleaming longsword, it answers by charging the invaders.

It is a tough fight, but the skeletal warrior seems little match for the group. Upon destroying the undead warrior it crumbles to dust. In the room they find a magic cutlass, a bag of assorted jewels and another of healing potions but nothing else of value.

They then proceed to the second, less intimidating room. Inside they discover the last horrifying act of the play that was the life of Widow MonTorrey. The room they find to be completely black. The walls at first look to be painted that way, but upon closer inspection it is obvious that they have been covered in soot. There are white symbols on the walls, glyphs of Orcus of varying size and style. There is writing of a language no one in the group can read. In the back of the room there is a pulpit, it is as black as the wall, a polished horned skull rests at the top of it. In front of the pulpit is an altar of black, carved from solid stone, stacks of books on dark ritual and necromancy circle it. There is no obvious explanation for how it was transported here or how the ancient, rotted floors of this structure still support it. Perhaps it is the will of the house itself.

Upon the altar lies what can only be the Widow MonTorrey herself. She rests on her back, the decaying remains of what was once a white dress draped around her partially rotten, but mostly petrified form. Her hands clenching a ceremonial dagger that she herself has plunged deep into her own heart. Her skin has turned black, her cheeks have sunken and the petrified flesh looks as macabre paper pulled across skull. The final expression splayed across her face is a faint remnant of what looks to be terrified betrayal. As though a promise, whispered into her dying ears had been snatched away just before the final light of her eyes dimmed forever. It is a look of almost unbearable anguish.

But not to these heroes as Pudge wonders aloud, "How much do you suppose that dagger would fetch at market?" referring to the one the Widow had plunged into herself as a final act of devotion to her beloved. It is an antique, after all. Without warning Pudge enters the room, he is instructed to leave the dagger alone but he snatches up every book he deems worth his study. Which is all of them.
They decide no further search of this room is necessary and head, reluctantly to the final one. Ademar reaches for the door handle to check for a lock and is surprised when the door opens by itself slightly, though not enough to see all that it hides. They decide to rip the door open as a soldier will tear away a crusty bandage and enter as a group. Inside, the unbelievably horrifying visage of a nearly transparent elderly woman, vaguely resembling the dead woman on the altar in the previous room, a twisted look of evil and rage is splayed permantly across her anguished face. Her form is mostly human, though her lower half is mostly disembodied as she seems to levitate, without legs, several inches from the ground. The tattered, spiritual remnant of the dress, perhaps the one she wore at her wedding hovers just inches above the ground, though no legs or feet protrude to touch the floor. Her hands are bony blue-gray claws that jut sharply out from the arms of their tattered sleeves, without warning she opens her mouth to scream.

Before she does this, most of the group flee her horrifying sight. The only few that stay behind are Cor'Nal and his wolf, Basili, Ryan MacBrady and Pudge. Once those who have been engulfed by fear flee the undead spirit, she wails as a banshee of legend. Instantly all color and warmth leave the faces of Pudge and the barbarian MacBrady. They both let out a final gasp as they fall to the wooden floor. Dead before they hit ground, their faces twisted in sunken, blue-tinged horror.

Cor'Nal and Basili survive the wail of the banshee however and a long, grueling battle ensues that is won by the druid and his companion. Inside the pair find a chest that contains many various treasure, including coin, a nightmarish looking idol made from various precious metals and stone, a pair of magical bracers, an electrum ring encrusted with pink diamond stones, a moss agate silver earring and an inkpot encrusted with moonstone gems. The rest of the group that had survived return a few minutes later.

From there, seemingly without burden of forethought Raell begins to set fire to the Widow's bed and anything else he can light on the way out of the door. Within minutes the house is fully ablaze, lighting the east side of the darkened town.

The bodies of Pudge and Ryan MacBrady are hauled out of the house with the rest of the group. Once back among the village, Raell attempts to find someone willing to raise MacBrady from the dead. He ends up settling for the Temple of Myrrdin but in the process becomes honor-bound into service with them after signing a contract in blood. Pudge, however is reincarnated, again, by Cor'Nal and this time returns to the mortal coil as...

a Halfling, again.

And now Pudge is called Luethar, again.


Friday, June 19, 2009


Before his trusted elven brothers Ensana Ginbeck and Derek Steadyfingers had joined him; before his path had crossed the surprising human Berkley Whitecloak; and long before his sensibilities had been assaulted by the boorish dwarf Vlad Pwent, Razell had wandered the lands as a sell-sword. His childhood was mostly blank to him, he had grown up in the care of his uncle, Xidias Darkstar in a small village near the western coast of Kemmermere. It seemed that no matter how hard he might try; his past always remained a mystery to him. His memories always seemed pleasant enough yet, did not connect to any concrete facts of his history. The more he tried to remember the cloudier his recollection of the distant past seemed to become.

As he sat on the back of a cart laden with goods which he did not care about, and destined for some town that he did not know, Razell found himself pondering over time he had spent with his late uncle. Xidias had always provided well for the young elf as he grew into adolescence and his early adulthood. Razell had never wanted anything that his old uncle could not provide which kept the young elf ever close to the small cottage they shared on the northwest coast of Kemmermere. After much prodding, Razell found that Xidias had made his living as a soldier and sorcerer in the service of Kemmermere. Later he became an advisor and ambassador for the kingdom before retiring to his small cottage by the sea.

Although his uncle was generous when passing on his vast knowledge of many things, it seemed that Razells’ past was off limits. Every question posed on the subject was hedged if not outright ignored. All he had ever known is that his parents had perished while he was very young and Xidias had taken him in as his own children had long since grown and moved off.

Those children had visited few times over the years but it had been often enough for the young Razell to question his uncles claimed relation to him. While Razell had bright silver eyes and flowing silvery hair with fair skin, Xidias and his children had dark, nearly black eyes, brown hair tinged with a hint of red and dark, bronzed skin. If Xidias Darkstar truly was his uncle it must have been a distant relationship.

Eventually the young Razell had given up interrogations on his uncle. Deciding that it would never get him anywhere he chose to accept what was for its face value. Over the years the boy learned to speak and read not only his own tongue but also the common language of the goodly races. He was given lessons on the world outside of the Forest Kingdom which included histories, economies, customs, and politics of many of the surrounding countries.

On top of these lessons Razell became enamored with the glittering longsword which hung atop his uncles’ mantle. Reluctantly, the old elf agreed to teach swordplay as well. The dance of the blade seemed to come naturally to Razell and it quickly became his main lesson and obsession. Razells’ clearest and most fond memories were of him and his uncle sparring on the beach as the early morning sun crested the horizon.

Unfortunately at this point the ever smiling Xidias had little energy left to keep pace with his lively young nephew causing the sparring matches to become shorter and shorter in duration until they ceased altogether. Soon afterward, on a calm summer night Xidias Darkstar escaped his mortal coil while he slept. Within days his children arrived at his home, prepared their father for his final rite and returned him to the earth. Razells’ life became a surreal blur through that trying time leading him to pack his possessions and leave the small cottage on the coast far behind him.

The cart jerked to a halt and Razell heard the panicked neigh of a horse. Men were shouting and weapons were grating free of scabbards all around him. With a sigh the elf hopped down from his seat and drew his sword.

“Time to earn my gold, again.” He muttered darkly to himself.

As he moved around the cart he wondered how many more times he would have to help these inept humans. By the time he met the first goblin bandit he had decided that the price for his services had just gone up.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Tower

The room Ademar stood in had been completely coated in decades of dust. When the exterior door came crashing to the floor all that dust billowed up in an obscuring grey cloud. The choking grit quickly forced the elf to retreat back outside the tower coughing, and gasping for breath. For several minutes he stood outside the empty doorway brushing the grime from himself as the cloud settled back to the floor.

Once more he entered, sword at the ready. Dust still lingered in the air making his nose tingle, threatening to force him to sneeze. He quickly clamped his free hand over his face to stifle that urge as he pressed into the entry hall. It was not an overly large room being roughly twenty feet wide and perhaps fifteen deep but it was impressive even after having been long neglected. Great slabs of a light colored marble covered the floor the walls were lined in wide wood panels accented with intricate millwork, rising nearly twenty feet up to the heavy open timbers of the ceiling which was set with a large, one time sparkling, crystalline and iron chandelier. In each of the four corners of the room stood dust covered suits of full plate armor. Directly across from the entrance stood a set of double doors built of thick maple wrapped in bands of brass. Ademar imagined that they had matched the exterior door when built but survived the years much better having not been exposed to the elements.

Slowly he paced the span to those doors leaving deep footprints in the still-thick dust which was again, settling on the floor. As he came close to the doors he took a closer look at the armor displayed on either side of them. He quickly noticed something familiar and very much out of place. Embossed into the breastplate of this armor was an erect eagle with its head turned about to the right, the crest of Westheath! It was, perhaps, an older version but definitely the same as he had seen hundreds of times in Caercaster on the uniforms of the soldiers who often roamed the streets. The crest was not the only thing that marked these suits of armor, several nicks and dents adorned the tarnished steel plates, the scars of battle. Unable to control his curiosity Ademar moved before the suit on his right to get a better look. He could discern no stand or other rigging holding up the large plates of shaped metal; it seemed to be completely free standing. Carefully he reached forward and brushed off ages of dust from the breast plate revealing more damage than he had seen at first glance. One particularly large, diamond shaped, hole was punched right through the armor, probably a spear puncture, and was still stained on the edges with long dried blood. Reaching up he carefully lifted the visor of the helm.

With a gasp the elf jumped back from the armor swinging his sword out in a defensive arc before him. The suit of armor stood still before him, visor completely open revealing the very real face of a knight who had once served the Republic of Westheath! His face was twisted in agony, mouth agape in a silent scream. His unblinking blue eyes were wide and dilated yet seemed not to see the elf before him. The visible skin of his face was still full of color indicating that this soldier was somehow preserved from the decaying forces of death.

No longer interested in exploring the rest of the foyer, Ademar moved back to the double doors. Giving them a cursory exam for any traps he turned the handle of one of them and gave it a cautious push. Expecting the worst he was relieved when the door swung freely open without the slightest creaking. His surprise was complete when the door was fully opened and he stepped just inside the next room. Ademar found himself standing in a massive great hall which easily took up half of the towers interior floor space. Not only was it large it was also spotless, everything in the room looked like it had been cleaned and polished just that morning. Many paintings and tapestries lined the paneled walls along with the heads of many game animals, a large and fully dressed table complete with table cloth, plates, goblets and fine silverware, dominated the center of the room. There were three doors leading out of the hall. On the same wall that he had entered the room was two of them, one being at either end of the room, and the third was directly across from him on the far wall. To his far right, tucked into the corner resided a spiral staircase that wound its way up to a balcony above the hall. Hanging from the ceiling were two very ornate and identical chandeliers which were lit not with candles but some sort of soft magical glow which fully illuminated the entire hall.

In awe, Ademar stood there admiring the craftsmanship and artistry of the room. He wandered the hall slowly, appraising the contents of the room before climbing the staircase up to the balcony. Like the room below the balcony was immaculate and carried more fine artwork on the walls as well as thick and well cared for rugs on the floor. Four doors led from the balcony and after a thorough inspection he found that all were connected to simple guest rooms which were small and contained only a bed and a small table in each. The rooms were unlit and completely blanketed in dust, the furniture within was in desperate need of repair. One more spiral staircase led up again but when the elf tried to explore it he found that it was blocked by fallen debris, likely the crumbled remnants of the tower above.

Beginning to gain a small level of comfort in the place, Ademar sheathed his longsword and headed back down to the ground floor in order to continue his investigation of the mysterious structure. It did not take him long to explore two of the three doors which contained dusty and disused rooms. One was an empty privy tangled in cobwebs and containing nothing of interest. The other room was the kitchen which had been ransacked and left in shambles. Heavy dust covered everything, any item of value had long since been removed from the room, and the pantry was completely bare.

As Ademar approached the final door a sudden feeling washed over him, the feeling that there were eyes following his every move. Instinctively his right hand fell to the hilt of his sword and he turned, carefully surveying the great hall behind him. It was just as he had seen it, still and unoccupied. Turning back to the door he found that it was locked. Excitement rose within him evaporating the strange feeling of being watched over, as he rummaged through his pouch for his lock picks. It was always a thrill to discover what treasures lay behind locked doors! With practiced precision he first inserted the tension rod into the keyhole applying light pressure as he manipulated the tumblers with the appropriate pick. Within seconds the lock released and the door was gliding open on well oiled hinges.

Immediately behind the door was a staircase that followed the outer wall of the tower down and to the elfs’ left. At regular intervals were small, plum sized glow-stones set in the wall which kept the wide stone steps well lit. A defined chill was set upon the stairwell which caught Ademar by surprise as he crossed the threshold of the door prompting him to pull his cloak about him as he began his descent. As he moved further down the stairs he again felt as if he were being watched yet, several glances behind him revealed nothing. Again he found his hand wringing the hilt of his sword.

After moving down what seemed like twenty feet or so, Ademar came to the end of the stairs which were framed in a broad, bricked arch beyond which was another well lit room. Uneasiness welled up within the pit of his stomach as he reached the arch. Moving as quietly as he could he slowly pulled his blade free of its’ scabbard. After several deep breaths the elf pressed on beyond the arch. Here he found himself standing in a crypt which was surprisingly well lit by the same glow-stones that lined the stairway. Much like the great hall this room was dust free and in very good repair. Six rectangular sarcophagi were lined up side by side and evenly spaced across the room; each had an arrangement of seemingly fresh flowers atop it. Beyond them was a highly decorated mausoleum constructed of polished marble. Flanking the iron and stained glass door to the mausoleum were two identical statues of armored knights standing in mourning. Their swords point down before them and their unhelmed foreheads resting upon pommels.

Despite his uneasiness, something began to tug at him from the burial chamber, urging him to go to it, demanding that he open the door. Unconsciously the elf moved forward and before he knew it he was standing directly before the door now himself flanked by the large stone guardians. At the nape of his neck hair stood on end and his body shivered though not from the chill of the crypt. Magical power radiated from the place with a presence that was nearly palpable to Ademars’ sharp senses. And still, he found his hand on the handle to the mausoleum door.

“Go back!” Came a harsh whisper which seemed to come from right next to him.

The elf released the handle and spun about. He found himself to be alone still. A bit unnerved, he stood there for a moment, eyes darting about the room. When no threat presented itself he took a few deep breaths to steady his nerves. The draw of the tomb crept back into his consciousness seeming to ease his trepidation. Ademar turned back to the door and, without even checking it to see if it was locked, he leaned his sword up against the door and pulled out his lock picks. Kneeling before the portal he went straight to work on the intricate mechanism.

Again the harsh whisper came to him louder and more emphatic this time.

“Leave now!”

Although the voice startled him, he had already solved the locks’ puzzle and the old iron door before him stood ajar. A long hiss of stale air rushed out at him. Ademar quickly snatched up his sword again and stuffed his tools back in his belt pouch while taking a few cautious steps away from the door. He wanted to leave, wanted to run from this mysterious place, but the draw of whatever was on the other side of the door held him firmly in place.

Feeling as if he were in a dream he watched helplessly through his own eyes as his body slowly walked to the door. He found no will over his hand as it reached out and pulled the door fully open. Ademars’ eyes grew wide as the chamber was revealed to him. It was illuminated just as the crypt behind him and that illumination revealed a hoard of sparkling gold, silver, and gems. The mausoleum was impeccably clean just as the great hall had been. All around the perimeter of the chamber at waist height ran a stone shelf roughly twelve inches deep. Neatly organized upon that shelf were all manner of riches from rare furs, to crystal goblets, to jewelry, to showpiece swords, to lose gems both cut and uncut. Beneath the shelf, on the floor, rested many closed chests which, the elf had to assume, contained coins as well as more gems.

At the center of the chamber was a large rectangular slab of marble. At rest upon that stone bench were the skeletal remains of a humanoid richly dressed in dark, scarlet robes and bedecked in fine jewelry. In the skeletons’ hands, resting upon its chest was a polished silver rod encrusted with small diamonds and topped with a fist sized emerald. Topping the bare, white skull was a circlet of gold etched with an intricate thorny leaf motif. Anchored at the center of the band was a five pointed star that carried diamonds at each point which sparkled with a soft, white, light all their own.

The circlet! That was what he was here for. Ademar knew that was the source of his urges, the reason he had opened the door. Its call to him was even more powerful now; it demanded that he move forward and take what was rightfully his. His hands began to sweat as he reached for the circlet; it suddenly felt very warm in the crypt. His heart pounded within his chest and his breathing became labored. As carefully as he could, Ademar lifted the headpiece from the skull.

As soon as the circlet cleared the skull Ademar was washed with a sense of immense power accompanied by visions of conquest and unimaginable riches. He watched, again feeling disconnected from his physical self, as the now pulsing band was turned over in his hands and began moving to his own head.

Ademar was so enamored by the circlet that he did not see the bolt of energy that raced across the crypt and between his arms to blast him in the chest. The thin elf was thrown back into the wall next to the door and his world went white. Feeling as though he had just been jolted from sleep, Ademar found himself sitting against the wall facing the stone pedestal. He found his hands empty, longsword somehow sheathed at his left hip.

A voice caught his attention, the same voice which had whispered to him earlier, only this time it was louder and full of anger.

“You will not have the Crown! It is mine and mine alone!”

Looking up on top of the pedestal, Ademar came face to face with the source of the voice. Standing upon his own remains stood the ghostly figure of a man wearing long scarlet robes and wielding a silver rod, his long black hair flowed in an unseen wind and dark eyes blazed with hatred. The ghost did not advance but began gesturing and quickly chanting a spell. Without another glance the elf jumped from the floor and raced from the mausoleum. Sanastarus smiled upon Ademar that day. As he mounted the steps a great ball of fire erupted in the crypt behind him scorching the walls and floor at his back and singing his cloak. On he raced up the stairs taking them two at a time then banging hard not once, but twice, into the now closed door at the top of the stairs before throwing it open and continuing on. Through the great hall he ran and out the foyer. He ran on and on, north again into the forest not daring to stop. He crashed headlong through the brush and trees not caring how much noise he made nor how much pain he endured as branches and brambles alike slapped across his body.

When he finally did stop running he had left the forest and twilight was upon the world. His lungs burned and his legs ached but most of all he still felt the biting sting of the ghosts’ magic missile a poignant reminder of what he had just experienced. Ademar made a vow to himself that evening, a vow that he would not touch another thing set within a crypt for the rest of his days.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wethiel Talquesse


–noun, plural -ties.
1. readiness or liberality in giving.
2. freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.
3. a generous act: We thanked him for his many generosities.

I did not think it was possible to sum up a persons' character in one simple word and perhaps you really can not. I do think that I'm very close to such a feat when I say that our mysterious friend from the clouds is, in one word, generous. For people she knows only by name, and most of those being just first names or aliases, she has toiled uncounted hours to produce wonderful tilesets which are used in a game she has never attended. She sings our praise when we write marginally entertaining blather about our adventures and fictitious deeds of greatness (or not so greatness...). And now when we least expect it we have these awesome mini sets dropped into our laps (although the DM was tempted by the dark side to not pass them on!)! If that is not generosity I do not know what is! I am surely glad to have made your acquaintance lady. It has most definitely been a surprising connection we have made with you. Thank you for all you have done and please let us know what we might do to repay you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

At Last, Henutsen

This recap begins with the PC’s starting where they last stopped: At the gate to Henutsen, city of outlaws. As they state their business to the old gatekeeper and are subsequently allowed entrance, they fail to notice a quiet half-elf who slides in with them. Quietly, the group heads north to “The Low Skye Inn” in order to hitch their wagons and find shelter for the nights ahead. Raell, the half-elf who snuck in with the group also heads to Low Skye, though only coincidentally.

Upon arrival the PC’s find the place to be fairly cheap, though no great shakes as far as service or lodgings is concerned. The food is barely adequate; in fact it’s almost inedible according to Raell who orders a meal and drink almost immediately. Before he is seated however, he asks Neesa, the apparent proprietor of Low Skye Inn about the possible location of a particularly easy to spot, nasty looking dwarf that he is looking for. She shakes him down for a couple silver pieces but tells him that former pirates of “The Old Salt” who make their home in the tavern called “The Longest Mile” located on the east side of town may have some information about slavers and their ilk.

The elves find that there are only five rooms to rent and Raell, having already rented one of them, has left only four rooms for the PC’s party of five. They decide to bunk MacBrady with Loomis. The other three get rooms for themselves, much to Ryan’s disapproval. After the payment for the rooms is made the elves inquire about places of interest, specifically where they can sell goods that they have for market. Neesa tells them that the marketplace is on the east side of town, south of the Baron’s palace. She neglects to tell the elves that market day is another two days from now. She also neglects to tell them about the fee to enter the east side of town.

Deciding against wasting time the elves immediately begin the hunt for a place to unload their surplus supplies. After they leave the inn, Raell notices a rough looking couple seated at the inn, hunkered over some eggs and ham-hash. The Halfling and Loomis head to their rooms, MacBrady stays behind and orders breakfast.

After a few bites, Raell comes to the conclusion that the ham may have turned and decides not to eat it. He notices a rough looking elderly couple and asks to be seated with them. They reluctantly agree and Raell inquires to the old man about a dwarf that may be in town. The severely scarred and broken old man politely reminds Raell that he is in a town full of people who don’t want to be found. Raell acknowledges his understanding and assures the old man, likely an outlaw himself from decades past, that he is not a man of the law and only wishes to “settle a dispute” with the dwarf he seeks. He tells the old man a convoluted version of the truth, explains that when things didn’t go as the dwarf planned while transporting a shipment of goods, rather than deliver the goods as expected, he destroyed them and fled north with the gold he was given as an advance. The old man says that the dwarf doesn’t sound familiar, but that an older, one-eyed dwarf shouldn’t be too difficult to find. He tells Raell he’ll keep an eye out for the dwarf and he’ll pass along any info he comes across. Raell pays the old man for the information given.

Seeing MacBrady shovel the food Raell despises into his gob with maddening efficiency, he decides to curry favor by offering his leftovers to him. The barbarian hungrily accepts and allows Raell to be seated near him. Raell strikes up a conversation that leads to drinking, mostly done by MacBrady. Raell gleans some info about why MacBrady’s group is in town and is satisfied by what Ryan has told that he and his companions are not outlaws themselves.

The elves, not interested in anything the west side of town has to offer, head immediately toward Henutsen’s east side. They come to a bridge in the center of town that crosses a narrow, but swiftly moving river. They find out later that the river is called “The Hanuionehein” (pronounced: HAN-wee-own-HINE). Upon nearly crossing the bridge they are confronted by a constable that demands 5 gold pieces for entrance to the east side. They reluctantly pay the fee once they are told that the fee is a “tax” put forth by the Baron. The constable reminds them that next time they will have to pay 5 gold for each individual crossing into town.

Once in the east side the elves head northeast and spot a familiar face. The shirtless, hairy barbarian smith known as Aben has apparently found work here. He explains that the former smith had some sort of “accident” and that he was given rights to the former smith’s shop and all tools therein, as long as he makes his timely tax payments to the Baron. Aben states that the taxes are high, but fair given the circumstances. Cor’Nal notices that Aben is attempting to replace the sign that once hung above the shop’s door and offers to assist him in creating a new one. Aben agrees. Ademar requests that two special swords be made to honor people from his past. Aben says that he has the material and the will to do the job, but the masterwork pieces will be expensive, and the intricate runes that Ademar wants carved into the blades will add to the cost and the time required to finish the job. Ademar has no problem with the extra cost or time involved and makes a hefty deposit to make sure the job is done. Aben gives the elves directions to the marketplace but politely tells them that market day is another two days away. Hearing this, they decide to sell some of their steel goods to Aben, who needs to add to his stock anyway.

Frustrated, the elves do a little exploring heading southward. They notice that the houses on this side of town are larger and better kept than those on the west side. As a matter of fact, everything seems nicer on this side of town, the homes, the shops, even the foliage. They also notice watchmen patrolling the streets. A strange irony of course, though they never noticed constables on the poorer, west side. They surmise that the expensive bridge toll likely keeps out those that are deemed undesirable. It seems that society and class structure doesn’t change, even amongst outlaws. They spot a general store called “Three Bridges” and a tanner’s shop run by a man who calls himself Bryson. At the tanner, Cor’Nal buys a pair of soft leather boots for Ademar. After a little more exploring they head back to Low Skye.

Still at Low Skye, but before the elves arrive MacBrady drinks several ales on Raell’s silver before becoming tipsy enough to go upstairs and “bother the Halfling”. Now alone in the tavern (the elderly couple having left by now) aside from Neesa, Raell is confronted by Baron Von Strohm and his half-orc sheriff, Throad. The Baron, clad in enormous, fancy skins upon which rests a massive square shaped, golden amulet set on its side, the gold necklace holding it is itself a rope nearly an inch thick. Raell cannot make out the design on the amulet.

The baron introduces himself and Throad and beckons Raell outside. Caught at a disadvantage and likely fearing a shakedown, he is understandably reluctant but decides to “take a walk” as requested. Once outside the Baron attempts to put his massive arm around Raell’s shoulder asking Raell if he minds while doing so. When Raell informs him that he would prefer he not make contact with him, Throad responds by saying: “Let the Baron put his arm around you.” Raell wisely decides to change his mind.

During the walk Baron Von Strohm tells Raell that he hopes he and his friends enjoy their time in Henutsen. He tells him that they are welcome to stay as long as they like provided they don’t cause any trouble and remember to pay the Baron what he is owed in taxes. Raell tells him that he and his friends won’t be any trouble, and takes the opportunity to inquire about Farkas Winslow, the dwarf he is searching for. Von Strohm tells Raell that he is unaware of the dwarf he speaks of but will forward anything he can through the resources available to him, providing that one hand remembers to wash the other. The Baron asks him to make the elves and their friends aware that he is looking for them. Raell agrees and the Baron leaves without incident.

Shortly after this exchange, the elves return with their lighter load. Raell informs them that the Baron is looking for them and that he thinks Raell is a member of their party. He also informs them that MacBrady is drunk and upstairs supposedly sleeping it off.

Luethar, meanwhile has remained inexplicably absent since checking in and has remained in his room ever since. MacBrady attempts to pester the Halfling but is unsuccessful as Luethar largely ignores him and triumphantly blows him off. MacBrady eventually retreats to his room with the now pants-less Loomis. Luethar quietly returns to his business of reading his book.

From there the group mainly rests at the inn. Cor’Nal creates the sign he promised Aben, Luethar reads his mysterious book while MacBrady sleeps off the mild drunk he acquired while making friends with the enigmatic half-elf.

The following morning Raell meets MacBrady in the common area of Low Skye and they agree to scout the town together. After a quick breakfast they head to “The Longest Mile” no doubt in search of information regarding a certain dwarven slaver.

Once up for the day, Ademar inquires about public baths and is told that he can procure one at “The Longest Mile” he goes there alone, and with all speed. He spends his money on a package deal, paying for a rather fine whore, a bath, some drinks and a night's stay at the inn. All this for 35 gold pieces.

Luethar remains at the Low Skye Inn, still enthralled by a book he has been reading, Loomis also stays in his room. Cor’Nal, eager to explore but not to pay the bridge toll decides to turn himself into a hawk and fly around town.

Ademar is first to arrive at “The Longest Mile” and is in his room by the time Raell and MacBrady arrive. Raell takes a long look inside the empty but very fancily furnished inn. Everything about the place is dark; the lighting, the wood of the walls, floors, chairs and tables (seeming made from walnut or dark oak), the window dressings are thick and block outside light. The artwork that occasionally peppers the walnut walls is dark in nature and execution, mostly depicting scenes of a seafaring nature. There are no patrons here and the bar area is empty until the two arrive and sit down at it. From an adjacent room a tall, frail looking human male with long, thinning brown hair and a pencil-thin mustache greeted them. His look and demeanor made him seem out of place in this den of low character. He was well dressed and polite, though an air of pretentiousness seemed to envelope him. He introduced himself as Flanders.

Raell begins to question Flanders about the “Old Salt” and their dealings. After wryly denying any knowledge of such a group Raell questions him about slavers. When the conversation goes nowhere, Flanders offers Raell and MacBrady a job for adventuring types. When told of the conditions Raell asks Ryan to head back to “Low Skye” to fetch the rest of his friends.

Eventually, Ryan returns with the entire group in tow aside from Loomis and Ademar, the latter of whom cannot be found. Regardless, the group meets with Flanders and agrees to meet with a third party, the leader of the group that Flanders has (supposedly) no knowledge of. The only catch is that only two members of the group can meet with him in person and so Raell and Cor’Nal enter the chamber, a sort of auxiliary space, behind the bar.

Once inside they are greeted by a large, corpulent man, already seated. He has jet black hair, peppered with flecks of gray and a thick, though well-manicured beard. He is wearing expensive and exotic furs of black and dark red. Gold and silver jewelry hangs around his neck, rings dot nearly every finger. A walking stick rests conspicuously against an armrest of the chair he sits in, itself a symbol of status as it appears to be fashioned from ironwood, the handle made of some exotic stone, maybe marble. The man oozes riches the likes that even the baron himself may have never known.

He speaks, introducing himself by the name given him by his mother combined with the name given him by those who feared him during his days as a seafaring marauder: Black Rhett of Orndjulein. He is quick to business and wastes no time telling the two what he needs from them. He claims that The Widow MonTorrey, a rich woman whose husband passed away several years ago has in her possession a ship’s log that Black Rhett believes belonged to an ancestor of long ago. A man who captained the ill-fated ship known as the “Crimson Chimera” He says that he has tried to procure the log through peaceful, legal means but the widow will not see him and has rebuffed earlier attempts to purchase it. He asks that they sneak into the widow’s home at night and steal the log for him. He will pay them 150gp and promises Raell that he will look into his search for the dwarven slaver he seeks. They agree to his proposal.

Once away from Rhett the group reunites with Ademar who was in The Longest Mile all along. Cor’Nal and Raell tell him of the job offer and he readily accepts. Later, they decide to scout the home before charging headlong unknowingly, sending only one of them at first to see what lies in store.

Ademar volunteers to be the lone scout and he sets out some hours after nightfall, scaling the wrought iron fence moving in from the east. Once at the house he approaches the large, L-shaped porch. The wood is knotted, gray and warped from years of neglect. On the far east side of the porch rests a lonely, yet pristine rocking chair made from a dark wood, likely cherry or walnut.

Ademar attempts to look inside the dwelling but all the windows he can find seemed to be covered in an opaque film of dust and grime. The only way to get a look inside is to go in through the front door. Before he is able to do that he notices the empty rocking chair begin to rock, slowly back and forth. At first he seems to dismiss it, reaching a hand to it to stop its creaking movement. When he moves southward along the east wall, just before reaching the corner that turns to the front door the chair begins to rock again, this time at an unnaturally quick pace, as if mocking the elf.

Now fully creeped out Ademar ignores the seemingly possessed chair and heads for the door. The rocking chair suddenly stops. He approaches the door and finds it unlocked. He opens it and heads inside.

Inside the house Ademar finds the place to be dusty, but far from empty. There is a large rug upon the floor in the center of what appears to be a sitting room. There is a hearth in the southwest corner, a wooden sofa with upholstered cushions on the west wall, two chairs along the north wall and an upward staircase to the east. In the wall under the staircase there is a door. Ademar presumes it to lead to another staircase leading down, possibly to the location of the ship’s log. There are passageways on the north wall, leading northeast and northwest. Deciding the place is unsafe for further exploration without suitable backup, he leaves to inform his companions of what he saw.

Upon return, the group agrees to continue with the original plan of infiltrating the widow’s home, however there is a disagreement about when to do so. Ryan and Luethar voice interest in going tonight while there is still dark, but the rest of the group wants more time to prepare. When a vote is proposed, MacBrady is hung out to dry by Luethar, who suddenly changes his mind without warning, and is the only one who votes to leave on the current evening. It is quickly evident why Luethar changes his mind.

When the rest of the party goes to sleep for the night Luethar sneaks out and unwisely enters the widow’s home alone after casting a shield on himself. Quickly assessing his surroundings he, like Ademar before him, immediately notices and is intrigued by the door under the staircase. Ignoring everything else in the room he moves toward the door, opening it with ease he enters a small room that contains exactly what Ademar suspected: a downward staircase.

Taking the stairs to the bottom, Luethar is ambushed by three ghouls and a ghast. A one-sided fight ensues as Luethar begins to retreat back up the stairs. He unleashes a torrent of magic-missile blasts from one of the wands he procured from Tonguescum’s shamen, killing the ghast first, and doing enough damage to the ghouls while avoiding taking damage himself which causes him to become overconfident. Reaching the first floor, Luethar scampers away from the reeking undead, finding himself at the front door. With an opportunity to flee the house at hand, Luethar, winning the fight handily at this point, decides to stay and finish them off. A lucky strike by a nearly dead ghoul causes Luethar to become paralyzed. Helpless, another nearby ghoul slashes his claws at Luethar’s exposed throat, killing him instantly, spraying the Halflings blood upon the outer wall of the house. His lifeless body crumples to the ground, more blood pools upon the porch from the gaping neck-wound. Once his breathing stops, the ghouls drag his body within the home and down to the basement.

The following day, none of Luethar’s companions can find him. They wait for night to fall, hoping at some point that he will show up. As twilight approaches there is no sign of the wayward Halfling and so the group decides to go on to the widow’s estate without him. A decision made easier with the recent addition of Raell.

After night has fallen the group cautiously enters the home, some discussion occurs about where to go once inside the sitting room. Some want to go through the first floor and explore (MacBrady) while others want to go through the door under the stairs (Cor’Nal and Ademar), still there is one who wants to go directly to the second floor (Raell). With no established leadership combined with strong wills Cor’Nal, growing impatient, decides to go toward the lower staircase, despite what the rest of the group wants. With that going on Raell, of similar mind, takes the stairs leading upward.

After ascending about half a dozen stairs they collapse suddenly, sending Raell through the staircase to the cellar beneath. He lands, nearly twenty feet down onto a second staircase, this one carved from stone, taking damage from the fall. Stunned, he lay upon the stairs, catching his wind. Ademar hearing the crash and watching the half-elf fall through the stairs orders the group down through the staircase door. Cor’Nal opens it and begins his descent, MacBrady begins to follow him. Ademar, bringing up the rear takes the quickest route to the staircase door which leads over the immense area rug. Upon nearing the center of the rug it comes alive, wrapping the scarred elf like a cigar. Screaming in fear and agony as the rug simultaneously constricts and crushes him, Cor’Nal and MacBrady return from the downward staircase in an attempt to rescue their friend, not knowing the danger that awaits their new acquaintance in the cellar.

While upon the stairs, Raell is accosted by three ghouls. Immediately after recovering from his fall he is stricken with the paralyzing ghoul touch, rendering him helpless as Luethar was before him. Remarkably, he survives his first few moments of paralysis but is severely injured. Ademar however, is barely surviving his encounter. At one point, he briefly escapes, but the carpet immediately swallows him again and continues to buffet the elf. MacBrady and Cor’Nal rush to Ademar’s side to help. Ryan slashes the rug, opening a gash long and wide enough to see the near-dead elf inside. After the rug sustains the damage, it spits out the elf and engulfs the barbarian, whom it now deems to be the more immediate threat. Cor’Nal and his wolf continue to attack the rug, seemingly to almost no affect.

Recovering, Ademar scampers away from the fracas and draws his bow, reaching for a masterwork arrow that he now knows will come alive with fire. Drawing a bead on the animated ornament, he fires. Flames erupt all around the rug as Ademar’s arrow strikes true. Immediately, he draws another which also connects. This second arrow destroys the rug, turning it to ash as it falls; once again lifeless it collapses around Ryan who escapes with minor singing from the fire, but is near death from the damage sustained while in the grip of the rug. Cor’Nal, seeing his friends hurt but no longer in danger heads back to the downward staircase to assist Raell. Ademar, fearing a logjam upon the staircase heads toward the one Raell fell through to look into the hole he had made.

Raell, just emerging from paralysis nearly dispatches a ghoul before being rendered helpless again. Cor’Nal and company arrive and keep him from certain death. Ademar rains down fire from the open staircase above, destroying two ghouls in the process. After several seconds, Raell emerges again from helplessness in time to strike down and kill the last of the ghouls.

Cor’Nal spends the next few moments healing the worst of the wounded. Afterwards, the heroes search the mostly barren cellar that has been carved from the stone of the mountain that Henutsen rests upon. They find the dead body of the Halfling Luethar, his throat torn open, his body showing signs of some sort of post-mortem infection. They also find a large painting on the wall of a queen in the act of knighting a soldier as well as a silver ring on one of the ghouls. In various coin purses on the ghouls, they find a nice ransom of gold, silver and some platinum.

The group then attempt to agree upon what to do with the dead Halfling. Raell proposes taking him to the nearest holy temple and attempting to offer gold or services in return for bringing him back to life. Cor’Nal balks at this, stating that even if someone in town had the power to raise him, which he believed unlikely, they had nowhere near the resources required to pay for it. Raell disagrees, stating that perhaps they could trade their adventuring services, that it was at least worth a try, but he is ignored. Instead, Cor’Nal decides to tap his own power and reincarnates the dead Halfling; into a living dwarf.