Thursday, January 26, 2012

What a way to go...

Ghanash awoke. He opened his eyes, and saw... nothing. Not blackness, not darkness, he was not blinded - there was simply an absence of... everything. He was standing, but on what he could not tell, and there was no apparent horizon to separate earth from sky. He looked down and smiled, exposing his sharp, pointed teeth. He may not know where he was, but at least he still had his armour and weaponry. Things were looking up...

Never one to rest on his laurels, Ghanash chose a direction at random and was about to begin walking when something changed. Almost imperceptible at first, more a feeling or sensation than anything physical. But that feeling grew and grew, the air began to shimmer, it became hot and cold, dark and light, wet and dry, and everything in between.

Then, gradually coalescing into existence, a light began to appear. It grew brighter and brighter, until Ghanash had to look away, but as the afterglow faded away a majestic figure emerged. Bare-chested, but bearing a huge warhammer with a lightning bolt sigil, he was immediately recognisable.

Dropping to one knee, head bowed, Ghanash spoke: "Kord".

"INDEED YOUNG DRAGONBORN." Kord spoke quietly, but his voice resonated with unspeakable power and penetrated Ghanash to his core. "YOU SLEW THE FEY QUEEN IN MY NAME. I HAVE SUMMONED YOU HERE TO GIVE YOU MY THANKS. YOU HAVE SERVED ME WELL."

"I would continue to serve to serve you, my Lord, if only you would send me back from whence I came..."

"WHILE YOU GAVE YOUR FINAL BREATH IN MY HONOUR, THIS I WILL NOT DO... FOR THERE IS ANOTHER WHO REQUIRES YOUR ATTENTION."

As Kord spoke these final words he motioned behind Ghanash, and vanished. Turning, Ghanash noticed a speck in the distance and - drawing his battleaxe - formed a combat stance. Swiftly it approached, growing larger and larger. As the shape came closer, its features became apparent. Leathery wings, a scaled and bloated belly, and arrow shaped head... A dragon!

Strangely, though, Ghanash did not feel feel afraid. Instead, he felt serenity emanating from the huge beast as it landed in front of him and he knew instinctively that it was his most revered God. Without speaking, Bahamut's words coalesced in Ghanash's mind:

"MY SON, YOU HAVE RETURNED TO ME."

"Then I truly am dead." As the realisation finally hit Ghanash, his armour and weapons dissolved - symbolic of his own life-force having left the world. Naked, Ghanash had never felt so vulnerable, nor so weak. He sank to his knees and began to weep.

"BE NOT AFRAID. DEATH NEED NOT BE THE END FOR YOU."

As the words entered Ghanash's head, he looked down. A new suit of armour - shimmering in celestial blues encased him, a huge and highly ornate battleaxe appeared in his hand, and a crystalline shield appeared strapped to his harm. He felt strong again. He stood, as tall and proud as only a God's champion can.

"COME NOW, BLOOD OF MY BLOOD. THERE ARE BATTLES YET TO BE FOUGHT."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Time to remember

She was sitting upwind of the small path making its way towards the inconspicuous stone hut protruding the mountain side to her right. She could see the path clearly the whole way from where it left the forest to the door frame with the brittle looking wooden door. It was just a two minute walk from the edge of the forest, but Niema knew that the path and the surrounding, peaceful looking area was teeming with traps, conventional as well as magical. Everything about this place was a lie and made to look peaceful. Many had gotten lured into a false sense of security before succumbing to, and she had to admit from a professional viewpoint, an ingeniously laid trap of some sorts.
She had once admired the maker of those traps.
At the time when he was still her mentor.
Long before he had broken the code and betrayed the guild.

While she was waiting in the shadow of a small stony overhang, keeping halfway between the Shadowfell and the material plane, her mind wandered back. She started smiling when her thoughts reached the time when she travelled with that rough bunch of adventurers. It had been like a holiday, a time where she didn't have to keep up appearances as much as usual. A time where she could pretend to be someone close to her real self.
She tried to remember the details of how she met them. They had made her job easier by killing her target Kelarel. She wasn't sure what drove her at the time to reveal herself and even join them, but the group had something that intrigued her. Maybe it was their chaotic approach to battle that she had witnessed at the time. After all, it had started by throwing an Eladrin down into the midst of the enemy, apparently by accident. What followed wasn't less chaotic. They just seemed to jump into the battle in random order and tried to hack away at any enemy in sight. How they had managed to hold on to a healer without him cursing and giving up after the first battle eluded her. Well, joining them and using them as cover had turned out to be fun for most of the time.

A sensation that could be felt along the connections of the shadows brought her thoughts back to the real world. Someone was coming and travelling along the shadows next to the path. She relaxed when she could feel the inaptitude of the person attempting to go unnoticed. Clearly a lower level assassin who had been tempted by the reward. After all, it was an open contract, offered to all members of her house. Maybe he was also motivated by the inevitable increase in status he would gain by transferring a member of such higher level to the lands of the Queen.

She concentrated on his position and her mental eye followed him towards the edge of the forest.
She started smiling and was preparing for a good show.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The old disappearing trick(ster)

Watching his men clumsily unpack his merchandise, Rhold shouts at them to be careful.
He hadn’t planned this move, but after those adventures had the audacity to, not only survive, but to drive the Hobgoblins out of the territory, he felt it wise.
Suddenly the brass bell over the door jingles. The large and imposing Lord Vidar enters and strides over to the counter.
‘Is everything to your satisfaction?’ he asks.
Stifling his temper, Rhold forces a smile. ‘Yes, thank you Lord Vidar’.
Lord Vidar had organised for Rhold, his bodyguard Eyulf and his men to travel in the night from his original shoppe to a new one here in his own town. It had cost Rhold much in magic and gold.
What was the alternative though? Those adventurers would certainly have killed him as soon as they’d discovered he’d bribed his way out of jail.
Lord Vidar places both hands on the stone counter and leans forward. ‘Now… About the rental costs’.
Rhold looks up. ‘What? That wasn’t part of the deal! Haven’t I paid you enough already?'.
Lord Vidar smiles cruelly. ‘I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further’.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In the dark places of the world.

The hall reeked of rotting timber. If you tried to breathe through your mouth you would taste the tiny flecks of mold drifting through the still air, flavoured by the mildew on the sawdust beneath the carpet of writhing adders, that most of the silent, gray-clad attendants stepped across without even looking.

It was feast-night, like every night, and the grim attendants doled out the sludge-like porridge to the “guests”. Their pale, identical faces betrayed no emotion or strain as they filled each bowl to the brim.

As for their charges, there was little to unify them. Man, woman, elf, dwarf, human as well as a multitude of races and creatures, they were all sickly, thin and white, hair falling out, lips cracked and cheeks moist from tears or mold. They ate, only the occasional expression of disgust betraying their true feelings about the fare. Occasionally they would have mumble to each other, careful to not let the sound carry too far, as if this was a prison, and their words were secrets of escape.

Alone at the high-table, seated alone, sat the Queen. Dressed in the rotting memory of a debutante’s ballgown, with her blackened fingertips closed around a silver goblet, she surveyed the gathered mass below her. Her cataracted eyes blinked and her thin lips curled in a toothless smile. She reached down for her mirror, striking poses, smirking, winking, stretching the loose skin over her shrunken face.

She lifted up a bell of tarnished pewter, it’s discordant clanging pierced through the sighing grey noise of the eating and mumbling noise.

Bring me my two nephews!

Her voice was the insistent rustle of a widow’s veil

Two of the grayclad attendants rushed, each carrying a box carved from warm, brown wood. She opened the first one, and took out a ring, with a glowing Sapphire. As she slipped it on, one could see her thin skeletal arms firm and regain the strength that they once must have had. She flexed her left arm before she took out a necklace from the second box, this one inset with a pattern of carved onyx. As her attendant fastened the clasp at the nape of the Queen’s neck, colour and beauty returned to her face.

She giggled, it was the sound of a seagull crying for more.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mirror of Grace and Majesty Divine

WHO HAS THE AUDACITY TO DEMAND NEGOTIATIONS WITH ME?

The words hang in the air, the slight echo only serving to highlight each syllable.

The slight breeze stilled, letting the mist surrounding her remain motionless for a moment. The breaking of the gentle waves against the beach was muffled.

The queen’s cold gaze was fixed at the party. Her gauntleted hands rested on the pommels of her twin-swords, the right side of her mouth wrinkling slightly in a smirk. Her attendants hung suspended in mid-air, their white robes flowing around them, their bows cocked with icy arrows ready to flow.

The queen’s honour guard of rank and rotting seaweed, tortured and beaten into human form, mirrored their liege’s silence. Drops of water fell from them, darkening the white sand.

The cry of a sea-gull broke the spell.

The queen’s featured broke into a mischievous smile, and a giggle with all the crystalline delight of tinkling silver bells played across the beach. She winked at the party, her hands leaving her swords, the fingertips of each hand pushing against each other.

So lets get this right. This yokel murders one of my sons, then you turn up and help him murder another, and then you agree to meet me at a beach where my powers are at their most potent? You are either the most wonderfully stupid creatures I have come across, or perhaps the most heroic.

She made an imperious motion of with her arms and wisps of morning mist gathered on the beach, forming a table and seats for her and the party, complete with silver goblets filled with ruby-red wine.

Now, my dearest heroes. Let’s sit, toast and…negotiate, for I think there is a way to resolve our difficulties.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Summation of the 4th Edition story so far…

The whole universe was in a hot dense state…
No wait, too far back…

It’s been a hundred years since Eolar, Bodush et al. were killed by Mendez’ father Estaban and family.

The deity like demon ‘Zartak’ and the ancient Blue Dragoness ‘Thereanthor’ at first co-operated in dividing up the northern continent but then went to war against each other.
Surprisingly the Dragon was victorious, driving the demon back down to the lower levels of Hell and imprisonment.

Almost the entire land is now under the Dragon’s iron claw, with only the outlying settlements free of her rule and heavy taxes.

The initial Party that meet-in-a-tavern at Highmarsh, consisted of:

Daelagor, an Eladrin Assassin.
Zahig, a young Human Wizard.
Ghanash, a Dragon-born Warlord.
Bayern, a Dwarven Cleric.
And Vogir, a Human Racist.

Adventure One: (DM'd by Dag)

Kill a small Goblin mob that are attacking the outlying settlements.
This ‘easy’ mission soon turned into a horrible ongoing battle with a group of death worshipers and the meeting of:

Argent. A buffoonish Dragon-born Barbarian.

The group finally traced the children to a strange mechanical ship and the mastermind behind everything…
A strange, mute, giant Hamster creature forced to speak through the mouth of a surgically altered Human boy.

Adventure Two: (DM'd by Scott)

After successfully completing their mission, the Party is asked by one of the local historians, to map out a ruined keep in Winterhaven near the Shadowfell. (An area contaminated by an old evil.)

Ghanash takes some time off but is quickly replaced by Egil, a Human Paladin of Kord from the frozen South.

The overconfident Party soon find themselves battling hordes of Kobolds, led by the infamous ‘Iron tooth’.
The Barbarian Argent is killed and most everyone else goes down. Only for the Eladrin Daelagor and the Human boy wizard, Zahig to save the day.

Soon after the Party are confronted with Daelagor’s cousin. Velorian, an Eladrin warrior/wizard. Just as conceited but with a mission to protect his noble relative.

Another adventurer joins them as well.
Rudha-an. A freakishly thin, tall and possibly evil Human Shaman.

The Party then find themselves facing a well-organised band of hobgoblins and yet more death cultists.

During an epic battle, Vogir the racist ‘accidentally’ drops Daelagor the Eladrin headfirst into a burning oil pit from fifty feet up, where he’s unfortunately slaughtered by powerful undead creatures.

The rest of the Party are soon up to their necks in trouble and before they were able to claim victory and seal the portal, the overly brave Paladin Egil is also pulled into a dark dimensional void by a horrific, tentacled creature and lost forever.

Adventure Three: (DM'd by Assif)

Realising that, despite Ghanash’s reappearance, they need additional support up front, the Party recruit Orestes, a well armed and well armoured half-orc meat-shield.
Also, the semi-naked Tiefling woman Niema asks to travel with them in exchange for her ‘special’ skills.
This is lucky, as the young human boy Zahig decides it is time he went back to the relative safety of innkeeping.

The Party’s next adventure takes them to the dwarven lands and specifically, to ‘Stonefang pass’ a massive dwarven mountain stronghold.
On their journey they encounter falling rocks, monster archerfish and flying Hippogryphs.
Inside they encounter giant spiders, orcs and the remnants of the warring dwarf factions.

Niema reveals more and more of her dark powers whilst maintaining a fa├žade of innocence.
Velorian becomes suicidal in the face of his failure to protect his noble cousin.

After helping the dwarves battle the orc invaders and gather up all the sacred artifacts, the Party realise why the mountain shakes so much.
A captured earth titan is attempting to escape, his mystical prison weakened by the removal of those self-same sacred artifacts.
After a terrifying battle, the Party manage to defeat it and only then because it was already crippled.

It is at this point, the stalwart dwarf Bayern decides to stay with his own people. A terrible loss to the Party. Velorian also decides to return to the Feylands and face his queen and aunts wrath.

Adventure Four: (DM'd by Sven)

After that, the Party traveled back north to the woods of Rottingham. The Tiefling Niema also took some time off, only to be replaced by another, if much more honest a Tiefling: Dokan. Another paladin of Kord.

They are approached by a dark robed human called Indigo, who enlists their help to fight a local bandit called Rob Inwood.
He is drawing to much attention from the Dragon’s men and endangering the real resistance.
After several minor conflicts, the Party agree to help the authorities in their attack and manage to kill Rob Inwood, along with several of his key men.

Adventure Five: (DM'd by Kirk)

Vogir disappears one night, leaving the others to stay behind to help train the resistance.
They get a message from him about a month later inviting them down to Gon Dulat and then onto the Gnomish hamlet of Finklestone. Indigo the ninja lawyer decides to stay behind.
There, they are asked by the gnome farmers to go to Snaefang mountain to help Vogir rescue their stolen children.
During their journey there, a traveling gnomish psychic called Lukas asks to accompany them on their mission.

The mountain turned out to be run by the very creatures encountered by Ghanash a year or so earlier. They were kidnapping human children to experiment on and enslave. They were also ‘recruiting’ gnomish children to educate and place back into the position of power they held millennia before.

Somewhere along the tunnels Niema disappears forever. Lukas stays with the young gnomes to ‘help’ them re-establish order within the mountain.

Adventure Six: (DM'd by Dag)

On returning to Gon Dulat, the Party are hunted out by Indigo and then approached by an agent of Kord.
Somehow, miraculously, Egil's sword had appeared in their temple. The priests request that the Party transport it back to his family in the frigid south.
Once there, they are asked by the locals to kill a sea-serpent. Which they successfully do, but they fail to kill whatever was controlling it.

Adventure Seven: (DM'd by Kirk)

While waiting for further attacks, Vogir disappears but the remainder of the Party are hired by a local wizard to kill a group of goblins. The Party go but soon discover that they’ve been tricked. Still they manage to overcome the much larger force than they’d anticipated and made it back to Egil’s village.

Back to Adventure Six… (DM'd by Dag)