Arcanis: Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs (COMPLETED) - Page 15
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    All That Glitters - Part 5b: The Hidden Cave

    The light from Beldin’s axe illuminated rippling surface of the flooded tunnel ahead.

    “I don’t need the light, you know,” he said with irritation.

    “I know,” Ilmarė pointed at Osric. “But he does.”

    Osric blinked uncertainly back at the dwarf as his eyes adjusted.

    “Why am I having flashbacks?” asked Bijoux, poking at the surface of the water with her staff.

    “Because this happened last time,” said Cal. “Only I had a human strapped to my back.” His snout swung over to sniff Osric.

    “That won’t be necessary,” said Osric. “I’ll stay here.”

    The big lizard shrugged, hunched over in the tunnel. “Fine. No gourd this time, so I will hold my breath.” He turned and dove into the water. His tail whipped about and then disappeared from sight.

    Sebastian crossed her arms. “Somebody better go with him.”

    Beldin took a deep breath. “And here I thought this was MY terrain.”

    Then he dove into the inky water after Calactyte.

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    All That Glitters - Part 5c: The Hidden Cave

    Beldin surfaced with a gasp. Sinewy and strong tentacles had clawed at him, demanding he stay beneath the surface, threatening to rob his overtaxed lungs of air. He never actually saw them--he couldn’t make out anything in the muck, even with Ilmarė’s fey light on his axe. But he had escaped and it was becoming clear the ss’ressen had not.

    Beldin looked around, the light beaming a few pathetic feet ahead of him. The entire cavern was filled with a strange mist, thick enough that he couldn’t make out the full size of the cavern. If the echoing drips of water were any indication, it was very large indeed.

    The dwarf stumped out of the submerged tunnel, drizzling seawater. He gripped his axe tightly, straining to listen in the fog but unwilling to venture further into the swirling haze.

    Then he heard it. Something growled to his right, deep and low. Something large.

    Where was Cal? He began to wonder if the big lizard had drowned. But he was so powerful; surely a few tentacles wouldn’t slow him down.

    Would they?

    Beldin unholstered his shield and lifted it up ahead of him. The sound was familiar, but he couldn’t place it.

    The growling suddenly came from the left. Something padded back and forth, moving with meaty thuds as its paws connected with the unyielding cavern floor. It huffed and grunted as it walked, kicking up the mist.

    When the claw swipe came, he wasn’t ready for it. It was from his right, opposite the noise of the beast.

    Beldin barely lifted his axe in time as the claws raked across the leather armor he wore. After his near drowning, he had sworn to dress appropriately so he would never be in that situation again. Beldin cursed his own wisdom; his trusty breastplate would have served him well.

    The boiled leather tore up in curls where the claw shredded it. Blood welled up in the marks, but Beldin shrugged it off. He’d been through worse.

    Beldin hacked at the dark shape, but it retreated into the mists. The claw was covered with black fur, but that could be any of a dozen underground predators. What was it that was stalking him? A troll? A demon?

    And where the hell was Cal?

    Pain tore through his musing as a claw rent through the back of his leather armor, from his left. Beldin batted at the claw with the flat of his blade. Was it just his imagination, or was it smaller?

    He thought of the others. Beldin was a trained tunnel fighter, accustomed to dealing with large carnivores in tight spaces. The others had no idea what they were in for. They had to be warned…

    Something splashed behind him.

    Beldin whirled and lifted his axe high overhead with a shout. The dwarf barely checked himself when it registered that the head he was about to cleave in half was that of a lizard. A lizard he knew.

    “Cal!” shouted Beldin. “Go back and get the others!”

    The lizard’s slitted eyes widened. “But you are bleeding?”

    “I’ll be dead if you don’t get them! Tell them that there are t—“

    Two huge paws circled out of the darkness and yanked Beldin into the mists. Cal turned and dove back into the water.
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    All That Glitters - Part 5d: The Hidden Cave

    Calactyte returned from the submerged tunnel with a lurch, his huge bearded axe clutched in both hands. He was entwined in roots that sloughed away as he left the water, the animation that propelled them fading. It was up to the big lizard to hack his way through the angry plant growth to allow the others safe passage. It took precious time.

    Behind him, Ilmarė and Bijoux slowly slipped out of the watery cavern, their eyes scanning the fog. Sebastian surfaced last, his long white hair floating behind him like a halo.

    In the fog, they could barely make out the glow from Beldin’s axe.

    “Bite me will you?” floated Beldin’s voice. The light bobbed up and down. “I’ll teach you to attack a dw—”

    Then the light disappeared and they were surrounded by silent fog once more.

    Cal roared a challenged, his earflaps raised in defiance. Something very large roared back.

    “Cal, wait!” said Bijoux, but he was beyond reason. The ss’ressen charged off into the fog.

    “He’s going to get himself killed,” said Ilmarė.

    “Not if he gets us killed first,” said Sebastian. “Stay alert, we don’t know how many of these things are out there.”

    Bijoux clutched her staff, her head bobbing up and down as she struggled to see through the mists.

    The fihali disappeared with a yelp as a black flash of fur and claws batted Bijoux into the fog.

    “Enough of this,” said Sebastian, rising up out of the water. He pointed both palms in the direction of where Bijoux disappeared. “Fuco aspergo!

    A vivid cone of clashing colors sprang forth from Sebastian’s hands, illuminating the mists with a rainbow of dazzling hues. Something in the fog wailed, followed by a heavy thud.

    “Let’s hope that wasn’t Bijoux,” said Ilmarė. The elorii cursed as she fiddled with a small black rod.

    “What is that?” asked Sebastian over his shoulder.

    ”A wand. I took it off that elorii witch.”

    Sebastian backed up to stand next to her. “A wand? You’ve had a wand all this time and never told me?”

    Ilmarė narrowed her eyes at him. “You didn’t ask.”

    “Give it to me.”

    Ilmarė sneered at the dark-kin. Cal roared again in the fog and something roared back.

    “Please,” he said.

    “Fine,” said Ilmarė. She plopped the ruby-tipped rod into his gloved palm.

    Sebastian pointed it in the direction of the roaring and was rewarded with a gout of flames. The mist burned away, only to be slowly filled in again.

    “You take care of Bijoux, I’ll go after Cal,” said Sebastian. And with that, he plunged headlong into the fog.

    Ilmarė unsheathed her thinblade. “I hope you have a few lives left, cat,” she said to no one in particular. Then she too disappeared into the mists.
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    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 06:28 PM.

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    All That Glitters - Part 5e: The Hidden Cave

    Sebastian stood in awe of the two titans struggling before him.

    On one side was the ss’ressen, his earflaps raised, nostrils flaring. Every muscle bulged. His teeth were bared. When Calactyte wasn’t hissing he was biting and tearing, kicking and tail slapping the hairy beast before him.

    Cal’s opponent was a large, black creature covered in fur, all claws and teeth. Sebastian couldn’t make out its species and wasn’t going to wait to find out.

    He pointed the wand at the black beast and willed it to life. Flames blasted from the tip and engulfed the thing…only to leave it completely unharmed.

    The beast snarled as it turned, its eyes glittering with rage. It charged, a creature heavy enough that Sebastian could feel every paw hit the ground as it barreled towards him.

    The dark-kin made peace with his maker.

    Then the beast stopped short as Cal’s axe hewed through fur, flesh, and bone. Blood spurted upwards. With a low moan, the thing collapsed at Sebastian’s feet.

    Sebastian looked up at the lizard, covered in blood. “Thanks,” he said.

    Cal didn’t focus on him. His head darted to and fro, his chest heaving. Sebastian was sure to face him as he stepped towards where Beldin lay crumpled in a heap.

    He uncorked a vial from his belt pouch. Beldin was covered in vicious gashes that easily penetrated his leather. The wounds were such that it was difficult to tell where armor stopped and dwarf begun.

    Sebastian poured the contents of the vial down Beldin’s throat. They were a gift from Quintus, courtesy of the Coryani legion.

    Calactyte sniffed at the corpse. The beast had small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, and a short tail. It had a brown muzzle and a patch of white on its chest. Overall, it was six feet in length.

    The dwarf immediately sputtered to life. “BEARS?” he shouted.

    “We know,” said Ilmarė, carrying a limping Bijoux. “Two of them.”

    “Those were bears?” said Beldin in disbelief. The dwarf struggled to his feet.

    “My magic does not kill,” said Sebastian. “The other bear will rise...”

    Ilmarė’s lips became a thin line. “It’s taken care of.”

    Bijoux looked pained, but whether from the murder of an unconscious bear or her wounds was unclear.

    Beldin brought his glowing axe closer to examine the corpse. Shadows danced along the vast cavern’s walls and stretched away into darkness. “It’s not possible,” he said. “I’ve fought far worse in the tunnels near Solanos Mor. These were no ordinary bears.”

    “Indeed,” said Sebastian. “I used Ilmarė’s wand on one and its fur wasn’t even singed.”

    Bijoux stroked the fur of the black bear. “Magic,” said Bijoux. “They had help.”

    “What’s that?” said Ilmarė.

    “What?” asked Calactyte.

    “I think that’s…” she trailed off as a shadow loomed across Cal. “…the help.”
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    All That Glitters - Part 5f: The Hidden Cave

    Calactyte never had a chance. The lizard only had enough time to turn in surprise before his attacker batted him sideways as if Cal didn’t weigh over 300 pounds. The ss’ressen skidded across the cave floor, unconscious.

    Two large black bears bellowed as they charged into the center of the cavern. One pointed a paw at Ilmarė. The other turned with a feral intelligence towards Sebastian.

    “Those are NOT normal bears,” said Ilmarė, drawing her bow.

    “I think we’ve made them angry,” said Bijoux, drawing her own bow.

    Beldin picked up his axe and lifted his shield. “I know how to deal with these things.” He lifted his axe. “There’s no fog to protect you now!” shouted the dwarf.

    The larger black bear reared back on its hind legs and roared. Then it landed on all four paws and a stream of flames burst forth from its snout.

    “What the…?” was all Beldin got out before the flames washed over his shield. The force of the blast rattled him, but he held his ground.

    The other bear stumped towards Ilmarė.

    Faer ned I amar, im canam!

    A spider the size of a man landed on top of the second bear with all eight legs. It had bright red legs and mandibles and a reddish-yellow thorax. The spider sank its fangs, dripping with poison, into the beast.

    Bijoux recoiled in horror. “What have you summoned? That thing…it has the taint of the infernal about it!”

    “It’s saving our lives,” snarled Ilmarė. “Quiet, or you’ll hurt its feelings.”

    The second black bear turned and dug its two claws into joints in the spider’s chitin. Then it tore the arachnid in half, spraying black ichor everywhere. When the bear turned to pursue Ilmarė, it stumbled…the poison was taking effect.

    “Like fighting Nierites,” muttered Beldin. “Sebastian, catch!” He tossed a red and black vial to Sebastian as the first bear advanced on him.

    Sebastian uncorked the potion with one hand and gulped down its contents.

    The bear stretched its maw and flames washed over Sebastian. The dark-kin reflexively held up one arm, but the fire had no effect.

    “Let’s see if you can take as good as you give,” said Sebastian. He pointed his wand at the beast. Flames spiraled out of the ruby tip and struck the bear. The black bear howled as its fur caught on fire.

    Beldin buried his axe deep in the distracted bear’s side. It fell over with a thud.

    Ilmarė fired an arrow into the second bear’s skull. Then it too, lay still.

    They all stood over the corpse of the first bear as it morphed and shrank. When it finally stopped moving, all that was left was the body of a burnt and battered gnome.

    “He was just defending his home,” said Bijoux, with tears in her eyes. “He didn’t deserve this death.”

    “He was trying to kill us,” said Ilmarė. “So we killed him first. That is the way of things.”

    “It is not the right way,” said Bijoux.

    “Get used to it,” said Ilmarė. “It’s the Onaran way.”
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    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 06:34 PM.

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    All That Glitters - Part 5g: The Hidden Cave

    “I found what we came for,” said Beldin. Stacked in the damp recesses of the cave were silks and perfumes from far Khitan, the legacy of the last ships that Krubach plundered—and somewhere, the notebooks of Garniss the Sage.

    Ilmarė took a closer look. “Rotted,” she said with disgust. “Useless.”

    “The treasure was never meant to be stored here,” said Sebastian.

    The silk was mildewed by the damp air and crusted with sea salt. The delicate perfumes had evaporated, leaving only an oily residue behind. They didn’t even bother to check the barrels of rare culinary delicacies.

    There was a loud CLANG! as Beldin smashed open the lock of a brassbound sea chest. Inside were a silvered and bejeweled mail shirt and matching gladius.

    “Quintus would be in awe,” Ilmarė said with a smirk.

    As the others sifted through the treasure, Bijoux put her hands on Calactyte’s wounds.

    Sebastian lifted up a bag. “These are the jewels Baldric spoke about. Pearls and the like…the kind sewn onto fancy clothing.”

    Ilmarė nodded. “That’s the crew’s share. Now where is…ah yes.”

    The elorii found her prize: a set of eight books, carefully wrapped and sealed tightly against the elements. The waxen seals on the books bore the symbol of Garniss the Sage.

    She gathered up the books. “Let’s get out of here.”

    “We need a moment to rest,” said Sebastian. “Calactyte, Beldin, and Bijoux are all hurt.”

    “I’m fine,” said Beldin in irritation. Despite his wounds, the dwarf’s pride has suffered most. “But we’re in a sea cave. It may be more than an underwater tunnel we’ll have to worry about soon.”

    Bijoux pointed at a crustacean attached to a nearby cavern wall. “This is a creature of the sea,” she said. “It does not normally live out of water.”

    “Fine,” said Ilmarė. “We’ll need the lizard anyway to haul the treasure out of here.”

    “That’s very noble of you,” said Bijoux, narrowing her eyes.

    Before Ilmarė could respond, Sebastian asked, “whatever happened to Oriku?”

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    All That Glitters - Part 6: Confrontation

    As they hauled the last of the recovered treasure out of the cave, a low chuckle came from the jungle.

    “Very nice of you to do the work of hauling all of that stuff up here for us,” said the rough voice of a half-orc. “We’ve got you covered, so don’t try anything funny. Just lay your weapons on the ground and walk away.”

    Brother Oriku was surrounded by four orcs, his hands tied behind his back. Two snarling war dogs choked on their leashes. All four of the orcs had crossbows leveled at them.

    Ilmarė closed her eyes and shook her head. “I don’t believe this,” she muttered under her breath. Then she raised her head and smiled a dazzling smile. “Look,” she said. “I think there’s some kind of arrangement we can work out. You’re clearly a sensible…” she choked on the word “…man.”

    Behind her, Bijoux began to purr with arms outstretched in a gesture of supplication. She focused on the two dogs, which titled their heads in confusion at her.

    There was a momentary pause while each party sized the other up. Then the half-orc broke out into laughter.

    “You want to negotiate, pretty elf? I’ll tell you what: you put down your weapons and then I will be happy to work out an…arrangement with you.”

    “Oh for crying out loud,” said Sebastian. “Let’s just kill them and be done with it.” He stepped forward with palm outstretched. “Fuco aspergo!

    Sebastian’s familiar cone of black, purple, green and red colors flashed over the four orcs. They fell to the ground, unconscious.

    His gesture released the war dogs, which immediately set upon Bijoux. It was all she could do to hold them off with both ends of her quarterstaff.

    The half-orc swung at Ilmarė with his longsword. She drew her thinblade just in time to block the blow and then skipped backwards down into the cave as the half-orc’s spiked shield barely missed her head. Something green spattered off of the tip.

    “Spider venom,” said Ilmarė. “Well that’s ironic.”

    “It’s truly the end of the world,” said Beldin as he slammed one dog with his shield. “Dogs and cats trying to be friends.”

    “It makes about as much sense as elves and orcs negotiating,” said Sebastian, pulling the wand from his robes.

    “Cal!” said Ilmarė. “Untie Oriku!”

    Cal rushed forward, slapping a dog aside with his tail. There was a shout of “Fuco aspergo!” and then Cal and Beldin went down, clutching at their eyes.

    Bijoux turned to blink at Sebastian.

    “I didn’t do that!” he said.

    “I did,” said Oriku, the rope merely wrapped around his wrists. “You had to make this difficult! You couldn’t just give up the treasure!”

    “Duck!” shouted Sebastian. Ilmarė ducked down just as the sheet of flames whooshed over her, engulfing the half-orc. He brought his shield up to block the flames, but it forced him backwards.

    ”Hey Oriku,” shouted Ilmarė. “The crew really did have one last test for you!” She whirled and threw the deceased captain Bezyli’s knife with her free hand.

    It sprouted from Oriku’s skull. His eyes crossed as he fell flat on his face.

    Ilmarė’s throw left her back unprotected. The half-orc rose up…

    And slumped to the ground, an arrow still quivering in his chest.

    Ilmarė looked up at Bijoux, bow in her hands.

    The cat-person shrugged. “He was trying to kill you,” said Bijoux. “So I killed him first.”

    “Nice shot,” said Ilmarė.

    “It is the Onaran way,” Bijoux said softly.

    “I told you,” Sebastian said to Osric’s corpse, “you wouldn’t live to regret it.”
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    Last edited by talien; Monday, 28th July, 2008 at 06:35 PM.

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    All That Glitters - Conclusion

    Sebastian crouched down next to the corpse of Brother Oriku.

    “I don’t understand,” he said. “Why would a brother of Althares betray us?”

    “Have you MET Kham?” Ilmarė asked, nudging the corpse of the dead half-orc with one foot.

    Bijoux helped Beldin and Cal to their feet.

    Sebastian rifled through the dead man’s pockets. “Kham is hardly representative of the Altharin people,” he said. “Anymore than you represent all elorii.”

    Sebastian lifted a small silver coin out of Osric’s belt pouch. His expression turned grim.

    “What is it?” asked Bijoux.

    Sebastian flipped the coin to Beldin, who snatched it out of the air. It had an occult design on one side, but it was the face opposite that caught his attention.

    It was the face of His Majesty Sorcery, King of Ymandrake.

    “It seems that the Sorcerer-King’s fingers are reaching towards Freeport as well,” said Sebastian.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Introduction

    This is the fifth point of Year 1 of the tournament module, "To Reap the Whirlwind," written by Henry Lopez and set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    · Kham Val’Abebi(val rog2/pw1) played by Jeremy Ortiz: http://www.dreamsculptor.com
    · Quintus Ingatius (human clr3) played by Michael Tresca: http://michael.tresca.net
    · Vlad Martell (human ftr3) played by Matt Hammer

    Rob Taylor was Dungeon Master for this session: http://www.storyboardz.net

    Ahh, it’s good to be back playing Quintus again. If it hasn’t been made clear, Rob will be DMing all the hard points, ensuring Quintus is involved and mostly relevant to the plot. Of course, I don’t even know what the plot is, so it’ll be interesting to see Arcanis evolve as we play through each year.

    This adventure involved the “old gang” again, but it was abrupt—lots of plot, not as much action. One reason for this is because we did all the right things (Quintus, unlike Kham, hung onto the silver dagger that is the symbol of Senator Tensen-Balin’s favor), and thus avoided some fights.

    Indeed, Quintus is ideal for this sort of adventure because he’s taking orders from a Senator. Given that Quintus is lawful neutral, things have never been more black and white for him. This is ironic, because the adventure has provisions for players screwing things up. Quintus made the “right” choice (at least, the choice that advances the plot) each time.

    The only thing that’s bugging me is that I didn’t realize that “To Drink Deeply from the Chalice of Midnight” ended in Grand Coryan and that this adventure picks up where that one left off. In essence, what the hell was Quintus doing all this time that he couldn’t walk over, knock on the Senator’s door, and ask him where his son is?

    I try to explain it in Part 1.
    Last edited by talien; Wednesday, 7th December, 2005 at 02:12 PM.

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    To Reap the Whirlwind - Part 1: One Way or Another

    Kham and Vlad walked up Aventine Hill to the agreed upon spot where Quintus’ note said he would meet them. It was night, illuminated only by a single sputtering lantern on the way towards the hill. Up above them, two guards stood in bored attention at a large iron gate.

    “Let me get this straight,” said Kham. “Weren’t you two in Grand Coryan when you found out about the kid?”

    The larger man nodded.

    “And you couldn’t just knock on Senator Tensen-Balin’s door and ASK him?”

    Vlad pushed one hand through his curly black hair. “Quintus said it was complicated,” he said. “I’m not good with politics.”

    “Besides,” came a booming voice from behind them, “they were off saving you’re worthless hide!”

    The man that approached them had changed. The brown-eyed, black-haired legionnaire still stood at six feet, but it looked as if he’d lost weight. His lorica segmentata was polished to a mirror shine. He wore a blue-crested helmet and a deep purple cloak. Still, Quintus Aurelius Ignatius’ voice was unmistakable.

    “Quintus!” said Vlad. He took Quintus arm in greeting. “It’s been too long. How have you been?”

    “Well enough,” said Quintus. He nodded towards Kham. “I see your mission was successful.”

    Kham shoved his hands in his pockets. “I see you haven’t changed a bit.”

    “It’s good to see you too, Kham,” said Quintus with a slight smile.

    “It’s pronounced kha-YEM,” said Kham in irritation.

    “Of course,” said Quintus. “Where are the others?”

    “Not sure,” said Vlad. “We left a note for them to follow us here but they haven’t arrived yet. We came as fast as we could.”

    “Don’t worry,” Kham said with a sly grin. “I’m sure Ilmarė will be along soon.”

    Quintus ignored the jibe. “I’ve been discreetly asking about Cassicus’ whereabouts, but he has recently disappeared.”

    “Disappeared?” asked Vlad.

    “Completely. From politics. From public appearances. I can find no trace of him. In fact, even the Senator’s been very difficult to keep track of. I got word that he was coming back to his estate, so I summoned you here in the hopes we could catch up with him. I hate to be so abrupt with so august a personage but—“

    “Oh, give me a break,” said Kham, shaking his head.

    “To answer your question,” said Quintus sternly, “one does not simply walk up to the Senator’s residence and knock on his door. There are protocols that must be followed.”

    Kham straightened the lapel of his overcoat. “I didn’t travel all this way just to play footsie with Coryani thugs,” said Kham.

    And with that, he marched right up to the gate. It was one of the two main entryways into the residential estates.

    The two guards stood at attention. “State your business,” one said, his hand resting on the hilt of his gladius.

    “We’re here to see Tensen-Balin,” said Kham. He gestured to Quintus and Vlad, who trudged up the trail behind him.

    The guards looked at each other and then back at Kham. “The Senator is not expecting guests. It might be better if you came back in the morning.”

    Quintus stood in front of Kham. “I am Quintus Aurelius Ignatius of the Legion of the Triumphant Rays of the Invisible Sun.”

    The guard lifted his chin. “So?”

    With a sigh, Quintus pushed back his cloak to reveal a silver dagger. It was a symbol of Senator Augustus Tensen-Balin’s favor for rescuing his son, Cassicus.

    The guards’ eyes widened and they both moved aside. “The Senator will be pleased to see you,” said one.

    “I knew I shouldn’t have sold that dagger,” said Kham to nobody in particular.

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