[FR] Heroes of the Vilhon Reach II (updated 3/6!)
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  1. #1

    [FR] Heroes of the Vilhon Reach II (updated 3/6!)

    This set of adventures takes place in the Forgotten Realms.

    What has gone before...

    Benito Moltos and Aris Cloud-dancer met on 1 Eleisas, 1372 DR at House Silvio's Weaponcrafters in Alaghon, Turmish, the day after Turmish's Feast of the Moon festival . Benito, failing to commission a custom blade from the weaponmaster was approached by an eavesdropping Aris. Aris offered to make him a sword. The next morning at their camp, south of the capital, a wild elf (Ellysidel) washed on shore. Aris went back to the city to buy raw materials for several weapons for his growing troupe. On the way, he ran into an half-elf (Nosr) and a sun elf (Mourn) arguing over money matters. Aris took them on as well.

    As they enter Alaghon they are accosted by the city militia and Aris is accused of kidnapping. They discover that Silvio's apprentices, Tolf and Elohnn have disappeared. The accusations are dropped afte a solid alibi, persuasion from Mourns and a promise to help find the lads. The heroes return to camp and inform Benito. Benito and Mourn return to Alaghon and pursue leads on Tolf and Elhonn's wherabouts. This takes them to the new Thayvian Enclave where Benito argues with the mage there, but before things get out of hand, Mourn leads him out. Mourn returns to the camp and Benito goes to the Temple of Justice. The next morning an attempted mugging is made on the cleric, but he triumphs. He learns that the assault is not a coincidence. The heroes regroup at the temple and head out after the apprentices. This takes them in pursuit of a wagon that headed south. They catch up, rescue the boys and arrest two Thayan natives who turn out to be slavers. On the return trip, the prisoners are sequestered by representative druids of the Emerald Enclave. Upon return to Alaghon, the heroes confront the rogue wizard, Kizzaf, defeat her and gain the gratitude of the head of the Red Wizards in Alaghon, a mage named Hinnar.

    They rest for a month, decline a job by the Red Wizards--possibly fearing the wrath of the druids, but take a job to collect snails, a delicacy in Turmish, for a restaurant called Razmiko's. A blind priest of Ilmater, Brother Salazar, tells Benito that he is the son of a dreaded Malarite. The heroes travel to the far reaches of Turmish, Starfall Stream Pool and the Shadow Wood. On the way they encounter Malarites, a rude adventuring party, a giant bee, and orc raiders.

    Before they enter the woods, they are joined by a paladin of Tyr, Alberia Dorthansdotter. They also learn from a local herbalist that his ranger friend Jazzad is missing. The woods are full of goblins. Jazzad has become mad and so have other animals in the woods. They pick up a moon elf (Balin) who was the lone survivor of a party of elves that was slaughtered by the goblins. The snails are found to be poisonous, their secretions have narcotic properties and can put people to sleep. Jazzad is captured after a tough set of fights, a goblin war band is the captured led by an wily old goblin warrior named Angrad. Angrad is murdered by Balin out of revenge. The rest of the goblin tribe is defeated, along with rats and fiendish animals, and the survivors are banished to the hills. The heroes discover that a quasit was directing the humanoids and unfortunately, the mini-demon escaped. They leave the Shadow Wood and the Valley of Snails, defeat an ogre on the way out and return to Starfall Stream Pool.

    They stay in town for a tenday to train, help Jazzad recover from his madness, and allow the filth feaver to break for Mourn and Elllysidel (who almost dies!). Balin leaves in the middle of the night, stealing Benito's horse. The rest of the group proceeds to Blasingdell to pursue a lead about orc raiders. On the way they are accosted by the same adventuring party that they ran into on the way to SSPool. Not wanting to be pushed around, they defeat them, find a magical sword in the process, and take a prisoner of their leader. They are also attacked by a dark gargolye and the quasit Veshru. In Blasingdell they learn of Khundrukar and the Forge of Fury. They travel to the Stone Tooth, the mountain under which the abandoned dwarven hold lies. They enter not so gracefully from a chimney defeat several groups of orcs quickly, but end in a stalemate, where they and the orcs exchange taunts. This delay allows the orcs to counterattack. The battle is hard fought, with the leader of the orcs, an ogre named Great Ulfe, taking down Benito and then Alberia. Mourn is slain by Ulfe when he stabilizes Alberia, preventing her death. Ulfe is killed by Ellysidell and Aris. The heroes explore one more room, setting off a trap before deciding to forcemarch back to Blasingdell and then onto Alaghon to raise Mourn.

    The bard is raised but decides to retire from adventuring. Aris buys an Inn and makes Mourn the manager. Benito turns over his trusty masterwork sword, Mano de la Justicia to be imbuded with magical power. He discovers that there may be corruption in the Temple of Justice when gathering information on his past is prevented and an assassination atttempt is made on his and Alberia's lives. Milo, a spell-casting Ravenaar joins the group. Grim, the ghostwise halfling who helped Ellysidel to escape slavers also joins the heroes. Nosr discovers that he can wield spellfire and shares this with Benito.

    They set off to finish exploring Khundrukar, this time with more haste, as Alberia reveals that she is searching for her missing father. Her investigations have led her to believe that his last know whereabouts were searching for the legendary Orb of Khundrukar in the dwarven hold. On the way, they are warned by the druids of the Emerald Enclave again to stay clear of the Red Wizards. In Blasingdell, they run into agents of Hlondeth and kill after he magically poisons Aris. On the way to the Stone Tooth, they defeat a party of gnolls and learn that more of their kind have squatted in the former orc hold. The heroes assualt Khundrukar a second time, this time through the front door and defeat the gnolls. After waiting to see if the Hlondethans pursue them for a day without result they proceed to travel into the depths of Khundrukar. Milo saves Grim and Aris from stirges, the heroes defeat a nest of troglodytes, and they discover and defeat other horrors in the ruin's depths.

    Finally, they reach the forge, but it is occupied and being operated on a very low scale by duergar, gray dwarves, under the war leader Nimara. Instead of fighting, Benito and Aris cut a deal with them despite the protests of both Grim and Alberia. They agree to rid the upper halls of the hauntings and take care of a dragon that demands tribute from the dwarves. The clearing of the halls is costly: Alberia loses some of her life essence to a wight, Grim loses some wisdom from the spirit of dwarven priest. However, they are able to put the soul of Durgeddin, the founder of the forge, to rest. Their first excurison into the halls proves frustrating. They heal and then go after the dragon. Milo again proves his worth and his sacrificial nature by stunning the dragon with his mind-powers, delpleting his own physical power in the process, after the creature had taken down the paladin and was working on defeating the rest. Alberia finds her father's Purple Dragon ring and Benito discovers that her father was swept down an underground stream after forcing that information from the spirit of the dead dragon. Returning to the duergar after recovering the dragon's horde, they are not doublecrossed and negotiate a deal to trade/buy mithral. After some arguement, the party returns to clear the halls. Aris loses some pride an almost some of his own life energy to a succubus but the heroes recover texts and examples on how to create rare alloys like darksteel and mithral as well as a magical tome dedicated to Moradin. They leave Khundrukar with heavy hearts. Their only 'consolation' is that they have a trade partnership with the gray dwarves, but even that is tainted with some regret.

    Their camp has been attacked by the Hlondethan spies. Their henchman killed except for young Leo, the groomsman who has been poisoned by the enemy and slowly is turning into a snake creatrue. From Khundrukar they return to Blasingdell where they are given a feast by the local lord. It is only a temporary respite from the scars that were left from the excursion in the depths. They make their way home taking a new and hopefully faster route. By now winter is fast approaching in Turmish. Storms and some snow has already fallen in the heights of the Orsaun Mountains, but the lowlands are just cold and wet. Wild animals have already come down from the heights and into Turmish. The heroes fight a couple and then as they travel north of a ruined manor and keep, relatively wild with some overgrown woods, they are attacked by orcs in the guise of priests of Chauntea. The orcs on the road are defeated and it is discovered that they are Zhentarim-trained from the Stonelands. Grim discovers more orcs on a hill and at a farmhouse. It seems like the prelude to an invasion. The party moves to stop the Zhents, securing both a shed with some ancient looking obelisk, and a farmhouse where many orcs have holed up. They discover that the obelisk is a portal that a half-fiendish orc spellcaster is trying to get back into operation. They also meet Aif, a member of the Night Masks who was running an spy-ring based on the farm, now a prisoner of the Zhentarim. Grim attempts to kill him after some funny business from Aif. However, Aris lets the spy go, causing a rift between him and the halfling. Reluctantly, Grim accompanies the rest of the party to make an assault on the underground base, now firmly in the grasp of the Zhent strike force, before the portal is activated.

    Meanwhile, Alberia and Milo take off with the groomsman to Alaghon to warn the Temple of Justice. During the flight, they are attacked by more Zhents near a ford crossing. Alberia makes a stand, but unknown help arrives to attack the Zhentarim allowing her and Milo to escape and reach the capital.

    Also, while the heroes were slogging through the depths of Khundrukar, elven bounty hunters came to the Great Axe Inn and kidnapped Mourn to take him to Everska to stand trial. The inn is now owned by a mysterious Mulhorandi merchant, named Thazar-de, who is not such a nice person.

    We continue the story as the Heroes have waded into the entry hall and now explore a side passage in the underground base.....
    Last edited by Broccli_Head; Thursday, 6th March, 2003 at 07:03 PM.

  2. #2
    2 Nightal, 1372: Cleaning House

    The heroes made their way across the threshold, stepping on the fallen iron door and into another passageway. Grim had guessed correctly, it was a maze down here. This corridor had murals depicting orcish gods and heroes including a life-sized statue of some fiendish looking orc with several arms and two heads. This place seemed to also be a hall that allowed access to several crypts. After Grim determined that there were no other ways from the hall, and not wanting to open any crypts at the present time, the heroes left from there and continued on the main passage.
    They moved forward to where they had cut down the orcs throwing flasks of alchohol and discovered that strangely enough, this was a room that could house horses. Opening another door, revealed an orc with a greatsword apparently making some sort of stand. His bravado was cut short with a flurry of arrows. Grim then moved forward and discoverd another pit, almost falling in but catching the sides and hauling himself up to continue on the other side. I did that on purpose, Grim sent sheepishly to his companions.

    More orcish shouts echoed ahead, but they did not advance. The heroes did, after disabling the pit. They entered another room, and slew several more orcs also wielding greatswords. Grim found a hidden door that led to another side corridor. With Benito in the lead and Aris still taking a back seat, they proceeded and found holding cells covered in blood, lots of dead bodies and more narrow hallways. Benito chose one that he felt would lead them parallel to the main corridor. They came to a blank wall where Grim again earned his keep, finding the secret door. Listening, he heard orc shouts and barking dogs. The heroes rushed in, surprising orcs with trained war dogs behind barricades. Benito, Grim and Ellysidell charged forward into the melee, with Grim looking for flanking positions. Aris and Nosr hung back to provide missle fire. In no time, the dogs and their handlers lay in pools of their own blood. The next room also had defensive barricades. A series of 5-ft high rails prevented direct attack against the foe in this room, a large ogre. Upon seeing the blood-covered and determined heroes, he blew a large horn and waited for them to make their way towards him to get smashed.
    Nosr softened him up, suprising the heroes with a new spell. He launched a flare from his finger tips towards the perplexed ogre. An explosion rocked the room and the ogre screamed. Aris, tired of hanging back, took the burning ogre as his cue and charged through the rail maze. Benito and Ell started to follow suit, but decided instead to climb on top of the rail and fire at the ogre. Grim, seeing Aris move to attack, harrumphed! and leaned against the wall. The genasi side-stepped a might blow from the ogre seeing it bend one of the rails. He sliced into the brute's belly. Benito, not getting a good balance on the rail fired his bow and it sailed wide, clattering against the far wall. Ellysidell stood on the rail and muttered, "Just like a tree branch," gathered himself and hit the ogre solidly in the shoulder.

    The creature was slowing down. Aris closed, again spinning and ducking almost in a mad-dance to avoid the possibly crushing blows of the ogre's horn-club. His handaxe bit into the side of his foe's knee forcing the ogre to fall to both knees. Aris then finished him off with a slice across the throat with his scimitar, side-stepping the body again as it toppled forward. He wiped the blood from his weapons on the clothes of the carcass and called the heroes forward. Ellysidell eyed the horn-club for his collection of big weapons. Benito feeling that the path ahead could be deadly, broke open Moradin's Prayers of the Faithful and cast a spell to bolster his constitution.

    They rushed into another corridor. There in the middle was an iron grating. Grim crept forward to investigate and discovered that the grate covered a sewer system, possibly for flood control. He found no traps, but the heroes made haste to get out of this hall. Grim's apathy finally caught up with him at the next door. Casually searching for traps, he failed to notice the fine wires that held the door in place. When he opened the door, two great axes sprung at him. One chopped him hard. As the axes bounced in the doorway, one dripping blood, three orcs charged forward with great axes of their own. Again one struck Grim who decided to tumble through the opposition and let his fellows take care of the rest. Rolling under the legs of the orc to his right, he backed himself into the corner of this latest room and saw another orc--twirling another great axe in his hand--waiting to see what the invaders would do. Grim heard the clash of steel as he uncorked a potion to stop his bleeding and heal his grievous wounds. I don't get paid enough for this he thought as he quaffed the draught.

    Benito, Ellysidell and Aris surged forward against new enemies. Almost in unison as if striking a chord in a deadly dirge, the heroes felled their foes. Aris again, a slice to his orc's unprotected neck sent the Zhent gurgling to the ground. Benito ran his foe through with Hordemaster and smashed his foe with his shield for emphasis and to free his sword. Ellysidell with a mighty spin and slice of the dwarven waraxe recovered from Khundrukar split his orc's ribs and sternum sending gobbits of orc guts into the air. Without pause they continued to move forward to face thier next foe, who arrogantly guarded the passage beyond. Aris noted that he wore a symbol of leadership. This was probably the half-fiend's second-in-command.

    "Cut in on my partner as we dance," Benito called back as he took the initiative.

    Aris and Ellysidell understood and followed close on his heels. The lone orc landed a mighty blow on the cleric of Tyr as he closed, wounding Benito grieviously on the shoulder. He grimaced but swept his sword under the orc's guard, wounding him on the thigh. Then he stepped to his right. Aris came next slicing the orc across the chest, but not biting deep. The orc looked surprised. Aris spun a few paces to his left. Ellysidell waded in with a downward cleave, connecting on the orc's shoulder. The Zhent staggered, but still did not fall. He set his teeth to retaliate. Grim and Nosr had watched this tactic from across the room, impressed. Grim thought, I can't miss this fun and ran forward.
    The halfling cartwheeled through the mass of combatants as only Grim knew how, drawing his short sword in the process and ending up behind the Zhent captain. His sword struck deep into the small of the orc's back, and he fell forward, and astounded look on his face as his life left him. Almost immediately after, points of light streamed at Grim, driving him painfully into Benito's arms. The half-fiend sorcerer had made his presence known. Bentio and Aris moved through what they hoped was the final hallway to the final confrontation in this underground maze. They ran into a wall of orcs.

    Aris called back, "Nosr, clear a path!"

    Benito was relieved that the genasi had begun to reassert himself. He and Aris were horrified to see the Zhentarim leader. It was a scaly-looking orc with tentacles for arms and sharp teeth. Another orc with more human-like features was spread-eagled on a vertical X. They saw another orc break off and run towards the tortured prisoner. A flare sailed over their heads and another explosion of fire echoed through the halls. Orcs screamed and the warriors in front of Aris and Benito crumpled to the ground in blackened heaps.

    The orc who had gone to the prisoner cried out, "Nooooooooo!" and glared at Aris, "The deal is off!", as he shouldered the now smoldering corpse of the half-orc captive.

    The half-fiend was not even singed. He cried out and his tentacles writhed. Points of light flew from their ends, striking Benito. The heroes closed on him and failed to connect. Their strikes were seemingly deflected by some form of arcane magic. Grim and Ellysidell joined the fray, and the Zhent was surrounded. An arcane green glow emanated from one of his tentacles and it struck Aris. The chilling touch burned his flesh and sapped some of his strength.

    Nosr skipped into the room pleased with the charred remains of four orcs at his feet. He saw a last orc messing with some levers on the far wall. "I don't think so, buddy," and made the gestures to release his arcane missles.

    The last orc was knocked to the ground but did not go unconscious. He changed form! It was the prisoner Aif. He had not fled. Nosr was dumbfounded, but stayed his ground, preparing another spell. Aif put his hands up. Nosr held his action ready if the Night Mask did anything funny.

    Meanwhile, the heroes could not seem to land even a glancing blow against the Zhent leader. Even attacks that seemed to hit, did not. The half-fiend also had a blurry look to him. He also talked incessantly about how he Alu'aka would escape and have his revenge on them. Alu'aka tried to push past the heroes to back himself into a better and more defendable corner. As he retreated, Ellysidell struck him hard across the abdomen. In the corner, Aris and Benito persued, both missing again. Alu'aka laughed and attacked again with a glowing-green tentacle. This time the burning chill struck Benito, but did not drain his strength. That was all the excuse the cleric of Tyr needed.

    "Feel the Retribution of the god of justice!"

    Benito's longsword came down with more force than the cleric believed he had ever mustered slicing through rubbery hide and bone and lopping off Alu'aka's tentacle. The Zhent sorcerer collapsed in heap. Aris made sure he was dead. Then Aris and Benito saw the stalemate that was going on between Nosr and Aif.

    Ellysidell had wisely restrained Grim who was kicking and screaming, "You shouldn't have come back! You're dead meat!" yelled the halfling.

    Benito and Aris walked over to Aif. He looked at them, "I apologize. I spoke out of anger and emotion," and then to Benito, holding out his arms, "I am at your mercy...."
    Events after this happened quickly. Aif informed them that the base could be flooded, showed them how to do it and the heroes gathered the body of the Zhent captain, mage, and Aif's half-orc friend Dagotha. They left the base via a secret passage that Aif knew about and rested on the hill. Somewhere below, they heard the rush of water and possibly the screams of other orcs, or as Aif shrugged his shoulders, others of his people as the waters rose to the top of the stairs in the passage that they had just left.

    Aris sent Ellysidell and Grim back to the farm house to gather the items at wealth that they had liberated from the orcs. Grim looked at Benito, who nodded his agreement. Nosr fired magic missles into the air for fun, howling in glee at the defeat of the Zhents. Then he calmed down and went to meditate some yards from Aris, Benito, and Aif. They went together to get the other Night Mask prisoner only to find him dead. Hoofprints led away from the scene towards the woods. The entrance to the base was sealed with a massive rock.

    Manacled and under guard, Benito questioned Aif, "Why did you come back?"

    sigh "I guess seeing you and your party unified and sticking together even after a dispute, inspired me to come back for Dagotha."

    Aif seemed to squirm as he continued, loyalty being so foreign to someone like him, thought Aris. He crossed his arms and put his hand on his chin and begin to lose himself in his own thoughts.

    "Too bad, he perished," Benito tried to sympathize, "We are sorry for your loss."

    "Oh well, collateral damage and all," Aif shrugged, regaining his compusure.

    Benito shook his head, "Well, I will wait until reinforcements from Alaghon arrive, but since you have done nothing wrong in my eyes, I will let you go at that time."

    Benito went a few yards to look out into the pre-dawn darkness across the woods and south to the rolling plains of Turmish.

    "Thank you, Tyr for allowing me, no...allowing us to save my homeland."

    Benito smiled and tear rolled down his cheek. He cleared his throat and brushed it away before anyone saw.....

  3. #3

    Let's introduce the players and supporting cast...

    The levels of the Heroes of the Vilhon Reach after the events of 3 Nightal, 1372--Thwarting the Zhentarim Invasion of Alaghon

    Aris Cloud-dancer: 3 fighter/3 ranger male air genasi (NG)
    Will Aris stay with the companions once they return to Alaghon or will he go North to Cormyr and seek his destiny? Then again he may just go back home to Tethyr.

    Benito Moltos: 6 cleric of Tyr/1 Holy Justice male human (LG)
    He is the career priest of the Temple in Alaghon. There is a chance that Benito could be torn in different directions: duty to the temple, pursuit of the past, loyalty to his companions. What path will he follow? Mano de la Justicia awaits.

    Grim of Chondalwood: 1 barbarian/6 rogue male ghostwise halfling (CG)
    How long will the halfling hold a grudge against Aris? Now that he has some experience under his belt, perhaps he will exhert some muscle, look up old contacts, and check out Alaghon's underworld. Other than Ellysidell, there doesn't seem a good reason for him to stay with the Heroes.

    Ellysidell of Chondalwood: 5 barbarian/2 fighter male wild elf (CG)
    Aris has continued to teach him to refine his martial prowess and he definitely holds to his oaths and loyalties towards the genasi. Where Aris goes, so goes Ellysidell. Hopefully, Grim will show some grace. One of these days, however, the priests of Cyric and the slavers that took him from his homeland will be reckoned with.

    Nosr of Starmantle: 7 sorcerer half-elven male (CG(N))
    As his personal power increases, Nosr also has dreams of proving himself to his peers. Perhaps a trip to his former home is in order to show his family and former 'alumni' how good he has become. Hopefully, that mean streak won't get the best of him.

    Alberia Dorthansdotter, House Lhal: 5 paladin of Tyr female aasimar (LG)
    The scars from Khundrukar remain. Where is Dorthan? Her quest is a failure. Her father is probably dead. Fighting denial, Alberia longs to return to Cormyr. At least fighting to defend her homeland will take her mind from her loss.

    Milo of Raven's Bluff: 6 psion (savant) male human (NG)
    Milo is confused. Where is he going to go? What is he going to do? Should he stay with his new friends? They really have gone out of their way to be kind to him and befriend him. But the kindest has been Alberia. Right now, where she goes, he will follow. What will the Watchers say?
    Important NPCs
    Mourn (Invilios Starym): 3 bard/1 fighter/1 expert male sun elf (CG)
    He lives. He has been bound and gagged, but at least not beaten. He has crossed over water in a boat. May the Lone Wolf give him the means to be free again!

    Thazar-de: is the mysterious new owner of the Great Axe Inn (now called the Missing Bard in honor of Mourn).

    Brother Salazar: the mad and tormented cleric of Ilmater who knows secrets about Benito's past.

    Brother Gippetto : Benito's mentor at the Temple of Justice.

    Aif: member of the Night Masks that Aris set free. Aif is a doppleganger. On Grim's 'to kill' list.

    Leo: poor groomsman who is turning into a yuan-ti broodguard.

    Diero and Lashela: known Hlondethan spies, possibly yuan-ti and on the Hero's hit-list

    Hinnar: Leader of the Red Wizards at the Thayan Enclave in Alaghon. Ally of the Heroes.

    Denton Crimsguard: High Abbot of the Temple of Justice in Alagon.

  4. #4
    3 Nightal to 7 Nightal, 1372 Year of Wild Magic: Homecoming

    For three days, the Heroes are able to keep watch in peace. Nothing untoward happens. Apparently, the Zhents do not send reinforcements. Nosr has been joined by a hawk companion and the hawk runs reconassaince flights. Grim, Aris, and Ellysidell also patrol the nearby woods in shifts while Benito "hold the fort". On the afternoon on the third day, Nosr's hawk reports that a large group of armed men approaches the farmhouse. While Aris, Grim and Ellysidell scramble for cover to prepare for an onslaught, Benito amidst Aris's protests, rides to greet the force. Nosr, shrugs his shoulders and goes with the cleric.

    Tears stream down Benito's eyes as he rides to greet the contingent from the Temple of Justice. He spurs his horse forward as he sees the banner of Tyr--the scales and the hammer on a field of dark blue--flapping in the wind. The strike force is led by High Abbot Denton Crimsgard himself! Benito dismounts and bows to the abbot who does the same and bids the young cleric to rise. The rest of the heroes catch up and the collection of priests, paladins from Grimjaws, and loyal soldiers begins setting camp. Benito, overcome with emotion attempts to hug Denton. The high abbot allows it, but quickly pushes away to maintain convention. He thanks Benito and the heroes, tells of Alberia and Milo's success and their recovery. Leo is under the care of Gippeto and other healing specialists and may be doing well. He takes Benito aside and tells him that Brother Salazar, the priest of Ilmater perished. No foul play is suspected. When asked about the mobilization of Turmish troops, Denton grimaces and comments on the slowness of the bureaucracy and skepticism among the Assembly. Aif and the rest of the Night Masks are taken into custody by the clerics of Tyr. Benito begs for mercy for Aif and that he feels that he can be reformed.

    After a war meeting and briefing with Denton, the decision is made to return to Alaghon with half of the force and the heroes. The remainder will begin to build fortifications and decide if salvage operations or dismantling operations will be in order. The return to Alaghon begins. Aris, in talking to some of the loyal soldiers of Tyr, discovers that they were involved in some light skirmishes en route with orcish and half-orcish Zhentarim. The journey back is also peaceful. The company sees many dead orcs near the ford at Morningstar Hollows, but no dead enemy. They learn that whomever helped Alberia and Milo escape the Zhents at the ford remains a mystery. Benito talks to the Holy Justices and asks about becoming one.

    The next day they get to the capital. Alberia is suffering from depression and is not seeing visitors, but Aris passes on a note that he believes that her father is not dead based on what he remembered about generals from Cormyr and their rings. He tells her that there is hope. Leo is not a broodguard but is recovering from what looks like a severe skin disorder. Gippeto says he will recover fine. Gippeto also relates about Salazar and his death, keeping vigil over Mano de la Justicia as it was being imbued with magic. The sword is presented to Benito, but the cermony of investiture will wait. Mano feels a lot more powerful than Benito would have imagined. Since it is early, the heroes also decide to go to the Hall of Assembly--even though representatives of the temple have tried--to get Alaghon to prepare for a Zhentarim invasion. Milo joins the heroes, trying to interrupt their conversation and sense of urgency to tell what he knows about certain changes that occured whilst they were away.

    "Milo, what is it!" demands Aris.

    They stop in the middle of the street where Milo relates that Mourn is gone and the inn is owned by some merchant from Mulhorand named Thazar-de. And that the clientele has deteriorated significantly. Aris looks at him shocked and visibly angry, even clenching his fists, but for the moment shelves going to the inn. Zhentarim are presumably on their way to Alaghon. He and the rest of the company travel to the chaotic Hall of Assembly. The place is crowded and noisy until Benito yells that there is an invasion of Zhentarim approaching. A guard and a clerk shuffle them to a waiting room. A dwarf has joined the party, trailing them to the waiting room.

    "Who are you?" asks Aris. The rest of the party looks at him menacingly.

    "Ummm...I fought wit you at Ithal Pass. I am Eine Kline, scion of Deep Shanatar."

    Aris honestly is unable to remember him, but after staring at him for a while, it clicks. He could have been there...maybe. The heroes are made to wait for several hours. They are irritated, all the while being watched by a palace guard. When an Assembly member finally shows up he is, as predicted, skeptical and not worried. Aris begins to argue, and after the official quickly motions and mutters a few words in draconic, Aris cannot move. The Heroes are taken aback with Ellysidell being the most vocal. Benito interrupts before the threat of being changed into a toad is made good on the barbarian. He talks amicably while frustrated and not satisfied when he gets a "I'll see what I can do..." from the official, apparently a wizard of some power. He leaves as does the guard. Aris is unheld and is seething.

    Benito escorts him out as he curses under his breath how much he hates Alaghon. More fuel is added to the fire when he questions Milo more about the inn. Apparently, the merchant greased some wheels to get the inn under an abandoned property clause. The matter would be tied up in litigation for some time. Benito promises that the temple will get its lawyers on it, but Aris is impatient.


    He leads the rest of the party south. The dwarf shrugs his shoulders and tags along.

  5. #5

    Great Axe Battle

    7 Nightal, 1372 Year of Wild Magic, The Second Battle for the Great Axe Inn, part I

    It did not take long for the heroes to march (and at a rapid genasi-trained-in-Cormyr pace), to the inn formerly known as the Great Axe. The sign was different--a lyre resting kilter on a stool, on a green field--as if to imply that the bard in question was taking a break).

    "After you, Milo. You know your way," bowed Aris and let the young savant enter the inn first.

    The heroes entered and were assaulted by the stench of stale beer and other sundry smells that would typify not an upscale in on the suburbs, but a dockside den of ruffians. The clientele looked it, too. They stopped what they were doing for a second, some grunted in disgust, and most continued to dive back into their drink and loud conversations. Benito and Aris, being maybe a bit more senstive to evil, felt something more. The priest of Tyr cast an orison to detect magical auras. Necromancy!. It pervaded the establishment like a cloying, dark fog. There was evil magic about.

    He whispered this to Aris, who led him to the bar. They did not recognize any of the barkeeps or barbacks or serving women. "This is a bad nightmare," muttered Aris.

    The barkeep looked up and spying Milo, spat, "You again. You are a troublemaker, aren't you?"

    Aris allowed his diplomat, Benito Moltos, to have the floor. After an inordinate amount of stubborness from the commoner, Benito slammed his fist on the bar,leaving some token coin, "In the name of the Temple of Justice, send for this Thazar-de. The so-called owner of this establishment!"

    This stopped the patrons again, and they and heroes glared at each other for a while. Ellysidell and Aris growled. Nosr cracked his knuckles. Grim snuck into a corner to pretend not to be associated with the group. Eine Kleine recognized some of the patrons and smiled trying to ease some tensions. Grim slipped into the shadows. Tension did ease and the inn-goers returned to their ales. Thazar-de came down and Benito, with his minor prayer to Tyr still active detected alteration magic on the owner. Thazar-de introduced himself as a Mulhorandi merchant that had legally acquired the inn after the former manager, "the wonderful elven bard," had deserted. His honeyed words fooled no one.

    Aris kept muttering the same phrase over and over with increasing volume, in between Benito's quotes on Turmish property law, "Give me back my Inn..." Finally, the cleric called the merchant out. "Mister, er...umm, De. You are not what you seem. Please, come clean or we will be forced to call upon the authorities."

    "And give me back my inn."

    Thazar-de sighed. He told them the truth. Mourn was captured by other elves, moon elves and taken from the inn. He rescued the inn from fire. With his contacts in Alaghon, he acquired the inn legally. "Take the matter up in court, Aris Cloud-dancer. I will win."

    "I do not believe you, good sir. Prove it. Are there any witnesses?" retorted Benito

    A gleam came to Thazar-de. "Why yes there are. Why don't we go on back? You may question one of the elves. Let us step outside, shall we?"

    Benito raised an eyebrow, "But I thought you said that they all fled."

    Thazar-de smiled and led the way to the back door. The party followed, but Grim hung back creeping towards the door. A breeze slammed it shut before he got there. Was that a creaking on the stairs? He looked up the staircase and saw nothing. Too much noise in here he thought, I cannt here anything! Frustrated, he crouched in some shadows near the door and called out to Ellysidell, who returned a mental shrug. Nothing was going on....

    Meanwhile, outside, Thazar-de led the heroes toward the cellar door. "Did you claim my wine collection as well?" remarked Aris.
    Benito and Aris followed close to the merchant with Ellysidell and Nosr spreading out in the yard. Eine Kliene and Milo hung back near the door. The dwarf looked around and put his hand on his hilt, suspicious. He nudged Milo, who remained clueless and still a bit exasperated. Alberia should have come, he thought, She could sort this stuff out.

    Thazar-de opened the cellar and a unholy, dead smell assailed Benito and Aris. The genasi quickly shut off his 'breathing' to not be overpowered. Benito shuddered, but steeled himself. The merchant continued to smile. He muttered some unholy chant and a moon elf shambled from the cellar. He/it was dead...or rather undead. The party was shocked. Ellysidell gasped and unfastened his weapon. Little brother, this is not good!

    Thazar-de chuckled, "Question away, if you can..."

    Aris tensed, but shook his head. He did not want a fight. Benito saw and tried to remain diplomatic. He took a deep breath and called upon Tyr to help him communicate with this abomination. His hand made a squelching sound as he placed it on the zombie-elf's maggoty shoulder........

    Next time: Who says dead elves tell no tales?

  6. #6
    7 Nightal, 1372 Year of Wild Magic, Second Battle for the Great Axe Inn, part II

    Benito traveled into the shattered and horrific mind of the elf-thing. He asked about Mourn.....He saw this moon elf and others dressed like him battering poor Mourn to unconsciousness. The elf that dealt the telling blow had an arrogant smirk on his lips as he gave orders....The Warder would leave at the next high tide. Why? Mourn and his family were enemies and traitors to the Elven crown. Benito asked what happened next....This elf and his companion began ransacking the place and then made their way upstairs to rouse the guests. That was where this elf met his demise. Benito shuddered as he felt pain and convulsions as this elf fell to the necromancy of Thazar-de--what was he? A Demon! Benito looked over through the undead elf's gaze and saw through the disguise. The spirit of the elf was trapped and begged for release. Benito felt sorry and broke contact....

    "Be free!" he motioned drawing his sword and holding it towards the zombie. It shattered into dust and grime and Benito felt that he saw the spirit flee. His tunnel vision began to expand and he turned to face Thazar-de. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Aris still shaking his head but reaching for his weapon. "Demon! You will feel the wrath of Tyr!"

    Benito made to strike the Mulhorandi merchant...and his world went black! He struck where he thought Thazar-de was and slashed at air. The blade of his sword hit the muddy earth almost throwing him off balance. Aris slashed horizontally and struck cloth. He heard a tear, but felt no bite into soft flesh. The cleric and the genasi heard Milo's screams of pain.

    As a sphere of darkness engulfed Thazar-de, Benito, and Aris, the rest of the heroes heard a battle roar. Milo and Eine Kleine,--who were closest--and Nosr and Ellysidell turned back toward the inn. A spray of blood and a streak of fire erupted near Milo and as he cried out in pain a nine-foot tall, half-orc wielding a huge golden falchion that trailed flames appeared. The spray of blood was that of the psion. It seemed as though the party outside the sphere were stunned and in slow motion. Eine Kliene drew his scimitar and struck at the giant orc slashing him on the hip. The orc began to foam at the mouth and struck at the psion again. Milo collapsed in a heap a bloody and singed X across his chest. The force of the blow continued and struck the dwarf as well sending him realing and staggering, but the newcomer to the Heroes kept his feet. In the sphere, Aris felt his feet be lifted from him and he crashed to the ground. He rolled instinctively and felt his cloak tear free as if it had been pinned to the earth.

    "Fools...this could have been settled peacefully. Alas, now all of you will drown in lakes of your own blood," a voice called out to Benito and Aris in the darkness. "Unleash Hell!" it then cried.

    Ellysidell moved towards the over-sized half-orc and saw a figure in the window making arcane gestures. An explosion and a waft of intense heat nearly knocked him over. He heard Benito and Aris cry out in pain. In his voice he heard, What! What? from the hidden halfling. While Benito dispelled the darkness, Thazar-de quickly brought it back down.

    "Nosr, mage in window!" the wild elf gasped and closed with the orc, going into his own rage. His first axe cut struck deep into the orc, but it continued unphased. To Grim, Upstairs. Spellcaster! Grim tore up the stairs to find a door.

    Nosr unleashed his own might at the mage. Magic missles streaked toward the adversary smugly watching from on high--only to be absorbed by some arcane shield. Nosr shook his fist and turned his attentions to the melee in time to see Eine Kline cut down savagely by the falchion that streaked fire and burned its victims. He saw both Milo and the new companion sprawled awkwardly at the feet of the orc. A sinking feeling came to his gut, Ellysidell could soon fall as well as he elf barely avoided the backhand slash of the giant enemy.

    The next minute was chaotic. Grim frantically made sure that the door was safe and began to unlock it. Benito seeing the futility of slashing at an unseen foe left the sphere and ran to the yells and battle cries of Ellysidell and the orc who cried out again and again, "Krell Crush, Kill, and Destroy!"

    Nosr unleashed his spellfire at the orc and it still did not fall. Aris luckily and deftly avoided blows he could not even see and eventually backed out of the sphere. Ellysidell and Benito traded blows with the great orc. It was slowing. Nosr was hit by a flurry of magic missles. As the orc fell, succumbing to Benito's fire protection magics as well as his holy strikes with Mano de la Justicia, a storm of ice further weakend the heroes, and to Benito's dismay finished off the dying Milo and Eine Kleine. Benito called upon some celestial allies and shortly, three bats, pure as snow, flew into the darkness. Shortly, thereafter, a large, fiendish ape charged from the sphere and attacked Ellysidell, nearly dropping him, and the darksphere went airborne. Benito thought, bringing a bit of satisfaction, that he could hear the fiend cursing as he battled against the giant celestial bats. The cleric took down the evil ape as well. Nosr and Aris had run to the corner of the inn, potion vials strewn along their path. Three evil-looking wolves appeared and went after them. Again the darkness was dispelled as Benito fired a holy ray of light at the sphere's center. He heard a cry of pain and saw Thazar-de in aerial melee with the bats.

    Meanwhile, Grim had crashed into the room and fought toe-to-spell against the wizard. He destroyed many mirror images and overcame more than one spell, but could not connect and eliminate the mage. However, he did keep him from hurting his companions. Ellysidell helped his little buddy by firing arrows. Benito running out of the power divine and hurting from multiple wounds continued to aid his friends. He, Aris, and Nosr dispatched the fiendish wolves. As Ellysidell's rage began to subside he dragged himself to the corner of the inn. Thazar-de then was engulfed in darkness again, and the sphere swooped towards the heroes on the ground.

    Aris, out of potions, and seeing two of his members dead, two near death, one unknown and two not so good, gave the call to retreat. Benito held his ground finally striking the evil priest. But the half-fiend struck back, equally hurting the cleric of Tyr. As Aris and Ellysidell grabbed the bodies and Nosr began to flee, back on the top floor of the inn, Grim screamed in frustration as the mage deftly cast yet another spell and this time disappeared. He felt some air displace and struck blindly, but failed to connect. A white bat crashed through the window to help...too late. The celestial bat began desecrating what appeared to be a shrine to an evil snake god. Grim lept out the window, landing without harm on the ground behind the inn. In the sphere, Benito did not yield. A voice called out to him, Flee, Benito. Do not throw your life away in vain. Live to fight another day.. . It wasn't Aris or Grim...The cleric was confused. The voice had a metallic edge to it, but seemed vaguely familiar.

    I will not yield, "I will die fighting!" Benito replied.

    "Then I will oblige," answered Thazar-de with another unholy slash.

    "Whoever you are, if you can help me. Do it! I cannot let injustice and evil prevail."

    I will try.

    Suddenly a surge of healing came to Benito and he was envigorated. Unfortunately, patrons began pouring out of the inn with weapons drawn. Grim blended in with the crowd. Aris stopped and looked back, torment brewing in his heart. He could not let Benito fall. He turned around to help and die, if neccessary with his comrade-in-arms. Ellysidell and Nosr followed. In the sphere of darkness, Benito struck Thazar-de again, and with the aid of the two remaining celestial bats, continued to harass the fiendish cleric. The rough crowd did not know what to do. Another strike against Benito which he returned in kind. Thazar-de gasped and breathed heavily. Benito was tiring and he could feel his gauntlets sticky with blood.

    Then with a sigh of "I'll be back!" Thazar-de broke off. The darkness was lifted and the sphere began to fly southwest across the outskirts of Alaghon. Benito sent the bats after him and fired some bolts, but the sphere was soon lost from view. He fell to one knee and stuck his bloodied sword in the mud. He had won!
    Aris and the rest of the company had calmed down the angry patrons and eventually, they were sent home after a round of free drinks. The Heroes celebrated their pyrrhic victory with their own mugs of spirits. The Great Axe belonged once again to Aris, but at what cost? Milo and Eine Kleine had perished.

    Without warning, a rush of air blew open the door to the Great Axe and a whirlwind entered. Benito cried out sarcastically but with a small sense of exasperation, "Do you want to kill us, too? Take a number!"

    A female half-elf appeared dressed in greens and browns. Ignoring Benito's comments, she demanded, "Tell me of the Zhentarim fleet."

    The heroes, not wanting any more conflict this day, gave their report without hesitation.

    After they had updated her, she said, "The fleet will not reach the shores of the Vilhon Reach. The Emerald Enclave thanks you," and left again as a swirl of air.

    "Cheers," said Aris as he raised his mug. A collective sigh followed and silent tribute to the fallen comrades played through the mind of each of the Heroes.

  7. #7

    Some feedback from a fan!

    Douane wrote:

    Great stuff as always!
    Good to see that Benito made it through that final combat alive. Can't have a proper storyhour without a Tyrian Cleric.
    There is just one thing that keeps bouncing around in my head:

    Originally posted by Broccli_Head:

    ... It was unfortunate for the player of the dwarf. It was his first character in the group, and he got waxed with only one attack in combat ...
    The player of Eine Kleine made a new character.
    Please, for the sake of your german readers, veto any further names like that.
    In German "Eine Kleine" means "a little one/girl". Hardly a proper name for a self-respecting dwarf.
    Well, perhaps I was a bit rash. Maybe the name was chosen on purpose and only due to his quick death we never got to see if he could convincingly scream like a little girl.

    Anyway, just keep 'em coming!
    P.S.: Or perhaps Col Pladoh is right in his belief that dwarven women have beards, too, and noone can tell the difference.
    Less declamation and more retaliation!

  8. #8

    Winter in Alaghon...

    From 8 Nightal, Year of Wild Magic (1372DR) to 23 Alturiak, Year of Rogue Dragons (1373 DR), the heroes are involved in various solo activities. Here is an update and what they did while wintering in Alaghon.

    Aris Cloud-dancer: 3 fighter/3 ranger male air genasi (NG)
    During the first three rides, Aris helps Benito craft armor that the Heroes subsequently sell to bolster their income. Then, he, Grim, and Ellysidell, take two tendays to travel in the midst of winter storms in the Sea of Fallen Stars. This includes their stay and the return trip. Their destination and what they do when they arrive is unknown save to them ( and the DM, of course). When they return, Aris sees the fruits of his initial lawsuit towards Alaghon for the unlawful dispossession of his inn. He is involved in court hearings and the repairing of the Great Axe. The repair of the original second floor along with the addition of a new wing begins. He also has an inordinate number of gardners helping to landscape (including some beach xeriscaping) the grounds of the inn. Forseeing a trip to Cormyr he also goes to register he and his company with consulate of Cormyr in Alaghon. He decides (without the consent of the rest of the group!) to call the group the Company fo the Blue Wolf. He also has magical improvements made to his armor and weapons.

    Benito Moltos: 6 cleric of Tyr/1 Holy Justice male human (LG)
    Benito and Aris fill orders and make armor the first month or so of their winter. Then Benito begins the construction of various magic items. He and Nosr put their divine and arcane magicks together to make a dark blue cape of flying, gold and silver-plated manacles of truth, a golden circlet of diplomacy,and jet black cloak of charisma for Nosr (DM note: there may have been more items, but these are the 'highlights').

    He also discovers that the spirit of Brother Salazar is embued in Mano de la Justicia (Mano is an intelligent, holy, keen longsword +2 that can cast cure critical wounds and order's wrath each 1/day at 8th level). In deep conversations with Mano/Salazar, Benito discovers that his father is/was a ranger who turned to the worship of Malar. His name: Aronar Thaeglos. When he tells this to Aris, Aris smiles and promises to help find this individual. He explains that Benito's father is the same Malarite who sold him into slavery at Zhentil Keep. Suprisingly, Aris handles the news well reassuring Benito that the son is not responsible for the sins of the father.

    Grim of Chondalwood: 1 barbarian/6 rogue male ghostwise halfling (CG(N))
    Grim goes with Aris on his secret journey. However, he comes back a fence-sitter and uncommitted to what Aris has tried to do. While the rest of the heroes were helping each other, Grim was helping himself to the over-adbundance of wealth in Alaghon, burgling a few choice items for himself to also make improvements on armor and weaponry. Fortunately, he was not caught. Ironically, he also needs a loan from Aris to complete his self-improvements. He resists Aris or any other party member in their attempts to bring him on line.

    Ellysidell of Chondalwood: 5 barbarian/2 fighter male wild elf (CG)
    El', wholeheartedly supports the decisions that Aris makes and enjoys the secret journey. He acts as Aris's right hand man and sort of bodyguard during many of the excursions to and from the city. He also patrols the Inn and looks in upon the rest of the heroes ever-vigilant and making sure Thazar-de or his mage-crony does not seek revenge. The wild elf now has an impressive collection of big weapons: a masterwork greatsword, a mithral and magical dwarven waraxe, a masterwork greataxe with a darkwood handle, a mithral masterwork greataxe (hanging over the bar at the inn), and now a golden flaming falchion! (He still mourns the loss of that giant horn )

    Nosr of Starmantle: 7 sorcerer half-elven male (CG(N))
    Besides helping Benito with the creation of magical items, Nosr blows all his money. He buys lots of clothes (the lastest Vilhon and even some imported Waterdhavian fashions!) and sponsors several parties where he can show off his magic to impress the ladies. When Aris returns, he admonishes the teenager, and puts him on a strict allowance of 100gp/month. However, Nosr is allowed to keep all the finery he had purchased. Aris puts the sometimes unruly lad to work replenishing alchemical supplies.
    Other plot hooks that are in the works...

    Alberia Dorthansdotter has left the Temple of Justice to seclude herself at Castle Grimjaws. She has promised to Aris that she will return and travel with them to Cormyr in the spring.

    Aif/Kith has agreed to become a double-agent for the Temple of Tyr in Westgate against the NightMasks.

    Leo, the groomsman has recovered successfully from the yuan-ti poison. He has become a little sickly and has forgotten some skills, but at least he is not a tainted one.

    Moradin's Prayers of the Faitful is safely locked in a vault in the Temple of Justice.

    The heroes here rumors--that are casually dismissed by the locals--of Hlondethan attacks against the lizardfolk city of Surkh. Is the city of snake-men (normal Alaghonians scoff at the thought!) trying to expand?

    A huge storm hits shortly after the visit from the agent of the Enclave. As promised, the Zhent invasion never arrives.

    Thazar-de and Mankalla , his magic-using henchman, have not re-surfaced.
    Last edited by Broccli_Head; Tuesday, 15th January, 2002 at 08:01 PM.

  9. #9

    Danwick's Daughter

    23 Alturiak, Year of Rogue Dragons (1373 DR) "A Simple Job, Really" and/or "Just say,'Uncle' !"

    Aris and his company strode proudly through the streets of Alaghon. They had just left the Assembly of Stars where the genasi had finally won his "Unlawful Dispossession Suit" against the state of Turmish. Benito fascinated by the lawyers of the Temple had come along and beamed, certain that this help from his fellow priests was a great step in the coversion of Aris and the rest of the party. Ellysidell walked ever wary of attack. He scanned the rooftops and eyed shady passers-by. Grim tagged along as well. His motives: scoping the nobility of Alaghon for possible jobs....Nosr, well he had been grounded earlier that month for excesses.

    Aris whistled to the tune of 7,500gp, most of which he had turned over to the shipwright's guild to finish paying for his new boat. The party was interrupted by a herald.

    "Hail, and well met! My master, Lord Danwick, desires to hire you to recover something dear to him."

    As long as it is not too far or takes too long, thought Benito.

    But Aris, feeling heroic, proclaimed with hands on hips (and the breeze blowing his dark blue hair), "Lead on, miss. Take us to your Lord Danwick."

    She led them down several streets towards the warehouse district to a non-descript one-story, office building. Grim watched their backs and Ellysidell again kept watch to the rooftops. The halfing turned back a couple of times, thinking that he saw someone following out of the corner of his eye, but all he spied were commoners and merchants dragging their way through slush and puddles of water on this damp and cold day. Inside the building, a man dressed in fine clothes, graying, probably in his mid to late fifties greeted them and shook their hands in a very polished and professional matter. He bid them to sit down.

    "I have a simple job for you really. My daughter has been kidnapped and the thugs are asking for a ransom. I need bodyguards there to watch the exchange."

    He handed them a letter. Some group, the Nightmare Syndicate, desired 50,000gp for the return of Danwick's daughter.

    "I have raised 5,000gp and will throw in some costume jewelry to add some bulk. I would just like me daughter back. I will give you the gold or a townhouse in the city for your trouble."

    (DM note & SPOILER WARNING: I used the adventure Cradle of Madness in Dungeon #87 and of course changed worlds.)

    Benito was about to ask for some more details, Aris chimed in, "We'll do it. I am feeling somewhat heroic."

    "Good...well then the exchange takes place at midnight tonight north of town. I will meet you at my mansion near that time. I leave any prepartions to you."

    "Wait a minute," the cleric got in, "Why us and why the urgency? What are you hiding?"

    His ability to read people came in handy. "Well...er...you are professionals and come highly recommended."

    "What else?"

    "And my daughter is pregnant."

    Benito raised and eyebrow and crossed his arms. Aris was scratching his head.

    "How pregnant?"

    "Very...," Danwick trailed off.

    Aris chimed in, "Who told you about us?"

    "Why, the enclave."

    "Which one?" asked the genasi.

    "The Thayvian one. What other Enclave is there?"

    Aris gritted his teeth and looked to his other companions. Benito nodded his head and smiled. Of course! He did a lot of business with the Thayvians purchasing scrolls and the like. Now they returned the favor. What nice people, even if they are bald, he thought.

    "We'll do it! We will rescue your daughter," said Benito with renewed enthusiasm.

    Aris shrugged his shoulders. He had already given his word. A D'hib did not go back on his word. He nodded his head in agreement. With business-like handshakes, the party left to collect Nosr and any other necessary items for the "simple" job.
    Aris was already planning for the worst, while Benito was introspective.

    "Aha!" He blurted, "Now I remember. The Nightmare Syndicate is a fairy tale about well, evil fairies, used to scare childern."

    "Why?...oh nevermind. I predict this will not go smoothly. Thank you for the information," Aris replied a little icily.

    The company heard the tinkling of wind chimes, seemingly in their heads.

    And then a RUSH of wind tore into them blowing commoners to the ground and turning over carts, knocking down horses and sending Grim flying some thirty feet. Benito and Aris were both knocked to the ground, while Ellysidell remained standing. In front of them, two people stood. One was a younger man with a great sword, a shaved head and a topknot of hair. The other, an older man clean shaven, with dishevled white hair, a purple scar or birthmark across his face and a metal hand that oozed with electric power. As the heroes tried to remove the grit from their eyes, they saw the younger man run up the side of the building to their left--apparently unaffected by the sudden and strong wind--and cover Grim, now in a heap of vegetables, with his sword.

    "Stand down, little one. We are looking for Milo, the younger?"
    The old man echoed a similar question to the other heroes, "Where is young Milo?"

    Aris answered, "He is dead!" but remained prone, not wanting to fight against the wind or the stranger.

    Benito forced himself to his feet and tried to draw Mano was was unable to do so. A ripple of air passed among the heroes and Aris and Benito felt a sudden explosion in their heads. Fortunately, it passed. Ellysidell was not so fortunate. The explosion continued and he dropped his axe and subsequently tumbled to the ground. Grim did not stay still but tried to get away from under the sword. He tried to tumble away. The stranger slashed and missed by a hair. Grim tried to move back towards the rest of his friends but the wind made for stiff resistance. The wall-walker struck again, and barely missed, again.

    "Stand down, little one. I am purposely with-holding the full force of my blows, but you test my patience."

    Grim gave him a look of contempt.

    The white-haired man repeated, "Down, on the ground!"

    Benito did not comply and was rewarded with a clenched fist shaken in his direction. He heard a boom and the ground beneath him turned to jelly as he was flung to the ground.
    The rush of wind subsided, but Benito refused to give in shouting accusatory tones and threats the the man would be punished for his lawlessness. As he was trying to get up, he felt a rush of wind in his ears and felt the wind knocked from him. He hyperventilated for a few seconds gasping, "Milo was brave and valiant warrior...gasp He was our friend."

    Fortunately, he continued to breath easier. Not so Grim, who continued his impertinence. "Reign in your child!" shouted the old man.

    Grim felt a similar intake of air, but this time he was floored and could not breathe as if invisible hands clamped on his diaphragm.

    "There must be some misunderstanding," said Aris from his prone position. "Milo was our adventuring companion. He fought and died bravely. Come let us discuss this over drinks at our inn. I will show you his grave."

    The old man snorted and motioned to his warrior companion who once again stood ready to attack the subdued party.

    "Release my friend," demanded Benito.
    "He will be alright as long as he does not move," the metal-gauntleted man replied coldly. "Let us go to your inn. Grab your companions. I would hear this tale of my nephew."

    Nephew! mouthed the heroes. No Wonder Milo left ! thought Bentio and Grim to each other.

    "No more insolence, halfling. I have not used anything lethal, yet. Do not tempt me?"

    The halfling quieted his thoughts, crawling into a corner in his mind, intimidated by the psionic bully. A black gem on the older man's gauntlet glowed with inner power.

    Humbly, the Heroes led Milo, the Elder and his warrior companion Variak to the Great Axe. There they were able to smooth things over and Milo senior was satisfied. He demanded that the body be exhumed. Aris ordered servant to do so (Milo's grave, along with that of EineKill Lutger was in the backyard of the inn). The elder Watcher took aside his companion and ordered him to continue Milo's watch over the spellfire wielder (Nosr). Then, Without any courtesy or grace and barely a goodbye (even to his warrior), Milo the Elder left. Variak was visibly less stressed.

    Aris eyed the new warrior with mistrust. "You best prove yourself quickly. We have a job tonight. Milo was a true hero. You have big shoes to fill."

    Benito nodded in agreement while Variak took stock of his new group. He twirled his sword for emphasis and stuck it in the ground. Removing his longbow and quiver from his back and examining his arrows he replied, "When do we go to work, boss?"

    Aris smirked and thought, Great manners in Raven's Bluff. I think I might like this fellow.

  10. #10
    23-24 Alturiak, Year of Rogue Dragons (1373 DR) It's never a simple job

    The heroes gathered their gear together and with the addition of Varik traveled to Lord Danwick's manor at the appointed time. Upon learning the location, Grim left, not being one for meetings or 'noble' dinners. Grim got lost and ended up near the Thayvian Enclave. He had to reorient himself to get to the rendezvous. However, since he had given himself such a headstart he arrived well before midnight. Aris left after dinner and was in position shortly after Grim. They hid on opposite sides a small clearing about 200 feet east of an old gatehouse and thirty to sixty feet from a old and not so often used road. A old buckboard rested in the clearing. The rest of the party arrived in the area about a half hour before midnight. Benito escorted Lord Danwick to the exchange site and flew a small reconassaince before hiding in a nearby tree. The rest of the party gathered near the old gatehouse ready for Benito's signal (the horns from the Zhentilar orcs were going to be put to good use).

    Shortly before midnight, Grim heard the approach of more than several humanoids. He saw lanterns bobbing across the road and crept further into the copse where he had decided to hide. The lanterns were doused and the alleged kidnappers moved into position. Two passed within ten feet of the halfling, but he remained calm, waiting for the right moment. He saw one of them disappear--aha...his target. The rest of the party tensed as they heard the movement in the woods. Danwick, leaned against the cart lantern open. Soon a man walked towards him with a loaded crossbow. Aris readied his bow to get a good shot. Danwick held out the bag of goodies. The man accepted them casually.

    "Please return my daughter," ordered Danwick with suprisingly little feeling.

    "Daughter? You will never see her again!"

    He fired the crossbow at Danwick. The noble staggered back a couple of steps and cried out in suprise. Aris returned the fire with his bow. His arrow buried itself deep in the foe's thigh. An arrow green with arcane power, struck Aris and began to burn. Benito took to the air and blew his horn. He then flew into the clearing to interpose himself between Lord Danwick and the assassin. Grim slid through the brush to punish the mage. Grim hated mages! He jumped from behind a bush only to see four images of the wizard. With a shout of frustration Grim struck and dispatched an image.

    Ellysidell, Variak and Nosr took off from their positions. Nosr, not wanting to be outdone by the cleric of Tyr, took to the skies himself on wings created by his alter self spell. The other two galloped on horseback from their hiding spot. Grim heard more of the enemy charge through the brush, and saw more lanterns spilling their light into the clearing. He was beset by another group of adversaries as the mage began to flee, "Kill them," he pointed and ran towards the road.

    Grim struck and dispatched another image as he fled. The halfling took off after him after taking a minor hit from one of the thugs. Tumbling through their ranks he gathered his bearings and spied the coward. Aris drew his scimitar and handaxe and charged the group of kidnappers. As Benito dispatched his challenger with a mighty slap of Justice with the flat of his blade, Ellysidell crashed into the clearing to join Aris, wielding his mithral waraxe. Varik stopped at the edge of the clearing, took stock of the situation and fired an arrow at one of the enemies. The kidnapper's head exploded as the arrow struck dead on.

    Healing Danwick, securing the prisoner with the manacles of truth, and seeing that the thugs were well taken care between Aris, Ellysidell and now Varik--as he charged into the melee with his greatsword--took to the skies again to find out where Grim and the mage had gone to. Grim was fighting a running battle in which he remained unscathed and the evil wizard slowly lost his protective images. Soon he was down to none. He turned around to cast a spell....that was ineffective.

    Grim taunted, "Your petty magics cannot harm me," but missed as he swung at the mage who moved away again. Again the mage cast a spell that had no effect on Grim. The halfling was too powerful. The mage knew fear. Then Grim struck, and the mage bled. He was slowing and would not survive this encounter. Grim would make sure of it.

    In the low starlight, Nosr spied the mage, now only one of him, speeding away with the little halfling chasing him. He unleased a barrage of magic missles. The fleeing adversary tumbled to the ground. Benito saw this from his vantage and began to fly down. Before the cleric reached them, Grim finished the spellcaster with a vengeance and began to remove his his pouch and backpack.
    Meanwhile, Aris, Varik, and Ellysidell with maybe a minor cut or two among them, finished their deadly work. Ellysidell, broke the back of one. Aris gutted another. Varik ran another one through. When they were done, six of the enemy lay dead or dying around them.

    Regrouping near the body of the mage, the heroes discussed what to do next. Interrogation of the prisoner led to ramblings about some dark god, and his subsequent suicide death caused by a poison pellet in his mouth. Benito attempted to probe the dead body but met with resistance and a scary, dry, evil chuckle somewhere from the void.

    The cleric's ability to speak with dead always un-nerved Aris, so he took to more mundane means of information gathering. Scouring the area, Aris found the path of the kidnappers and saw that it led into the hills north of Alaghon along an old dirt track. They followed, determined to rescue the pregnant daughter of Lord Danwick. Surprisingly, Danwick wanted to go amidst protests by the heroes.

    After some discussion, and Benito's insistence on the urgency of rescuing the pregnant woman, they allowed the noble to come with them. For an hour they trekked through the darkness with only starlight and their darkvision to guide them for there was no moon this night. They came to a stand of brambles that interrupted the trail. Grim and Ellysidell saw this easily as a man-made barricade. Quickly, the heroes moved the debris and continued onward leaving Danwick with the horses. Five hundred yards along a an even more obscure path they came to a shallow valley. In the valley rested a keep that had an even deeper gloom than the surrounding woods and bramles. They approached as far as they could without being exposed to the clear area in front of the keep. A crumbling gatehouse, a bridge, a moat, all stared back at them.

    "Time to gather our wits, lads. Grim go scout ahead for us," ordered Aris.

    The halfling stole into the night seemingly becoming one with the darkness. Benito began to do his own aerial reconassaince sixty feet above the keep. When he returned, Aris and Benito began discussing tactics to assault the keep. Not long after, they gathered the rest of the heroes together. Aris trusted that Grim would do his own thing in concert with their actions.

    "Here's what we're going to do...," and Aris began to lay out his brilliant plan....

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