A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour - updated 19th December
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  1. #1

    A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour - updated 19th December

    Well, I hope that you share my DMing rule of Challenge Ratings Do Not Apply. Make 'em run for once .

    Thanks for taking an interest, and I'm looking forward to your comments...

    Spider J

    A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour
    Chapter 1: Small Beginnings

    Forgotten Realms, Early Winter, Realms Date 1372

    "You there. Ice mage. Your help is needed"

    Thalin Vorspen pushed his way into the Glacier’s Reach. Strange eyes turned from every corner of the tavern. A gust of icy wind ravaged the heavy leather curtains before Thalin heaved the door closed. Ulutiuns, barbarians who live on the meagre benefits of the glacier, were crowded to each of the walls.

    A pair of frostbitten half-orcs huddled next to a raging log fire. The bass rumbles of conversations died as Thalin crept across the floor and placed a hand of copper pieces onto the counter,
    “A nights rest” coughed Thalin, not looking up.

    The half-orc barkeep stared at the owl sitting motionless on Thalin’s shoulder. It stared back, wide eyes locking his in an unnerving stare. Thalin was a little taller than the average human, though his frame was thin and wiry. A scraggly, frost-encrusted beard framed his youthful face.

    Thalin looked up from under his wolfskin hood just long enough to make eye contact with the barkeep. The money was taken and a rag of dirty leather with yellow runes daubed on it was thrust into the mage's palm.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Thalin rose early the next morning to the sounds of wagons and horses. After a cruel breakfast of blackbread and cheese, Thalin decided to find a safe passage southwards. He didn't want to spend any more time than he needed to here. Palishuk was the primary trading post between the half-orc traders of Vaasa and the Ulutiuns, yet despite its position of power the town had never expanded beyond its fifteen houses and large market square.

    Wagons were herded like horses in the frozen square as half-orcs and Ulutiuns noisily packed their trade goods. Negotiating a quick trade with a half-orc wagon master, Thalin ensured himself a place on the wagon train South. As the preparations for the long journey began, the appearance of humanoids other than half-orcs and Ulutiuns spurred Thalin to attempt conversation. The harsh weather matched the harsh temperaments and nothing was said of any use.

    Thalin threw his travel pack onto the fourth cargo wagon, but a scuttle of noise ensued and it was immediately thrown back out as an Ulutiun stepped forwards, towering over Thalin. Dariel dashed his wings wide and dug his talons into Thalin’s shoulder. Ignoring his companion, the young mage quickly made his apologies and carefully checked the fifth carriage was empty before jumping in. After a few delays, the wagon train left.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    An hour into his travels, Thalin was buried deep in his spellbook. His studies had hit a standstill. The incantations and musings of the Arch-mage Mellius were thrown together seemingly at random; deciphering a sentence was a weeks work, let alone a complete verse. Celestial verbs had crashed into Elven prose, and then it had spilled into an unknown language, all curling letters and barbed phonetics. Just looking at those words made his head drift somewhere else, somewhere darker, somewhere that shouldn't be.

    Thalin placed the book down, closing it firmly. The steady rocking of the wagon train and the monotony of the terrain outside soon found the better of Thalin, and he fell into a cold, fitful sleep.

    A jarring halt slid Thalin forwards, ripping him out of his sleep. He instinctively called in his mind to Dariel, but he was gliding nearly a mile ahead of the wagon train, searching for tundra-mice. Thalin cursed silently as his spellbook spilt across the wooden floor in a rustle of parchment. As it did so, a rat nimbly stepped out of the way, then turned and sat up on its haunches, watching Thalin with little onyx eyes.

    Slowly crawling to retrieve his spellbook, Thalin picked up scattered pages as he went and moved determinedly towards the crouched rat. But the rat did not move, even as Thalin waved a hand at it.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    A man sat huddled in the corner of an otherwise empty carriage, around him a tattered brown cloak was drawn tight. He sat crosslegged, a pole shaped bundle of rags balancing delicately on his knees. Blood was dripping from a deep gash in his side. At his feet sat nearly a dozen rats; all lay attentive to their master in a crude semi-circle.

    The figure's eyes glinted open in the darkness of his hood as the carriage lurched to a stop. He looked intensely forwards for a moment, as if searching his mind for something, someone. A shout from outside broke the man’s concentration.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    A faint shout from outside drew Thalin’s attention. The rat scuttled to the crack in the carriage door and dropped out.

    Thalin, trying to understand what was happening, quickly gathered his possessions. Before he could, a gauntleted hand reached through the gap and thrust the heavy door sideways with considerable ease. A half-orc entombed in platemail and hefting a greatsword over his shoulder stood silhouetted in the doorway. A light snow had fallen outside and the reflection glared over the half-orcs face and armour.

    “You there. Ice mage. Your help is needed”, growled the half-orc in surprisingly well-spoken common.

    As Thalin went to answer, the carriage jolted into momentum again. A chorus of shouts came from outside accompanied by the sounds of carriage doors being opened and closed. The half-orc dropped away from the door without another word. Thalin considered the consequences of trusting a half-orc’s word, but his curiosity overrode his commonsense. A sudden, high pitched scream from outside pierced his thoughts. Without another moments consideration, Thalin drew his father's scimitar Shard and leapt into the snow.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Milo Whittersbane vaulted the last collapsed wall and burst through the mine entrance and into the sunlight. Stumbling onto the loose stone slope of the Talagbar mines, his small halfling legs skidded from beneath him and he crashed onto his stomach. His weasel companion, Isplit, catapulted through the air, screaming in unison with Milo. The dwarven ghost behind them emitted a hoarse scream as it failed to stop, and fell into the sunlight. Its form dissolved to dust in a whispering sigh. The ancient remnants of the ghost blew over Milo’s face as he propped himself up on his elbows, the swift winds of Vaasa tugging at his clothes as he regained his breath.

    Milo let out a relieved whoop and stared again at the gem sitting on the ground next to him. Isplit’s head emerged from underneath Milo’s leg then scurried onto his arm and began to touch the gem with his front paws. Neither halfling nor weasel could believe their luck. A gem the size of an ettin's fist!

    The ghosts stood silent in the darkness of the tunnel, the hatred in their eyes following Milo and Isplit as the twosome picked themselves up, grinned back at the undead, then waltzed off down the slope chatting excitedly to each other, Milo’s small hands clutching the long lost Keystone of the Talagbar mines.

    “We did it!” shouted Milo, punching the air.

    His thoughts were filled with expectation of what Noristour would give him for it. A light snow had fallen since Milo had entered the recently thawed-out mines and the grand expanse of the Vaasa plains lay below him, an even white spread covering everything he could see. Isplit gazed intently into the gem, his eyes wide with delight at the sheer size of the prize.

    “How much will it be?” chimed Isplit.
    “I’m not sure. Maybe enough to help mother.”

    Milo's young halfling face stalling with the thoughts of his mother. Isplit, feeling Milo’s fall of heart, tapped the gem with a claw, “There’s a little axe inside, I can see it!” his voice squeaking with the chance to prove something to his companion.
    “I know,” Milo answered quickly, his mind taken away from his mother momentarily, “Its actually a hammer, although I don’t know why it's there. Maybe Noristour does.”

    The thoughts of payment, halfling damsels and gems suddenly shrunk away as a distant scream peeled up from the plains below. Milo pulled himself onto the top of a large boulder for a better view.

    Even before reaching the top, he saw that a thick curl of smoke dirtied the white landscape, its tail leading to a small patch of trees where the base of the mountain met the plains. A few hundred meters from the smoke, the thin line of a cargo train inched slowly southwards. Milo placed his thumb over the figures milling around the wagons and pretended to squash a horse before another scream shook him to the present.

    “We should go down there,” Isplit said with concern.
    “Yeah, I guess so. Maybe someone is in trouble,” answered Milo, craning to see a clearer view of the commotion.
    “No. I mean maybe we can jump on the wagons, that way we don’t have to walk.”

    Milo gave Isplit a stern look before sliding down the front of the boulder and bounding towards the smoke, but not before safely ensuring the gem was tucked tightly into the side pocket of his pack...
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Monday, 19th December, 2005 at 03:09 PM.

  2. #2
    "Kossuth won't claim this life"

    ...Thalin tried again to force himself towards the flames, but the drowning smoke pushed him back. He desperately needed something to quell the blaze.
    “Circle round the back and find a way in!” Bellowed the half-orc in the platemail, his right hand clutching a holy symbol of Torm.
    The woman screamed again. She stood sobbing at Thalin’s side. She grasped a hand towards the burning house and screamed once more.

    A companion to the platemail half-orc turned sharply, “Shut that blasted woman up! Tell her we’ll get her damn child. Kossuth won’t claim this life.”

    Dressed in chainmail and wearing a heavy steel helmet atop his battle-scarred face, the halberd at the half-orc's side was adorned with ropes of animal teeth and the tattered remains of a Drow scalp (Thalin half-remembered needing Drow scalp for one of Mellius' incantations, but decided against asking). Thalin turned to the woman and held her by the shoulders, but she shouted at him in a garbled tongue and pushed him away.

    The platemail half-orc bellowed another order to the chainmail half-orc in Damaran. His change of language has a recognized effect on the warrior and he roared a battle cry and charged into the burning house, brushing aside a burning timber as if it were not there. As he disappeared into the flames, a small figure skidded into the clearing and immediately barked out, “What can I do?”
    The platemail half-orc growled back, “Stay away! The house might collapse at any moment. We can’t risk any more lives!”, ignoring the halfling frame of Milo Whittersbane.

    His heroic ego now fully active, Milo dashed forward and shrugged his travelling pack to the floor. Thinking quickly, he scooped up a handful of snow and hurled it at a window ledge almost entirely caught up in fire. The flames died for a second then leapt back. The halfling didn’t stop, and packing another snowball, hurled a second with the same effect. Beside him, Isplit began to pack his own snowballs and hurl them, although with decidedly less effect.

    Thalin watched the rescue effort around him, the roar of the chainmail half-orc following the thunderous snapping of a beam inside the house, and the woman screamed again and suddenly, despairingly, made a dash for the burning door. Thalin sprang forwards, now knowing what he can, and must, do. He caught up to the woman quickly and gripped her by the shoulder, spinning her around. As he did so, arcane words spilt forth and the air around the woman’s head pulsed with a cold light. She dropped to her knees, clutching her head in a daze.

    Another snowball hit the windowsill and Milo screamed in halfling-fury, but this time the snowball stuck as Thalin stepped towards the window and extended his hands in another arcane gesture. His cloak billowed forwards and a fine spray of ice coated the windowsill in a glistening frost. Thalin turned and shouted something at Milo over the roar of the flames.

    The platemail half-orc, seeing Thalin freeze up the window, bellowed a command at Milo. Looking up, Milo let the half finished snowball drop from his hands and dashed forwards. His sleek body crouched low, in one graceful arc he leapt through the frozen window and into the burning building. Isplit went to follow, but thought better of it, and started to construct the beginning of a snow weasel.

    Milo landed inside the house and slid to a stop. The ceiling above him was aflame, the heat bulged down with an unrelenting ferocity. Wincing through the smoke and heat, Milo pushed on through a burning doorway into the central room of the house.

    Outside, Isplit suddenly coughed and rolled onto his side. He squealed and arched his back in pain, as if he himself were burning.

    Milo coughed violently again, the room was black with smoke and feeling with his hands, he touched a body on the floor. The huge form of the half-orc was pinned under a fallen beam but in his hands he held a baby girl. Grimacing in pain, the half-orc offered the baby girl to Milo, “Take her. Get her out. Just leave me here”

    “Oh no you don’t, you’re both coming with me,” wheezed Milo. With a quick swirl of his arms, the halfling conjured a small luminescent green ball in mid-air, which hovered for a moment then zipped towards the beam pinning the orc. With a splintering crash, the timber snapped in half, leaving the half-orc free.

    Milo pulled the half-orc to his feet and pushed him back towards the window, the baby girl safe in the half-orc's arms. With another hand movement, a second green orb hovered in the center of the room before zipping towards the wall directly under the window.

    Thalin ducked instinctively as the green orb exploded through the wall with a hiss and dissolved into nothingness. Moments later the half-orc stumbled out with the child in his arms. A sudden cascade of fire fell from the ceiling of the building, threatening to close off the blasted wall.

    Milo dived underneath the falling ceiling moments before it crashed inwards into the house. Gouts of flame licked higher into the sky. Scampering to a safe distance before standing upright, the halfling beamed proudly as the baby girl was delivered safely back to her mother.

    Seconds later, the house collapsed entirely in a shower of sparks. Thalin looked in amazement from the flaming ruins back to the mother then to the half-orc and finally to Milo. The chainmail half-orc dropped to his knees, wheezing heavily. The platemail half-orc looked at Thalin and Milo and nodded firmly, acknowledging their help before turning back to his companion.

    “Will he be okay?” asked Thalin as the half-orc removed his friend’s helmet to check his wounds.
    “He should live.”

    A black-feathered bolt shattered through the back of the wounded half-orcs head, instantly killing him. The platemail half-orc stared in disbelief for a moment before three crude arrows zip from the shadowy woods, lodging themselves into his breastplate. The half-orc lumbered to his feet with a growl, but only in time to receive a single black-feathered bolt through the neck. Gargling a curse, he span slowly around to look at Thalin and Milo before dropping face down into the snow. Another hail of arrows flashed into the mother and daughter, their entwined bodies collapsing to the ground in silence.

    The remaining half-orcs turned and fled. A tide of dark green skinned humanoids poured from the woods towards Milo and Thalin, their snarling faces gleeful in the shifting reds and yellows of the burning building…

    To be continued in…

    A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour
    Chapter 2: Three’s Company

    As Milo and Thalin race away from the goblin raid, they take shelter in a city under the command of a tyrannical mage, where they join forces with a mysterious man claiming to be a descendant of the gods and attempt to uncover the truth behind the goblin raids.
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Saturday, 4th June, 2005 at 06:01 PM.

  3. #3
    A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour
    Chapter 2: Three's Company

    "To important. Take it to... to Tilverton"

    Thalin turned and immediately backed away from the charging humanoids. To his surprise, Milo had already bolted away and was a good twenty paces ahead of him, making a bee-line for the cargo train.

    “Kill them my minions, nothing is to escape us!” shrieked a distinctly human voice from within the woods. Thalin waited for an evil laugh, but it never came. Turning back to gauge the threat of the pursuing goblins, Thalin caught a glimpse of a sleek figure clad in black, levelling a bone-white crossbow at him.

    Further along the cargo-train, another volley of arrows thudded into the carriage of rats. This deadly rainfall was followed by a shuddering crash as a bronze tipped javelin the size of a ballista bolt plunged into the door.

    “Hold still my children,” the man winced in pain and unsteadily pushed himself to his feet, “there is still much to be done... our time is not now”
    The rats seemed to rally at these words and swarmed around his feet, helping him gain his balance.

    A blast of light filled the musty carriage as the door was violently thrown open. A skull capped head of a goblin thrust into the carriage. Wicked yellow eyes greedily drunk in the scene.

    The rat-mage whirled around and shrieked something in draconic. The rats, as one, leapt forwards and engulfed the goblin in a writhing mass of brown fur. The goblin toppled backwards into the snow, squealing wildly and desperately ripping at the horde of rats that swarmed over him.

    The rat-mage gripped the long bundle of rags and took a step towards the door, surveying the scene before him. The wagon train had ground to a halt and a tide of goblins rolled towards the carriages, perhaps two hundred in all. The goblin now torn to shreds by his rats must have been a scout. Amid the sea of snarling faces lumbered a number of larger humanoids, two or three bulky orcs drove the goblins forward.

    Larger shadows stalked through the trees, huge javelins in their monstrous hands. The chances of a successful defence were meagre at least. Possibilities sprinted through the mind of the rat-mage before quickly settling on a chance for escape. With a sweep of his hand, the rats left the body of the goblin and crouching on the edge of the carriage door, leapt to the frosted ground below.

    Meanwhile, Milo barreled through the legs of an orc with a certain air of confidence. Crouching to a stop, Milo registered the tide of the goblins charging towards the wagons. A few light-footed goblin scouts had managed to get closer and were already opening up the carriage doors. The halfling saw women and children dragged into the snow; he turned away before the rest.

    A handful of Ulutiuns had rallied into a skirmish unit and screaming in unison, sprinted towards the oncoming lines of the goblins and orcs. Looking on in astonishment, Milo was oblivious to the orc that had lumbered up behind him and swung down hard with his huge rusted axe.

    Thalin clutched his side where a black-feathered shaft of a crossbow bolt stuck awkwardly through his bearskin shirt. The mage burst from the wood to view the devastation before him. Seeing Milo about to be attacked, Thalin instinctively began to chant arcane words, his hands tracing lines through the air despite the pain in his side.

    A nimbus of light sparkled over the mages body leaving a thin layer of frost over his clothing and skin. As this happened, the wolfskin cloak billowed around him and an icy shard hurtled from the shadows of the cloak, tearing through the air and into the back of the orc stood over Milo.

    A shattering crack issued from the orc as his back crystallised into ice and shattered onto the ground, with a gurgling scream, his heavy body collapsed onto the top of the distracted halfling. Stepping forwards, Thalin heaved the body away from Milo and grabbed his hand, helping the halfling to his feet. Milo chimed his thanks but his words died in his throat as a huge shadow fell over them.

    The roar of the ogre dropped Milo to his knees in fear, its immense form holding a giant javelin in each callused hand. The ogre scythed the javelins down but reeled back as a pulse of cold air filled his vision. With a confused yelp, the brute raised a mighty hand to rub the icy cloud away from his eyes. Using the moment’s respite from his spell, Thalin dragged Milo to his feet and sprinted towards the carriages.

    The Ulutiuns hammered into the flimsy line of the goblins. A challenge bellowed forth from an orc who hefted a mighty morning star over his head, pointing at the lead Ulutiun. Accepting the challenge, the Ulutiun turned away from his goblin opponents to face the orc but was suddenly swarmed by goblins and dragged violently to the ground. The orc laughed at the stupidity of the iceman and waded into the Ulutiuns, a murderous grin of pleasure ruptured across his face as his weapon met flesh.

    Thalin and Milo reached the first carriage as the goblin swarm pressed inwards on the Ulutiuns. Goblins leapt over one another to get a taste of manflesh, like a pack of wolves devouring a corpse.

    Men, women and children lay dead on the ground, crude arrows protruding from the corpses. The snow was spattered with the blood of the wagon travellers.
    “We have to find any survivors and flee, we can’t stay here,” shouted Thalin over the approaching screams of the goblins.

    Thalin could feel the approval of his wizened familiar, who swooped over the battleground, registering the different pockets of fierce fighting strung out along the length of the wagons.

    “We could take the horses, they’re tethered up at the front of the cargo wagon!” added Milo, who without even waiting for a reply dropped to the ground and scampered under the carriage to the other side of the wagon train.

    Thalin turned back to the battle and surveyed the Ulutiuns fall before the goblin horde, his fathers words suddenly springing into his head; Only death and war lies in the south.

    Pushing his regrets deeper into him, Thalin wielded Shard in the Ulutiun style and with a full arching sweep, decapitated a goblin that had crept round and tried to stab him in the back.

    Milo reached the horses in under a minute and quickly began to untether them. But he fell still and stepped into the shadows of the lead carriage as a wicked laugh emitted from the other side of the horses. A goblin stepped into his view, but didn’t see the hidden halfling. The goblin laughed again and waving his shortsword like a fork, made determined steps towards one of the wagon horses. Milo held his breath and quietly cocked a bolt into his halfling-size crossbow. Wincing with the sound of the string stretching, he began to wind the bolt into a firing position.

    Nearer to the goblin line, arrows zipped into the ground around Thalin. The sheer fact that he hadn’t been hit yet was surely a blessing of Tymora. As Thalin stepped sideways to avoid a fallen goblin body, a group of rats darted from out of the carriage shadows and blocked his path. Thalin had no time for this and leapt over the line of vermin, only to confront a man dressed in tattered brown rags and holding a long bundle of rags. Seeing Thalin, a hopeful stare echoed across his pock-marked face.

    The hum of the javelin through the air preceded the wet thud as it drove through the rat-mage's stomach, pinning him to the carriage door. His body jerked to a stop a few inches from the ground and he let out a rattled shriek of pain. Thalin watched in horror as almost all of the rats swarming under the rat-mage's feet keeled over and died, their small bodies snapped like twigs.

    Thalin dashed forwards to help the rat-mage.
    “It is too important… you must take it…” cried the rat-mage as a spasm racked his body, “you must travel… travel… it is too important to lose. Keep it safe… you must!”
    “What? What do you mean… what is important?” shouted Thalin, wary of the advancing goblins behind him. A hail of black arrows peppered the side of the carriage, inches from the two figures.

    With a shriek of pain, the rat-mage shuddered once then breathed his last words,
    “Too important. Take it to… to Tilverton.”
    With a final shudder, the rat-mage died. The bundle of rags dropped to the floor. Around Thalin's feet, the remaining rats squirmed and died, their life extinguished as their master fell finally into the hands of Kelemvor.

    Thalin looked for a moment before being forced into action by another hail of arrows, one sliced through the trailing end of his cloak. With a deft movement, Thalin grasped the long bundle of rags and was surprised at the weight of the object inside; a metal staff or rod perhaps. Thalin did not have time to check as he began to sprint towards the horses.

    Milo had made his move. He shakily emerged from the shadows as the goblin clutched at the bolt in his back before falling forwards into the snow. The horses whinnied and reared up, but Milo quickly put a soothing hand onto their sides.

    “The horses, quickly!” shouted Thalin as he sprinted towards his newfound companion.
    With a quick swipe of his short sword, Milo cut the shackles of the horses and nimbly leapt onto the back of a smaller mare, snaring the reins of a stallion for Thalin as the rest of the horses bolted away from the battle.

    Thalin swung quickly onto the horse and dug his heels into its side. In unison, the two horses reared up as Milo and Thalin exchanged glances, then hammered down the plains and away from the marauding goblins. Little was said as the two travellers, thrown together through fate, cantered southwards towards the trading post of Darmshall.
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Thursday, 9th June, 2005 at 11:54 PM.

  4. #4
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Good to see you back at this, Spider_Jerusalem. I had followed the story the first go round, then it disappeared. Trust me, I know exactly how that goes. So please, continue on! You have my ear...

  5. #5
    Good to see you again Ruined! Thanks for the ear.

    Trust me, I know exactly how that goes. So please, continue on! You have my ear...
    Too true I'm afraid, but this time is THE time. I only just dug through perhaps 20% of the campaign on the first attempt - there is some great stuff ahead (for new readers and old readers alike!). Can't wait till the new stuff hits... until then... here is the next update:
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Sunday, 12th June, 2005 at 06:47 PM.

  6. #6
    "You are hurt my friend. I am skilled in the arts of healing..."

    The two companions travelled for a little more than an hour, before coming to a stop as the outskirts of Darmshall began to rise around them. Little had been said on the trip. Trust in Vaasa was rarer than dragons hide. The journey had been fast and hard, but sheer adrenalin had kept them going.

    Thalin warned that they should stop and walk into the town on foot, "strangers on horseback draw too many eyes", commented the mage. Milo threw him a glance, wondering who the hell he had got stuck with this time. It didn't help that Dariel had developed a hunger-struck interest in Isplit - who was all but oblivious to the owl as he pranced about on his master's shoulders.

    Nothing more could be said before Thalin and Milo came upon the sight of a young man huddled around a small camp fire. On one side of the man sat an ornate sword and the other was a travelling pack. The two companions stopped. The man hadn't seen them.

    Milo nudged Thalin in the shin, "Noristour probably wouldn't let him in to the town..." Milo began to describe the obvious sloping foreheads of thieves (whilst nudge-winking at the man at the fire), but Thalin cut him off.
    "What do you mean?"

    Milo shook his head in exasperation and launched into an explanation. Before he was done, Thalin knew the ins-and-outs of Darmshall's wizard leader (or as Thalin saw it, tyrant), the glowing border alarm that made a perimeter around the town; alerting Noristour of every being that passed through it. Milo suggested taming a local wyvern and flying in, but Thalin quickly snubbed the plan. Milo's babbling highlighted the nearby populace of goblin and orc clans, whom were somewhat of a nuisance, and lastly the fact that anyone not let into the town (at this point Milo motioned to the man by the fire) was no doubt a troublemaker of some kind, if not a greater demon.

    Milo let out a sigh and smiled happily at his summary, then blindly ignoring his own words, sauntered over to the man by the fire. Thalin checked Shard was ready as a few minutes later, the halfling came dashing back like a child with a new toy, the man in tow.

    Milo skidded up to the mage and they stood and watched as the stranger approached. The man seems deadly serious, his face a statue of calm amid a mixed jumble of chainmail and leather. Both Milo and Thalin were a little disturbed by both the beauty and disposition of the man before them, though two deep, white scars ran the length of his face.

    Milo introduced the man as Torious Mangrane and explained that he was from Raven’s Bluff and had travelled because of dream vision that had lead him to this very spot. As Milo finished Torious reached out a hand to Thalin.
    “I am Torious Mangrane. A traveller following my lord Tyr’s guidance.”

    Thalin winced from pain as he extended his arm and shook Torious’ rather fearsome grip.
    “You are hurt my friend. I am skilled in the arts of healing…” chimed Torious, sighting the wound in Thalin’s side.
    “Thank you kindly, but I can manage fine…”, grimaced Thalin, but his body betrayed him and he staggered sideways. Torious caught him and with the help of Milo, escorted the wounded mage to the fireside.

    As Torious dressed Thalin’s wound, the young man seemed lost in thought, then suddenly began to recount the tale of his travels. Thalin was in too much pain to care, and Milo far too curious to say a word as Torious Mangrane began to speak in a powerful, sombre voice...
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Saturday, 4th June, 2005 at 06:03 PM.

  7. #7
    Interlude Number One: A Tale of Honour

    “We don’t serve your kind” growled the stout bar keep,
    “Leave before I make Limmet hurt ya”

    Torious looked to where the barkeep nodded his greasy curls. A large man with a scar running the length of his arm was slouching in the corner, a young maiden draped over his knee. Torious grimaced and looked back at the squinted eyes of the barkeep.

    “I am sorry to have offended you.” Torious nodded curtly and turned to go. He knew his birth scars were starting to flare and it never boded well in these situations. He headed for the door. The inns occupants seemed to watch him as he walked the length of the rotten floor.

    Limmet laughed in the corner and yelled a curse which became too slurred to understand. Even so the bar picked the chant up and quickly the silence was filled with jeering and screaming at the man who quickly exited.

    Torious stepped into the night air of Darmshall city. The jeering faded almost as soon as he turned out of sight. It was nothing new to Torious, for almost a year now he had been hounded from tavern to tavern, village to village and realm to realm.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    The Gate warden that held the pass between the icy lands of Damara and Vaasa had almost not admitted the tall, well built man who stood alone before the towering gates.
    “Who goes there?” had echoed from above, “Friend or foe?”
    Torious almost turned back then. But this was the way shown in his dreams.

    “I am Torious Mangrane. Traveller to the city of Darmshall, I request passage through Bloodstone Pass and a nights stop at the Bloodstone Inn.”
    “I can let ya through but you ‘ave to ask at the inn for a room” the watchman paused, “what are ya… human or otherwise?”

    Torious had this question any number of times each day. His beauty had been unparalleled in his travels so far, the cascade of golden hair rolled down his face, framing the features which drew both friendly and jealous attention. Each cheekbone bore a deep white scar that ran for no more than three inches towards his jaw, from just beneath his eyes. They had been present from birth and no form of healing, magic or otherwise, would heal the scars. They enhanced his features and pronounced his gold flecked eyes.

    “I am a traveller. That is all”
    “Aye, you said that.” said the watchman suspiciously, “Answer my question or you will have no passage to Vaasa”

    Torious looked up at the guard and tensed the skin around the scars, his heavy hood fell away and he felt the scars surge with energy. The gate and its towers ahead of him lit up with the pulsating yellow light that poured from the scars.

    “I am Aasimar, descendant of Tyr the Even-Handed.” Torious brandished a wooden symbol of a warhammer-on-scales in his right hand, “I speak his words and wield his justice. Open the gates lest you be judged and face his holy wrath.”
    A thunderous grinding noise heralded the opening of the Bloodstone gates.

    Torious walked into the small village that lay beyond. The gates echoed shut behind him and the guard yelled “all is clear”. The night air highlighted the rough edges of the buildings that lay around him and rose up the chasm faces. Stone houses seemed to jut from the walls of the slate walls as if built straight from them. Torious did not doubt they would be.

    Three dwarves crossed his path, their beards braided with some unknown monstrous teeth as pins. They scowled at Torious as he stopped to let them wander past, they headed for one of the only lights in the stone village, the inn; The Gorges Gift.

    The nights stay was pleasant and Torious was not bothered by the locals. Indeed, it seemed every one of the occupants was a traveller and had their own business and reasons to keep to themselves. The next day he travelled before dawn to ensure he was alone for prayer to Tyr. That was a ten day hence.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Torious sat at the base of the great tree in the market square of Darmshall. It's crooked fingers long since dead to the ferocious storms that would sometimes rack the city for days on end, bringing the ice blizzards from the north. And worse.

    The wind whipped at Torious’ cloak as he sat silent in the night air. The city was quiet around him. He had only seen three other persons, a human man and a half-orc couple since exiting the inn.

    His sword scabbard lay across his knees, its leather sheath cracked and brittle from the cold. He brushed a hand down it. A new sword is needed. And more. He looked down at the rusting scale mail that hung too large for him. A golden strand of hair whipped across his face and crossed and eye. Torious blinked and pulled the strand free, pushing it behind his ear.

    A sound, from the alley ahead. He kept his hand at his ear, holding the cloak hood back from his keen ears. His eyes scanned the dark. Torious knew his eyes were better in the dark than any humans and for this he could see Limmet heading into the alleyway. Staggering against the wall? No. Someone else was there. The woman from before.

    Torious didn’t move for a moment then a muffled shriek came from the woman and the Aasimar leapt to his feet and unsheathed his Longsword, Justicar. His steps clattered off the frosted flagstones as he headed for Limmet and the woman. Torious broke into a run as another, more painful shriek came from the alleyway.

    “Stop it!” screamed a female voice, just ahead of Torious.
    “Shut up.” A small sound of fist on flesh then a whimper.

    Torious turned the corner to see Limmet crouched over the fallen woman. Her frail body was lain on the ground, her face was half covered in mud but a bruise could be seen against the moonlight, a deep purple in the blues, blacks and whites that covered the alleyway. Limmet looked up and took a step backwards, seeing the sword in Torious’ hand. Recognition passed over his ugly face.

    “You?” he slurred into a laugh, “The scar boy?”
    Limmet drew a shortsword from a scabbard at his waist. He was built a deal taller than Torious but not much more muscle. He grinned again, yellow teeth protruding into the night air
    “Think you can beat me pretty boy? Take off your scales”

    Torious thought about this. His knowledge of Limmet was limited to the previous hour but he assumed as soon as he began to de-scale, Limmet would attack. Torious passed this out of his mind. Looking down at the body of the woman, she groaned once then heaved. Her stomach emptied onto her torn dress and into the frozen mud. Limmet was quicker than Torious would have thought.

    The shortsword flickered forward, clattering against Justicar as Torious defended himself. He set his back foot in the mud, determined to stay his ground against Limmet. Another sword strike whirled at his stomach then his face, they were both turned aside. Torious made no move to attack.

    “Tyr has seen the darkness that sits in you,” Torious guided Limmet’s side slash into a wall and took a step forwards, connecting his gauntleted left fist to the rogue's face with a gruesome chime of gauntlet on skin.

    “His eyes see through mine,” Torious grasped Limmet’s sword hand in his mailed fist.

    “His hand guides my own” Torious clenched down on Limmet’s hand.
    Limmet screamed, a spatter of blood and spit sprayed from his bloodied face onto Torious’ chestplate. Torious let the sword hand drop and the short sword clattered into the mud. Limmet backed away, but the Aasimar was faster.

    “I speak his words” Justicar drove quickly upwards in a smooth arc, “and wield his justice” the sword slid easily into Limmet’s chest.

    Limmet slid from the blade with a soft sigh. His eyes darted everywhere all at once, taking in the bloodied blade, the dark alley way, the bruised body of the woman and the twin glowing scars that gave form to the silhouette standing over him.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    An hour later Torious stoked the small fire infront of him, his possessions lay on the ground to his left and to his right lay Justicar. He swept the cloth over the spattered scale mail again, trying to work the blood from underneath the individual plates.

    After dispensing a final blow to Limmet he had taken the girl to the city temple of Oghma. Father Rellin, a devout man with piercing eyes, had thanked him then suggested he stay away from the city for a number of nights and wait for the next caravan party leading West. Torious did not argue.

    No doubt Limmet would be found soon after dawn and his body reported to Noristour, the city mage who seemed to be a law enforcement in himself. But this for the moment did not worry Torious, his thoughts lay simply with Tyr and the thanks he would have for the justice dutifully dispensed to Limmet.

    With a sigh Torious rolled onto his back and watched the stars sparkle overhead. Counting the different gods and deeds that lay up there for all to read.
    Shall I serve Tyr highly enough to grant me a place in the stars? Or am I to wander till my limbs grow tired and I lay on the grass, never to move again?

    Torious glided to sleep watching a dim green star move slowly between the constellations of The Great Justice, a secondary constellation of Tyr, and The Furnace, a curled formation granted to Kossuth, the Lord of Flames.
    Stars should not move.
    Yet sleep was too close and Torious’ eyes closed to await the dawn light.
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Friday, 3rd June, 2005 at 08:42 PM.

  8. #8
    "Careful stranger, you should watch where you step"

    Torious' story halted abruptly. His eyes closed in prayer, his hands still resting on Thalin's wounds.

    Quick to take advantage of the zealous, Milo informed Torious that he was a wandering noble and needed shelter, but was also grand friends with Noristour and believed that he may be able to avert any vengeance that Noristour would wreck.

    Torious warily believed the enthusiastic halfling and dutifully offered payment for Milo’s service. Milo bit his tongue to stop saying yes and refused the palm full of silver, saying healing the mage was payment enough. Thalin managed a wry smile at the seemingly incoherent mood swings of the halfling. Torious agreed and after using some source of inner power, fully healed Thalin’s wounds with his bare hands.

    After further talk, mostly on the subject of grilling Torious about his heritage (Milo was intensely interested to know that Torious thought he was a direct descendant of Tyr), the trio set into the town of Darmshall. The sunlight was dying and soon the thin yellow band of the magical perimeter hovered before them, stretching left and right and disappearing behind houses and trees.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Noristour organised the papers on his desk again, hoping to create less paper work if the stacks were neater. Leaning back into the chair, he sighed deeply. His mind played with the idea of creating a few ethereal clerks, but his thoughts dwelt on larger, more taxing matters - he would need all the energy he could muster.

    His Quasit familiar, Xsistass, perched unhappily on the chair back, sharing his frustration. When will the components he needed finally reveal themselves? He hadn’t even got the most basic of requirements, and the town was somehow generating mountains of paperwork, which had to all be checked and reviewed. Where in Incarceri would he find the time?

    From the corner of his study, a metallic chime issued from his staff. He picked up the staff and concentrated his vision. The mage reached his consciousness out to the north west perimeter, where he was told him two men and a halfling had just entered. Nothing of interest. But a note of recognition passed as he saw the halfling and that man with the scars. With a swirl of his cape, Noristour prepared to confront the travellers.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Thalin pressed onwards into the town, leaving Milo behind playing with the perimeter line. Milo passed his hand through the yellow glow twice more before noticing his companions and running after them.

    Thalin approached the mage's tower in a matter of minutes, its crooked form surely supported by magic from some source. Putting arcane interest aside, Thalin knocked on the door intending to inform the wizard of the goblin raid. After knocking for the third time, the three companions turned to leave but stopped when the door eased open and Noristour stepped carefully onto the cobbled streets.

    Dressed in folds of black, with an ugly little demon squatted on his shoulder, he made a striking figure. Isplit hissed at the demon and Dariel suddenly took flight, circling and squawking to show his distress at the unnaturalness of the creature. Xsistass watched the owl swoop around with beedy red eyes, then stared at Isplit till the weasel pretended to have forgotten something and dodged into the pocket of Milo's coat.

    Noristour scowled at Torious and tapped his staff on the ground as if summoning court.
    “You are charged with murder, don’t try to…”
    Milo cut in quickly, “Wait! He knows where that special ring is! I couldn’t find it but he says he knows!”

    Both Torious and Thalin stared at the halfling.
    “No I don’t.” said Torious in a level voice, his stare burrowing into the halfling's head.
    “Yes, you do,” retorted Milo quickly, reaching his hand behind his back, he pushed the keystone deeper into his rucksack.

    He knew that any evidence that he went to the mines rather than track down the ring would give him away, “…and you told me you can get it for this mighty mage! Isn’t that right… Thalin!” Milo looked to Thalin for help.
    “Yes. That’s right,” stammered Thalin, utterly unsure what he had just agreed to. Xsistass' glare snapped to the ice-mage, its mouth spreading into a thin wound of fangs.

    Milo talked over Torious' fervent objections, and as quickly as possible ensured the mage that they would get the ring within the next few days, as long as Torious won’t be punished and that they would be allowed to stay in the town.

    Noristour, not seeing any loss at sending more men to acquire the ring and temporarily ignoring the faults of a foolish boy, agreed and sent the adventurers on their way. He swore the three adventurers to get the ring and bring it back to him within two days. As soon as they had left the tower, Milo whooped and clapped, quickly crafting a song about three mighty heroes on their first quest.

    Thalin remembered the bundle and unwrapped it as he walked. The cloth fell away to reveal a smooth wooden staff with the name “Erifeci” inscribed onto the five foot shaft. He quickly wrapping it up again, he swore to discover the properties of the staff the next day. This could be the first magical item he had handled (aside from his father's store, but he could only look. Never ever touch).

    The companions discussed the difficulties of acquiring the ring, which Milo said was reportedly in the hands of a local goblin warlord, the self-styled "King Doom". The group were gradually subsumed by their weariness, and deciding to put plan-making on hold till the morning, they made their way to the local tavern, The Headless Woman.

    The companions pushed through the door into a shouting mass of elves, half-orcs, dwarves and humans. All three pushed their way towards the bar. Thalin held a silver coin in his hand and knocked on the counter for service. The mage craned to see if an innskeep was about, but accidentally bumped into a black cloaked man stood to his right. The man turned to face Thalin. His face had an oozing scar running from his forehead to his chin, and greasy lengths of black hair fell across his hollow eyes. He was dressed fully in black with a tarnished chainmail shirt over the top.

    “Careful stranger, you should watch where you step,” spat the man, the scar-side of his face twitching as he talked. Flecks of mucus spattered over Thalin's shirt.

    Thalin quickly apologised and the man grimaced before turning back to the bar. The mage inwardly blew a sigh of relief, but then his breath caught in his throat as he saw a quiver of black-feathered bolts hanging from the mans belt...

    To be continued in…

    Ice, Luck and Honour
    Chapter 3: Doom’s Doom

    The three adventurers, amidst the chaos of a rampaging minotaur, track King Doom to a mountain lair. When the heroes attack, their lives are thrown into jeopardy as a new deadly villain makes his presence felt.
    Last edited by Spider_Jerusalem; Saturday, 4th June, 2005 at 06:04 PM.

  9. #9
    You got me hooked spider..good show. Figured you read mine so I might as well return the favor. Only half way through what you have so far but wanted to post and let you know I am enjoying myself.

  10. #10
    Since you were kind enough to drop into my newest SH, Spider, I returned the favor. I'm glad I did. I look forward to the exploits of these three heroes.

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