Shilsen's Eberron SH (Finished - The Last Word : 9/20/15) - Page 67
  1. #661
    Quote Originally Posted by carborundum
    Wow - amazing!
    I bet the army decimation was great fun to play and they really got to work their powers
    I can't wait til my group is a few levels higher so they can have a showing-off fight against overwhelming odds ... though those guardians sounded reasonably challenging
    Fighting an army is actually a lot tougher than it seems. Most spells have area effects that are "big" for a dungeon consisting of 10' wide hallways. However, when you're talking about an army spread over a mile or more, 20' radius doesn't really cut it and there aren't a lot of spells that cover more than that. Those few that do (almost all from the Spell Compendium) are what become your real killers, such as Blistering Radience (50' radius) or Firestorm (two 10' cubes/lvl). I think Wall of Fire is the only PHB spell with a really large area of effect (20'/level length). You don't actually need that much damage as much as you need area for fighting an army.

    Also there's the simple problem of numbers. If 1% of an army of a thousand is casters then you've got 10 guys casting at you a round, with potentially 10 saves you've got to make. Characters probably only fail on a 1, but if you're rolling 10 of them a round... If 20% is missile troops and 1 in 20 rolls a natural 20 then you have 10 people a round scoring a hit and a 50% chance of taking a crit as well. Spells like Protection From Arrows or Reverse Arrows (SC) definitely are your friends here.

    If you're DMing an encounter like this, the numbers issue is where you really need to think things through. A horde of low level casters tossing debilitating spells at PCs can be far more devastating than you might think, IF there are enough of them. Likewise with the archers and such. Never underestimate the ability of 300 attack rolls to inflict damage.

    The most important role that the guardians (or similar foes) perform in an encounter like this, is to give the melee (non-caster) characters something to do and a chance to shine. Since the ability to kill even a handful of grunts each round, doesn't make much of a difference and the fighter types simply can't wipe out large swaths of enemies the way the casters can.

  2. #662
    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    Hmm, never thought of that
    We played Sinister Spire a while back and flew over a canyon full of skeletons with bows. Our 10th level characters occasionally got hit on a 20 but never got critted. I didn't really think about that encounter until just now since we never went on the offensive further and just carried on.
    If only you'd been playing 2e, with a 10' radius indoors being 10 yards outside! Or was that 1e? Been so long ...

  3. #663
    Quote Originally Posted by carborundum
    Hmm, never thought of that
    We played Sinister Spire a while back and flew over a canyon full of skeletons with bows. Our 10th level characters occasionally got hit on a 20 but never got critted. I didn't really think about that encounter until just now since we never went on the offensive further and just carried on.
    If only you'd been playing 2e, with a 10' radius indoors being 10 yards outside! Or was that 1e? Been so long ...
    The distance change was in 1e. I can't comment on 2e since I never played that.

    Technically, a second natural 20 doesn't guarantee a confirmation. However I figure if you get two natural 20s in a row, you probably deserve the crit. The Angels are also somewhat unusual in that almost all of them can get their ACs into the 30s, which most non-"named" NPC can't reach even if they do roll a 20.

    Besides, if you thought us kicking the army around was impressive. Just wait until you see us take on a village of farmers!

  4. #664
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Quote Originally Posted by carborundum
    Wow - amazing!
    I bet the army decimation was great fun to play and they really got to work their powers
    Yes, they did. I'm a big believer in high-level PCs getting opportunities to show off their power. Plus it provides a welcome distraction from the times when they're getting mugged while buying the newspaper

    I can't wait til my group is a few levels higher so they can have a showing-off fight against overwhelming odds ... though those guardians sounded reasonably challenging
    Each was a half-dragon blackscale Bbn1 (CR 6) and the leader was a Bbn4 (CR 9), with a little lower equipment than recommended for their CR. But I think it's safe to say they were punching above their level, as you'll see when I get around to writing up the second battle.

    I was going to add a bit about the battle, but I think Rackhir covered it all, from both the DM and the player perspective.

  5. #665
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Lizardfolk Army Deep-Fried (Part 1)

    Once they have finished interrogating the dead lizardfolk, the Angels teleport back to the palace in Newthrone. Minutes after they arrive, they are seated across from Alzia, who doesn’t look any the less harried than on their previous meeting two days ago. “What is the situation with the army?” she says without preamble.

    “The army’s gone,” says Gareth. “We destroyed it.”

    “You … destroyed it? All of it?”

    “Not each and every one, but we killed a substantial number, and the last we saw of the survivors they were fleeing into the forest.”

    “I’m pleased to hear that. What sort of losses did the townspeople suffer?”

    “None,” says Nameless. “We went into the forest and destroyed the army, so that the town wouldn’t be at risk.”

    “So just the five of you went into the forest and destroyed an army of some two thousand lizardfolk?”

    Korm grins at Alzia’s expression and glances at Six, saying mock-seriously, “No, I think it was more like one and a half thousand, right?” Six nods.

    After a slightly stunned silence, Alzia says, “If I hadn’t done some checking on you in your absence, I would have a lot more difficulty believing you, and even now it’s an amazing story. Naturally, I’m very relieved and pleased at your success. Tell me, did you learn anything about the reasons for the attacks?”

    “Yes,” says Nameless. “We questioned their leaders and learned a fair bit. Especially since they were dead at the time.” He proceeds to describe their questions and the answers they received, which Alzia notes down. When Nameless is done, she says, “Thank you. This could be very useful towards the end of ending the attacks permanently. Of course, right now the remaining armies are a more immediate problem.”

    “Of course,” says Gareth. “Do you know where the second army is?”

    “The general area, yes. This is actually the army which destroyed the town of Woodhome, and it is now nearing another one, about fifty miles from Whitecliff and thrice that from Newthrone. I expect the Riedran troops that have been promised us to arrive tomorrow, but there is no way they can be mobilized and travel up the river in time.” She looks expectantly at the Angels and Gareth quickly says, “Don’t worry. We shall take care of them. If you can provide a detailed description, Nameless will transport us there immediately.”

    As Alzia thanks him, Nameless says, “This may be a little confusing for you, but I think it’s important that I warn you. Be careful of the Riedrans.”

    Clearly quite surprised, Alzia stares at him. “What do you mean?”

    “Precisely what I said. Our experiences, and some personal knowledge I have, have given us serious reason to suspect the Riedrans. Do you know anything of the Quori?”

    “Quarry? I don’t know what you mean.”

    “Quori. They are a particularly dangerous – and foul – kind of extraplanar creature that can only enter our reality by possessing someone. The Riedrans have significant connections with them, and some of us were actually possessed by them at one point. You know of the kalashtar, right?”

    Alzia continues to look confused. “Yes, but there are almost no kalashtar here.”

    “Understandably, since the Riedrans have more influence in your nation than anywhere else on Khorvaire. The kalashtar oppose them – and vice versa – because they know of the issue with the quori. The ones that possessed my companions did so to try and kill the leader of the kalashtar in Sharn. And they were able to do so because of specially prepared items we were given. I highly recommend that you accept no gifts from the Riedrans, or anything created by them.”

    “All right. I’ll remember that,” says Alzia, her expression clearly neutral.

    “He is correct,” says Six solemnly. “I recommend that if you have any meetings with the Riedrans you have no contact with anything. It would probably be better to be naked. And to give up sleeping, if you can avoid it.”

    Alzia’s neutral expression dissolves into shock, and Nameless bestows a glare on Six – and one on Luna, who is choking quietly in a corner of the room at the warforged’s suggestion – before addressing Alzia again. Somehow I doubt this’ll work, but it’s worth trying. “Considering that these attacks by the lizardfolk is ensuring that many more Riedrans are entering Q’barra, I think it’s at least worth considering the possibility that the Riedrans are behind it in some way. All I am asking is that you be wary of them and consider if any offers of aid have a hidden agenda.”

    “All right,” says Alzia. “Thank you for the information.” After waiting for a moment to see if there is more, she says, “Excuse me while I find some directions for you.”

    Once she leaves, Nameless asks Six, “Did you really have to pull out that advice right now? I doubt she would have believed me anyway, but definitely not after that!”

    Six shrugs. “I still think half of your species’ problems – for all of you – arise because you insist on sleeping. You really should try to give it up.”

    * * * * *

    Since the others are unable to comply with Six’s suggestion, that night finds them preparing to bed down in the forests of Q’barra, near the second army.

    “Remember,” Nameless reminds the others, “We leave before dawn, so we can hopefully catch them while they are still encamped.”

    “Yeah, yeah, you said that thrice already,” says Luna, as she plants the Staff of Survival in the ground, causing it to extend into a sapling twenty feet high. As usual, magical fruits sprout from the trunk and an opaque gray half-sphere extends around it, enclosing the group. Luna reaches up for one of the berries and then stops, raising a hand to her temple.

    “What happened?” Korm asks.

    “Another telepathic message,” she says with a grimace. “Same guy who contacted us in Aundair and on the airship. He says, ‘Believe you are fighting lizardfolk in Q’barra. Highly recommend that you stop and leave country. There is more danger than you know. Especially for Nameless.’” She pauses for a moment and then continues, “Now he says, ‘Have potential – if temporary – solution for Nameless situation. Possibility that his affliction could be transferred to someone else who has the right connections with Xoriat.’” She stops and looks at the others. “What should I reply?”

    Nameless frowns. “Don’t. I’m getting tired of these messages. Don’t reply at all.”

    “Wait,” says Six. “I’d like to know something, and they might have useful information. Ask if there is a problem in attacking the armies or in attacking the source of the armies.”

    Luna does so, and then relates the answer – “Armies may be more dangerous than you know. You should not take such risks. Especially with Nameless’ current situation. You should return to Sharn.”

    “That was no help. Seriously, Luna, stop answering,” Nameless insists.

    Luna nods and reports that the voice finally fades away, after asking multiple times what they are planning to do and why she is not answering. “Sounded a little pissed off by the end,” she says with a grin, before adding “Serves him right for bothering me.”

    “I doubt that’ll be the last time they do so,” says Nameless, settling down for the night. “I wonder if such communication allows them to track our movements. They’re evidently aware of our actions here, but if these are the Riedrans, that’s not too surprising.”

    “Speaking of following our movements,” says Gareth, pointing at Edgar, who has walked out of the belt pouch where he normally resides and taken up a position beside Nameless’ bedroll, spindly legs curled under him. “We’re moving around with that thing … whatever it is … on us. Have you considered that it might be a trap or a way for Mordain to track or spy on us?”

    Nameless laughs sardonically. “Yes, I’ve considered that Edgar could be, but to what end? I’m quite certain Mordain could find us wherever we are, and he already knows everything there is to know about us. Everyone seems to know about things that we don’t want them to, anyway, whether it is the Key or this,” he gestures at his chest, “So it’s a little late to worry about it. You can ask Mordain next time we see him.” The alienist pauses, feeling the effects of the geas at the thought, and then grimaces slightly. “Clearly we’re not returning there yet.”

    “No. How many days since we left there, Nameless?” asks Luna.

    “Let’s see. It was the 7th of Aryth, and this is the 1st of Vult. So 22 days. Depending on how long it lasts, I’ll know precisely how powerful he is.”

    “Good. Now let’s pack up, shall we?” says Korm. He glances over at Six. “And you don’t go waking us just because our lips move when we sleep, okay?”

    “I am just taking precautions against possession,” says the warforged placidly.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    The Angels arise well before dawn the next day. Despite the time of night, the surrounding forest is comparatively well lit by the combination of starlight and the beams of the moon Nymm, now at the full. Her sisters Sypheros, Barrakas and Vult, all heading towards fullness, and Rhaan, fading away from it, add their light to the scene.

    The rest of the Angels settle down to prepare their spells while Six keeps watch. Only minutes after they began, the warforged hears the stealthy movement of multiple bodies above the quiet sounds of the early morning forest. He gives a quiet warning, adding, “I don’t think they are lizardfolk. Maybe half a dozen coming from that direction. And about the same number from over there.” Luna, Korm and Gareth quickly arise, but Nameless only says, “You guys take care of it,” before returning to his studies.

    Nameless’ lack of participation is of little aid to the band of forest trolls who rush out of the forest from both sides of the party. A similar group of trolls had given the Angels a problematic fight on the island near Xen’drik five months ago, but times – and the Angels – have changed. After a few seconds of flashing steel and the requisite flame strike, the burned and bleeding survivors flee screaming back into the forest.

    “Come back and fight, you wussies!” Luna shouts after them, before grumbling and turning away. She belatedly notices a poisoned spear sticking out of her shoulder, growls and pulls it out. “I hope the army is a little more fun!”

    . . . . .

    A little over two hundred yards away, two cold sun lizardfolk exchange worried glances, before turning to look again in the same direction. “You are sure of what you saw?” asks one.

    “Yes,” says the other. “I am certain. It was magic. Perhaps a flame strike.”

    “All right. It may be the demons Mahaal spoke of. We need to return and warn them. Fast!”

    Both of the shamans transform, taking the shape of eagles, and take wing. Then they flap their way towards the east as fast as they can.
    Last edited by shilsen; Saturday, 13th October, 2007 at 10:42 PM.

  6. #666
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Lizardfolk Army Deep-Fried (Part 2)

    An hour and a half later, some five miles to the east of their camp, Nameless looks around at his companions. “So we’re all clear on the strategy, right? Gareth, Six and I are coming in from the northwest, and you two,” he looks at the druids, “From the southwest, starting about five hundred feet from us. When we get about three hundred feet from each other, we box the bulk of the lizardfolk between three walls of fire. Leave gaps at the corner to funnel them in. Then follow up with three more to close the box. And then we make them unhappy for being in the box.”

    Luna flashes a large ursine grin in anticipation. “Sounds good to me. Just make sure you three don’t get killed while I’m not there to protect you.” She glances at Korm. “But I’ll look after you.”

    The Gatekeeper shakes his head and says nothing, idly patting the back of the large black phantom stag which he summoned a few moments ago.

    “All right,” says Nameless. “Let’s do this.”

    . . . . .

    As planned, the Angels angle in from two directions, steadily closing on the lizardfolk army and making sure to stay low, using the large equatorial trees of the Q’barran forest for cover. As they pass over the outlying screen of poison dusk scouts, there are a couple of scattered cries as a particularly alert watcher sees the figures flash past overhead, but few are studying the sky or even awake at this point. By the time the alarm slowly spreads, the Angels are well past and closing on the bulk of the army.

    Though they are too high and moving too fast to pick out precise details, the Angels see that the lizardfolk are spread across in the forest floor in small groups, evidently using no tents or any structures to make camp, simply clumping together to sleep. Nameless picks an appropriate area and then transmits over a pre-cast telepathic bond to the druids, “I’m going to start it off. Luna, put your wall north to south at ninety degrees to mine from the west end, and Korm, you throw yours up parallel to mine at the southern end of Luna’s.”

    “Yeah, yeah,” Luna growls back over the bond, “Stop talking and just do it.”

    Nameless shrugs mentally and complies, causing a twenty-foot high and two hundred and sixty foot long wall of flames to erupt. Shocked screams erupt from those that are caught in the flames, devolving into the groans of the dying and echoed seconds later by shouts of alarm from the hundreds shocked into wakefulness by the sight. The cries and screams increase substantially in volume as Luna’s and Korm’s walls appear to, linking to Nameless’ to create a gigantic three-sided box.

    The Angels swoop in, prepared to close off the far end of the box with another trio of walls, and the two druids cast theirs perfectly. But before Nameless can cast his, there is an unexpected interruption.

    As Nameless flies in, with Gareth and Six flanking him some fifteen feet away, the warforged’s preternatural eyesight lets him notice what seem to be four eagles flying out of the darkness. If their complete unconcern at the noise of the lizardfolk and the lurid flames of the magical walls weren’t enough to arouse suspicion, they are heading directly for the three Angels. Even as Six shouts a warning, the eagles screech and gesture with their talons in a manner that he has seen Luna do often enough.

    There is a burst of sound and a roar directly above the Angels, and all three look up as a gigantic form appears in mid-air, barely twenty feet above their heads. Their startled eyes meet the gaze of two ancient orbs, set deep in the sockets of a tapering head that resembles a gigantic, reptilian skull. Two horns, each as long as one of the Angels, curve forward to bracket the skull, and a large crest rises from between them to snake its way down the long serpentine neck. The body and tail, covered in large scales ranging from dull ebony to a mottled gray, stretch a further sixty feet. The four limbs, terminating in claws the size of swords, hang below it. A flat tongue extends from the half-open mouth, acidic slime drooling from its forked tip. The gargantuan black dragon looks down at the Angels and roars its challenge, and cries of “Rhashaak!” rise from the forest to greet it.

    Sh*t! We’re dead! The thought flashes through Nameless’ mind a split second before he registers what his magically enhanced sight is telling him. The ‘dragon’ overhead is a spell effect. “It’s an illusio…,” he begins to say, before recognizing the tell-tale signs in the aura, very distinct from that of illusory magic. Evocation?

    Before he can add any more, the giant dragon raises its wings and flaps them, once, twice, and again. Each beat sends a powerful blast of air slamming down onto the Angels. The first knocks them fifty feet downwards, and the next smashes them through the intervening branches and bushes to the ground below with bone-shattering force. Which, in their case, leaves them slightly bruised. As they hit the ground, the dragon disappears, the spells that manifested it ending*. But the remaining two shamans complete their spells, causing the three Angels to glow lavender with faerie fire, clearly demarcated for their enemies.

    Luckily, since they landed outside the giant box created by the flaming walls, the bulk of the army is separated from them. Even so, a few dozen lizardfolk see the three and rush them, screaming bloody vengeance for the allies who they can hear dying within the walls. The closest of the poison dusk warriors hurl nets onto them as they momentarily lie prone.

    But the Angels all have significant protective spells on them, and the nets slide off their forms, all imbued with freedom of movement spells. “Time to get back up and take those shamans down!” says Nameless, and all three rise into the air, followed by disappointed cries and a few ineffectual arrows and javelins.

    Unfortunately, the brief delay has given other enemies a chance to get into the battle, and the magically-lit Angels are easy to pick out. The blackscale guardians charge into the Angels, draconic wings propelling them at incredible speed. As with the first army, there are six of them led by a larger specimen, and this time Luna’s forbearance means that all of them are present. Two each head for Nameless and Gareth, while the leader and another two attack Six. The shamans aid them with their spells, whether beams of searing light or others that strike the Angels with numbing cold.**

    If the odds were not bad enough for the three Angels, this is when luck completely deserts one of them. Nameless and Gareth, though both wounded, manage to dodge or deflect a couple of attacks, the paladin’s cloak of minor displacement coming in especially handy. Six is not as lucky. His harness wraps him in shadows that shift constantly as he moves***, aiding him as the cloak does Gareth, but one of the guardians manages to land a lucky hit. It knocks the warforged sideways, disrupting his defenses just as the blackscale leader swings his sword in a huge overhand chop. The blade blasts through the shadowy concealment and into Six’s chest. The warforged’s modification by first the harness and then Mordain makes his mechanical vitals difficult to target****, but sheer happenstance drives the sword into a seam in his plating. Alchemical fluid sprays like blood and Six’s entire breastplate crumples.

    The only luck that Six has is in being airborne, since the blow knocks him flat on his back and down a couple of feet, robbing it slightly of momentum. If he had been on the ground it would possibly have torn him asunder, but here it leaves him barely clinging onto consciousness and almost nonfunctional*****. Hoping that the enemies won’t be able to tell the difference, Six promptly drops his chain and floats there, arms and legs trailing, as if he were unconscious or dead.

    Sh*t! Wounded and with only one ally, Nameless frantically calculates his options. I’d like to drop a Cloudkill on them and Dimension Door away, but I can’t cast both fast enou…, he begins to think, when he feels a tickle in his mind. The whispery voice is instantly recognizable as the one in which Edgar, on very rare occasions, communicates with him – Do it! I shall help you.

    With two of the guardians roaring into his face and slashing at him, the alienist doesn’t even consider arguing. Dodging beneath a sword, Nameless conjures a cloudkill around Six, Gareth and the enemies around them. “Stay in there, Gareth!” he shouts. “I’ll be back with the other two!” I hope! Nameless attempts to cast the next spell, knowing that he still lacks the enormous expertise needed to cast two spells of this power in such a short time. But as he focuses, he feels a warmth flare against his belly, from the pouch where Edgar resides, and suddenly the arcane formula leaps into his mind with dizzying speed. Nameless speaks a word and disappears.

    Across the battlefield, things have been going substantially better for the two druids, but even they have a few problems. After throwing up the last two walls, they begin to indulge themselves in different ways. Luna unleashes a fire storm that decimates the lizardfolk trapped within the gigantic box of flame, but Korm decides to take a more hands-on role, flying down on his summoned stag to slash into the first of the blackscales he sees. As the headless body topples, Korm hurls his meteoric blade. The sword scythes through a row of enemies and the Gatekeeper bellows an orcish war-cry.

    A few of the poison dusk warriors in the area shoot at him, to no avail, and then turn and flee. But as Korm’s sword flies back into his hand, a different missile hits him. The bola wraps around his neck just as he urges the stag forward towards a clump of enemies, and to Korm’s surprise, flips him backwards off the stag’s back and to the ground.****** To add injury to insult, a few blackscales charge him, brandishing their clubs and foaming at the mouth with rage.

    Luna, looking down at the scene, laughs and shouts, “Need some saving, Korm?” Then a searing pain burns into her shoulder and she growls and spins around in mid-air. A large shadow, though significantly dwarfed by her bulk, swoops out of the darkness, revealing itself as a dire bat. Luna’s eyes narrow and she growls, “There’s only space for one big flying druid here,” and drops a column of flame around the bat. It screams as the flames scorch its hair and rip small tears in its wings, but remains aloft, clearly protected against fire to some degree.

    As Luna growls even more loudly, a figure outlined in lavender flames appears near her. “Hey, Nameless!” she chuckles, ignoring the bat for a few seconds, “You look pretty. And beat up.”

    Faerie fire!,” the alienist says shortly, dropping down to use a tall tree’s branches as cover. “And we got trouble there. Six is down. I left Gareth in a cloudkill to protect him. Where’s Korm? And who’s the bat?”

    “Some idiot shaman. And there’s Korm.” Luna points as the Gatekeepers rises from amongst a clump of blackscales, stoically absorbing a blow to the shoulder before he eviscerates the attacker with a single sweeping stroke. Then she floats towards Nameless, extending a paw. “Let me drop a heal on you.”

    “No!” says Nameless urgently, recalling the possibility that the spell might heal his ‘affliction’ and remove all the benefits he gets from it. As Luna gives him a puzzled look, he says, “I’m okay. Really. Speaking of which….” He transmits to Six and Gareth, “You guys okay?

    Little busy, Nameless, but yes,” Gareth transmits back, as he hears the sound of the blackscales flapping their way into the cloudkill in search of him. Then he grins at the sound of a strangled gasp nearby, followed by a thump some distance below him as a body hits the forest floor. “At least your spell’s whittling them down.

    I’m alive too,” transmits Six, triggering the wand held in the sheath he had built into his form months ago, feeling parts of his superstructure slowly unbuckle and straighten itself. A second later, an eagle flaps past his face, pausing to consider his floating form and evidently not realizing that the warforged is still functional. “Gareth – watch out!

    Even as the warning rings in his mind, multiple enemies locate Gareth. One of the guardians roars a warning to the others as it sights him, swings up its sword and then collapses as the poisonous vapors of Nameless’ spell take effect. But two more are rushing in, along with the leader, and the eagle-shamans also head in the same direction with triumphant screeches. The paladin whirls and dodges amongst them, the combination of Mordain’s magical protections, heavy armor, his cloak and the partial concealment afforded by the cloudkill aiding him, but there are just too many enemies to remain unscathed.

    A sword crunches painfully into his knee, cracking bone, and as he bats aside one of the shamans, another drives its talons into the back of his head. Though Gareth’s helmet prevents actual contact, the shaman’s claws flare with magic and the paladin shudders as he feels valuable energy flow out of him. Before the paladin can turn to retaliate, the roaring leader is in his face, hugely muscled arms bringing its blade around in a disemboweling slash. Gareth’s armor holds, but even the magical metal buckles at the impact, and a burst of agony flares from his shoulder to his waist as multiple ribs are shattered under the blow.

    “Six! Get in here!” Gareth shouts both verbally and mentally, before adding a prayer to the Flame. Spinning in a circle despite the pain shooting up his side, Gareth uses the momentum of his foe’s attack to aid his own, calling on every power granted by the Flame to further empower it. The Endless Blade flashes with silver fire and depicts a neat half-circle, biting through scales, muscle, flesh and bone. The blackscale leader’s eyes continue to glare into Gareth’s for a second, and then fall away as its body and head part company.

    But as the leader falls, its enraged allies swarm over Gareth. More claws strike his back with the same draining effect, and then the remaining guardians are biting and cutting into him. A sword-slash tears open his side and then a second strikes through the weaker part of his armor under the arm, punching through his armpit and puncturing his left lung. Everything goes black and Gareth collapses, blood streaming from multiple wounds*******.

    Ironically, and unseen by the Angels, the few seconds that Gareth takes to fall are enough to slay his enemies. The time they have had to spend in the cloudkill finally overcomes their resistance and one by one, they drop. The last of the shamans turns to flee the poisonous cloud, only to see Six’s chain leaping at it. As it falls, the last guardian seizes Gareth’s floating body, planning to take him as a trophy. But even as its wings propel it forward, it shudders and falls.

    . . .

    On the other side, Luna and the shaman-bat exchange spells for a few seconds, but the latter has neither the shifter’s power nor her resistance to damage, and with Nameless taking a hand too, it is soon on the verge of death. As she prepares to take it down, the bat desperately casts a familiar spell, encasing itself in a greenish-yellow cocoon.

    “Oh, come on!” growls Luna, before Nameless says, “Just dispel it.” Her attempt to comply fails and leaves the bear even more upset than before.

    “Here’s how you do it.” The alienist casts, and has the pleasure of seeing the cocoon disappear even as a panicked expression appears on the bat’s face. Swiftly replaced by a terminal one as a swift volley of magic missiles blast it from the sky.

    “Son of a bitch – that was mine!” growls Luna, before beginning to cast another spell. “Korm!” she shouts as she does so, “Get your ass out of there!”

    Below, the Gatekeeper is holding off four enraged blackscales at once. Strong as the hulking lizardfolk are, they lack the strength and, more importantly, the defenses of the guardians. Every cut and slash of Korm’s sword is followed by a spray of blood, and its effects are underlined by the circle of bodies that already lies around him. However, with the odds are heavily against him and his foes boasting significantly stronger offense than defense, Korm is far from unscathed, his upper torso and ripped tunic incarnadined by the blood streaming from multiple shallow wounds. Already considering retreat, Luna’s warning makes the decision for him.

    “Sorry, kids – I’ve gotta go!” Korm grunts, spinning his sword in a circle to force his enemies back. Then, calling on a rarely-used ability, he fixes the closest enemy with a glare. The blackscale quails at the malign power of the Gatekeeper’s gaze, stumbles backwards, and flees screaming. As its allies pause in confusion, Korm leaps away in the opposite direction, mentally thanking the Gatekeeper who had trained him in the use of the evil eye. A quick whistle and the stag, which has been trampling the few cold sun and poison dusk lizardfolk who have remained, turns and rushes toward Korm. As it comes, he leaps forward and throws his arms around its neck, not even bothering to try and mount. The magical deer’s hooves crunch over the fallen foes once, twice and then it is airborne, heading back towards the other Angels. The blackscales that had rushed after Korm howl their disappointment, and then Luna’s patented column of fire explodes among them. When the blast clears, all of them lie dead, driving the few remaining lizardfolk into even more of a panic.

    “That seems to have done the job,” Nameless says. “Let’s go back and find some corpses to talk to.” He pauses as Six sends a message. “And put Gareth back together.”

    * Downdraft, from the Spell Compendium
    ** Hypothermia
    *** Child of Shadow stance from Bo9S
    **** 75% immunity to criticals
    ***** He got dropped well past -10 and only kept alive by throwing in three cards. PCs dropped to -10 and saved by cards are normally out of a fight, but since there was a card that allowed PCs between -1 to -9 to rise to 0 hp, I let him do so. Esp. since it seemed they needed it. See – I am an angel too!
    ****** Yes, the 13th lvl druid berserker with 26 Strength got dropped flat on his ass by a 1st lvl ranger’s bola
    ******* Also dropped past -10
    Last edited by shilsen; Saturday, 13th October, 2007 at 10:41 PM.

  7. #667
    Gallant (Lvl 3)

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    My puppy demands an update!'s late, this is the wittiest bump I could come up with. And isn't he cute?
    Attached Files Attached Files  

  8. #668
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vorput
    My puppy demands an update!'s late, this is the wittiest bump I could come up with. And isn't he cute?
    Very nicely disguised bump! Or at least it was till you pointed out that it was one. But yes, he's cute.

    I've been a little busy and taking it easy on updates, but I'll have one up tomorrow or on Monday.

  9. #669
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    And here we go (in two shorter segments, due to the changes to the messageboards for now)...

    “All right,” says Gareth, “I’m ready to ask the questions. Korm, can I have the bead?” The Gatekeeper hands over a strand of prayer beads, and Gareth activates one with a word and a thought. Then he grasps his holy symbol and casts a spell over the leader of the blackscale guardians. The corpse doesn’t respond in any way, and Gareth shakes his head. “Didn’t work. At least I’ve got three left. Let’s try the shaman.”

    This time, the spell takes effect and the corpse’s jaws move silently, as it awaits the questions. After a quick discussion with the others, Gareth asks a series of questions. The corpse obediently, if not particularly fluently, answers.

    Q: When did Rhashaak first appear?
    A: Rhashaak has always been here

    Q: When did Rhashaak start telling you to kill humans?
    A: Two months ago.

    Q: Was there a specific event that led to Rhashaak telling you?
    A: I do not know. It is not for us to ask.

    Q: Have you noticed any changes in Rhashaak?
    A: I do not know. I have not seen Rhashaak.

    Q: Who is telling you what Rhashaak wants, if you haven’t seen him?
    A: The guardians of the holy city speak for Rhashaak

    Q: Is there any particular guardian who speaks for Rhashaak?
    A: Yes

    Q: Where in the holy city is this guardian to be found?
    A: He stays beside the altar where the sacrifices occur.

    The corpse falls silent as the spell ends. “So it began a month ago, considering how their definition of time differs from us,” says Nameless.

    “Am I the only one suspicious of this guardian speaking for Rhashaak?” asks Six. “It sounds like human politics to me. I think we should try to find out more about it.”

    “Agreed.” Gareth proceeds to attempt to speak with the corpses of two of the blackscale guardians. The first resists, but the second succumbs to the spell.

    Q: What is the name of the guardian who speaks for Rhashaak?
    A: Huu’rak

    Q: When did Huu’rak start speaking for Rhashaak?
    A: Many moons ago.

    Q: Why is Huu’rak the one who speaks for Rhashaak?
    A: Rhashaak appointed the line of his speakers and Huu’rak is the speaker now.

    Q: Was there any reason beside Rhashaak’s order that began the recent attacks?
    A: No. That was the reason.

    Q: What will the lizardfolk armies do if defeated?
    A: They shall send messengers to Rhashaak and return to the forests.

    Q: Will the attacks end as long as Rhashaak wishes them to continue?
    A: No.

    Q: What will happen to the attacks if Rhashaak dies or is slain?
    A: He will not die and none can slay him.

    When the spell ends, Gareth says, “That’s all I can find out. And I think we found out what we need to know. Let’s head back to Newthrone and tell Alzia what we found out.”

    “So, are we going to go look for this Rhashaak?” asks Luna. “Not that I have any problems with that, but I’d like to go meet Prince Ryger first.”

    “What about the third army?” asks Korm. “And the crazy Flamers and their Purge?”

    “I’ll come along for the army, since you idiots will probably all get killed without me to protect you, but you can handle the Flamers, I’m sure. I’ve got a pirate prince to talk to.”

    Korm grins. “From what you said earlier, it didn’t sound like talking was what you had in mind.” Luna grins back. “Well, I think there’ll be some talking.”

    Gareth shakes his head disgustedly. “Suddenly I feel even better that we’re not going along. Nameless, can we leave now?”

    * * *

    Alzia shakes her head in sincere appreciation and admiration. “Both armies! And now my sources say that the third one is breaking up and retreating into the forests, I presume having learned what happened to the others. Your actions have saved the lives of hundreds, and likely thousands. The nation of Q’barra is in your debt. How can I reward you?”

    “Do you have an airship?” asks Luna immediately, a second before Gareth says, “No payment is necessary.”

    Alzia keeps a creditably straight face as the druid rounds on the paladin. “Unfortunately, no – I do not have an airship. But a reward has certainly been earned, and” she indicates a document and a coffer at her right hand, “I can either give you 20,000 galifars or the equivalent in Eberron dragonshards. The former would be easier to use, of course, but being adventurers and having an interest in magical items,” her eyes flicker to Luna, “I thought that you might prefer the dragonshards, since they can be used for crafting purposes.”

    “That is true,” says Six. “Stone could use them, in payment or for some of the items we have ordered from him.”

    “You’re kidding me, right?” says Luna, looking around at the others for support. “I don’t want to ever see another dragonshard again.”

    “You know, Luna,” says Nameless, “We’re surrounded by them in Sharn.” He turns to Alzia. “We shall take the dragonshards, thank you.”

    Luna snorts disgustedly as Korm picks up and puts the coffer away, and then says, “I’d also like a bottle of fine wine.” As her companions turn to her in surprise, she explains, “I want to take a gift for my date.”

    “Oh boy! She’s going to make the poor bastard drunk and have her way with him!” Korm mutters, drawing a glare from her. Alzia diplomatically displays no signs of having heard the comment and says, “Certainly. I shall see what I can find. But tell me – what do you plan to do now? In view of what you have discovered, I would like you to investigate this Rhashaak and Haka’torvhak, if you are free. I have already found a guide who can take you to the general area.” She gestures at the door and a man who looks to be in his late thirties, with weather-beaten skin and the garb of an explorer, steps in. He makes an awkward bow, as Alzia says, “This is Lothir.”

    “What do you think?” asks Korm of the others. “Our phantom stags and steeds can fly now, so we can do that a lot quicker than we could earlier.”

    “Maybe once we’re done with Haydith?” asks Gareth.

    “I have to meet with the Cannith people in a couple of days too,” says Six.

    “And I’m going to see Ryger,” reminds Luna.

    “As you can see,” says Gareth to Alzia, “We have many things on our plate now. Also we want to go and deal with the situation in Hope now.”

    Alzia looks slightly disappointed, but only says politely, “It seems that the situation with the armies had nothing to do with it. The people of Wyrmwatch have made their choices and their problem is their own, isn’t it?”

    “Not if I have anything to say about it,” says Gareth firmly. “We are certainly interested in this matter of Rhashaak, but will be unable to deal with it now. If and when we have the time, we shall contact you.”

    “Very well,” Alzia sighs. “Thank you again for your invaluable aid. I hope I shall see you again soon.”

    When the Angels are outside, Nameless studies the directions he had been given earlier. “Evidently they don’t get much traffic to this area called Hope, so the description will only take us to the general whereabouts of the village. Everyone ready to go?”

    “Nope. I’m going to meet Ryger.”

    “Alone? Do you think that’s a good idea?” asks Gareth.

    “Actually,” says Nameless, “Do you really want to be with Luna while she’s on an island jumping some poor guy’s bones?”

    “Good point,” says Gareth. “Have fun, Luna. Don’t bite him too hard.”

    Luna opens her mouth, but before she can retort the others are gone. “Idiots!” she grunts, and then transforms into a bird. She flaps slowly into the air and heads towards the forests that border Newthrone.

    * * *

    Luna steps out of a tree and looks around. The weather is significantly different than it was in the forests of Q’barra where she entered a similar tree. Now thousands of miles to the north, the air around her is almost as cool as in Karrnath, made slightly milder and more humid by the proximity to the ocean that she can see in the distance. The druid transforms into a large seagull and flies aloft. She quickly ascertains that she is on a large island, presumably Greentarn, which Prince Ryger’s capital of Regalport stands on. Catching sight of a town to the east, Luna heads towards it.

    Flying over the town, she sees that it is built around the docks, which look out over a protected bay. The harbor area displays signs of significant damage, as does one of the multiple ships at dock, which looks like it has been recently sunk and subsequently raised. Many of the ships, including the one being repaired, fly a banner depicting a striking seadragon on a field of blue-green waves. As Luna flies nearer, she sees that many of the people moving around the docks or on the ships wear the same insignia.

    She continues over the town, heading towards the largest building, a palatial villa surrounded by fortifications. Along the way, she passes a large enclave flying the displacer beast insignia of House Thuranni, which is based in Regalport, and slightly smaller ones belonging to Houses Orien and Ghallanda. Luna also passes a bustling market, the famous Pirate Exchange, which is full of people from many lands and nations. Finally, landing in an alleyway near the villa, she quickly transforms. Then, reaching into her haversack she produces a package. Time to change.*

    A few minutes later, the Seadragons at the gate of Prince Ryger’s home see the unusual sight of an attractive-looking shifter in an ankle-length off-the-shoulder red gown strolling towards them as if at a society party. Luna flashes them a dazzling smile and says, “I’m here to see Prince Ryger. He’s expecting me.”

    One of the guards withdraws his eyes from the significant amount of cleavage revealed by the low-cut dress and asks, “Expected? Who are you?”

    “I’m Luna, of the Guardian Angels of Sharn.”

  10. #670
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    The rest of the Angels, meanwhile, stand outside a small fortified village. Wyrmwatch stands within a large open space of about thirty miles, between the jungle and the foothills of the Endworld Mountains, which separate western and northern Q’barra from the Talenta plains. A number of armed guards face them, while others look down from positions atop the wooden wall, with arrows nocked in their half-raised bows.

    “Who are you?” asks the guard leader suspiciously. “And how did you just appear out there?”

    “We teleported,” says Nameless, a trifle grandiosely. “And we are the Guardian Angels.”

    There is an expectant pause, and then the guard says, “Who? Never heard of you.”

    The Angels exchange surprised glances, and then Six says to the others, “This doesn’t really look like a place the Korranberg Chronicle comes to, you know.”

    “No, it doesn’t,” says the guard, eyeing the warforged up and down. “We don’t get your kind here either, warforged.” Then he turns his attention to Gareth. “So you are a worshipper of the Flame?”

    “Yes,” says Gareth, even more grandly than Nameless a moment earlier. “I am the champion of the Silver Flame.” The effect is slightly spoiled by the snort of laughter from Korm, which Gareth ignores.

    “A champion of the Silver Flame?”

    The champion of the Silver Flame.”

    The man shrugs. “Whatever. But you’re welcome here.”

    “Good,” says Nameless. “Now let us in and take us to your leader.”

    The gradual changes to the alienist are slowly affecting his demeanor and manner of speech, and the comment is delivered – intentionally or not – with an undertone which says that he has far more important things to deal with than an unimportant watchman. The guard bristles and begins, “Listen, you ….”

    Time for a little demonstration. Nameless begins to cast a spell, planning to produce a few pseudonatural allies to make a point. Instantly, the guards grab at their weapons, and those above raise and prepare to fire their bows. Gareth responds as quickly, grabbing Nameless’ arm and interrupting his spell. “What are you doing? There’s no need for that!”

    Turning to the guard, the paladin says quickly, “Pardon my friend’s hastiness. We have had a long day and are tired. We are here on an urgent matter and need to speak to your village leader. Why don’t you take us to him and let him decide how to respond, rather than arguing out here?”

    The guard leader slowly takes his hand off his weapon and nods. “All right. But no spellcasting in there.” He bestows a dirty look on Nameless, who ignores him.

    The man turns and leads the Angels in, followed by a few of the guards. As they pass through the village, the Angels scan it for signs of anything strange, but find it looking quite normal. It might as well be a village in the middle of Breland, except for the higher number of weapons that are visible, and that is understandable considering where it is located. Many people look suspiciously at the newcomers and whispers follow them through the village, as do a few of the more curious onlookers.

    The growing group quickly arrives in what passes as the village square, an open space in front of some of the larger huts, where small trees have been allowed to grow and a number of seats have been set up in small groups. Most of them are occupied, especially by older villagers, while others stand and talk. Children run and play around them.

    The guard leads the Angels to the largest group and then salutes a stout man with a large bushy beard, who has turned to watch the newcomers. “Elder Nevillom,” he says respectfully, “These people just arrived here. They said they have something important to tell you.”

    The bearded man rises, smiles as he sees the symbols on Gareth’s armor, and extends a hand to him. “It’s a pleasure to meet fellow worshippers out here. Welcome to Wyrmwatch. I’m Nevillom. How can I help you?”

    Gareth nods and gets directly to the point. “I’ve heard that you are attempting to restart the Thranish Inquisition here.”

    There is an amusing moment as the friendly look remains on Nevillom’s face for a second, while his brain tries to realize what Gareth just said. Then his face darkens and his expression turns stony. “What?”

    Gareth’s tone is stony as he replies. “The lycanthropic purge. I believe you’re restarting it?”

    “Where did … what business is this of yours?” asks Nevillom. Angry mutterings run through the people around them, and some of the guards ready their weapons. Korm casually raises a hand to his sword and says, “Guy’s got a point, Gareth.”

    With all the attention focused on Gareth and Nevillom, Six quietly sidles away. Walking around a hut, he uses his hat to appear to be a human dressed in clothing like that worn by the villagers. He looks around and catches sight of a hut some distance away, which has two armed guards outside, both of whom are moving towards the village square. Six proceeds to make his way quickly in that direction, heading for the rear of the hut.

    The discussion – or argument – behind him continues. “I’m making it my business,” says Gareth. “I am the champion of the Silver Flame and if what you do affects the reputation of the Silver Flame, it matters to me. And I will stop you.”

    Nevillom’s face is blood-red by this point. “I don’t care who you think you are. You have no business walking in here and trying to dictate how I protect my people!” He lifts a hand, quivering with passion, and points. “Get out!”

    Nameless shakes his head. “Seriously, you should calm down and answer the questions. Believe me, you’re getting a good deal today. We didn’t bring the mean one!” Korm nods. “True. And she’s bigger than us all too. Combined.”

    Clearly nobody is listening to the pair, and Nevillom bellows, “I told you to get out. Now!” Gareth shakes his head. “No. You will answer my questions first.”

    One of the guards angrily says, “You can’t talk to the Elder like that!” and shoves the paladin. For all the good it does, he might as well have tried to kick over the Endworld Mountains. Gareth turns to look at the man, even as Nevillom shouts, “Throw them out!” The rest of the guards pile forward, trying to comply. Others in the area hurriedly try to get out of the way, especially the women, trying to gather up their children.

    “Fine,” says Nameless, deftly evading the grasp of a couple of guards. He gestures and casts, causing a cloud of nauseating vapor to envelop Nevillom and those around him. Frightened screams, followed swiftly by gasps, choking and the sound of multiple people voiding the contents of their stomachs, follows.

    Shoving another guard away with a force that sends him and two others tumbling, Gareth shouts, “Nameless – don’t kill anybody! There are women and children around!”

    “I’m not that dumb,” says Nameless, in the process of rising into the air, only pausing to smack a persistent guard with his tentacle. Which completely confuses the man, since Nameless’ magical disguise makes it appear that he has two normal human arms. “The stinking cloud will keep them from getting themselves into more trouble.”

    “Spoilsport!” says Korm, his happy grin belying the comment, having seized a man by shirt and belt and hoisted him above his head. The Gatekeeper swings the hapless guard in a wide arc, clearing a space around him, and then tosses the guard into the arms of his fellows with a force that knocks them all to the ground.

    “Oh, look!” says Nameless, looking around from his elevated vantage. “We’re being attacked by more villagers. How terrifying!” He studies the angles that the armed men are approaching from and says, “Korm. Notice the vegetation there? Want to slow them down?”

    “Sure.” Korm casts and the advancing attackers cry out in surprise as the limited plant life in the area reaches out and seizes most of them.

    “Nice work,” says Nameless, and then noting that some people, including Nevillom, are staggering from the cloud, casts another spell of his own. Three giant stag beetles appear, with mottled green and purple tentacles writhing. As they move to strike, driven by the magic of the spell, Nameless shouts a command. They hesitate for a second and then simply walk over some of the armed men and then squat down, knocking them to the ground. The frightened captives shout and strike at them, but their simple weapons ring uselessly off the beetles’ carapaces. Nevillom, already nauseated by the cloud, doesn’t even have that option, being pinned face down by the largest of the beetles.

    “You really should be running away,” Nameless explains to the few remaining armed men, as he flies over towards them. One promptly raises his crossbow and fires, striking the mage right in the middle of his chest. Or what seems to be the case, since Nameless’ magical disguise conceals the fact that it is merely a flesh wound, the bolt embedding itself as much in his coat as in his flesh. He smiles, pulls out the bolt, and says, “That was a good shot! Would you like a job?” The horrified archer screams, throws away his crossbow and flees, followed by his fellows.

    Some distance away, Six shrugs inwardly as he hears hostilities commence. Having found no easy ingress, with even the two windows being boarded and nailed shut, he simply carves a hole in the rear wall and looks in. The unusual vision granted by the implanted third eye lets him see clearly into the dark hut. The interior is in a squalid condition and even his limited sense of smell detects the sharp tang of urine and the stench of fresh excreta.

    Three figures look back in surprise at the disguised warforged silhouetted in the opening. All three are human, two male and one female, and each is also chained at neck and waist to a separate thick post that has been driven into the dirt floor. Their condition is deplorable, all three being smeared in the bodily waste that covers the ground around the posts.

    After a moment of amazement, the woman asks, “Who are you?” Then, as the sounds from outside penetrate, she adds, “What’s going on out there?” One of the men is more direct, begging, “Please – you must free us! They’re going to kill us all!”

    “All right,” says Six. “I’ll take you outside. Just follow me, do what I say and you’ll be safe.” But I’m not sure I want to free you yet. He enters and begins to hack the tops and bottoms off the posts, so that he can take the three people outside while they are still attached.

    As he deals with the post to which the first of the men is attached, the man convulses as if in pain. Six quickly steps back, watching as hair erupts all over the man’s form, while his features turn bestial and lupine. In seconds, a hybrid made of wolf and human stands in the peasant’s place. It glares at Six and leaps, fangs and claws bared, dragging the post behind as if it weighed nothing.

    Unfortunately for the werewolf, the only result is that a heavy blow knocks it backwards to the ground, where it is quickly bludgeoned into unconsciousness. Six then turns to the other two, who are cowering as far back as their bindings allow them. “Are you werewolves too?” he asks.

    “Yes,” says the woman finally says, “But we don’t want to be. Please help us!”

    “All right. But don’t do what your friend here did.” Six continues to free the three and then proceeds to take them outside, dragging the unconscious werewolf behind him. By the time he rejoins the other Angels, they are standing around Nevillom, whom Korm is holding in mid-air, watched by villagers from a safe distance.

    “Take what you want!” Nevillom screams, “You know we cannot resist your foul powers!”

    “For the third time,” says Gareth irritably, “We’re not here to rob you. We’re here to stop you restarting the Inquisition.”

    “And for the fourth time,” Nevillom yells, “We are … not … restarting the Inquisition!”

    “I found some werewolves,” puts in Six.

    “See?” says Gareth triumphantly.

    “See what?!” howls the near apoplectic village leader. “They are lycanthropes! We had them locked up and were deciding what to do.”

    “Where did they come from?”

    “A werewolf attacked some of our villagers four days ago and though we managed to kill it, some people were wounded. These three succumbed to the curse and so I had them locked away for the safety of the village.” Nevillom pauses, takes a deep breath and says, slightly more calmly, “What do you want?”

    “I want the Inquisition to stop,” says Gareth.

    Almost weeping with fury, Nevillom screams, “There … is … NO … Inquisition!”

    “Okay, we need to talk about this,” says Korm to his companions, before adding to Nevillom, “Don’t go away.” The command seems a little unnecessary, since he continues to carry the hapless man at the end of an extended arm while he and his friends go into a huddle. After a short discussion, he turns to Nevillom and says, “We’re going to take these three away, cure them and let them go.”

    Nevillom nods. “Yes, I could hear you. Please do so. And can you put me down?”

    Korm does so and then turns to the three prisoners, or at least the two conscious ones. “You clearly don’t have a life here any more. Is there anywhere you’d rather go? We can drop you off at Newthrone and cure you too.”

    The surprised pair look at each other and then quickly agree, asking only to be allowed to recover some possessions and say goodbye to their families. The unconscious werewolf is revived and, after changing form, also comes to precisely the same agreement.

    While Six escorts them as they collect their belongings, Gareth turns back to Nevillom. “You need to do something about your reputation. We were told that you were restarting the Inquisition here.”

    Nevillom glares at the paladin. “What can we do if people slander us? We are simple people, living according to our faith. One would think a supposed champion of the Silver Flame would understand that. Who was it that told you these lies?”

    “Alzia ir’Kesslan, first minister to King Sebastes, in Newthrone. You should inform them about the situation.”

    “There is two hundred miles of jungle between Newthrone and us,” points out Nevillom. “How exactly do you suggest I keep them informed about our village?”

    Gareth shrugs. “I don’t know. But it’s worth doing. Otherwise, people may think that such things are happening here, and some will not like it. If a really large bear attacks your village at some point, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    “A bear?!”

    Korm nods. “Sadly, he’s not lying.” He looks at Nameless. “You think she’s managed to kill the pirate prince yet?”

    * * *

    Luna, on the contrary, is thinking of doing other things to the prince. When she is ushered into a comfortable sitting room to meet him, she finds Ryger ir’Wynarn to be a tall and athletic man in what looks to be his late thirties or early forties, with a bronzed complexion and long hair tied back in a ponytail. Cool blue eyes look out from above a hawkish nose and a rakish moustache. When Luna enters, he rises and takes her hand, bowing and bestowing a kiss on it, before sliding his arm through hers as he leads her to a couch. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, lady Luna. Welcome to my home.”

    Ooh, baby – come to mama! Luna smiles broadly at Ryger and seats herself, trying to focus on something besides his smile**. “Thank you. You have a lovely place. I absolutely love what you’ve done with it. Very eclectic but very tasteful.”

    “Thank you. Would you like something to drink?”

    “Oh, that reminds me – I got you something!” Luna produces and hands over a carefully wrapped package, which Ryger opens to reveal a vintage bottle of Q’barran wine. “That’s so kind of you,” he says, examining the bottle. “Especially since we’ve never met. Should I open it?”


    Ryger pours Luna and himself a large glass each, and then takes a seat near the druid. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. But I see none of your companions came along.”

    “No. They had something to do, but I thought meeting you was more important so here I am.”

    “So I see. And if you don’t mind me saying so – very well worth the sight. That dress suits you beautifully.”

    The nature of reality on Eberron shifts slightly, as Luna actually simpers at the compliment. “Thank you. I was hoping I wasn’t inappropriately dressed for our meeting. By the way, since we’re being honest in exchanging compliments, I’ve got to say that I’ve been incredibly impressed by you once I learned who you were and what you’ve done.”

    “Really?” For a moment, Ryger looks slightly surprised.

    “Yes. Believe me, I don’t respect people easily, but you’re probably the person I respect more than anyone else. I mean, you’re a genius. Being a pirate prince with your own set of islands? That’s such an awesomely great idea!”

    “Well, I’m not actually a pirate…,” begins Ryger, but Luna rushes on, “When I heard about it I felt so foolish for never thinking of that. It’s the perfect life. The sun and the sea, being surrounded by nature, sailing on a ship, not having to deal with the public – it’s beautiful! Believe me, having lived in Sharn, the option of not being surrounded by people is a significant bonus to me. I’m seriously considering the idea of finding a nice island and…”

    Ryger simply sips his drink, nods and smiles, not even trying to get a word in edgeways as Luna continues on. Finally, when the torrent of speech slows slightly he says, “Yes, there are great advantages here, but unfortunately I don’t have the freedom I once had, and can’t jump in a ship and sail off wherever I want. Responsibility and politics, you know.”

    Luna grimaces sympathetically. “I understand. I hate politics!”

    “You’re not the only one. But now, let me regrettably get to business. You’ve already heard the details about the attack here, correct?”

    “Yes, but I’d like to hear them from you.”

    “All right.” Ryger proceeds to describe the attack, and then asks Luna if she and her companions are interested in finding those who enacted the attack and also recovering what was taken. “I’d prefer it if nobody knew what has been stolen. I can trust your discretion, can’t I?”

    “Of course,” says Luna.

    “What was taken was a chest of Siberys dragonshards, all of them marked with the same symbol, which is very unusual. There was a rain of dragonshards on the island of Trebez Sinara. Nobody goes there, since the place is overrun by dangerous monsters, but three of my ships were nearby and made a quick stop and recovered what they could. How the attackers knew about it, I don’t know.”

    Sh*t! Why dragonshards again? Luna says, “We’ll see what we can do.”

    “Thank you. I presume you speak for your friends?”

    “Of course.”

    “That’s good to know. Naturally, I’ve heard much of you and your companions. I’m curious to hear about your adventures.”

    Luna promptly proceeds to tell stories of what the Angels have seen, encountered and done, while Ryger listens with rapt attention. She is careful to not mention anything of Mordain or Nameless’ condition, but is not as reticent about older issues, describing the events surrounding the Key and the rakshasas.

    Eventually, after they have sat and chatted for a while, Ryger says, “Would you by any chance be free to join me for dinner? I’ve got some work I have to take care of, but I should be free in three or four hours. And perhaps afterwards we could take a short cruise. Unless there’s somewhere else you need to be tonight?”

    Luna smiles coquettishly. “I don’t, and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.”

    . . . . .

    A few hours later, a very well fed and even more happily tired Luna snuggles up against the naked form of the nominal leader of the Lhazaar Principalities. I am so becoming a pirate princess!

    * Since she has the A Thousand Faces ability, Luna can look like whoever she wants. Or just like herself, but better.
    ** Once I said that he was being played for our campaign by Errol Flynn and showed her an appropriate picture, Luna was as close to smitten as she gets.

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