Dusk in the land of Fading Stars - Femerus' Story hour (updated 2-20-03)




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  1. #1

    Dusk in the land of Fading Stars - Femerus' Story hour (updated 2-20-03)

    Prologue

    "A Father and His Children"

    From His throne in the Great Hall of the Gods, the Father of Man was chief and ruler of all the gods, but as any father, He did not hold such title from a throne. He was father from his window far above the gilded forums and marble halls of the Great Hall. There He stood each night, long spear in hand, stirring from the ether great gems of unimaginable beauty, brightness, and heat. He called them stars, and like an artist upon a canvas immeasurable, He drew constellations above a planet of blue and green. It was a gift eternal, from a father immortal.

    He was the Father of Man, and for Him these gems of fire, life, and light paled in comparison to his most cherished creation: man. Humanity and all its spirit was to him a milieu of shining lights and sublime colors and textures more grandiose than an eternity of myriad stars. He saw them as a reflection of Himself that stood not as a testament of some divine vanity, but rather as a creation made for no other purpose than to feel life in all its happiness and sadness. With hearts He shaped with His own heart, man lived to the brief yet infinitely mutable cadence of passion, compassion, and hope.

    Night after night, the Father of Man would spend countless hours swirling stars into form and arranging them into patterns of hunters, farmers, kings, peasants, animals, and gods. As time passed, the gods themselves came to watch his creation, and while some marveled at his works and thanked him for their images in his sky, many grew envious of His children. He was to be a chief and father to them, not mortals of no great power or consequence, and the love that He gave to his mortals was love not given to them. Even when He finished his tapestry of stars and ether, they watched Him as He stood at His window for hours looking down upon His children with great affection.

    In distant places beyond his sphere of stars and his planet of green and blue, the gods plotted against the Father of Man. Led by the Deceiver, Prince of the Gods, they stood in silent corridors of the Great Hall and allowed their hearts to fester with anger and deceit. The throne was empty, and the Deceiver whispered that if the Father of Man would not lead the gods, then only He could. In the names of duty, honor, and station He hissed in secret words and muted oaths that He would rule with a love devoted solely to the gods that obeyed Him- and these words were like ambrosia to the gods that had longed for love and leadership.

    After nights of plotting deep and dark promises, the Deceiver strode into the chambers of the Father of Man. Fierce sword of shadow in hand, the Deceiver pointed to his chief, and bade him turn away from His children. Seeing the Prince armed for battle, the Father of Man called his spear, Starshaper, to His side. As it raced to his side, His anger grew. The Prince derided Him, and called Him a poor father and incompetent ruler. It took little more than these words to enrage the Father of Man, and He quickly leapt towards the Deceiver, his golden spear racing towards the dark heart that challenged Him.

    A great battle ensued. For days and nights the Deceiver and the Father of Man clashed with steel and magic both great and terrible. The Deceiver’s sword was black and poisonous, but the Father's spear was true, and pierced the side of the lesser god. Dropping to his knees, the Deceiver watched with a shocked expression upon his dark brow as his even darker blood ran in flowing rivulets across the chamber tiles and into the shadows and cracks of the walls. His blood was the stuff of shadows, and it found its way beyond the window. It trickled outward and downward across the ether and into the creation made by the Father of Man.

    The Deceiver, kneeling with his sword in hand, smiled and pointed to the earth of blue and green. "Look, look at your children Father." He said, "Look once more, and remember it well. Know that soon it shall be gone, for as you fought me, the gods have been gathering their powers to destroy all that you have made! Soon all that will remain of your creation will be ashes and darkness- and you will have nothing to love but us!"

    The Father of Man quickly turned from his foe, and ran to the window in time to see the gods completing their final chants. Words of light and dark, brought together by corruption and envy, swirled in the void beyond the stars. Ancient hymns long forgotten stalked from the lips of the gods, and the Father of God knew fear for the first time.

    Gathering His strength, the Father of Man poured His energy towards his earth of blue and green. With great sadness He locked from sight His children and stars. A great veil covered the ether just as the killing blow of the petty, lesser gods raced forth. The Father of Man wept bittersweet tears as the destructive hymn scattered across the void, for while He saved His children, He knew that for eternity they would be lost to Him.

    He had one final hope. "Starshaper, my companion and protector, I am afraid that I must give you up as well this bitter night. You are the only thing in all of existence sharp enough to pierce my shield without destroying it. If I cannot be with my children- if I cannot see them- then I must find some solace in the hope that they can in some way see me as they look to the heavens and the stars I made for them.

    "Go to them. Be their guide in the times to come, and give them strength and direction. Stand as a testament of faith for them, and be my final gift to them." With that said, He let Starshaper fly, and as it struck the veil, it pierced it and struck deep into the heart of the earth of blue and green.

    From behind Him, the Father of Man heard laughter. Turning, he saw the Deceiver, clutching his wound in one hand and his sword of darkness and pain in the other. "And it seems you have given your life to your children as well, Father. Know this- my blood has fallen upon your earth of blue and green, and it will destroy it- veil or no. As you took from my heart darkness, so shall I give your children darkened hearts. And as the darkness enters the heart of Man, both they and your precious stars shall know death. And when the last star dies- so too will your children."

    The Father of Man threw himself at the Deceiver in rage, and the dark god pierced the Father's heart as He ran. Stopped cold, His hands clutching the arms of the Prince of Lies, the Father of Man fell to His knees. Coughing, he looked to the Deceiver and spoke.

    "You may take away the stars from my children, but know this. You will never take from them the ability to look upward... and forward. You will never take from them their hope, or mine," and with that, the Father of Man, Chief of the Gods, died.

    Far below, under a veil of shadows and light, the spear rested in a valley of green. Humanity looked to it in reverence and humility. Along its golden hilt shone the runes crafted by loving hands, and as the first star of the Great Maker faded, they wept- as orphans of a loving Father.
    Last edited by Femerus the Gnecro; Friday, 21st February, 2003 at 03:08 AM.

 

  • #2

    Player Character Descriptions

    Land of the Spire

    This campaign is unique in that both of the original players began the campaign running two characters each (to better fill out the party quotient). A few sessions later, a third player entered the game with one character. Unfortunately, due to family issues, work issues, life issues, etc, several sessions of the game saw an incomplete group of players at the table, leading to a party which either 1. could not function adequately or 2. was really unfit for any type of large scale combat. Consequently, all three players now run two characters each, with an NPC thrown in for good measure. In order of appearance, they are:

    Kerim (Halfling Rogue) Okay… he’s an archetype. Treasure hunter/adventurer by profession, Kerim spelunks because he enjoys the process of exploring ruinous caverns more than the rewards that it often entails. While obsessed with all things shiny, the actual possession of treasure is often not as important to Kerim as the acquisition of it. Unfortunately, his eagerness often translates into carelessness; more often than not, Kerim uses the ‘step on the floorplate’ technique to locate traps.

    Lucien (Human Wizard) Lucien’s personality is indicative of the turbulence inherent in his life. Having run away from an orphanage when he was barely 18, Lucien spent nearly two years performing minor parlor tricks on the street until his potential was noticed by a wandering mage. A few years later, Lucien ran away again, this time from his befuddled master. Adventuring quickly became a solution to many of Lucien’s problems, most notably money. The accumulation of power was Lucien’s greatest goal for a long time… only now is he beginning to actually care for his companions and for the world around him.

    Saryna (Half-Elven Ranger/Fighter) Saryna’s proficiency with a bow is only eclipsed by the enormous chip on her shoulder, a personality flaw that causes her moods to run from hot to cold faster than a beholder can blink. Though usually a worthwhile companion, her cavalier, mercenary attitude often brings her into conflict with other members of the party. There’s no one better to watch your back in a dungeon though. Just be careful she isn’t deciding where to shoot you.

    Merileene (Human Cleric of the Father of Man) Merileene’s single most pronounced trait is an overwhelming shyness, which in turn causes her to blush and stammer as easily as most people breathe. Her deep rooted lack of self confidence has gotten her into trouble in many occasions. When push comes to shove, however, she’s a dependable, if reticent ally. Most importantly, she stands her ground even when facing nearly certain death, a trait which hints at a strong heart beating beneath her many layers of armor and self doubt.

    Damek (Elven Wizard) Damek is an incredibly easygoing elf with a charming manner and a totally unflappable attitude. Angering Damek is thought to be well nigh impossible, though he fights effectively and cleverly despite his constantly cool demeanor. If anything, Damek may be too easily distracted by the world around him, occasionally leading to momentary lapses in judgement. Not one to dissemble, Damek eagerly pursues anything that catches his fancy, be it magical, logical, or female.

    Tristan (Human Figher/Cleric) Tristan is, how shall we say, a few legs short of a behir. Despite being a valiant warrior, a competent cleric and an overall extremely nice guy, he’s rather literal minded. Some would call him gullible, or naïve, but in reality he is neither of these things. He simply doesn’t notice or doesn’t understand a certain percentage of what goes on around him in the world. To Tristan, life is very simple. Evil strives against good, and good must prevail over evil. Tristan’s goal in life is to help eradicate the world’s evil through adventure. His light-hearted, almost jovial attitude make him an invaluable companion when in danger, just don’t expect him to understand sarcasm.

    Dwarf (NPC Dwarven Fighter) The Dwarf joined up with our band of heroes for one reason: gold. His continued stay with them is most likely dependant upon finding immense quantities of said gold, and his departure may be inevitable if the party continues on its current career path (i.e. starving adventurers). He has yet to reveal his name to anyone in the party, resulting in several nicknames from Kerim. His most common handle, however, is simply ‘The Dwarf.’

    edit: over the course of the last few months, the party arrangement has altered yet again... but though tragedy and sacrifice have changed the composition of the party, their quest still remains the same
    Last edited by Femerus the Gnecro; Monday, 3rd February, 2003 at 08:35 AM.

  • #3

    Chapter 1: Running, tripping and stumbling through the gauntlet

    The red spheroid gleamed briefly as its rotating surface caught the sun, muddled images reflecting incomprehensibly on its mottled surface. As it hurtled towards its destination, millions of different variables of wind, weight, humidity, velocity, trajectory and luck coalesced into one single arc of flight that eventually resulted in a violent impact upon its intended target.

    Kerim thought: “Oh… a tomato,” and casually plucked it out of the air before it splattered messily against his head. Well, he intended to pluck it at any rate. Actually, the tomato was so horribly rotten that it effectively blew up in his hand, showering his body with countless bits stinking fruit flesh. The crowd cheered. Kerim, meanwhile, made a mental note to add a personal lesson to his journal.

    Lesson 1: Commoners rarely throw fresh fruit

    After cleaning himself up somewhat, Kerim jumped up and grabbed the bars above his head, straining to gain a better view of the crowd assembled in the stands around him. If they wanted a good show, he would give them one.

    Ten feet in front of Kerim was a door… the first of many obstacles in this “Thief’s Maze.” The rules were quite simple: “Astound your friends and colleagues! Successfully navigate a personally designed gauntlet and win fabulous prizes!” All Kerim had to do was begin by getting past this doorway.

    Kerim examined the locked door with an expert eye and set to work… within seconds the door was open and Kerim stepped through.

    *click*

    As the floor shifted slightly beneath Kerim’s feet, he reacted instinctively and threw himself forward, narrowly avoiding the arrow that sprung out of the wall at chest height. The crowd’s noise continued unabated.

    Three doors, one pit and several hundred needles later, Kerim paused to remove sharp pins from his arms and legs before proceeding. Not only was he tired of the “Thief’s Maze” by this point, he was sure that his performance thus far wouldn’t go very far in securing him employment, which is of course why he agreed to enter this silly contest in the first place.

    As he rested against the wall, Kerim noticed that the wall opposite him in the corridor seemed… off. A more detailed search of the wall revealed a loose stone
    that, when pushed, opened a sliding stone doorway that led into an adjacent tunnel. Also curious were what appeared to be two stone buttons cunningly hidden within the stonework of the wall itself. Kerim experimentally pushed the buttons, noting that only one could be depressed at once. Kerim left the buttons set in the ‘left depressed’ position and moved cautiously into the new tunnel.

    Outside, he crowd’s roar seemed to swell to epic proportions, and Kerim was all but certain that he had managed to find the hidden exit. As visions of shiny things danced in his head, Kerim reached the end of the tunnel. Instead of a door, there was what appeared to be a large stone sphere. It was at that point that Kerim began to get a tingly sensation throughout his body… wasn’t it interesting how this tunnel seemed to slope upwards somewhat? Only now did the crowd’s excitement begin to take on a new light to Kerim… one that he pondered as he hauled ass back the way he came.

    Sure enough, a grinding clicky sound behind him heralded the release of the large stone sphere, which obeyed the laws of physics and began to pursue Kerim down the long hallway.

    Kerim cursed loudly as his foot snagged on a razor sharp wire… an addition to the tunnel which hadn’t been obvious during his trip towards the boulder. Glancing quickly behind himself, Kerim saw that the boulder was rapidly gaining on him, rolling straight down the middle of the hallway towards him. Hobbling, Kerim finally managed to reach the other hallway. As he cleared the doorframe, he quickly toggled the switch to the ‘right depressed’ position as he hurled himself with all his might towards the left side of the doorway.

    The rumbling increased to a deafening roar, totally drowning out the sounds of the jeering crowd above Kerim. Then the boulder reached the hallway. Luckily for Kerim, the boulder hit the opposite wall and careened off to the right, following the path laid out by Kerim’s prodigious (and totally arbitrary) use of the wall switch.

    Lesson 2: Better to be lucky than… well… dead.

    Score update: Kerim 2, Maze 2

    After bandaging his foot with a hanky and waving to the crowd, Kerim continued through the maze. Four more doors and a few unimpressive traps later, Kerim was back where he started. The maze was a loop.

    “This isn’t much of a ‘maze,’” Kerim thought. For a minute or two he waited for an announcer or someone to come and give him bags of money for completing the
    maze, but such a boon was not forthcoming. It took Kerim another minute or two to make the mental leap from “I’m not done yet” to “wonder what was behind that boulder?”

    Sure enough, after Kerim made his way back to the boulder hallway, he found a doorway in the newly opened alcove. A few seconds later, it was open.

    Sixty feet away was another door, located on a platform some thirty feet above the arena floor… a platform very similar to the one Kerim was currently standing on. Below the “Thief’s Maze,” on the arena floor, warriors battled each other with steel and wood, bringing death and glory and entertainment to the watching crowd, all for the cost of a gold piece. Entertainment… cheap at any price. Unfortunately for Kerim, the two platforms of the maze were connected only by 60 feet of very old, very ratty looking rope.

    About twenty feet from the other side, as Kerim was waving and showboating to the crowd, the rope snapped, sending Kerim plummeting down towards the arena floor…
    to dangle mere feet above the head of an angry Ettin. After climbing back up the remnants of the now worthless rope, Kerim entered the available door and
    found himself still outside. In front of him was a large platform, a winch elevator and another person. The robed human seemed preoccupied with the elevator, as though expecting something to come up at anytime. Kerim, automatically assuming this human to be another challenge, snuck up behind him silently and readied his dagger. Only at the last second did Kerim recognize the showmanship of scaring the living crap out of this hapless individual instead of merely killing him.

    “Waiting for someone?” Kerim asked. The robed man jumped nearly a foot before spinning around with his staff in a battle ready stance.

    The man looked at Kerim for a moment, then relaxed. “You can’t possibly be my challenge.” The man then resumed looking at the elevator.

    Kerim was insulted. “Hey! Did it occur to you that you may be *my* challenge? We’re all alone up here, and I don’t see any way down except for that elevator.
    Now defend yourself!” Having said this, Kerim moved backwards, out of range of the staff, and drew a throwing dagger.

    The robed man sighed, stepped back and cast a spell. A pinprick appeared in front of the caster and grew into a shining disk that hung in front of the man like a glowing shield. After he stopped chanting, the glow faded, though a slight ripple effect could still be seen when the man moved.

    Kerim, in the meantime, threw an experimental dagger at the man, hoping to end the battle quickly. To the robed mage’s utter astonishment, the knife’s trajectory was such that it completely avoided the transparent barrier, imbedding itself solidly in the
    mage’s left shoulder. In anger, the mage lashed out with another spell, sending two shards of pure energy into Kerim and knocking him back a pace.

    Kerim launched another dagger, but this time it simply rebounded off the disk of force present in front of the mage. Then everything went dark… the eerie darkness of magic. Kerim, however, simply slinked along the wall’s edge until he was partially out of the sphere of darkness… he then moved quickly up to the midpoint between himself and the mage and lay caltrops around to delay the robed man’s crossing. Just as Kerim was getting ready to start playing ‘pin the knife on the donkey,’ a godawful screeching noise heralded the activation of the elevator. It wasn’t until an ogre’s head appeared that Kerim began to think maybe he and the mage hadn’t been intended to fight after all.

    “Ahh… my challenge has arrived.” The mage, who had stepped out of his darkness sphere the moment the elevator began to rise, readied himself. “We can kill it if we work together, or die separately.” Kerim, ever the pragmatist, asked “Can I have my dagger back?” The mage looked at his shoulder in disgust and was about to reply when the Ogre stepped onto the platform, waving his giant club menacingly.

    The mage was ready for the beast, and two more shards of energy flew past Kerim’s head and impacted the Ogre in the chest. Kerim’s dagger followed quickly, but rebounded off of the Ogre’s tough hide. The Ogre advanced, confused by the large sphere of darkness that hid part of his enemies. The mage took advantage of this distraction and dropped a sphere of burning flame right into the Ogre’s face, burning him horribly. The stench of burnt giant was overwhelming, and Kerim thought he might vomit. Instead, he took the opportunity to tumble past the ogre so that he could plant a dagger firmly in the monster’s back. Unfortunately, as the ogre was thrashing about in anger and pain from the sphere of fire, its club smashed into the tumbling Kerim, who fell into a crumpled heap behind the injured monster. The ogre,
    having recovered somewhat from the flaming sphere, suddenly found a crossbow bolt protruding from his chest… he looked up just in time to see the mage disappear back into his sphere of darkness. Roaring in pain and rage, the ogre advanced towards the mage’s position, completely unaffected by the caltrops Kerim had set earlier. However, in his haste, the ogre ignored the seemingly unconscious Kerim. Kerim, on the other hand, quietly stood up from his faux death and plunged his dagger into the ogre’s back, striking a decisive blow. The ogre spun and tried to smash the halfling, but the Kerim nimbly dodged out of the way, avoiding the club by mere inches.

    Suddenly, the ogre screamed out in pain as the flaming sphere once again burnt a path of destruction down his back, just as a second crossbow bolt struck the
    creature in the throat. The ogre only had time to make a wet gurgle before it fell to the ground, its combined injuries finally taking their toll. As it fell, Kerim was forced to dodge out of the way again to avoid being crushed. Moments later, the darkness winked out of existence.

    Kerim stood up and brushed himself off, good-naturedly acknowledging the roar of the crowd. The announcer ascended to the platform and amplified his voice magically for the benefit of the audience.

    "You both have demonstrated remarkable skills today, some more commendable than others. Your tests, of Intelligence, Luck, Trust and Strength were all overcome, despite some close calls along the way. Here is your reward.”

    The announcer then handed Kerim a large bag full of coins.
    5000 copper coins to be exact.

    “Well… that was fun.” Kerim gathered up his caltrops before making his way over to the mage. “I’m Kerim, by the way. What’s yer name anyways?” Kerim stuck out his small hand to properly greet the man.

    “I’m Lucien. You look like hell.”

    Kerim then noticed that the wound on his foot had broken open again and was caked in dried blood, while a smear of bloody footprints followed in his wake. He could also feel a couple of broken ribs, from where the ogre had landed a lucky blow. His hair was matted, his hands filthy with dirt and blood and his daggers were crusted with the yellowish/red ichor that only giants possess. Furthermore, he smelled like rotten tomatoes. Kerim waved to the crowd cheerfully and then turned to Lucien.

    “Nice to meetcha Lucien… can I have my dagger back now, please?”
    Last edited by Femerus the Gnecro; Thursday, 4th July, 2002 at 05:08 AM.

  • #4

    more to come!

    I've gotten enough material together for the next installment, so now I'm looking for style pointers.

    What do you story hour addicts look for in a good thread? Lots of dialogue, copious descriptions, broad narrative or rapid fire reparte?

    I want this story to be as appealing as possible for the board (trying to give something back don'tcha know) but as a fairly new poster, I find it difficult to court replies.

    As such, any and all comments are welcome and appreciated. With any luck, the next chapter will be up by the end of the week.

    -Femerus
    For God's sake, read my story hour already!
    Dusk in the Land of Fading Stars: Femerus' Story Hour

  • #5

    Chapter 2: The Coming Storm

    Chapter 2: The Coming Storm

    A couple of weeks later and several hundred miles to the west, we find ourselves among the narrow streets of Darumont, a trade city on the outskirts of human explored lands, beyond the area known as the Fringe.

    Horsecarts wobble over uneven cobblestones and merchants hock their wares on the blessedly clean streets, the filth having been washed away by the morning’s rains. This morning, however, the gentle rhythm of Darumont is disturbed by the forceful strides of Saryna the half elf, as she walks purposefully through the twisting roads of the city in search of an inn.

    Finally settling on the Seven Stars Tavern, Saryna enters and orders her morning ale. After sipping her ale in silence for a moment, Saryna turns and surveys the sparsely populated common room. The only thing of interest is a rather heated discussion between two of the bar patrons: a robed man and a halfling. Hoping for a barfight, Saryna moves to a closer table and begins to eavesdrop.

    “You didn’t have to throw that dagger so hard you know.”

    “Hey! For all I knew, I was supposed to kill you. It’s not my fault that your super protective mumbo magic crap didn’t do anything except look pretty.”

    The man pales a bit, as though embarrassed. “…I’d rather not talk about that. You should just be thankful that I didn’t fry you on the spot”

    The halfing’s eyes open wide, and he begins to stammer. “I’M LUCKY!? You… I just… you… I kicked that ogre’s ass!

    In the background, Saryna chuckles softly, earning a sharp glance from the robed man.

    “It’s considered rude to eavesdrop.”

    The halfling chimes in. “Maybe she finds you interesting, Lucien… that’d be a first!” Kerim chuckles at his own joke.

    “You two weren’t exactly being circumspect,” Saryna replies. “If you didn’t want it known that this little one nearly stuck you in the ass with a knife, then don’t talk so loudly in taverns.”

    Lucien’s frown deepens, the lines in his face tightening into a mask of irritation. “There was nothing ‘nearly’ about it… and it was in the shoulder, thank you.”

    Saryna sips her ale slowly and moves over to Lucien and Kerim’s table. “Whatever. To tell the truth, I was hoping to find a job in this town, but since I’ve been here I’ve seen little more than rabble and rubbish. At the moment, you two are the closest thing to amusement that I’ve found in nary three weeks. You’re not looking for a guardian, are you? Have a shipment ya need watched or anything like that, hmm?

    “No… in fact we happen to be looking for work as well. I thought perhaps running the gauntlet in Saridor would endear me to a potential employer, but no such luck.”

    Kerim comes back to the table with a pitcher of ale and a glass of wine for Lucien. “That’s because you sat around and let me deal with the ogre for ya. You really need to learn to take responsibility for your own problems, Lucien.” Kerim turns to Saryna, seeing the interest in her eyes. “That’s where we met by the way… where I stuck him. It wasn’t that interesting really… too linear. Plus it’s in a town a few hundred miles east, so don’t getcher hopes up… um… what’s your name anyways?”

    “Saryna,” she replied. “And you are Lucien and…”

    “I’m Kerim. The broody one is Lucien. Nicetameetcha.”

    Saryna turns to Kerim. “Where are you headed if you can’t find work in Darumont, Kerim?”

    “I hadn’t thought about it actually… I figure work’ll appear. There’s always a call for freelancers, anyways.

    Lucien snorts. “Freelance? Why not just be honest and call it mercenary work?”

    “There’s nothing wrong with mercenary work,” Saryna replies.

    “No… but I see no reason to dissemble about it either.”

    “What, you too good to get yer hands dirty?”

    Lucien laughs derisively. “What kind of work do you think I’m looking for, gardening?”

    The verbal sparring continues for some minutes, and Kerim tires of it quickly. While Saryn and Lucien bicker, Kerim approaches the bartender… time to get proactive about this whole ‘job’ thing!

    “Excuse me… bartender?”

    The bartender looks out over the bar, convinced that his lucky magical mug, Rupert, has finally decided to talk to him. Kerim climbs up on a stool.

    “Oh… what can I do for you, lad?”

    “Where might some freelance adventurers find work in this town?”

    “Freelance adventurers… hmm. I’m not quite… sure really.”

    Kerim looks at him askance. “I’m sure you must have some idea.”

    The bartender looks at Kerim shrewdly. “There’s something on the tip of my tongue but I just… I can’t seem to quite remember it sir.”

    Kerim looks at the bartender for a second and begins to catch on. “Ah… I understand that feeling… Oh! I seemed to have dropped a couple of coins here on the bar… how clumsy of me...”

    The bartender vanishes the coins from the bar before they even stop moving. “Oh, aye… that reminds me. Well, freelancers usually set up shop so to speak, get their name known and people come to them. You might think about doing that for starters. Or, well… there’s the Sweeps. They’re a well known vigilante service in Southend. You’ll do well with them, good to work on the reputation if you catch my drift. Coh… what was their address again? Ah… I’ve gone and forgotten it.”

    Kerim pulls out three pieces of silver and begins to juggle them with marvelous dexterity.

    The bartender’s eyes gleam. “Oh… it’s coming back to me.”

    Kerim palms one piece and starts juggling two with one hand.

    “Coh… I’m losing it again.”

    Kerim puts the third coin back in the mix.

    “Oh… oh… on the tip of me tongue…”

    Kerim takes out a fourth coin and starts juggling two alternating circles. By this point, several patrons are chuckling openly.

    The bartender smiles. “Ah… I remember now. They’re on the corner of Sullyset and Renshad.” Kerim grabs the coins out of midair and stacks them neatly on the bar. Once again, they vanish before they lose the heat from Kerim’s hand.

    “Thank you, sir,” the bartender says.

    Kerim looks at him with amusement. “No… thank you.”

    Saryna looks at Kerim appraisingly, having just gained a great deal of respect for his straightforwardness. “Seems we may have a place to work after all. Do you mind if I travel with you to that part of town?”

    Kerim and Lucien exchange a quick glance… neither of them objects to having a new companion, even if she is somewhat… abrasive at times.

    Lucien stands up. “It’s not raining yet… we should leave as soon as possible to avoid the storm.”

    Smirking, Saryna stands. “After you, Master Lucien.”

    To be continued...

    Coming up next post: Gainful employment! A new friend! And.... Pin: the magical bird
    For God's sake, read my story hour already!
    Dusk in the Land of Fading Stars: Femerus' Story Hour

  • #6
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    ø Ignore Torillan
    Very nice!! I really enjoyed the intro "Creation Myth". I will be looking forward to updates!!

    You may not be proud, but you certainly should be! Keep up the good work.
    "Excuse me while I whip this out."

  • #7
    Chapter 2, Continued

    After heading west for the better part of an hour, Saryna, Kerim and Lucien come to a crowded crossroads. Dozens of people mill about minding their own business. A dirty town crier rehashes last week’s news with a grating voice, while street vendors wave their ‘lizard on a stick’ at anyone who ventures too close.

    As the party moves through the throng, a young woman in a cleric’s garb comes barreling through the crowd, looking intently at the feet of as many people as possible. At the last second, Lucien darts aside to avoid being trampled.

    As she passes, Lucien manages to grab her arm.

    “Excuse me!”

    As soon as Lucien sees her face, however, he regrets having snapped at her. The girl seems possessed by an almost manic energy… her face is pale, as though frightened, and the tracks of recent tears stand out on her cheeks, reflecting iridescently in the morning’s light.

    The girl stops dead in her tracks and begins to tremble slightly. “Oh… my apologies sir. I… um… I’m sorry.” The blushes appearing on the girl’s cheeks contrast sharply with her pale, frightened complexion.

    “You seem to be in somewhat of a rush… you could have easily trampled… my short friend, here,” Lucien says as he gestures to Kerim. Kerim looks up at the girl’s face and is immediately struck by her fragility.

    The young cleric’s agitation only seems to increase. “I’m trying to find somebody, but all I have to go on is their shoes… it is no easy task.” As she talks, the girl continues to scan the feet of the passers-by.

    “What’s so special about the shoes?” asks Kerim. The girl bites her lip, and speaks without even looking at him.

    “They’re red… with a black eagle on the sides… I… I need to find them.”

    As Kerim begins to aid the girl in scanning the crowd’s feet, Lucien takes a step away and closes his eyes as though concentrating. The crowd seems to avoid him without even realizing it.

    Pin…be my eyes. Do you see any pedestrians about with red shoes on?

    No… not in the bustle. Why?

    Just curious… this… woman is looking for someone with them on. Do you think you could get a better angle on the crowd and keep looking?

    Sure.


    Meanwhile, Saryna is becoming impatient with what she dismisses as a minor distraction. “I thought we were out here to go job hunting, not shoe hunting.” The cleric is startled out of her search by the owner of this new voice, whom she had not noticed previously.

    The girl bows as she sees Saryna for the first time. “I am sorry to disturb you… madame.”

    Saryna’s eyes widen in shock at this totally unexpected display of respect. Laughter bubbles out of her mouth without her consent.

    “Ha! I’m no ‘madame.’ Why is it so important that you find this person anyways?”

    The young cleric’s face, if possible, becomes even paler.

    “They came into the temple… they destroyed… the Book. Then they killed… murdered…” The young girl chokes back a sob.

    “I have to find them. I must! They must pay for this sacrilege… in the name of the Father of Man.” As she mentions the Father, the girl genuflects and makes a gesture with her hand.

    Lucien continues to concentrate.

    Pin… progress?

    Nothing. What’s going on? Should I be looking for someone milling about, looking suspicious?

    Someone in a hurry… they just murdered someone. Red shoes with an eagle icon.

    Nice of them to wear such rare footware, then.

    I know… but it’s all we have to go on.

    I’m not seeing anyone… Whomever it is, I can’t see his feet, or he’s smart enough not to be walking around outside.

    I’m sure you did your best. Keep an eye out though.


    Saryna glances about haphazardly. “I don’t think they’d still be out in a crowd at this point. Cities like this always have sewers and other ways to get around without being seen.”

    Lucien seems to come out of his trance. “If he’s outside, he’s keeping an extremely low profile. I don’t suppose you know what his tracks look like?”

    The girl’s forehead crinkles in concentration. “They were boots… like yours I suppose. I… I’m not sure what the track looks like. I… I’m sorry.”

    Kerim pats the girl’s hand consolingly. “How is it that you only saw this person’s shoes, anyway? Did he come up and clock you on the head while you were kneeling?”

    The girl looks at Kerim, tears welling up in her eyes. Her voice trembles as she speaks.

    “…I hid. Father of Man forgive me.” The girl genuflects again, nearly falling as her shaking knees give way beneath her. “He would have killed me… he had a long knife.”

    Kerim continues to hold onto her hand. “Hey, it’s okay. Everyone gets scared now and again. And just think… if you had died, who’d be left to avenge everybody?”

    The girl looks at Kerim strangely and nods, trying to look fierce. “I… I expect retribution, and it will be dealt by my hand!”

    Saryna laughs. “What do you know of fighting? You’re but a child, and a cleric to boot. You’re next to useless with your temple-bred ways and your unworldly views… ‘people are born, people die.’ Bah!”

    Tears begin to leak from the young cleric’s eyes, despite her best efforts to keep them back. “I… I…”

    Kerim’s steely glance sets Saryna back a pace. “Hey! It’s called tact, why don’t you try it sometime? There’s no reason to give her a hard time here. She’s the one who’s suffered. Unlike some of us here, this girl’s sad story is actually sad! So LAY OFF!”

    The cleric’s relief is evident, though she didn’t expect a display of gallantry from such an unimposing figure. “Thank you. I… can I travel with you for a while? I can pay you… buy you rations or something.” The girl takes out a shiny piece of gold and holds it towards Kerim.

    Saryna’s eyes light up at the thought of being paid by the young girl, but Kerim waves away the gold. The girl returns it to her pouch, confused.

    “So will you help me?”

    Kerim smiles. “It just so happens that we’re free at the moment, so I don’t see why not. You’re welcome to travel with us for the time being.”

    Sulking, Saryna mutters under her breath. “Well I’m not free… but I’ll come along anyway.”

    Before Saryna has even finished her sentence, the cleric has a piece of gold in her hand again. Kerim slaps away Saryna’s hand before she can take it.

    “Would you stop that? We won’t accept your gold.”

    The girl looks confused, taking the gold piece out again. “But she wants this…”

    Kerim glares at Saryna for a moment before responding. “You’ll attract footpads, now put that away, please.”

    Saryna glares at Kerim as the girl returns the gold to her pouch. “Fine, then. Let’s get moving. Your eagle boots are long gone.”

    As the sun rises to its zenith, breaking through the haze of dark clouds, the group makes its way from northern residential Darumont to Southend: a district of commerce, trade and questionable goings-on. During the trip, the group learns that the girl’s name is Merileene and that she is, or was, a novice cleric at one of the local temples of The Father before it was destroyed. The Book in question turns out to have been the records and histories of the final destruction of the Father of Man. Any motive for such a desecration is not forthcoming.

    Before long, the pungent smell of commerce heralds their arrival in Southend; even more disreputable merchants and vendors attempt to woo the group with their impressive arrays of shiny, multicolored trash.

    The Sweeps building itself is very well maintained, two stories tall with a very sturdy looking oak door in front with the word “Sweeps” written above it in gilt lettering.

    Lucien pauses for a moment before he opens the Sweeps’ door. “I hope none of you are afraid of birds.” Mere moments after Lucien finishes speaking, a small hawk swoops out of the air and lands gracefully on the crooked end of Lucien’s staff, which in hindsight looks a bit like a perch.

    Lucien smiles at the bird. “This is Pin… my familiar. Pin, meet Saryna and Merileene. You know the short one already.” Pin looks at the women, makes a ‘wark!’ noise and starts preening. Merileene is entranced.

    “Is she your friend?” she asks.

    Lucien glances fondly at the bird. “My familiar,” he corrects. Then, seeing the confused look on Meri’s face, he continues. “A familiar is a wizard’s magical animal companion.”

    Meri’s enthusiasm drops sharply out of misunderstanding. “Oh… she isn’t a real bird?”

    Lucien laughs. “Oh… Pin is real alright. She’s just extremely intelligent and resourceful. Had there been any red boots in the area, Pin would have seen them. I had her searching for them mere seconds after you mentioned them to us.”

    “Oh… I’m very sorry,” Meri stammers, afraid she’s somehow offended Lucien. Lucien doesn’t notice.

    Kerim impatiently opens the door and motions for everyone else to follow. “Let’s go! Meaningful employment awaits!”

    Upon entering the Sweeps building, everyone notices a marked contrast between the interior of the building and the dirty marketplace outside. The Sweeps reception area is quite large, with several comfortable plush chairs, a fireplace and a few doors leading to other parts of the office. Kerim quickly makes the rounds… looking for a service bell, trying out all the chairs, warming his feet by the fire and picking up an introductory “About the Sweeps” brochure. Finally seeing the sign that reads “please be seated,” Kerim returns to the most comfortable of the plush chairs and sits down to read the pamphlet. Saryna notices that nearer the ceiling are trophies of the hunt… heads of monsters and beasts slain by the organization, named weapons and so forth. The portraits are what catch Lucien’s eye… pictures of very impressive looking men and women with their notable accomplishments listed on a plaque underneath.

    After a few minutes, a well-dressed man comes through one of the rear doors and approaches the group.

    “Hello, welcome to the Sweeps. How may we be of assistance?”

    Kerim jumps off his chair and shakes the man’s hand before invited to do so. “Actually, we were hoping that we could be of assistance to you.”

    The man gives everyone an appraising glance before responding. “Oh… I see. Aspiring members then? Please come with me. We can discuss this in my office.”

    After everyone is settled in the office, the man begins his speech. “To become a part of our organization, you must first understand what it is that we do. We like to call ourselves ‘Troubleshooters.’ In greater detail, we cover the entire range of possible problems that people may bring to us. If a person has lost something, we find it. We will accept any problem within the limits of our capabilities. Consequently, we refuse to be members of any military support groups… we simply lack the resources to become an effective mercenary provider. In addition, we will refuse outright any job or task that would endanger our position here in Darumont as an upstanding organization. Any questions? No? Then tell me about yourselves.”

    Kerim begins. “Well, I’m a freelance adventurer and finder of lost items myself… I have a good amount of experience working on solo projects, but I recognize how a team dynamic could be helpful.”

    Lucien goes next. “I’m a mage. I seek the betterment of myself and my power through any available avenue, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the natural order of things.”

    “I’m a freelancer as well,” adds Saryna, daring Lucien to disparage the term. “Though I’m quite good with a sword, I excel at marksmanship. I work well alone or in a team.”

    Merileene, still in the process of coming to terms with mercenary work, mutters something about being a healer and their importance in battles. The man behind the desk however, hardly notices. Favorably impressed by the group’s diversity as well as their refreshing straightforwardness, he makes a decision.

    “It sounds as though you’re a very well rounded group. Very well… I suppose it couldn’t hurt to give you a trial run. Simply put, if you don’t bungle, you’ll be welcome to join the Sweeps as initiates. Now, however, we talk business.”

    For the next half hour, the man details the Sweeps rules and payment policy. When he’s done, he gives the details of the assignment.

    “There is a warehouse on the docks… recently a shipment arrived from several Amari carracks. I’m assuming it’s weaponry to be sold on the market, but that’s unimportant. They have a rather large contingent of guards there, but they want a few more hands, and you could handle this easily with so many people there. Just don’t fall asleep.” The man hands Lucien a slip of paper. “This slip has my sigil on it. Present it to anyone that asks who you are, and identify yourselves as Sweeps. Please be at the docks within an hour.”

    Thank you’s are exchanged, hands are shaken, and the intrepid adventurers set forth on their first joint venture… guard duty.

    Sigh…

    To be continued…

    Next post: Fight! Fight! Fight! …and Pin takes a nap.
    Last edited by Femerus the Gnecro; Wednesday, 17th July, 2002 at 04:52 PM.
    For God's sake, read my story hour already!
    Dusk in the Land of Fading Stars: Femerus' Story Hour

  • #8
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    ø Ignore Trevalon Moonleirion
    Great story hour! Your style certainly kept me involved with the story, and the story itself is very entertaining. The creation myth at the beginning of the thread was really original, and gives some nice background into the campaign world.

    I'm looking forward to more--I can't really say how to improve anything at all!
    "My name is Will... Will Negates."

    Creative Mountain Games--They do the work, so you can play!

    GO ILLINI!!!

  • #9
    What do you story hour addicts look for in a good thread? Lots of dialogue, copious descriptions, broad narrative or rapid fire reparte?
    You don't need any advice. Your style is your style, and from what I've read, its all good.

    In particular, I loved the thieve's maze thing and the Sweeps HQ. The thieves maze thing was just well written (even though a little cliche - but hey, just call it classic) and I got a quick grip of the Kerim character. Sweeps just made me laugh when you mentioned the brochure.

    Looking forward to the next installment!
    The CR-never-applies Story Hour A Chronicle of Ice, Luck and Honour continues with Chapter 13: Stairway to Heaven Updated 19th December.

  • #10

    Chapter 2 goes the way of the dodo

    Chapter 2, concluded

    After an uneventful trip to the docks, the team takes time to explore their surroundings somewhat in the hours before dusk. The docks are crowded at this time of day… at least a dozen ships of varying sizes float lazily in the river, resting as though from a hard journey. The setting sun reflects brightly in the river until it falls beneath the canopy of the forests on the west bank… birds fly swiftly from tree to tree, finishing up their daily business before settling in for the night. As the sun sinks lower and the workmen depart, the only audible sounds are the farewell chirpings of the birds and the lapping of the river’s water against the piers.

    Night falls, and with it comes the strange, distorted mirror world of evening. The pale moon rises, in mockery of the yellow sun, while hundreds of bats flitter noiselessly through the sky in imitation of their feathered brethren. The lingering storm clouds refuse to allow starlight through their dark shroud, and a light river’s fog begins to seep over the area.

    It’s a perfect night for a robbery.

    The party has been instructed to guard the west wall of the warehouse, which they’re doing in shifts. The warehouse itself is an elegant design (for a warehouse) with a second level open-air catwalk extending around the entire building, so that stationed guards can watch the inside and the outside of the warehouse with equal ease.

    During the third shift, the night is beginning to turn an ashen shade of gray, as the inevitable sun threatens to shatter the night’s peace as it does every morning. Dawn is still three hours away.

    Kerim and Merileene (and Pin, ostensibly) are awake for this shift… they huddle close to their cloaks in a futile attempt to keep the dark morning’s chill from penetrating their bones. Nary a sound can be heard, save for the muffled movement of the unsleeping river against the docks. Until, that is… they hear what sounds like a strangled cry, followed closely by a muffled thump.

    Kerim and Meri look nervously at each other, neither of them exactly sure what they should do.

    Kerim whispers “Wake the others.” As Meri moves to comply, she notices several figures sneaking across the lower wall. Below them, one of the female guards is lying on the ground… from this distance it’s impossible to tell if she’s alive or dead.

    The figures footpad silently across the wall, jumping down to the floor without a sound. Two of the four head towards the hapless inner warehouse guards while the other two make for the warehouse’s lower east gate.

    “Let’s brighten things up, shall we?” asks Lucien as he begins to cast. Magical streaks of energy shoot forth from his fingertips, striking two of the thieves in the back, but not before they manage to drop another one of the guards. Everyone is awake by this point… Saryna strings her bow as she prepares to shoot, while Kerim judges the distance from the catwalk to the ground below. Lucien, bringing another spell to mind, opens a mental link with Pin for reconnaissance.

    Pin… keep a watch on the gate and let me know if anyone manages to leave the building.

    Wha?!? Go away… sleeping.


    Meanwhile, the remaining guard, beset by two foes at once, drops to the ground, her body cruelly pierced by one of the thief’s swords. Lucien angrily releases another spell, this time aimed at the thief by the gate. Bolts of pure force slam into the thief’s back, but he begins to open the gate.

    Merileene, horrified by the death she is witnessing, decides to act. Running as fast as her legs will carry her, she makes for the nearest stairway, fully intending to charge at the murderous thieves as soon as she arrives at the bottom floor. Kerim, on the other hand, decides to eschew stairs altogether. Taking a deep breath, he makes a running leap from the catwalk and lands on the ground in a perfect summersault, his momentum carrying him to his feet. Seconds later, he’s running full tilt towards the thieves. Stealth be damned!

    Having strung her bow and nocked an arrow, Saryna takes aim at the thief opening the gate. Though his companions have gathered around him to shield him from the wizard’s magic, they can’t keep a perfectly placed arrow from imbedding itself deep within the man’s thigh. He cries out in pain, but continues to winch open the gate. Suddenly, several figures slip into the warehouse from the opening he has made.

    (author’s note: this is simply the first of many encounters where we refused to admit, or even notice that we were outnumbered and outclassed. I’m still amazed we survived)

    On his way to the gate, Kerim is intercepted by one of the thieves, who manages to slice a deep gash along Kerim’s arm with a rapier. Before Kerim can react, another thief bends down to the remaining guard slices his rapier across her body in a rapid arc… blood sprays from her neck and she goes limp.

    In a loud voice, Lucien calls forth the power for another spell. Arcane energies coalesce into a sphere of fire, which Lucien then mentally ‘rolls’ at the thieves clustered around the gate. They avoid it easily. Merileene, in the meantime, clanks noisily down the stairs, finally arriving on the field of battle… totally out of breath.

    Suddenly, a crooked grin splitting his face, one of the thieves by the gate approaches Kerim, drawing a greatsword as he moves in for the attack.

    (author’s note: How did he manage to sneak over the wall with that behemoth weighing him down?)

    His muscles flex impressively as he brings the greatsword down at Kerim, who easily dodges out of its path. Kerim’s dagger shoots out like lightning, but is in turn deflected by the first man’s lightning quick rapier.

    “Enough of this,” mutters Saryna, nocking another arrow. Seconds after she lets it fly, Kerim nearly faints as it whizzes past his head to spout unceremoniously from the chest of the greatsword wielding maniac. He staggers, clutching his chest… but does not fall.

    Suddenly, a war cry is heard from beyond the gate, and several armed guards enter the fray. They quickly engage the enemy thieves in a desperate life or death struggle. Two of the thieves hold back though. One begins to chant as he casts what can only be a healing spell for the badly wounded thief by the gate. The second smirks as he points to the catwalk and speaks a word of magic. Lucien swears vividly as the inky black of a magical darkness spell surrounds him. Saryna’s cursing indicates that she is trapped within the sphere as well. Unbeknownst to Lucien and Saryna, however, mere seconds after opening the door to the ground level, Meri is stopped a surely as if someone had glued her feet to the floor… blinded.

    One brutally effective spell later, Kerim finds himself facing six thieves, with only two hapless guards to support him.

    This day couldn’t possibly get any worse.

    In fact, it doesn’t. Lucien uses his last mental image of the battle’s layout to bring his flaming sphere 30 ft towards him, mowing down one of the thieves in the process. Then, taking a cue from Kerim, Lucien hangs down from catwalk by his hands and drops to the ground perfectly, rolling up into A Dramatic Pose of Righteous Fury and Magical Impressiveness!

    Unfortunately, the one athletic moment in Lucien’s life goes unseen by all, as he is still within the sphere of darkness. However… Lucien quickly takes advantage of this situation and casts a spell, making himself invisible. Like a good chess player, Lucien is already several moves ahead of his opponents. All his friends have to do now is live until he can act.

    Merileene, in the meantime, has yet to lay smack to jack, having wasted time using the stairs only to suddenly find herself caught in the darkness spell. She moves towards the sound of battle in front of her until her head is barely poking out from the black sphere of magic and surveys the scene.

    Her heart freezes as she sees the chaos in front of her… and she does nothing.

    Kerim, beset by two thieves at once, is barely managing to hold his own. His agility is just barely keeping him alive… it is obvious that he won’t be able to keep up this pace much longer. The two guards on the other hand, each engaged in battle with one thief each, are obviously outclassed. Rapiers flick out like the tongues of twin snakes, turning aside swords and inflicting deep wounds with equal proficiency. Meanwhile, the two remaining thieves, though badly injured, are still strong enough to carry out their mission. Crate after crate of boxes find themselves loaded on an empty wagon by the gate.

    In frustration, Saryna begins to curse in a strange amalgamation of common and Elven. Hoping to find her way out of the darkness, she begins to inch her way along the catwalk.

    The air ripples slightly as Lucien pierces the cover of the darkness spell and surveys the situation. Two thieves are still busily packing up the wagon while the other four are engaged in battle with two guards and the halfling. Lucien smiles as he positions himself behind the four thieves, who have unwittingly played right into Lucien’s hands. Placing his hands in a double fan-like position, Lucien begins to chant the eerie words of magic. Great jets of flame billow from his hands as he winks back into visibility.

    The thieves don’t know what hit them. Two of the thieves die instantly… the heat from the flames searing their lungs, stealing what little breath remained in their bodies. Kerim and the guards, untouched by the flames, suddenly realize that the tide has been turned. Again.

    Merileene, shocked into action by the surprise immolation, rushes forward and swings her mace in a heavy blow, intending to cave in the skull of the nearest n’er do well.

    *whiff*

    Kerim, relieved to have support, quickly runs between the legs of his remaining opponent, shoving his knife upwards as he moves. The man drops, mercifully dead. As the two guards overpower their enemy, Lucien sees the final two thieves loading the final crate onto the wagon… 80 feet away. They’re a mess. One of them has an arrow sticking out of his leg and energy burns on his back. The second has several knife wounds and what looks like a line of burnt flesh from his ankles to his blackened head. Unfortunately, by the time anyone gets to the gate, they’ll be long gone.

    Suddenly, the two men fall to the ground, dead… an arrow protruding from each of their backs.

    Glancing upwards, the team can just make out Saryna in the darkness, grinning like a cat with canary feathers in her mouth.

    By dawn, the crates had been returned to the warehouse, the bodies of the thieves picked clean (by the rare scavenger known as the ‘adventurer bird’) and the slain guards lain out in a row of honor, their swords clasped in their hands. Merileene, having already healed everyone’s wounds, sits in the corner, recovering from the chaotic emotions of her first real battle.

    By nine o’clock, the team has been paid, thanked and sent on their merry way. Kerim is quick to point out that they’ve already missed at least two good breakfasts, and hightails it back to the inn where everyone takes the opportunity to eat, sleep and heal. In the interim, Lucien takes time to sift through their newly acquired inventory. He is pleased to find several scrolls and potions as well as a half full wand of “Burning Hands.” The thieves, it seems, were very well equipped… their armor and weaponry is of extremely high quality. They must have been hired by someone very well funded. But who?

    To be continued…

    Next post: A pompous new friend! A mysterious, creepy-ass stranger! Kerim and Lucien oversleep… and Saryna finds out why the rogue should always take point.
    For God's sake, read my story hour already!
    Dusk in the Land of Fading Stars: Femerus' Story Hour

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