Sniktch's Story Hour Prelude - From the Beginning (UPDATED 04/22)




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    Sniktch's Story Hour Prelude - From the Beginning (UPDATED 04/22)

    I am now going to attempt to reconstruct the events that led up to our party entering The City of the Spider Queen .A brief introduction to our original cast of characters:

    Welby Hilltopple – Male Halfling Barbarian 1
    A fierce warrior from the Panther tribe, he has been separated from his people by the lizardfolk incursion into the Tangles. Escaping with only his grandmother, who did not survive the journey north, he has vowed to return and drive the monsters from his homeland when he has the strength. Despite his fierce appearance, Welby has a heart of gold, and will go out of his way to assist those in need.

    The Royston Crow – Male Half-Elf Fighter 1
    The “Royston Crow” is a man without a past. Welby discovered the young warrior in an icy field choked with the bodies of men, horses, and orcs. The halfling saved his life, but the “Crow” discovered he could remember nothing of his past before he awoke to find the feral halfling standing over him. He follows Welby now out of gratitude for saving his life and in the hopes that he may find clues to his hidden past.

    Stumpwater Jack – Male Dwarf Priest of Clangeddin Silverbeard 1
    Jack hails from the mines of Karaz-a-Garodok, an ancient dwarf hold troubled by an old curse. Karaz-a-Garodok is the richest source of mithral in the known world; else the dwarves would have abandoned it long ago. Every so often, a pocket of metal is found that appears to be mithral, but when struck breaks open to ooze a foul-smelling oil. Disaster and tragedy follow these discoveries within a week. The dwarves of Karaz-a-Garodok are said to have the foulest tempers and worse dispositions of their race. Jack is no exception. He has journeyed to Travensburg with his companion Eli hoping to find clues to the nature of the curse in the ruined dwarf hold outside of town.

    Eli Mournsong – Male Elf Wizard 1
    A member of a tribe of griffon riding mountain elves, Eli’s clan is closely tied to the dwarves of Karaz-a-Garodok. Long ago they signed a treaty of mutual support and aid. At their coming of age, a young dwarf and elf will be paired together for training, learning how to best complement each other’s skill at arms or magical power. Eli and Jack have been partners now for a dozen years, and Eli has grown to love his unpleasant companion in spite of himself. When Jack announced he was journeying to the crumbling dwarven ruins outside of Travensburg, Eli immediately volunteered to go with him.

    “Filthy” Ike – Male Half-Orc Rogue 1
    Ichen Gar, better known to the world as “Filthy” Ike, wrote his own wonderful biography and turned it in to me before our first session. I still have it, and will put it up as the next post.

    They are joined very shortly by Artimas Sendant, a male human wizard (necromancer) 1, but he does not actually arrive until the second session. Grick and Quinn were actually living in Philadelphia when the campaign began, and they don’t show up until they moved back to Hagerstown. We’ll get to them a little later in the timeline.
    Last edited by Sniktch; Thursday, 22nd April, 2004 at 07:27 PM.

 

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    Ichen Gar

    Filthy Ike began life in the orc village of Kershan Falls in the Eastern Crown Mountains. Born to a human slave, he was raised by one of the scouts of his family and given the name Ichen Gar. Growing up amongst the chaotic and warlike orcs, Ichen knew he was different. And if he ever came close to forgetting, there were several members of the tribe who were more than willing to give him constant reminders. Finally, when Ichen “came of age” on his 10th birthday and would normally be inducted into an Orc Warband, he questioned why he had to become a fighter when he didn’t see a good reason to raid the nearby human and dwarven settlements. He thought the tribe could exist, and maybe even flourish, by hunting and mining for themselves rather than taking from the others. No male had ever done such a thing before, and the elders couldn’t fathom why Ichen would, and wouldn’t forgive him his transgression. He was immediately banished from the village, with the orcs stoning him all the way out.

    Ichen, after wandering the wilderness for several weeks, finally came to Newburg, a large town, almost a city. Slipping in at night to avoid the surly looking guards and the interrogation that would surely come, he found shelter in an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse became his home, as he vainly searched for work in town. Of course, the humans wanted nothing to do with him and shunned him, some silently, some in more violent ways. It was during one such encounter that Ichen became an outlaw in the human world like he was in the orc world. A mean-spirited farmer, seeing Ichen venture onto his property, attacked with a woodaxe without waiting for an explanation. Defending himself, Ichen grappled with the farmer. In the struggle, the farmer fell on his axe, suffering a mortal wound. Naturally, the townsfolk wouldn’t listen to Ichen’s explanation, thinking him a barbaric murderer. Once again, Ichen was forced to flee. Taking some supplies from an outlying farm (Ichen’s first foray into thievery), he took to the trails again.

    Disenchanted by his experiences with both orcs and humans, Ichen turned his back on the world, concentrating solely on protecting and providing for himself. He became a highwayman, robbing human merchants travelling to and from the few towns in the Maarten foothills, west of the mountains where Ichen grew up. Ichen did make a few acquaintances in this time, human and dwarven men who, outcasts like himself, took to robbery to survive, but never trusted anyone enough to call them a true friend. Finally, after a particularly close encounter with a merchant who’s guard was better trained and armed than usual, Ichen decided it was time to move on from this part of the world. Ironically enough, Ichen managed to get hired on as a travelling guard for a large caravan headed to the city of Ravensdale to the west.

    Ravensdale was a wonder to Ichen, who had never seen a settlement of more than a few hundred people. Fully 5000 people called Ravensdale home. Humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, and even a small gnomish community all existed together in this bustling metropolis. Surely here Ichen could find acceptance, if anywhere, he thought. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. As tolerant as most were to the other, fairer races, everyone still held orcs in low regard and wanted little to do with them. Shunned again, Ichen was forced to return to thievery to survive.

    In a city of this size, Ichen found it a little easier to disappear from the normal perceptions of the everyday populace. Living in the shadows, Ichen was able to survive, and even thrive a little, by stealing from the market, picking pockets of drunken revelers at large celebrations, and occasionally mugging a deserving fellow. Ichen still didn’t believe in violence for the sake of violence, but if he noticed a particularly rude, and wealthy looking, patron of the market or inns mistreating any of the less fortunate, like Ichen used to be, he would have no qualms about knocking him over the head and relieving him of all of his valuables. Then, after pulling off a surprisingly difficult pickpocket, Ichen’s life changed forever.

    The purse Ichen had lifted didn’t belong to any ordinary person, Ichen soon discovered. It belonged to Jordan Steele, an undercaptain in the Ravensdale Thieves Guild. Now, Ichen had always avoided the guild, as he felt they wouldn’t accept him. But, upon discovering who's property he owned, he knew he couldn’t keep out of their way any longer. Rather than wait for someone to find him, he went in search of the guild leaders. Using a combination of daring, skill, and blind luck, Ichen managed to break into one of the suites owned by Phillippe LaCroix, the second in command of the entire guild. There, Ichen waited for Phillipe to come home, where Ichen promptly returned Jordan’s purse. Claiming he did it on purpose to prove his worth, Ichen asked for entrance into the guild, knowing it was the only way he could continue to survive in Ravensdale. Phillipe, rather than be outraged at the intrusion, was intrigued by the young half-orc. Promising him immunity for his actions to this point, but admonishing him to never try it again, Phillipe sponsored Ichen into the guild.

    Life improved seemingly overnight for Ichen. He had contacts, he had a permanent residence, although he never gave up his boltholes throughout the city, he had resources. He even had people he thought he might learn to call friend. The other thieves even gave him a nickname after a particularly rough, but successful, job that required a trip through the sewers of Ravensdale, Filthy Ike. Ike, as he preferred to be called now when among humans, started to settle down. He thought he would stay in Ravensdale, and the guild, for the rest of his life. He might have, too, if the Crusaders hadn’t come to town.

    The Crusaders are a band of holy warriors from the capital of Umbria. Intent on wiping out evil in all its forms wherever they found it, they quickly latched onto the Thieves Guild as their focus in Ravensdale. The Crusaders are vigilant, relentless, zealous, and completely unforgiving of those they deem in the wrong. They quickly made life difficult for the guild members, forcing them into hiding to avoid the public executions that occurred whenever one of them were caught. Finally, the guild leaders, in a secret meeting, decided the only to ensure their survival was to temporarily disband the guild and scatter the members. All guild members were advised to immediately leave Ravensdale, taking with them all knowledge of the guild and its operations, and not return for at least 2 years.

    So, in the fall of his 16th year, Ichen Gar, better known to the world at large as Filthy Ike, found himself on the trails again, wandering the land without a home.
    Check out the action in The City of the Spider Queen Story Hour
    Or see how it all started in the Prelude
    A group of teenagers trapped in a sinister government experiment - can they survive Project Genesys? A Mutants & Masterminds Story Hour.


    "You have invoked an evil older than man!! Older than croutons!! Now I feed!!!" - Happy Noodle Boy

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    Poor Filthy Ike.....
    Read The Return of the Heroes of the Vilhon Reach or of their past and find out where all started
    Then check out The Traveller Adventure d20 for something a little different! and the Traveller Adventure d20 Gallery for the dramatis personae or for a little comic book wackiness go to Champions Presents: Legion Extreme! [Hero 5th Ed]


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    Prelude

    The man awoke to blinding whiteness. In a panic he looked around himself, but he was aware only of whiteness and pain. Someone’s hand grabbed him, shaking. Dimly he heard a voice. “Hey, you not dead. Dead if sleep now. Get up, I help you.” Gradually the world became a little more focused. He saw a fierce little man standing over him; a wild looking, child sized man dressed in furs, with feathers in his hair. “Come on, get up now.” The hands again, pulling at him.

    He groaned and sat up, shaking his head to clear it. It only made the throbbing worse. The little man kept tugging at him, urging him to stand. He scanned the area - he had been laying in a snowy plain, the stark white of the snow stained now with blood. Dark shapes lay unmoving all around him, men, and horses, and some sort of monster, a horrible twisted parody of men with upturned noses, greenish tinged skin, and protruding tusks.

    “What happened?” he asked the scowling figure urging him to hurry. He honestly couldn’t remember. Trying to dig deeper and further back, he found he honestly couldn’t remember anything at all!

    “Orcs. Kill all men and horses. All but you. You lucky.” The small person paused a moment, then continued, “Welby,” and tentatively extended his hand.

    The man accepted the hand and shook, then allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. His head swam and he staggered, but Welby caught him and supported his weight. The halfling, for the man seemed to think that Welby must be a halfling, although he wasn’t sure exactly what a halfling was, began leading him away from the battle site.

    “We must leave. More orcs near,” the halfling explained.

    “Thank you, Welby, I think you’ve saved me. I’m not sure at the moment. I seem to have forgotten quite a lot, frankly, including who I am.” As they walked, he searched his pockets, his belt. He wore a rapier, a nice weapon but without any sort of stamp or symbol, and a shirt of chain links. He had a pouch with a few mixed coins in it. He wore a quiver half full of crossbow bolts, so he must have been carrying a crossbow, and he could remember what that was and how to use it. Finally, in his left boot he found a dagger. It had a silver edged blade and the hilt was designed to resemble a crow, painted with loving attention to detail and with two obsidian chips for the bird’s eyes.

    He was jolted by a brief vision; a small snatch of memory that teased him but revealed nothing. He remembered buying this dagger, having it commissioned. The smith was a master at his craft and the best smith in Royston. That was it! He had come here from Royston! He had come here from Royston and for some reason he couldn’t go back.

    It was not much but it would have to do for now. He continued to let Welby lead him, wincing at each step. To take his mind off of the ache his body felt he tried to start a conversation with the halfling. “Well, my friend Welby, I still do not know my name, but you must have something to call me by if we are to travel together. Perhaps my memories and abilities will appear again in time, perhaps not. For now, however, I will choose a name. You can call me the Royston Crow.”

    Welby shook his head. “Talk too much. Save breath. We have long walk.”

    Probably very good advice, the man thought to himself. He put all his concentration into placing one foot in front of the other, and the strange pair disappeared into the snow.
    Last edited by Sniktch; Friday, 11th October, 2002 at 01:12 AM.
    Check out the action in The City of the Spider Queen Story Hour
    Or see how it all started in the Prelude
    A group of teenagers trapped in a sinister government experiment - can they survive Project Genesys? A Mutants & Masterminds Story Hour.


    "You have invoked an evil older than man!! Older than croutons!! Now I feed!!!" - Happy Noodle Boy

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    Prelude (cont.)

    Welby was worried about his companion. The “Royston Crow,” as he referred to himself now, had remembered nothing new on their trek north. Worse yet, the young man’s wounds had begun to fester and he had lapsed into delirium the past two days. If Welby did not find help for him soon, he would certainly perish. Then it would have been all for naught. Still, he could not have left him in that field, where he had found this one living being surrounded by the dead.

    They had crossed over from the plains into a forest after a day, and Welby loved walking through the wood as it lay in the icy grip of winter. The bare skeletons of the trees standing stark and naked against the background of gray and white had a harsh beauty, and triggered pleasant memories of growing up in the Tangles. If he had had no other worries, Welby would have loved nothing more than to explore these woods and relish the crisp, clean air and slumbering country, but as it was he wished for the woods to end soon. He did not expect to find aid for the Crow out here in the wilds.

    The trees thinned as night approached, and Welby thought he saw distant lights twinkling in the twilight. Excited, Welby picked up the pace, eliciting a groan and a curse from his barely coherent companion. Cresting a hill, Welby found himself staring down into a valley cleared of trees, a broad, snowy plain. Nestled in the heart of the valley lay a village, no more than two dozen buildings. Welby urged Crow to walk faster again, his hope growing as they approached the small hamlet.
    ______________________________________________

    Stumpwater Jack and Eli Mournsong looked up as the door slammed open, admitting the howling wind. Few were in the inn on this night, just the innkeeper and the few regulars who had braved the cold, in addition to Jack, Eli, and a cloaked figure who stayed in the shadows of the room. Two figures, one short and one tall, both heavily bundled, staggered in. The tall one immediately slumped to the floor as the other, child-sized figure forced the door shut.

    “We need priest!” The small figure pulled his hood from his face, revealing the most feral halfling anyone present had ever seen. He pointed to the figure slumped next to him. “Man hurt bad. Where find priest?”

    Jack rose and approached the halfling. “I am Stumpwater Jack, a priest of Clangeddin Silverbeard, Dwarf Lord of Battle. My healing abilities’re limited, but I may be able to help yer friend. What ails him?”

    “Fever. Found him wounded in snow. Clean wound, but not heal. Wound turn bad, fever set in.” The halfling knelt by the stricken man and began removing the heavy layers of clothing he wore. He continued, “Me Welby. Him say he Royston Crow.”

    Jack knelt to examine the stricken half-elf. He had a nasty cut on his forehead that was obviously festering. Jack knitted his brow; he could stabilize the man, but he would still need a day or two to recover. He muttered a prayer of healing and saw some of the swelling go down, some of the color return to the Crow’s cheeks. He looked up at Welby and spread his hands. “ I’ve done all I can fer now. He should get recover, but it will take a day or two.”

    Welby thanked him and procured a room at the inn, using a couple of coins he took from the Crow’s beltpouch, then Jack and Eli helped him carry the unconscious half-elf upstairs and lay him in bed. An ominous growl rumbled through the small room. Jack and Eli looked alarmed, but Welby merely held his stomach and blushed. Chuckling, the tall elf led the way back down to their table. Welby purchased a large bowl of rabbit stew and then joined them at the table. Obviously not recognizing the purpose of his spoon, the halfling fell to devouring the stew with his small, pudgy fingers.

    Eli tried to hide his distaste for the young halfling uncivilized eating habits. “So, ahh, I don’t believe I have ever met a halfling of such a, ahh, interesting appearance before, Welby. From whence do you hail and what finds you in Travensburg in the dead of winter?”

    Welby stared at him blankly until Jack cut in, “He means where’re ya from and what’re ya doin here.”

    “Oh. Lizards come to home so me leave. Me find Crow and he need help, so we come to town.” He raised a thick, bushy eyebrow at Eli, “Why you here?”

    Jack answered, “We came fer the ruins. Jus two miles outside o town is the ancient dwarf hold o Duernfast. My friend Eli and I reckon to search the ruins, see what we find. Care to join us? We could use another axe if anythin is still livin down there.”

    “Hmm, ok. Sounds fun, me go.”
    __________________________________________

    Ichen Gar sat in his corner, sipping a mug of ale and listening to the three new companions’ conversation. He was intrigued – anything would be better than sitting in this bar all winter, waiting for the Crusaders to catch up to him. Besides, it looked like they could use someone of his talents. He rose and approached the table.

    “Mind if I join you?” His harsh growling voice cut through the discussion they were having.

    Jack looked up to see a huge figure standing over them, dressed in black leather. He was possibly the ugliest human anyone at the table had ever seen, with a piggish, upturned snout and long fangs protruding over his bottom lip. He reached for his axe, forgetting that he had left it upstairs. “Orc-blood!” he spat.

    Eli grabbed his arm and restrained him, “Yes, Jack, obviously so. And if I were so quick to judge a man by his appearance, I would have never traveled south with you and you would have died in the wilds. At least hear what the man has to say.” He turned to the newcomer, “Excuse my friend, he has never been the most tolerant soul. Please join us; I would be glad to hear what you have to say.”

    Ike stared at the dwarf a moment before taking a seat. “I couldn’t help but overhear you speaking about the ruins outside of town. I find myself at a bit of a loose end right now, and I’m sure I could help a lot with my skills.”

    “Bah, and what’d those be?” Jack rumbled.

    Ichen opened his cloak and took a leather case from his belt. Laying it open on the table, he revealed rows of small wires, picks, tumblers, and other strange tools. He grinned an uneven, toothy smile over the table as he explained, “I’m a master locksmith. I can find and disable any trap and open any lock you find in those ruins, or my name ain’t Filthy Ike.”

    Jack snorted, “Ya mean yer a thief. An orc-blood and a thief, why aren’t I surprised?”

    Eli glanced sharply at Jack before turning back to Ike. “Pay him no mind, his bark is far worse than his bite.” Jack snorted again at this, but Eli cut him off, “You are correct, I believe we could use an expert on this foray. Besides, as Jack just said, an extra swordarm is always good to have. It will be good to have your company, Ike. I am Eli Mournsong, and my companions Stumpwater Jack and Welby. Rest for now; we will not be departing until the storm breaks.”
    __________________________________________

    The Crow was well enough to join them for breakfast the next day. As they sat around the table, swapping stories and becoming better acquainted with each other, the door opened and an, imperious, well-dressed figure entered. Removing his fine furs, the man came to stand before their table. He was tall and approaching middle age, with gray beginning to enter into his beard and the hair at his temples. He stood over the companions and caught them with a piercing, blue-eyed stare.

    “Greetings and welcome! I am Lord Alexei Travens, ruler of this village. My men have told me that a band of young adventurers was staying in town, and I have a problem I believe you can help me with. As you know, the winter has been especially harsh. Unfortunately, this came after a poor harvest, and the village larders are nearly empty. We were expecting a shipment of food from Ravensburg to arrive two days ago; in fact, I dispatched several of the young men of the village to meet the supply wagon yesterday. They did not return, and we have received no word of them or the wagon. It is possible they have merely been delayed by the storm, but this is a matter of life and death for many of our people. I ask you, please, travel down the eastern road that runs past the ruins and see if you can discover the cause of the delay. We are not a rich people, but I will reward you if you can bring the foodstuffs safely back to town.”

    It took less than a minute for them to consider the proposal before they accepted. Bundling themselves in their winter gear, the five bold travelers exited the inn and began to trudge across the snowfall covering the eastern road.
    Check out the action in The City of the Spider Queen Story Hour
    Or see how it all started in the Prelude
    A group of teenagers trapped in a sinister government experiment - can they survive Project Genesys? A Mutants & Masterminds Story Hour.


    "You have invoked an evil older than man!! Older than croutons!! Now I feed!!!" - Happy Noodle Boy

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    The supply wagon

    Welby crested the hill and held up his hand to halt the others. Squinting into the wind, he could make out figures moving in the icy field below and he discovered the fate of the supply wagon. A heavily cloaked figure struggled to lead an overburdened horse off of the road, his shouted curses just barely reaching Welby’s ears over the wind. Two large brutish humanoids in fur lined scale mail stood watch with greataxes held ready. The two sentries were distracted by the efforts of their companion, pointing at him as he wrestled the horse and laughing. Around them in the snow lay the wreckage of the wagon and the corpses of the townsfolk who had been its escort. Patches of crimson stained the otherwise pristine white plain.

    Welby crept back behind the hill to the others. He held up three fingers and explained, ”All people dead. Two pig-snouts with axes watching third drag horse off road. They not watch close.”

    The others considered this information. Eli spoke first, ”If I understand our diminutive savage correctly, the bandits, for I assume they are such, will be easy to take unawares. We should hit them hard and fast – though we outnumber them, orcs, as I guess them to be, are nothing to underestimate in battle.”

    Ike spoke next as the others tried to comprehend the long-winded elf. “I think I agree. I think we should try to outflank them. I’m sure Welby and I could sneak around to the side and catch them in a crossfire. We should try to take them out with our bows if possible, it’ll be a lot less dangerous than facing those axe-men up close.”

    Jack scowled, “Bah, I ain’t scared o any two bit orc swingin an axe. Only three? I say charge.”

    The Crow joined the discussion. “No, I agree with the others. From what Welby told me, orcs are responsible for my current condition. With the distance separating us, to charge would be to give away all the advantage we have. I’m all for Ike’s plan.”

    “Agreed,” Eli said, “Ike and Welby, try to take up position. We will start firing on the creatures at the count of one hundred – wait until they are focused on us and then join in.”

    Welby nodded, then he and Ike began creeping away as the others took up position near the top of the hill.
    __________________________________________

    Marsem Trember let out a stream of foul oaths as he struggled with the packhorse. The ambush had gone flawlessly, the townsfolk falling quickly to his crossbow and his hired orc thugs. However, this had to be the most stubborn animal he had ever encountered, and his bestial allies were absolutely no help now.

    “Well, don’t just stand there gawking!” he shouted at them. “Help me drag this stinking animal off the road! We need to get out of sight.”

    He triggered only more laughter. These two were enjoying his discomfort far too much; he would have some words with their warboss when they returned to the cave. Marsem Trember was not going to accept being laughed at by two simple brutes. If his brother had been present, he would have already disciplined the pair, but Aldin had stayed behind to continue the excavations, and he did not trust the orcs’ loyalties enough to push them while he was alone.

    What was that sound? “Silence!” he snapped. The orcs quieted and he heard it clearly, a faint battlecry coming from the low hill to the west. He heard another voice briefly, “No, wait Jack, damn it!” and then a crossbow bolt cut through the air, plowing into the snow about ten feet short of their position. Following the direction the bolt came from, Marsem saw an armored dwarf charging through the knee-deep snow, brandishing his axe overhead. Behind him, partially shielded by the crest of the hill crouched two more figures, one furiously reloading a crossbow and the other aiming a longbow in their direction.

    “Take that dwarf,” Marsem commanded the orcs, then dropped the reins of the horse and picked his already loaded crossbow off of the ground. Training it in the direction of the longbowman, Marsem mumbled a string of arcane syllables, using magic to sharpen his eyesight and give him devastating accuracy on his next shot. An arrow whistled through the air and ricocheted off one of the orcs scale mail vests, drawing a howl of rage, and then Marsem returned fire. His bolt flew straight and true, and the archer fell back behind the hill with a strangled cry. A satisfied grin spread his lips, and he began invoking the spell again as he hurried to reload the crossbow
    ________________________________________

    “What a stubborn ass,” Ike mumbled to Welby as the battle began. “I should’ve realized he’d be too prideful to allow this ambush to work right.” Welby simply returned his gaze for a moment, then looked eagerly back to the fight.

    The pair lay in a low drift, watching the action unseen from several yards away. The two orcs had rushed to meet Jack’s charge, while the third figure had picked up a crossbow and began firing upon the Crow and Eli’s position. Things were not going well. Eli had gotten one arrow off before the man had taken him down with an amazing shot, both Ike and Welby hearing the hoarse scream from the elf. The Crow’s first shot had come in low and he had not fired a second – Ike guessed that he was busy now tending to the wounded elf. As he watched, the enemy crossbowman raised his bow and fired a shot between the two orcs. It took Jack in his left shoulder, and the dwarf’s charge slowed as suddenly his shield arm hung weak and useless at his side. Jack shouted a dwarven oath and urged the orcs to “come and get some.”

    Ike turned and whispered to Welby, “Alright, then – it looks like Jack is going to need some help against those orcs, the idiot. Try and sneak in close and get involved in that combat, I’m going to go after the crossbowman.”

    Welby started to run towards the combat in a sort of half crouch, trusting on his size to get him close to the combat unseen. Ike turned his attention back to the reloading crossbowman and realized that he had spotted Welby. He had reloaded the crossbow and brought it to bear on the scurrying halfling, and was chanting something in a strange tongue. Ike felt a shiver creep up his spine. Spellcaster! At least his attention was diverted – maybe Ike would get close enough to strike unseen. He dropped to his belly and began to wriggle closer through the snow.

    Jack slowed at the last moment and accepted the orcs charge. He parried the first axe strike out wide and sidestepped the second opponent. Unfortunately, the movement carried him between his foes and he could no longer see the movements of his second opponent. He quickly brought his knee up, driving it into the first orc’s groin, causing it to wheeze and double over. His axe flashed and he buried it in the orc’s thick skull, then spun around, trying to pull his weapon free and raise a defense.

    Too slow. As he turned, the other orc brought its own axe in a wide sweeping arc that smashed into his ribs, driving the links of his chainmail deep into his flesh, tearing skin and fracturing ribs. He collapsed gasping as the orc prepared to deliver an overhand strike that would surely end his life. Why hadn’t he followed the plan? It seemed now he would pay for his folly and pride with his life.

    As the blow descended, a small form burst through the snow and caught the downward stroke on the blade of its own battleaxe. Jack sighed in relief as he saw Welby standing over him, blood dripping from a crossbow bolt imbedded in his side. The halfling seemed oblivious to the pain, and stood facing the orc with his face contorted with rage, blood-flecked foam spraying from his lips as he leapt towards the orc with a deep-throated roar. The orc hesitated, stepping back from this fierce little demon, and then its chest erupted under the force of Welby’s stroke, the air filling momentarily with a warm red spray.

    Marsem Trember was afraid. He let fly and saw another bolt imbed itself in the halfling warrior, knocking the small form backwards but not off its feet. Now he was out of spells and would have to rely upon his own skill to fell the two fighters closing in on him, and he seemed unable to even hurt this small savage! It was definitely time to return to his brother’s side and the safety of the rest of the orc band – these two could not catch him in a race now. He dropped the crossbow and made about a dozen leaping steps before he saw the figure explode from a snow bank, crossbow leveled at him. A scream of fright and astonishment burst from his lungs, then the crossbow bolt struck a glancing blow to his skull and darkness took him.
    Check out the action in The City of the Spider Queen Story Hour
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    A group of teenagers trapped in a sinister government experiment - can they survive Project Genesys? A Mutants & Masterminds Story Hour.


    "You have invoked an evil older than man!! Older than croutons!! Now I feed!!!" - Happy Noodle Boy

  • #7
    My fav's are fast becoming Welby (I love the way he talks and the li'l barbarians ferocity!) and Ike--Nice pop up from the snow...

    It'll be sad to see Ike go since I don't recall him from the CotSQ thread....

    What campaign world are you playing in? The place names sound like Erde?
    Read The Return of the Heroes of the Vilhon Reach or of their past and find out where all started
    Then check out The Traveller Adventure d20 for something a little different! and the Traveller Adventure d20 Gallery for the dramatis personae or for a little comic book wackiness go to Champions Presents: Legion Extreme! [Hero 5th Ed]


    I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar!

  • #8
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    While Ike is not currently travelling with this particular band of ruffians & ne'er-do-wells, he may very well be working his back to their general location. And if they do meet up, boy is he gonna have fun with the now-bald Welby

    Devlin Magruder in Living ENWorld, semi-retired.
    Lucien Rayes in Living ENWorld, semi-retired.
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    world setting

    yeah, sadly Ike left the group when he got married and had kids That's OK, believe me, I understand, I just keep doing it anyway. It looks like his schedule may open up a little sometime down the road, and you never know who may pop up in the Underdark

    We're not really playing in any particular setting, more of a homebrew world in progress. Just my own little setting I cobbled from various places when 3E was released, with help from many sources. I handed out a one page sheet a week or two before our first session (at our real first session when we played through the D&D box game to get used to the new rules), and it listed a few place names, but I hadn't drawn a map yet. Ike handed me his background a couple of days later - I told him to feel free to fill in areas of the map for me, and as you can see, he was kind enough to oblige.

    Since then, I've basically kept the map updated just a step or two ahead of where the group has desired to go. In the other campaign I run, a totally different set of people and characters are running around in the next country over.

    I'm almost done writing up the aftermath of the fight and the next few scenes, but I'm getting cross-eyed at this point. I still haven't recovered from my toddler's cold. Should have more up by tomorrow or Sunday.
    Check out the action in The City of the Spider Queen Story Hour
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    A group of teenagers trapped in a sinister government experiment - can they survive Project Genesys? A Mutants & Masterminds Story Hour.


    "You have invoked an evil older than man!! Older than croutons!! Now I feed!!!" - Happy Noodle Boy

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    Aftermath and The Cave

    The battle rage slowly left Welby and he finally became aware of the two bolts sticking into his body. He slumped to the ground with a stifled gasp. Jack, having already seen to his own injuries, moved over to examine the wounds but the halfling waved him away.

    “Go…see…Eli,” Welby gasped, “he…hit…too.”

    “Nonsense, Welby, you’re hurt bad. Let me take care of it.”

    Welby shook his head and pushed Jack away. “No…fine…used to…pain.”

    Jack shrugged and pulled Ike aside, telling him to keep a close eye on the brave warrior and call for him if he lost consciousness. He turned and started trotting up the hill, calling for his friend.

    The Royston Crow’s voice answered, “He can’t answer Jack, he’s hurt bad. I think I’ve got him stabilized but he’s lost a lot of blood – I can’t say how he is.”

    Jack broke into a run, moving as fast as his stubby legs could carry him. He came to the top of the hill and found the Crow kneeling by Eli’s side, pressing against the side of his neck where the bolt had torn a ragged gouge through the flesh. The elf’s chest barely moved, and his skin was turning an icy blue. Jack cried out and rushed to his friend’s side, holding his hands to the wound as he called out to his god.

    “Great Clangeddin, grant your servant the power to heal this warrior whose time has not come! Give me the strength to heal my friend who paid the price for my foolishness!”

    A warm glow enveloped Jack’s hands and spread into the cold flesh of the stricken elf. The Crow gasped in wonder as he watched the torn flesh knit together before his eyes, the jagged edges of the wound growing back together and sealing over as if no injury had ever existed. Eli’s breathing steadied and the color began to return to his face, and Jack choked, trying to stifle his sobs of relief.

    Meanwhile Ike was finding that other casualties of the battle had, in fact, survived. Kneeling to examine the man he’d shot down, he found that his bolt had only grazed his temple, injuring him and knocking him instantly unconscious, but sparing his life. The man groaned as Ike hurriedly searched him, confiscating a dagger and a pouch that felt like it contained several coins. He also found a holy symbol of silver under the man’s coat. “The Morrigan,” he muttered disgustedly as he slid it into a pouch. The Morrigan was an evil deity of war and pestilence whose followers were capable of any vile act in her name.

    Glancing over at Welby, he saw that the small warrior did indeed seem to be doing fine. He appeared winded, but he had cleaned and dressed his own wounds and was watching Ike silently. The others all seemed to be on their feet, and were slowly making their way back down the hill. The packhorse, forgotten in the combat, still stood in the road defiantly, seemingly daring anyone to try to move it.

    Ike yelled to the others, “We got one alive,” then proceeded to tear strips of cloth from the man’s clothing, bandaging his head and binding his hands and feet securely. Welby had risen and was examining the nearby area. As the others made their way over, Welby waved his arms, catching their attention. He then pointed to a clear line of tracks leading away toward the edge of the Twilight Forest.

    “They come that way,” he intoned solemnly.

    Jack turned to Eli, “Lemme see that map,” then back to the others, “So, whatta we do now? We oughter get this food back to Lord Travens, but these three mighta been part o a bigger group.”

    “Obviously our first responsibility is to deliver the supplies to the village. If we wake the prisoner, we can question him on the way back before we hand him over to the lord.” Eli paused a moment before continuing, “Jack, according to the map, their tracks do head in the general direction of Duernfast.”

    The Royston Crow spoke next. “Look, the town is only, what, a mile away at the most? We should be able to deliver the supplies, drop off the prisoner, and be back here in less than an hour. We need to hurry, though – if these three have friends waiting for them, they might start to get anxious for their return.”

    Ike looked at the wreckage of the wagon and the scattered crates and sacks. “Well, we can’t carry all of this. I say we lighten the horse’s load and carry the supplies already packed into its saddlebags. Then we just throw our bandit on the horse and we can lead the villagers back to collect the rest.”

    Jack ran his thumb down the blade of his axe, drawing a bright bead of blood. “Aye, and then we foller these tracks back to their source, and we slay any more scum we find there.”
    ______________________________

    Welby pause at the edge of the woods, listening intently and scanning the trees for any sign of movement. As the Royston Crow had predicted, the group arrived back at the scene of battle in a little less than an hour, a group of townsfolk following them to gather any scattered foodstuffs still lying around. They had tried to question their prisoner about what they might find – how many allies he had, their purpose, where they were camped, etc. – but he had proved most unhelpful. The only information he had imparted was that his name was Marsem Trember and they would pay for their transgression, that the followers of the Morrigan would “flay the skin from their bones and feed them to the orcs.”

    Jack had been very unimpressed with the skinny, fanatical Trember and had to be restrained at one point lest they return to Lord Travens without a prisoner. The man had also quickly offended Alexei, and soon he had been hauled off to the gaol until the time of his appointment with the gallows could be decided. Lord Travens implored the companions to find the bandits’ camp and either kill or scatter them so they would no longer threaten the citizens of Travensburg. Of course, they told him that had been their plan all along.

    Now Welby scouted the trail, moving silently through the drifts about twenty paces in front of the others. The trail had led them southeast from the road for approximately three miles, into the rugged hills bordering the outskirts of the Twilight Forest. According to the map that Jack and Eli kept referring to, they should be very close to the entrance to the ruined mines of Duernfast. It seemed quite likely that this is where the attackers had holed up. Welby hoped so – he wanted to get indoors soon. Normally he loved the cold, frigid air, but he had been hurt by the two bolts worse than he was letting on, and he was freezing.

    He stopped, waving at the others to approach him. The tracks ended at the entrance to a shallow cave. The area at the mouth had been churned into slush and mud by the passage of many booted feet. The air was quiet and still. The companions regarded each other silently as they rested from the march, the air filled with the smoky trails of their hot breath.

    The Royston Crow spoke first, “It would seem we have arrived.”

    “Shhh,” Ike warned, “we don’t know if they’ve any guards.”

    Jack peered at the hole before them. “Don’t see anything in there,” he said. “I think anyone in there’s smart enough to go further back the caves where it’s warm. C’mon, let’s get this done with.” He shouldered his axe and began approaching the entrance.

    Ike detected a hint of movement by the cave walls as Jack strode into the open. “No, Jack, wait!” he yelled, but too late. A volley of crossbow bolts already sped through the air towards the dwarf…

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Sniktch; Friday, 11th October, 2002 at 10:14 PM.
    Check out the action in The City of the Spider Queen Story Hour
    Or see how it all started in the Prelude
    A group of teenagers trapped in a sinister government experiment - can they survive Project Genesys? A Mutants & Masterminds Story Hour.


    "You have invoked an evil older than man!! Older than croutons!! Now I feed!!!" - Happy Noodle Boy

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