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  1. #21
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    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    Woot Woot keep bringing the SH goodness!
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  • #22
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    haha. Thanks for the XP and encouragement, thejc.

    Hope you're enjoying it.

    You keep up "the darkness within" too! I know how tough it is to be regular with the updates...obviously.

    "I must spread some experience around before..."

    (If you'll forgive borrowing the vague musical reference) Here's to the Story Hours who lunch! WOOT WOOT! lol.

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  • #23
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    “Haelan!” the voice of Alaria echoed down through rocky passage.

    The halfling priest had been scrambling through the harpy lair searching for an exit. He had breathed a prayer of thanks to Faerantha when his captor watcher had swiftly left him, not a moment before his protective spell flared and faded from existence, its magic spent. He only found one other chamber than the one he’d been held in. It contained a disheveled “nest” of feathers and scraps and bones he had not examined closely in his haste to locate an escape route. The other passage that the harpy, Estraytha, had entered through ended abruptly with an opening in the ceiling he couldn't possibly reach. He saw light filtering in from what must be one of the other cliff side openings he’d noticed at his arrival. But he couldn’t hope to climb up to it. Hearing his name, the Hilltender trotted back out to the opening he’d been tossed through by the wicked elder harpy, Grizzelda.

    As he cautiously neared the opening a rope dropped into his view.

    He poked his head out the opening and looked up with his typical broad smile. No less than twenty feet above he saw the faces of Braddok and Erevan…and someone else he didn’t recognize.

    “Bless the Hill Mother, I knew you’d come.” Haelan called up to his comrades. “Where…Where are the harpies? Is everyone ok?” he asked nervously.

    “They’ve left. You’re safe.” answered Braddok. “But hurry. Climb up.”

    Haelan turned to look down the cliff face to the swirling sea crashing on jagged rocks, easily sixty feet below. Feeling himself momentarily reel with vertigo, he backed a few steps from the opening. Placing his hand against the side of the passage to steady himself. Haelan let out a shakey breath.

    “I think it better you come down here.” called out the halfling nervously.

    “Come down? Why? Is there treasure!?” came Duor’s voice in enthusiastic response.

    Haelan gulped and cautiously made his way to the opening, careful not to look down. “Um, well I don’t know as yet. But we should check, shouldn’t we?” Haelan half-smiled up at his rescuers. If nothing else, he hoped he could count on the dwarf’s apparent greed to get the company to come down.

    Erevan cocked his head and looked at Braddok with his typical confused elf look. Braddok didn’t notice. “Is there another way out of there?” the warrior called.

    “Well…” Haelan thought, “I don’t really know. There’s a passage I can’t get to. It might lead out.” The priest mentally berated himself for his cowardice, but took confidence that he was telling the truth. He really didn’t know. “Might be treasure in there too. But I can’t get to it myself. I’d need wings…” at that moment it occurred to Haelan why there would be a passage in this lair that went straight up.

    Braddok let out an exasperated breath. “Come now, Haelan. We haven’t all day for this.”

    Duor, now partially visible beside the dark haired swordsman interjected, “But if there’s treasure, Braddok. We should check it out. I mean, really shouldn’t we? Maybe the pearl’s down‘ere.”

    Alaria, thought about this for a moment as she extended her arm, newly healed by Trihna. “The harpy did make it sound like they were bound here to watch something for this Tresahd.” Alaria weighed the option a moment longer. “Faeryl, er ‘Fen’, do you know anything about a Tresahd from your time here?” Alaria then realized she had no idea how long that had been.

    The red-headed druid turned to the magess, “I’m sorry, lady. I have not. I have noted some suspicious comings and goings…specifically of goblins…Pirates by the looks of them. No telling their names from my…observations. I was careful not to be seen.”

    “Goblin pirates?” questioned Coerraine. Erevan also looked at the druid with a questioning brow. Duor's mind did back flips at the thought. Where there's pirates, there's treasure!


    “Goblins?” called up Haelan. “The harpy’s mentioned something about goblins as they bickered before you arrived.”

    “Alright.” said Alaria, “Braddok, do you think you can get down there?”

    “Be no trouble a’tall, boss lady.” perked up Duor. Whatever issues the dwarf had with sea travel, heights gave the rogue no pause. “Hold it tight, Braddok. I’ll go down.”

    “Erevan, do you think you can safely go as well?” Alaria asked. She was not about to dare such a death-defying climb.

    The elf shrugged and looked over the edge. His grace and balance unwavering. “Should be easy enough.” he replied.

    “Fine. Duor and Erevan go down and aid Haelan. Be quick. We cannot be sure the harpies, or their condor pets won’t return.” Alaria said.

    “Oh, they weren’t their pets. They were merely subject to the creature’s enchantment, like your warriors.” Fen offered.

    Braddok shot the half-elf a disapproving look. Coerraine also frowned a bit at the newcomer.

    Noticing his apparent unintended insult, Fen quickly added, “I’ll be happy to make the climb also. I’ve never seen a harpy lair before.” he smiled.

    “The pearl is not there.” said Trihna make-of-factly. The priestess again held the directional orb in her hand. It very clearly glowed back to the north between the islands curved mountains.

    Braddok looked to Alaria. He wasn’t sure where this druid had come from or why he was there with them, but he knew he wasn’t going to trust any heathen stranger who apparently knew a bit about this vile island.

    “Very well. Your aid is, again, most welcome.” the magess conceded. “Make a quick search of the lair. Gather anything of value you can carry and help Haelan back up. We are running out of daylight and I’d like to get back on our appointed trail.”

    With Coerraine and Braddok securing the rope’s end the elf, half-elf and dwarf descended swiftly and joined Haelan in the harpy lair. Fen boosted Haelan up into the shaft while Duor easily found handholds and clambered up the stone walls on his own. Erevan went to explore the other chamber, trusting his companions to be able to take care of themselves with the mysterious newcomer.

    The nest of Shireen revealed no treasure or secrets. Some bones, a chipped rusty knife and scraps of substandard armor and filthy cloth, all obviously goblin in origin. As he returned to the passage with the shaft he noticed a momentary flicker of cool air to his left. Closer examination of the main chamber’s wall revealed a hidden door. A quick examination of the wall found the section of stone that turned to cause a section of the wall to slide to the side. The opening looked into another passage that descended further into the darkness of the promontory. Cool and damp but somewhat stale air wafted up from the opening. He could discern no sounds or motion coming up from the darkness, though the passage most definitely led down.

    “Not a bad haul, I suppose. Better’n none, eh?” Duor said offhandedly as he examined the jewel encrusted necklace he’d found in Estraytha’s chamber. The dwarf halfling and half-elf came wandering back out to the main chamber. “Few silvers too. Not so much to split, but I’ll just hold onto ‘em an’…Here now. What’s this?” the dwarf stuck his head into the opening before the silent elf.

    “This is something we will not be entering without the others.” Erevan said plainly.

    “Hmph.” The dwarf grumbled under his beard. Who put the point-ear in charge? Duor thought.

    “That must be the other lair.” said Fen.

    The other three turned to look at the half-elf with untrusting eyes.

    “There were three harpies. Were there not? We’ve found two nests.” The druid pointed out innocently.

    “True. But the air does not carry the stench of these chambers.” Erevan observed.

    “How goes it?” Braddok’s voice sounded.

    Haelan trotted back to the opening and stopped a few steps back from the edge. “You all probably should come down here. We’ve found….something.” called the halfling cleric.

    Bollux, thought Braddok. We’re never going to get to finding this pearl.

    Alaria, too, seemed annoyed. But, she was left little choice but to trust her companions.

    With some difficulty and great care, the whole party eventually stood cramped in the none-too-large central chamber of the harpies’ lair.

    A whispered syllable caused the end of Alaria’s staff to emit a soft golden light. Haelan, also, made a simple prayer and the pinecone-shaped head of his mace was surrounded in a honey-colored glow. Braddok and Coerraine readied their weapons. Erevan nocked an arrow and Duor reluctantly taking the lead, the party filed into and began to descend the narrow passage.



    --------------------------------

    Next up, "Descent to the Depths of...something."
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  • #24

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    Good Stuff! Keep 'em coming! ;3
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  • #25
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    The party descended into the darkness of the passageway leading into the heart of the rocky promontory.

    Duor was especially careful as he led the rest of the companions down. His dwarven stone sense seemed to be telling him the passage was naturally made and sloped slightly and then more steeply into the dark rock. The air was cool and damp. It was a welcome change from the late summer heat they’d endured above ground. Duor was thoroughly more comfortable, though still alert, meandering through the stone.

    The whole party noted with a slight breeze of cool air the salty smell of the sea coming up the passage. Not long into their descent, the passageway bent and then a faint light could be seen at the end of the tunnel not far ahead. It was apparent the passage opened up about forty feet ahead and while still obviously dark, was receiving natural looking light from somewhere. The smell of the sea became accompanied by the occasional soft lapping of water.

    Before reaching the opening Duor halted the group. He gestured Haelan closer for more light and noted a tripwire across the passage’s floor.

    “Yep. We gotta trap ‘ere.” the dwarf announced quietly. “Good sign”, mused Duor, “Folks don’t use traps unless there’s somethin’ to protect.”

    With Haelan providing the light and Braddok leaning over the two smaller humanoids to watch, (the rest of the group backed up the passage to where it had bent) Duor ably severed the wire. For a second, then two, no one in the party moved a breath. After the fifth second, Duor declared the trap disarmed but still advised people step cautiously over where it had been.

    The passage came out onto a somewhat roomy ledge high up in a huge cavern within the island’s stone outcropping. They could see reasonably well by the rays of the quickly setting sun that illuminated a cave opening high on the wall on the other side of the broad open space. There was also light leaking in far below them to illuminate the “floor” of the cavern, which was almost entirely submerged. Waves could be heard crashing outside and rolled calmly into the cavern.

    There was no telling from their position and available light how deep the water was. To their right a narrow ledge continued to wind down the cavern wall to a small landing at the water’s edge. The sea occasionally splashed up onto that landing.

    “Looks like the whole cliff is hollow.” proclaimed Haelan.

    The ceiling of the cavern was shrouded in shadows from the party’s light sources and the eerie orange light of the late day sun streaming through the natural openings.

    To their left on the landing was another mound of feathers, bones and cloth like they’d found in the harpies’ lair above. This one contained a few actual pillows, though they too were filthy.

    Duor quickly bounded over to the nest and began a thorough search of any hidden contents. As he got close, the salty sea smell was overtaken by a rancid odor. It didn’t take long for the dwarf to notice a half-eaten goblin corpse stashed on the nest’s far side.


    Duor held his breadth, crinkled his nose in disgust and continued his search. Haelan, nearby, continued to light the dwarf’s efforts. The halfling raised his free hand to his nose and exhaled in disgust.

    “That landing will be beneath water within the hour.” Trihna surmised by her well-trained knowledge of the local tides.

    Alaria took in the whole scene. “There’s no way out for us there. How long until low tide?” the magess questioned the water priestess.

    “At it’s lowest? Shortly before dawn.”

    Coerraine and Erevan began to edge their way down towards the landing to get a better idea of the water’s depth and how far that landing might extend when less water filled the cavern. Trihna also accompanied the elf and knight.

    Braddok surveyed their surroundings. Once Duor confirmed there was nothing of worth on the goblin carcass, the fighter kicked the corpse off the ledge. It splooshed loudly, echoing throughout the cavern. Alaria gave the warrior a thoroughly annoyed look. “We might wish to rest here, Alaria. It has been a rather long day.”, Braddok offered.

    Alaria raised her staff up high to get as good a look at the cavern ceiling as she could. It appeared natural enough, full of deep crevasses and crags, stalactites of all sizes (some quite large) spotted the ceiling, but she could not fully see into the deeper recesses.

    “Huh. Look there.” muttered Fen offhandedly.

    Alaria went to stand near the druid and noticed what looked like the bottom of another outcropping from the cavern wall. It was about twenty feet off the side of their ledge and a good twenty or so feet up.

    “Bollux.” grumbled Duor. “Don’t tell me there’s another harpy.”

    “One way to find out, master treasure hunter.” Braddok prodded.

    The dwarf mumbled something under his beard the warrior could not make out.

    The warrior securely tied their rope to the dwarf and Duor began his second cliff face climb of the afternoon, muttering dwarven oaths most of the way.

    Erevan, Coerraine and Trihna returned to the ledge. “It appears the ledge runs around the periphery of the cavern. When the waters recede a bit, we should be able to walk around the edge and out that cave opening on the other side. Trihna believes by morning the path will be clear.” Erevan reported.

    The young paladin came forward, “I have checked the cavern as far as the Golden Defender will allow. I sense no evil here, milady. I think Braddok’s suggestion is a good one. This may be as good a place as we can hope to find for a camp.”

    Alaria nodded her consent and dropped her pack against the cavern wall. “Haelan, gather me some of the nest materials for a fire….Besides, perhaps burning some of it will remove the creature’s stench.”

    The halfling priest cheerfully did as instructed, holding his breadth as he carried an armful of bundled twigs, dried grasses and leaves, cloth, and one of the more stained and unsalvagable of the pillows to near the center of the ledge.


    "Shame" said the priest as he plopped it all down. His gaze downcast at the smudged and torn turquoise satin pillow ringed in bright green fringe, "Looks like that must have been quite nice in its time."


    Coerraine had set to removing the flint and steel from his tinderbox in his organized pack.

    Alaria swept a length of her dark brown hair from her face. With an exaggerated exhale and flick of a finger, a small tongue of flame shot into the mound which, despite the dampness of the air in the cavern, caught alight without a problem.

    “Feorn’s beard!” The cry from Duor echoed throughout the cavern. The exclamation shocked most of the party and several of them grabbed and readied weapons. Haelan and Alaria hurried to edge of the ledge to supply as much light as possible.

    The dwarf came into view at the edge of the ledge above the party. He wore a huge toothy smile parting his thick dark moustache and bearded jaw. Upon his head chains and bands of gold and silver shown in the mystical illumination. His hands glistened with coins and jewels dropping through his stumpy gloved fingers. “I LOVE this island!”

    Braddok and Haelan also smiled broadly. Many of the party, save Trihna and Erevan expressed their pleasure at what appeared to be a large cache of treasure.

    “How’re we going to get it back over here?” the warrior wondered.

    Alaria thought for a moment. “How much is there? I could possibly bring some of it back with a spell…” but the magess was not sure how long that would take with the small handfuls of her simple mage hand cantrip. “Also, remember, we need to be on the move tomorrow for Tidemaster Kama's pearl. We can only afford to take on so much.”

    “No worries, boss lady. I’ll just camp up here tonight and keep it company.” The dwarf offered.

    “That will not be necessary, master dwarf.” Erevan offered with a subtly suspicious tone.

    Dang point-ear always out to ruin an honest dwarf’s fun, thought Duor.

    “If I may, Alaria?” the elegant elf in his deep violet overshirt neared the ledge’s edge. The intricate silver circlet he wore sparkled with the golden light of Alaria’s staff and the growing fire. He spread his arms before him and incanted, “Seriz verik og theran.”<mage spell: Floating Disc>

    Before the elf’s arms glimmered a disc of amber light the size of a small dinner plate. As the elf completed the simple spell, the disc spread and grew like an expanding puddle until it hovered before the elf’s outstretched arms, about five feet across. With a simple motion of his arms, the disc hovered smoothly up and over to the ledge where the dwarf stood looking decidedly unappreciative.

    “Excellent, Erevan. Well done!” applauded Haelan.

    “Indeed.” Agreed Alaria. “Duor, place as much as you can onto the disc. But stop when Erevan tells you!”

    “And be quick about it, if you please.” added Erevan. “I cannot maintain the conjuration for long.”

    At the idea of not getting as much of the treasure as possible, Duor hopped to it. He used a well crafted small shield to shovel the loose coins and gems onto the disc. Thankfully, the harpy seemed to be somewhat organized and he had only to lug a small coffer and two medium sized sacks filled with loot.

    A particularly fine dagger with a emerald and gold threaded scabbard found its way into the folds of his cloak as did a small bag of gems. “No sense weighing the elf down more than necessary, afterall”, Duor thought to himself.

    Tossing the shield on top of the sacks. The dwarf nearly pounced off the ledge onto the mound of treasure before Erevan’s surprisingly worried voice called out.


    “Duor NO! It is nearly too heavy for me. You cannot get on it also. I’ll send it back for you.” Seeing the apparent strain on the elf’s face, Duor elected not to utter the biting remark that leapt to his tongue.


    "By all means, save the treasure!", Duor replied. "I can climb if I hafta."


    Erevan guided the disc back to the main ledge where the company quickly removed all of the contents and began a survey of the booty.


    The elf, true to his word, guided the disc back to Duor and allowed the dwarf to ride it back. Erevan managed to force the disc of amber light to the end of the main ledge before it began to crack and splinter. Duor leapt to the security of stone beneath his feet just as the elf’s spell dispersed in a shattering flicker.

    Duor made his way, with eyes all agleam, to the pile of treasure. He plopped down, set the small coffer in his lap and set to examining the lock.

    Alaria and Trihna took and interest in looking at the few non-monetary items and checked them for enchantment. Braddok was happily counting coins with the aid of Haelan. Coerraine, happy at the find but still mindful of his duties, kept a stoic watch over the water below them as the last light the day filtered out of the cavern and the band was left to their counting in the falling night.

    “Nicely done, master dwarf.” said the druid, Fen.

    “And you, master druid.” returned Duor, happily. “If you hadn’t noticed the ledge all of this bounty may have gone mournfully undiscovered.” The dwarf fiddled at the coffer’s lock with some small implements that had appeared from somewhere on his person.

    The druid bowed and smiled. “It is, truly, a regal haul. Let us hope this belonged to the harpies and not the pirates I’ve seen.”

    Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the half-elf as he turned and wandered down the narrow path where he crouched down and seemed to examine the water.

    Duor leaned over to Braddok and muttered under his beard, “Ya know…I’m really starting to dislike that guy.”
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  • #26
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    I haven't caught up to current, but I'm really enjoying this story hour. I like the writing style and the characters are fun.

    Just wanted to chime in with encouragement, since I'd like to see this story hour continue!
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  • #27
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    Of Crabs & Fen

    The group was startled one more time in the fading light of the day as a large swarm of bats drops out of the ceiling. There was nothing particularly special about them, just normal sized regular bats. Their roost was high out in the middle of the cavern so they weren’t near nor disturbed the party and made next to no sound.

    The cloud of creatures streamed out of the opening high in the opposite wall and dispersed into the coming night. Fen watched with interest while the rest of the companions simply kept a wary eye on them until it was obvious they were gone. With that, the day concluded and the cavern went almost entirely black save the party’s small campfire.

    Over their meal they divided up as much of the loot as possible, so as not to slow anyone down too much.

    All told, the take from the discovered treasure trove included:
    250 gold, 500 silver, and almost 700 copper coins. Most were the common minted Freelands’ currency but some Grinlian and R’Hathi coins were mixed in.

    There were also several pieces of jewelry in various metals and semi-precious stones totaling 1,500 gold pieces in value. Alaria took a particularly fine silver necklace set with five amethysts and a pair of matching earrings. Trihna politely declined any of the jewelry but said she’d be happy to receive some as a donation to the temple upon their return to Shoal.

    A variety of gems, mostly sapphires and emeralds, none more than 50 or 60 gold in value but totaling 2,000 gold in value, some cut some raw. A palm-sized diamond that Duor supposed to be around 500 gold by itself was almost overlooked.

    Haelan made sure to retrieve it from the dwarf when he seemed to be stashing it on his person…”For safe keeping!” the dwarf defended but still returned the gem to the pot.

    Other items included a gold plated chalice set with jet and amber, some silver flatware and 3 goblets intricately inlaid with bands of copper, silver and brass. While not worth more than about 5 silver a piece, the goblets were particularly well-crafted, delicate and beautiful to behold. Erevan confirmed for all that they were obviously of elvin make. “So maybe we’ll get 10 silver for them then.” added Duor with a smile.

    Duor managed, rather easily, to unlock the small brass-banded coffer to find the box lined and padded in vibrant blue velvet. Set within the lush material were three vials: one cut crystal or glass, one a silvery metal (yet not silver) embossed with ivy vines, and the third appeared to be a rose quartz vial with a shining silver stopper shaped like a teardrop. Duor identified the vine flask as "electrum."

    Alaria and Trihna had been scanning the mound for magical auras immediately noticed the mystic glow emanating from the chest.

    “Potions.” said Alaria, Haelan and Braddok in unison. “These will require closer examination.” Alaria added.

    Otherwise, Alaria’s magical detection noted that the small shield was mildly enchanted. It was little more than a buckler, really. “Well made. Must be dwarvish work.” remarked Duor. Since it was much too small to be useful to Braddok or Coerraine, the group was happy to let Haelan have it to replace his somewhat beat up wooden shield.

    Also, in the cache of jewelry, there was a ring of steel set with a triangular piece of hematite. Alaria grabbed it out of Duor’s hand as he intended to put it on.

    “Fastest way to see what it can do.” Duor defended himself. His attempt to mimic some of Haelan’s natural innocence failed miserably.

    “Fastest way to be ensnared in an irreversible curse,” Alaria countered. “Until I’ve had time to properly assess its sorcery, the ring…and potions…are off limits.”

    Duor exhaled, disappointed.

    When everyone had taken what part of their share they could easily carry, it was decided that Erevan would use his magic disc the following morning to return the rest to the ledge to be retrieved in the future. The coffer of potions was added to Coerraine’s pack for safe keeping until Alaria would have time to properly identify them.

    A watch was established and the group settled into their evening. Over their meal, Fen was the topic of conversation. Braddok in particular was eager to hear this half-elf’s story.

    “Tell us, ‘Fen’, how you came to Dragonbone Isle. You said you were sent?” Braddok began.

    “Yeh, you obviously weren’t born here,” added Duor. “How long have you been here?”

    “Indeed,” chimed in the normally quiet Redstar Knight. “What of these goblin pirates you claim to have witnessed? What were their numbers? Are they currently on the island?” Coerraine did not like the coincidence of hearing about a force of goblins popping up twice in three days.

    Haelan, thrilled at the prospect of learning about the newcomer, piped up. “Oh yes, Fen. Tell us about the druids. Mother Sarran knew a druid back home. He would come by every so often and visit. They said he could command the weather and speak to the animals. I know some of the elder Hilltenders could do that too. But you do not worship Faerantha, do you Fen? Mother Sarran said the druids were ‘the Ancient Order’ but still friends to the Hill Mother and the daelvar. Is that how you could talk to the giant birds? Could you teach me that? I’m sure you must have some wonderful stories. Have you ever talked to a mule before? We have…”

    “Haelan.” Alaria interjected, “Let the man speak,” the R’Hathi wizard was also curious about the druidic tradition and knew a little of their mystic secretive order. But more importantly, she believed he had information about the island that could help them. Alaria did not share some of her companions’ apparent mistrust.

    Fen chuckled at the halfling priest’s barrage and ran a hand through his fine orange-red hair. He cleared his throat and began his tale.

    “To answer your question, master dwarf, no. I was not born here. Though not so far away, which was part of why I was assigned to come here.

    “I hail from the Laklans where I had a pleasant enough childhood. My mother was of your people, kiili <elvin: a common elf term of familiarity; roughly “cousin”>” Fen gave a nod to Erevan. The elf nodded a polite acknowledgment. Fen continued.

    “My father was a woodsman in the forests near Lake Entent from the village of Claringdown.

    “I left my parents and the Laklans in my seventeenth summer, when ‘the Calling’ came upon me and made the journey across the bay to the druidhold of Moonglade in your lands, my lady.” Fen smiled at Alaria who was avidly paying attention, “There, after much training, I was eventually initiated in the ways of the Holy Order of Mistwood.

    “As my first official task upon receiving my cloak and spear, the Lord of Ash bade me here.”

    Braddok interjected, “That is all well and good. But how long have you been here? What was it you were sent here to do?” Braddok wanted to get to the meat of the matter. He wanted to determine just how much friend (or foe) this half-elf, who literally dropped out of the sky, would be to them.

    “I returned to the elf depot up the river D’Evand, purchased a simple rowing boat and arrived here…” Fen stopped for a moment, wanting to be sure he was being accurate, “just over two weeks passed. This is my fifteenth night on the island.”

    “And your purpose?” Coerraine reminded. The normally well-mannered and easy going young paladin was particularly curt with the nature-priest. Though those in his lands held the Druids of Mistwood in high -if somewhat cautious- regard, he had never encountered one himself. And, thought Coerraine, they were a long way from Mostrial or Mistwood. The Redstar Knight held the opinion of druids (from stories he’d heard in his homeland and travels) as potentially wise men, the magical equivalent to a “hedge wizard” perhaps. But they did not venerate the gods of the “civilized” realms and so were still godless and thus “heathens” to his eyes.

    Fen gave Coerraine a charming grin, looking at the blond paladin as one might look upon an ignorant child. “The purposes of the Grove are their own, sir knight, and not for the ears of Men. Suffice it to say, we seek to maintain and support the balance of all Orea.”

    “It does not ‘suffice’ at all.” began Coerraine.

    “Coerraine!” Alaria exclaimed. She shot the Redstar Knight a disapproving look. “Fen aided us against the harpies and helped retrieve our friend. What more proof of his intentions do you need?”

    “Apologies, milady. But if the heathen is to keep his secrets then we should not trust him.” Coerraine stated bluntly.

    “I’m with Goldilocks.” said Duor plainly.

    “Perhaps,” interrupted Haelan, “if you share with us a bit more of your two weeks here my friends would be a bit more at ease.” He liked Fen just fine and was somewhat saddened by his companions obvious impoliteness.

    “It is fine, friend daelvar.” Fen said with a calm smile at Haelan. “The ways of Mistwood are not for the followers of the gods of Men.”

    “So you do worship Faerantha, then?” Haelan asked with his signature innocence.

    Fen smiled at the halfling priest again. “Alas. No, Hilltender. I should have said ‘the uninitiated’, daelvar included. Though, as your wise Mother Superior pointed out, we are…’friends’ of your people and ways and those of the human’s goddess, Sylari…and the elf god Syar and many others.”

    Fen looked to Coerraine. The paladin’s face had not softened. Fen continued.

    “Though we do not worship your Red Star, paladin, nor,” he turned to Alaria, “the Blue Star of your Manat, my lady, nor indeed the Sea Mistress” with a nod to Trihna, “we do recognize the power and influence of their being. The Holy Order or, as you call it, the ‘Ancient’ Order of Mistwood venerates the power and balance of Orea itself. The gods of those outside the Holy Order are of no concern nor consternation to us.”

    Receiving no rebuttal or rebuke for this statement, the red-headed druid continued. “This island has a power and a balance that must be maintained for the power and balance of the rest of the realms. That balance, as I stated previously, has been disturbed …corrupted, in fact. There is an evil festering within the bowels of this place. That, sir knight, is why I am here. To determine the nature of this disturbance and, if possible, end it.”

    “There Coerraine.” Alaria stated plainly. “We are of a common purpose. Does that but your spirit at ease?”

    The Redstar Knight made no response.

    “Well, I feel better about it.” perked up Duor. “Any help we can get to finding this pearl will be welcome in my book…er um…and he can carry some more of the loot too.”

    Fen chuckled. “I am happy to help in your cause, if you are happy to help with mine.” Fen offered. “And though I have little concern or need for riches, I am happy to share the burden.”

    “Ya see there,” Duor nudged Braddok in the ribs. “I knew this guy was carved from good stone. Ya had nothing t’worry about.” The dwarf turned to Fen and smiled broadly.

    Braddok gave Duor an annoyed glance and rubbed his bruising side.

    “My thanks for the lesson in religion, Fen. But now, what can you tell us from your time here? What have you found and what of the goblins you mentioned?” Braddok offered politely enough.

    “Well, I had noted the presence of the harpies. Though they, in and of themselves, were obviously not the cause of the disruption.” Fen began. “Still, their removal from the island will certainly be a help to the balance.

    “There is an unnatural taint surrounding the waters here.” Fen turned again to Trihna, “Surely you have noticed it?” he asked.

    The Waverider nodded her agreement. “Indeed we were set upon by some giant crabs at our arrival. My sway over creatures of the sea had no effect on them.”

    “I too,” Coerraine interjected unexpectantly, “noted the taint of evil upon them.” The Redstar knight conceded. If this heathen was to be joining their cause, Coerraine thought, then the least he could do was verify the half-elf’s observations. Seemed the druid was not, in this instance, attempting any deception.

    Fen grinned and nodded an acknowledgement to Coerraine’s input before continuing. “I spent my first week here searching the length and breadth of the island. The creatures of the air and land were somewhat helpful. They warned me of the harpies and so I was able to steer clear of their hunts. The sea-birds also mentioned crab-creatures they said had returned of late and had been sighted in the shallows of shores.”

    “Oh! We’re after the crab men! Tidemaster Kama sent us here to destroy them. He said they’re terrible evil creatures who worship a demon!” Haelan cheerfully interrupted. Then in his ‘barely taking a breath” way added, “Have you seen any?” and more concerned, “There isn’t an actual demon here is there?”

    “Haelan…” Alaria was becoming exasperated with all of the interruptions, particularly from the halfling. The night was deepening and she needed to get her rest to revitalize her mind for working the arcane energies she required for spellcasting. As a second thought, Alaria realized Trihna and Haelan need to also, for that matter.

    “It is quite alright, mages.” Fen smiled. “I have not, my good priest seen any of these ‘crab men’ nor, thank the oak, any demons. But if what you were told is correct, then that could easily be the source of this island’s trouble.”

    The discussion went on for a bit longer into the night. Alaria and Braddok relayed the party’s original mission to Welford, their arrival in Shoal and their presence on the island. Haelan helped, of course, piping in multiple times to add colorful commentary.

    Braddok asked again about the goblins. Fen could only say they had arrived by ship a few days prior. A band of goblins and a few bugbears rowed a longboat from the ship to the island and trekked with some chests and other bundles into a cave in the northern portion of the slopes of the western mountain. He had followed them as best he could but did not dare to venture after them, opting instead of sit in wait at the cave mouth. Before the sun set the following day, they immerged, though in fewer numbers than they’d entered and returned to their ship and sailed off to the north. He again, stated, that he had not heard any of their grumbling conversations nor had he heard of anyone, in his time on the island, named Tresahd.

    All questions asked and answered, the group set up the guard rotation (excluding Alaria and Trihna) and went to sleep. It was some time into the night that Haelan was roused from his slumber by sounds of splashing and motion in the water below. He looked around cautiously and tapped Erevan’s ankle.

    The elf, already awake, turned to the halfling and put a slender finger to his lips. Erevan then, nearly silent and moving very slowly, grabbed his bow and drew an arrow from the quiver that lay beside him. Haelan slowly and as quietly as possible adjusted his position, still laying, to be able to glance over the ledge’s edge.

    Haelan’s night vision was not nearly as good as Erevan’s. But in what little moonlight filtered in through the natural openings across the cavern, the halfling could make out what appeared to be a humanoid, rising out of the water to stand on the, now submerged a few feet, ledge below their camp. The figure seemed to be carrying some large and round shaped things in either hand, but Haelan couldn’t be sure what they were.

    Then he heard a soft…what was that sound? Clacking?
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  • #28
    Steeliest of the dragons
    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    Hello all.

    Just wanted to update you on an update.

    Finishing things up stateside this coming week and bogged down in other "work stuff" this weekend. But, am hoping to find some time in the coming week and barring that, heading back to Andorra by week's end...so if nothing else, I'll have some (much needed) writing time on the plane.

    So, look for an update some time next weekend and thank you all, again, for your interest and reading about my lil' group here.

    While I'm here, I'm always happy to get some feedback.

    Who's your favorite character in the group? Favorite scene thus far? Something you want to know more about? Questions, comments, problems or issues? Anything at all, really.

    Thanks also for your patience, it's been a particularly trying month (with my dad dying and all) but I do promise to get back into Orea very shortly. I miss it there! hahaha.

    Hope everyone has a nice weekend.
    --Steel Dragons
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  • #29
    Steeliest of the dragons
    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    Erevan nocked his bow and took aim on the large clicking clacking creature on the landing below their camp. The ledge that led down to it seemed too narrow for the nearly eight foot creature to climb up to them. Its clicking noises got louder, obviously it was attempting to get a response from up on the ledge.

    At this point, things leapt into a blur. Coerraine rose, spear and shield in hand. The Redstar Knight’s eyes glowed with the divine power of his god and shouted a battle cry to Celerion to, “Protect your virtuous servants from the evil in their midst!”

    A circle of golden light surrounded the landing and Haelan was amazed to see himself and all of their companions momentarily surrounded by a soft golden light. Then the paladin charged, as quickly as he could, down the ledge to meet the interloper.

    The charging paladin’s cry rose the few party members who had not been awakened by the creatures noises.

    Haelan decided the chamber required more illumination and murmured the simple prayer to his goddess, “Yaix ar Yomarus, benfica Faerantha urmu”. Above the landing, a shimmer of silver twinkling lights appeared. It didn’t bathe the whole chamber, but did illuminate their adversary and the landing, ledge, and surrounding waters with more than enough light for his human companions.

    A moment after his invocation, Haelan wished he had not done so as what the party saw was a massive abomination of a creature. It stood as tall as an ogre with a dark greenish-blue carapace covering its humanoid body. The creature’s arms ended in large bulbous claws. Its face was a snouted maw of rows of pointed teeth like that of a shark. Its eyes were glossy black that protruded from its shelled skull, more to the sides of the head than the front. This was undoubtedly, one of the “crab-demon-men” they had been warned of by Tidemaster Kama.

    After scowling at the paladin’s decided lack of stealth, Erevan loosed his arrow quickly. He was similarly caught off guard by Haelan’s light spell and with his eyes shifting to the sudden change in illumination, the bolt splashed harmlessly into the water swirling about the creature’s knees.

    The crab-man opened its maw wide to bare all of its horrifying teeth. What looked like it should have been a fierce roar merely projected a hissing sound, while its claws vigorously snapped with loud “clacks.”

    “Alaria, it’s one of the demon-men!” Haelan offered to the wizardess who had risen, staff in hand. The halfling Hilltender trotted over to the mage’s position and raised his shield in a defensive manner.

    “Thank you Haelan. I can see that.” Alaria responded with sleepy annoyance.

    “What should we do?” the halfing priest questioned as Erevan let fly a second arrow which bounced harmlessly off of its heavily plated shoulder.

    Braddok had grabbed for the short bow he carried and took a shot at the large creature. With Coerraine on the ledge, there was no way for him to engage it directly. His arrow flew far over the crab-man’s head and cracked against the stone wall far off in the shadows created by the shimmering silver lights. “Bollux.” The fighter muttered.

    The crab-man shot out with its claws attempting to take off the blond paladin’s head. Coerraine dodged one and caught the other upon his shield. The force of the blow nearly caused Coerraine to slip on the wet stone of the ledge, but he would not be deterred.

    A sharp jab with his spear met the crabman’s shelled chest, the impact again faltering Coerraine’s balance on the precarious ledge. The crabman seemed to have no such problem maintaining his footing.

    “We have to stop it. If it escapes we’ll have whatever horrors exist on this island swarming against us.” Alaria reasoned, more to herself than anyone listening. “I have not rested enough to work any serious magics. Trihna, can you do anything?”

    The crabman and paladin exchanged blows again, neither landed anything solid. Then the creature stepped back and turned. It was going to flee.

    Deisa Tyris, mahm oseana, estraina y diabollo.” <cleric spell: Hold Person, “Holy Tyris, Ocean Mother, restrain this evil.”> as the invocation sounded from the water priestess, a palpable presence rose about her. The fading light to dark blue of her robes seemed to swirl and churn for a moment like shifting waves. Braddok noticed the effect and blinked to make sure he was not going crazy. The priestess’ robes appeared still as they always were. Too little sleep, Braddok thought to himself.

    At the conclusion of Trihna’s spell, a swell of water rose from the chamber to surround the crabman’s knees and promptly solidified, encasing the creature from the thighs down in a block of ice.

    Obviously caught off guard by the spell, the crabman was completely stunned when Coerraine’s next jab slid his spear head under the creature’s natural armor at the waist. It ignored the pain and pounded its claws into the ice block surrounding it to free itself.

    Knowing it was now or never, Coerraine raised the spear above his head and shouted his righteous plea to Celradorn to smite the evil before him. The spear, then, did pierce the creature’s broad shelled back and Coerraine was able to tear a bit of the shell away from body. Dark gelatinous fluid seeped from the open wound and the creature again hissed loudly.

    The exposed body seemed a bullseye for Erevan who quickly sank two well placed arrows into it. The creature expired and slumped over, still standing for a moment in its magical ice binding before the spell’s power expired and the block of ice returned to normal sea water.


    At Braddok’s instruction, Coerraine quickly grabbed the large creature to keep it from floating or sinking away in the shifting tides. Some handy rope work later by Duor had the crabman’s body securely fastened to a jagged outcropping of rock against the ledge.

    The party cautiously settled back into their camp, keeping two members awake, other than the spellcasters for the remainder of the night.

    When the light of day began filling the sky and filtered into the chamber through the natural opening, the companions rose. Erevan used his limited magic’s to again conjure his disc to float the bulk of the treasure back to the safe secluded outcropping. The tide had receded, as Trihna had surmised and the ledge and landing were slick, but clear of water. Another narrow ledge continued around the perimeter of the chamber and out the side of the water-level cave.


    The party exited into the fresh morning light and early morning sounds of the rousing sea-birds.


    "Alright, let's find this pearl." a determined Alaria said.


    Next up: Meeting the Mahhvelousss Misshtahhh Meesssh
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  • #30
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    Yeah, update!

    And to answer your question, Alaria is my favorite character - love how she was introduced to the storyline - although Trihna is rapidly gaining favor.

    Also, just have to comment that I love how you describe spells in this SH.
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