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Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 05:34 PM #1
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Hard Core Adventurers- KOTS 20.06 The Cathedral of ShadowsHARD CORE
A brief explanation
On the 19th day of the third month of the year 2012, at number six Jepperson Street, in Upper Fallcrest- a rather well-to-do area of the city, a strange meeting takes place, well... strange-ish. The meeting is 'chaired', if that indeed is the correct word, by Gerda Staul, wife of Douvern Staul- ex-adventurer, ex-royal advisor to the Markelhay family and at present ex-of Fallcrest...
“He set out for Winterhaven four weeks past, another one of his darn 'digs'”, Gerda looks across the table at a large metal man, a warforged, she tuts; the warforged raises an eyebrow, or at least does the best it can not having eyebrows and being entirely made of unyielding metal.
Gerda continues, “... some burial site, he said- outside of Winterhaven, from the time of the old Empire- he said. And so off he went... not a care in the world, I said to him...” Gerda stops talking, fetches a handkerchief from her sleeve and blows her nose. She takes a moment and composes herself.
“I'm rambling, sorry, but I miss the silly old bugger- and I know nothing bad has happened to him, he always comes back, he's just stuck in a hole somewhere- getting dirty and excited about old bones and even older junk.”
A pair of small but hairy hands snake out and grasp Gerda's right hand, do their best to enfold it, Gerda smiles down at her son Jimmy, and sniffs.
“I'd just like you to make sure- go to Winterhaven, find him and tell him to come home. He's getting too old for...” Gerda tails off, “... I just miss him.” She finishes.
Silence for a moment, save Gerda's sniffles, “Will you? Please.” She asks and looks plaintively at the others sat at the table.
Jimmy, holding his mother's hand still, grins up at her and nods his head- almost eager- “We'll find dad, don't worry mum,” the smartly dressed young halfling resolutely states.
Sat awkwardly next to Jimmy is a bulky bull-headed female, a member of the minotaur race- Hedda, dressed in purple-robed finery and bearing the holy symbol of the platinum dragon- Bahamut, she too nods, with nothing to add to the conversation.
Next around the table, barely balanced on his seat, is the warforged, battered and ancient looking- Hal, the metal man's eyes flash his agreement. He opens his mouth to speak, then thinks better of it, shuts his mouth and bows his head a little, unable to meet Gerda's gaze.
The fifth chair is occupied by a monstrous looking, scarred, half-orc, with a thick head of hair, dressed for hard labour in worn and oft-repaired clothes- Gokan nods once- definite, and grunts his assent.
The last member of the assembled group is a bald and stern looking dwarf, old even by his long-lived race's counting- Sigur of Hammerfast, growls, stands- almost knocking over his chair, and in his gruff voice speaks. “Well! Let's get going then!” The dwarf declares with a hint of impatience.
Gerda grins, sniffles and then grins some more- her eyes glisten.
The others noisily stand, and one by one troop from the room, each taking a moment to make eye contact with Gerda as they file past her.
Sigur nods curtly and thumps his chest with his right hand, some sort of dwarven salute no doubt. Hedda does her best to smile as she bows low to Gerda- “May Bahamut bless our undertaking” she adds; in the background Sigur hisses and harrumphs.
Hal, the warforged, files past with only a sideward glance at the woman.
Gokan next in line stops for a second, reaches out with one of his large calloused hands and gently touches the middle-aged human woman's cheek- Gerda nestles against Gokan's hand and smiles up at the half-orc. Gokan makes a low, content, animal-like sound and then quickly moves off- leaving Gerda and Jimmy.
The halfling tightens his grip on his mother's hand, leans in and plants a kiss on Gerda's cheek, she smiles as the tears fall, and then Jimmy is gone too. Just Gerda, alone in her room, and the darkness outside.
Last edited by Goonalan; Friday, 10th January, 2014 at 10:02 PM.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 11:39 PM #2
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
The various hidden sections below contain details, as indicated, about the characters in play- reading these sections before reading the story may limit your enjoyment- you have been warned.
The Present Party Line Up
Sigur of Hammerfast
The Red Baron
Last edited by Goonalan; Thursday, 21st November, 2013 at 11:29 PM.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 11:40 PM #3
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
The various hidden sections below contain details, as indicated, about the characters in play- reading these sections before reading the story may limit your enjoyment- you have been warned.
I love my stats, by which I mean the dumb lists that all DMs (fingers-crossed) make, this is the place for them. See spoilers above though, reading these before you have read the story will take some of the fun away.
I'll add lists and other things, like summaries of the action, here as and when I think of them...
Monsters Defeated by PCs Level 1- KOTS
Monsters Defeated by PCs Level 2- KOTS
Monsters Defeated by PCs Level 3- KOTS
A summary of events so far- KOTS
Encounter runs- KOTS
Last edited by Goonalan; Monday, 21st October, 2013 at 02:02 PM.
Monday, 1st October, 2012, 01:14 AM #4
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
READ THIS, PLEASE!
While I'm going to tell the story of our adventures a fair amount of the action will be concentrated on the combat, that's not to say their wont be sections that are entirely combat free.
Anything that is not part of the story will be Sblocked, this could include details of actual game play, or else images to illustrate the action, or else images and details of the monsters or PCs in play.
Next point I'm going to be working my way through the combat one round at a time, and I know that this is not recommended but that's how I like it and this story hour is as much for me as it is you.
How this works is I'll post a new entry, with a rounds worth of story or else set-up and then submit it, the next day I'll add another rounds worth of story, or indeed the next part of the game action- however long that may be. When I add to an existing post I'll change the numbers in the story hour title, so 1.01 will become 1.02, then 1.03 etc.
Likewise when I move on to the next encounter the numbers will jump to 2.01, then 2.02- obviously.
Each new addition to a post will be annotated in the same way (with 1.01, 1.02, etc.), at a later date I'll take the numbers out so that it looks like one continuous story.
If you have any questions then don't hesitate to ask, likewise any comments good or bad then fire away.
Last point- this is a 4e campaign, the story is based on the players actions- so if the bloody dwarf keeps using the same spell then blame the player, not me. There are house rules in play, I'll comment on them if I'm asked to, otherwise... there are house rules, so we play a little differently to you perhaps.
This is my fourth attempt to make my way through the WOTC 4e Core Modules, several of the players have been this way previously as well- although the furthest any of them has got is part way through Thunderspire.
I've changed out some, many or a few of the encounters; some I've changed drastically- completely, others I've not touched at all. The original WOTC story-line, such as it is, has also been changed in places, bent to fit in others, and completely broken elsewhere.
It's our adventure after all.
But your welcome to take a look around.
Thank you for reading.
Last edited by Goonalan; Monday, 24th June, 2013 at 12:15 AM.
Monday, 1st October, 2012, 05:46 PM #5
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
KOTS Part 1: On the Road to Winterhaven.
Party Line Up
The King's Road to Winterhaven, a cart’s width- perhaps a little more, of dried mud that snakes north through the Gardbury Downs. Either side of the track are low bluffs- in parts thinly forested, between vast stretches of gorse and sage bushes which tumble down to the track. Here and there isolated boulders and outcroppings of rock- the road climbs slightly. Travellers often say 'it’s all uphill to Winterhaven.'
Today is the 20th day of the third month, early-afternoon, and the sun is high in the sky, and except for the breeze nothing stirs.
Save the five adventurers; sworn to locate their friend, or master, or father- Douvern Staul, the group have made good time, another hour and they will be in Winterhaven. They travel quickly, eager to be at their task.
“I do not understand your request...” Hal, the warforged warrior stares down at Jimmy; the metal man's almost featureless face somehow manages to express confusion.
Jimmy continues to grin- “humour me.” The halfling simply states, and goes back to grinning some more.
The pair continues to stride down the track that passes for the King's Road this far north of the Gardbury Downs. Eventually Hal looks down at Jimmy again; the halfling is, as always, grinning back up at him.
“I wish to make sense of your request.” Hal intones. Jimmy nods, and grins back.
“You want me to visit a merchant, or shop, or market stall, or similar- and procure from the vendor a lengthy weight?” Hal's metal face develops worry-lines.
“Ask for a long weight- that's it.” Jimmy grins back.
“A long weight?” Hal echoes.
“That's right.” Jimmy concludes with a friendly wink.
Hal faces forward and strides on, every now and then over the next two minutes he surreptitiously glances down at his halfling companion- only to be met, every time, by Jimmy's waiting grin.
Slightly ahead of the odd pair, Gokan, the half-orc moves forward in short loping trots, each burst followed by a moment of stillness in which the lithe barbarian sniffs and open-mouthed, tastes the air. All the while looking and listening intently.
Hedda, the minotaur Priestess of Bahamut, strides forward trying, and failing, to keep up with Gokan. Wrapped tight in her thick cloak to ward off the chill- she is unused to the climate, she strides on, does her best not to shiver too much.
Hedda chews anxiously- partially to stop her teeth from chattering, Gokan has already given her one annoyed look. And yet the half-orc says nothing about the metal man and the halfling's inane chatter- 'may all your troubles be little ones', something she'd heard back at the temple. Hedda reflects on the veracity of the statement, and glances back at Jimmy with furrowed brows.
Jimmy, of course, meets her gaze- it’s as if he'd known she was going to look back at just that moment, the halfling grins- he's always grinning. Hedda snorts and looks forward again, strides on, shaking her great horned head slightly.
At the very rear of the group of adventurers is Sigur, dawdling somewhat; the dwarven Invoker's old and filthy travel cloak trails in the dirt- too big for him, or at least too long, the dwarf being nearly as round as he is tall. Sigur grumbles and mumbles half-forgotten words, not for any particular reason, every now and then he has to race a little to keep up with the others- he makes sure none of them are watching when he does this.
“A long weight.” Hal intones.
Jimmy nods, and grins.
Winterhaven should be in sight soon, in an hour or so, Hedda thinks- thank the platinum dragon.
Back in the midst of the party Hal turns again to look down at the- yes, grinning Jimmy... then, suddenly, something strange happens.
The pair instantly, and simultaneously, look away again- Jimmy hard right, Hal hard left; the pair come to an abrupt halt.
At exactly the same moment Gokan screams furiously and launches himself off the beaten track and in to what looks to be a fairly unremarkable bramble thicket.
Sigur grumbles, louder now, and in a slightly more coherent manner barks- “Ambush!” Although as Jimmy states later, when Sigur isn't around, it sounded more like “hambush”.
Less than three seconds later a pair of wide-eyed, ill-equipped and poorly armoured kobolds yap their final yap, and then slump on to the now bloody turf - Gokan's twin axes continue to circle and dart. The half-orc whirls on, moving through the bushes towards a second panicked gaggle of equally shocked-looking kobolds- one of which, Gokan notes, is wearing what looks to be a large roasting tin as a breast plate.
Picture- Gokan in action
And has a saucepan strapped to its head. Gokan thinks about this, a little unsure as to what it signifies, the moment however soon passes- he whirls on, eager to be at his prey.
Back on the road waves of spear wielding kobolds rush from the undergrowth, yapping, yelling and babbling excitedly in their strange tongue.
Sigur, at the very rear of the group, and somewhat separated from his comrades, is suddenly surrounded, and stabbed- repeatedly. The dwarf's right leg folds under him, he staggers, grumbles loudly and then finds his feet.
The dwarf feels light-headed, he begins to notice the patches of red showing through his cloak, he looks up and spies Hedda who has turned around to face him. The minotaur priestess brandishes her shiny holy symbol, and calls forth in a bellowing and yet sonorous voice- “May the light of the platinum dragon burn the unbelievers.”
Three of the Kobolds are struck by glowing rays of scalding silvery-purple light, seconds later the three reptilians are nothing more than ash in the wind- their bodies instantaneously consumed by Hedda's radiant power. The minotaur nods once at Sigur, and then turns back to see what comes next.
Picture- Hedda in action
Jimmy, the halfling, meantime spins out a dagger- the sixth kobold minion falls, clutching at the short blade buried deep in its chest.
Either side of the road bushes shiver and shake, or else are grabbed and pulled aside- more kobolds approach, but these are not the minions the adventurers have so far faced.
In the bush Gokan continues his bloody dance, his blades flashing about him- the half-orc slices in to the gaggle of cowering kobolds. His battleaxe bites in to the saucepan helmed reptilian's roasting tin-style breastplate- slicing through the thin metal. The effect is instantaneous, the guttersnipe's armour, such as it is, peels away from its body- some important tie or tether has been severed. A second later the forlorn looking humanoid is left standing naked amidst a small pile of saucepan lids.
Gokan's hand axe follows after his battleaxe, the embarrassed kobold clutches at its throat and staggers backwards, and falls- gurgling and forlornly waving it soon expires. Gokan however seems almost not to notice, the half-orc whirls and spins on, smashing in to the last two minions- again both of the his blades find their targets, the pair follow the guttersnipe down in to the dirt.
Back on the road, Jimmy is being menaced by a kobold skirmisher, clad in leather armour and expertly wielding a spear. Jimmy dances and, with his dagger, blocks the reptilian creature's repeated stabbing attacks.
Further up the road a skull-masked kobold dodges out from behind a huge boulder, the creature mutters strange yapping phrases and with circling hands conjures a greenish ball of flickering energy. The wyrmpriest leaps a little and with one hand launches the energy orb towards the adventurers on the road.
Hal, the warforged fighter, watches the odd looking missile in, and at the last moment dodges right, straight in to the acid grenade- the metal man sizzles and smokes as he burns.
Moving out to join the wyrmpriest comes another kobold; this creature is armed with a lengthy, and dangerous-looking, pike. The creature snarls, grips the haft of the weapon tightly, and readies it to keep all enemies at bay- guarding its master.
Yet another kobold clanks out from cover, dashes across the road- straight for the still sizzling and spitting warforged. The scale armoured dragonshield ducks and dodges- yaps and suddenly points up and to the right. Hal foolishly follows the creature's gesture- looking away from his opponent for just a second- which is incidentally all the time the kobold needs. The dragonshield slices with its short sword. The blade pierces both of the Hal's knee-caps, sparks fly as the metal man staggers and totters. He windmills his hands furiously, trying desperately to maintain his balance, he fails, and falls- landing hard on the packed earth.
The light goes out of Hal's eyes.
Picture- Hal falls
Sigur, still at the rear of the group, sucks up the hurt and shouts a lot while pointing skywards furiously with his rod- his words are indecipherable, more angular barked gruff sounds. A dark cloud forms in an instant high overhead, there follows a low grumbling sound which rumbles on for a second or two before ending in three staccato thunderclaps that suck the air from the assembled combatant's lungs.
Ahead of Sigur one of the kobold minions suddenly concertinas and collapses, all the life gone from it. The pair of kobolds facing Jimmy, and the fallen Hal, are likewise affected by the thunderclaps- the dragonshield staggers a little, its scale armour rent and broken in places. While the skirmisher has to plant its spear in the ground, and clutch on to it- in an effort to stay on its feet.
Sigur however doesn't stop invoking, or pointing, a pair of ghostly glowing hands suddenly appear and move swiftly towards their targets, swooping and diving through the melee. The first hand bursts against the dragonshield's breast, causing the creature to stagger further. The second slams in to the skirmisher, who spins around his planted spear, trying desperately to avoid collapse.
Picture- Sigur dishes the hurt
Jimmy sees his opening, shimmies over to the skirmisher and on his second attempt stabs the kobold in its side; the creature slides down its spear further, and then closes its eyes and falls lifeless on to the ground.
Hedda meantime gestures and chants towards Hal, the fallen metal man, “Bahamut preserve!” She yells over the noise of the battle. Hal's eyes half-open, the warforged flickers back in to life.
The minotaur priestess turns back again and strides towards Sigur, she flails wildly with her mace at a pair of kobold minions; she fails to connect with either of the sneaky dexterous reptiles.
Suddenly bursting back from the bushes comes Gokan, the half-orc is screaming again- his battle cry, he spins with his battleaxe and... THUK! The dragonshield is cleanly decapitated; the kobold's head spirals in to the air only to fall neatly at Gokan's feet.
Picture- Gokan in action, again
A terrified kobold minion gawps at Gokan in action, the small reptilian humanoid braces for impact as the whirling half-orc whirls on. Gokan smashes in to the creature, the kobold falls. The barbarian comes to a halt, grins back at his compatriots and then looks ahead at the kobold pikeman and wyrmpriest- pointing the way with his battleaxe, he roars.
Hal lurches to his feet and strides back a little to help Sigur and Hedda, the warforged's greatsword cleaves clean through one of the minions and in to the last of the creatures- all of the lesser kobolds are vanquished.
Picture- Hal versus the Minions
Back up the road the kobold pikeman acknowledges Gokan's challenge and scurries forwards, manages to dodge the half-orcs defence, and stabs Gokan in the side; although the half-orc twists at the last moment and deflects most of the force of the attack.
The kobold wyrmpriest chants and gesticulates as waves of positive energy fan from its hands; the pikeman is outlined in a protective furze. The spell-casting reptilian conjures again- another green grenade which it flings at Jimmy, the halfling reacts quickly, and yet still fails to avoid the burst- he screams as he burns, desperately trying to wipe the acid from his face and upper body.
Bad Derek, the kobold wyrmpriest, scurries back a little way- ready to flee in an instant, with only the kobold pikeman between it and the adventurers.
The kobold pikeman stabs at Gokan again, this time a hearty blow which punctures the half-orc's armour, and body. Gokan bleeds profusely but is far from beaten- he smashes his hand axe down on the kobold's pike, shattering the haft of the weapon. He spins forward, and whirls, his battleaxe comes full circle and bites deep in to the kobold's body.
An instant later Jimmy's dagger spirals out and thuds in to the pikeman's gut, a second later Hedda's mace whacks in to the side of the reptilian's head- the creature attempts to back away but is much too slow. Hal steps forward and almost cuts the kobold in two.
Picture- Pikeman overkill
The adventurers collectively look up, just in time to see the sneaky wyrmpriest sprinting out of sight...
The battle is won, the war has just begun.
Encounter #1 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts
Last edited by Goonalan; Friday, 14th June, 2013 at 10:50 PM.
Saturday, 6th October, 2012, 12:27 PM #6
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
KOTS Part 1a: Winterhaven, briefly.
An hour later and the adventurers are in Winterhaven, a small fortified settlement, having nodded their way past the two guardsmen at the gate. Before them a small gathering of market stalls, two dozen or so natives of the town take a moment to stare at the strange-looking newcomers. Jimmy grins at Hal and nods towards one of the stalls, the metal man's eyes flash red, the warforged moves off in the opposite direction, towards a timber and stucco two storey building, the sign says 'Wrafton's Inn'.
Moments later the adventurers are within; a cosy wide-open chamber, with a dozen or so tables, half of which are occupied, at the far end a long bar and a set of stairs leading up to the second floor. The occupants of the Inn stop to stare, while a well-dressed young man wearing a symbol of office stands up and clears his throat...
“Welcome to Winterhaven, I'm Padraig- Lord Padraig, and you are?”
The young man offers his hand, “Hedda.” Hedda states, and shakes the proffered hand- the minotaur priestess nods to each of her compatriots as she introduces them to the young Lord. The assembled adventurers nod, or else likewise shake his Lordship’s hand, drinks are called for and eventually the buzz of conversation returns, although the adventurers are still subject to many curious side-long glances.
“Well, what brings you to our pleasant town?” Padraig asks.
Hedda scans her compatriots’ faces before fielding the enquiry, “we're seeking a friend- Douvern Staul, an ex-adventurer, he came this way perhaps a month past....”
Padraig suddenly interrupts spotting the acid scars on Hal's metal body, the blood on Sigur's robes, and Jimmy's burnt and blackened hands, “It seems your journey was not without incident- Kobolds?” The young lord ventures.
“Aye.” Sigur curtly nods, “bloody little devils...” The dwarf trails off.
“How did you...” Jimmy begins, again Lord Padraig interrupts.
“We've been having a few... err, problems with the little... rascals, on the King's Road- I've posted a reward for their destruction...”
“We're not here for piffling kobold scum- we're here for our friend!” Sigur declares, punctuating his statement by slamming his tankard repeatedly on to the table.
The Inn goes silent again, behind Lord Padraig a large bearded man puts his hand on the hilt of his sword, and swaggers closer... “Watch your tongue, dwarf!”
Sigur stands; his chair spins back and clatters in to a nearby table spilling drinks.
“I'll say what I like to who I like- you long tall streak of p...”
“Gentlemen!” Hedda rises, hands out- proffering peace, “we came here to find our friend, not to cause trouble- if you help us with our mission, we will- time permitting - help you with your kobold problem. After all- one good turn deserves another.”
The silence sharpens, Sigur continues to bristle, the hefty looking man behind Padraig bites his beard and bristles back.
In the silence a badly-dressed older human staggers to his feet- gripping hard on to the edge of the nearest table, “I know... I mean, I knew... That is...” The old drunk tries for the third time to make himself understood. “He's working at the old burial site- Dougan, to the south east of here, not far- about three miles outside the town walls, I sent him there- or at least I told him...”
The five adventurers instantly forget their conversation with Lord Padraig and his lackey, they wordlessly excuse themselves from the table- Sigur grabs one of the drunk’s arms, Hal the other- the old guy's feet don't touch the floor until the gaggle are back outside the gates of Winterhaven.
“Where?” Hedda demands.
“I'm thirsty...” The old man starts.
“You will be rewarded well, should you tell the truth.” Hedda declares and fetches out her money pouch.
“Talk you dirty bastard.” Sigur spits and violently shakes the drunk.
“Over there.” The startled human points, “three miles or so- you can't miss it, a big hole in the ground circled by gorse bushes, he's down there. I promise, now...”
“When did you see Douvern last?” Hedda asks.
Sigur begins to shake the drunk when he hesitates.
“Douv..? Oh, you mean Dougan; he came in to town ten days back- bought food and drink from the store...”
“How did he seem?” Hedda snorts and gets in the drunk’s face, awaiting his reply- watching him intently.
The drunk shrugs, “alright, I guess- he had a drink and a meal at Wrafton's 'fore he left- bought me one for pointing 'im in the right direction.” The drunk looks momentarily wounded, he mutters to himself, “not right treating me like this...” Sigur snarls at the guy, whose face turns white.
“Let him go.” Hedda states, Hal and Sigur comply, the latter reluctantly- the drunk staggers some more as the minotaur priestess of Bahamut presses a single gold coin in to his hand. The old man grins as the coin catches the light revealing its value, all it seems is instantly forgiven.
“Bless you sirs”, the drunk states and goes to kiss Sigur, then thinks better of it, and hot foots it back through the town gate, heading at speed for the Inn.
The adventurers take a moment- each gazing off in to the distance, eventually Sigur breaks the silence, “Well!” the dwarf bellows, tuts loudly and then strides off towards the burial site, the others quickly follow after...
Hedda worries- too easy, she thinks, far too easy.
Last edited by Goonalan; Friday, 14th June, 2013 at 10:53 PM.
Sunday, 16th December, 2012, 10:25 PM #7
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
KOTS Part 8a: Sleep, perchance to dream.
An hour or so later the five adventurers, including a now upright and mobile- and compos mentis, Hal; are ensconced in the former goblin chief's bedchamber.
The bodies of the fallen goblins have been hidden away in another chamber nearby, after being thoroughly searched of course. The secret doors have been investigated by Sigur, who has a degree of expertise in the area, they are at present closed- as are all the doors leading to the chief's chamber.
The adventurers want, make that need, to rest- particularly Jimmy and Tonka who are both on their last legs.
They have however made a number of discoveries in the last sixty or so minutes, the first a greatsword of marvellous manufacture, hidden beneath the chief's bed, Hal in idle moments admires his new blade.
Also located beneath the bed is a chest, formerly locked and trapped with a poison needle- neither a match for a curious Jimmy. Within is another vast pile of gold coins- it seems the adventurers are rich, well... should they escape this place with their lives.
More importantly they locate a swathe of letters and notices, written in a mixture of the goblin tongue and crude common. The author of the dozen or so pieces of parchment appears to be someone called Commander Gark. It seems Balgron was assigned to guard the entrance to the catacombs, as explained previously by the goblin prisoners. Gark makes lots of threats should Balgron fail, clearly Gark is in charge here.
Nobody is pleased to hear that Balgron has a boss, the goblin bastard was hard enough to kill.
Two of the notes also make mention of the ‘messengers', whoever or whatever they may be. Balgron, it transpires, was also charged with looking after them...
“The messengers?” Tonka wonders out loud, having read all of the missives to his compatriots.
“What do you think people?” The dragonborn asks, while lying on his bedroll.
Jimmy, on watch at the door, looks back.
“Where?” Gokan looks up hungry.
“Noooo!” Tonka whines, “not pigeons.”
Jimmy thinks some more, as does Hal- Gokan blinks twice.
Sigur on the bed, under the covers, and still clutching half a bottle of dwarven whisky, snores loudly.
“What then?” Jimmy asks.
“Perhaps the kobolds?” Tonka tries.
Gokan blinks- just once this time.
“It doesn't sound right- besides that was Irontooth's job...” Tonka answers his own question.
The chamber goes silent again.
Except for Sigur's rasping snores.
“Mess-en-gers...” Tonka sounds every syllable.
“It is clear that whoever or whatever these messengers are their role was to move between the various groups within the area- delivering the aforementioned messages. To date we have investigated the burial site, the kobolds’ lair and here- therefore the messengers’ job would be to move between these sites unopposed- perhaps even secretly. Yes, that's probably it.”
Hal stops to think.
Jimmy and Tonka hang on the metal man's words.
“It is therefore logical to conclude that the messengers are a group of creatures we have yet to meet, who specialise in moving between the various groups using stealth, or else using some other form of disguise, or chicanery.”
“Chicanery?” Jimmy whispers at Tonka.
“It's a herb used to flavour pastries.” Tonka elucidates.
“Thanks.” Jimmy nods.
“Logically.” Hal finishes.
“Good work Hal.” Tonka remarks, and then begins snoring.
Several hours later, and Jimmy is back on watch, sitting by the doors- the rota having been decided by Sigur, of course.
Hal stands in a corner of the chamber- head down, lights off, recharging his batteries. Gokan hasn't changed position- every now and then the half-orc blinks; his brother sleeps with both eyes open, Jimmy wonders about this, and about why he wasn't aware of this odd fact- until now.
Sigur, swaddled in blankets still- in Balgron's bed, sleeps on- the dwarf has stopped snoring.
Jimmy completes a circuit of the chamber- looks down at Tonka, the nearest of his companions- the dragonborn opens his eyes, stretches, and then whispers.
“Is it me yet?”
Jimmy looks at the candle, there's still a little way for it to burn down, the halfling shakes his head.
The silence returns.
But only for a little while.
“Jimmy.” Tonka whispers.
The halfling turns to stare.
“What's with the brother thing?” Tonka nods at Gokan, and then Hal.
“How can they be your brothers? And Douvern, your dad. He's human? I don't...”
“He's not really my dad, I mean, our dad, not...” Jimmy tries to find the words.
“Go on...” Tonka whispers.
“Douvern, I mean dad- it never felt right, calling him Douvern.”
“Dad took me in, twenty-eight years ago, found me on the streets of Fallcrest- or rather the City Watch did. One of the Watch guys, Sgt. Murgeddin, a dwarf, he found me- took me to Dad, they're friends.”
Tonka nods some more.
“My parents were barge folk, or at least... well, best guess- they didn't want me. But dad, and mum- Gerda, they wanted me. So they brought me up. I was only a baby.”
“I've never known any other parents, they're just... Mum and dad, always have been.”
Tonka nods some more, then looks over at Gokan again, “and Gokan?”
“Same deal, mum and dad took him in twenty years past, he was older than I was, and more, y'know... Orcish back then. Erathis knows how he ended up in Fallcrest but he'd seen some hard times. Dad saw him working on the docks- asked around, don't know why, he's just like that. Anyway Gokan was sleeping rough, dad invited him home for a meal- he came back, and again, and again, they made him up a room eventually.”
Jimmy shrugs, looks over at his half-orc brother.
“He doesn't say much, just every now and then- mostly he talks to mum. I don't know the whole story, as I say, bad things... He's always looked out for me though- I didn't mind, I always wanted a big brother...”
Jimmy shrugs again.
And then pointedly looks at Hal.
“Hal's the strange one. Dad found him- he'd got in to excavating ruins and the like, he's always been interested in the past. Anyway one day, about ten years ago, he comes back from some dig site on the outskirts of the Witchlight Fens- creepy place, and he's got Hal with him.”
Tonka looks confused.
“He'd dug him up, says he uncovered his head first, and Hal just started talking- a lot of nonsense dad says but... a bit strange, anyway he dug him out. At first, when he came home with dad, Hal didn't say anything, not after that first time... He was just always there- in the house, wherever dad went Hal went.”
“Dad says he's ancient, from before the old empire even, maybe 500 years old- imagine that...”
Tonka and Jimmy stare at Hal, the warforged doesn't move.
“Dad reckons he doesn't say anything ‘less he's thought about it- said he's had plenty of time to think about things.”
Jimmy stares vacantly.
“I like him... but he's a bit, odd. Mum doesn’t get on with him, she never did anything to make him unwelcome but... It's always been difficult with Hal and mum. But he's my brother, I guess... My bigger, much older, brother.”
“That's it really- none of us are related, and yet... Mum and dad brought us together- a family.”
Jimmy grins again, content.
Silence for a while, then Tonka stirs again.
“And the dwarf, I mean Sigur?”
“He's a bloody lunatic. One of dad’s friends- but even he thought he was a bit tapped. Avandra knows how he ended up coming with us, I don't think mum told him that dad was missing- no idea how he found out, how he ended up here. Him and dad adventured together but that was...” Jimmy exhales loudly, “... forty or more years ago. An age. And he was old then dad said.” Jimmy nods towards Sigur.
Tonka nods- satisfied.
The silence goes on for a while.
Eventually Jimmy asks.
“What's this all about?” The halfling asks.
“What d'you mean?” Tonka looks a little confused.
“This place, the goblins, the messengers, the stuff that the old geezer- the sage, told us about- Sir Keegan slaying his family, all that?” Jimmy looks nonplussed.
Tonka thinks about his answer.
“You know the difference between right and wrong, Jimmy? Don't you? Between good and bad?”
“Well, all I know is there's something bad here, probably buried deep- beneath a pile of goblins, and worse probably. We're here to find the bad thing and make it go away- kill it, maybe, or else...” Tonka shrugs.
Jimmy continues to stare, perhaps a little unsure.
“I know why I'm here, it’s my job Jimmy. It’s what I was born to do, trained to do- in the service of my great and glorious lord, the platinum dragon, Bahamut, who will rise again.”
“It’s easy for me Jimmy.” Tonka adds with a smile.
Jimmy nods, once.
“Why you're here Jimmy. That's not for me to say, or even guess at- only you can answer that. But there's one thing I'm certain of...”
Jimmy leans in a little, eager to share the secret.
“We're the good guys. You're a good guy. As is Gokan, and Hal- and even Sigur. I'm certain of that, that's not a bad place to start.”
Tonka nods back, and grins.
Jimmy grins back.
The pair continue to smile at each other, and then... and then.
“What was that?”
Jimmy sits up quickly, puts his eye to the door, slightly ajar- he spies in to the darkened corridor leading away from the chamber.
Rats, scurrying, skittering, sniffing, scratching...
Jimmy is on his feet.
He screams a warning.
“Hundreds of them...” Jimmy whispers as the chamber behind him bursts in to life.
Last edited by Goonalan; Wednesday, 22nd May, 2013 at 12:47 AM.
Tuesday, 1st January, 2013, 01:38 PM #8
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
KOTS Part 9: The Rat Pack.
Party Line Up
Picture- Jimmy shouts a warning
“Rats!” Jimmy screams again, and spins out his vicious dagger while taking a step back in to the chamber. His blade finds its mark, one of a pair of much larger rats in the corridor, each perhaps four feet long whiskers-to-tail. The creature bleeds profusely but bounds on- towards the adventurers.
A sudden loud snort and Sigur awakes, leaps to his feet, already mumbling and invoking- the wrathful dwarf’s familiar, and favourite, trio of radiant hands spring in to life- and rush out to find their targets. Alas only one of the ghostly appendages finds its mark, the same dire rat that Jimmy wounded, the creature squeaks as it burns, and yet still it comes on.
Tonka and Hal charge through the doors, swords drawn- the front-line, the pair swing furiously at the skittish little terrors before them, and yet both fail to connect. Gokan, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, is the last to his feet- the half-orc is forced to wait for an opening to appear, there’s no room for him to get at the foe.
And still the rats come on…
“Hold the line”, Tonka cries, brandishing his blade, “… just a few pesky rodents.” The dragonborn warlord concludes.
Picture- Pesky rodents vs pesky adventurers
Jimmy’s dagger comes again, and the closest of the dire rats, already terribly wounded, finally slumps on to its side- dead; however more rats filter either side and over their fallen cousin.
“There’re a lot of them…” Jimmy worries.
“Hold the line.” Tonka simply states, and then winks at his friend.
Sigur has other ideas. The dwarf glances over his shoulder at Gokan- nods at the half-orc and then steps back- still mumbling and invoking as another trio of ghostly hands suddenly appear and head off to find more vermin to radiate. But again the dwarf’s aim is off- only one hit, on a smallish rat, however the radiant burn is enough to slay the creature.
As Sigur steps back Gokan rushes in- his axes whirl and spin as the half-orc charges and howls- in to the thick of the action. The rats however are far too quick it seems, or else Gokan is still out of sorts, his twin axes fail to draw blood.
It’s now Gokan’s turn to scream, not in anger but in pain- the rats react instantly to the whirling barbarian’s arrival- they swarm, even turning away from their previously intended targets to attack the now isolated half-orc. Gokan continues to screech, and hop from foot to foot, trying desperately to stay on his feet as his lower limbs are ravaged by a horde of tiny sharp teeth.
Seconds later he’s bleeding from a myriad painful wounds.
“Bahamut save us!”
Jimmy, Tonka and Sigur cry out in unison, Hal and Gokan remain close-lipped. The sudden expressions of anxiety are due to the fact that one of the smaller rats scurrying towards Tonka suddenly warps and shapes, and a moment later is transformed in to a particularly hairy, rat-featured, human brandishing a wicked looking blade.
“Holy Sh… Lycanthropes!” Tonka screams, panic in the dragonborn’s voice.
“He-he…” The wererat scum giggles, and then stabs its blade in to the dragonborn’s gut. “Rat-attack!” it declares, and then hisses and giggles some more.
The remaining dire rat bustles forward through its hairy brethren to the front of the queue, and then springs at Tonka, leaping in to his arms. The dragonborn wrestles with the creature but to no avail, the beastly vermin sinks its teeth in to Tonka’s neck- blood bursts, bubbles and flows.
Another of the smaller rats scurries through Tonka’s legs; the dragonborn swings half-heartedly but is still contending with the dire rat in his embrace, he misses. The small rat undergoes the same transformation- the wererats are through the adventurers’ front line. Tonka is stabbed in the back, again, for good measure.
Picture- Tonka’s on his last legs
Tonka mumbles half-remembered prayers, on the very edge of consciousness; he finally manages to dislodge the dire rat from its precarious perch- the verminous villain however lands adeptly at his feet, and renews its assault.
And yet another of the smaller rats makes its way through the front-line, moments later it too has transformed in to a blade wielding rat man.
“Pull back! Pull back!” Sigur screams, but the wrathful invoker already knows that it’s too late- if they cannot kill the rat men quickly… Sigur prefers not to think about the possible outcome.
“Pull Back!” Sigur calls again.
“Bahamut Preserve!” Tonka cries out as his wounds close over- or at least many of them do. He swings heartily with his blade- but again to no great affect, all the while trying to find a way out of the melee and back in to the chamber.
Suddenly the air before Tonka is filled with forked lightning, another of the smaller rats is frazzled, the dire rat singed, but still there’s no retreat for the dragonborn.
Gokan is the rats’ next target, again the transformations occur; only this time of the three rats that make it through the half-orc’s defences two of them re-shape in to the familiar ratty humans, the third in to a more vicious version of the same.
“Dessstroy them.” The newly revealed scurrying wererat hisses.
Gokan is stabbed, again, and again, and again- even the flickering appearance of Tonka’s Bahamut-emblazoned shield is not enough, it serves only to prolong the agony- the half-orc staggers and falls.
Picture- Gokan falls
“Feast my brothers. Feast!” The scurrying wererat cries out.
Hal unleashes hell, slashes at the back of the wererat leader with his magical greatsword, the blow almost levels the rodent-man, who spins around to face its aggressor; the lycanthrope’s back is torn open, cut to the bone- it bleeds furiously.
“Fight me!” Hal declares and then swings again, hacking in to the rodent-man’s right leg, the creature screams in terror and anger. Another wererat quickly moves forward to menace Hal with its dagger; the metal man is having none of it. Hal thumps the pommel of his greatsword in to the threatening lycanthrope’s face, the beast’s head snaps back and it sinks to the floor.
“FIGHT ME!” Hal shouts, insistent now, and clearly very angry.
Suddenly another rat morphs and shapes, a second terrifying scurrying wererat, the creature snarls.
“Time to die, metal man!” It hisses and cackles, and then stabs Hal hard in his abdomen.
Picture- Fighting for their lives
“Get out! Get out!” Jimmy screams imploring his fellow adventurers to retreat; the halfling unleashes a barrage of daggers at all of the wererats he can see in the corridor, although he’s not helped by the fact that the fiendish creatures are hidden amongst his friends.
The first, the closest, of the wererat leaders takes a dagger to the face, the blood gushes as the creature flails wildly screaming in its odd high-pitched voice. The remaining dire rat is likewise struck; the huge rat lurches and scurries randomly, unable to get its directions, alas Jimmy’s aim is otherwise off.
The adventurers have barely scratched the surface, and they’re suffering terribly.
“Come on! The secret door…” Jimmy wails forlornly, as soon as his vicious dagger reappears in his hand he flings it again- the flailing, scurrying wererat falls.
Picture- Jimmy’s barrage
Sigur scurries forward a little way, the dwarf sounds frantic, “… give ground, give ground…” he advises, while mumbling and grumbling as he invokes.
The packed passage is suddenly choked with glowing radiant purple clouds which, moments later burst and swoop down upon the dwarf’s enemies, bathing each of his foes in a terrible radiant glow.
The clouds and the glow slowly fade, the effect is somewhat underwhelming, the last dire rat is sorely burnt, missing great swathes of its coarse fur, the remaining scurrying wererat is somewhat singed, alas none of the other creatures seem to be affected in any way.
“Oh Moradin- please Lord!” Sigur whispers, then swallowing hard, wades in to the thick of the battle, his mace turns to stone in his hands as he swings it at the closest enemy, the wererat alas is much too fast.
Sigur’s face betrays his fear.
The swarm of rats continues to gnaw on the unconscious Gokan, that is until the remaining scurrying wererat leader makes a series of high-pitched squeaking sounds. The frenzied swarm rushes forward, so fast is it and so large that Sigur has to give ground. The dwarf suddenly takes to swatting furiously at his leg, and arms- trying to bat the rats off of him, hundreds more continue to gnaw on the dwarf.
Sigur shakes and shudders, and stomps, and roars his disapproval, all the while the rats scratch, claw and bite. His armour suddenly glows, the burning light coalesces and bursts in to the storm, although again with little effect, several smoking blackened rat corpses lie smouldering on the floor, but the dwarf is still almost overcome.
To make matters worse the blinded dire rat charges forward through Tonka’s legs, although the dragonborn warlord manages to get a little of his blade on the beast en route - but not enough to stop it. The rat launches itself at Sigur, sinks its great teeth in to the dwarf’s leg and hangs on.
Tonka quickly orientates himself, turns to face his comrades back in the former goblin chieftain’s chamber, “Bahamut preserve!” the dragonborn declares, and Sigur is no longer at death’s door.
“Thank you Moradin!” The dwarf whispers, his prayers partially answered.
Tonka meantime lashes out at the nearest wererat, which ducks and evades his clumsy attack, another of the creatures dodges Hal’s equally fumbling attack and rushes forward- stabbing out at Sigur, the dwarf is cut again, and once more forced to give ground.
The remaining scurrying wererat leader steps back out of the action, and again produces a series of high-pitched whistles and squeaks- the creature’s rodent brothers manoeuvre; Tonka is being separated from his fellow adventurers- who are being forced back in to Balgron’s bedchamber.
“Ssssoooon we feast my lovelies, soon we feast!” the foul creature croons.
Hal tries again with his greatsword, smashing his weapon down and through one of the wererat scum, and then dragging the blade down further to scrape on the stone floor and slice through the rat swarm. The wererat falls, but the rat swarm is merely momentarily inconvenienced.
Picture- Still fighting for their lives...
Gokan, seemingly forgotten about, lies still on the cold stone floor, all around him chaos and despair.
Jimmy has nowhere to go but back, away from his friends. The halfling dashes to the secret door, all the while throwing daggers in to the swarm as he retreats- to little effect. He thumps the wall, a grinding noise and the passageway and stairs are revealed.
“Come on! Please!” Jimmy begs.
The furious bustling bundle of rats swarms over Sigur…
“Mora…” Sigur starts.
“Nooooooo!” Jimmy screams
As the grumbling dwarf collapses to the cold stone floor, the swarm continues in its frenzy to circle and bite. Although moments later after yet another series of squeaks and hisses, delivered again by the last remaining scurrying wererat, the swarm moves off.
Heading straight for Jimmy.
Picture- Jimmy’s leaving and Sigur’s down
The forlorn, broken Sigur bleeds and lies still.
The last remaining, badly injured, dire rat recovers its senses and rushes at Hal, the metal man is bested- slammed back in to the wall by the force of the huge rodent’s charge.
Tonka finally retreats, back in to the bedchamber, fending off opportune attacks from a number of wererats en route; the dragonborn is lucky, or else he’s getting much better with his longsword. Tonka makes his way back to Jimmy and the swarm without suffering a hit.
Once there he unleashes hell, or else the force of Bahamut- his god and saviour, alas hell is postponed, his luck runs out and his effort is wasted, his attack is pathetic, he misses by a mile.
The two remaining wererat scum change form again, back in to tiny rats, they dodge and duck and run circles around Hal- eventually manoeuvring before and behind the metal man, from which positions they launch their attacks.
Hal is bitten, and scratched and clawed some more- almost spent.
Picture- Hal is surrounded
The scurrying wererat rushes over to the flustered Hal, who doesn’t know quite where to turn, and slams its blade in to the metal man’s face.
The effect in instantaneous.
Hal stops, makes one last sudden rasping grinding sound, and then speaks.
“I have failed.”
His last words, Hal collapses, dead.
Picture- Hal is slain
Tonka and Jimmy are suddenly aware that they’re all that’s left.
Tonka and Jimmy retreat down the stairs, the rats come on, behind the verminous trio the scurrying wererat squeaks and hisses its orders.
“Not long now my lovelies…” It hisses and grins.
Jimmy suddenly steps forward, lashes out with his vicious blade at all three targets before him - the two wererat scum, in rodent form, and the swarm.
He fails to connect with any of his enemies.
Picture- Jimmy misses
The swarm gnaws and bites at the halfling’s lower legs and feet- Jimmy bleeds and dances back.
The last dire rat mean time darts out of the corridor and forward in to the action, charging straight for Tonka, the dragonborn’s aim is straight and true - he cuts the brute down.
The distraction is enough however.
The two remaining tiny rats scurry and scuttle, till they’re in position, both simultaneously morph in to rat man shape- either side of Tonka. Moments later the dragonborn is swiftly, and expertly, cut down.
The scurrying wererat leader dashes in to the opening and stabs Jimmy in the gut, the halfling staggers and squirms… the end is close.
Picture- The end is nigh...
Jimmy staggers back, down the stairs, almost spills his blade, one hand clutched to his gut- the blood sticky red pulses and flows.
“But… But… We’re the good guys…”
Jimmy blinks, unable to take in the events.
The vermin close in for the kill.
Jimmy steps back again, his legs almost giving way- fear, raw fear… terror.
The young halfling’s mind whirrs.
“Four thousand gold- ransom them, to me…” Jimmy holds up his hand, the one not holding his vicious dagger.
The wereat scum and the rat swarm come on- hissing and squeaking respectively.
The scurrying wererat, the leader, suddenly squeaks once, loud and commanding.
“Four thousand gold- from my father, it’ll take a couple of days… three days. He’s in Fallcrest, he’s a rich man, an adventurer, or else he was… He has money though, I promise.”
The scurrying wererat barges forward past the two scum.
“Convince me.” It hisses.
“My father used to work for the Lord Markelhay, you’ve heard of him… yes?” Jimmy gabbles.
The wererat nods.
“He paid him well for his services, before that- as I said, he made his money adventuring; I mean he’s not as rich as some of the folk in the city, or the guilds of Hammerfast, but… He has money, he can get four thousand quickly, get it here- to Winterhaven, and then…”
“The dragon burial site.” The wererat calmly states fingering the edge of its blade.
“Yes. Yes, I mean… all you’d have to do is let me go- I mean, I don’t know how you ended up here…” Jimmy looks about himself, indicating the catacombs of the Keep.
“You’re probably paid badly, I mean… you’re just, messengers!” Jimmy hangs the last word out, and shivers.
The wererat’s whiskers quiver, its eyes flash in anger.
“I mean- messengers, that’s beneath you, but with money- well, you could start again, somewhere else. Maybe in a city… not in a filthy, wet, smelly dungeon.”
The wererat sniffs and wrinkles his nose, seemingly aware for the first time of the stink and dirt about him.
“Well… What do you think? Three days- four thousand gold coins?” Jimmy begs.
Jimmy presses on, afraid of the silence. “You don’t have to tell your bosses, the… goblins?”
“Hobgoblins.” The scurrying wererat snarls.
“Hobgoblins, goblins- no matter, they don’t have to know. The money’s for you, you and your men, I mean- rat men, all for you. ‘Messengers’, you’re better than that- much bet…”
Jimmy is cut off, a moan loud and terrible from back up the stairs- Jimmy recognises it instantly- Gokan. Gokan’s dying Jimmy thinks, and frets.
But the halfling’s words are cut off again, this time by the grinding groaning sound of the second secret door sliding open.
Jimmy watches, nervous, his blade ready- looking front and back- he’s surrounded.
The second secret door opens all the way, to reveal- nothing. The torches have been extinguished in the excavation chamber beyond it seems- it’s dark, shadowy, there’s something…
Suddenly a cacophony of furious squeaks from the wererats, the trio- even the scurrying wererat leader, bows low and backs away a little. The rat swarm plunges down the stairs in a mad rush, filtering around and through Jimmy’s feet.
Jimmy grips his blade even tighter.
“Little ones…” A whispering voice which purrs with pleasure comes from the darkness at the bottom of the stairs. The rat swarm is a maelstrom, rats leaping and climbing over each other to be close to… A pair of thickset ratty legs, and an equally thick ridged and wormlike tail which curls and scoops and slides through the skittering joyous swarm.
That’s all Jimmy can see, the shadows limit his vision.
The scurrying wererat, squeaks again- rapidly, and then half-salutes and bows once more.
“I… I… “ Jimmy stammers, unsure as to what comes next.
“I am so very pleased to eat you, I mean of course- meet, you.” The voice is as rich as chocolate, and husky with it. The joke, such as it is, provokes an instant reaction- a chorus of squeaks and squeals- Jimmy estimates there are at least another half-dozen wererats ahead of him, down the stair.
“Four thousand gold coins- that’s a lot to offer, even if you had the money what guarantee would I have of your return?” The voice comes again, followed by a hint of a massively built wererat’s snout and whiskers from the shadows.
“My word… “ Jimmy tries, and then swiftly changes tack.
“You have my brothers- up there, Gokan, the half-orc and Hal, the metal man… I would never abandon my brothers, and nor would my father. Even if we wanted to our mother wouldn’t let us- she would sell everything we owned…” Jimmy tails off, and then finds his way again, “ I swear this.” He snivels.
Silence for a while.
“I believe you little one… only now you have whetted my appetite- four thousand is a princely sum, and yet, for your brothers? Family is everything, don’t you agree?” The honeyed voice asks.
Jimmy nods, sniffs some more, wipes a tear or two away with his sleeve.
“And yet my brothers lie still now, victims of your blades and your spells- what price my brothers, little one?”
It’s Jimmy’s turn for silence.
“How much?” The halfling eventually asks.
“Five…” Jimmy snaps back, perhaps a little too hastily.
There’s a sudden flurry of movement, several more wererats lurch out of the shadows, an array of them- all sizes, some as small as Jimmy, all wielding nasty looking blades of every variety.
“Five thousand.” The wererat leader purrs. “We have a deal.”
The creature offers from the shadows its huge, hairy clawed hand.
Jimmy gingerly reaches out and grasps the proffered hand.
Moments later a wererat rushes past him- up the stair, towards the fallen, and with a snarl, then another, and another and…
“Five thousand, three days time- at the burial site your father so favoured… Go now, little brother.” The voice comes with an echo- already at a distance, the wererat leader it seems has also moved away- the passage is clear.
Less than sixty seconds later Jimmy is back out in to the cold air, out of the catacombs and back in to the wilds.
Encounter #9 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts
Last edited by Goonalan; Wednesday, 19th June, 2013 at 05:39 PM.
Wednesday, 23rd January, 2013, 09:17 PM #9
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
KOTS Part 9a: Jimmy’s return.
Soon after, Jimmy’s breathing hard, stumbling, and…
The halfling yelps and tumbles down a slight incline, his foot thumping hard in to a half buried stone.
Jimmy sprawls on the packed earth, gasping- gulping down hot lungfuls of air, blinking furiously as the tears sting his eyes.
He vomits as he tries to stand, sinks back onto his haunches, and vomits again- one side of his leather armour has been torn away at the shoulder, split at the seams. The other side is lathered with blood- mostly his own.
His hands and forearms are covered by a network of scratches and tiny cuts- pricked by thorns and burning from nettle stings.
The halfling rocks back and forth, every now and then he spews or dry retches.
“I didn’t want to go back… I didn’t even want to… go back. To go back...”
Jimmy levers himself to his feet, steadies himself for a moment, he’s woozy, not right, not… the sun is getting low- dusk is approaching.
I know the way. I know the way. He repeats the phrase in his head.
Jimmy heads off again, a stumbling jog.
“I didn’t want to…” Every now and then he whispers it; at least twice he stops for a moment to shout out the phrase as loud as he can and then, realising what he’s done, anxiously scan the horizon.
He cries a lot.
He falls over once or twice more, repeats his previous performance, including the spewing and staggering, but he goes on.
He goes on.
Because it’s all he can do.
Because it’s all there is to do.
“I didn’t want to go back… I didn’t even want to…”
“Hold him down.” Rond’s voice is stern.
The guardsman isn’t so sure, or else…
“I said ‘hold him down’ guardsman.” Rond shouts, but remains in control.
“He’s raving…” It’s Lord Padraig’s voice.
“Yes sir, as you say.” Rond comes again.
“What happened to hi…”
“Death, sir.” Rond simply states with as much ire as his position, and Lord Padraig’s authority, allow him to muster.
“I didn’t…” Jimmy blinks open his eyes- the Inn, Wrafton’s Inn. A strange point of view- the ceiling, looking up- he’s looking up. Someone, some things, are holding him down- got to get up. Got to get up, get free, get back to… Jimmy fights.
“Here we go again, hold him guardsman- for Erathis’ sake he’s just a halfling, hold him!”
“No! NO! They’ve got them- the rat men. The rats! RATS! My brother… my brother- little brother. I’ve got to- LET GO OF ME!” Jimmy rambles, screams and shouts.
He scrabbles to be free, scrambles to reach for his dagger- the guardsman struggles, they can’t hold him- Lord Padraig suddenly recoils- Rond jumps in to the gap, but Jimmy is alive- with pain, with anger, with hatred- his dagger’s out.
Jimmy hisses and spits, like a madman, he’s free of their grasp…
“KEEP BACK!” Rond screams, as guardsmen and gawkers scramble for cover.
Jimmy leaps to his feet, the enemy all around him; somehow they’re in Winterhaven- the goblins, the kobolds, the rat men, the monsters- all arrayed before him in the Inn...
“You’ll not take me… Never! I didn’t want to go back!” The last phrase half shout, half scream, all terror.
Jimmy makes for a forlorn sight, dagger in hand- madness in his eyes, standing on a table in the middle of Wrafton’s Inn, surrounded by the citizens of the town.
Suddenly a minotaur appears before Jimmy, steps out of the monstrous crowd.
It’s… It’s… It’s… Jimmy thinks.
The minotaur grins, and approaches.
“Hedda!” Jimmy grins back, holds out his empty hand in greeting.
And then takes the full force of the flat of the great minotaur’s axe in his chest- the halfling sails fifteen feet, slams in to a wall and thumps down on to the floor.
Jimmy’s last thought- “You’re not Hedda.” Then oblivion.
“Where am I?” Jimmy awakes with a start, sits bolt upright- Sister Lenora perches on the edge of the bed.
“Shhh… Rest little one.”
“Little one?” Jimmy screws up his face- a bad memory.
The door to the bedchamber opens- Douvern, it’s Douvern, and… “Mum!” Jimmy leaps into Gerda’s embrace.
Two hours later and Jimmy, Douvern, Gerda, Rond and Lord Padraig are all seated around a well-appointed table, in the Lord’s manor house. The food has hardly been touched, no one feels like eating…
“But how did…” Jimmy starts, staring at his father, it’s Rond that answers.
“When you arrived back at the Inn, well- we thought you were dying, we…” Rond looks about him for a moment, “we managed to get you settled, then I sent two men on fast horses to Fallcrest- dangerous in the night, but I had Sgt. Ramm lead the way; I figure he owed you that. I thought that your father should know of your return, and the circumstances...” Rond nods at Douvern, who takes over.
“We.” Gerda states.
“We travelled through the night- got here early this morning, about an hour before you awoke.” Douvern grins.
“I’m sorry…” Jimmy starts, and then puts his head down quickly- the tears come again.
“Jimmy.” Gerda speaks.
Jimmy sniffs and then looks up.
“Tell us- tell us everything you remember…”
Jimmy gulps, nods his head, and then starts to speak.
It takes a while, breaks for tears, anger and moments of comfort, but eventually Jimmy gets it said- his story is told.
“Five thousand!” Rond whistles.
Lord Padraig shakes his head.
Douvern is however already counting- his chair scrapes back. The ex-adventurer is quickly to his feet, smiling, almost.
“Five thousand- you did well Jimmy, you did great. You saved them! I’m proud of you…” Douvern is at Jimmy, his hand on the halfling’s shoulder, squeezing tight- Jimmy sobs and is comforted by Gerda, who strokes his hair and coos.
“I need to make use of your men- I need swift riders, we need to go to Fallcrest and back, today preferably…” Douvern addresses first Lord Padraig and then Rond, the ex-adventurer perversely seems to be enjoying himself.
Lord Padraig nods at Douvern and then Rond.
“I’ll organise things.” Rond states and bustles for the door. “They’ll be ready to depart within the hour…” The guard captain heads out.
Douvern nods back at his wife, and then grins at Jimmy.
“You did right. We can get them back. I’ll be back today with the money.”
The ex-adventurer nods again, and the heads off after Rond.
“Mom?” Jimmy asks.
“Let your dad take care of it- rest Jimmy, rest. You need to get better.” Gerda states and hugs the halfling to her.
“Where am I?” Jimmy awakes with a start, sits bolt upright- Sister Lenora has been replaced on the edge of his bed, instead it’s Douvern that perches there.
“Shhh… Rest.” His dad leans in and strokes the young halfling’s warm brow.
“Hal’s…” Jimmy screws up his face- a bad memory.
“I know… I know- there’s nothing you could have done. We’ll get Gokan back, don’t you worry.”
“But Hal…” Jimmy starts again.
“Hal was a strange one- even I could see that, all that time in the ground- centuries… He was…” Douvern wipes his eyes.
“There was something about Hal, Jimmy. All the time he spent at home, with me, with us… I’d wake up every day and see him and think that it was going to be today, that today was the day he’d finally tell me…” Douvern looks away.
Jimmy sits up, through the window he can see the moon, almost full in the black sky.
“What do you mean that he was going to tell you?” Jimmy asks.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. It was just something I felt, every day- every time I saw him. He had this air, a sort of expectancy. It was like he had a secret.” Douvern shakes his head, and then goes on.
“I know it sounds silly but… Gerda, your mother felt it too, only she was afraid of it- we spoke about it at first, the feeling we had, when Hal first came home with me. We’d argue about it- she said that there was something wrong with Hal, something not right, something… dangerous. I don’t know!” Douvern gives up, exasperated.
It’s Jimmy’s turn, he rests his hand on his father’s arm.
Finally Douvern looks up.
“Hal had a secret, it’s a strange thing to say- I know. The thing I hate most is the feeling that he never told anyone, or at least- he never told me.”
Douvern sags, stays silent for a while longer.
“I miss him Jimmy- I miss him already. I’m sure you miss him too- we all will, but he died doing the thing he was created for, for fighting- for defending, for keeping others safe. He gave his life to keep you safe Jimmy.” Douvern stares in to his son’s glistening eyes.
“I need to pay him back…” Jimmy states and stares back out the window.
“You’ve already paid him back, don’t you see- you survived, that’s what Hal would have wanted,” Douvern states and intercepts Jimmy’s gaze.
“Understand Jimmy? It’s not your job to get ‘revenge’, don’t do anything silly- bring Gokan back, if you can. But you need to come back- in one piece, that’s what Hal would have wanted- he was your big brother…”
The two clutch each other; Jimmy sobs a little, but does his best to hide his tears.
An hour or so later, Douvern tucks the sleeping halfling back in to the bed, and then as quietly as he can creeps to the door of the chamber, silently opens it, easier done because it’s slightly ajar.
“Oh!” Standing in the now open doorway is Gerda, she looks at him, she looks serious.
“And when Jimmy comes back?” Gerda enquires.
Douvern sags again, looks old- older than his years even. He shrugs, and then begins to move off- back to the room he shares with Gerda.
“And that’s it? You’d send him back?” Gerda voice betrays her emotion.
Douvern turns to face his wife, he shrugs again.
“It’s his choice?” He offers.
“Adventuring!” Gerda sarcastically replies, with as much dismay, and anger, as she can muster.
“It’s in his blood.” Douvern states, and changes direction, heading for the stairs.
“Where are you going now?” Gerda snaps.
Douvern waits till he’s almost out of sight before replying.
“I’m going to make sure he comes back alive. I’m going to make sure that he gets a chance to make his own decision.”
Gerda goes to speak, but Douvern cuts her off.
“Get some sleep. I won’t be long, and I promise you- here and now, that Jimmy will return, with Gokan. I’ll take care of it.” And with that, Douvern heads down the stairs and out of sight.
Leaving Gerda alone in the corridor, fretting and wiping her eyes, stood outside of her son’s room.
“Old fool” Gerda hisses, and then shuffles off back to their room.
Last edited by Goonalan; Wednesday, 22nd May, 2013 at 12:49 AM.
Monday, 4th February, 2013, 08:39 PM #10
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
KOTS Part 9b: New Blood.
The 27th day of the third month of the year 2012, upstairs in Wrafton’s Inn- the assembled group stare a while longer at the chest full of gold coins, then the huge minotaur closes the chest, hefts it on to his shoulder and goes to depart the room.
The brute stops before Jimmy, hesitates a moment.
Jimmy looks up, and up, and…
“Sorry.” The minotaur states and nods his head a little.
Jimmy looks worried.
The minotaur stomps off.
“What was that about?” Jimmy asks after the creature has departed.
“Sergeant Ramm helped to… err, subdue you when you came round in the Inn, you were a little…” Rond tails off, shakes his head. “Anyway, Ramm’ll carry the money for the exchange tomorrow, if anything bad happens he’ll do his job.”
“’Ow you mean, zumthing bad ‘appen?” The speaker uncrosses her legs and stands, she has short dark hair framing her elven face, she is… Jimmy searches for the right word- beautiful?
“We ‘appen. Zat iz bad. For zem!” Eko declares, the half-elven beauty grasps the pommel of her longsword.
“What?” Jimmy asks and gawps.
“My chere… Zer iz no need to worry. Everyzing iz how you say ‘underz control.’ Bon?”
“Douvern?” Gerda sounds worried, and annoyed.
“What are you planning?” She finishes.
Jimmy looks from his mum to his dad.
The second elf is on his feet, tall and extremely handsome, dashing even- with a red neckerchief.
“A little surprise! Zat iz all.” The Red Baron, the good-looking male elf, adds to the mix, and winks at Jimmy while miming firing the great bow slung on his back.
The Red Baron
“Douvern!” Gerda comes again, the worry in her voice now replaced entirely with anger.
“What!” Douvern spreads his hands, tries his best to appear entirely innocent.
CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP OOOF!
“Sorry old chap!” Clomping in to the room, and barging in to Rond en route, comes a third stranger, a much older dragonborn- clearly a warrior, wearing a battered suit of plate armour and lugging a heavy shield, with a longsword at his belt.
The dragonborn, and his equipment, have clearly seen better days.
Gerda looks up- astonished. “Sir Garlik!” She’s quickly to her feet, she fusses her hair a little.
“I… Douvern!” She turns to stare at her husband.
Who continues to spread his arms wide and mime his innocence.
“Don’t worry Gerda- you’re looking as divine as ever by the way.” Sir Garlik, the dragonborn knight, schmoozes. “The young lad’ll give the signal…” He nods at Jimmy. “We’ll rush in, slay the vermin, get the money back, and be back to the Inn with the fellows in time for hot buttered crumpets, and a medicinal snifter or two.” The dragonborn concludes.
“What?” Gerda gawps.
Douvern tries to stay out of his wife’s line of sight, he hides behind Sir Garlik.
“What!” Gerda tries again.
“We’ll…” Sir Garlik starts back up.
“I know what you said Sir Garlik…” Gerda cuts the dragonborn knight off.
“Let me exp…” Douvern starts, but he too is truncated.
“I think you’d better- not here…” Gerda stomps out of the room. “Douvern!” She calls back.
Douvern follows, head down. “Yes, dear.”
SLAM and the door’s shut.
Silence, except for Gerda’s raised voice - muffled by the closed door.
The dragonborn mean time fetches out a ready rolled cigarette, screws it in to the corner of his mouth, and lights it.
Jimmy looks at the three adventurers before him- finally gawps up at Sir Garlik.
The dragonborn roots around inside his armour, searching for some…
“Bang on!” Sir Garlik grins and fetches out a silver hip flask, a moment later he’s gulping the liquid down.
Jimmy still stares.
“Sorry, not done the intro’s.” Sir Garlik wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Chap with the bow’s the Red Baron…” The Red Baron smartly comes to attention and then grins.
“Lady with the blade’s Eko.” Eko grins- Jimmy melts.
“They’re…” Sir Garlik searches for the right word, finally settles on, “Elves.”
“I’m Sir Garlik, Knight Protector of etcetera etcetera…” Sir Garlik bows slightly, and then raises the flask once more to his lips.
The dragonborn suddenly stops, looks puzzled.
“I say little chap- you don’t know where there’s any ice do you?” Sir Garlik waves the flask about.
Jimmy shakes his head, mouth-open wide, still gawping.
“Pity.” Sir Garlik states and then adds, “just have to make do, chin-chin.” He salutes with his flask and then tilts it back and drains it.
Last edited by Goonalan; Wednesday, 22nd May, 2013 at 12:50 AM.
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