CERAMIC D.M. Final Judgements In- New Champion! - Page 15




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  1. #141
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    Here it is! And I still have a good... eight or seven minutes to spare!

    Bitter Wind from the North

    Conor Coldrage glared across the battlefield at the Norsemen. Once more, the men of Midgard had poured westwards into Albion. Last time they visited his town, one of their shamans slew his brother, Adhar, by fell magic. This time, he would be avenged. This Conor swore, even if it meant he'd have to personally decapitate every berserker in the raiding party.

    When they'd last descended upon his lands, eight months ago, the Norse had fought the Celts in this very same field, on the beach of a small lake. Adhar had fallen then, fighting honourably to the last. He'd been cornered on a tree log, its top branches in the water (pic 4). It had been winter then, and the water deadly cold. Standing on the log, with nowhere to run, Adhar had sent five of the Norse to their cold death in the waters, staining the ice and snow red and making the log slippery. Finally, they'd overpowered him, and dragged him from the cold waters to a shaman waiting on the beach, who performed the ceremonial sacrifice to power his magic. Conor had then sworn to slay the shaman, but the coward had fled on a chariot afore he could get close enough to plunge two feet of iron into the man's bowel.

    Perhaps a thousand men in total stood on opposite sides of the great field. On the eastern edge, there were the Norsemen, fearsome warriors and raiders from Midgard. Conor fancied he could see a few of them biting their shields with a bug-eyed, mad expression. Smiling, he slid his thumb over the sharpened iron rim of his own shield.

    "We will see them chew on this," Conor remarked to his companion, Tathal. Tathal was a large man, and his blonde hair was formed into spikes with grease. He struck a stark contrast to the smaller and darker Conor.

    The larger warrior grinned, and shook his iron sword, banging it on his shield.
    "And this!"

    The rest of Fir Domain's proud Celtic warriors took up the shield bashing, drowning out the screaming of the Norsemen in a terrible metallic din. The men of Midgard were not to be outdone so easily, however, answering with a great scream of their own. The Fir shouted back, through their growling shields, and as this deafening noise reached its crescendo, the sky was suddenly blackened with a thousand arrows, as the Norse bowmen unleashed a volley. Their bows were short Conor had seen some when he last fought them and were not efficient over long distances (pic 3). The Fir raised their shields above their heads, blocking the black rain of death, and as the last shaft fell from the grey sky, the bellowing hordes of half-naked men charged.

    Conor picked his first foe, one of the drooling berserkers. The Norse warrior, clad in furs, raised his axe over his head to deliver a great blow, which the nimble Celt easily evaded. The next blow he took on his shield, the sharp iron sinking into the wood with a dull thud. Conor smiled as he twisted his arm and yanked the shield and axe away from the raider's hand, and jabbed up with his short sword, plunging the blade under the chin of his foe, and into the brain. The froth on the berserker's lips turned red and his eyes rolled back in their head as he died.

    Drawing his sword free, Conor looked about. He knew he'd have to break through the lines of the Norsemen to get to their druids. Weak in combat, they stayed back, channelling the power of the Earth Goddess from afar.

    Waving Tathal and a few other Fir tribesmen to follow, Conor began the long and arduous task of forging himself a path through the Midgard warriors. His shield and sword ran red with blood, and numerous gashes and wounds graced his skin when he cut down the last Norseman charging him, and saw the shaman.

    The man was tall, even for a Norseman who usually stood a head taller than the Celts. He was clad in furs, the great pelt of a white bear covering his shoulders and back, its head resting on top of his own. His face was painted in a visage of death, and he held a corn dolly and a small staff in his hands (pic 1). As the shaman and Conor locked gazes, the bloodied Celt knew instinctively that this was the one he was looking for, the slayer of his brother. The shaman's expression changed into fear? It was difficult to tell with the face paint. As Conor charged, the Norseman pointed his staff at him and shouted in a strange language.

    The Celt felt as if an icy cold hand was reaching into his chest, enveloping his heart, and squeezing. He couldn't breathe, and stumbled, falling into darkness, the sounds of battle fading around him. But then, he took the next step, tasting the blood in his mouth, the pounding of bloodlust in his ears, the clash of iron on flint and the screams of the dying around him. He closed in the distance between himself and the shaman, and with a terrible roar and a single sweep of his sword, took off the Norse shaman's head. As it flew through the air, trailing gore behind it, its face was frozen into an expression of surprise.

    Conor, the proud warrior of the Fir Domain, raised his shield and sword into the air, shouting triumphantly. It felt good to slay the killer of his kin. The Celt picked up his fallen opponent's head and stuffed it into his backpack, to be made later into a tathlum*.

    * * *

    It was evening as Conor Coldrage made his way back to the village. He bled from many wounds, had two broken ribs, and had cracked a tooth when a berserker head butted him in the face. He was coated in blood and the mud of the battlefield. It had been a good day, and Danu had been with him.

    Conor pushed aside the wolf pelt that served as a door to his hut. He saw his wife, Sugyn, start. She had been on her knees, burning candles before offerings made to the Earth Goddess in order to ensure the Fir warriors would be victorious on the battlefield (pic 2). When Sugyn saw his face, she smiled.
    "You've returned alive, my husband," she spoke.
    "Yes, Danu was with us today. We were victorious," Conor answered, stepping into the hut and letting the wolf pelts fall over the doorway once more.


    * Tathlum: a thrown weapon, made by mixing the brains of a slain enemy with lime. Said to be blessed by Danu, the Earth Goddess.
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    Worlds in a Handful of Dice

 

  • #142
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    and mirthcard pushes the deadline again.....(he actually smacked it once!)

  • #143
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    SORRY!

    I've been scrambling to make the deadline this morning, but the time I had set aside to work on my entry was taken up by RL matters. I worked on packing up and clearing out my retail store all day yesterday, until the wee hours last night. I awoke this morning about 5 am to work on my entry to find that our heat wasn't on. Given my son's sickness, I've been trying to fix that all morning. Finally thought I had it running only to find it isn't. ARRRRRGGHHH! Anyway, deadline has passed now, so...

    I can post what I have, but it's not complete and I know it won't win
    Ceramic DM I & II -- http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=98651

  • #144
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    I'm beginning to think Fate himself is conspiring to prevent our duel. The bastard.

    *Slaps Fate around a bit with his keyboard.*
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    Worlds in a Handful of Dice

  • #145
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    mirthcard vs. NiTessine

    Dead Men, a tale in shades of gray
    An adventure for 4-6 characters of levels 4-7

    The Set-Up:
    The Church of the All-Father has been trying to "civilize" the northwestern part of the continent for several centuries now. The harsh, brutish savages that live in those cold wastes have been very resistent to the All-Father's efforts. A few months ago, the All-Father gained his first foothold there, a small church in the village of Iklastal ("Gray Water") at the foot of the Haknarok ("Land of Glass"), the natives' name for the glacier that provides the lake that in turn gives the village its name.

    The new church is being led by Pater Rumalski, a kind and generous soul who has finally reached the native populace by respecting their traditions and allowing them to be practiced alongside the ceremonies of the All-Father, rather than trying to force the Church's ideals on them. While this innovative approach has helped the good Pater gain a following in Iklastal, many in the service of the All-Father feel it is sacreligeous for such "pagan" rituals to be given equal standing. A committee of Paters was sent to oversee Rumalski's operation and decide whether to let it proceed or take over control from him. That was several weeks ago, no one has heard from the committee or Pater Rumalski since.

    The Church has decided to hire the party to investigate the matter (or better yet, the party may include a cleric or paladin of the All-Father). Just as the group is preparing to head out on their journey to Iklastal, a woman dressed in the garb of the savages arrives in the city with a wagon full of small boxes (Picture #2). She says nothing as she is dragged from the cart and questioned. Screams and sharp intakes of breath are heard as the boxes are opened to reveal the severed and shruken heads of all of the committee members. Conspicuously missing is the head of Pater Rumalski.

    What's really going on:
    Pater Rumalski is still alive, albeit in a very changed form. The natives of the cold wastes call themselves Posonshik ("Little Cubs") and they revere a spirit known as Shikdaiah ("Great Bear"). It is this spirit that Pater Rumalski was trying to help the people of Iklastal connect with his own god, the All-Father. He connected them only too well, unfortunately.

    At the same time as the All-Father was questioning Pater Rumalski's intentions, the time of the Ulasdai ("Great Thawing") had come and Shikdaiah was coming out of hibernation. With the Great Bear's strength waxing and the All-Father's faith in the Pater waning, the priest was left in a very precarious position. Then the committee arrived.

    All of the questions, demands, pronouncements and denouncements that followed from this hallowed group angered the Great Bear spirit and it overtook the gentle Pater Rumalski, using him as his agent of retribution. Now acting as the living manisfestation of Shikdaiah (Picture #1), Rumalski has slaughtered all of the clerics and sent their heads home as a warning to leave the cold wastes alone.

    The Main Event:
    The party will only be privy to one side of the story, of course. The Posonshik woman who brought the heads to the temple will only reveal who she is (her name is Massi) or what she knows under great duress or torture. There are those in the Church of the All-Father who are fine with using the latter method to deal with savages. What the party decides is okay with them is another matter altogether.

    Massi only wants to leave. If she is freed, she will not stop the party from following her home. Despite outward appearances, Massi has no ulterior motive, she is simply loyal and stoic to a fault. She should only break into conversation with the party if they engage her through the most auspicious role-playing they can muster (and even then, she will be a minimalist in every respect).

    Once the party has arrived in Iklastal, they will be largely ignored. The other Posonshik, unlike Massi, will converse and even bargain with the party, but they will treat them with suspicion and will be reluctant to reveal too much about what has happened. From their perspective, Shikdaiah has protected them. They have nothing to fear from outsiders, for Shikdaiah is now walking among them (in the form of Pater Rumalski) for the first time in many seasons. However, they have no need to embrace outsiders either.

    If the party searches the village, they will find the small church building empty and cold. Dried blood stains the floor, walls and pews inside and many claw marks are found there as well. It looks as though the committee priests were killed here and their bodies dragged out into the hills towards the north of the village that line the Gray Water lake. Pater Rumalski, however, is nowhere to be found. (He is, in fact, now living in the ancient cave associated with Shikdaiah, located in the self-same hills to the north. The well-picked bones of the priests are scattered about the interior of the cave.)

    If the party decides to attack the villagers or to attack Shikdaiah in his cave, Shikdaiah will return their attack. This isn't the wisest choice (in fact, it's probably the worst choice). As an avatar of Shikdaiah, Pater Rumalski should prove more than a match for the party, but if help is needed, feel free to beef him up with Druid, Ranger and/or Barbarian levels as well as providing him a few Dire Bears and/or Werebears to help with matters.

    If the party decides to ingratiate themselves with the locals, and they are successful at parlaying their way into the Posonshik's good graces, then they can slowly pull out details about Shikdaiah's legend and eventually be able to put 2 and 2 together to find out that Pater Rumalski and Shikdaiah are now one and the same.

    One key to Shikdaiah's legend is that he can be defeated, but only with Yustal ("The Spine Bow")(Picture #3). Unfortunately, according to the legend, when the young hunter Tinook tried to kill Shikdaiah with Yustal, the Great Bear used his massive weight to break off a part of the glacier, sending Tinook plummeting down a huge precipice into a solid floor of ice, breaking the boy and the bow into pieces. Another Yustal has yet to be forged. How is it forged you ask? By using a branch from the Yusa tree ("Spine of the World"). This great tree is only visible after the time of the Ulasdai has finished. This magical tree grows perpendicular to the lake (Picture #4), and the Posonshik believe it to be the entrance to the world of the spirits, literally it is the backbone of the world itself to them.

    The End?:
    Now the party has to decide what to do. Here's how this could end.

    ---They could attack Shikdaiah without Yustal. They will die.

    ---They could take the time to craft another Yustal and then attack Shikdaiah with it. Risky, but could very well succeed. Of course, then Pater Rumalski would be dead.

    ---They could try to converse with Shikdaiah instead of attacking. This could lead to some interesting outcomes. If the party agrees to leave Iklastal and the cold wastes behind, vowing never to try and convert the people here again, then the Great Bear will release his hold on Pater Rumalski. Shikdaiah may even go so far as to reconstitute the bodies of the slaughtered priests so that they may be taken home for burial and/or reincarnation. If the party does not agree or the Great Bear does not interact well with belligerent members of the party, then all bets are off and the group is back to square one.

    ---They could return to the temple of the All-Father and try to recruit an army to attack Shikdaiah. Epic idea, that. Bloody and pointless too. But they can give it a go if they want.

    ---They could just leave the whole messed-up situation behind. After all, who needs to get themselves stuck in the middle of a religious war anyway?

  • #146
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    Got it done and decided to post it anyway. I'm not expecting judgment on this, just wanted to post it for posting's sake. Good luck everybody else. Go NiT! Go NiT!
    Ceramic DM I & II -- http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=98651

  • #147
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    only 4 stories oosted by deadline....i have no idea what to do

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    Ignore Drawmack
    default winners let's move on to round II

  • #149
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    Originally posted by Drawmack
    default winners let's move on to round II
    yeah, assuming snoktch gets his in we will hav an odd but finished round, i am currently awaiting judgement fron th judges for this round, remember patience

  • #150
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    Well.

    This is a nasty situation. I don't envy the judges, particularly alis2ho, who have to sort out the mess. Whatever happens, I support your decisions... the contest must go on!

    Nor do I blame the judges or the missing contestants for taking their time. If I had been detained by RL matters for but one additional hour during the submission period, I would have had to bow out. I can appreciate just how crowded life can get at the most inconvenient moments.

    Here's waiting for Judgements to come,

    Cheers!

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