Saturday, 6th December, 2003, 08:23 AM #1
Into the Icy Darkness: The Great Demon War
This is the author. I have decided to mention that this game has grown far beyond my small initial expectations. Originally it was intended as a game of DM training (I had been a player for about 4 months effectively beforehand... a month in high school and 3 months in college), a chance for me to practice before striking out "on my own," next fall at graduate school.
Instead it has grown into an epic tale of three characters... and how they have begun to shape the world around them. Most of this is due to the creativity and excellence of my players... they are the ones that make this thing come to life
With that note, read and enjoy. I'm leaving everything else as is... the first sections of the story are rough, as I was getting acclimated to being on the other side of the screen... and thereafter, the story takes off..
Well, this is my first time DMing a D&D game. I had previously played some in high school, and had gotten out of practice until restarting again this fall in Ray Silver’s game. As an intro to DMing, I’m running a small game with two players and two NPCs.
The characters in the initial adventure:
Rogar Midras – ? level ? (one of the mysteries of the adventure to be revealed as the story continues! )
Rogar is a mysterious man in black when our PCs first meet him, with his rapier at his side. His intentions (other than participating in the quest and a seeming constant search for money) are unknown… (NPC) They initially meet him when he is alongside Dingalas Sorenham, who is collecting on Rogar’s life debt to him… (NPC)
Dingalas Sorenham – 4th level cleric of the god Tarantor (lawful neutral god of law… realms of knowledge, strength, protection, and war)
A cute, seemingly cuddly and forgetful old man (who at times can’t hear someone shouting next to him), but don’t be fooled. Dingalas Sorenham was a war cleric of Tarantor, and while his eyesight and hearing are failing, they still function well enough that one can easily find a morningstar buried in one’s jaw.
Dingalas desires to go on one last, grand adventure before he retires to his farm outside of Holstean. Knowing that his younger friend Rogar has connections (and a life debt to him), Dingalas has stubbornly insisted that Rogar help him get involved in another adventure. (NPC)
Tessoren Keldare, known as Tessoren the Harper – 4th level Bard (Monte Cook style bard, mind you )
Tessoren, Tess as she is known to everyone, is a bard of remarkable skill and quality. Taller than average and clad in elegant clothing, she plays a small harp as her instrument. Beware however, for her knowledge of music is also powerful in the realm of magic, and her harp can quickly go from being a instrument of music to an instrument of death as soon as an arrow is locked within its strings (she’s got a harpbow)…
Siabrey – 3rd level Fighter/ 1 ECL
Siabrey is a rather unusual character in the fact she is not human, or dwarven, halfing, or any of the other common races within the Empire. Instead she is half Siabre.
Her mother was a traveler, who somehow found herself carrying the child of a Siabre from the deserts within the Balarac Mountains. Her travels continued, and she gave birth to what would have been an average baby, save several unusual features… namely her dark coppery/red skin, bright yellow hair, and small set of (flightless) wings.
Now in her early 20s, Siabrey has worked as a skilled mercenary for some time. In areas to the north of Holstean the bandits tell stories of a woman with skin the color of fire , hair the color of the sun in brilliant chainmail that slays with an unusual blade (a katana) . Siabrey now finds herself having recently completed her last job of hunting down certain unsavory individuals, and at the start of the day is entering the city of Holstean, in look of work and a place to stay for the night. Several recommendations pointed her to the Red Horse Inn, an upper scale (in terms of upkeep) reasonably priced establishment. However, as she approached the inn, she noticed something odd for a city filled with dwarves… even for this early of hour
(Note: I got the help of my old DM to balance out this character. The player agreed to take an ECL, in return for bonuses to Dex and Charisma and a minus to Strength, in addition to other heavily muted down racial benefits (detect magic once per day / level, fairie fire the same, and resistance to sonic attacks))
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Siabrey blinked in the bright sunlight adjusting her cloak so she could scratch her arm. The once deep wound that an opposing fool had given her there was now completely healed, a scar and slight itch all that remained of its once painful existence. She ignored the stares she received from those on all sides.
She was used to them… after all, not many people were used to seeing a woman clad in chainmail boasting a large, nasty looking sword in these parts. Even fewer people were used to seeing such a person with the deep copper red skin of a desert dweller coupled with the bright blonde hair of a high human.
Instead of watching the eyes on her (instead her peripheral vision kept contact, giving her a chance to react should anyone make a sudden or threatening move), she spotted up ahead a sign hanging above the door of what looked to be a reputable tavern. Emblazoned on it was a red horse, rearing on its hind legs.
“Ah, the Red Horse Inn,” Siabrey smiled. She’d heard about the place when she was in Halfnir, a village outside of the city. They had some of the best drinks and food, at a reasonable price. Her tummy warmed at the thought of a large dinner with the gold in her pocket, along with sips of dwarven ale.
As a nearly one third dwarven city (there are mountains on three sides of Holstean and the river valley it is nestled in) one would expect a tavern of such repute to always be at least half full with a raucous crowd of stout folk. As Siabrey approached, her eyebrows rose in confusion.
From the wide open door to the drinking hall of the tavern came none of the usual shouts and screeches of carousers. Only measured, in some cases, quiet, talking. Her curiousity piqued, she shifted her cloak to make sure her wings were completely concealed, and she strode inside.
She was used to hearing catcalls and noises when she entered a bar… for some strange reason human males found her fascinating (maybe it was the concept of a female striding around with a sword in armor), and because of her skin color, she was an easy target for whistles. She was surprised when only one came from a table nearby, and the fellow was promptly cuffed by one of his drinking buddies. All looked dour… even the many dwarves present, who merely sipped their ale instead of downing it as she expected.
“Something is terribly out of line here,” she thought to herself as she walked over to the one malcontent that had made the loud whistle. She gave him a snarl, and he curled up slightly. Satisfied that she’d made an example, she set about attempting to find out what happened. She walked to the bar, where a short dwarven man called out, “Whadallit be, luv?” as he finished shining up a stein for ale.
“One ale,” she said, and the dwarf let loose a small smile and reached for the giant cask of dwarven ale. She shook her head, and said, “tarabashi ale… I fully admit my weakeness.” The bartender nodded, and within a few seconds a stein appeared before her. Before the barkeep could leave, she popped her question.
“What exactly happened here? I know your kind, friend dwarf, and something must be terribly wrong for them to not be as.. merry as usual.”
The barkeep sighed.
“Things haven’t been quite the same since the Countess’ son was kidnapped. The boy was well liked,” he started cleaning another stein. His eyes bespoke of sadness for the boy, and more sadness for the slower stream of gold coming into his pockets due to careful drinkers. “He disappeared early yesterday morning, his party ambushed by goblins or orcs of some kind. The Palace has some massive searches goings on. Many of the normal patrons are there… and for the rest, this news bodes ill for many of their trades… the young lord was taken only two miles south of the city walls.”
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Tessoren too was intrigued by the silence from within the bar, but her purpose here was different than her as yet unmet companion. A traveling bard of some repute, Tesseron had be hired by the proprietors of the Red Horse Inn to do a series of performances (her harp skills were approaching star status in the towns on the plains of the Inerman river north of the city). The inn was upscale, and profits and tips were likely to be high. Like Siabrey, she knew something was very wrong when she heard this normally loud cantankerous place quiet.
She strode up to the bar as well, taking a seat next to a warrior with long, golden hair. As she approached, she heard the phrase, “…Countess’ son was kidnapped.” Her ears immediately perked up as her bard senses went into gossip overgear.
“…disappeared early yesterday morning, his party ambushed…”
She climbed on a stool at the bar next to the blonde warrior, and only then noticed that the warrior was not the expected he, but a she with deep copper skin. Obviously not from the area. Her listening skills though picked up a break in the conversation, and she immediately interjected.
“Where are the search efforts being concentrated?” she asked. The barkeep looked to her, and his eyes briefly gleamed as he saw another person to spread gossip with. He leaned between Tessoren and the copper girl, and whispered, “most of the searchin’ is to the south and east, in the spine of the Balarac Mountains. However,” she said in a conspirital tone, “the Palace…”
“Is hiring out people to hunt for His Lordship,” another man sitting nearby finished, joining in the rumor mill. Others joined as well, amazed that there were patrons present who did not already know the gory details. Soon, others began the story from the beginning while the barkeep, annoyed some were stealing his thunder, merely talked over them.
“There is a reward of 2500 gold for the person who brings back His Lordship safe and sound. They’re trying to keep restrictions on who goes out… after all, they don’t want people running amok, and causing more trouble!”
“Like you would Grouse!” someone from the growing cluster of people said, and there was a thin, nervous laugh from several people. Its life was tenuous because of the dour mood, and it promptly died when the barkeep growled his displeasure.
“Where does one officially form a group to search for His Lordship?” Tessoren asked. A chorus of responses arrived, and after some requests and demands for only one person to speak, the phrase “Guards Barracks” was discerned as was the requirement that four members were the minimum to form a search party. Tessoren looked to the bronzed warrior, and remarked, “It appears that you are interested in the same as I. Let us work together on this. A shared reward is better than none at all.”
“True, and I accept,” the woman answered before putting out her hand. “Siabrey, and you likely can guess my occupation,” she motioned to the long, extremely sharp blade on her hip.
“Tessoren, though many know me as Tess,” Tess replied, “and likely you can guess mine,” she motioned to her own harp behind her.
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Later, and the Guard’s Barracks
A scruffy looking man in armor looked over Tesseron and Siabrey, practically sniffing them. Tesseron reacted slightly with some displeasure, while Siabrey looked rather annoyed.
“You’re free to enter,” he finally said gruffly, motioning to the door. “Sorry about the stiff handling, but we’ve had a rash of amateurs trying to ‘join in the fun.’ This is serious business, and we’re looking for serious folks, not more victims to rescue.”
“Thanks,” Siabrey said rather tersely as the two entered a large hall, its floor covered in dried mud. Near the far end of the hall was a desk, with a rather well kept man sitting behind it and a small supply of parchments and pens in front of him. By his bronze, decorated armor, Siabrey guessed he was an officer of some sort.
Her eyes were diverted from him momentarily however, as a small verbal scuffled developed between a guard next to him, and a gentlemen dressed in black. His hair was streaked with grey, and to his side was another man, dressed in platemail, his elderly face crowned with a long mane of white hair, and his cheeks and chin surrounded by a sea of grey beard. The words exchanged were low, but the harsh rasp of anger wafted to her ears. Both she and Tess walked over slowly, and the words became understandable.
“Why the hell is there this idiotic requirement!? Me and Dingalas here are more than capable of taking care of ourselves! I was adventuring when you were but a whelp, and Dingalas was adventuring when I was!”
“The minimum for a search party is four, and I’m not certain this old man can seriously be counted as a fighting body,” the guard said, his voice annoyed. Siabrey tapped him on the shoulder, and he started to turn around before the annoyed man tapped him harder, drawing his attention back.
“You don’t understand! I owe him a life debt! He must go!”
“What?” the old man cupped his ear and strained hard. “Speak up! I’m not griping about any bets!” The man in black turned and motioned for the elderly fellow to pipe down. He did momentarily as the other fellow and the guard continued their rumblings, but then he noticed Siabrey and Tess.
“My,” he practically shuffled over, “what nice young ladies!” He held out his hand, and took Tess’ into both of his. “My name, is Dingalas Soreham, an old man. What are yours?”
Tess introduced herself, as did Siabrey. The old man smiled, though his face looked rather blank, and said happily, “Rogar, I think I have made some friends. Aren’t these two young ladies nice? Polite young ones too. A rarity, I tell you! The young people these days, so rude…”
The man named Rogar gave a glare to the guardsman, and introduced himself with a deep bow. Siabrey noticed his features were rough; hardly handsome but heavily scarred, with the deep etches of experience and time in his wrinkles. “My name is Rogar… yes, that is what is needed for now. I am pleased to make your lovely aquiantance.”
Tess managed a diplomatic smile, while Siabrey’s was less covering. Her mind screamed, “slimy bastard,” and her face covered most of it.
“I see you have need of two more people,” Tess said quietly. “Perhaps we could be of service, as we are looking for a party as well.”
Rogar looked at the guard, and gave a look of triumph. “Excellent!”
“Before that,” Siabrey said quietly, “I don’t know about Tess, but I’d like to ask you a few questions about the old man there,” she motioned to Dingalas, who was happily humming a tune and scratching himself.
“Dingalas!” Rogar called, “can you signed the proper forms?” The old man took a few seconds to comprehend, and then nodded, “Yes yes, I think that shall be good. Yes it shall. Yes yes.” As he shuffled over to the table, the guard that had been arguing with them gave a sigh (likely of relief that these two noodlebrains would soon stop annoying him) and followed him over to the commander’s table. After the old man was a safe distance away, Rogar leaned towards the two women.
”My friend Dingalas here is a bit…”
“Old?” Siabrey volunteered, and Rogar nodded.
“He was once a war cleric in the service of the Countess’ father, many years ago. The adventuring bug caught him, and he traveled far and wide doing many good deeds. One of those was saving my life… and I owe him a debt.
He wants to have one was adventure before he takes off his armor for good, and I promised him that I would repay the life debt by this. He’s sane, just senile.” The two nodded, and Siabrey had a sinking feeling in her stomach as she thought that instead of finding a lost prince, she would now have to babysit a senile old man…
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A few hours later, the new party met outside of the Guards Barracks. Siabrey and Tess already had mounts, and had enough coinage left that they paid for ponies for the other two. The troupe then set out, their target being the Acalite Cliffs, and the immense gorge there. The Guards at the barracks had mentioned it was an area that was not being scouted (the warband that had kidnapped the young count had been seen heading another direction, which is where most of the searches were focused), but the area likely had goblins and orcs. Even if the prince wasn’t there, the party stood to gain a fair bit of money collecting bounties of 50 gold for each dead orc, goblin, hobgoblin or bugbear.
The gorge was some three days travel to the south, and the party made headway their first day. As the journey went, they gradually learned more about each other… Tess learned that Siabrey was a mercenary by trade, and told Siabrey of her skills with the harp and tales of wild inn performances. Both of them learned that Dingalas was a kindly old gentlemen that loved to tell stories of his youth, but was sadly lacking in hearing and at times in sight. Nonetheless, a nasty morningstar hung from one side of his armor, a crossbow from the other. Tess wasn’t sure if the enemy should fear any shooting he might do with it more than she should.
Along the way they encountered a traveling merchant who was heading north to Holstean. He told them that his caravan had just missed being the victim of a goblin attack, while others behind him were not so lucky. Siabrey offered to pay the man 5 silver to inform the city guard of the events, which the man politely refused, saying it was his honor to do what little he could to “rid the world of ‘dem littl’ buggers.”
The first nights camp was in a light wood along the side of the road. On second watch, Siabrey thought she heard a faint rustling among the plants. Looking to her left, she saw a set of yellow eyes staring at her. Drawing her katana, she called out, “Who are you? What do you want?”
Quizzled, she crept slowly to that side of the encampment, closer to the eyes and the noise. The creature moved again, closer to the camp, and into the firelight. It was a white striped housecat, which mewed at her once again. She pulled a few morsels from her trail rations, and almost instantly had a new best friend.
The next day the party headed further south. Around midday, they passed through a small wood in the midst of glorious sunshine. The birds were singing, the sky was blue, and all seemed fine and happy in the world.
Ironically it was the nearly deaf man that noticed something was wrong.
“Hey… why’ve the birds… the birds stopped their singing,” his strained voice rang out. Siabrey reined up her horse, and immediately began looking around. She spotted a moving shape, then more, and her cry rang out:
The band of four goblins, two hobgoblins, and a bugbear had been shadowing the group since they’d entered the wood. This locale had been selected as an ideal ambush location, yet somehow the group had not managed to organize themselves well. Told to wait behind until the signal was given, the two goblins armed with short swords arrived late, and it was their crashing that threw off the birds… and alerted the party.
The two goblins in place, armed with javelins, let loose against the party, both of their missiles flying awry. Siabrey pulled out her longbow, and let loose a shot, which struck the bugbear in the upper shoulder, knocking him back. To Siabrey’s surprise, Tess pulled out her harp, and began playing. Almost immediately, one of the hobgoblins began to howl in pain. (songstrike)
Dingalas, for his good luck in hearing, had horrible luck in shooting, as his crossbow bolt flew high. Rogar’s luck was not good either, as his bolt also flew awry.
The bugbear, angered at Siabrey’s audacity to shoot it, lunged forward, with a hobgoglin in cohorts. The two reached Siabrey and Dingalas respectively, and a furious battle began, as they swung their morningtars, and Siabrey and Dingalas responded. Dingalas somehow managed a punishing blow to the bugbear's head, and the creature staggered. Siabrey missed, as did Rogar.
Tess’ notes changed, and once again, its harmful effects devastated the ambushers. The wailing hobgoblin dropped dead, as did two of the goblins. Their eyes seemed to explode from their heads, and they collapsed, writhing.
The bugbear and hobgoblin in the party's face continued to swing, the bugbear connecting a punishing blow on Rogar which sent him reeling. Siabrey’s katana flashed through the air, but before it could connect, a dagger of light flashed from Tess' hand into the hoboglin's neck, dispatching it to the netherworlds.
True to their cowardly nature, the two remaining goblins in the woods broke and fled. Siabrey and Tess set off in pursuit, as Rogar and Dingalas fought the badly weakened bugbear. The beast, normally powerful, hds been weakened by a series of stirring blows to the head, allowing the elderly Dingalas to deliver a crushing blow on its skull, leaving its face caved in.
Meanwhile, Siabrey and Tess took up positions on the edges of the wood. As Siabrey loaded her bow, she noticed that Tess put an arrow into her harp. Her combat brain took over before she can wonder about it too much, as Tess’ arrow flashed through the forest and smashed the goblin in the back of the skull. It drops immediately.
Siabrey’s arrow instead flashed through the forest into the other goblins left leg. The blow from the arrow came directly into the back of the creatures knee, slashing tendons, and it fell to the ground, writhing but overall helpless. Within seconds, the two were upon it, and Tess asked it if it knew where the kidnapped noble was being held. It responded by spitting in her face… a move that prompted Siabrey’s foot to suddenly put pressure on its neck, and her blade to chop off its hand. It screeched in pain, and between gasps, said it did indeed know of the captured noblemen. Siabrey proposed and the party agreed that the creature should be taken with to lead them to its family’s lair. The goblin wreathed when Siabrey first attempted to pick it up, only to fall helpless to the ground again. Her second attempt at hefting the creature worked, and he soon found himself facing backwards above the rear of her warhorse, bound.
Another night, and the party soon arrived at the gorge that the Guardsmen had been talking about. As they rode through, Tess noticed something unusual to the side… what appeared to be a normal cave entrance, save that it was surrounded by two columns and topped by what looked to be a carved relief of a temple roof.
After some “persuasion,” (in other words, threats to cut his other hand off) the goblin revealed that indeed, his clan’s lair was there. After the party checked and found the cliffs were unscalable (and no other entrances were making themselves apparent), he tied the goblin up to a tree, their horses to another, and entered into the cave.
Upon closer inspection, they immediately confirmed this was no cave… the walls were far too smooth and even. The only thing giving it a cavelike feel were two stalagtites hanging from the ceiling above.
One of which attempted to smash Siabrey, who was in the lead.
Bows were drawn, and a hail of arrows struck both stalagtites, killing the darkmantles dead. Thoroughly paranoid, the party proceeded further…
Last edited by Emperor Valerian; Tuesday, 6th April, 2004 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Changed Thread Title
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Advancing further, the party found themselves in a large chamber, with walls spreading away from the walls of the corridor at 45 degree angles. The Party hugged along the wall to their left, and got to a door. It was large, and made of apparently old iron… and locked. Rogar at once worked some magic with his hands and lock picking tools, and within a few minutes, the door swung open. Above the now open door read in Old Common the word, “Here Lies Ananias, King of Holstean and…”
The room was empty, save for five large (10’ tall) statues of apparently ancient warriors, along with a panel underneath one that had been sprung open. Examination revealed that it was not a trap door, merely a small, shallow hole… which likely held items which were now long gone.
The party was now thoroughly concerned as to the location of the the goblins, and reentered the large hall. Creeping across its expanse (it was about 35’ wide, the party saw in the far right hand corner a clustered clump of bones… three bodies, all of goblin make.
Their skulls were crushed.
Examining the room also showed that there were four additional doors, two on each flat side of the room, and one on the far end. The room was revealed to be a pentagon, with the far door on a flat end facing the entrance.
Tesseron noticed that the far door looked like it was partially bashed in, and slightly ajar. Strange noises could be heard from the far side. Ever intrepid, Siabrey took the lead, and kicked the door in, expecting a rush of goblins to hit her.
There was none. Instead the group could see two apparently alcoves to the left, and what looked to have been another alcove to the right that was partially covered up with rocks. Muffled noises issued from the alcove on the right, while agitated moaning came from the ones on the left.
The mummy in the left alcove closest to the group stepped out, and immediately became embrawled with Siabrey and Dingalas, swinging at them with a large bastard sword. Tesseron saw in the far left alcove a mummified hand start moving, and thinking quickly, drew her harpbow and shot the hand into the wall. The second mummy strode out, carrying a quarterstaff, only to be unable to pull his hand free, or pull his body away from his hand (two failed strength checks).
Siabrey and Dingalas both landed heavy, strong blows on the mummy, who in return struck the old man hard. Dingalas stumbled, while Siabrey missed her next swings as she tried to cover him as he recovered.
Meanwhile, the second mummy finally pulled free, as Tessoren launched another arrow, striking the mummy hard in the shoulder. Rogar slipped forward, his rapier slashing and biting into the undead flesh.
Dingalas finally regained his balance, and showed the world what an angry old man can do, as he brought his morningstar up with all the fury he could muster, right into the mummy’s jaw. Its head shattered in a spray of dust, wraps and bones, and it collapsed to the ground. Siabrey sthifted her attention to the other mummy, who by now was swinging at Rogar, who deftly dodged all of his blows.
Tessoren then tuned her harp, and soon a song of courage filled the room, and everyone became emboldened to end this mummy once and for all. Siabrey landed the final blow, lopping the mummy’s head off cleanly.
Dingalas, his chin bloody and still stumbling, was the one that pointed out that noises still came from behind the rock pile. Digging furiously, the group uncovered the form of a tall, lanky kid with red hair, wearing what were once fine nobles clothes. He looked at them with frightened eyes, and they immediately recognized him as Lord Lucius, the missing son.
After he was unbound and untied, they offered him water and a small bite of food. As he looked out of his alcove, he saw the mummy remains, and nearly fainted from exhaustion and fear. At the request of Tesseron and Siabrey, Dingalas volunteered to accompany the boy outside for fresh air while the rest of the party secured the tomb.
Tesseron, Rogar, and Siabrey then moved to the farthest door to the left, noting with alarm that it too was ajar. Once again, Siabrey kicked the door in, her sword draw at the ready. Three goblin skeletons lay in the room, with three skeletons standing over them. AS they watched, the three skeletons turned towards them, and three longsword appeared in their hands (one of the skeletons had a longsword which appeared to glow blue). The skeletons then charged.
The following events were titled best by Tessoren in her ballad about the battle, “Smashing Skulls.” Siabrey’s sword danced through the air, and the skulls of the skeletons were shattered, and in one case, Siabrey’s blow was so strong that half of the skeleton’s bones either broke or shattered under the force of the hit. In the fight, nonetheless, Siabrey was lightly wounded while Rogar more heavily injured.
Tesseron was the one that noticed a statue in this room, and went over to check its bottom for another secret door. She found one, just as she hit a secret panel, and two sections of the outer wall of the room opened up, revealing two very large and massive skeletons (large skeletons0. The advanced on the group with greatswords.
Once again Siabrey’s blade went to work, and after several rounds of its shining figure dancing through the air, both skeletons lay on the floor, piles of shattered bone. Opening the secret compartment revealed numerous gold pieces, among other treasures.
The group then moved to the next room down, which was much the same as the previous, save no living or undead skeletons… merely the bodies of four additional goblins. Another statue with a secret door was found, and Rogar found and disabled the trap covering it, a massive blade swinging only inches away from his side.
Once this chamber was suitably looted, the group crossed the main hall to the final unopened chamber. Upon unlocking and opening it, they found it contained only statues, with only one having an unopened secret door. Once again Rogar disabled the trap guarding it (which did not set off), and found inside some gold and silver, in addition to a long, coal black staff, in its top a place set for what looked to be a single, massive gemstone. Intrigued, the party took it, despite Tesseron reading on the statues above it, “We Guard the Tomb of the Traitor…”
Once outside, there was a debate among group members over what to do with the tied up goblin. The prince, recognizing him as a member of the clan that kidnapped him, refused to approach him, “as I would do something very violent.” He suggested the party just leave the creature tied up to the tree and let is starve to death. Tesseron and Siabrey both felt that its crimes deserved punishment, and as thus, Tesseron slit its throat.
The party was greeted with great fanfare in Holstean as soon as the city guard realized the fifth party member was their Lord Lucius. The ecstatic countess volunteered to the part apartments within the Palace for a week, while privately telling them that as such brave persons are in grave need these days, she would have a mission she hoped they would consider doing on her behalf…
Last edited by Emperor Valerian; Tuesday, 6th April, 2004 at 06:24 PM.
The Adventure of the Ice Walkers
The party spent the next week “living large” at the behest of the Countess Lucilda, while she and her mages worked to attempt to learn the secrets of many of the things the group brought back from the ancient tomb. Much merriment was had, save that Tess kept feeling cold at night (extra blankets were ordered, which soon rectified the situation)
Of greatest note was the black iron staff, which was apparently missing a gemstone for its top. The staff was hollow, and inside were directions to finding the proper stone to complete it, as well as a description...
It would “allow one of the Caladron family wielding it to banish the orcs from these lands.”
This was the crux of the Countess’ request to the group… to hunt down and find a specific diamond, larger than a man’s fist and cut into a perfect half sphere, to complete the staff, and drive the ever encroaching goblins, gnolls, and orcs back to the deep mountains.
From extensive gleanings of information, the Countess et al managed to determine the diamond was to the north and slightly east of Holstein, in the Balarac mountains. The group, minus the retired Dingalas, would be the core of the operation. Adding to them was a surprise guest… Lord Lucius himself, who according to his mother, had been smitten with “hero worship.” There was also the practical side that the gem in question could only be held physically by a member of the Caladron bloodline. Also accompanying, to ensure Lucius’ safety as well as to keep his teachings going, was his tutor, a war cleric of Tarantor named Hidalas Marengo.
A look-alike to the prince would be sent northwards on an official mission to the Baron of Kulloden, which the party was initially to be a part. Halfway through, the party would break away with Lucius under an assumed name, and begin its search. Settled with the plan, Tess and Siabrey thanked the countess for her hospitality, and set out to find appropriate gear for the upcoming trip.
The party had a major windfall in terms of gold and artifacts from the crypt mission. Even after what clearly belonged to the Caladron family (foe example, a diamond encrusted tiara with the house crest… worth a whopping 8,000 gold, among other items) had been returned, the party had enough to go to the local mage’s guild to obtain some magical equipment.
After some close bartering and the offering up of a magical sword the party had found (+1 longsword of shocking, which was also cursed with the knack for cussing up a storm in public). The mages, knowing the group (their story had spread through the city like wildfire) gleefully took the items, to sell later to souvenier seeking nobles. Siabrey obtained boots of speed, while Tess settled for some enchanted earrings (which effectively give her an additional +2 to Charisma).
Next our dynamic duo tramped through the city searching for a good location to find magical potions. Some pointed that while the mage’s guild sold such things, they were frequently overpriced, and recommended a small, out of the way shop, owned by a dwarf named Johann.
After some purchases of potions of cure light and moderate wounds, Johann then pointed the two to his brother Heinrich’s blacksmithy down the street. The group ventured there, where Siabrey got a steel breastplate (specially bronzed in color). Siabrey asked that the breastplate have two holes cut in the back, though remains vague as to why (they are for her wings, which no one knows about yet). Tess merely wrinkles her brow while the dwarf mutters about “silly nobles requesting holey armor.”
As there was to be a formal gala honoring the group and their bravery the night before they sat off, Tess insisted that Siabrey must purchase clothing for the occasion. Siabrey, a rough and tumble girl who does not like pompishness like that one bit, grumbles but agrees.
The results were hilarious, as Tess dragged Siabrey to what was likely the most foppish tailor/jewelery shop in the city, and the clerks, all with long, finely waxed mustaches, proceeded to fitter and fuss about the quite alarmed Siabrey. After several hours of being dragged about with dresses thrown on her (much to her dismay, as she continually had to struggle to keep her wings hidden) Siabrey settled on a red dress with golden weaves, along with a simple yet elegant set of jewelry paid for by Tess. Siabrey resigned herself to at least one night of her wings being sorely shoved into her body by a tight corset.
The group went back to the palace, and curious the next day, Siabrey set out for the local Church of Tarantor, to find out more about Hidalas. Upon entering the Church, she heard the familiar noise of sparring off to one side, and saw a man of average height with a dark beard cleanly disarming a fellow and holding a sword to his neck, before breaking off and asking for another go. Intrigued, she walked over, and directly challenged the man she presumed to be one of the “war clerics.”
To her surprise, the man grinned and agreed, actually excited to spar with an actual fighter. Also surprisingly, he easily bested her in two matches before she became furious and almost shattered his sword in the third round. After his sword’s near destruction, the man commented well on her abilities, and gave his name as Hidalas Marengo.
After discovering that she’s one of the fellow party members, Hidalas invited her up to his cloister, away from the noise of fighting where they can talk. Siabrey thought positive things might come of it, but mostly what results is several hours of listening to boasts about war clerics and their abilities. Her real reason, finding out more about Lucius, turned out to be near fruitless, save that she discovered he’s very raw (hasn’t seen real combat), though smart and quite strong for his age.
Siabrey managed to extracate herself from his talk after several hours, and returned to the Palace, where little else occurred in the day, other that Rogar dropping in and showing off some necklaces he pilfered off of a palace servant that had treated him “quite rudely.” Little occurred that night or the next day until the time for the banquet.
Tess and Siabrey got themselves ready, and an hour before the banquet, Rogar and Lucius arrived, with Rogar decked out in the finest clothes they have ever seen him in. Lucius was already red in the face, and gingerly took Siabrey’s hand to be her official escort to the banquet, as Rogar rather dashingly took Tess and led her the same way.
The banquet turns out to be an extravagant affair, what one would expect from a countess thanking people for saving her only child. The appetizer is a roasted pheasant, with more coming along the way. Our party found themselves seated at the head of the main table, Rogar to the countess’ right, Siabrey to her left, with Tess next to Rogar and Lucius next to Siabrey.
Rogar and the countess chatter as if they were old friends, a familiarity that raised some questions in Tess. She tried to whisper a question about it to Siabrey while Lucius was turned, but the boy heard anyway, and cut in, saying quietly it has something to do with Rogar saving his mother’s life before, or so he’s been told.
Everyone clamored for Tess to give a performace, which she gladly did on her harp to rousing cheers. While the festivities continued, Siabrey conversed with Lucius, trying to get to know the young man. He was rather shy and quiet, and to break the ice, she made a slightly lewd comment, thinking a young man would laugh. Instead, he looked at her blankly. Realizing that he has no concept of more… “grown up things,” she got an evil grin and proceeded to spend quite a chunk of time explaining them to him, to his reddening face of “I don’t want to show interest, but I AM interested.”
Rather late into the evening, the official nature of the affair died away, as the younger nobles proceeded to engage in dances on the main floor, and various games of chance and the like in the corners. Lucius headed upstairs early, mentioning they would have to rise early. Tess and Siabrey both marked this as rather odd for a young noble of his age. They decided to head upstairs as well, until Lucius mentions that he is going to bring an heirloom sword (a rather fancy one at that). They told him that they’ll give him a more mundane one… if only to keep the covert nature of their operation exactly that.
The next morning the party met Lucius in the armory, and gave him a bastard sword they found in the crypt… a +1 mighty cleave bastard sword. Lucius marveled at the blade, which Siabrey noticed he swung with one hand… something like her and her katana. The two hit it off talking about technique. Tess noted with a little alarm that Lucius’ armor was not standard, and might attract attention… it was greenish grey instead of normal steel or bronzed. Lucius shrugged these concerns off, and continued to wear the suit.
Later that morning the group headed off with the official caravan, and split away the next day. That night proved the new party’s first together, and led to some interesting events.
Lucius didn’t have a bow with him, and from somewhere the party drug up a shortbow for him to practice with. Siabrey let him practice with her composite longbow, and he readily learned. Tess then showed him her harpbow, and he is quite honored when she lets him fire a few shots with it.
Siabrey then asked him to show her a few of his sword moves, and she recognized them as rough… pratice moves, not fighting moves. She then took it as a challenge to get him into a more fluid fighting style… one that would be useful on the battlefield. This teaching did not sit well with Hidalas, who interrupted, leaving Lucius and Siabrey both grumpy at the tutor.
Later that night, as Tess and Rogar held watch, they heard noises off into the woods. As the party awoke, six kobolds came at them, four charging in and two hiding in the trees with crossbows. The fight was short and brutal, as Tess, Siabrey and Hidalas made short work of the foes. The party noticed with some concern that these kobolds were not normal… they were blusih colored, and very cold to the touch.
The party ses out the next day, uncertain of what exactly it was they met the night before. Tess thought that the kobolds were touched by some kind of magic, which the rest of the party agrees with. They continued, slower now and more on guard.
Midday, they approached a low rise in the forest trail they are on, and see what looks to be part of an overturned wagon on the crest ahead. They saw three figures, and what looked to be a low, bluish black hump. Riding closer, the group heard growling and chatter… not human, elven, or any other normal language. They readied their weapons, and sneak towards the group ahead.
As they approached, they saw two hobgoblins, with bluish tinges, both heavily armed, looking about while a third, very blue but only holding what looked to be a recorder, kicking a prone human. Most alarmingly, in the middle of the hobgoblins was enormous bluish-black spider, roughly 15 feet across (huge monstrous cold spider). Concerned over the health of the prone man, the party snuck closer, and prepared to ambush.
Their volley of arrows landed some blows on the huge spider, but none on the hobgoblins. One hobgoblin fighter rushed the group on foot, while the other hopped ONTO the spider and began riding it forward in a charge. The recorder the third was holding revealed itself to be a blowgun, as a bluish brown patch it spurts lands about 10 feet from the party and sits.
The party’s next arrow volley shot the mounted hogoblin dead, and Siabrey rushed forward to stop the monstrous spider, still charging towards the group. It delivered a powerful bite, and while she felt something horrid coursing through her veins, she shook off the poision. Tess meanwhile used song strike to wipe out the initial foot goblin, and then rushed forward to the third, seeking to get it away from the prone and obviously hurt man.
The third hobgoblin lobbed another splatter at the party, missing with it landing some 20 feet on the opposite side of the first. Meanwhile, the party noticed with alarm that the first splatter has grown legs, and was now a small monstrous cold spider of its own. Hidalas and Rogar ran over to kill it, as Lucius ran to the front to try and help out his new friend.
The third hobgoblin tried one last time to hit a party member with her spider blowgun, once again missing, before Tess was upon her, and the hobgoblin adept drew a dagger. Hidalas and Rogar finished off the first small spider just as the second began to crawl towards them, and Lucius landed a vicious blow with his bastard sword on the spider’s head, slashing open one of its eyes. It turned its attentions to him, and promptly bit him, and shook as hard as it could. It then dropped him… and nothing happened, his armor merely absorbed the blow without question.
Siabrey slashed the creature again, hoping to regain its attention. Frustrated, the spider struck at Lucius again, this time lifting him up in the air after biting before trying to throw him down. He landed on his feet, once again completely unharmed. His next swing glanced off the mighty creature’s carapace, however.
Hidalas and Rogar now ran about chasing the two smaller spiders, while Tess dueled with daggers versus the adept. The adept took a wild, uncontrolled swipe, leaving herself wide open for a song strike from Tess, who dropped the creature. About the same time, Siabrey landed a horrific blow on the spider’s head, splitting it in half and covering herself and Lucius in bloody spider bits.
After the last two spiders are killed off with relative ease, Siabrey slashed open the spider’s belly to see if there’s anything of value inside. A few gemstones, a weapon or two, and the grisly remains of several human hands fell out. Lucius promptly lost his breakfast and any idea of lunch, and Siabrey went over to comfort him as he continued to retch.
Tess meanwhile got Hidalas to come over and help the apparently injured man, who, after gratefully accepting some food and water, stated he was a rider from the town of Mephys, and its liege lord, Sir Santac. They have been under attack by enormous creatures of this type for the past two weeks, and were seeking help from Holstean. The creatures seem to come every eighth day, and it was now six days since the last attack.
The party quickly found the man’s horse, gave him a fresh supply of food and water, and told him to ride on, while they would ride to town to see if they could help in any way…
Last edited by Emperor Valerian; Tuesday, 6th April, 2004 at 06:48 PM.
Yet another SH to read. Why do I keep doing this to myself, I often wonder. After all, it's another commitment. One I find myself desperate to keep. But, alas, I am addicted and see no reason to break the cycle.
So, Emperor Valerian, you have my attention and have made it worthwhile. What next, I wonder?
Heh, I missed the H the first time through. I had thought nobility had gotten a bit out of hand.The appetizer is a roasted pheasant, with more coming along the way
Another update tonight will follow
Last edited by Lela; Saturday, 3rd January, 2004 at 01:08 AM.
- Join Date
- Aug 2003
- Idaho, U.S.A.
ø Ignore Softwind
I'm with Lela. I idly wandered in, and now I'm hooked. *sigh*
I really like the way the party "came together". Novel. I mean, yeah, still in a bar, but it was the party who went looking for adventure, not some very injured person handing them a bloodied scroll as he gasps out his last breath, saying "Please, you must save him. Gasp, gurgle"
Pray, please continue, good teller of tales.
The party rides hard towards Mephys, arriving in the late afternoon.
They see the town is surrounded by a 15-foot wooden palisade, with some parts obviously thrown up in a greater hurry than others. As they approach, they call out the name of the rider, and said they ran into him and are here to help. One particularly tall man on the palisades thunders down a call to open the gates, and the party enters the besieged village. It is none other than Sir Santac himself, who lumbers down the palisade ladder and greets them in person, thanking Tarantor that there are now actual fighters in their midst.
Sir Santac (whom they later learn is nicknamed the “the Ogre”) is an enormous, rather ugly man with a titanic salt and pepper mane for a beard. For his lack of good looks, he is blessed with a jovial and courageous heart… he earned his nickname from his bad looks, bad jokes, and ferocity on the battlefield.
As they talk to Sir Santac, they discover that Mephys was a large farming village of some 800 souls, the center of agriculture in this large gap in the surrounded woods. At present, nearly 1,400 were crammed within its palisades; enough that almost every available space was taken… even the lord’s manor was full of refugees.
The party is able to glean that there have been three attacks, all from the west by these “ice creatures,” goblins and hobgoblins with support from enormous vermin. The most recent attack damaged several sections of wall, which are still being hurriedly repaired. The group heads towards the lord’s manor, an oversized stone house with a small tower on one side.
Siabrey asks if there’s anyone who might know where these creatures are coming from or what they are doing, and Santac mentions a “Crazy Old Man” whose presently sleeping in the tower of the manor. Tess and Siabrey, curious, decide to go talk to him.
They head to the uppermost room of the tower (formerly the lord of the manor’s master bedroom… now overrun with five families). They find a bent old crone of a man looking out the window. A few seconds talking with him shows he is definitely rather senile.
“Such nice young ladies. How can I help you?” his high and wispy voice said.
“We’re here to try and stop the attacks of the monsters… and we understand you know where they come from?” Tess asked.
“Oh? Them? They come from the mountains… led by the white demon they are,” he said, turning back to looking outside. “None of them would listen to me… say I was crazy they did. And now they hide, and the demon laughs.”
Both Tess and Siabrey looked at each other, eyebrows raised.
“Demon, you say? What demon?” Siabrey began.
“Oh… it’s the ice demon. He gives the creatures power, and he possesses a great many gemstones. I saw the great diamond myself many years back, before I had to flee the place, nigh without my life.”
Now thoroughly interested, both Siabrey and Tess pressed the man for information, and the more they discovered, the more it sounded like this ‘ice demon’ or whatnot possessed the diamond the countess had been looking for… Tess reasoned that maybe it was giving him power. The old man shrugged, and then leaned close to them.
“I do not know what this diamond you are after does… but I do know this: do you know why a rose closes its petals on a cold winters night?” The two shrugged.
“It does because if the rose touches the cold, while the darkness of night touches it also, blood will spill across the land.”
Siabrey and Tess nodded, not knowing what the gibberish meant. They thanked the old man, who was rather happy that someone had apparently listened to his words, and went downstairs where an apprehensive Sir Santac asked them if they understood any of his ramblings. They replied they did, and Siabrey lightly chastised the Lord for not listening to the elderly, “for they can be filled with much wisdom.” Sir Santac merely shrugged, and led them outside.
The party spent the night in the town, and rose early the next day.
It was still a full day before the enemy would supposedly arrive, and with plenty of time left before the sun fell below the horizon, the party, more specifically Tess and Siabrey, resolved to teach the defenders, many of whom were mere commoners, a thing or two about fighting. Both with equal aplomb set to teaching proper ways to load an arrow, and quickly attracted large crowds of emulators. Hidalas also drew watchers as he tried his best to teach his erstwhile pupils how to properly wield melee weapons, with mixed results. He also endured several barbs about his rather unique helmet (As war clerics have a distinctive white feather that rises from the middle of their helmet, an item that Tess and Siabrey repeatedly mocked).
Tess in addition attempted to build up the spirit of the groups with stories of courage of common men, while Siabrey went the more practical route of trying to get them to understand simple commands, such as “Fire by volley!” and “Duck!” By the time night fell, most of the peasants defending the walls had spent at least an hour or two watching the two and their impromptu lessons.
Siabrey and Sir Santac during this time also sat down and began drawing up strategies for defending the wall… Santac mentioned that most of the previous attacks had come from the west; with feints towards the south… hence most of the defenders would be located there. As the west wall was the zone of greatest danger, Santac wanted the group posted there, near a section of wall that had been just shored up that day. The attacks also always came after nightfall, so the party would be able to enter and leave the city up until sundown.
Rogar had run off to the south wall to help with preparations there, and came back sporting yet another new necklace. When Tess grumpily asked him why he’d stolen it, he replied that several woodland elves (who also sought refuge in the town) had spoke rather haughtily to him, and he’d relieved one of them of this necklace, “as a way of getting back and making myself feel a little better.” He offered the necklace to Tess, who refused it.
It was around this time that Siabrey noticed her cat was glowing slightly bluish… despite this he mewed and gobbled food as normal, and did not exhibit any untoward or unnatural reactions.
Thoroughly unnerved, everyone in the party realized that something big was about to happen…
The Defense of Mephys
The party found shelter in a small cottage that had been opened by its owners to defenders of the town. All five of them found themselves crammed into a small room with literally no walking space. Tess and Siabrey both noticed that while Hidalas and Rogar had both settled in fairly quickly, Lucius had strewn his books (which had been brought along by Hidalas, in the cleric’s official capacity as the tutor of the young man) around his little area and was busily reading, counter-reading, and most interestingly of all… attempting to braid his hair.
Very curious, Siabrey went over to ask him what he was doing, and Lucius commented that according to one of his family’s histories (one of the books strewn out), the warriors of his ancestor Ananias (whose tomb they found him in) braided their hair before battle… a sign of ultimate disdain for the enemy. Lucius said plainly he didn’t know if he’d survive the morrow, and if he went down he wanted to go down as a Caladron warrior. Siabrey cautioned him against such thoughts, while she and Tess properly got the hair braided.
Lucius then grumbled that the last few pages of the family history of Ananias was missing. All he knew from conjecture was the man was a fairly brilliant commander, and he wished to find out his end. All Lucius had to go on was family stories that he took on the Empire in Iskeldrun itself, and that he fell in battle. Tess and Siabrey looked at the book in question, and found the last page ended in mid sentence: "Ananias then took up his helm, and his sword, and led his forces north to..." It looked as if the remaining pages had been cleanly removed, not torn out, as if someone had magically removed them.
Reasoning that it was too late to argue about such mysteries, Tess told the young man to go to bed, and he promised to after he finished the section in one of the books… one noticeably newer than the others. After a few minutes, the two women realized that Lucius was a true bookworm and would likely remain up all night unless they acted, so they blew his candle out for him. The muffled noises of his pouting went on for a few minutes, until Tess pulled out her harp and began softly singing a song of rest. Within a few moments, the crabby young man was sound asleep. The entire party was sound asleep soon after.
Very early the next morning, the party awoke, all affected by a chill. Unable to return to sleep, Siabrey and Tess managed to drag the others awake. The only way the stubborn Lucius rose was once breakfast was promised to him. After asking a few night watchmen, it was determined that the only place serving breakfast was the lord of the manor’s kitchen, which had co-opted most of the cooks within the village to feed all those stuck inside the walls.
The party traversed up there, long before anyone else was awake (several members woke up due to an unusual feeling of cold… waking the others in the process), and Tess attempted to peer into the kitchen to see what was being served. The cooks saw her looking, and stated that was being served was “catch all” stew… meat, potatoes, and whatever else could be thrown in (some shuddered to think of small rodents being thrown in) were boiling in several large pots. The party ate the rather plain tasting meal, and decided that the cooks needed better morsels to pick from.
Tess, Siabrey, and several locals headed out early that morning on a small hunting expedition, returning later in the day (mid afternoon) with a deer, black duck, a boar, and most peculiarly, a peacock. Tess and Siabrey of course took this opportunity to harass Hidalas as he talked with Santac, offering to replace his white feather with the peacock’s. Hidalas was not amused, though Santac certainly was.
As were the cooks, who salivated over the prospects of fresh meat… though one of them almost cried when he realized a fresh duck would be entirely thrown into a stew, as opposed to, “properly roasted and garnished to perfection… a true waste.”
As the party stepped outside from delivering the animals, everyone noticed it was starting to snow, and the sky had turned a dull gray. A crisp, biting wind came from the west, and without anyone telling them, defenders began to mount the ramparts. Siabrey attempted to get her cat to stay in the cottage where they had slept, but the small animal clawed itself into her backpack, and stalwartly refused to leave. She groaned, and took him with, admonishing him to stay inside at all times, and finally climbed the rampart to join the others.
Soon afterwards, they began noticing a blinking pinpoint in the growing gloom. A few minutes revealed other points following the pinpoint, until everyone realized to their horror what was coming.
In the lead was a titanic firefly, the largest anyone in the village or the party had ever seen, followed by four enormous dragonflies. Atop each of these creatures was the small figure of a kobold, holding on for dear life.
While most of the villagers did as commanded and held their fire (the range was upwards of 300 feet, far beyond the range of any of their short bows), Siabrey strung her composite longbow and launched. Her first strike smacked the lead firefly, and it bucked, its rider managing to hold on. Tess let loose against one of the dragonflies, striking it as well. Its rider was not as fortunately, and the screams of the kobold echoed as he fell some 50 feet to his death on the fields below.
Successive hits were mostly impotent until range had fallen to 100 feet. The entire west wall of defenders opened up, with only arrows from Tess, Siabrey and Hidalas finding their targets. The firefly fell from the sky, as did another dragonfly, both of their riders ending up impaled on the palisade walls. The final kobold survived the barrage, and managed to toss from his mount a small bottle, which landed on one of the cottages and exploded in a ball of flame (alchemist’s fire). Within minutes, the entire cottage and its neighbor were engulfed, and commoners from all across the defensive line were swarming to put the flames out.
Another wave of flying creatures swept in, and the party took aim again, downing two of the flying creatures (one rather spectacularly falling into the blazing remains of one of the cottages) and killing the other kobolds. Now with a breather, the party had time to notice something else very alarming.
A bright, blue light in the distance, indistinct as if it was in a cloud.
Not only had the snow increased from a slight flurry, but a thick fogbank was inching towards the village, the blue light deep within its depths. A village adept placed herself behind the group and began incantations, and the rolling fog halted a mere 30 feet from the palisade wall. Beyond that, the party could only hear the oncoming maelstrom… as the noises of hundreds of boots slamming into the ground rose into a roar, the screeches and howls of hundreds of creatures reaching a crescendo.
The party’s training of the townspeople proved good, as no one loosed arrows early this night. From the southern wall, however, a great din arose, roaring, shouting, screaming, wailing and crashing, rising as a gigantic wave.
Battle had been joined.
The party watched with some apprehension as more and more of the commoners and refugees helping their sector of defense streamed southward, and as Sir Santac himself left their quarter and galloped south to supervise the defense. Even as the roar of battle rose in that direction, the party heard something far more disconcerting to their front.
A roar, a shouted, echoed along the line. And out of the mists erupted the goblins.
The lead groups were not armed… instead they carried ladders, four to each ladder. They ran towards the wall at full tilt, their eyes clearly fearful at what their masters might do should they fail. Behind them came 12 goblin archers to the groups direct front, others all up and down the walls.
The party immediately loosed arrows, with Siabrey’s call to fire echoing along the line. The deepening dark grew darker as a shower of arrows slashed into the ground, cutting up the goblin formations. Yet they continued to run.
Tess was the first to notice the group to their front drawing back their short bows, and the other order of the day echoed along the wall.
Commoner and party member alike squatted low, as a series of thuds rumbled along the walls as arrows impacted. Siabrey attempted to stand and continue firing, only to receive an arrow wound to her shoulder. It was slight, but enough that she sought cover as well.
Once it was apparent the goblins were reloading, the party and others along the wall (by this point, only a ranger, a commoner, and the adept behind the line remained to back up the party in this section of the wall) fired back, shattering the goblin ranks to their immediate front. One goblin ladder crew was completely wiped out, while two others had to consolidate. Within a few seconds, one ladder was completely in place, while another was rising.
Acting quickly, Siabrey shoved the rising ladder back, and it fell on its goblin owners. Arrow fire then gutted that crews ranks, and the survivors ran screaming back into the mist.
The other ladder’s owners ran once it was up, but instead of pushing it down, Tess resolved to pull it up so it couldn’t be used. After some cajoling, Hidalas came over and helped, and the two slowly managed to get the ladder up out of reach, even as the mists swirled about to reveal numerous tight, dense ranks of hobgoblins preparing to surge forward.
Tess and Hidalas finally managed to pull the ladder over the wall, and deposit it rudely on the town side. Just as quickly as they materialized, the hobgoblin ranks disappeared back into the mists, and a loud, deep horn sounded. The party members looked at each other in wonder, and in horror, as their next challenge came from the mists.
Two enormous stag beetles, each at least 20 feet long, came from the mists and charged the wall. Desperately the party launched arrows at them, many of the pieces glancing off of the thick carapaces. The first beetle impacted the wall, causing the whole of this section of palisade to shudder. When the section hit, a ten-foot wide section of the wall snapped free from its sister sections and fell backwards.
Tess, Lucius and Siabrey by this point had found weak points in the beetle’s armor… a crack in their carapace just behind the head and before the body. Their arrows aimed there went true, and while one beetle retreated off into the mists, their fire brought down the second. They had little time to celebrate, as their enemy began moving to exploit the gap...
Breaking out of the mists was a dense group of ten hobgoblin warriors. Six were clad in dark chain shirts, far heavier than any normal hobgoblin armor. Four were clad in dark half-plate, with strange idols strapped onto their backs. All were armed with either long swords or bastard swords, along with shields. They were up against six fighters (all 2nd level) and four hobgoblin blackguards (all 1st level).
The party’s arrow fire redoubled, and two of the fighters fell before they reached the walls. The others however, formed a dense mass and started to pass through the wall. Sir Santac himself returned to this section of the wall, and desperately began trying to hold them himself.
The mists swirled again, and another form emerged. An enormous spider, this one glowing a bright blue in the gloom. Atop its spindly form was mounted a creature in dark full plate, two enormous horns mounted on his helm. In his hands was a massive great sword, serrated and wicked. He launched himself at the wall with a snarl, his spider racing forward with a scream (hobgoblin blackguard, lvl 3, atop an intelligent monstrous huge ice spider).
Tess and Siabrey both drew their bows, and for a moment, the clashes of battle in the fallen section of wall disappeared. Hidalas’ calls to shoot at the blackguards vanished, the snow falling into their eyes melted away. Both saw only one thing in their vision: a gap in the armor of the oncoming rider of death, between his helm and his breastplate, no wider than the thickness of a thumb. Both drew their bows, and let loose simultaneously.
Their arrows flew straight and true, and as trusted sisters slammed side by side into the neck of the enemy commander. The creature did not have time or breath to scream, and flew backwards off its mount, landing ignominiously on the ground in a fluff of snow. (Double criticals… need I say more? )
The creatures mount screeched onward, enraged at its masters fall. It reached the palisade wall, and began to climb it, even as shouldered off more arrows from Siabrey and Tess and blows from Hidalas. It mounted the palisade wall, and with a screech, grabbed Siabrey, biting hard.
She felt a stinging, biting pain like none she felt before, yet managed to break herself free. As her friends tried to distract the beast from her, she swung at it in desperation. It was then that both she and Tess noticed Lucius dropped his sword and shield, his face looking blank. They both were sure he was going to run.
It was then his face changed… into something frightening to behold, and a voice from seemingly another place, and another time, filled with something horrible, echoed from his lips, “Leave her alone!” There wasn't really enough time for the act to sink in their minds until after the battle; it was then that some party members began to wonder how exactly their 15 year old warrior companion had commanded a large, intelligent monster to flee...
The spider stopped its assault, and with another screech, spun around, falling off the palisade wall and fleeing into the swirling mists, even as Siabrey began to feel weaker. Her body began to shake, and she could hardly grip her bow enough to shoot. Nonetheless, she and Tess began covering fire for Sir Santac, who was holding his own. The ranger along the wall came down and launched himself into the fray, as did Hidalas. The three began to shove the monsters back, even as Tess shot one through the helm and Siabrey managed to down one with an arrow to the heart. The blackguards stood, fought, and died in the gap, the last falling beneath the hooves of Santac’s horse.
The mists swirled a final time, as a group of hobgoblin archers came forth, and issued two volleys of arrows before the sniping of the party forced them to withdraw, and another horn sounded. Soon afterwards the ground began to quake again with the sounds of moving feet. Instead of increasing and breaking out of the mists, the sounds began to die away. The blue light faded, and the mists began to withdraw. A ragged cheer echoed up from the lines, as it became apparent that Mephys would survive the night.
Siabrey spent the next thirty minutes or so shaking from the spiders poison, until eventually her body, worn by the repeated seizures, lapsed into unconsciousness, which delved even further into a deep deep sleep… the state that would help her heal the most, in the opinion of Hidalas the cleric and other healers who checked her over.
Tess led a ragged party to search the remains of the dead. Siabrey’s cat jumped out of her sack as she sat, panting and shaking by the wall, and followed Tess. They found a treasure trove of coins and gems. More importantly, Tess also found three unusual statues, all carved out of ivory with sapphires for the creature’s eyes and diamonds for its hair. The creature depicted was thin, human-like, with large, outstretched wings. Realizing this was their god; Tess took the idols back into town.
It was at this moment the cat spoke… O.o
Last edited by Emperor Valerian; Sunday, 4th January, 2004 at 07:53 PM.
I'm glad that people like it... its more a credit to my players roleplaying abilities than my skill as a DM. I'm lucky that my players love to roleplay... which is a large part of the fun! (Also gives me plot ideas... heh heh heh)
Very epic. I always love reading about a siege, especially when it's mixed with the evil and magic you masterfully wove into the tail.
How did you handle the battle, if I may ask?
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