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Al-Qarin: Into the Desert (3-1-24)

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Good news and bad news...

Here's an update, albeit a very short one. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's the last one for a while. I managed to scrape my way by the first of a series of professional exams I have to write this summer and as a result, I'm going to be out of town for the next month, at a training course. So no more updates until probably mid July. That's the bad news.

Hopefully Galeman will post some stats and maps in the rogue's gallery, to keep the story hour from slipping completely into obscurity in my absence. I'll bug Shayla to post some of the pictures she's drawn of her character too, but no promises there.

And now, for your reading pleasure...

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Arcane words echoed down the hallway as Shayla and the goblin spellcaster began to chant, almost in unison. Khalid, paralyzed with indecision, fumbled for his spell components as the chanting reached a crescendo. The goblin, still sneering, finished his spell with a final curse and cast forth a wave of utter darkness that washed over them with an icy chill. Khalid felt the insidious magic seep into the very core of his being, sapping his will. As despair threatened to overwhelm him, he tapped an unexpected reserve of strength and fought back the insidious magic.

Shayla too, seemed unaffected by the goblin's magic as her melodic voice rose with the final words of her spell. The goblin's evil grin slowly faded into a look of horror, as Shayla's hand erupted in white-hot flame. Khalid felt the skin on his cheek blister as a jet of searing fire sizzled past him and struck the goblin full in the face. The goblin screamed in agony as his skin melted like wax beneath the fury of Shayla's spell. His rich silk robes burst into flame as the goblin's lifeless body tumbled into a smoldering heap in front of the door.

The battle however, was far from over. Gorak shouted a warning as an enormous wolf raced down the hallway towards them. Khalid watched in stunned disbelief as the form of the wolf twisted and warped before his very eyes. The jet-black fur burst open in several places as the monstrosity's body began to bloat and distend. The snout receded back into its face, becoming a thick nose set below beady, piggish eyes. In mid stride, the wolf's forelegs became powerful arms tipped with razor sharp talons. With a final heave, the creature planted one hand on the ground and sprang upright without slowing. Clots of bloodied fur oozed off the creature as it slammed into Gorak with a terrific force.

Staggered, Gorak reeled backwards as he suddenly found himself face to face with an enormous goblin. The creature was nearly as tall as Khalid but easily four times as wide. His skin was the color of drying blood, and rolls of thick, greasy fat hung down over a filthy loincloth. An enormous two-handed sword was strapped to the goblin's back, but he seemed to have little need of it, favoring the cruelly hooked talons extending from each hand.

Khalid, in panicked desperation, sought a quick end to the melee and unleashed his magical slumber. With a sense of utter dismay, he realized the instant he finished casting that his spell had no effect. He stepped back, away from the goblin as he frantically reached into his spell component pouch to prepare another casting.

Gorak, recovering from his surprise, spilled Sousee out onto the cavern floor and charged the goblin, slamming his cudgel into the creature's meaty arm. Shrugging off the powerful blow, the goblin lunged forward, driving his talons right through Gorak's hastily raised shield. Wrenching the shield to one side, he slashed Gorak across the chest with his other hand, tearing deep rents in his leather armor. Then, incredibly, the goblin's jaw distended impossibly wide and he bit Gorak's shoulder savagely, piercing easily through his armor. As Gorak roared out in pain, Sousee lashed out again and again, sinking her fangs deep into the goblin's legs to little effect.

Blood coursing from his wounds and staining his armor, Gorak screamed, "We can't fight this thing!" as he wrenched his shield free. Shayla, recognizing the danger, began to chant immediately and filled the tunnel with a bank of concealing fog.

Khalid, hidden from the goblin's sight by the misty vapors, opened a portal and climbed inside, barely touching the rope in his haste to escape. He waited anxiously for the others to follow, peering out into the haze, then uttered a startled yelp as Sousee slipped through the gate, surprising him. Through the open portal, he could hear laboured breathing and Gorak's short grunts of pain. As the fog eddied and swirled he caught dim flickers of motion as Gorak and the goblin remained locked in brutal combat.

Then, suddenly, Shayla screamed. Khalid was stricken with panic as the piercing shriek faded into a hideous gurgle. Desperate to help his friends, Khalid leaned far out of the portal to cast a spell, and then flinched as his face was coated with a spray of blood. Shaken, he cast the only spell he could without seeing his target, but the sounds of combat told him that again his magical slumber had failed to effect the goblin.

Sick with fear, Khalid almost tumbled from the gateway as Gorak appeared in front of him with Shayla draped over his shoulder. As Khalid scuttled backwards, Gorak, with a mighty heave, hurled Shayla through the portal, then leapt in after her.

Khalid crawled over to Shayla's limp form and rolled her over. Checking quickly for a pulse, he sighed in relief as he realized she was still breathing. He was about to reach for a healing potion when he glanced up and saw Gorak's eyes widen in fear. With a growing sense of dread, Khalid realized that he hadn't pulled up the rope. He turned and lunged at the opening. As his fingers closed on the end of the cord, the goblin's enormous form emerged from the swirling mist. Khalid's heart leapt into his throat as he stared out, directly into the bloated face of the goblin Malakai. Then Khalid, who had never been a religious man, made his peace with the lost gods, as his worst fear came true. Malakai grabbed the rope.

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Ugh. This fight was awful. Heh, the first time we actually make an escape plan, we go and totally screw it up. That totally changed the rest of the adventure. I think both Shayla and I thought Gorak was a lot more hurt than he actually was when he started yelling to retreat, so she went to try and help him, and almost died (heh, not me, I stuck to the plan and got outta there as fast as I could ;)). I don't know what I was doing in this fight. I should have realized that sleep was never going to work, although in my defense I didn't have a lot of options. I was planning on dealing with the hordes of goblins while Shayla hit the targets of opportunity. The second time, I actually came out of the portal, and I *should* have gone and healed Shayla. However, I succumbed to despair (it happens when you play in enough of Galeman's games) and assumed the campaign was going to end in a round or two, so I gambled on another sleep. I also should have been readying to pull up the rope when Gorak came in. Like I said, not my best fight...

Lastly, I don't exactly remember what the goblin cast on us. I thought it was a spell that gave everybody a penalty to saves & attack rolls (name escapes me and I'm at work right now) while Galeman thought it may have been sleep (the goblin was a shaman). I wrote it as the first, for varieties sake. Not that it mattered, we all made our saves and Shayla obliterated him. Heh, the first three times she used scorching ray, she did over 20pts of damage each time :)
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EternalNewbie said:
Lastly, I don't exactly remember what the goblin cast on us. I thought it was a spell that gave everybody a penalty to saves & attack rolls (name escapes me and I'm at work right now) while Galeman thought it may have been sleep (the goblin was a shaman).

In my recollection it was the 1st lvl spell "bless"...or its counter. So, I'm agreeing with EternalNewbie's account of the combat.

When I called the retreat, I delayed my turn to block Malakai from seeing the "rope trick" while Shayla retreated. Shayla, instead of fleeing, thought I was in trouble and walked ahead and cast "daze" on Malakai... :( Alas, to our suprise, the spell didn't work. Malakai, then stepped in and deliverd 400 points of damage to Shayla knocking her unconscious. I took 2 attacks of oportunity in my efforts to rescue her.
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so i thought i'd drop this in here. i've finally updated the rogue's gallery. a brief purview of the crunchy bits that make up all the glory that is malakai. go and have a look. i'll also be trying to post stats on some of the other npcs we all came to know and love soon.

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