In the Valus - The Heroes of Marchford (Chapter 14 Continues - 12/24/08)

Funeris

Visitor
The following story is a campaign ran by Destan (see the Story Hour Sins of the Fathers and/or his published book "The Valus"). I am the humble translator/writer.

The first chapter is a summary of emails between the players (roughly edited) and the real story begins with Chapter 2 (our first session) as the original characters journey to help the tiny village of Marchford. We've lost characters along the way just as any campaign does. However after the 1st session, we lost 38% of our players. Why, you ask? Well, read and find out.

And if you're here, thanks for giving us your time and attention.
 
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pogre

Adventurer
Funeris said:
I can't promise I'll do all of the posting....we're going to drop some players (there are eight of us in the first 2 chapters) but hopefully someone else will continue the posts if Funeris doesn't make the cut.
?

Tell me a little more about the campaign set-up. Do you mean to say that Destan invited 8 players to participate and is cutting players after the first few initial sessions? Or do you mean that some folks who planned on playing in the campaign had to bow out eventually - yourself included - and thus the storyhour will have to be picked up by current players?

If Destan is making cuts how is he going to do it? Is there a box with white and black marbles?
 
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Funeris

Visitor
Well, for the first session there were 8 PCs....and that's not including 2 guys waiting in the wings. I found out about the campaign on the DND posts...where it was advertised that he needed players. I don't think he expected so many people to respond.

The first session went quite well despite or in spite of the number of us. He took a private vote through email about whether or not to cut the numbers (because no characters died in the first game). And the majority wanted fewer PCs.

So, yesterday Destan assigned everyone numbers and used an online die roller. Players were cut randomly. So we lost three of the eight. And now there are only five left. He liked all of us, so it was a hard decision to make.

The first chapter will be posted today(this afternoon probably), so enjoy the
eight characters while you can :)

* One more note....at the end of chapter 1 there are only 6 characters...the other two will appear at the beginning of chapter 2
 
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Funeris

Visitor
Chapter 1

The doors to the Wet Boot were thrown open. A male child, no older than eleven, dashes in. As he passes the doors, he pivots, obviously looking for someone, and crashes into
a table.

"Rorik!" An older gentleman in fine garb shouts. "Calm down, boy. What's the meaning of this intrusion?"

"Sir....Edam..." Rorik stands up and rubs a new bump above his brow. "On the.....ridge....there's a....a.....a....."

"Spit it out, boy, for the love of Morduk." Sir Eddam sets his drink down and moves toward the child.

Rorik gulps in a mouthful of air causing him to appear as a fish-out-of-water. "On the ridge....there's a...."

"a.....monster."

************************************************************************

It was an unseasonably cold morning for the first day of Gal. A crowd, sprinkled like sores upon the hillside, gathered around the...thing. As many town-folk as there were, there were just as many foreigners.

Stretched upon the grasses was a beast, easily the size of two men. It looks half arachnid and half man. Armored plates, the color of milk, encase its body. A huge tail, as long as it is tall, lies beneath its crumpled form. At the end of the tail is a stinger as fat and
round as a dwarf's head. Its eyes have no lids; black pupils stare blankly upward at the morning sun.

Rorik, an unkempt child, prods the corpse with a stick. Gasps erupt from the crowd but they do not stir the creature. Rorik squats down and grabs a claw. He lifts and grunts, "heavy" before dropping it.

Quite obviously, the corpse has been lying there, beneath sun and moon, for several days. Maybe even weeks. Yet, not one fly buzzes near it. Not a maggot, not a worm. Nothing.

"Don't touch it, Rorik," hisses one of the crowd. The boy stands, now uncertain, and drifts backward to join the others.

A silence, as thick as tar, falls upon the crowd.

"Give way!" the order shatters the momentary silence. A soldier wearing the colors of Rhelm pushes through the crowd, followed by Sir Eddam. They both stare at the foulness soiling the earth.

"So, Rorik, who found it?" Eddam questions.

Rorik begins to answer but is silenced by another man.

"I did." The crowd looks upon the answerer. A bearded man with several varmint traps dangling over his shoulder steps forward. "I thought it best to tell folk down at the Boot."

"I wish ye would'a told me first, Trunt." Eddam sighs. "Has anyone sent for the priest?"

"Brother Nulm was told," a woman replies. "But this morn marks a new month, one that is holy to Galar, his God's enemy. Nulm refuses to leave his church. 'E says 'tis unlucky tidings and that we shouldn't be coming close to it."

"Mayhaps, mayhaps. Has anyone ever seen...something like this?"

Silence is his answer. Eddam turns toward the soldier.

"Captain Wallach, place two of your men here as guard. I don't want no one touchin' it."

The armored soldier nods. "As you wish, mayor."

Eddam rubs his eyes wearily. "Alright, then, this is over. Back to your homes and hearths. All of ye, please. Talk about it as much as you like, but do yer talkin' in the Boot or elsewhere. Not up here on the ridge."

The crowd begins to disperse. Many hesitating, catching one last glimpse of the creature, before heading downward toward Marchford.

************************************************************************

That evening there was a town meeting, held within the common room of Marchford's only tavern and inn, the Wet Boot. Sir Eddam, the town's old mayor, stands with his
back to the bar facing the worried countenances of his townspeople.

"Silence." The people answer his request, many take their seats, and soon the only sounds are the crackling logs within the hearth.

"If yer here, then no doubt ye heard about the thing found up on the ridge. None of us are sure what it is, but it is dead. We rolled it over this afternoon and found a few wounds in its back. Sword strokes, most likely."

The mayor looks about the room. "Brother Nulm won't leave his chapel, but he says the description sounds like a creature found in the deserts across the waters. A scorp..." Eddam pauses, "what did he call it?" Eddam looks to the soldier next to him.

"A scorpion."

"Right." The mayor sweeps the common room with his gaze. "A scorpion-man. Nulm ain't never heard of no scorpions that looked like a man, though. Says it's an unlucky thing to find near our town. I don't know if he be right or wrong. I s'pose time'll tell."

The crowd erupted in murmurs and whispers until a half-orc, busy wiping down the bar questioned, "Whut ye gonna do 'bout it?"

"Well, Oggut," Eddam replies after a moment's hesitation, "I would like to see if there's more of them in those hills. We should tell the Earl at Dun Beric, but I would like to give him more information if there's more to be had."

The half-orc half-laughs and half-grunts. "Who, then, is going into them hills?"

Eddam shrugs. "Captain Wallach can't spare his men." The mayor gives the soldier at his shoulder a pointed glance. "So I was thinking maybe some of you trappers and hunters could scour the hills."

"Like hell," swears a big man dressed in buckskin. "Let the Earl's men do it."

Eddam nods. "Mayhaps, mayhaps. But that's a day over and a day back, at best. And nothing's to say the Earl will agree to send us some of his own scouts. We must look after our own."

Oggut rests both elbows on the bar. "If not Wallach's men, and if not them from Dun Beric, then who?"

Eddam removes a leather pouch from his cloak and places it on the bar. "There are some of you," and at this his eyes drift toward a few of the foreigners before surveying others within the room, "who have no homes here in Marchford. You have no fields to till, no families to watch. I have coins, good silver, to pay."

"How much?" comes a voice from the back of the common room.

"Three hundred silver. Per person. Paid if they bring back information - good information - on what these things are and where they come from."

A low murmur washes over the crowded common room. "Three hundred silver is no small sum," is heard, as well as, "Marchford can't afford that."

The mayor waits for the whispering to subside before continuing. "I'll give anyone who wants to go four days. Starting tomorrow. Come back with good information, and you'll be paid."

"Captain Wallach and I will set up in the corner, over there, with quill and parchment." The mayor waves a hand toward the crowd. "If anyone feels so inclined, then come see me."

************************************************************************

"I am Nimrodel." She says, her voice bearing only a hint of a bell-like tone - a slightly raspy tenor with an unusual accent shaping the words in a tongue clearly not her native language. Eyes like pale chips of blue ice survey the other volunteers, the mayer, and Captain Wallach in turn. Her ears appear to be elven, drawing upwards to sharp points. Both ears poke through a mane of hair, as starkly white as the bleak depths of winter, as simply even as the snow-shorn branches of a frost-rimed forest. Her leathers are travel-worn and fit somewhat awkwardly on her lean, rangy frame. Her features could be called beautiful but are only the reflection of the symmetry of her face and form - there is no warmth to her eyes, no life in her step - this woman possesses all the charm of a frozen lake.

In the brief pause after her introduction, she watches as her name is scrawled upon Captain Wallach's parchment. "It is as you say," the elf woman continues. "There is little here for me. I will meet your task."

It is not as if I'll grow rich doing odd jobs for Biminy. Nor will I make any headway finding the one I seek, she thought to herself.

Calm. Nimrodel stilled the fingers drumming upon her axe's haft. Discipline, she reminded herself, as those fingers clenched at her side.

"Perhaps," She began haltingly, "we ought to consider the ridge where the creature was found. It would seem that there are others nearby who have encountered this creature and slain it. Mayhaps we should speak to these folk, whoever they may be, first. If only to find out what they know of these...things."

"Aye," Eddam says. "It sounds as if you have a good place to start. But, methinks you will be in need of companions. One person is probably too few for this task."

Nimrodel steps to the side of the table to allow other volunteers to come forth.

Next to step forward was a young man, well, barely a man. Not even old enough for facial hair yet. His hair was long, wavy, and fire red and contrasted sharply with the studded leather armor, caked in mud, that he wore.

Closer inspection would reveal dried mud, caked to his face and arms as well.

Strapped to his back was a Great Sword that rested awkwardly beside a short bow and a full quiver. Both weapons also were slightly covered in dirt and appeared used.

At six-foot-two he towered over Captain Wallach's table. No emotion showing on his face, eyes colder than ice.

"I, too, will go." His voice was soft but slightly distant.

"Well...er..." the captain looked at the mayor thinking, no boy should go. And this one is much more a boy than a man. But the mayor just shrugged.

The captain responded, "I do not think this is a task safe for...one so young."

The boy's face flushed a slight shade of strawberry-red. "My path is one of honor and valor. If you would try to step between my fate and I, then I challenge you. I’ll fight you to the death. Mayhaps I'll die but you'll not enjoy the rest of your days as a cripple. I will show you I am no boy."

Silence again descended on the tavern as all eyes turned to Captain Wallach, whose face was turning beet red.

The captain grumbled, "Fine, and your name?"

"Funeris Bellator," the man-child answered. The name was scribbled upon the parchment.

Then, Funeris turned, and skulked over to an empty table along the wall where he could sit, watch, and silently gauge the other individuals that might become his companions.

Third, a short, scrawny male teenager in old dark brown studded leather steps forward and stood at attention.

"I am Ember and I will take your task as well," he states simply. "I believe my skills could be of some use with those going into the hills."

With military precision he wheels right and seeks a place to sit where he can see the others.

Besides the old studded leather an old but well cared for steel shield is slung over his shoulder. A shortspear is held on his right and a large dagger hangs from his belt. Oddly, his left-hand fingers tap repeatedly on several small pouches (adorned with arcane marks)
that dangle from a shoulder belt.

Captain Wallach didn't even bother asking this youth if it were wise for him to join the quest. He sighed and scratched the name onto the scroll.

Ember turned toward the elf and man-child, "I agree that talking to the locals where the beast was found would be an excellent starting point. If the body is fresh enough then perhaps its tracks may also be fresh, perhaps a hunter or ranger could attempt to track this creature's path. And even if the track were lost, it would give a general direction to head toward."

"I also suggest we might inquire with the mayor about the services of a pony or mule to carry food and water for the four days. No use wearing ourselves out if there may trouble tomorrow or the day after."

Not waiting for a response, Ember slid his chair back against the wall and watched Captain Wallach's table.

"I'll track."

Having travled the Marches for a few months now, Motega was used to the stares and whispers by now. The Rorn people were not common, not trusted, in the Valus and Motega new that the tattoos upon his face and animal skins and bones worked into his leathers only added to their mistrust.

No matter, he meant these people no harm. In fact, even though his weather beaten face did not show it, he was still a young warrior set out from his homeland in the mountains of the south looking to find adventure to achieve honor among his people.

Motega left his mark and returned the mayor's scowl with a friendly nod. He wondered to himself if these people would be any more at ease if they new that his name meant "new arrow" given to him by his grandfather signifying his youth and inexperience with the longbow slung across his back.

He adjusted his handaxe on his belt and offered a smile to the fire haired boy just as a shout of "Baby Eater!" came from the crowd.

Tomorrow will be a long day, he thought.

As the crowd looks over those that had signed so far, a man, neigh a boy with light brown hair and green haunted eyes steps up nervously. His simple well-worn traveler's clothes barely hung on his thin, tall frame. He seemed to try to shrink from view as the eyes of the tavern peered toward him.

The youth nearly bumps into the signing table before executing a swift spin, stopping along the side. The Captain starts to reach toward him with the quill, when the boy swiftly ducks his arm, and pulls the quill from his hand.

"No, it's alright, I've got it." The boy smiles and jots his name on the scroll.

Some of the stone masons, in the corner, surprised that this man stepped forward began to murmur. The youth had worked with them previously, a hard worker to be sure, but one to venture off into the unknown?

"Magnus, Magnus Ender," he stammers out. "I sign up to help because they," and he gestures toward the volunteers, "might need protecting...", a few chuckles from the crowd are heard.

The captain leaned and whispered to Sir Eddam, "Look at his eyes."

As the Mayor looks upon this nervous boy he can see his eyes are cold and hard, even as his body nervously twitches.

Magnus heads toward the group appearing to grow more confident with every step. Reaching out his hand, "Hi, I'm Magnus..."

As Magnus introduces himself to the party, he constantly peers around the room, often glancing over his own shoulder. Then he maneuvers his back against a wall.

"So, uh, I know a little magic." He beams at the group and adds, "I prefer the school of Abjuration." The group stares blankly at him as a bead of sweat breaks upon his brow. "Uh, that's defensive magics...Anyway, my real interest is architecture. So, if we come upon any ruins, I'll be quite the valuable asset." Again, he was answered with blank stares. "And, I'll be able to tell you all who crafted it and when it was crafted and..." his voice drifted to less than a whisper.

Her quarterstaff lightly rapping on the floor, the woman strode to the mayor's table. At first glance, her face, framed by luxurious auburn hair and inset with deep blue eyes, appeared expressionless. But closer reflection revealed a serenity that bespoke wisdom far beyond her twenty-some years. Her sturdy boots, leather armor, deep green cloak, and scimitar slung across her back cried out ranger, but the quarterstaff, wooden shield and a peculiar aura about her gave everyone in the room pause.

Murmurs exploded among the crowd as they realized the presence of a druid.

"I am Calyx. I believe my skills may be of use in this undertaking." Her choice of words, whether or not she intended the effect, stirred more than a few more whispers in the room.

She surveyed the array of brave volunteers. A brief smile flickered across her face as she contemplated the Rornman, while the arcanists elicited an equally brief frown. Calyx found the arcane magicks a bit distasteful, but they too have their place in the world.

Without another word, she gave a warm nod and slight curtsy to the assembled group and moved to join them and await further direction.

Captain Wallach, Marchford's garrison commander, closed the book on the table in front of him and stands. After asking the mayor for permission to address the crowd, he turns in your direction.

"You heard the major, you signed the book. The task is yours. Four days. In four days, if we don't hear from you, then we'll assume yer dead or moved on to better things. Fair enough?"

He grabs the book and tucks it under one arm. "You can take an advance from your payment, if you wish, to purchase any gear you might need. One of you asked about a mule - that can be arranged, if you wish. In any event, we won't be advancing more than one hundred princes."

"I can give you an escort, if you'd like, for the first few miles. Our command doesn't extend beyond that. Regardless, I will be on the ridgeline at dawn. If you plan to pray, better do so tonight or before the sun comes up.

"May ye keep yer heads on yer shoulders."

With that, Wallach pushes through the crowd and walks out the Boots' doors. The mayor begins to quietly converse with Oggut, the half-orc bar keep, and a cluster of villagers.


The Druid's frown brings shivers to Magnus, their fearsome feral reputations preceding them. And this one was a girl at that. Magnus starts pacing slightly against the wall, wondering what he has got himself into. Was it the drink that gave him the courage to stand up and sign his name?

No, he had barely touched his ale this night. It could be poisoned, he thought. And, his usual dart game wasn't being played. All-around the creature had disturbed life. Everyone was talking about the bug-man, and what was to be done about it.

But he wasn't as worried about the dead creature as he was about what could have possibly killed it.

Funeris interrupted the silence. "Well, I suggest we take the guide, for as long as we can have them."

Although he had been silent for the majority of the night, content just to watch his now companions, Funeris spoke. He adjusted an annoying strand of hair that apparently longed to be eaten. Suicidal, as it were.

"We should also take the coin in advance at least to the limit they'll allow. And purchase any gear or items we'll need for this little adventure. Better it not come out of our own pockets, for mine are not deep."

With his piece said, Funeris whipped his great sword out deftly and began to polish it, trying to remove all of the caked mud.

Nimrodel casually flipped an errant strand of white hair from her cheek and considers.

She nods to Funeris' suggestion. "The advance should not be wasted. We could buy a few items we may need for our journey."

"Why don't we split up, get the gear we need, and meet on the ridge in the morning." Murmurs and nods noted acceptance and the group disbanded for the night.
 
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Funeris

Visitor
Chapters 2 & 3

Chapter 2 will be on its way...this afternoon....with chapter 3 (which will bring us current at least until the 25th) either tomorrow or this weekend....

does this count as a bump??? :)
 

Funeris

Visitor
Chapter 2

Dawn on the second day of Gal was greeted with overcast skies and a chilling breeze. It would be a dreary day in the Northern Valus. Sir Eddam and Captain Wallach were standing beside four unknown men. One wore the garb of a cleric and busied himself on an inspection of the creature. Another of the four was a halfling, dressed in a worn cloak. As the stifling morning breeze broke across the plains, brushing the halfling’s cloak away, eight obviously used daggers dangled in the halfling’s belt.

“Right on time,” Eddam spoke. “These two guards will accompany you as far as they can. And we have supplied a mule per your request. Now, if you’ll excuse the captain and myself, we have other business to attend.”

“Let’s get goin’” grunted one of the guards.

“No, not yet,” the cleric spoke. He stood from his crouched spot and brushed some dirt off his clothing. “I am Fitz, devotee of Ceria and this is Raven. We have also volunteered for this task.”

“Let’s go.” Grunted the same guard, obviously agitated.

“This beast was not slain with a sword as first thought,” Fitz continued. “These wounds are slightly small for a bladed weapon. They look more like arrow wounds to my untrained eye.”

Motega bent over the carapace of the creature. “He’s right. But where did the arrows go?”

“Or better yet, why were they removed?” chimed in Ember.

Nimrodel strode over to the annoyed guard and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Where’d the arrows go?”

“For Morduk’s sake, why does that matter?”

“Oh, just tell them Thom, so we can get going,” whined the previously silent guard.

Thom grunted and gestured to a bush on the edge of the plain. Brushing the vegetation to the side, Motega uncovered two snapped arrows. There was nothing distinct about the arrows, except for their lack of quality. Then he inspected the creature’s tracks.

“Why were the arrows removed?” Motega glared at Thom.

“Look, the boy Rorik must have removed them. They weren’t noticed until after the meeting last night. It’s unimportant anyway, right?”

“The tracks lead north toward the forest,” Motega stated. “We should get started. I don’t think there’s anything else to see here.” He pivoted and took off toward the forest.

“Finally,” Tom bellowed and moved to keep up with Motega.

***************************************************************

One half hour into the trek, the two guards halted.

“What’s wrong?” Funeris questioned.

“Well, we should be heading back.” Thom looked toward the other guard. “The edge of our patrol ends here,” he pointed vaguely toward the scarce brush. “Right, Rodoc?”

“Uh, yeah, that’s right. Our patrol ends here. Let’s go, Thom.” The two guards turned and nearly sprinted back toward the village.

“Cowards,” Nimrodel accused but the guards were already out of earshot. Never in all her life, had she seen such spineless men. On second thought, maybe one or two. If she dwelled ont it too long, though, she might be forced to teach them a lesson. So, she brushed her anger aside.

“So, should we be looking for these creatures?” Funeris asked, peering behind the party at the obnoxiously loud guards.

“That’s probably not necessary,” Motega replied. “Scorpiots are a subterranean race. I doubt we’ll see any in these woods.” He kneeled and studied the tracks again. “I’d worry more about who or what killed the one near town. It obviously wasn’t any of the guards.”

Suddenly, Nimrodel cocked her head to the side and drew her axe. Motega turned toward the direction of the tracks and paused, reaching for an arrow.

“What is it?” Ember hissed, laying a hand on his javelin.

“I heard a woman’s voice,” Nimrodel whispered back.

“As did I. Maybe 200 yards ahead of us. If that.” Motega added.

The scorpiot’s tracks ended in a dense patch of vegetation only 150 yards further. Motega stopped and silently slid into the brush, disappearing momentarily. When he peeked back through the bushes, he whispered, “there’s a clearing. Follow me, we’re going to edge around it.”

Cautiously, they circled the clearing, again heading toward the north. Motega raised his hand to halt the party. Then gestured to the party to be silent.

I could’ve sworn I heard something,” a voice whispered.

You’re just paranoid.”

No. It sounded like something was coming from the town.”

No one comes from the town, you dolt.”

Perched in a group of trees in the clearing, three archers faced the path they had just left. All three archers had arrows nocked, and were listening intently.

“You there! In the trees! We've come not to slay you” bellowed Nimrodel. The archers spun in their trees, nearly losing their footing. “We want only information. Attack us and you will reap what you sow.“ thwick --an arrow sped past Nimrodel. She dived behind a nearby tree.

Motega and Funeris unloosed arrows they had ready, both finding their mark in the archer that had attacked. In the boughs of the tree, the archer’s body went limp. Ember charged toward the archers while the others took cover behind shrubbery.

More arrows were loosed toward cover, one barely missing Magnus’s head and darting past Calyx’s thigh. Magnus leapt behind Funeris, while Calyx lifted her arms into the air.

“Matris! Confine these would-be-murderers!” She screeched. The forest seemed to shudder—and then to breathe—as the trees bowed to Calyx’s demands. Ember barely stopped his assault before vines sprung from the ground, flicking as if a snake tasting its surroundings—searching for prey. In the trees, vines lashed against the archers’ skin, entangled their bodies, and slowly but adamantly constricted their movements. Groans came from the wooded floor; two previously hidden men with spears were entangled in the living vines.

“Drop your weapons! We do not want to slay you!” Exasperated, Nimrodel took a breath. “We just want to ask you some questions.” She stepped away from the tree, throwing axe in hand.

The remaining archer fired an arrow. It missed Raven, who had snuck through the forest to the north and west, by a wide margin. The last archer slumped against some branches, two arrows and a throwing axe in his chest.

“I repeat. Through down your arms!” A fury blazed behind Nim’s eyes, her fingers tapped against her great axe. The spearmen released their grips on their weapons.

“Now, answer our questions.”

“Not until you release us.” One cried.

Motega and Funeris raised their bows at the spearmen. “Go ahead, Calyx.” Nimrodel commanded. Quickly the living forest died into tranquility, the vines returned to their natural resting spots. “Do not attempt to run. First question, why are you in these woods?”

“Why are you in these woods?” Chimed the other spearman.

“Don’t be cute.”

“We were running from the bugs,” sighed the first spearman. “We managed to kill one or two and have been waiting here for our friends.”

“Question two, why did you attempt to kill us??”

“You fired at us. We were merely defending ourselves.”

“Liars!” Ember laid his javelin’s blade to rest on the spearman’s throat.

“Well…” he stammered, “you spooked us. Maybe we thought it was another of those bugs. You can’t blame us for reacting, now, can you?” He added, “in a defensive manner.”

“Questions three and four, where did these things come from? And, where are your friends?”

“One answer for both questions. Castle Llyndofare, maybe a day’s hike north of here.” He raised his arm to gesture but Ember forced it down with the javelin. ”And before you ask, those things just attacked us. We were merely defending ourselves. I doubt if any of our friends even survived.”

“I want you to leave this area.” Nimrodel, again, commanded. “If I ever see you in these woods again,” she swung the axe, lodging it halfway through an old, massive, oak, “I don’t think I need to finish that statement.” The spearmen grabbed their weapons and turned and bolted south through the woods.

***************************************************************

The entire group formed a circle around Motega and a fresh patch of ground he had dug. Resting in the ground was another scorpiot. “Well at least we know they weren’t lying about that.”

“And at least we know where we’re heading, now,” added Funeris.

The heavens belched a wicked, thunderous roar; as lightning kissed the woods, not to far from their position. A few drops of rain smattered the faces of the party.

“Let’s begin,” Motega ordered, “before the rains become too heavy and the ground too soft. I don’t want to lose the tracks, in case they were lying.” The party left the sparsely wooded field and again headed north.

Several hours later, what had been a light drizzle turned into a ferocious downpour. The group left the trail in search of shelter for the night.

An old, decaying foundation nestled underneath overgrown trees became their camp. Although in a state of disrepair, the foundation supported pieces of an old floor, protecting the travelers from the storm although not from the relaxing sound of rain splattering.

A fire was built. And upon a makeshift spit, wild game Motega had captured roasted. The smell had the same calming effect as the rain. A reflective, virtual silence descended on the travelers as they ate the game, except for Calyx. She nibbled on various roots and berries collected by both Motega and herself.

As the fire dwindled, Motega spoke. “I think it best if we post a guard tonight. In case anything were to come upon us. We’ll draw straws for the task of first shift. Since there are eight of us, we’ll each take a one hour shift.” He held out his fist, out of which pierced eight pieces of root. “The man or woman,” he glanced toward Calyx and Nimrodel, “with the shortest piece takes the first shift.”

After all of the roots were drawn, Magnus had the shortest of the pieces. “Do…do I have to watch by myself?” he questioned; his face looked agitated in the dying firelight.

“Yes,” Motega murmured sleepily. “Enjoy.” And then he rolled over, only a soft snore issued from his direction.

With each drop of rain, Magnus’ head twitched from side to side. He peered into the darkness watching, but not being able to distinguish much. The rains were slowing and no sound stirred the leaves of the forest.

Magnus leapt as a hand clamped over his mouth, prevented his scream. “Quiet. I will watch with you.” It was Nimrodel. She sat beside him. “My eyes are better in the dark. And I don’t need to rest yet, anyway.” Magnus nodded jerkily. It would take him several hours that night to calm down.
 
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Funeris

Visitor
Chapter 3

The sun pierced the few remaining storm clouds on the third of Gal. Heavenly rays caressed the rain covered leaves, soggy ground, and threatened to disperse the thick fog that blanketed the forest. Sunlight glittered off of every bush, every murky puddle in the earth. Already, the temperature had begun to dry the earth. And a legion of sunlight followed the quickly climbing temperature to assure no raindrop was left behind.

Funeris stood not far from the foundation of the cottage, watching the ascent of the golden chariot. His mind drifted to his childhood, not that he had had a stupendous young life. Rather, his life had not been long. And he did not have much to reminisce about.

The god we honor is Morduk. Every day we must give penance to our god. Our
penance is demonstrated in our manner, in our occupation, in our own
personalities. We must be fair, but that does not mean to be weak. We must
live by our codes. Every day of our lives, we will fight for our god. We will fight
for his will to be done.

But, what is his will father?

His will, child, is equality and judgment. His will is the balance of the universe.
I enforce the laws of man and at the same time pay heed to the laws of Morduk.
Some day, you too will bear the sword and responsibility of our family. Come now, son. It is time to start your training.

But the sun has only just begun to rise.

Yes, the golden chariot is beginning to cross the sky. That means it is time for us to start training.

Why do you call it that father?

Such an inquisitive child, just like your mother. Once and maybe even now, people believed that the sun itself was a god. They believed he rode a chariot across the sky. But this is not of much concern to us. Morduk is the god of death, justice, penance and anguish. And he is our god.


Funeris’ memories drifted back to the present as Nimrodel brushed against his shoulder. He turned to face the elf-woman. She is quite a warrior, he thought. He hadn’t heard her approach although that could be accounted to her natural grace or his reminiscing. She had joined him on his watch and although no words had passed between them he felt closer to her now. Whilst he had stood on the ground watching the slowly fading darkness, she had chosen to perch on the remaining “roof” of the cottage. She silently peered into the distance. Probably daring anything to come near us, he believed.

“It is time to wake them, Fune.”

“Aye. We should head on our way soon. Mayhaps after the fog passes.” Funeris moved toward the cottage to awaken the other travelers.

***********************************************************************

Within an hour’s time, the warmth of Gal’s sun obliterated the last remnants of fog from the earth. The raindrops were also long gone. The travelers sat around a new yet small fire again eating silently. Breakfast consisted of small game and flora that Motega and Calyx had been kind enough to gather.

“It should be a better day for travel,” Ember stated, as he glanced around the roof of the structure and into the sky.

“At least for the morning hours,” Motega responded. ”Around midday though, the heat of Gal will set upon us. I hope to make it to Llyndofare by then.”

“So, are we to expect an end to the dismal weather then?” Funeris chimed.

“Yes. I do believe that will be the last respite from the heat we’ll have for at least several days.” Motega returned to finishing his morning squirrel.


“What do we know of this Llyndofare castle?” Nim questioned.

“Well,” Fitz paused to swallow. “I do believe it was once a robust fortress used in the defense of these lands.” He gestured with a wide arc of his hand to the forest. “That’s if my knowledge serves me correctly. It’s rumored that it was haunted or bad luck. At any rate, it was abandoned nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. No one has used it since.”

“I wonder if the scorpiots were the ghosts,” Magnus though aloud.

“It is possible,” began Fitz.

“Well,” Motega interrupted, “If we’re to find out today, we should leave.” He squelched the fire with his boots and grabbed his gear.

“I’d wonder more about what those men we’re doing in the castle,” murmured Funeris before he grabbed his own gear. The group headed back toward the old mule trail.

****

Halfway through the morn, the adventurers reached the top of a hill that climbed above the tree line. No more than a league away, Llyndofare climbed out of the earth. The castle perched upon a small bluff, overlooking two rivers. Its spires soared upward into the sky, dwarfing the trees. The tree line ended perhaps a half-mile before the castle. It was there that the old mule path climbed a carved ledge to Llyndofare’s front gates.

Without further delay, the travelers dove back down the path and into the forest.

***

At the end of the wood, Motega again stooped to the ground to inspect the tracks. “The rain washed away most of the tracks. Here where there are tracks, I don’t see any scorpiot’s trail anyway. Just the boot marks of men.”

“It looks deserted,” Nimrodel claimed.

“It is quiet. But if there were men there and they left,” Motega paused to add weight to his statement, “then why is the door closed?”

“I don’t like the lack of cover,” Raven murmured. “If we approach it directly and it is inhabited, they’ll see us coming.”

“With any luck, we’ll see them coming.” Nimrodel began the ascent to the castle.

They stopped their approach at the edge of a drawbridge. The bridge stretched fifty feet across an ancient mote. Steep jagged sides and a thirty-foot drop dwarfed the miniscule amount of festered, confined water.

Motega followed the normal routine and stooped to inspect the tracks. “Still just human footprints. I think those men were lying.”

Motega was shoved to the ground, “Archer in the left tower!” Funeris screamed as he shielded Motega’s body. An arrow lodged in the earth next to his body. Ember, Nimrodel, and Motega, once he was upright, charged the front gate.

A grinding sound issued from behind the castle walls. A winch began to raise the portcullis and the old oak doors behind were flung open. Three swordsmen awaited the approach.

Meanwhile, an archer had appeared in the right gate tower. His arrows quickly forced the remainder of the group toward the front gate. While he ran, Fitz prayed out loud. “Ceria, please bless my comrades so that they may not fall in this battle. Bless them with your strength to do what must be done.” A faint white glow enveloped the party and then just as rapidly faded.

Once the portcullis was open, Ember ran his javelin into a swordsman at the same moment Nimrodel’s axe crashed into the swordsman’s arm. He dropped his sword and stumbled back; the other two swordsmen stepping into the fray.

The leftmost swordsman jabbed the blade into Nim’s side. She yelped in pain that instantly turned to rage in her eyes. Her great axe again sliced the air leaving a thin scrape through the man’s armor. Ember all the while blocked and parried with the other brute. Two more filthy men rushed to the aid of their compatriots.

Funeris stepped into the brawl at this point. His great sword easily ran one of the new soldiers through. It left an angry wound that would not scream for more, blood spilt across the stone flooring. Fune pivoted then dodged a deadly strike before he doubled up with Nimrodel on her swordsman.

The remnants of the group had made it safely within Llyndofare’s archway. Longing for the death of the travelers, enemy arrows shattered on the bridge. And despite the lack of targets, the archers did not leave their posts.

Calyx unleashed a feral howl. A spine-tingling wolf howl that made everyone, friend and foe alike, cringe. But within an instant, the thieves of Llyndofare realized why she had howled. A gentle yet fierce sound of padded feet traversed the drawbridge as a wolf leapt into the battle and forced the men back.

Ember seized the moment of opportunity to launch a burst of fire from his bare hands. It landed square in the chest of one of the thieves. He dropped instantly, third degree burns bubbled and exploded on his exposed flesh.

But Ember wasn’t the only to seize the moment. Magnus, who had been cowering behind Nim and Fune, popped his head up from behind his human shields. A split second and one of his daggers had split the sternum of the other warrior. In that same split second, he had resumed his crouched position. Nimrodel then opened the thief’s torso, permitting his entrails to taste her victory.

The archer from the leftmost tower loosed an arrow. It grazed Nimrodel’s cheek causing her to pivot, scream, and charge. She shook uncontrollably, which made it difficult for both Raven and Funeris to keep up with her. The three of them pinned the archer to a wall and shared turns striking blows. Ultimately, they sent him to meet his ancestors.

Fitz and Motega split from the group and charged up the staircase for the right tower. They stopped a possible ambush from the remaining archer. Fitz and Motega prevented the ambush indefinitely.

A large double door at the rear of the courtyard opened. Two more archers and a swordsman exited the adjoining room. Funeris and Nimrodel sprinted toward the enemy. Somehow, Magnus was already there. He leapt toward them and screamed a word, both palms out toward the enemy. The syllable was indecipherable due to the acoustics of the castle walls but it held an arcane sound.

Two bursts of bright colored light flashed from his hands, dropping the two archers. Magnus landed and rolled away from the swordsman that had withstood his assault.

An arrow from Funeris’ short bow shot wide drawing the attention of the enemy. Another ball of flame from Ember did not miss its target. But the warrior-thief stood up after it laid him on his back. Blisters erupted all along his flesh but he still reached for his weapon. Before he grabbed it, a shaft pierced his heart. Motega had fired from the tower. Stunned, he could do nothing but gargle as Nimrodel’s axe shredded his abdomen.

Once Motega had descended from the tower, he demanded, “What did you do to those two!?”

“I just stunned them,” mumbled Magnus as he lowered his eyes to the ground.

“Tie them up then.” Motega tossed Magnus a rope. “And make sure they don’t get loose.”

************************************************************************
The two bound men had awoken to a sloppy noise. The sound was of something being pressed into the mud. They struggled for a moment before deciding the bonds were tied too well. It was then that they noticed Motega.

Motega was hunched over the body of one of the bandit leaders, a curiously curved but razor-sharp blade busily working its way through the cadaver's ribs. Bloody to the elbows, the ranger concentrated on his task as he sought the most vital organ and began removing it from the gory cavity. Nimrodel's axe strike had made his job slightly easier, hacking many of the bones apart and exposing much of the upper torso's interior. Motega dressed the bandit’s body like any hunter would dress a deer.

"Did you hate him?" The elf's voice seems to float through the still air inside the ruined castle. Her bare feet carried her across the bloody flagstones without pause until she arrived nearby, squatting down somewhat to observe Motega's actions.

"No." The Rornman's answer was short, sweet, and to the point. Meanwhile, the red, pulpy meat of the bandit's heart began to emerge clutched in his slick fingers.

Nimrodel's head tilted slightly to the left, considering. "Did you admire him, then?"

Motega chuckled. "Seeing as how quickly he fell, no. Not particularly."

"Why then the heart?" The elf inquired, dispassionately watching as the ranger prepared his meal.

"Because I like it," he replied. "It has a pleasing texture and taste. And I chose him much like you would choose the ripest fruit from a vine, no other reason."

"Hmmm." Nimrodel gave her head a toss, her white hair flung behind her neck. Several seconds passed as Motega began to eat while the other motley adventurers scoured the keep and the bodies within for clues and loot.

"I hated him." Once again, the elf's voice seems almost to emerge from nowhere, spoken by no one until it's sudden appearance lends no doubt to it's existence.

Motega raised an eyebrow.

"I always hate." Nimrodel explained slowly. "When I am in the red place, I hate."

The ranger nodded. "I have noticed that you fight with emotion. For myself, I do not let emotions touch me in battle."

Slender fingers pointed out Motega's bow." Your tools require a steady hand. "Nimrodel agreed. "Mine, however, are fueled by hate." Her hand moved to brush the handle of the great axe strung across her back.

"Your emotions guide you in battle. Today, I believe we're thankful for that." Motega glanced around at the number of bodies lying upon the courtyard, all of whom wore the tattered clothing of the bandits.

Nimrodel nodded. "I think," she began and then paused. "That control is good. I would like...to have more control. Mayhaps one day you can teach me about such."

With that, she stood and walked toward the two bound bandits.

Motega watched the elf until she was out of sight. "What a curious creature...never have I seen an elf so...troubled," He thought to himself. Then, the bandit's liver came fee of the peritoneum lining of the body cavity and Motega forgot all about elven self-control.

(Translator’s note: the preceding passage was crafted by Nimrodel’s player and was only slightly edited by the translator.)

***

Nimrodel crouched near the living bandits. She threw a glance toward Motega and questioned, “Which organs did you want from these two?” The men burst into sobs and wails. Tears carved clean trails across their filthy faces as they pleaded for life.

Motega walked over to Nimrodel while cleaning his sharp blade. “Let me instruct you on the best way. It should be good practice for skinning animals.” He extended his arm and blade to Nimrodel. She took the blade and began dragging it not so gently across the bandits’ poor leather armor. Both broke into tears again; as well as curses.

Wasting only a few mere moments, one of the men offered to tell the party everything they knew in exchange for his life. The other bandit chimed in that he would make sure the first bandit would not lie, in exchange for his own life. Nimrodel was satisfied and handed the blade back to Motega.

But before the interrogation could begin, Raven returned from the other tower. And the adventurers decided to camp in the fortified tower for the night.

***

“Are we sure they’re to be trusted?” Funeris asked Nimrodel. He had volunteered to serve the first shift of watch because of lack of injuries. Nimrodel joined him and they were quietly debating the information whilst everyone else rested.

“We don’t have much choice. And they seem to be truthful. Fear can be powerful that way. Anyway, their information seemed to coincide with Raven’s observations.”

“They’re ignoble thieves. And I still do not trust them.” Funeris glanced at his great sword – his father’s great sword – and struggled to wipe the dirt, blood, and grime from the blade.

“Good. That means tomorrow when we approach the remaining bandits, you will be prepared.”

Funeris did not look up or respond as he switched to sharpening the sword.

***

All of the party except Raven stood outside of two large wooden doors that barred entry into Llyndofare’s ancient barracks. Raven had meanwhile stolen away a passage along the second floor to the uppermost part of the garrison. It was here that the prisoners had claimed was a back entry into the soldiers’ quarters. If the prisoners had told no lies, only two more bandits waited for the travelers. And one of the bandits was the leader.

Raven removed his lock-pick set from his bags and prepared to pick his door. The lock was a simple three-pin lock. It would pose no threat, he thought. He silently waited for the signal to begin.

“Ready?” Nimrodel glanced at Funeris.

“As ready as I need to be.” They both brought their weapons down against the old wooden doors. In two powerful strikes, the doors splintered and fell. A half-orc with a great axe stepped into the doorway and snarled.

The great axe shredded through Nimrodel’s armor, leaving a deep, wicked, crimson gash in its wake. She stumbled back but managed to stay upright until an arrow embedded between her breasts.

“Oh, sh*t!” Funeris yelled as Nimrodel collapsed to the floor. And then he charged into the room.

***

“Welcome back to the land of the living,” Fitz said. His hand rested on Nimrodel’s brow. She jerked upright but his hand held her down. “Ceria says it wasn’t your time to go yet. And now,” he smiled, “she says you need to rest for a moment.”

“What happened?” Nim croaked.

“Teamwork,” He replied with a grin. “Albeit slightly impulsive teamwork. Fune rushed into the room once you were unconscious. He managed to incapacitate the archer and flank the half-orc while the rest of us took turns with the beast. Eventually, Magnus stunned it and Funeris removed its head.”

“And what of the archer?” She sipped some water from her water-skin.

“Well, he’s now bound with the other two prisoners. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll return to Marchford.” Nimrodel stood up, shakily at first. After a few moments, the wobbliness passed and her strength returned.

“Who’s that?” Nim pointed toward an emaciated man in tattered rags.

“That’s Obrick Humblefoot. He’s a merchant the bandits had imprisoned. He offered to pay us for an escort back to civilization.” Fitz paused to hand Nim her axe. “Are you ready?”

“Let’s go.” She turned and made sure she was the first across the bridge and into the forest.
 
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Funeris, there's a bunch of text in the last post that's all inviso-text. It might be fun to clean it up so other folks can read it. :)

So, when's the next update? :)
 

Funeris

Visitor
Wow.

Wow...I actually received a response...and someone wants me to continue the translation...I'm touched. No really I mean it. Its been since the end of August that I've updated...I've personally been quite busy. And I didn't have the time to work on the SH until today actually...during lunch. So, I've got a couple sessions to catch up on...although I'll post them as I get them done..so please PLEASE wait for me. It feels nice to have a reader. Maybe I can lure a few more of you in with a promise that we go into the Underdark...yes a couple of low level hacks :) And there is an event that involves basically a "killing machine" as we've taken to calling it. But that's a couple posts away, so hang in there for me...and i'll get to writing it. Thanks :)

P.S. I went ahead and fixed the Chapter 3 post...removed extraneous carriage returns and made some of the text not so invisible...sorry about that...I had a different skin on and i could see all the text. So hopefully, that's fixed now.

My deepest apologies :)
 

Funeris

Visitor
Chapter 4 - Return to Marchford

The trip back to Marchford was wholly uneventful aside from the complaints of the bound captives. But Motega moved beside them and his mere presence or perhaps the act of licking his lips and glaring hungrily at the captives silenced the grumbling.

Once the “Heroes of Marchford” arrived back in town, the group eagerly set upon Sir Eddam to disperse the information and to receive their pay. Once the meeting was completed, Captain Wallach placed the bandits in his custody for transfer to Andoric’s Steps for punishment. And the heroes, or rather information gatherers, split to tend their personal affairs.

As the group parted, Funeris returned to Sir Eddam and Captain Wallach.

“Can I help you, boy?” questioned the Captain.

“Actually, I believe it is the other way around.” Funeris removed his old but durable short bow and handed it to Wallach. “I know this isn’t the best of weapons, but I thought your men may need extra weaponry in the not-so-distant future. And,” Fune reached into his satchel and pulled a third of his pay out, “I don’t need this.” He tossed the excess coinage to the Mayor.

“I wasn’t injured and it was just an expedition for information. Your coffers need this money more than I do.” Sir Eddam smiled as Funeris turned and headed toward the small church for Morduk.

***

After each of the group bought personal supplies and Funeris donated some money to the church, they met in Oggut’s bar and inn to decide their next step.

Obrick Humblefoot was devouring his meal, hand over fist, and trying to keep up his conservation with the party. “Anyway,” he paused to imbibe some ale, “I’m more than willing to pay you the 300 princes I promised, but,” he paused again to shove more food in his mouth. “And remember now, mmmumm grummm, I mean I am very appreciative, but perhaps I can make it worth your while to take me back to my home in Andoric’s Steps. I’m not the wealthiest merchant there, but I can definitely afford another 100 princes.” He swallowed, drank, and eyed the group and their disinterested countenances. “Well how about another 200 princes, please?”

“We’ll have to discuss it.” Motega stated before motioning for another bottle of ale from Oggut and moving the party minus one Obrick Humblefoot to another table for their discussion.

Before Motega could say a word, Magnus interrupted and threw out his idea, “Why don’t we return to Llyndofare? We could offer to cleanse the castle and secure the well to prevent anymore of these creatures from escaping. And we could offer to do it for a price. Or, maybe for the castle!” His eyes shined brightly as the dream of owning a castle took hold.

“Wait.” Nimrodel now spoke. “At least a few of us should travel with this merchant. We could use the coinage. And he needs to make it home in one piece. I think,” paused for emphasis, “he’s insufficient at caring for himself.”

After an hour of debate, Nimrodel, Raven, and Ember were chosen to assist Obrick in his return to Andoric’s Steps. The remainder of the party would ask Sir Eddam about Llyndofare.

***

With, the party divided, Magnus led the assault upon Sir Eddam for money for a cleansing. As they approached, a rider thundered into town and stopped in front of the Mayor.

“What is it?” Eddam questioned the panting, terrified rider.

“There’s been an attack.” The rider paused to quench his thirst and speak louder. “Dun Beric was attacked last night.”

“Have they fallen?” Wallach demanded. “Who attacked? Spit it out.”

“Dwarves…with black skin. Hundreds of them.”
 

Funeris

Visitor
Finally a post.

Yes, I finally updated. It took forever...I'm so busy at work. Although its short I hoped maybe it'll convince a few people to hang around.

If you're reading this, thanks :) I'd like to hear from you. As would the other players.
 

Fimmtiu

Visitor
Keep it up! I've been enjoying this since you started.

So are the three people who are going off to escort the merchant the three people that Destan had to remove from the game? Handy way to do it, I suppose...
 

TheYeti1775

Visitor
Yes those were the 3 that the dice fell upon

Yes the three escorting the Merchant were those that fell to the dice.

There is so much more for you all to read in our adventures, :D
especially from this point in the story.

Alot of our roleplaying occurs offline through our group email throughout our downtime. I think at yesterdays count we were over 750 some odd emails on our group all revolving around our game of 5 sessions so far. I'm loving the Valus setting, to me it's refreshing from the Standard Worlds (Greyhawk & FR), something new around each corner. Where even low level characters as us can affect the world we live. (Currently 500exp's from 4th :cool: )

~~Magnus~~
Party Mage and nowhere near being the groups moral compass, as shall be told in the story. :lol:
 

Funeris

Visitor
So much more to tell

Yes there is so much more to tell from this point onward....I almost feel like I'm in a Monty Python movie with the rest of the group shouting "Get on with it!"....because I've been busy and haven't had time to write. But I'm working on the next update...and I'm glad someone else is reading these :)

Oh, by the way, we lost another party member recently :) that should keep you reading (if I keep updating).
 

Funeris

Visitor
Chapter 4 – Cont'd: No Love for Strange Help

“Come again?” Eddam blurted.

“Dwarves…with black skin. Hundreds of them. They were throwing themselves at the portcullis and the walls. Testing our defenses. When the sun broke the horizon, they were gone. I was…” the rider paused for breath. “I was sent to warn Dun Meggen and Dun Tullow.” He looked pleadingly to the mayor and the captain, begging for their dismissal.

“Yes, yes go then. Warn them.” Eddam turned to Wallach as the rider thundered off in the opposite direction. “Captain round up our women and children. Send them to Dun Meggen. We’ll need the men to stay to hold the keep. Get them moving and lower the gates. Now!” Wallach pivoted and attended his duties.

“Mayor?” Magnus stepped into his view. “Could I offer?”

“Look we can’t pay you. You can go with the women or you can stay here with us.” Eddam interrupted.

“Actually, I was thinking,” Magnus continued, “that we could travel to Dun Beric and warn the Duke. He needs the information we have. What if this is a war on two fronts? Also, we could return here to relay the information we gather.”

“I couldn’t possibly pay you.”

“Oh, well, I was thinking free of charge. As a courtesy.” Eddam had a highly skeptical look upon his brow. “You know, for your generous hospitality and fine ale.” Then Magnus smiled.

“Very well. I will have a letter for you to deliver then. Give me leave for a few moments.” The party turned to gather their gear before leaving.

******

An hour later, the Heroes of Marchford traveled beside the well-trodden path east toward Dun Beric. Fully a quarter-of-a-mile ahead of the rest of the group, Motega crept like a shadow on the ridge of hills north of the road. The rest of the party had their eyes trained oh his silhouette; waiting for a signal of some kind.

The Rornman did not speak often. And had not spoken for long lengths of time. He had interjected his own opinions on the group from time to time. But for the most part he was silent, just observing, resembling an animal stalking its prey. Probably, he preferred his own company. Or perhaps, people that hailed from the Rornlands reserved their words for times when they were necessary.

The silhouette on the ridge, the hunter, paused and knelt. Then his arm waved the rest of the party onward to his position. Once they approached, they saw why he knelt. A dust cloud rose from the road, fleeing toward the heavens. A group approached and they were about a quarter of a mile away.

“What do you think?” Funeris asked Motega. “Looks like, maybe twenty.”

Motega grunted his assent.

“So, then. It can’t be the whole of the dark dwarven army. Not if there were hundreds. Who do you think?”

At that Motega shrugged. “A division. Someone else. Time will tell.”
He stalked forward through the scrub, letting the rest of the party decide their tactics.

The party walked down onto the road; Funeris and Fitz in lead, with Magnus and Calyx trailing. Motega shadowed them from the hills until he found a suitable cranny to nock an arrow and wait.

The dust cloud continued its course along the path oblivious of the heroes ahead. It traveled slowly, like a lumbering, wounded bear over rough terrain. Until the heroes were in its sights and screams echoed within the curl of dust. Ten dirt-laden creatures dove into the woods. As the air cleared, two men in leather armor stood, swords drawn facing the approaching heroes.

Funeris did not bother unsheathing his great sword; rather he opened his arms in a sign of peace and stopped twenty feet from the filthy soldiers. The men eyed him, then his companions. Their eyes lingered on the druid and they did not lower their weapons. Behind the men, in the edge of the forest, ten sets of scared eyes watched the confrontation.

“We mean you no harm,” Fitz called out and took a step toward the men. But the men still would not lower their weapons, their eyes constantly trained on Calyx.

“She is merely a traveling companion of ours. Tell me, where do you hail from?”

One of the soldiers grunted, “Dun Beric.”

“Oh wonderful. That is our destination.”

“You don’t want to go there.” And the soldier paused, lowered his sword and pointed toward Calyx, “especially with strange company.” By this point Motega returned arrow to quiver and began the descent to the road. The sudden movement nearly caused the guards to jump. “And how many more of you are there?”

Magnus intervened, “Just us five. We have been sent with a message for the Duke, from the Mayor of Marchford. Tell us what happened.”

The guards hesitated, deciding if there were a battle, they would easily be defeated by numbers alone. Then they sheathed their weapons and stepped toward the Rhelmsmen, Funeris, Fitz and Calyx, all the while wary of the Rornman and the Pagan.

“The dwem or dark dwarves attacked last night. We’re not sure o’ the numbers. At least a hundred. Guards were wounded, but no deaths on our side. Maybe a score of ‘em died. I think they were testing our defenses. They charged the walls and gates. Maybe looking for weaknesses. At sun up, they were gone. The Duke ordered the women and children to leave. We’re escorting ‘em to Dun Meggen.”

“When you pass through Marchford, would you tell them exactly what you told us?” Magnus questioned.

“The Duke gave us specific orders and we’re not to stop.”

Funeris reached into his purse and pulled out ten silver pieces, tossing five to each soldier. “You will tell the mayor exactly what you told us. Exactly. And then you’ll get your women and children to Dun Meggen. The road ahead of you is clear. Travel well.” Funeris patted the soldiers on the shoulders and the dusty band of children and women reassembled.

As the Heroes headed off toward Dun Beric, a giant cloud of dust resumed its journey toward Marchford and Dun Meggen.
 

Cinerarium

Visitor
Keep the faith Funeris. And keep posting. Your writing's getting better and some Destan is better than no Destan. I tried writing up a story hour last time he ran a local campaign and it takes time but it's worth doing for no other reasons than you end up with a chronicle of the campaign that'll be useful if it runs long, and you get a chance to work on your writing.

One question -- I assume that now we're into the second session? How are the players and characters bonding? In the story hour they're still somewhat a group of misfits.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Cinerarium said:
One question -- I assume that now we're into the second session? How are the players and characters bonding? In the story hour they're still somewhat a group of misfits.
Chapter 4 is set during the second session (and between the 1st & 2nd) and
we're almost all the way through it. I'll have one more post that'll wrap up the session. And then we can move onto some...fun experiences :)

As for player bonding, we all get along pretty well. During our "down time" Magnus and I typically fire emails back and forth all day (while at work) and we usually like to bombard Destan with questions (because he doesn't have anything better to do, right? :D )

As for the characters, they're kinda loose knit. They see a definitive plus to keeping the other guys around, but they haven't quite opened up and truly became friends yet. This will change. And our tactics start to become a little more sound in places because we work together.

Not to keep you guys hanging or anything, Funeris is the first to try to let the others in. And he does it with a confession.
 

TheYeti1775

Visitor
What me waste time at work, never...

:cool:
I would never waste time at work....
..what yeah have that report to you in no time...
now where was I.

I get a lot of down-time throughout the day as my reports run. I think the other day I had about 20 emails off to the group list before my morning coffee, mainly between me and Funeris. Glad none of us are on dialup for these emails.
At the beginning I would make all sorts of charts in Excel, like all the other bean counters in my office. I have a bad habit of making things complicated.
Now I just keep it simple, basic listings and all.

The emails are the worst from me right after a session, somehow I have become the team accountant. They seem to think I'm good with numbers or some such trash. :heh: Just cause I can keep track in my head almost every encounter and what we got from it. Seem to remember someone calling me Rainman last session. But who do they come to when they can't remember how many coins they have.... Fitz???

Well here's the shameless bump in time for me to finish off my work for the day and drive to Destan's.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Chapter 4 Cont'd : No Love for strange help

Just so everybody knows, Magnus cajoled and taunted me into an update before our game tonight. So, thank him :)

***
Chapter 4 Continued and Concluded:

When the Heroes topped the last hill before the decline into Dun Beric, they could see a group of soldiers guarding the gates and a set of workers repairing damage. Briefly they began to discuss the perks of leaving Motega and Calyx outside, when they were spotted and a guard ran through the gate to signal their approach. An earnest sigh on all of their lips, they descended the hill toward Dun Beric.

As they approached, a noble, obvious due to his clothing and his sneer, trotted out of the gate on his faithful, fat steed. The remaining guards moved to position around the old, obese horse creating a wall of flesh between the Heroes and the courtyard. The noble shifted slightly, aiming his richer-than-thou sneer more precisely at the group.

“ ‘Ello ‘Ello. What have we here?” His hawk eyes peered at each of the Heroes for moments, trying to size up a possible threat. “I assume you wish to gain entrance to the castle of Dun Beric?”

Fitz stepped toward the noble. “Yes, we bring news for the Duke.”

“Ha! I’m sure you do. But, the Duke has no time for your,” his sneer increased in the pause, “band of men and I think, I think that’s a woman. Obviously not from around here, are you lass?” Lurid thoughts bounced around behind his dark eyes. “At any rate, you three,” he gestured to everyone except Motega and Calyx, “may enter. If your friends want to join you in the safety of our castle, they will each have to pay a toll.”

“And, um,” Fitz answered, “how much would this toll be?”

“A day’s rations of food for entrance. Now, good day.” The noble kicked the horse in the sides, and pulled the reigns to turn the slow beast around. Then he trotted back through the gates.

After the toll was paid, the party moved into the courtyard of the castle. Debris from the attack littered the yard, but was little in comparison to the wounded soldiers that lie on makeshift cots. Fitz headed directly to the soldiers and the rest of the group began questioning guards for any way of seeing the Duke.

The questioning proved fruitless, so the party headed toward the temporary hospital ward where Fitz had been left to his own devices. A crowd had gathered around the cots, and the crowd was murmuring in awe. The party had to fight their way through to the front, to see what the commotion was about.

Fitz was going from cot to cot, laying his hands upon the brows of the wounded soldiers. He was using Ceria’s power to heal those closest to death. He neared a cot, whereupon a boy, maybe a year shy of Funeris’ age, lied in the grip of death, his leather armor bloody and rancid with stink. As Fitz placed his hand on the child’s brow and murmured to Ceria asking for her healing caress, the boy jerked upright. A cold breath issuing from his lips as he began to weep. The crowd cheered.

The crowd cheered until a noble thundered up on his horse, parting the spectators. “Get back to work!” he ordered. Although his horse was more able then the previous, his sneer seemed all the larger for it. The crowd dispersed, leaving the Heroes, the noble and a few of his guards.

“You’re the group that claims to need an audience with the duke, right?” His glare alone could have made babies cry.

Fitz again took the role of diplomat, saying, ”Yes we are. We bring a message from the Mayor of Marchford, Sir Eddam. We also have information about another possible attack. Could we have our audience?”

“No. The Duke is far to busy planning strategies now to deal with the likes of you. However, anything you can say to him, you can say to me. I’ll give him the information.”

“And you are?” Funeris questioned defiantly.

“I am Sir Gathil, and you will address me as such while in my home. I am an advisor to the Duke. Now spit out your information.” Fitz was slightly distraught with the noble’s rudeness but continued on anyway. Funeris just gritted his teeth.

“Sir Eddam wants to know what you would have his men at Marchford do in preparation for the possible war.”

“Tell him we don’t have time to worry about a little sh*thole of a town. No, scratch that. We have our own problems. Tell him to deal with his. And what of your other information?”

Fitz sighed before continuing. “There is a group of creatures, Scorpiots, from the underdark that have infiltrated Castle Llyndofare. If the dwem are attacking, they may be aiding each other.”

“Oh, so you bring us theories?” Sir Gathil harrumphed. “We don’t have time for theories, we’re at war. And we don’t have time for you spreading the gospel of your goddess.” He tossed a tiny sack of coin at Fitz, hitting him square in the chest. “There is your payment for your healing abilities. Now, remove yourself from MY castle.”

Fitz bent to pick up the sack of coin, feeling a bit like a whore. The last young man he had helped grabbed his sleeve. “Sir, thank you. If ever you or your friends need a place to stay, my father owns a farm just south of town. I would be honored if I could entertain you as guests.”

“I’m sorry, what is your name.”

“I am Greffan the younger.” As the youth finished the sentence, the noble grabbed Fitz by the shoulder and shoved him toward the gates. The noble gave him a good, hearty kick in the arse and the guards erupted in laughter. Fitz steadied himself and fought off a tear of indignation while the Heroes exited Dun Beric. Once they were out of the castle, portcullis slammed down, denying any strangers entry.
 

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