John play: Hero for hire


Vult 12 996-

“Bumpy road.” Comments Play to Balderk. Balderk grumbles and goes to Veit…. A very tired Veit. He did not sleep well. He had nightmares of vampires attacking him. “Veit nods slowly and stumbles forward to the front engine.

“So what ‘s up-Doc?” quips Play.

“Will. You. Stop. Calling. Me. That?!?” growls the cranky dwarf even as he has pulled out his journal to DOC-ument the events of the night.

“Sigh. Top of the morning to you also……” He says with a pause hoping to get the stuffy dwarf to blow-up without even saying the given nick-name. No response so he moves on.

When Veit arrives at the front engine, Goin’ is relieving Gong’. They are discussing the condition of the rail. The conductor stones are not spaced correctly. It is making it hard for the elemental to effectively push the cars. More of the Mournland conditions that make sane people stay out.

“We will have to slow down. It is becoming dangerous to travel at the normal speeds of the rail.”

“Understood. I’ll tell Balderk.” He yawns a sleepy yawn and heads back to the central cart.

Gong’ stays up front with her twin sister. “I remember when this was all green grassland with colorful banners and buildings. Not this… despair.”

Goin’ nods her head in agreement. The trees are dark and the bark extra thick and rough. Few leaves remain on them. The buildings which used to be white with any possible colored tile roof are now gray and much less vibrantly colored. Except an occasional bird there is no life. At one station just outside of Metrol was disturbing. The sun was just rising and one could see the piles of dead bodies. Bodies of Cyre soldiers. Sprinkled around them are villagers including several children.

Perhaps this dreary series of visions is why they do not see it until the last moment. There a dust cloud suggesting something is moving very quickly towards them. “Is that…..” Gong’ begins.

“YES! Go warn them. They are going to attack us from the looks of things.” Yells out Goin’ whom is debating whether to increase speed or slow down.

Gong’ reaches the main car and pushes past Veit. “We’re under attack!”

“By whom?” asks Balderk with some frustration.

“Not a who but a what….” Comments Play as he sees one of the creatures outside. “And it’s big… ALL of them are big.”

Outside eight undead huge upright reptiles are giving chase to the craft. They run next to the car and slam it with their oversized large toothed heads.

“This is so wrong!” yells Drumark as he comes from his room. “Undead t-Rexes- chasing us down… and as a pack! It’s not natural!”

“Which part?!?” growls Play and he wonders what he has to deal with these. Another hard hit from the engine. The craft threatens to derail.

“Clerics! Do something! Everyone else grab your bows…..” Shouts Play and he goes to his pack.

The electric rail rocks back and forth further threatening it to derail. Play aims his compound bow and fires through the window. Vondal releases a column of flame which barely strikes the monster. Karson growls at the beasts and almost hopes they breach the wall so that he can attack them. No proper Battle Rager would ever carry a bow. Adrik chases after his gear… in the far end of the next car. Morrikane is about as well off. Drumark aims for the same one the others are. Not used to being a combatant, Balderk relies on his Searing Pay. A creature rams its head against the outer wall of the craft once more. Glass shatters and Balderk choices this one as he blasts it. Large chunks of rotten flesh peel away from the head of the undead dinosaur. Veit points a rod at the creature and fire balls it into the mouth. Much of the blast emits from the other side of its large mouth. Flaming pieces rip free and the creature directly behind it watches it with interest.

Goin’ decides to out race the creatures and guns it. A short bridge is coming into view. She smiles a grim but fun smile and goes for it.

Play releases his arrows piercing the head three times. It doesn’t seem to notice. Vondal tries something different. He conjures up a large stone wall just outside the craft. The arrow imbedded beast roars into the car then suddenly disappears with a loud crash. However the beast behind him jumps over the wall and fallen leader. He did lose some distance. The craft to gaining! Balderk blasts much of the lower jaw off of the T-rex bothering that side of the car. The upper head is nearly destroyed as a fireball bursts within the hollow eye-socket. The creature stumbles and falls behind.

Goin’ crosses the bridge at near full speed. One of the chasing undead dinosaurs fails to see the bridge and crashes through the brush and into a deep ravine filled with weapons for the war.

“Now THAT folks- was different and unexpected.” Exclaims Play as he smiles at everyone. Balderk can’t help himself. He smirks… or at least twitches the corner of his mouth.

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Vult 12 996-

“What do you want me to see?” demands Balderk of Goin’ d’Orien.

“Do you remember a huge forest along the rail before?”

“What?” The dwarf looks ahead and a large forest can be seen on the horizon. “It looks…huge. Tall.” He says in some level of confusion.

“Continue on?”

“Yes! Kundarak must retrieve the car. I’ll let the others know. How soon until we reach it?”

“Hard to say. 20 minutes to an hour. Like you said- it looks extremely tall.”

Balderk walks back to the others. Suspecting he was called away for possible trouble, the dwarves and Play have already readied their gear and are waiting for Balderk.

He passes on what he was told. The dwarves don’t seem bothered. The melee specialists hope it means some combat. Play moves to the front to look for himself. “I hope those are not clouds. Not that mists are much better.”

“This area was once grasslands with a few wetlands. There were never trees of this size- especially a small forest.”

“And there were never undead T-Rexes, vampires that brazenly attacked anything moving and the list goes on. Mind if I ride up here for a while?”

“Just don’t get fresh.”


“You do have a repetition. I have been warned.”

“Do you believe everything you hear?”

She merely smiles and looks forward willing the elemental to stay steady… even if her heart is beginning to race.

Shortly they come close enough to the forest to see how truly strange it is. The trees are extremely large and tall. The trunk is wide enough to allow an electric rail car to pass through. Thick vines drape down and it even appears smaller trees are growing within the thicker limbs of the trees growing from the ground. Play’s imagination is running while. Was this once a druid’s grove? Or a druid spell gone awry on the Day of Mourning?

Balderk comes up to see what they see. “Be careful going into that forest.”

She slows it down to a crawl and moves in. The stronger light disappears and becomes twilight and soon after that dark. “You know what I don’t like?” says Play.

Balderk merely looks at him and waits for the answer.

“Those.” He points behind the dwarf to outside. There is another set of electrical conducts on the other side of the tree.

“How?” Balderk begins then stops as it is yet another strange event within the once proud country of Cyre gone mad. It crosses over a short bridge. Blue glowing water runs gently under the bridge.

“I feel like I’m in Xen’drik” says Play to himself as he tries to look up to the canopy which largely disappears in the darkness but with pockets of very bright light streaming through occasionally.

“This is it guys…. End of the line and possibly the car line you were looking for.”

Ahead there are at least two visible cargo cars and one engine visible. They are terribly derailed and damaged. She brings the engine to about thirty feet of the wreck before stopping.

Play is first to step outside but instead of stepping onto the ground he climbs onto the top of the car.

“I see only four cars. I thought you said there were six?”

“Six cars.”

Play looks around in case the other two cars rolled or tumbled away. Nothing. He looks up and spots them. Both cars. About fifty feet up into the trees. “You have to be kiddin’ me.”


Vult 12 996-

“Does the Sovereign Host dislike you guys?” asks John Play as he sizes up the tree’s trunk for climbing. He smiles to himself thinking about how these dwarves will ever climb a tree like this.

“Do we have rope for this climb?” asks Play to Balderk.

“I believe we do.” The serious and strictly business dwarf looks it over. “If you climb up we can follow then using the ropes lower the cargo down.

“Sound enough idea.” Says Play as he eyes the other cars. “Should we verify we are safe first? Anything could be in those cars.”

Though he agrees to it, Balderk often looks up to the Kundarak treasure car. It is wrapped in vines and damaged. The other car looks to be crushed by the vines. He plans to have Drumark, their ranger and nature specialist, look it over first.

The first car is on its side. It is burnt from lying on the conductor stones, many of which have blown up from the impact. The elemental that powered it once has long ago left. Play looks inside and sees two bodies of the Orien conductors. Their bodies are perfectly preserved and look merely stunned from the crash. He thinks that they should ask the Orien twins what to do with the bodies. Bring them back? Bury them? Leave them? Retrieve their signet rings? He is surprised that he never thought of these questions until now. Having such sorrowful thoughts may be why he missed the tracks in the dust, dirt and ash within the car.

“I wonder what happened to make the craft derail?” asks the ever happy Adrik.

“Being pulled at by a magical and fast growing tree would so it.” Says Veit with a yawn.

“Comon Happy and Sleepy- let’s move to the other cars with the others.” Suggests Play with a heavy heart. He knew this would be the hard part and tried to steel his mind for it but like war- it is impossible without shutting down your own emotions. That’s something he has never been able to do. Thus a large reason why he left the Dark Lanterns. Too many ‘whys’ and ‘Buts’.

The next cart is heavily damaged. It appears to have been lifted then dropped by the tree. It was a supply car. Weapons and tools are littered all around the craft. A few crates of food are broken but little of the food remains. Finally Play comes to his wits. “This kind of accident, with the shelter and food, will attract creatures. We need to worry about natural adversaries as well as undead.”

A loud sneeze lets everyone know Vondal is coming in. “You’re always telling us what to be scared of but never what to do.” He grumbles between sniffles.

“Balderk normally tells me and you guys what to do. I was hired as a guide and to help out against the locals- natural or supernatural.” The dwarves look through the storage area while John Play tries to clear a way to the sleeping quarters. Deciding the damage is too great, he goes outside and climbs up the bottom of the craft and finds a window to use as an entrance. This room was once a very well made and kept room. On the wall is a large banner of a Manticore. He looks around and finds a broken desk. A secret department is exposed by the damage it received falling as the car fell. Looking to see if anyone is watching, he pulls the panel apart and finds a thin journal. Without looking at it, he pockets it. He really hopes to learn more about the events leading to this disaster. He also finds a pouch with coins and some other items of possible interest to the Kundarak house. These he hands over to Balderk later. He documents everything- to the coin and gem and appraised value.

There are three other rooms to look at. One is so crushed he cannot enter the room. The others are heavily damaged. They appear to be sleeping quarters for the guards. He finds a few personal belongings and hands these to Balderk also.

When he climbed back onto the roof he spots Veit. He is pale and looks ill. He was just exiting the next car. Suspecting what he will find, he goes there with a heavy heart. Bodies. Three dwarves in their Kundarak honor guard armor. Also in here is a bunch of branches and tall grass. Play calls for Drumark. It is agreed. This is a nest…. Large creatures. And fresh. Some of the armor on the dwarves suggests the armor was pulled off the bodies. This bothers Play but he can’t figure out why. He fears waking up in the middle of the night knowing what it was and that it is too late.

The last car on the ground is another engine. It is still on the conductor stones and floating and powered up. The elemental still remains. The car can go nowhere however. Thick roots have grappled the car in two places. Looking ahead he finds the Orien operator. He still stands up right and has his hands on the control rods. He has an empty and haunting stare on his face. Play is certain Veit will not be the only one having trouble sleeping tonight. The conductor stones end about forty feet ahead. Ruins of a wooden small village or outpost are here. Most of the wood has toppled or rotted away. Odd considering how much of the land is preserved perfectly from the Day of Mourning.

Morrikane yells for everyone to return to their cars. Play steps out onto the rails and uses the vines to go on top. He can see some sort of humanoid on the roof of the main empty cargo car. They’re under attack!

As he rushes over he sees that they are humanoids but Dire Apes. They look slightly wrong however. Like everything trapped within the boundaries of the mists- they are mutated and not in a pleasant way.

The seven of them (Balderk generally stayed within the Kundarak car for safety) rush back as the Dire Apes pound on the sides of said car. Two are on the roof also pounding on the roof. Some try reaching inside where the undead T-Rexes shattered the windows. When nothing comes of this they try pulling the bent boards and metal out. The car is being torn apart by these Ravenous Dire Apes. (Ravenous Template from eating the Mournland preserved dwarves).

Play rushes from roof top to roof top (or the side at one point) while the dwarves travel. Being they were closer, they reach the car even as Play does. Thus far, the creatures have not seen them. They intend to terrorize the people inside.

And of course, Play left his bow within his room. He pulls out his magical dagger and throws it to gain their attention. It strikes the creature on the shoulder and it snarls at him. It reaches for the blade but it pulls free on its own and returns to Play’s waiting hand. Drumark and Snow White attack one. The beast steps back and avoids their attacks and growls loudly at them. The growl projects red frothy spittle at the dwarven ranger. Karson does what he does best- charges in blindly. The Ape swings at him but he lowers his head to drive his weapon in deeper. The monstrous apes then redirect their attention on the dwarves outside of the car or on its roof (in the case of Play). Karson is smashed into the forest ground and nearly is bitten by the creature. Snow White dodges another ape but Play is struck as two apes surround him on the roof. Morrikane’s armor protects him from an Ape’s attack but the Ape lacks that armor. Two strikes drive the ape into a death rage. Vondal calls up his favorite spell- Flame Strike. The ape screams in pain and thrashes about striking to strike whatever is attacking it. Veit stops at a safe distance and wills a lightning spell to course through a wand he carries. Adrik moves to the backside of the ape targeting the Kensai Warrior. Adrik trades blows with the beast Adrik stands afterwards while the ape falls. Balderk remains inside with a spell in mind but will not allow him to be endangered by these wild and insane creatures.

Play ducks and tumbles past a creature and strikes at it. He stabs the leg hoping to slow it down. Drumark gets in one strike and Snow White gets in an attack that finishes it off. Karson grins like a challenged child and rushes the closest Ape. His first strike goes deep but the awkward pulling of the Dwarven War axe out throws his next swing off. It drops the burning ape. Snow White continues to attract the one remaining ground ape’s attacks. She easily dodges the swings and attempts at biting. On the rooftop, Play tries to avoid the creatures but they are boxing him in. He takes a claw strike to the back again. Morrikane buries his blade into the beast (crit with a Large Great Axe!). Vondal and Veit are unaware that Play is fighting two apes on the roof. Adrik can hear the activity but fails to look up. Balderk watches the ceiling in concern. He can hear the apes there moving around and striking the top.

Balderk hears a thud and then sees an ape roll off the roof and flash by the broken in window with another thump as it strikes the ground. The remaining Ape strikes Play in a rage. Play and the beast trade blows. Play cuts it down piece by piece and stands victorious.


Vult 13 996-

Play agrees with Karson- healing within a bag is unpleasant. Except for when being healed / harmed by a Karrnathi necromancer during the war, he has always found the power of healing being pleasant…. Even sensual. But the healing within the bag has little sensation and leaves one confused and distracted.

It is morning now. There were strange sounds in the forest at night but nothing occurred. Play eats well as the Dwarves served fried meat, eggs and ale, Strong Ale. Play leaves the car and steps up to the base of the tree. The climb will not be easy. The dwarves form a semi-circle around him. He begins to climb using vines, bark grooves and when he has to his dagger. He notes the wood is extremely hard and resistant to the sharp edge of the magical dagger. Several times he lacks a good purchase and has to find a different way. He begins to wonder if he should have used a potion to fly up but where is the fun and adventure in that?

Eventually he makes it to a thick large branch. He sets up the first climbing rope here. The dwarves begin to climb as he goes higher to the first car. Play grabs a vine to steady himself when it begins to rapidly twist around his arm. “Damned animated vines!” he grumbles at the Assassin Vine. He allows it to twist around the one arm as he eyes it with his dagger. He hacks at the vine and cuts himself free. The non-severed end withdraws quickly from him into the canopy higher up than the car he is trying to reach. The dwarves all look up at the sound as Play struggles briefly with first the vine then re-attaining his grip on the thick bark.

Play reaches the car which is wrapped in thick vines but also one end is setting on a large tree limb. His last few steps are not very graceful (I put few points into climb- my bad) but he sits up there and takes a few moments to look around before securing another line to the dwarves below. The next car is close but higher up. He decides to check out this car first.

Looking into the windows he sees lumber. He thinks it is Soar Wood. Nothing of great note.

Drumark reaches the first limb and encourages the others to climb. He is watchful of the vines. He recognized the Assassin Vine after seeing it attack Play. He draws on his knowledge of Nature and plants and watches for any other possible threats.

Play sets up some more lines and tries to hold off investigating the treasure car. Balderk and Veit are to go first. Doc and Sleepy.

So he checks out the lumber car again. It is Soar wood. Elven wood that is incredibly light and prized to build Lyrandar airships.

Finally, the two dwarves climb up to the heavily damaged cash car. Veit d’Kundarak, the team’s artificer and possibly the last living dwarf to see the treasure before the Day of Mourning, looks it over as best as he can without touching it or climbing onto it. Balderk d’Kundarak also looks it over. His cleric talents will not be as helpful here as Veit’s artificer powers but he insists on being there.

Veit pulls out the magical key they procured within Metrol and carefully climbs onto the railing of the craft. The windows are magically darkened and the car itself designed to block scrying and detection. Veit makes a short and quiet prayer and places the key into the input and flashes his signet ring before the door. Magical runes appear and pulse briefly then stop glowing. They remain as dark etchings along the door frame. Veit breathes out slowly and touches the door. Nothing. He touches the door knob and after feeling safe grasps it and opens the door.

The two dwarves go inside to check it out. Adrik struggles on the ropes but reaches the highest car and calls to them before going in. Play finally moves over as the other dwarves look up from either the ground or the car below filled with the riches of the Soar wood. Seeing Adrik still near the door, Play calls out to him. “Is it safe for a non- Kundarak or Dwarf to enter?” He is told that is it is safe so he climbs up onto the railing and peers in.

It is dark but he can see the outlines of the dwarves inside. He pulls out his goggles of Dark Vision. They are still unclear as he stands outside but once he enters the car he can see the three dwarves looking at dozens of reinforced chests that have fallen to the floor and in many cases slid to the far wall. Balderk is writing in his journal the serial numbers of the chest. He doesn’t even see Play enter the car as he documents everything.

Play estimates the chests to total about 30 and each, if being filled with coins, are about 75 pounds. Even if only gold and silver there is a lot of money here. Once he finishes documenting these Balderk then tells Veit to open the secret departments. Play looks quizzical at Adrik whom smiles his steel toothed grin. Veit waves the key before them and his dragonmark family signet ring and several secret planar pockets open up on the walls. Bags of treasure are here. Payments from various countries as they raided other warring neighbors. Play is saddened as much as amazed with this realization.

“Tomorrow we begin to lower it and pack it.” Declares Balderk.


Vult 14 996-

They begin in the late morning to get as much good lighting as they can. Using ropes, magic and old fashion muscle, the dwarves begin to unload one car and place it into the next car. It takes most of the day to do this. Late evening, they secure the two cars and sit for a while. The food is basic but the company is happy and filled with joy. Adrik, having drank all of the good berry wine he was saving is extremely full of joy and mischief.

Morrikane, the grumpiest warrior Play has ever known, even seems to lighten up as the night goes. Goin’ and Gong’ dance for the dwarves and the Dark Lantern. Play appreciates it greatly and the dwarves never seem to notice the two twins and Play leaving the party together.

The next morning, slow to rise, the dwarves begin to work the ropes again. Play arrives shortly after. Twice Play has to stop the work to cut back assassin vines that were reaching for the working dwarves.

They finish with everything and search the area for anymore treasures, chests, or things of value or importance. There is one more night of celebrating before they ready to return to Metrol.

On the morning of Vult 16 they begin to return. Gong’ is driving the rear car that is now the head car. It is fully loaded and much slower than when empty. There are no zombie T-Rexes or other such creatures this time. Things seem to be going well. That is until they near Metrol.

It is Vondal whom first sees them on the horizon. Humanoid figures. Heavily armored… possibly warforged.


Vult 16 996- NIGHT TIME

The Kundarak / Orien electric rail cars speed towards Metrol now that it has gained time to speed up. Metrol is in the distance.

Unknown to them the dwarves and Play are expected.

When they had just missed them in Metrol before, the Emerald Claw lead by Warlord Greesha ir’Fracture decided to wait for them to return. Placing several magical Immovable Rods in a horizontal line, Greesha hopes to destroy the engine and take John Play alive. She has never tried this before but had heard it being done during the war once with success.

Shortly they will find out as a lookout spots the cars coming.

On board, the unsuspecting dwarves are organizing themselves. They hope to pass through the city quickly and be through the mists by morning. The air is charged with both excitement and fear. It was always Metrol that was considered the most dangerous section of the rail to travel through.

Everyone except for the Orien operators is in the middle sections around the treasure.

Goin’ d’Orien is the current pilot. She is looking ahead at the outer city walls. Soon they will be home. She begins to slow the craft down. 30 MPH….25 MPH….. wait- “What is that?!?!” she calls out. Too late.

The ship strikes the first rod splintering the front and shuddering the entire ship. Ten feet further down the second Rod is struck. The craft begins to shear in half. Ten more feet and the third Rod is struck. At this point, the riders are aware something is wrong. By the fifth Rod the front engine is sheared in half and the Elemental becomes free. The craft derails and falls to the side as it strikes the ground without the conductor stones. Everyone is thrown to the floor as the derailed cars now strike a building and folds up on itself. The car the dwarves and Play are in is now airborne and it lands in a shallow irrigation duct filled with green water. The final engine car slams into the building and stops.

There is smoke and areas of flame everywhere. The smoke is being swirled about as the Huge Air Elemental that once pushed the cars along is now free and striking out.

Once it leaves the area the Emerald Claw surface from their hiding areas with their weapons drawn. Easy Pickens.

[DM Note: 10d6 derailment damage AND 3d8 for the tumble into the water channel]

“ARRRRRGH! Let me up!” snarls Karson as he tries to free himself of the supplies that were not treasure. Balderk is stunned and trying to free himself of the treasure chests and bags. He can feel the water beginning to fill his boots.

Several sources of moans and groans of stunned dwarves come under the treasure. All except for one dwarf…. He silently weeps. Drumark has located his Animal Companion- Snow White. She has been crushed under the weight of treasure.

Play is not within the car. When it began to topple from back to front striking the wall to the water channel he was thrown to the side where the windows were destroyed by the T-Rex attack. When it hit the water he was pushed through the window but trapped as the water poured in and the weight of the sliding treasure pushed the car further into the water.

He surfaces for air then quickly calls into the window- “Is everyone okay? Balderk? Adrik? Veit?”

He barely can hear Vondal ask about what happened. The winds are picking up and very fierce. The Air Elemental must be free. “Goin’ !!!!!!” he calls out.

Smoke in the air and the twilight setting in he carefully climbs the side of the car and reaches the ground out of water. He sees the cars are all on their sides. Something derailed them as they entered the city limits. The derailed cars left the tracks on a corner and struck something big, maybe a building then into the water. He looks to the rail hoping to find both Orien girls there. The back engine is the most intact and lies on its side. Pieces….PIECES! Of the front car are scattered everywhere including under the derailed cars.

Pieces of the valuable Soar wood drift through the winds becoming dangerous objects. He sees his first person that was not on the rail. Shield, Morning Star. Cloak. The Emerald Claw!!!!!

Best to sneak around and deal with them one by one.

Good plan…. Too bad Drumark will have nothing to do with it. He charges out of the car and goes for the closest agent.

“Or we can charge them and hope to avoid archers.” Play says quietly as he sneaks up to an agent.


Vult 16 996- NIGHT TIME

Play fires three arrows that drops one Claw agent. Drumark is drawing a lot of attention. Karson is not far behind him. Adrik is next. The others are not coming out. Play assumes Balderk is commanding them to watch over the treasure.

Drumark stiffens as he charges. He turns to the wall and spots the caster that tried to assault his mind. A woman in boney full plate. A Karrnathi Bone Knight! She resembles the one they had seen at the rail station. He snarls and drives his way at her.

Play has seen her also and knows who it is. Greesha. Finds three arrows at her. One strikes her shoulder but the others all glance off of her thick armor. She diverts her attention from the charging ranger to the area of the crash Play was hiding within.

Adrik strikes one agent whom calls out in pain. “This is for Snow White.” He pulls back to strike again- “..and this is for Goin’….”

She spots Play as he tries to move from one car to another secretly. She calls on a Flame Strike spell. Not expecting it, Play is struck completely by the magical flames. He screams out then muffs the scream with his mouth as he drops and rolls to put out the flames.

“Burn me you miserable bitch….. ,” Play grumbles as he sets down his bow and pulls out a specific wand he has been saving, “….You weren’t that good Greesha….” He calls out as he activates the wand. A green pellet of energy streaks out and bursts before her. She leaps backwards as the fireball explodes. He hopes the fact she will need to circle around the wall will give them time to recover.

The remaining Claw flees to the wall to join their leader and master. Play finds a piece of Goin’. He holds his head low and murmurs an oath of revenge.

He moves to the end of the car to watch for her and her men. He sees the armored woman and fires away again. The flames wash over her armor. Two men drop without even screaming. “Play? Play- is that you?” She calls out after taking more cover behind the wall.

Drumark runs to the inner wall but then inches down the wall along the ground towards her.

Adrik and Karson are looking in the rear engine car. It is lying on its side with much roof damage. The air elemental is gone.

Play spots her again and fires another fireball. She growls as the fireball strikes her. She has nowhere to go. Play is alarmed as he hears Adrik call out. Looking back, he sees the dwarf tumble backwards out of the car. A stiff moving Gong’ stumbles out after him. Karson strikes her reanimated body down with a growl filled with pain.

Several still burning Claw members rise to defend the Bone Knight. Play can’t believe this. Is it new magic or something about the Mournlands that is allowing her to do this he wonders. He picks up his bow and runs with his head down low.

Drumark circles around the corner to attack the Bone Knight. She leaps out and strikes the dwarf twice. Play fires a fireball behind her to strike her- not the pained dwarf. She staggers from the blast then a second blast of flame, a column that opens from a portal in the air above her glances her. Vondal has emerged to attack. A lightning bolt cuts through a zombie and strikes her also. Balderk is up also. “Pour it on! She can’t stop all of us!” Yells play as he runs for the wall.

She tries to mentally dominate the ranger but his fury is too great (nac 20). Everyone with a wand attacks at once. Her body rattles and contorts as the magical barrage continues. Cursing, she is left with no option but to run. “I will kill you yet Play.”


Vult 17 996- THE MORNING

Play, Veit and Adrik leave the ruined cars and walk into the city. They need a way out. A way out that includes the dwarf’s treasure. They walk to the rail station being very careful of undead and possible Claw agents. Play spots three men huddled on a corner. A shadow creature is pacing before them. Play smirks then nods to their direction. “Scared of their own shadow.” Smiles Adrik.

“If we capture them we can find out how they got here. I seriously doubt they came by foot.”

“Oh I know how they got here. And yes- that is how we will leave.” He points to a short tower a few blocks away. An air ship. It is old. One of the original war craft created by House Cannith.

Ignoring the Claw, they move towards the tied-off ship. They climb the tower but at about 2/3 of the way up Play stops. “Go on- I’ll be there in a moment.” He downs a potion, smiles, shrugs his shoulders and falls backwards. Adrik reaches out- “No!” but then sees him slowly fly up. Play smirks and points up then shots upwards.

Two windows up they see a flash of green and gray fall by the window with a scream. At the top they find Play has defeated the guards of the tower and now is making his way around the backside of the ship. This leaves the dwarves with the men running across the gangplank. Veit waves his stick and slick grease magically appears on the board and two men fall over. The third drops and hugs the board. Adrik stomps his head a few times before the stunned and senseless man lets go and falls with a scream.

“The ship is ours.” Says Play.

Warlord Greesha ir’Fracture looks up with pure hatred as she sees the lines being cut and the ship moves away from the tower. She and her small army of undead turn to return to the ruins of the electric rail train.

The dwarves are equally concerned when the airship is seen in the air. Play flies from it to them. “No time to be kind or thorough. We need to load the chests and bags very quickly.”

Play looks for the Bone Knight. He knows she is somewhere nearby and still wants him dead. Scorned females…..

They quickly work at it. They use spells to lift and carry things quickly. Balderk is unsettled. He can’t document anything. He merely hopes every bag is gathered and every chest loaded.

As expected- Greesha arrives. And her undead arrive. “Play! Stop her as we finish!” commands Balderk.

Greesha stands tall and sends her undead after the dwarves. She stares at Play as he flies for cover. “John Play, Dark lantern and adventurer- I proclaim the right of Deific Vengeance against you. For you acts of war where you murdered Karrnathi men, women and children, where you destroyed Karrnathi property in the name of war and Breland, where you used weapons of mass destruction and you used you most dangerous and corrupting weapon against my people and worse- against me…..”

“Crap!” He calls out. He knows this spell. He is about to be struck by a nastily painful spell. She has made this very personal. She knew what was happening when they spent those three days in the ruins in northern Talenta Plains. And as expected, intense and heavy emotions strike him as he feels the perceived guilt and blame he caused to her to strike at him.

Fearing she may have made herself immune to a fireball spell he switches to a different wand. A celestial eagle appears out of the sun and attacks her. Her armor blocks the attack easily. He then strikes with a magic Missile wand attack. Before she frees herself from the first eagle, he summons up a second eagle. He hopes they will keep her distracted as he attacks with the Magic missiles.

Adrik, Morrikane and Karson hold back the undead easily as the others finish the loading.

“You will die Play! You will die!” she screams out as she casts a spell onto herself. She becomes mist and seems to quickly move away in the wind.

With her once more fleeing, Play returns to the craft and they finish what they started. The craft then takes to the air with many chests still caught in a cargo net. The dwarves and Play are all pulling it in as they see the gray mists.

Veit is pushing himself hard as he works his will against the elemental that powers the aircraft. They enter the mists and once more are assaulted by feelings and emotions. Horror and terror but Veit holds on with Balderk and Vondal aiding his will with spells of Blessing and wisdom.

They blast out of the mists into Karrnath. Not being able to sleep anyway, Veit pushes the craft to the Mror Holds to the dwarven city of Krona Peak. They arrive on ZARANTYR 10 997.

Balderk comes up to Play. He slaps him on the back and shakes the Dark Lantern. “We’ve done it Play. We have done it.”

“I need a vacation.” Play says blankly and with no emotion. He too, is very tired.


NYMM 28 981

A crowd forms before the royal palace at Wroat. “Mother- Mother where is father?”

“Patience John. When the King is ready to step forward to speak, your father will be before him. He and the other King’s Shields will be with him.”

“But no one can hurt King Boranel. No one!” says the eager young boy with an excited smile.

“If that were only true.”

“That’s father who protects him. No one can hurt the King with father protecting him!”

Smiling at the young boy, Jocasta Play places her hand on his shoulder. “Your father will do all he can to stop anyone from harming him. That is his job and he is very good at it.”

The boy leaps out of her grasp and feints with a pretend sword. “If anyone tries, Father will strike him down!” and the young boy jabs with his imaginary weapon several times.

Trumpets blare several times and everyone, thousands of people, cheer then quiet down as they wait for their honored king to appear. Inside the tower, where everyone waits for him to appear, the king readies himself. “Your sword my lord.”

“Ah- thank you Augustus. How is your family?”

“Jocasta still works on your war golem plans. John…is ever eager to serve you and your kingdom.”

“Handful then. My sons are also full of ideas of adventure, war and rulership.”

Smiling, Augustus Play straightens up the cape and medals the king wears. “The people await you.”

Augustus steps out onto the balcony first. Then the king and two more Shields. The king raises his two arms and turns to face everyone slowly several times. As he plays the crowds affections, Play and the other two Shields watch the crowds and roof tops. They are at war. No one can be trusted. No one.

“My people- People of Breland- ….” His voice is magically amplified to be heard by all, “…we are about to win back the lands taken by….”

As he had started, Play’s keen eyes, amplified by magic both by Government and by his wife, spots sudden movement. His True Seeing spell spots the figure, wrapped in invisibility, as it teleports onto a stone rain gutter. A bow and arrow is drawn. Play acts by instinct alone. He leaps before the king and three magical arrows designed to kill a human on impact. His armor which was supposed to deflect arrows fails. Augustus Play, top member of the King’s Shields, and personal friend to the King drops to the ground.

The gnoll assassin sees his plot of assassination has been undone and tries to teleport away. A mysterious man dressed in black leather armor suddenly appears above the creature. He grabs him and breaks up the attempted magical getaway. They fall into the crowds below and many of the people rush forward to deal with the would-be king killer.

“Augustus! Where are the damned halflings! “The king yells as he drops to his knees to see to his friend.

“Father! Father!” Aejar calls out to the king.

“GO AWAY! Get me healers.” Growls the king.

“Bor…. Bor….” Gasps the dying protector.


“ Yes Yes I am here. I have healers coming. Quiet and rest.”

“Magical…poison….. too late …for me.” Foaming blood spills from the mouth of Play.

“Shhhheeeee…… They come. Please rest.”

“Jocasta….. tell her …. I love her.”

“I will. And your children?”

“John…. Needs guidance. He has….. a good heart.” Blood seeps from his nose and one ear.

“A Shield then.”

“Not…. That good of… a heart.” He shares a nasty blood frothing laugh. “a… lantern.”

“Aye… if that is your dying wish my dear friend. So be it. John Play will be trained as a Dark Lantern and serve the country of Breland. “



“Will there be anything else Mr. Play?” Asks the warforged librarian.

“No….three books a day is enough for me.” John Play sets his third book about Cyre to the side. “Have you ever been to Cyre, Books?”


“Not much to see these days. Unless you like undead T-Rexes anyway.”

The warforged looks lost. “What is …. A T-Rex?”

“Really a big lizard with a healthy appetite.”

“A tyrannosaur.?”

“Sorry. I tend to knick name everything.”


“On my last adventure I worked with many dwarves. I gave all of them nicknames. There was Doc, Happy, Dopey…..”

“If you don’t mind my saying sir- that sounds childish.”

Play looks up at the warforged with a bland look on his face. “I think I won’t put you in my book of memories.”

Play gets up to stretch and distance himself from the warforged. He spots a woman in the library. She has an exotic look about her. Maybe she is from Sarlona. He moves after her but misses her. She seems to have disappeared like magic. Still curious about her, he asks the aid about what book she asked for. “She asked about books about the ancient Aberrations.”

“Anything else?” Play can’t help but flirt with the young student aid.

“….and where Books was.”

“The warforged?”

“Yes. He is quite smart and curious for a construct-like being.”

Play leaves. Young kids these days. Promote the warforged as living people and in the same breath call it a construct. He walks through the map room and sees a map of the Lhazaar Principalities. He smiles and retrieves the book brought out by the curious warforged.

“I think it’s vacation time.”

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