Knightfall's World of Kulan: Tales of the Companions Story Hour (Final Update: Sep 20, 2014)


World of Kulan DM
Somewhere… else:
The world was swirling around Dabuk so fast that he was sure he was about to be sick. He didn’t understand what was happening. The last thing he remembered was fighting the ogre allies of the Foulsoul, then everything had gone black. Now, as his vision cleared he found himself somewhere else. Nothing looked familiar, not the terrain, not the sky. It was then he realized something was wrong. He couldn’t smell anything or taste the air. It was like all of his senses except his eyes were gone.

He knew what it meant. He was dead.

“This is not good,” Dabuk had meant to say the words but could only think them. Yet, his thoughts resonated around him as if the words had echoed through the air.

The afterlife came into view and Dabuk saw he was standing in a great open field of grass. All around him stood the souls of the dead, waiting for something. The closest ones seemed to be calling out for some such reason. Well, at least that meant he could also hear.

“Look, another comes to be judged by Lord Hades,” one of the souls spoke pointing at Dabuk.

Dabuk remembered his oath and knew if he was brought in front of the great Lord of the Dead that his soul would permanently pass into the afterlife. He would not avenge his mother’s death.

“I have failed you, mother.” Dabuk would have wept if his soul had had tears to shed.

“No mortal, you haven’t failed.” Dabuk looked up to see a huge winged form hovering just above him, an angel of life and death. Bronzed skin, perfect features, death runes burnt into its skin. Draped in white and black garments made from the afterlife itself, a ledger in one hand and a great steel sword in the other.

“Alieus! Alieus! Hades sends his Archangel of Death to claim you for judgement. Bow your head to Hades’ chosen.” The same soul that spoke before cries out in fervor at the angel’s sudden appearance.

“I accept Lord Hades judgement,” Dabuk would not betray his family and friends in death. “I took the oath and I meant it. But I bow down to honor only Lord Rillifane or my mother.”

“You are true to your heart, mortal.” Alieus spoke and all the souls’ listened. “But now is not your time to be judged.”

“I don’t under-“ Dabuk’s words trailed off, as his vision began to fade swirling down into blackness.

* * *

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World of Kulan DM
The Wild Plains:
“Well, is he alive?” Garth couldn’t lose his son too.

“I don’t know. His wounds have healed but his spirit seems to be caught in between life and death. It’s like he’s a half-full cup.” Thessa replied.

Mesik held up a torch above Dabuk and the kneeling Thessa. The other heroes stood around the fallen ranger, as an honor guard would a fallen king. None would flinch if more ogres came. They would fight to the death to save each other and their fallen friend.

“It’s strange, he isn’t breathing, but I’m sure the life is flowing back into him.” Thessa looks to Mesik, as if to say ‘what does this oath do’. “This is not natural. It shouldn’t be taking this long.”

“The oath is a powerful thing, Thessa. One does not take it lightly. Whether he comes back or not depends how far his soul has traveled into the afterlife. If Lord Hade’s has judged him then he cannot return.”

“I don’t like it.” Thessa’s words ran deep. “The soul should have a choice.”

“The choice was made in life. It honors the pact that Hades and Cronn made that the souls of the dead that pass through Hades’ Underrealm cannot be brought back to life by dark sorcery or divinity. It is a safeguard against undeath.”

“He took the oath without reservation, Thessa. We all did.” Bactra continued to watch over his fallen cousin, hoping that he would not have to bury family today.

“Including…” Thessa bit her lip, afraid to speak his name.

“Yes, Dvalin took the oath. As did Jeddar, Mesik, and myself.” Bactra replied solemnly. “And another friend who died soon thereafter. It was for him that we took the oath.”

Thessa was about to ask this friend’s name when Dabuk’s body sprang to life. His chest heaved, as the body struggled for the air to continue living. His eyes opened wide, as he spoke a single word.


His breathing soon grew calm, as he slept.

“Thank Baervan!” Thessa was relieved beyond words.

“What did he say?” Garth left Kellin and Hougwarth to watch for more ogres, as he and the others gathered around Dabuk more closely.

“He spoke the name of the Chosen of Hades, Alieus, the Archangel of Death. His soul stood on the Plains of Judgement, ready to be brought forward for judgement. Amazing! I’ve never known anyone to come so close to judgement and then come back. It must have been quite the experience if he actually saw the archangel.”

Thessa did not share Mesik’s enthusiasm.

“Thessa, can you give him something to get him moving?” Garth quickly turned his attention back to the task at hand. “We need to warn Onaway of the threat of the Foulsoul.”

“We should wait until he’s had a chance to rest. I don’t think it is wise to move him.”

“We don’t have a choice. If we don’t warn Onaway before the attack goes ahead then there might not be a city left to form an alliance with. Bactra, Mesik, Hougwarth, gather up the mounts and the gear.”

“We should wait!” Thessa was determined to have her way. “Your son’s life is more important than some stupid treaty that might or might not be signed.”

“I won’t risk the life of more innocents. I am going to the city, with or without you or the others. And where I go, my son goes, until he is well enough to decide otherwise, for himself.” Garth’s tone was cold and unyielding. He had made up his mind to push forward.

“You are the most stubborn person I’ve ever met. I won’t help you risk his life.” Thessa crosses her arms, turning her back on the Justiciar.

“Fine. Then I will simply strap him into his saddle tight enough to keep him from falling off.” Garth picks up Dabuk’s sleeping form, carrying him towards the horses.

Thessa says nothing. Brooding at the stupidity of humans.

“Mesik, bring Dabuk’s horse and some rope from my saddlebags. We’re going to tie him to the saddle. We need to reach Onaway as soon as possible.” Garth knew the mission hung on the edge of failure.

* * *


World of Kulan DM
Preparing to leave:
Several minutes past in silence and darkness. No one was happy about Garth’s decision.

Garth didn’t care what they thought. He had let his emotions cloud his judgment when he had seen his son crushed under the weight of the ogre’s great clubs. He had been willing to give up the mission for one life. Too walk away from his responsibility as the Justiciar and the envoy of the Eastern Shores. He could not afford to make that choice. Not for himself, and not even for his son’s life.

After all, Dabuk had already chosen his path. He had chosen it when he took the Oath of the Dead with his friends. Dabuk was determined not to follow his father’s ways. He had chosen life as an adventurer and all the risks it entailed. Garth had hoped this joint experience would have brought them closer together, that Dabuk one would one day follow his footsteps to become the next Justiciar of the Eastern Shores.

Now, that was impossible. Their viewpoints were too far apart. He saw that now.

Garth and Mesik strapped Dabuk into his saddle. The elven ranger slipped in and out of consciousness, mumbling about archangels, dead souls, and the oath he had made to his mother. Garth remained passive to his son’s words.

Dabuk had made his choice.

“Your upset,” Mesik wanted to explain but knew Garth wouldn’t want to hear it.

“There is nothing to talk about, so don’t try and smooth it over. He lived this time, but the next time he might not be so lucky.” Garth shook his head in disbelief at their decision to take the oath.

“You don’t believe in the oath, do you?” Mesik already knew the answer.

“Hades is not my god,” Garth snapped. “I do not take oaths to death. That ruins life, in my opinion.”

“Do you hate Hades that much?” Mesik didn’t speak the reason why.

“She took his blasted oath and I could not get her back because of it. She died before her time. We should have had years together. And just like her, he didn’t tell me.” Garth looked at his son’s unconscious form; he felt like his heart and will had been betrayed.

“It was his choice, no one forced him. And no one forced your wife. That’s not how it’s done. Don’t you believe in anything but yourself?” Mesik refused to leave Dabuk’s side, glaring at the Justiciar. He wouldn’t give the human the satisfaction of storming off in anger.

“Enough!” Garth tied the last knot so tight that Dabuk moaned. “We go now! And don’t forget who leads this mission, hairfoot!”

“F-fine. Be that way.” Mesik was surprised by Garth’s show of anger. “And I won’t forget a word you have spoken, not now, and not when Dabuk asks me what happened.”

Garth stepped away from his son and Mesik without a word. He double-checked Bactra’s work on Hindle then rechecked it after mounting the great roan. The Justiciar quickly tuned his mount away from the others, riding into the darkness towards Onaway, with Hougwarth in the lead holding a torch too guide the mounted warrior.

“We better go with them,” Bactra had single-handedly prepared all the mounts. He had also convinced Thessa to ‘let it go’ for now. “Let it go, Mesik. Worry about Dabuk, not my uncle. He’s a human and you know how they are about life and death.”

“Aye,” Kellin helped Mesik up onto his warpony. “Garth will get over it.”

Dabuk moaned something undistinguishable in elvish.

Mesik, Bactra, and Thessa all rode alongside Dabuk’s mount. Kellin took up the rear, watching for any signs of attack.

* * *

Up next... the City-state of Onaway awaits!


World of Kulan DM
The City-state of Onaway awaits:
“We’re close now,” Garth had stopped on a small knoll with only Hougwarth’s torch to provide illumination for the companions to find each other in the darkness. He peered out towards the soft light emanating in the distance, the light of Onaway’s street lamps and torches were barely visible in the darkness.

It had taken longer to traverse the distance to the city than Garth had planned. It couldn’t have been helped, however. Several humanoid encampments had been between them and the city. The allies of the Foulsoul were moving in total darkness, their darkvision and Onaway’s distant glow guiding the war parties slowly towards the city. Garth knew it wouldn’t be long before the humanoid lit their war sconces and rushed towards the coastal city’s walls.

“Well, let’s keep moving then.” Mesik’s tone was taciturn and disapproving. “The faster we can get Dabuk to a powerful healer, the better.”

“I-I’ll be fine. Don’t worry so much about me, Mesik.” Dabuk had regained consciousness along the way. Mesik hadn’t yet spoke to the boy regarding his and Garth’s harsh words. It didn’t matter, Dabuk knew something was wrong, but also knew it could keep.

“You’ll be leaving in a minute, friend. First, I must say goodbye.” It was Kellin.

“What? Why?” Bactra wondered if Dabuk’s cold demeanor towards the giant man had finally gotten to Kellin.

“Don’t worry, I can take care of myself and I have this gut feeling I will not be welcome in the City of Onaway. Ogres are openly reviled here and with good reason. It will be easier for you to gain entry into the city without me along.”

“Take care, Kellin.” Hougwarth offered his hand in friendship. “I would go with you but I feel I must stay with these friends.”

“Be careful, Hugh. The city’s citizens may not accept you right away.” Kellin shook the vonakyndra’s hand without pause.

“I will.”

“I had a feeling you were going to leave. I wish I could say it has been more fun than work on this journey, old friend.” Garth nodded to Kellin, as the giant man patted Bactra’s horse.

The others said goodbye, one after the other, all except for Dabuk. He did not speak or look at Kellin as the giant man returned the good cheer of the others. He did not say a thing until the ogre had disappeared into the darkness and the heroes had continued on towards Onaway.

“Good riddance.” Dabuk mumble the words under his breath, happy to see the giant man gone from his sight. The only way he could have been happier is if Kellin laid dead before him, Dabuk’s sword in the ogre’s throat.

Only Bactra heard his words.

* * *

An hour past and then another. Soon the walls of Onaway were visible under the glow of lamplight and the many torches being carried on the wall by soldiers. So far, there hadn’t been any more ogre encampments, although the companions had barely avoided a patrol of merrow and orcs.

“Look at the walls. They’re in pieces. Is this a city or a ruin?” Bactra’s eyes found the cracks and gaps in the wall before any of the others could see any detail. “There, up ahead on the right. There’s a huge hole right in the wall.”

“If the ogres attack, the people here won’t stand a chance.” Dabuk saw the opening, as well as a campfire burning and several torches moving around the opening in the darkness. “There is some sort of guard post near the opening.”

“I see them.” Garth wondered whether they should go to the main gate or try their luck with wall outpost. “Hougwarth, you hold back. We don’t want to spook those guards.”


“Everyone dismount.” They’ll be more likely to simply question us first if we appear non-hostile.

“Well, this should be interesting.” Mesik sighed.

The adventurers dismounted, moving slowly towards the opening in the wall of the City of Onaway.

* * *
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the Jester

Well, I'm still catching up but at least now I'm only a page and a half behind! :lol:

Good stuff, Knightfall1972! Keep it coming... and maybe, hopefully, eventually I'll have read the whole thing.

One quick question- could you post an updated list of the pcs with their levels and stuff? Though- I get the impression that this is an old 2e game, is this correct?


World of Kulan DM
the Jester said:
Well, I'm still catching up but at least now I'm only a page and a half behind! :lol:

Good stuff, Knightfall1972! Keep it coming... and maybe, hopefully, eventually I'll have read the whole thing.

Glad too hear someone is reading it. ;)

the Jester said:
One quick question- could you post an updated list of the pcs with their levels and stuff? Though- I get the impression that this is an old 2e game, is this correct?

You are correct. This was a 2e campaign.

The PCs in the game are:
Dabuk Tigerstorm [chaotic good half-elf male ranger (stalker kit)]
Bactra Redwind [neutral elf male mage (ex-peasant wizard kit)]
Jeddar Silversun [neutral good half-elf male bard (blade kit)]: at this point, Jeddar's player wasn't able to play.

A list of on & off NPCs in the game (key characters):
Crystal Tigerstorm [neutral good human female mage (ex-necromancer)]
Dvalin Thunderstone [neutral good dwarf male fighter (no kit)]
Garth Tigerstorm [lawful neutral human male ranger (justiciar kit)]
Hougwarth Medinton [neutral good wood giant male fighter (myrmidon kit)]
Kellin One-Eye [lawful good ogre fighter male]
Mesik Tindertwig [lawful neutral halfling male thief (no kit)]
Rikin Stonefossil [lawful good dwarf male fighter (no kit)]
Salisan Marg [neutral good reef giant male]
Thessa Simmial [neutral good gnome female priest of Baervan (no kit)]

The most current PCs & NPCs in the party are in bold.

As for levels, I didn't track levels from adventure to adventure, so I don't remember exactly. The main PCs were probably around 5th level by the post above. Mesik level was slightly lower than the PCs level, while most of the other NPCs are at least 2 to 3 levels higher. Dvalin was around 6th to 8th level when the PCs were 3rd level, but he progressed very slowly so the PCs soon made up a lot of the difference.


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World of Kulan DM
A Hole in the Wall:
Bren hated his job.

Being a Guardsman in Onaway was never a picnic, but somehow he always ended up with the worst assignments. And nothing was worse that hole guarding duty. The walls of Onaway had been this way since he was a boy. The populace would try to fix them up by mundane or magical means, and the next warlord or humanoid warband that came along would simply knock holes in it again.

Of course, the worst part was the lackeys his superiors gave him. Handel and Travar were the stupidest louts he’d ever known, yet time and again Bren found himself guarding one of the gaping holes in the city wall with the dumb duo.

If anyone had wanted to attack here, the dumb duo wouldn’t be a lick of help.

“Har, har, ‘ou a funny man, Handel.” Travar slapped his knee while swigging old, warm whisky. “Tell me ‘nother one.”

The two were busy swapping stupid limericks and getting drunk out of their head. Bren would split their skulls himself if he didn’t think he end up in the reformatory. He did his best to ignore them as he scanned the darkness for danger, a torch in one hand and his short sword in the other.

“Alrighty then,” Handel threw several logs on the fire and almost fell in himself. “What do ‘ou git when ‘ou stuff a piggy with ‘our missus?”

“I d-dunno ‘now.” Travar was so drunk he’d laugh at a inchworm falling off a leaf. “Tells me, my good man.”

“A meal ‘orth its ‘eight in girl.”

“Har, har!” Travar spit up his swig on his tunic and on the fire.

The flames roared up increasing the local illumination out by several feet. Bren saw, in that instance, several men walking slowly towards their position. Then as quickly as the light flared up, it died away.

“I saw something,” Bren was sure he hadn’t imagined it.

“Ah, ‘ous always seeing something,” Handel tipped back his tankard, letting all the whisky pour down his throat and down his tunic.

“Shut up! And get up you filthy dogs! I’m dead serious!” Bren took a step out into the darkness his torch in front of him.

“Hey, ‘ous best be giving me the r-respect mes deserve. I am a noble’s son, remember that ‘ou old bastard.” Travar stumbled to his feet without somehow falling forward.

Bren ignored Travar’s insult, as he took another step into the darkest. The light shone far enough that he could see their shadowed forms. None held a blade openly in his direction, although one did carry a staff. A wizard perhaps?

“State your intentions, or I will have you run through!” It was a weak challenge considering he didn’t have anyone to back him up. He could here his men stumbling around, retching their meals and whisky on the ground, and then silence.

Bren didn’t have to see. He just knew – his men had passed out.

“Not with those men you won’t, soldier.” A man’s voice commanded though the darkness, strong, confident, very sure of himself. “And you haven’t anything to fear from me or my companions.”

“Prove it,” Bren took another step towards the figures in front of him. “Lay down your weapons and prepare to be searched and questioned.”


Bren watched, as the semi-lit forms of five humanoids began removing and dropping weapons of all sorts. He could see them clearly enough to note they weren’t all human. One was definitely an elf and two other were most likely hairfoots or some other kind of small folk. Bren could make out the shadowed forms of five mounts as well.

“Well, we’re not going to wait all night. You’re going to have to search and question each of us yourself, now that your fellow guards have passed out.” The voice was the elf’s, Bren was sure of it. It was high, lilting, yet strong.

“Damn it,” Bren knew they could have taken him without breaking a sweat. “Never mind that now. Just tell me where you’re from and what you’re doing sneaking into Onaway this time of night?”

“We’re envoys from the Eastern Shores. We’ve come here to offer the citizens a equal and mutually beneficial alliance from the King of Thallin,” Garth replied in earnest.

Bren was speechless. He had guessed they were adventurers, but he hadn’t considered the possibility they weren’t local to the Wild Plains.

“If you don’t mind, we’d like to gather up our things and then have you take us to your commander as soon as possible. Thessa here,” Garth motioned to the gnomish priestess. “Can help your men regain their wits. They’re going to need them. A vast army of ogres and the like are massing in the darkness, in preparation for an attack on your city. We fought some of them ourselves. The city must be warned.”

“Damn it,” Bren ran back into the hole without another thought. “Not again!”

He grabbed his bow and quiver heading for a stone staircase leading up onto the ruined wall. Once at the top he quickly lit several arrows wrapped in cloth and doused with oil. He rose his bow straight up and fired. The burning arrow streaked through the night air coming down several hundred feet away from the hole.

Garth stood behind the Guardsman of Onaway as he took another arrow and shot it up into the air as well, arching it in the other direction. Dabuk and Mesik found their way up onto the cracking battlements just in time to see dozens of fiery arrows arching through the air for as far they could see the red light of the fire streaking through the night.

“That’s some warning system you’ve got soldier.” Garth watched the precision of each arrows flight with admiration. Obviously, not all the city’s soldiers were as incompetent as the two drunkards being tended by Thessa.

“Yes, too bad we don’t get much of a chance to use it. Attacks usually come in total darkness and we’re completely unprepared.”

“Look, out in the distance!” Bactra pointed to where dozens of fiery points of light started blinking into existence. “The ogres are preparing to attack!”

“They won’t get through, damage to the wall or not. Our men are good at defending these walls under all conditions.” Bren fired two other flaming arrows, both down along the outside of the wall.

Brush and oil lit in the beat of heart. The fire quickly spread along the wall igniting several trenches of peat and kindling.

“Wait, where’s Hougwarth?” Garth worried the vonakyndra would be trapped on the other side of the fire.

“Who?” Bren asked quizzically.

“Another travelling companion,” Garth looked over the wall for any signs of the wood giant. “He is a little intimidating, so we thought it best he hold back until we could prove our good intentions.”

“A barbarian, is he?” Bren had heard legends about such men.

“Not exactly, he’s a vonakyndra.” Dabuk easily scrambled down the stone staircase.

“He’s kidding, right?” Bren was in awe of these adventurers. If they truly had a folk legend as a travelling companion, they must be quite experienced.

“No, he’s not.” Bactra watched as the outer fire ran down the entire length of the ruined city wall. The bright light of the fire was turning night into a crimson dusk. He couldn’t see any sign of the wood giant. “Dabuk, anything?”

A moment’s pause, with only the sounds of the blaze of kindling, echoed silence in response.

* * *


World of Kulan DM
The Ruined City of Onaway:
“There’s so many of them,” Mesik Tindertwig didn’t like their chances. “How can you hope to stop them all?”

“We won’t stop them all but they won’t get through to the city’s interior. The firebreak will make sure many of them are scorched badly before they breech the outer perimeter.” Bren knew it would be a long night. “Did you find him?”

“No,” Garth was staring out over the roaring flames of the firebreak. He carefully picked his way along the ruined walls of Onaway, as he scanned the darkness for any signs of the vonakyndra. “I don’t like this. It’s not like him to just up and disappear. The ogres aren’t close enough to have spooked him.”

“Father, he’ll be alright.” Dabuk said the words but felt the hollowness of his reassurance. Hougwarth wasn’t the most skilled warrior he’d ever met and if he got into trouble alone, he’d likely end up dead. “And even if something does happen to him, it’s not our fault. He was only suppose to hang back, not wander off.”

“This Hougwarth is a vonakyndra, correct? They are said to be magical creatures capable of great feats of strength and be able to blend in with the natural world. Perhaps he is more like the legends I grew up with than you realize.” Bren hoped he was right.

Garth sighed. “Not everything is as legends say. I can attest to that.”

Bren looked at him puzzled. Dabuk wondered where his father was at that moment. He seemed miles away.

“Why don’t they just attack? The longer they wait, the better prepared the city will be.” Mesik gripped the handle of Sheao in one hand, the blade still in its sheath.

“Their leaders are either trying to decide whether or not to attack at all or wait until the firebreak dies down. My coins are on the latter.” Bren walked over to Garth who was still looking for their lost companion. “I cannot any longer. We must go through the tangle maze, prepare the inner defenses, and warn the sentries of the interior of the city. They’ll have seen the lit firebreak but will need to know exactly what their up against.”

Garth knew Hougwarth was beyond his protection. Bren had explained that the firebreak and outer wall wouldn’t hold the ogre hordes at bay. Just beyond the wall was a maze of ruined buildings, streets, and overgrown vines that were next to impossible to circumnavigate with out a guide. It was this that truly protected the citizens of Onaway. Bren was one of the only men in the ‘city’ who knew the easiest and safest ways through the tangle maze.

Garth turned away from the hot flames of the break. “Let’s go.”

* * *

In the Briar Patch:
“What kind of city is this,” Bactra felt lost even though Bren assured him that they were going the right way. "“How can you ever hope to find anything in this mess?”

“Practice.” Bren had memorized the ‘tangles’ as a boy. He had been a shoe-in to become a member of the Guardsmen. Of course, he had wanted to be one of the trappers of the maze, but his lowborn status had meant standard guard duty or hole duty. Still, he knew his way through the tangles better than anyone else in Onaway.

“And I thought the labyrinth was complicated.” Dabuk’s head hurt.

“See, I told you all that training was good for something.” Mesik laughed.

“Shut up.”

“How much further, Bren?” Garth was having a hard time in the confines of the tangles, his armor weighing him down and slowing him to a crawl. Yet, he refused to leave it behind, even after Bren had insisted. He had stated matter-of-factly that Bren would have to kill him first.

“An hour or more at this pace.”

“If I fall behind, go on without me.” Garth was trailing everyone.

“No one gets left behind in the tangles. It’s a death sentence for the uninitiated.” Bren looked around for the telltale signs of the traps and pitfalls scattered throughout the street he was leading them down. He could tell that this path was heavily trapped. The vines and weeds were careful grown and cultivated so that a trapper could ‘see’ the traps. It could be as simple as a vine twined around a stone pillar or a patch of blue moss denoting the location of a trigger.

The overgrowth in the street was more than it should be, however. Bren stopped in his tracks and was glad that these adventurers were seasoned enough to understand his signal for danger.

“What, what is it?” Mesik felt as lost as Dabuk.

“The cultivators haven’t been on this street for months. Damn it, I can’t find the right path. We’re going to have to topside.”

“I don’t like the sound of that.” Garth was sore but determined to be who the North Gods had made him.

“This way,” Bren lead to the left and into a ruined stoned building that stretched four stories high. “There’s a stone, spiral staircase in here near the back of the building. It’s hidden but it’s sound.”

“And once we get topside, as you say, how do we find our way then?” Thessa climbed over a large, green vine, the color darkened by the shadowy light of Garth’s torch.

“Very carefully,” Bren smiled but none saw as the Onan had his back towards the group. He walked through the open doorway of the ruin, looking for any signs of cracking in the stone floor. He knew many of these old ruined buildings didn’t suffer time well. Many a younger scout or trapper had lost his life by failing to see failing stone.

“I feel like I’m on some sort of alien plane of existence.” Bactra kept one eye on Bren and the other on the ruins surrounding them. “It’s so surreal.”

“Now I know why we couldn’t bring the mounts with us, although I hated leaving Hindle with those two morons.” Garth’s mount was more than just a steed. He was bonded to the ranger by years of trust and friendship.

“They’ll do what they’re told and stay out of harms way.” Bren hadn’t like leaving the mounts with Handel and Travar, but there hadn’t been a choice. The beasts wouldn’t have made it even halfway to where they were now. The two Guardsmen would hide themselves from any ogre attack and they knew if the horses came to harm that Bren would do more than just scold them. A thought flashed through the Onan’s mind.

“Besides, those two are probably safer with your warhorses protecting them then the other way around. If trouble find them, I’m sure your mounts will fight bravely.”

“That’s more than we can say about Handel and Travar.” Thessa’s jibe did little to lessen Garth’s concerns.

“Here it is.” Bren pulled away handfuls of vines to reveal a small spiral staircase made of stone. The structure coiled up a disintegrating stone pillar that looked like it was about to topple over. The top of the staircase disappeared into the darkness above.

“You’ve got to be kidding me?” Mesik wanted to take his chances with the streets. “You call that sound?”

“In the tangled mazes… yes.” Bren began to ascend the stairs. Pulling away more vines as he climbed.

“Well, you only live once.” Dabuk quickly fell in behind the Onan, while the others looked on in disbelief.

“Damn, I knew I should have stayed in the Knotwood.”

“Come on, cousin. This should be like climbing a tree for you.” Dabuk laughed.

“Ha, ha. Very funny, you know I hate climbing anything.”

“Shut up you two and keep moving.” Garth was having enough trouble without dealing with idle banter. “Bactra, you then Mesik, then Thessa. I’ll take up the rear. Move it!”

The group of adventurers moved, as one, up the staircase, following the natural coil, as a snake would it’s own skin up a tree. Once at the top, Bren tried pushing open a trapdoor, which was weighed down by vines. Dabuk and Bactra had to help him force it open.

They staggered out onto the rooftop of the building. Bren tried not to smile as Thessa gasped in disbelief and the others stared out over the ruined rooftops of the tangle maze of the city of Onaway.

As far as they could see, which wasn’t far in the darkness were even more vines than on the streets below. The overgrown plants covered everything. Everything except a series of catwalks made of metal, wood, and rope. Beyond the view of their torch, the heroes could see the burning flames of the firebreak and thousands of pinpricks of fiery light scattered across the rooftops, contrasting with the pinpricks of light shining down from the stars above. Kulan’s twin moons shining together, one waxing and one waning.

“Rillifane!” Dabuk was at a loss.

“Welcome, my friends, to the upper-tangle.” A horn sounded in the distance and Bren’s face grew grim. “We best hurry, the ogres are coming as we speak. If we’re lucky, we’ll reach the inner wall before they do.”

“Wow, I feel like I’m on the Dreaming Plane.” Bactra said it but they all felt it.

* * *
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the Jester

Finally caught up! :D

I love the tangles- I'll have to steal the basic idea for city defense sometime. Sounds like it would work well in Var, actually...


World of Kulan DM
the Jester said:
Finally caught up! :D

I love the tangles- I'll have to steal the basic idea for city defense sometime. Sounds like it would work well in Var, actually...

If you love the tangles then you'll really love this new regional feat I just designed.

Tangle Walker [General, Regional]
You know the tangle maze of the city of Onaway like the back of your hand.
Prerequisites: 1st-level, native of the city of Onaway.
Benefit: You gain a -2 Survival DC modifier when tracking creature through the tangle maze. You also gain a +2 bonus on Knowledge (tangle maze), which is always a class skill for you.
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World of Kulan DM
The upper-tangles:
“Watch yourselves,” Bren tested the catwalk like rope-bridge before stepping out onto it. “These walkways are treacherous.”

“How much weight can they hold?” Garth wasn’t confident about traversing the rope-bridge in his armor.

“A fair bit, but I can’t guarantee your safety with all that armor on. These bridges are meant for light to medium weight travel. I recommend you take it off and store it here. We can come back for it later and the garrison should have some lighter armor that will fit you.”

“I don’t know,” Garth was responsible for the armor, as well as the mission. It didn’t belong to him. It was an heirloom of his family. “If it is lost, my family would lose a precious, magical heirloom. Yet, if what you say is true then I won’t even make it across the first bridge.”

“Make up your mind, sir. We don’t have time to sit here and ponder it.”

“Very well, Garth relented. “Bactra, Dabuk, I’ll need you to help me take this armor off.” Garth started unfastening the few belts he could reach.

“Okay,” Bren looked out towards the firebreak. “You’ve got ten minutes then I’m leaving with or without you.”

“Understood,” Garth made a decision. “Don’t worry about the leg pieces. I’ll keep those on. Bren, where’s the best place to store the other parts?”

“Stick them on the top of the landing of the staircase. With the trapdoor shut, no one is likely to find it. We’ll cover the door with vines. Don’t worry, I’ll be able to guide you here again.”

“Of that I have no doubt.” Garth hoped they didn’t run into anything that would seriously threaten them.

* * *

The adventurers followed Bren across another rope-bridge, this one a little more stable than the four others they had already traversed.

Garth was glad he hadn’t tempted Fate.

The ropes would have surely broke with his plated bronze mail on. He had agreed to wear the heavier armor instead of his chain shirt at the request of his father. He looked more diplomatic in the armor and it gave its wearer a higher personal magnetism. He had been wearing it for so long that he’d forgotten his true stature. Not that he wasn’t a charismatic man just that the armor made him more so.

Bren had noticed the difference right away but hadn’t said anything. He knew the Senate of Onaway would be highly impressed by the justiciar in his fancy armor, but also knew the soldiers near the inner wall would respect Garth more as he was now. He was a battered, war hardened man. One could tell that right away from the many scars on his neck and arms.

“How much father?” Thessa wasn’t having any trouble traversing the rope-bridges, she was just interested in finding out where they were. Without Bren they’d be hopelessly lost, even crossing the upper-tangles.

“Not far, although I think we’ll have to cross the Vineyard Passage on the ground. I don’t trust the rope-bridges there. They haven’t been fixed in over a year.”

“I’m surprised you can find anyone who’d want the job.” Mesik noted. “This place just feels like one big trap waiting to happen.”

“You’d be correct, sir.” Bren hated cultivator work almost as much as ‘hole’ guard duty. “Only trappers and experience tangle warriors can find their way through all this. Those that find disfavor are often demoted to being cultivators, as well as guarding the holes in the wall.”

“Like you?” Dabuk was nothing if blunt.

Bren stopped just near the beginning of the next rope-bridge. He let out a long sigh.

“Damn it boy, can’t you ever think before you speak?” Garth was ready to cuff his son on the ear like the ignorant child he was behaving like.

“No, it’s alright. He’s correct in is assumption. I’ve been stuck doing guard duty for years now. I fell out of favor after one of the traps I set went off and killed a trapper and two cultivators. I’ve been trying to prove my worth ever since, but the Senate never forgets and its members never forgive. Especially when the trapper who died was the son of a senator.”

“Well, I’m sure you learned from your mistake and that’s what really matters. A little bit of disfavor never killed anyone.” Garth tried to ease the man’s troubled mind.

“Not so,” Bren tested the next rope-bridge as he continued. “My entire family shares in any dishonor I bring to myself. My father lost everything, as the Senate seized our lands, and my mother left him for another nobleman. My two sisters won’t even speak to me.”

“By Hade’s Underrealm, that doesn’t sound fair at all.” Mesik was livid.

Bren motioned for them to follow him across the bridge. Once on the other side he continued his story.

“Life is rarely fair in Onaway these days. Because of the threat from without, many in the community have a tendency to turn on each other for petty differences. It’s a hard life in this ruined city.”

“What became of your father?” Bactra asked the question this time.

Bren watched as the last of them came across the bridge. “He killed himself.”

“I see what you meant earlier.” Garth sighed. “I am sorry if my comments offended you.”

“No apology is required, sir. It is my way of life. All I can hope to do is reclaim my family’s birthright before I die so that my son and his children after him do not share in the shame.”

“I agree with Mesik that is not fair at all” Thessa was beside herself. “Perhaps we can put in a good word for you.”

“That would be very kind of you, but I doubt the Senate would even hear from you on the matter. The opinion of outsiders isn’t given much weight here.”

“Does that mean we came all this way for nothing?” Dabuk was ready to start banging his head on the nearest wall.

“I cannot say, but if this alliance your proposing is ‘very’ beneficial to the citizens and, more importantly, to the Senate then they will likely give it some real thought.”

A noise from the street below startled them all into readiness. Bren was the first to the side of the building. Looking down he saw what Dabuk smelled on the shifting wind.

“Ogres.” They said it once right after the other, Dabuk and then Bren.

* * *

“You’ve fought ogres before, haven’t you?” Bren already knew the half-elf’s answer.

“More than you see down there.” Dabuk liked to exaggerate. He was already standing next to Bren.

“No stupid heroics, son.” Garth caught Dabuk’s arm to keep his son from jumping to his death.

“Not this time,” Dabuk crouched next to Bren surveying the landscape. “There are too many of them.”

The others came to the edge of the building. All those over 5 feet in height crouched down to hide themselves. Mesik and Thessa didn’t need to crouch.

What they saw gave them all pause. The ogres were cutting through the foliage with large scythe-like blades. There were nearly a dozen of them in view of the surrounding torches set into the makeshift sconces set along the catwalks on the tops of the building on both sides. Several laid traps went off as the ogres proceeded down the street towards the T-junction that led to the vineyard Passage and eventually the inner wall. Two ogres in the lead were carrying huge tower shields, which deflected the blows of two large spears fired by a spring-like trap.

The ogres directly behind them weren’t as luck as one of them stepped on a stone pressure plate that started a collapse of one of the buildings on the other side of the street. The beasts howled as they died, but their ogre companions left them for dead, continuing on. All were wearing fine-looking hide armor.

“Those weapons and armor look like they could be masterwork items.” Garth couldn’t believe his eyes. “This is not just a simple ogre horde. This is a deadly invasion force.”

“You are correct, sir. We have to lead them away from the inner wall. The forces there won’t be able to handle this.” Bren began stringing his bow.

“I suggest caution.” Garth moved to stop the guard from giving away their position. “You won’t even make a hole in their armor from this range.”

“True, but that’s not the point. This force is the most well equipped group of ogres I’ve ever seen. There are several deadly traps on Wayward Avenue to the south of us. If we can lure them there then we might be able to take a few more of them out.”

“It’s worth a shot, father.” Dabuk began to string his bow as well. “If we can get them to chase us, even a few of them, then we can dwindle their numbers.”

“I agree, we must do something.” Thessa wasn’t usually the first to speak up. “There are families to consider here, Garth.”

“Very well, if the group decided on recklessness then who am I to stop you. I will stay with you and guard your backs but I will not get into an archery match with them.” Garth pointed to several ogre archers in the rear of the column coming down the street.

“Damn, this is not good.” Mesik knew his sling would do nothing to these creatures but annoy them like a fly would a horse.

* * *
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World of Kulan DM
The Battle of the Streets and Avenues:
“Here’s the plan, follow the catwalks in this direction.” Bren pointed away from where the ogres were marching. “I’ll be on the avenue below you. I’ll lead them along the avenue while you shoot at them from above. Move as quickly as you can and stay ahead of me if you can. If you can’t then hide.”

“Someone should go with you.” Dabuk wanted to go.

“No, I need you up here guiding them. You’ve been watching how I work, I noticed. You pick things up fast and they’ll get lost without you. Besides, I’ll be moving too fast for anyone to keep up without setting off the hidden traps. I won’t risk that.”

“But-“ Garth didn’t like the man’s chances down on the street alone.

“No buts, I know what I’m doing. You have to trust my judgement on this.” Bren moved to the edge of the building. He grabbed on of the sturdier looking vines.

“Just make sure you wait until I’ve lead them down the avenue before you begin firing at them. Now get moving!” Bren went over the wall and the others did as he said heading across the nearest catwalk in the direction he had pointed.

* * *

“This is nuts!” Mesik watched as Bren continued firing his bow at the irate ogres coming towards him. The Onan ranger wasn’t hurting them but, so far, his plan was working. Several of the less disciplined ogres had broken off from the column intent on squashing this easy prey.

Bren ducked behind some rubble as an ogre-sized arrow skittered across the ground where he’d just been standing. He nimbly ran along a narrow path and jumped over a fallen column of stone just as another arrow slammed into the rubble behind him.

“He’s really quick on his feet. I’ve never seen anyone move like that through such terrain. If he lives, I want lessons.” Dabuk had his bow ready eager to fire upon the advancing ogres. His gut told him to throw caution to the wind, but his head knew better. He’d gained a lot of good sense on the journey to Onaway and wouldn’t just throw away his life for vengeance.

Bactra stood next to cousin, amazed by the restraint he was showing. Perhaps having Kellin around had pushed him to be more reckless. He seemed calmer now, almost serene in his inner anger. Bactra wasn’t sure if he liked this anymore than when his cousin constantly snapped when ogres appeared. Bactra went through the arcane formulas in his mind over and over. He didn’t have many powerful spells and knew he’d have to make his magic count.

“I think we all could benefit from the teaches of these people.” Garth was amazed that Bren instinctively knew where to step, jump, and climb as not to set off the hidden traps of the avenue. The ogres weren’t so lucky. The blundered into several stone deadfalls and spear traps but kept coming, their rage driving them on. Several others from the column began howling in pain, as they failed to find a huge pit trap heading down the other direction of the T-intersection of the street and avenue. Three ogres fell in, only one came out alive.

“Nasty!” Mesik was impressed.

“I’m glad we decided to walk the upper-tangles. Now I see how dangerous it is down there.” Bactra wouldn’t go back down there unless he had to.

“Ok, he’s almost below us. Get ready.” Garth notched an arrow to the emergency shortbow he normally kept slung to Hindle.

“Wait for it,” Mesik began twirling his sling.

“Now!” Dabuk fired the first shot. It streaked out just as the first ogre came into range. The arrow shattered uselessly on the ogre’s tough hide armor. “Damn it!”

Garth shot his bow at the same ogre. It struck the beast in the arm and it howled at the projectile that had stung it. Mesik let loose with his sling but wasn’t surprised when it fell long before reaching the brutes.

The ogres with shields raised them, while the others scanned the upper edges of the buildings for these new enemies. One barked out a command to the archers behind him to start scanning the rooftops. The archers couldn’t find them at first but zoned in on them after Dabuk and Garth fired two more shots each at the same ogre as before. The beast didn’t see the arrows until they impacted his arm and shoulder. The ogre archers began firing at the half-hidden heroes.

“Time to move on,” Garth pulled Mesik back just as one of the large arrows streaked by. “Bren is on the move down that side street. I guess that means we cross over there.”

Garth pointed to a strong-looking rope-bridge, entangled with thick vines.

“One more shot,” Dabuk wanted to hurt one badly before retreating. He fired again, catching one of the other ogres in the nose with his arrow. “Bullseye!”

“Dabuk, get down.” Mesik and Thessa pulled Dabuk down out of the way of a large arrow heading for his chest. The projectile clipped him as he stumbled back, doing only minor damage. Still, blood seeped from Dabuk’s shoulder.

“That was too close.” Dabuk knew his small friends had saved his neck. “Thanks, I lost it for a moment there. Let’s get going.”

Dabuk lead the way over a series of connected catwalks towards the larger one spanning the avenue to the other side of the side street where Bren was hold up firing his bow at the ogres. They took the bridge two at a time, as the ogres charged towards Bren’s position.

Several of the ogre archers’ arrows flew just above the rope-bridge then a third clipped the bridge, snapping one of the rope supports. Dabuk, Thessa, and Garth were already across. Mesik and Bactra were still on the other side of the bridge, as it began to sway, as the ropes began to fray and unravel.

“Move it you two, it’s coming apart.” Dabuk watched helplessly as the ropes on the far end began to snap.

“Bactra, move your butt! I don’t want to die out here swinging over some ugly ogre’s nose.” Mesik watched as one of the ogres charging towards Bren, stopped, then started walking towards them his large sword ready to slice the bridge and them to ribbons.

“There’s no time. It’ll get to us before we make it. Give me some room.”

“You’re crazy to try that out here.”

“Shut up, you’ll break my concentration.” Bactra began the incantations for his Melf’s acid arrow spell. It would definitely hurt the ogre and might slow him down a little. He finished the spell just as the ogre raised its sword to strike.

Mesik closed his eyes as the acid arrow streaked out to slam into the ogre’s neck. The acid burnt the creature and it howled, dropping its sword, and grabbing at its neck. That was a mistake. It howled again as the acid burnt its fingers.

“Okay, can we go now.” Mesik was ready to start pushing the elven wizard, but knew the bridge was precarious at best. They continued on watching as the ogre tried to scrape the acid off with a dirty undershirt.

They were near the middle when another large arrow impacted the bridge near their position. The bridge rocked back and forth, as the rope began to unravel even faster. Then they heard several snaps as rope bent the wooded boards of the bridge.

“Uh, oh.” Mesik knew it was bad.

“I take it that’s not a good sound.” Bactra began to run even before Mesik told him to.

* * *
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World of Kulan DM
Hanging by a thick, vine-like thread:
“We’re not going to make it!” Bactra felt the bridge fall out from under him. They had barely gone 4 feet before the bridge came apart directly behind them.

“No!” It was Dabuk’s voice.

“Grab hold of anything you can!” Mesik wrapped his arm in a solid looking rope, hoping it wouldn’t dislocate his shoulder or elbow as gravity met resistance.

Bactra was not so lucky. He flailed in the air before tumbling down past Mesik into the mess of tangled ropes, vines and broken boards. His leg got caught up in the mess, which saved his life but also trapped him there.

The bridge then began to meet that resistance as the sturdy, wooden poles that had holding up the bridge began to pull at the ropes and vines strung out across its length. The poles groaned in agony as the mass of debris began to swing towards the side of the building. It carried the heroes along with it, crashing into the wall with a tremendous impact that shook Mesik’s teeth.

His vision blurred and he lost his air. He couldn’t even begin to worry about Bactra as his worst fear came to life. He felt his shoulder pop out and he barely stifled a scream. When his vision had cleared, he was surprised to see Dabuk climbing down towards him.

“Dabuk?” Mesik wasn’t sure where he was. It felt like he’d hit his head and his arm hurt. “What the-“

“Quiet, they might hear you.” Dabuk was whispering. “How are you, can you see Bactra?”

“B-Bactra,” Mesik tried to remember he shook his head looking down at what was a mass of tangled ropes and vines. “Tangle? Wait, the tangle maze, Onaway.”

“Damn it,” Mesik tried to find Bactra in the mess below him but couldn’t see the elven wizard. “I hit my head really hard, Dabuk. I was somewhere else there for a moment. No, I can’t see Bactra.”

“Let me see,” Dabuk was hanging from his knees while looking at Mesik’s head. Well, there’s no bleeding that I can see but we’ll have to get you to Thessa as soon as possible. Can you climb with that arm?”

“Ow! I don’t think so.” Mesik couldn’t feel anything but pain, as he tried to move it.

“Okay, then I’m going to have to carry you up. But first I have to cut you free. This might hurt a little.”

“Forget it,” Mesik pushed Dabuk’s dagger away. “I’ll use Sheao to cut myself free. You need to find Bactra. Just help tie me off to that other rope there.” Mesik pointed with his good arm to a free hanging rope next to them.

“You sure you can manage?” Dabuk wore concern.

“Yes, now help me.” Mesik reached for the rope, as Dabuk grabbed it. They quickly cut it and tied Mesik to the end. “Now, go find that crazy mage.”

“I’ll be right back, up.” Dabuk scampered down towards the tangled mass below, while Mesik tried to free himself.

* * *
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World of Kulan DM
The ties that bind:
Dabuk continued down the ropes, trying desperately to not get entangled. The mass of ropes, vines, and splinted wood impeded his movement. He stopped to look for any signs of Bactra, as well as to check and see where the ogres were. He was amazed at the restraint he was showing. Normally he would have rushed down the wall and into the beasts, without concern for anything, meting out death to the smelly giants.

However, Bactra was family and Mesik was like his older brother. The two had been through more than Dabuk could even remember, as he continued to climb down the ruined structure of the rope-bridge. He pushed aside a mass of vines and there was Bactra, hanging upside down, waiting.

“Well, what took you so long?” Bactra knew better than to raise his voice, as he to was looking out for ogres. “Any sign of the brutes.”

“No, now hold still and be quiet.” Dabuk began to work on freeing his cousins bound leg. “And make sure you hang on to something.”

Bactra nodded his head as his cousin began to pull at the vines and ropes entwined around the wizard’s leg. The limb was a mess, as dozens of thorns had embedded themselves in the elf’s leg and his ankle was caught and twisted between two cracking boards.

“Damn, this is going to take a while. I’m going to have to cut all of this away and drag you all the way back up before freeing your leg. And I’m going to need help.” Dabuk swung his head up just in time to see Mesik cut himself free. The halfling rogue deftly hung onto the rope tied around his waist. He glanced out into the wild street of Onaway just in time to see two ogre archers come to check on the ogre Bactra had hit with his acid arrow spell.

They hadn’t noticed the heroes hanging there, yet.

“Damn it, not now.” Dabuk grit his teeth and began cutting vines and ropes around them to hopefully conceal the hanging duo.

“I know that tone.” “Bactra kept perfectly still as Dabuk worked. “How many?”

“Two archers,” Dabuk rigged up a temporary blind spot. He looked up to check on Mesik. The rogue wasn’t anywhere to be seen. “I’m going to have to learn how to do that.”

“What?” Bactra whispered.

“Never mind,” Dabuk hid himself as best her could in the mass of wreckage. “Don’t talk, don’t move, and don’t breathe.”

The ogres helped their fallen comrade up. The beast growled in anger and then turned his attention back towards the ruined rope-bridge. The beast retrieved his sword and snapped at the two archers to cover him. The ogre moved towards the bridge, his sword ready to cut down anything that moved.

* * *

“We have to do something,” Thessa was beside herself with worry as two other ogres joined the one that had threatened the bridge.

“If we give ourselves away, they’ll make short work of us. We cannot risk it.”

Bren had found his way back up onto the upper tangles without incident. He had lead several ogres into a cul-de-sac that was filled with large vermin-like ants. The ant creatures hadn’t notice Bren after the man had smeared their smell on his clothing. However, the ants had attacked the ogres, viciously, protecting their territory.

“We will not just leave them to die, Bren.” Garth was trying to come up with a way to distract the ogres without alerting them. “That is my family down there.”

“I understand, but I can’t risk it. The garrison at the inner wall needs my report. And soon.”

“Then go and give it.” Garth mentally went through the divine spells he had prepared. Nothing would help the situation. He knew Thessa was a skilled healer, but he wasn’t sure about her martial prowess.

“I just can’t leave you two here alone. There are more hidden dangers in the tangles than just traps and monstrous ants. There are some things that are incredibly deadly. Man-eating plants, vicious winged beasts, you name it.”

“I’ve lived this long without your help. Fought in the Second Ogre War and lived to tell about it. I have lived to learn of my loved ones’ deaths. I will not lose my son too.” Garth turned to Thessa. “What combat spells do you know?”

“That’s not what I do. I can increase your stamina and cast a protection from horrible evil on myself, but other than that, my current selection of spells are designed for healing or are utilitarian.” Thessa replied.

“You’re seriously going to take on three well-armed and well-armored ogres, just the two of you?” Bren didn’t know whether to be impressed or mortified.

“Yes,” Thessa looked at Garth without any hint of regret. She quickly cast her bear’s endurance spell on Garth. “They are like my family too. Besides, you shouldn’t count the others out this fight.”

“Very well,” Bren shook his head. “You do what you must and I will do what I must.” Bren scanned up and down the streets looking for more opposition. “Take care of yourselves.”

“You as well, friend.” Garth nodded to Bren and the other man returned the gesture. Then he began to run along the side of the building, leaping to the next adjacent one, several feet away. Soon he was out of sight.

“I hope he makes it in time,” Thessa watches Bren leave then casts protection from evil and a minor cantrip on herself. “Let’s go.”

Garth and Thessa moved towards the side of the building, intent on climbing down to hopefully surprise, or at least distract the ogres. They climbed over the edge just in time to see the ogre’s sword poke at the ruined bridge, as the beast begins its search for survivors of the collapse.

* * *
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World of Kulan DM
Melee in the Tangles:
“Hurry, they don’t have much time.” Garth deftly jumped the last 5 feet to the uneven avenue of cobblestones below. He drew his blade a moment later and then charged across the avenue towards the ogres. Thessa hit the ground hard, as she fell more than she jumped, but managed to tumble away some of the pain. She reached for her mace hanging at her belt, once her head stopped swimming.

She felt like she was going to be sick, as the smell of the large ogres hit her nostrils. These ones smelled even worse than the last ones they’d faced. Anger took her to a place she rarely went and she charged over the broken cobblestones, over a dozen feet between her and Garth.

The Justiciar of the Eastern Shores bellowed a warcry just before jumping over a fallen pillar. The two ogre archers turned to fire their enlarged bows as this new threat jumped through the air towards them. Garth swung his sword just as the first ogre fired his bow. The large arrow impacted the pillar, digging in and cracking the stone.

Garth’s sword struck home a moment later on the giant’s hand where it held the bow. The creature screamed in pain and dropped its weapon as Garth’s strike severed three fingers. The second ogre archer took aim and fired towards Thessa but misjudged the distance and the shot went wide into an adjacent building. The stone crumbled as the arrow ripped through it and Thessa thanked Baervan silently that that hadn’t been her chest.

The third ogre, poking the hanging bridge with its sword, quickly swung around to face the ranger and priestess, swinging its enlarged blade in a vicious downward strike. The blade clipped Garth’s armor near the shoulder, which sent him spinning to the ground. Thessa arrived a moment later to hit the ogre in the ankle with her mace. The man beast’s heavy boots took most of the damage but it did flinch before trying to skewer the Justiciar into the ground.

Garth moved just in time, diving behind several large rocks just before the ogre’s blade scraped the ground where he’d been lying seconds before.

“That was too close.” Garth held his shoulder and closed his eyes. The wound knit together as the ranger healed himself. “Can’t let them recover.”

Garth steeled his resolve, unstrapped his spare light shield from his back, moved out from behind the rocks, and charged towards the giant archers. The one closest took aim and fired, while the other held its ruined hand in the other. The enlarged arrow flew true, slamming into the Justiciar throwing him back into the rocks he’d just been hiding behind.

“Garth! No!” Thessa dodged to one side as the ogre she’d hurt tried to kick her like a child’s ball. “Damn brutes!”

She swung her mace again and this time she found bone. The beast howled as the blow sent a wave of numbing pain up its leg. The beast hopped on one foot, backing away from the gnome priestess. It struck out with its sword but only managed to slice stone and mortar, as Thessa danced away.

Garth’s head swam and he was sure he saw two more ogres standing next to the archers. His head cleared in time to realize he was seeing double and that the ogre archer was taking aim once more. The other ogre moved to flank Thessa, after wrapping its ruined hand and then drawing a large flail in the other. The Justiciar looked at the huge arrow that had ripped through his shield and punctured his armor near the shoulder he’d just healed.

“Well, that’s not good at all.” Garth tried to stand but his legs failed him. He heard a loud warcry just as he passed out.

* * *

Dabuk watched as his father charged the ogres a second time with both pride and fear. Then the giant’s arrow had slammed into the Justiciar and the half-elf’s calm exterior shattered.

“Damn them to Hades’ Underrealm!” He looked at Bactra with anger and sadness in his eyes.

“I’ll be fine,” Bactra waved him away. Go get them, cousin!”

Dabuk’s anger turned to a wicked grin and he began climbing up towards the edge of the building. Moments later he took a running jump off the building towards the ogre archer lining up his father for the killing shot. A cry of anger and sorrow escaped his lips as he drew his dagger in mid flight and threw it at the brute’s throat. The dagger struck armor only nicking the beast’s think hide. However, the dagger ruined the beast’s aim and the arrow slammed into the rocks behind Garth’s unconscious form.

Dabuk slammed into the beast’s elbow with his boots. A large crack issued from the ogre’s arm and it howled in pain. Dabuk laughed wickedly as he fell to the ground. A jut of stone penetrated his shoulder and his laughter turned into a scream. The ogre man growled and raised its foot to step on Dabuk’s prone form.

Thessa tried to move towards Garth’s lifeless form but the flail-wielding ogre blocked her path. She gritted her teeth as the beast swung in a downward stroke that nearly crushed her. She teetered back and forth and didn’t see the other ogre strike at her with the flat of his blade. Her head snapped back and she fell unconscious.

“Oh crap,” Bactra watched helplessly as his family and friends fell one after another. Mesik, we have to do something!

Bactra scanned the upper reaches of the broken, hanging bridge for the halfling rogue. “Mesik, where in the Nine Hells are you?”

Bactra’s answer came in the form of the blade-wielding ogre turning back towards the ruined bridge and swinging his sword at the bridge’s remaining creaking supports.

“Uh oh!” Bactra tried desperately to cut away the vines holding his tattered leg, as the giant’s sword shattered the wooden supports.

* * *
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World of Kulan DM
Melee in the Tangles (cont.):
Mesik heard Bactra’s plea and he knew he had to do something. However, his arm was in no shape for combat and he didn’t have access to Thessa’s healing. He also didn’t have a healing potion, so his options were limited. Mesik knew that Garth would have such a potion on him, maybe even 2 or 3, if they hadn’t been smashed when the oversized arrow had sent the Justiciar flying.

Then he saw the ogre turn towards the hanging bridge, attached by Bactra’s plea, and watched helplessly as the beast’s huge sword shattered the supports holding up what was left of the ruined bridge.

“Oh damn,” Mesik threw himself towards the ground with only a vine to support him. He had chosen the vine for the fact that it appeared to be anchored to the building separately from the bridge. He held on tight with his one good arm, as the vine went taut. He used his momentum to swing around the building towards Garth’s prone form. His arm and shoulder held together, but the vine began to come apart from the building. Mesik let go of the vine just before he would have smashed into the ground.

He tumbled and rolled as best he could, his ruined arm tied against his body with some rope he had scavenged from the bridge. He hit one piece of rubble hard, which knocked him prone several feet away from Garth.

A moment later he heard the bridge come crashing down. He didn’t have the luxury to worry about Bactra, as he needed to get a healing potion into Garth and himself, if possible. The hairfoot rogue’s vision waved back and forth as he got to his feet and grabbed Garth and heaved him down closer to the ground. Just then, an oversized arrow streaked just above them where the Justiciar’s head just been.

Mesik was thankful that Garth hadn’t had his armor on, or Mesik would never been able to move him. He opened Garth’s backpack, which was torn in several places. The inside was a mess, as several vials had broken.

“Damn it!” Mesik dug through the backpack praying that he’d find an unbroken potion or vial of healing elixir. “Brandobaris, where are you when I need you?” Mesik wasn’t very devoted to the Master of Stealth, as he preferred Hades solemn sermons, but he did pay homage to the Halfling Deity of Luck from time to time. “If you don’ help me save my family now then no more sugar cakes as sacrifices!”

Mesik dug deeper into the backpack, cutting his hands on some glass from a broken vial, but he found what he needed, as his hand closed around a large potion bottle. It was clearly labeled healing elixir. Mesik felt the shadow looming over him and Garth and knew he only had moments to decide.

He chose Garth. He opened the bottle poured it down the ranger’s throat and prayed that Brandobaris was indeed with him. The draught came into effect just as an ogre grabbed Mesik from behind. Crushing him with its huge hands.

“Arg!” Mesik struggled in vain as the ogre squeezed the air out of the small hairfoot. He saw Garth get to his feet and grab his weapon just before everything went dark.

* * *


World of Kulan DM
Melee in the Tangles (cont.):
Bactra tried desperately to cut his leg loose in the seconds before the bridge came down around him. Gravity began to pull rope, vines, shattered wood, and his body down toward the rubble below. He cut through the last part of the vine trapping his leg, while his mind raced at what to do next, in order to save his life.

Then it came to him, in a flash of luck, as a spider crawled out of his hair and onto his forehead. Bactra relaxed his mind, grabbed the spider, reached for his spell component pouch, incanted his spell, ate the component & spider, and then strained his body to reach out for the wall, as he fell.

The magic of his spider climb spell took effect a moment later, allowing him to grab a hold of the wall. He pressed his body against the wall, as the bridge crash down to the ground behind him, throwing up dust and chips of stone.

Bactra didn’t wait to be spotted, climbing down out of sight, using the dust to obscure his location. He hit the ground with a thump, as his ruined leg gave out from under him.

“Wow, I don’t believe that worked.” Bactra spoke softly trying to catch his breath. Bactra had lost his backpack in the collapse and didn’t have any way to heal himself. All he could do was try to bind his wounds and hope he didn’t bleed to death.

* * *

Garth woke from unconsciousness, as the heal potion coursed through his body. His first vision was that of Mesik being squeezed to unconsciousness by an ogre attacker. Garth grabbed his sword, got to his feet, and rushed the ogre as it dropped Mesik to the ground.

The beast was unprepared for his attack, as Garth trust his sword deep into the ogre’s belly. Its eyes bulged out in surprise, as Garth twisted his blade slicing skin and bone. The ogre groaned in agony as it looked down to see its own entrails pour out of its belly.

Garth pulled his sword out, tossed it to the side, picked up Mesik, and dived out of the path of the falling ogre. The Justiciar laid down the hairfoot rogue carefully and looked to find where he had hoped his sword would be. It wasn’t there.

“Crap!” Garth turned looking for his sword. It was no where in sight and the ogre archer was now battling Dabuk unarmed. “Well, I’m just going to have to do this the hard way.” Garth drew his dagger and charged towards the flail-wielding ogre, as it raised its weapon to crush Thessa.

* * *
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World of Kulan DM
Melee in the Tangles (cont.):
Dabuk pulled himself off the sharp rock that ripped through the back of his shoulder., ripping more flesh and bone in the process. He rolled out of the way of the ogre’s foot coming down toward him. The ogre archer impaled its foot on the jutting stone for all its trouble, and dropped its bow.

The beast hopped away from Dabuk, trying to draw a large dagger from its belt. Dabuk pushed the pain away and attacked the beast man, aiming for its hand. His blade dug into the ogre’s belt instead, and he tried to grab the creature’s dagger from its sheath.

The ogre brought his other hand around, balling his fist, and hitting Dabuk with a severe uppercut. The half-elf ranger’s head snapped back and he flew through the air taking the ogre’s dagger with him, but leaving his sword embedded in the ogre’s belt. Dabuk’s body slams into an uneven stone wall on the other side of the avenue, which gave way with the impact.

“Weak elf man’s weapons cannot hurt Snall,” the ogre pulls Dabuk’s sword out of his belt and throws it away in disgust. “I will crush you to paste, spread your blood on my armor, and eat your bones in victory.”

It was the first time any of the ogres had spoken other than to grunt or growl at the companions. The ogre was surprisingly articulate for one of its kind, but Dabuk was too busy pulling himself out of the rubble and spitting out dust to notice. The half-elven ranger tightens his grip of the ogre’s dagger.

“You are going to die horribly for that,” Dabuk growled.

“Bah, I was killing your kind when you were a still in your father’s bitch’s womb.” The ogre balled its fists and charged.

Dabuk held his rage and waited for his moment to strike. All he could think of was the ogre man’s words pounding in his ears. He grip tightened around the large dagger so hard that it began to bruise. The ogre came in swinging, but Dabuk deftly dodge the ogre’s blows, as they slammed into crumbling stone wall behind. Dabuk rolled easily through the beast man’s legs standing up just behind the ogre’s left leg.

“Pathetic,” Dabuk thrust the oversized dagger through the back of the ogre’s knee – so hard that the blade ripped all the way through the kneecap. “You’re nothing to me, just another ogre for the slaughter.”

Dabuk twisted the blade back and forth violently, severing the beast man’s tendons, muscles and arteries. Black ichor sprays out of the gapping wound, soaking Dabuk’s sword and arms. The ogre roars, in pain, as it tries to hold its form upright. Dabuk tears his sword out of the oozing wound and hits the side of ogre’s other knee with the pommel of the weapon. The ogre tries to swat the half-elf away, but fails miserably. Dabuk uses the blade’s pommel again, moving to one side to get a better hit, this time on the kneecap.

The ogre howls again falling backwards onto the ground. It swings wildly with its fists hitting Dabuk both times, as the ranger moves in for the kill. The ranger falls backward losing his grip on the oversized dagger and it skitters away under a pile of rubble.

“Damn, not good.” Dabuk shakes his head at his stupidity. “I should have gone for the knees again.”

* * *


World of Kulan DM
So who's reading?

Just doing a quick and dirty poll. Who's reading this story hour? What do you think? Who's your favorite character?

Anyway, here's the conclusion to Melee in the Tangles, part one and two. There will be Aftermath post, after these two posts but not likely for a day or so. - KF72

Melee in the Tangles (Conclusion – Part 1):
Garth charged not only to bring down his foe, but too save the life of a companion he had come to admire. Thessa lay unconscious, helpless on the ground and Garth knew he only had one option, as his dagger didn’t have the stopping power he would need to end the ogre’s life, even with its magical enhancements. No, his only hope in saving Thessa was throwing himself at the ogre’s arm, and hoping he had the skill to send its downward strike askew.

“Here beast,” Garth shouted as he slammed into the ogre. “Fight me and perish monster!”

Garth jumped up and struck out with his dagger scraping away skin and bone near the beast man’s elbow. The ogre brute checked its swing down and instead brought its flail down and up into the Justiciar. The weapon’s large spiked ball swung on its chain clumsily and only did a glancing blow to the human ranger. The spikes hadn’t penetrated Garth’s skin, although he felt his shoulder bone shift from the impact.

Garth gritted his teeth trying to steady himself, as the momentum of his jump and the impact from the oversized flail combined to tilt his body. He came down awkwardly but stayed on his feet. He used his momentum to duck and roll away just as the ogre’s flail rushed through the space where his head had been.

Garth knew he was outmatched but refused to just leave Thessa, and Mesik, to the Fate of Mirella, in order to help his son. Garth didn’t have time to check on Dabuk, as the ogre brute moved towards him, Thessa forgotten for the moment. Garth used his years of training to fend off the ogre’s deadly swings. Garth’s dagger flashed out again and again, but rarely penetrated the ogre’s armor or thick hide.

The beast man laughed as it fought, and Garth knew it was toying with him. He checked his grip and his resolve. He’d fought alone against larger ogres, under worse conditions, during the Second Ogre War. He would not lose to such a lowly grunt.

Garth surprised the ogre by rushing it. The beast man swung out and missed, as Garth tucked and rolled between the beast man’s legs. It wasn’t Garth’s best maneuver but under the circumstances it was his best option. He misjudged the distance and came up roughly 10 feet away from the ogre brute, directly behind it.

“Well, a least I gained a little distance.” Garth continued to back away from the beast man as it turned around and came towards him.

* * *

Mesik’s breathing was slow and steady, as the hairfoot slipped in and out of unconsciousness. He could hear the sounds of battle, but it sounded very distant like it flowed to his ears on the placid surface of a watery lake. The rogue turned his head to one side, which caused his head to swim. He felt like he was going to black out again but pushed such thoughts to the back of his mind.

Mesik needed healing. His eyes cleared and he scanned the ground for any hope. He knew Garth’s backpack would still be nearby, if the Justiciar didn’t have it on him. He couldn’t find it through the haze of his blurred vision and the dust kicked up from the debris of the fallen bridge.

“B-Bactra, w-where are y-you.” Mesik’s throat whispered the words through dry, cracked lips.

* * *

Bactra tied more rope and torn cloth from his breeches around his ruined leg. It hurt like the Nine Hells but, at least, the leg had stopped bleeding. He knew that without healing he didn’t stand a chance and cursed his dumb luck. He’d lost most of his gear during the fall, barely hanging on to his dagger and spell component pouch. He’d also been lucky to find his quarterstaff after spider climbing down the wall. It would make a good crutch until he could be healed.

Bactra heard stone breaking under the weight of impact and hoped the others weren’t already dead. He gingerly got to his feet using the wall and staff as support. He tried to pick out shapes in the dust-filled air of the avenue.

“Nothing,” Bactra whispered to himself. “Well, I’m not doing any good standing here.”

The elven wizard slowly picked his way through the debris of the bridge. He looked down from time to time to check his footing and scan for his lost backpack. He could only find broken wooden slats, tangled rope, and prickly vines.

“B-Bactra, w-where are y-you.” The words floated to his ears through the dust, as if through a sending spell. The voice was hoarse and strained, but it was clearly Mesik’s.

“Mesik!” Bactra wasn’t sure where the hairfoot’s voice had come from. “Where are you?”

“Bactra?” Mesik was sure he was hearing things.

“Mesik, I’m over here.” Bactra risked raising his voice.

“Y-you have to c-come to m-me. I c-can’t move.” Mesik strained his voice and his head began to swim again.

Bactra prodded the ground in front of him. The dust wasn’t as thick the further he moved from the debris. He small a small form lying on the ground. It was Thessa.

“Mesik, I found Thessa. She’s unconscious.” Bactra wasn’t sure what to do. He wasn’t a healer. He listened for Mesik’s advice but all he got in response was silence.

“Mesik? Mesik!” Bactra raised his voice higher.

“Bactra? Bactra, get out of here!”

The elven wizard swung his head in the direction of the voice that had said his name. He saw Garth backing up a good 10 feet away, near the center of the avenue. Then he saw the ogre brute pacing Garth. The beast man’s eyes searched the avenue for any signs of additional enemies. He didn’t spot Bactra.

“A nice bluff, human. But all of you companions are dead or soon will be.” The beast man laughed.

Garth continued to back away from the ogre, which Bactra found confusing. Then he noticed that Garth didn’t have his sword only holding a dagger in one hand. The ogre would make short work of him without a larger weapon.

Bactra tested his quarterstaff to make sure it was sound enough for combat. He knew he wouldn’t stand a chance against the ogre but if he could get the weapon to Garth then the ranger would stand a better chance than with his dagger.

“Garth, my quarterstaff.” Bactra hobbled forward on one leg and tossed the staff towards the Justiciar. “Catch.”

“Thanks nephew,” Garth adjusted his footing, sheathed his dagger, and caught the staff one handed. “Now, help Thessa and watch your back.”

Bactra quickly moved away from Garth and the ogre brute, back towards Thessa. He checked the small gnome priestess for wounds and anything that would help heal her. A huge welt had formed on her forehead and her arm and chest bore several puncture wounds. Bactra tore strips of cloth off of the arms of his shirt to use as makeshift bandages. The thick fabric strips were soon sodden in the gnome priestess’s blood.

“Hang on, Thessa.” Bactra looked for any sign of the gnome priestess’s backpack. “Please Rillifane, let it be here somewhere. Thessa and Mesik’s lives depend on it.”

* * *

“Come on, come on!” Dabuk tried in vain to reach the oversized dagger, which laid just out the reach of his fingertips between several large chucks of fallen stone. “Damn it to Hades’ Underrealm.”

Dabuk turned to see the ogre struggling to get to its feet. Both of its wounded knees gushed blood and the beast man fell over again. The ogre howled, more in frustration than in rage. It reached for several small-sized skulls hanging from its belt, pulling two off and crushing one of them over each knee. Dabuk watched in frustration as the ogre’s knees began to knit together and the beast man stood up laughing.

“Piss on my poor luck,” Dabuk discarded the idea of trying to get at the ogre’s dagger, as he drew his own dagger.

He knew his sword was out there somewhere and he had to find it, fast. He climbed over the rubble away from the ogre just as it brought its fists down where he had been standing. The ogre pushed away the rubble and retrieved its dagger, tossing it in one motion at Dabuk’s back. The weapon easily penetrated the half-elf’s armor, skin, and ribs.

Dabuk screamed lurching forward onto his hands and knees, dropping his dagger. He tried to breathe in and coughed up phlegm and blood instead. All he could think was that this was how he was meant to die. Fighting those that killed his mother and destroyed his family. But he would take the beast’s family line with him. He could hear the ogre charging him, its footfalls pounding the ground. Dabuk reached around and pulled the ogre’s dagger from his body.

More blood poured from the wound, as well as trickled out of his mouth. Adrenaline pushed the ranger to his feet and allowed him to turn and meet the ogre’s charge. He brought the weapon up, ducked down as the beast man swung its fists, and then jumped up and thrust the weapon into the creature’s groin. The ogre howled in surprise and pain, as it slammed into Dabuk at full charge.

“T-try healing t-this!” Dabuk twisted the blade, severing the ogre’s member. “Y-you will n-never add to y-your kind!”

The ogre howled again, clutching at its ruined groin. Dabuk tried to roll out of the way but the beast man’s legs knocked him prone, as it trampled over him falling towards the ground in agony. Dabuk pulled his body away just before the ogre fell on him.

* * *
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