"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part One)

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #23 (part II)

Ethiel motioned for the party to sit at the table, and clearing his throat softly he began, “At first we thought she might try to make her way directly to the Plutonic Realms, but our scrying has found that she has not penetrated the seal of our doorway there. Actually, it makes sense. The Plutonic Realms would be a treacherous place even for her, without the proper provisions or guide.”

Ethiel paused.

“We have found that she has gone into the Honeycombe instead. I’m sure you know what this is,” Ethiel said.

The companions looked at each other quizzically. “Um, no. No, we do not,” said Martin the Green.

“The Honeycombe is the name of the many caves beneath the town of Ogre’s Bluff. The bluff itself is pocked-marked with cave entrances that create a huge labyrinth that is miles deep,” Ethiel explained. “One of the portals below leads to the Honeycombe, and she most definitely went that way. Richard the Red may have gone that way as well, but for some reason we find scrying on him to be very difficult if not impossible. The drow witch in this half-elven girl’s body is most likely trying to get out the other side of the tunnels and supply herself for her journey. Of course, she may have to deal with some of the ogres still left in those caves.“

“Why didn’t she flee overland?” Kazrack asked.

“She probably did not want to risk us stopping her,” said Jana, answer the question for Ethiel. “She probably thought going through the caves would slow down pursuit.”

“So, if you are willing to go after her, we can show you the way to the Honeycombe from our own chambers, as that is the way we recommend you go, but perhaps you might prefer trying to beat her to town overland and catching her on the other end,” Ethiel said.

“But aren’t there a lot of caves on the other end?” Ratchis asked.

“Yes,” replied Eithiel.

“Then it seems we have no choice but to follow through the ogres caves, if we have no way of knowing at which of these caves she will emerge,” Kazrack said, and he turned to Ratchis. “Do you think you can track her once we get down there?”

“I can try,” replied Ratchis.

“We have already found a track down the stairway to the Honeycombe, we can point it out to you to help you on your way,” Ethiel said. “Normally, our leader would send a detachment of our warriors down, but we are small in number, the high priest, as you would call him, and many of the others left for the King Ienegred Magnolius’ wedding in Tempestas. (73) It seems the Watch-Mage knew this and caught us with our guard down.”

“I am concerned for the gnomes,” said Kazrack, suddenly. “I am just afraid that that our delay here will further endanger them.”

“Yes,” agreed Martin.

“Well, from what you have told us about the creature Mozek, he is passing as a gnome and seems more than happy to simply rule the gnomes for now, and not destroy them. We may be biased in this matter, though we wish to see no harm come to the Garvan gnomes, I think this matter is a more immediate danger,” said Ethiel.

“I have some questions regarding the drow witch,” Jana asked. “What do you want us to do with her? Bring her back, or… deal with the problem?”

Ethiel paused and sighed.

“Understand that the girl, Rahasia, is all but dead. Her spirit is trapped in that stone, and it is beyond our knowledge to reverse the process,” he explained. “Unless of course, we can get Karellena to willingly return her own spirit into the stone and free the girl.”

“There is no ceremony or spell that can reverse it?” Kazrack asked, incredulously. “If there is a way to do it there has to be a way to undo it.”

“Perhaps,” said Ethiel, softly. “We do not want to get our hopes up, however, but I will have one of our scholars look into the possibilities of reversing the girl’s misfortune…”

“However,” said Tirhas tersely, interrupting. “Understand, that my first priority is stopping this drow witch, and if that means I have to kill her if no means of capturing her and returning her here rendered harmless, I will.”

The companions looked to the elven maid, her face betrayed a raw hatred that the party had never seen here her face before.

“When you call her a drow witch,” Jana asked. “What exactly do you mean?”

“She and her sisters violate the pact made by the elves long ago. She uses forbidden magics,” Ethiel explained.

Martin the Green shot a look at Jana, who sneered at him.

“What magics are those?” Kazrack asked, as the same moment Jana asked, “Is it likely she will be at her full power?”

“We really cannot be too sure,” replied Ethiel. “Oh, yes, I almost forgot. In connection to Karellena and the tokens we guard, one of them is missing. According to the catalogues it is in the form of a hatchet and bound to it is a handmaiden of the goddess Teneraél Undol.”

“Um, who is Teneraél Undol?” Martin asked.

“She is the spider goddess of the dark elves,” Ethiel said.

“I think it is clear that we cannot let her get too far or get back to her people,” said Ratchis.

“There is one last thing we must tell you,” said Ethiel gravely. “This is something we have discussed among ourselves and have decided that we must tell you, despite the fact that it is a great secret shame of the elven people and are loath to share it with mort…, I mean, non-elves.”

He paused, and looked to the elves on either side of him.

“I know you have heard of the dark elves, what we call in our tongue, the Novilustani, but no you this, any elf can be what you call a drow, and that we have no name for that we share with non-elves. Yes, the Novilustani were the original children of Teneraél Undol, but not all were evil – but most of those that did not turn to dark ways as their goddess did were slaughtered. But there were also among the elves of the other sub-races, who gave their will and promise to the spider queen. They too fled to the dark places in the world. They too have the power of a drow. (74) The elven people have kept this secret from the other races for thousands of years, though there have been a few who have found out. The drow have been gone for so long that we allowed the stories of the coal-skinned elves being evil – and it is not far from the truth in that so many of those who would not betray the Ara-Cemnari (75) were killed, that any you would find today are just that, evil. Be wary of who and what you meet below. Though we have no reason to believe our fallen kin are in the Honeycombe, it is best to cautious.”

“Well, if there are any more questions let us know,” Ethiel said. “I leave you to your preparations. I assume you will be using the urn this afternoon?”

“Yes,” said Ratchis, with confidence.

“I don’t know,” said Kazrack.

“Let us go discuss it,” said Martin.

The companions rose to return to their rooms, and Ratchis turned to Ethiel, “If you have patrols in the woods please look out for a dog, he was scared off by Janx. I don’t think it can fend for itself.”

“We look after all of nature’s creatures,” replied Finarfin. “If we see him we will see about bringing him to you.”

The party took their newly granted gifts with them, and Ratchis took up the urn, and they gathered upstairs in the room he was sharing with Kazrack. There they discussed the implications of using the Urn of Osiris to return Jeremy to life.

“I think you need to have faith that a human god would not ask a dwarf to make a pledge that would violate his faith,” Ratchis said to Kazrack,

“I have no way of knowing that,” Kazrac ksaid, shaking his head.

“That is why it is called faith,” said Ratchis. “Obviously, we were meant to be on this path together.”

“I wish Beorth were here,” said Kazrack.

“Anubis is the son of Osiris, as is Nephthys…”

“I actually I was wishing Beorth were here for the wisdom that is his own, not his god’s,” the dwarf, clarified.

“Well, time is of the essence,” said Ratchis, looking to the others “What will it be?”

“I will do it,” said Martin, gravely.

“As will I,” said Jana, her face betraying no emotion.

Kazrack paused, “I too will do it, for do not our dwarven fathers teach us that loyalty and faithfulness to our friends and comrades in arms are one of the highest virtues?”

Ratchis let out a long breath, worried that the dwarf’s stubbornness would keep Jeremy from his chance to breathe the air of this world again.

-----

Jana, Ratchis, Martin and Kazrack gathered outside just out of view of the elven enclave, in a circle of small trees that they cleared of snow. The lay Jeremy’s wrapped body in the circle, even though it did not need be present for the urn to work according to what the elves had said.

“I think Ratchis should perform as much of the ceremony as possible,” suggested Martin. “Nephthys is the daughter of Osiris.”

“So is Set, from what I understand, so I do not put too much stock in those relationships,” said the dwarf, revealing that he knew something of human theology.

“Anyway, the elves said what there is to do we must all do,” Ratchis said. “Kazrack, place in the urn in the center and we’ll all sit around it.”

The dwarf moved the urn over to the middle of the circle, and inside he saw what looked like some earth and some broken twigs and collected moss. HE turned it over and started to dump out what was within.

“Wait!” Martin ran over, and lifted the urn. “Osiris is a god of the earth, perhaps we should keep that in there.”

“If he comes back with twigs coming out of his head, don’t blame me,” Kazrack said, rolling his eyes.

Ratchis walked over and took the urn and emptied it, “The directions said nothing about anything in the urn except Jeremy’s blood. Jana, would you mind helping me collect some?”

Jana and Ratchis drained bowl full of blood and poured it into the urn, and then the four companions sat around the urn and held hands.

“Now all we need do is speak the words and wait and see what happens,” said Ratchis.

The four looked at each other, and then opened their mouths, speaking the following in unison, “That which has been broken shall be remade, that which has begun the final journey shall turn back, in return for this I will fulfill what need Osiris has of me..”

This was silence.

Even the wind stopped, as did the sound of birds, and the dripping of melting snow tumbling from the leaves and needles of the trees around them.

Kazrack opened his mouth to speak, and Ratchis turned his head to shoot him a glare, but neither was able to complete his action. All four of them felt an incredible tension building in their bodies, as all muscle control left them replace with contraction that held them painfully in place. They could feel it move up their bodies, up their legs, in their bowels, down their arms, and finally up their necks, until they held their mouths open in silent cries of fear. They could feel the hairs on the backs of their necks rise, and suddenly the wind had returned, blowing with an increased ferocity and growing sound that seemed to match the growing tension of their bodies. The wind seemed to be crying aloud for them, and the sun seemed shadowed over for a moment.

And then it happened, the four of them began to speak in a voice that was not their own. They each said a different thing, but all at once, so all they could understand was what the alien voice said through their own person. And they knew that these were the tasks that they must do in return for Jeremy’s life. The description of their assigned tasks were different lengths, so first Ratchis stopped, and then Martin and then Jana and finally, Kazrack. And it sounded as if all four promises ended with the same option, that resonated as the voice issuing from Kazrack spoke alone at the end, “…or forfeit my life.”

The four tasks were as follows:

Ratchis: “I will seek out the Circle of the Thorn and do one complete task for them, or forfeit my life.”

Martin: “I shall retrieve the Book of Black Circles from the Brotherhood of the Lost, cast one spell from it and then destroy it, or forfeit my life.”

Jana: “I will seek out a temple of Isis and learn of magic through her pure sources, and will take no other token and learn no other spell until I do, or forfeit my life.”

Kazrack: “I shall craft a sickle of great quality, hammering and sharpening its blade in the Glade of Hennaire, under the light of the full moon, and then present it to the Circle of the Thorn, or forfeit my life.”


And then it was gone. The four companions gasped and Martin and Ratchis slumped forward, Kazrack and Jana caught themselves before they did as well. The wind and sounds had returned to normal, and they all had the taste of earth in their mouths. Kazrack leapt up awkwardly and hurried over to Jeremy.

The dwarf uncovered the young Neergaardian’s face. Jeremy’s chest heaved and he coughed; his eyes fluttered. The body had no marks on it, and even the cut on his wrist where they had taken the blood was gone.

“I’m sorry that mine is the first visage you look upon, but I’m sure you’re glad to be back,” the dwarf said to the newly re-born warrior.

“Am I finally there?” Jeremy croaked, and tried to sit up, but swooned. He felt as if his body had long been asleep, with pins and needles in his limbs, and a dry mouth.

“You haven’t gone anywhere, except outside the elvish temple we were in,” the dwarf said.

Jeremy coughed again, “I was on a road, where…”

Kazrack placed a soothing palm on Jeremy’s forehead, “You have been called from that road, you are not to travel it yet.”

“I was on my way to a city,” Jeremy said, confusedly. “Where are we?”

“We are in Derome-Delem,” replied Kazrack.

“I was walking to a city, and there were other people on the road, but I could not turn my head to see them. I could only see them ahead of me as they passed me or I passed them,” Jeremy said. “Malcolm!”

“Malcolm was there?” Kazrack asked.

“No, uh… yes, he was at the city waiting for me, somehow I just knew that,” Jeremy said. “Oh, I am so tired.”

Martin walked over, “We should probably get him inside.”

Kazrack nodded, and he and Ratchis helped carry him back into Aze Nuquerna.

“I can walk,” Jeremy croaked.

“Just lie still,” said Jana.

Martin walked over to the urn and picked it up. The pictograms and runes on its surface were gone. It was perfectly smoothed and unmarked.

“I don’t think we’ll be using this again,” Martin noted, pointing to the urn.

“We’ll ask the elves when we get Jeremy to bed,” Kazrack said.

-----------

”How do you feel?” Kazrack said to Jeremy, as he laid him on a bunk in one of the rooms they had been assigned. “I mean, aside from tired.”

“Warmer,” Jeremy said in a dreamy voice. “Things smell funny, different here.”

“You should rest. We’ll be back,” said the dwarf.

“No! I can’t sleep!” Jeremy tried to sit up again. “Is this a dream?”

Kazrack punched Jeremy in the shoulder, knocking him back on to the mat. “Does this feel like a dream?” And if this were a dream would the firs face you saw be mine?”

Jeremy rubbed his shoulder, “Okay, I’ll sleep.”

--------------

Back in Jana’s room Ratchis asked, “So, what was everyone tasked with?”

He looked to Jana, but Martin answered. “I have to destroy something called the Book of Black Circles, but before that I have to cast a spell from it.”

“Do you know anything about it?” Kazrack asked.

“I have heard some rumor in my time at the Academy,” Martin replied. “It is a dark book with a dark history.” (76)

“Well, destroying the book I can understand, but casting a spell from it?” Kazrack mused.

“I can only trust that it is for a good cause,” Martin said. “How about the rest of you?”

“I have to forge a sickle at a particular time in a particular place for something or someone called the Circle of Thorn,” said Kazrack.

“I have to do a task for the Circle of the Thorn as well, but mine is undefined,” said Ratchis.

Everyone looked to Jana, she sighed and spoke, hesitantly, as usual. “ I am to make a commitment to… purify my ways, and that is all I will say about that.”

Ratchis harrumphed.

“Well, does anyone feel any different?” Ratchis asked.

“Yes,” replied Kazrack. “I feel what can only be described as an urge to accomplish this task soon. It is not an overwhelming feeling, but it is there and undeniable.”

“Yes, me too,” said Ratchis.

“Well, I don’t feel any different,” said Martin.

“Neither do I,” added Jana.

“Well, I’m sure Osiris must see some urgency in your transformation, or purification or whatever,” said Ratchis.

“Not Osiris, but Isis,” said Jana softly.

“Well, good,” said Martin with a grin. “Isis will be a good influence on you.” (77)

“ I, for one, knew you would say that,” said Jana with a frown.

“What remains to be seen is if we will feel obligated to do these tasks before we take care of the problem with the gnomes. We may be delayed even further,” said Ratchis.

“I think we should send a message to the gnomes that their chieftain is dead and that they need to accept their interim chief or pick a new one,” said Kazack.

“We don’t even know that the gnome we saw in the dungeons here was the chief,” said Martin.

“And we can never be sure that message arrived properly or if it might put the gnomes in even more danger, or let Mozek think he can put whatever nefarious plans he might have into action,” said Ratchis. “We should take care of the tasks before we help the gnomes so that we may do so unfettered, and in hopes of gaining some means of defeating Mozek in the meantime.”

“I say we take care of the gnomes first, and then take care of the tasks,” said Kazrack.

“I get the feeling that if we do not take care of these oaths, we will die,” said Martin, nervously.

“And?” said Kazrack, casually. “I was willing to give up my life to help the gnomes before, and that hasn’t changed. If it is the power of Osiris or the hands of Mozek that does it makes little difference.”

“And if we deliver ourselves into the hands of Mozek and his brothers there is no hope for the gnomes at all,” said Ratchis, growing annoyed.

“We’ll decide what order to do these thing when we have taken care of the drow witch, which is our most immediate obligation,” said Jana, failing to hide her disgust for her companions.

------

In the darkness of his room Jeremy awoke with a start. There was someone standing over him.

“It is only I, Tirhas. Do not be alarmed,” the elven maiden said.

“It’s…you,” Jeremy managed. The weight of his limbs was lessened, but he still felt a fatigue draped on him like a funeral shroud.

“It’s good to see you…back,” said Tirhas softly. She kept her hands behind her back, and rocked slightly on the balls of her feet.

“Am I really back, then?” Jeremy asked, sitting up achingly.

“You comrades have given a great deal for you to return from the other side,” Tirhas said.

“Given?”

“They used something called ‘the Urn of Osiris’ to call you back from Anubis’ Realm. In return each one of them had to promise to accomplish some task for Osiris, or give their own life trying,” said Tirhas.

“How… how they’d get this thing?” Jeremy rubbed his temples.

“Ethiel granted it to your companions as a gift,” the elf explained.

“Where’s Janx?” Jeremy asked, suddenly.

“Huh? Oh, I am not sure, but if he were in danger I’d know,” Tirhas said. “I am sure he will return soon.”

“How long was I gone?” Jeremy aked.

“Not even a day,” Tirhas said, and pulled her hands from behind her back. She bore an unseathed short sword, and held it out to Jeremy with two hands. “Your companions are not the only ones who received gifts. This is called The Right Blade of Arofel.” (78)

Jeremy took the sword. It was made of some material that seemed as shining as silver, but harder than steel, and immediately above the hilt were carved the elven letters: [insert gif]
“Thank you,” said Jeremy. “It’s beautiful. What does this say?”

“It translates into ‘the Dark Hand’”, Tirhas said.

“The Dark Hand? Why was it called that, because it was used by someone not that respectable?”

“No, he was a great hero, a folk hero of our people. He was a great wizard and a mighty warrior,” Tirhas said.

“And what happened to Richard the Red?” Jeremy asked, looking from the sparkling sword blade, to the shining blues eyes of delicate beauty set in the cold face of the elven maid. “The last thing I remember is hurrying to see if he was okay for some reason.”

“You were ensorcelled,” replied Tirhas.

“Yeah, I remember that now,” Jeremy said, laying back down and passing the sword back to Tirhas. “It was all foggy, but talking to you makes me see things the way they truly are.”

He closed his eyes.

“Sleep now,” Tirhas said, and stroked Jeremy’s hair gently for a second before leaving the room.

-----------

Many hours later the Jana, Ratchis, Martin and Kazrack sat in one of their cells eating the food the elves had brought to them, steam mushrooms stuffed with some kind of preserved and covered in a sauce that was sweet, yet sour.

Kazrack hated it.

The door opened and in came Jeremy with a huge smile on his face, “You are all here!”

“How are you feeling?” asked Ratchis.

“Hungry! Really hungry!” Jeremy replied and sat down and began to stuff himself with bread and cheese and mushrooms.

“Tirhas told me what you all did,” Jeremy said, looking up, his mouth full. “I don’t know what to say…”

“Say thank you,” Martin said.

“Yeah, I was gonna start there,” Jeremy said, taken aback by Martin’s comment.

“You’re welcome,” said Martin, going back to eating.

“Well, you can’t understand what this means to me,” Jeremy said, smiling again. “Everything seems different. Brighter, fresher, more real – It is just wonderful to be alive. Everything is so beautiful.”

Kazrack sighed and smiled, “I suppose we can’t expect you to come back changed. You still babble.”

“But I am changed! Everything is changed! You are all so beautiful!”

“You are making me feel uncomfortable, Jeremy,” said Kazrack.

“I don’t care!” cried Jeremy, and grabbing the dwarf by the ears planted a kiss on the dwarf’s forehead. He then ran around the table kissing each of his companions in turn.

“Um, thank you,” said Ratchis.

“So what happens now?” Jeremy asked.

The others explained about the drow witch, and how they would be descending into the Honeycombe to seek her (and possibly Richard the Red) out.

“Is that your task You know for the urn thing?” Jeremy asked.

“No, it is simply our duty,” said Kazrack.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Notes:

(73) This wedding set to occur sometime in the next elven Stellar Cycle (a period of time lasting about 1307 days), and will hopefully heal a schism between a high elf and wood elf noble house.

(74) In Aquerra “drow” is a template applied to any elf who goes evil and pledges himself to the dark elven goddess, Teneraél Undol,

(75) Ara-Cemnari is the elven name for the generation of ancestors they revere as gods. The name means “those who were sown”.

(76) Martin the Green knew from his studies that the Book of Black Circles was penned by five of the greatest and most evil necromancers in Aquerra’s history, each one learning from the last and then penning more in the evil book. The last person known to have had it was Marcosias the Corruptor, traitorous master of the Academy, slayer of the Archmage Karellen, and Master of the Void Sphere.

(77) Isis is goddess of motherhood, magic and the moon. She has influence over witchcraft and is the patron goddess of Thricia.

(78) The Right Blade of Arofel, +1 short sword, grants the "Defense of the Dancing Blades" feat when used in pair with "the Left Blade of Arofel". It is made of truesilver, called Mithral by elves.
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Author's Note:


Since this thread is getting real close to 10 pages and I want to cram as much of Book II into one thread as possible - I will be going back and deleting some of the less pertinent posts and commentary.

This does not mean I do want commentary and questions, I most certainly do. I mean more like posts that say "Ditto", or similar notions. :D
 

madriel

First Post
Very cool, nemmerle. I like the twist of setting all four members of the party to individual quests in payment for Jeremy's life. Gives each player a chance in the spotlight and emphasizes just how rare and serious a resurrection is.

I'm also glad you brought Jeremy back. Like you said, the party would be so deathly serious without him so having him around for comic relief is important.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Hey all you OOTFP-philes out there!

Didn't know you were called an "OOTFP-phile"?

Well, you are. :D

Anyway, Brian who places the erstwhile Beorth in the campaign has begun his own little project trying to figure the whole thing out.

He has started a thread called A Campaign Dissected. . . - so, just hop over there and see what he has to say. . .

But. . . WARNING: It contains MAJOR spoilers for this story hour as I am still four and a half sessions behind the current game. BE WARNED!
 
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Metus

First Post
nemmerle said:
It contains MAJOR spoilers for this story hour as I am still four and a half sessions behind the current game.

Shame on you Nemm, shame on you! You should get cracking so as to catch up with the current adventure! Really though, one thing I do appreciate is the constant influx of updates. That's one of the reasons I like this story hour so much.

I'm gonna sound like a bastard in regards to this, but I really didn't mind that Jeremy died. I can't say I like him a lot, as he's too naive and simple-minded. Granted, this is all due to the wonderful role-playing efforts of his player, but I still don't like the character.

One thing I find kind of unfortunate is that the players don't post here (too often), and it seems like they did a lot more before. It's cool that Martin and Kazrack post, but what happened to Ratchis? His input would be nice, not to mention his story hour.
 

Horacio

LostInBrittany
Supporter
Metus said:

One thing I find kind of unfortunate is that the players don't post here (too often), and it seems like they did a lot more before. It's cool that Martin and Kazrack post, but what happened to Ratchis? His input would be nice, not to mention his story hour.

Me too, I would love to see players point of view. IMHO, the story is quite different seen from the PCs perspective, and I'd love to watch OOTFP from another angle...
 

Ciaran

First Post
Metus said:
One thing I find kind of unfortunate is that the players don't post here (too often), and it seems like they did a lot more before. It's cool that Martin and Kazrack post, but what happened to Ratchis? His input would be nice, not to mention his story hour.

I suspect that the reason many of our players don't post regarding the game is that we already spend a lot of time discussing the game elsewhere: over lunch, via email, etc. Plus, some of us have limited access to the boards while at work, which is when we'd normally be spending the most time posting. :) This is particularly true of Ratchis' player. So if you want to see him post more, you'll need to put some effort into coaxing him. Discussions of his character background are likely to be very helpful in this regard...

- Eric
 
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KidCthulhu

First Post
Actually, I kind of think this thread is detailed enough already. All the character dialogue gives me a pretty good idea of what the characters are thinking. If too many of the players chime in, you run the risk of becoming PirateCat's thread, with 5-6 players treating the boards like their private email list.

Oh, wait. People in glass houses. It's true that I can't resist replying to my fellow players on the boards. I find it entertaining. But I'm not sure how much fun it is for the rest of the world to read our inside jokes.

Nem, your story is beautifully focused and rich, just as it is.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #23 (part III)

Osilem, 3rd of Dek – 564 H.E.

The next morning, after breakfast the party gathered in the Chamber of the Three (79). From there, Ethiel, accompanied by two other elves and Tirhas Tesfay, he led them down to the lower garbage room.

The fetid smell made Martin wince, and Jeremy looked at the spot where his life had ended and shuddered.

“Are you sure that monster is gone?” he asked.

“The creature was raised by us. It would not attack elves, or those with elves, but we are fairly certain it was slain, though it has disappeared for days at a time before,” Ethiel explained. “It grieved us that Richard’s treachery led our own beast into complicity.”


They went down one of the marble corridors leading away from the stinking garbage, and to a large stone door carved with elven sigils. Above the archway were the elvish runes:

Ethiel stepped up raised a hand before the door and spoke a hushed word. There was the gentle yawn of the change of air pressure as the door jerked ajar of its own accord.

“Beyond is Culadin e sila Avelsoliel,” he said turning to the party. “It means ‘stairway to the honeycomb’. You will follow it down to a huge chamber”. With two obvious exits to your left, take the one more directly across from the base of the stairs. It will lead into the Honeycombe, from there you are on your own. There are probably no more than a score ogres left down there, but that is enough.”

One of the other elves handed the party packages of food to pass among themselves, and the other gave them two coils of elven rope (80) and a lantern.

“Good luck,” said Ethiel. “Once you pass through the door, we must seal it against intrusion, so you will have to make your way to the other side below the human town. And while you seek your quarry we shall search our tomes and papers in our library for references to this ‘Circle of the Thorn’ and the ‘Brotherhood of the Lost’ as you asked.”

“Um, Ethiel,” Jana suddenly said. “You never said what Karellena’s powers are like.”

“Well, it is hard to know for certain. She can call on any number of fiendish beasts, and beguile,” Ethiel said. “Also, we do not know if she will be able to use the powers exhibited by all drow in her current body, but it is possible.”

“Drow powers?” Martin asked.

“Yes, the standard abilities of the Novilustani. The ability to levitate, cast globes of darkness, that kind of thing.”

“Oh, nice to know,” said Martin.

The elf that had handed them the ropes showed Ratchis the sign of the witch’s passage at the threshold.
“That is the mark you must look for when you come to the chamber below,” he said to the half-orc.

Ratchis nodded. The rest of party cross the threshold to join the woodsman, and Tirhas came with them.

“I shall accompany you,” she said. “Though if I must choose between catching the drow and letting Richard go, I will choose the former.”

Martin raised the lantern as the door closed behind them and they began the long walk down the narrow corridor, which was made of seemingly endless steps, that were of uneven length and height. It was a wearying and oppressive journey in the dark, ever downward. Ratchis took point, making his way down as quietly as he could sixty feet in front of the party, while the others tarried to give him room.

The descent was tedious. For what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time the chaotic staircase crawled down spiraling in long loops in one direction and then in another. At times it was as broad as forty feet and at others barely three feet wide.

And just when they felt that they could take it no longer (except Kazrack who wondered at the fact that each stone had been purposefully made asymmetrical with the rest with a bizarrely masterful craftsmanship), the steps descended into a much larger chamber. The ceiling fell away into the darkness, as did the floors and walls around them, until the humans could not even see the floor forty feet below them.

Twenty feet below them , on a particularly long step something glittered, and there was the shadow of a lump or something partially blocking the way.

Kazrack’s eyes opened broadly, and Ratchis whispered, “treasure” and then “hold on!”

He crept forward and peered around, looking above and below to each side and finally up to the large stone that had been placed on the step. Ratchis motioned and the other crept forward.

Upon the step was a large stone about three feet across and two feet high. It was rough and unpolished. Heaped upon it were more coins than any of them had ever seen gathered in one place before. There were stacks of silver coins and dwarven obleks (81), and the bright glint of gold in several places, all on a bed of bright copper holding many gems littered about the surface.

However, the pile was also marred with the stumps of many burned out candles upon a collection of bones and skulls and rags, and ripped up canvas bags. Most of the skulls were of humans, but two were abnormally large and oblong with a ridge in the brow.

“Ogres,” Tirhas said, quietly.

“Treasure!” Jeremy said, less quietly, stepping forward.

“Stop!” Kazrack cried, his dwarven reflexes kicking in. “It could be trapped!”

“Or cursed,” said Jana.

Jeremy looked back and forth between the two of them.

“Are you saying we are just going to let this treasure sit here and keep going?” Jeremy’s voice echoed with exasperation.

“Keep it down! Voices carry,” said Ratchis.

“No, I plan to check it,” said Kazrack. He removed his pouch of runestones from around his neck, and retrieved one. It came ready to his hand, even though it was a particular stone that he was looking for, as if it knew to be on top. He place it on his palm, and chanted softly under his breath, is head down. He then looked at the stone and the treasure.

“It is not magical,” he said with confidence.

“Good!” Jeremy leapt forward, but Ratchis put a thick arm before the Neergaardian. It could still be trapped.

“And it may not detect as magical and still be cursed,” added Martin, the emerald of his new ring shining in the lantern light as he rubbed his arms across his body to stay warm in the damp cavern. “I can’t wait for the day I can take a bath. A hot bath.”

“So, we are leaving it,” Jeremy said. He looked at the others and sighed, and then suddenly fell to all floors and crawled right up to the side of the stone. He peered at it closely, but kept his hands and body away.

“What are you doing?” Kazrack asked.

“Looking for traps,” said Jeremy. “I don’t see any.” He stood.

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t one,” said Ratchis.

“Oh, it most assuredly means there is!” said Jeremy with confidence. “Let’s go.”

They continued down the stairs. Ratchis took the lead, followed by Kazrack, and then Jana and Martin, followed by Jeremy and Tirhas.

Finally, they were on the floor of the huge cavern. The floor below them was moist and soft dirt, littered with sharp stones. The ceiling of stalactites was shrouded in darkness even to the dwarf and the half-orc, and they walked along, Ratchis keeping an eye peeled for the exits Ethiel had told them about.

Ahead of them to the right was a shimmering column of stone made of where a huge stalactite and stalagmite had met about twenty feet off the ground. Moisture beaded on its surface, glimmering in the lantern light.

“This is amazingly beautiful,” Kazrack said softly. “I have not seen caverns like these since my early childhood.”

“The exits from this cavern should be that way,” said Ratchis, pointing to the left. “I can feel colder air from that direction.”

The near-silence of their walk across the huge chamber was shattered by a scream from Tirhas behind them.

Jeremy was the quickest to react. He spun around. “Mother of Filth!” he cried, as he saw Tirhas struggling to free herself from a huge spider, nearly five feet in diameter, hanging above her by a thick shining web. The spider’s venom rolled thickly down her shoulder and arm.

Kazrack was at her side quickly, but not quicker than Ratchis had turned and fired his crossbow (already loaded) into the spider’s flank. There was a nasty popping sound as ichor burst from the wound. Kazrack’s halberd drew more ichor and a screech from the spider, as Martin attempted his new spell sleep (learned the day before from one of the elves), but the vermin resisted.

It plopped down on the soft ground, it’s front feelers wide open, looming taller than Kazrack’s head, and it came down on the dwarf and he felt its hot venom coursing through his veins. He almost immediately felt his muscles weaken and he groaned, the spider’s teeth pulling big chunks of flesh free from his shoulder.

Jeremy’s new sword was in his left hand and stabbed the spider right above the head and it screeched again, letting go of Kazrack and began to turn.

“Foul servant of Teneraél Undol!” Tirhas cried and shoved her blade right into the spider’s face, all the way to the hilt. The creature shuddered and popped, and then its legs wobbled and it collapsed.

Kazrack rubbed his poisoned wound and winced from the pain.

“Quick, Ratchis try to clean out his wound while I help Tirhas,” said Jana, pulling out her oft-used healer’s kit.

The venom moved through their bodies, moving to their hearts. Kazrack felt a tightening in his chest and a shortness of breath, as the strength was drained from his body. Ratchis had not been fast enough, but Tirhas was able to further resist the poison thanks to Jana’s help.

“Ugh, I feel awful,” Kazrack moaned. “I don’t know if I can take up the front ranks anymore. I’d be more of a liability than an asset.”

“Well, we have no choice but to move on,” Ratchis said. “I will carry your pack. You’ll do the best you can and we’ll just hope it is enough.”

“Well, even though I am weakened, I want the two of you remaining behind me so you can be safer in case of attack,” Kazrack said to Martin and Jana.

“We may need line of sight to cast our spells,” noted Jana.

“Don’t worry, I think we can see over him,” Martin commented dryly.

Kazrack frowned. Jeremy laughed.

The party kept moving, Kazrack having noticed a bunch of webs up near the ceiling between the glimmering pillar and the ceiling and probably the rear wall which was obscured by darkness. Ratchis took a few minutes searching the two passages out he had been told about, and found signs that the small boot print, still bearing some rotting trash from the garbage room went down the natural corridor that supposedly was the more direct way to the Honeycombe.

The passageway was long and narrow, going down for a long time with a very mind slope. Ratchis stopped occasionally to make sure the track he had found continued this way, but there was nowhere else for it go. There were no other branches, only occasional alcoves in the stone walls that were not level with the slope, creating perfect little ambush spots for one or two medium-sized creatures. But no ambushes came.

Eventually, they came to fork in the path. The passageway opened up into a small oval area that branched in three directions. Immediately before them the path continued at the same level. On the right went downward, but on the left it went up sharply.

Ratchis motioned for the others to stand back and spent fifteen minutes looking around.

“There are two kinds of tracks here,” he finally said. “I almost missed the witch’s because there are a bunch of prints like a two-legged animal with a padded and clawed foot. The witch’s track goes down the center passageway and then back to the right. The creature’s footprints are everywhere, but it looks like the most recent set went to the right as well, but after the witch did.”

“Perhaps she turned into the creature,’ Kazrack mused.

“There are several of them, so unless she can turn herself into a pack of creatures…” Ratchis let his voice trail off.

“I guess we go right then,” said Tirhas.

The passage to the right curved to the left again after only about twenty feet, and then opened into a tall oblong room. It was about forty-five to fifty feet long, and its floor was sunken about three feet below the floor the passageway the party followed. There was another shimmering column near the other end of the room, to the right, and a darkened alcove four feet above the floor to the left.

“Wait here, I’ll check it out,” Ratchis whispered to the others and snuck forward. Kazrack dropped down the cavern floor, covering him with the heavy crossbow the half-orc had handed to him before he left.

Ratchis kept to the right, but came around the column from the left, looking to peer into the darkness of the passage that led out the other side of the cavern, and suddenly there was a heavy weight upon him and intense pain.

Kazrack was the only one who could see clearly as the lantern light did not reach that far, but a creature leapt down from behind the column, where it had been clinging to it. It slammed Ratchis in the head with a misshapen club, knocking the half-orc off his feet.

There was a roar and another of the creatures appeared in the dark alcove.

They had shaggy fur all over their bodies. It was gray and brown in uneven splotches, and the smell of dung emanated from them. They had bear-like faces, and broad shoulders, and long canines that dripped saliva. They hooted wildly.

The first creature tried to slam Ratchis again while he was on the ground, but the half-orc rolled out of the way deftly avoiding the blow and letting his pack slide off his shoulders.

Jana came forward and with a word and a flick of her wrist the now familiar ray of sickly green emerged from her finger and struck the creature standing over Ratchis, but to no avail.

Kazrack fired a bolt at the second creature, knocking it down and back into the darkness of the alcove.

Tirhas leapt down into the cavern, and facing the alcove waited, while Martin waited for a clear sign of what to do.

Jeremy hurried to Ratchis side and drew rank blood and bile from a deep blow in the creature’s flank. Covered by Jeremy’s aid, Ratchis leapt to his feet and slammed his war hammer into the creature’s ribs. It bellowed in pain and dropped unconscious and bleeding to the ground.

The creature in the alcove stood and came back into view, only to be met by a ray of silver frost that struck him from Tirhas’ finger. It roared and threw its club at Ratchis, who was closest, and the half-orc grunted and blood now poured from his temple.

By this time, Jana had loaded her crossbow and fired at the second creature. The bolt seemed to strike more fur than flesh. Kazrack was busy re-loading the heavy crossbow, while Jeremy waited by Tirhas ready to strike if the second creature came down out of the nook in the stone wall.

Ratchis, however, despite being gravely wounded cried out in anger and charged at the creature leaping up to the platform, but it side-stepped and easily avoided the telegraphed blow.

“What the hell does Ratchis think he is doing?” Jeremy said aloud, as he readied to leap after Ratchis, but suddenly, from the darkness of the passage beyond the cavern came the hooting another of the creatures charging at him from his right.

However, Jeremy was prepared and slammed his sword against the creature’s chest. The flat of the blade struck and it drew little blood, but it was enough to knock the creature down. However, it deftly arched its back and flicked its body back to a standing position.

Martin moved up behind Jeremy and cast his daze spell on the newly arrived creature, but to no avail.

Tirhas drew her sword and drew more blood from the smelly hairy thing. She wore a look of determination and hatred on her face.

The hooting of the creature facing Ratchis became an incessant babbling as more drool poured from its mouth and it puffed up, its muscles swelling with increased strength. No longer having a club, it revealed that these things were much more dangerous while weaponless. He grabbed at Ratchis with two powerful claws, drawing more of the fading half-orc’s blood, but failing to strike with his bite.

Ratchis staggered, barely conscious.

Jana fired at the enraged creature, but missed. Kazrack, however, found his mark and his crossbow bilt lodged itself in the thing’s thigh. This gave Ratchis the chance to step away from it and call to Nephthys for her healing energies.

Jeremy drove his enchanted blade deep into the creature that attacked him before it could swing its weapon again. It shuddered and fell back down, dying.

Martin attempted to daze the creature in the alcove as it turned away from Ratchis and looked to Jeremy and Tirhas but again, his spell failed to affect it. The creature leapt at Tirhas and met her waiting blade, and fell dead.

Now that they were lying still, they could see that these creature’s had white fur which they seemed to have darkened with dirt and dung.

Kazrack moved to Ratchis and called down the power of the dwarven gods to heal his companion some, while Tirhas went from creature to creature sinking her sword into their necks and finishing their lives.

“Quaggoths,” she said, with disgust.

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Notes:

(79) The Chamber of the Three is the name of the chamber in Aze Nuquerna where the three stone obelisks which held the spirits of the drow witches reside.

(80) This is the equivalent of silk rope, a very rare commodity in Aquerra.

(81) “Obleks” are common dwarven money that come in copper, silver and gold denominations. They are round pellets partially flattened on one and stamped with a dwarven rune.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Nemm:

Great story hour as always. The dilema the party is in (ie,what to do first) is quite a pickle... It seems to me that the two "mages" are having a hard time being effective lately, and I wonder why.

Kid Chutulu: they are highly entertaining the great majority of the time! don't stop!

Ancalagon
 
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Horacio

LostInBrittany
Supporter
Great update, as always Nemmerle.

Yes, I agree, the two magic users seem a bit useless in the lasts chapters... The whole party is suffering a lot from every encounter. But they win, and their victories are more valuable because of the blood spent to rech them :)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #23 (part IV)

“Quaggoths?” asked Ratchis.

“These are quaggoths,” Tirhas said. “They are the willing slaves of drow.”

“What are they doing here?” Kazrack asked. “I thought this place was supposed to be inhabited by ogres.”

“I do not know,” replied Tirhas.

From beyond the cavern they were now in they all heard a strange cry interrupted by a snarl. Maritn shivered.

‘Perhaps Rahasia summoned them,” Kazrack mused.

“From what I know of summoning magics she would have to be close by to have done that,” Martin the Green said.

“And these are the same creatures that made those tracks we found,” Ratchis said. “Could she summon them permanently.”

“I meant that she called from them,” Kazrack clarified.

“They dwell in the Plutonic Realms. It would be a long way for them to come in so short a time,” said Tirhas. “And Ethiel did not mention a passage to the Plutonic Realms from the Honeycombe.”

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t one,” said Ratchis. “Come on, let’s check out that sound in the next cavern.”

Again, Ratchis crept forward, while the others hung back. The next cavern was also sunken, its floor several feet below the last cavern, but it was also much bigger. The hulking ranger leapt down into the cavern and saw that to his left, the chamber was a series of plateaus that lead to a dark passageway in that direction. To his right, a dry channel was cut into the floor about eight to ten feet deep and running parallel with the room. It disappeared into a dark hole in the direction he had come from. There was also another out across from where the came from, but it Ratchis’ darkvision did not have the range to penetrate the darkness over there. The floor and ceiling were an obstacle course of stalactites and stalagmites.

On the floor about forty feet away, Ratchis saw the body of a large humanoid, which would have been over nine feet tall, if it still had a head, but it didn’t.

Ratchis relayed what he saw to the others and they came into the chamber. “We could easily be ambushed in here, so stay alert,” said Ratchis.

“What is that thing?” Jeremy asked pointing to the body.

“It’s an ogre, or it was anyway,” replied Ratchis. “Anyone else hear that?”

It was the sound of deep labored breathing coming from passageway to the left. The breath rattled every few seconds.

“I don’t hear anything,” said Jeremy.

“I bet it is a wounded ogre,” said Kazrack. “I think those quaggoth things and the ogres are at war or something.”

“Perhaps the quaggoths are clearing this place to claim it for the drow,” Martin suggested.

Tirhas nodded her head.

Ratchis placed a hand on Kazrack’s shoulder, “Nephthys, grant this dwarf with some portion of your divine strength so that he may do his part to the word free of the evil influence of the drow and their slaves.”

Kazrack felt the new strength course through him, but still weakened by the spider venom, he was still not as strong as he normally was.

“I am going to check out that breathing,” Ratchis said.

“We’ll come with you,” said Kazrack.

“No, just be ready for if I need your help,” said Ratchis.

“Fine, we’ll just get closer to the passage, and you can go parley with the beast,” Kazrack turned to Jeremy and Tirhas. “Can you two give me a hand up to that plateau if there is trouble? I’m not so good at climbing?”

Jeremy nodded, but Tirhas did not reply.

Ratchis hoisted himself up to the level where the passageway, and quietly moved down it. It immediately curved to the left and narrowed a great deal. Soon, Ratchis was in the dark by himself, out of sight of the rest of the party.

The breathing was louder, closer, but its source was still out of view. He moved slowly forward, and still the passageway curved, and just as it turned back at a sharp angle, he heard the deep resonating voice, still breathy emerge from beyond.

“I heard you talking,” it said. The voice was slow and steady, each syllable like the blow of a hammer of in a windy room. “I can smell you, orc-blood.”

“Can we parley?” Ratchis called in a hushed voice.

“What?” the voice said.

“Can we parley?” Ratchis asked again, as he crept forward some more. Sitting in an alcove where the corridor turned, was a huge figure. Over twelve feet tall, he was hunched over, and a huge battle axe was across his knees. He wore the fur of a gray bear over his huge chain shirt. He has pallid, almost frosted blue skin, and long white hair. The giant’s shoulders were twice as broad as Ratchis’, but where his eyes should have been, where just bloody holes, circled by crusty rust-colored discharge.

“What do you mean?” the giant asked.

“Can we just talk?” Ratchis asked.

“Yes… Don’t think that just because I cannot see does not mean I cannot kill you. You know I will,” the giant said, his head cocking trying to pin-point the half-orc’s position. “What are orcs doing in the tunnels? Are you working for the shaggy-ones?”

“No,” Ratchis replied. “I am the only half-orc here that I know of. I am here with several humans and a dwarf searching for an elven woman. We were surprised to find these shaggy things here. We thought there were ogres down here.”

“There were ogres down here. I was their chieftain until my own people turned against me,” the giant said.

“You were attacked by an ogre?” Ratchis asked.

“Yes, my own people turned against me,” the hulking form said through a ragged cough. “I decreed that we would leave the Honeycombe when shaggy-ones began to arrive an endanger us. I thought we should flee to the Scar (82), but the young among my tribe wanted to stay and fight. They punished me for what they saw as cowardice, but I saw as being pragmatic. They poked out my eyes and left me wander the caves until the shaggy ones killed me. They wanted to war with the beasts and now my people are slaughtered. The central chamber, which housed my tribe has already been taken over. It is crawling with those things.”

There was a long pause, where the only sound was the labored breathing of the giant.

“I love the sound of a crunching skull as much as the next person,” the giant continued. “But the survival of our tribe was more important, but I don’t think they could ever see that. So now all that there is left for me to do is find my way to the central chamber and die killing as many of those things as I can before I go. I hope that I should be blessed enough by the gods to kill their leader before I die.”

“Who is there leader?” Ratchis asked.

“I do not know,” answered the giant. “But they have got to have a leader they are too organized to not have one.”

“What is you name?” Ratchis asked. “I am called Ratchis.”

“My name is Silverback (83). At least, that’s what it would be in this tongue. Have you met many of these creatures I speak of?”

“Three,” replied Ratchis.

“Only three? I’ve never encountered them in groups of less than eight, or maybe six,” Silverback said.
“I have to go and tell my companions that I am safe and that you pose us no danger,” said Ratchis. “Perhaps you can lead us to this central chamber?”

“If you wish to accompany me to death in battle, by all means, it will make my hear swell that that many more of these beasts were killed by my doing,” Silverback said. He almost smiled.

Ratchis went back and told the others about the old giant.

“Will he bring us to the central chamber?” Kazrack asked. “The drow is most likely making her way there if she is not there already.”

“Yes, he will bring us, but he makes it sound like there are too many there for us to hope to deal with,” explained Ratchis. “Perhaps if we could sneak in and find her and grab her and get out… somehow…”

“I don’t know how you expect us to survive an assault on a place teeming with those quaggoth things when they have a drow witch on their side,” Martin said flustered.

“Can we trust the creature?” Tirhas asked, her face scrunched up in a look of disgust.

“I think we can,” replied Ratchis.

They decided to all climb up to the plateau and come speak with Silverback. They found him moved from his place, to the narrow corridor that ran perpendicular to the one they followed.

“I am going,” he said, his heavy breath keeping a dirge-like rhythm for his words to rest against.

“Will you lead us to the central chamber?” Ratchis asked.

“Yes, I know a secret way. I know this place better than all my people. Only I among them know this place was once a fortress for the dark race of elves, and I have found some of their tunnels,” Silverback said.

“Yes, we are looking for an elf, an elven maiden. I mentioned her before,” Ratchis asked. “have you seen her?”

“I have seen no elf,” Silverback replied. “Then again, I have not seen much of anything for these past many days. I’ve only heard the cries of my people as they are torn apart by the beasts. My only comfort is in that their last thoughts they must think of how they should have listened to me. And the young upstarts that did this to me are dead!” His voice rose up like deep operatic horn, his tense muscles spasming with anger.

The party looked at the giant ogre nervously.

“I am going now,” Silverback continued. Follow if you will, the way is long and winding, but I can bring you to a place where you may be able to observe the central chamber before you enter it and perhaps take them by surprise ere morning – when I will kill as many as I can before I am killed.”

Silverback, crouched and pointing one shoulder before the other, led the party down the narrow winding passage that slowly climbed up and up and up. For such a big creature in a small place, and for being blind, Silverback moved with great speed and confidence. His feet did not falter once. Of course, in many places where the giant must squeeze through the companions were able to pass through quite easily.

After traveling nearly an hour like this, they felt cold air rush through the narrow tunnel. Martin stopped and refilled the lantern with oil, and then they emerged at the edge of huge cliff, which was just one side of an immense underground canyon. The drop off to their left as they emerged sank into what seemed like endless and impenetrable darkness. Above them the ceiling stretched away by score of feet, but thankfully the cliff side opened up a bit right ahead, where there was a wide opening to the right, from which a bouncing light emerged.

Light?

“Listen,” Slverback said, stepping to one side to let the other out of the narrow corridor. “Do you hear that?”

From the opening ahead and to the light from whence the light emerged, there was the sound of battle and human voices mixed together with the snarls, barks and roaring hoots of quaggoths.

“Ugh! Agh! Ugh! Get back!” cried one voice, each syllable punctuating the clang of a sword blade, or the squeal in pain of one of those creatures. “Look out! There is another hairy muthalova over there!”

“Damn! There’s two on me,” called another whiny voice.

And behind it all was a voice singing very loudly and rhythmically. “Though she was such a mess, I pull off her dress and threw her in bed and kept her well fed with sausages, breadcrumbs and grapes! With sausages, breadcrumbs and grapes!” It was a catchy bawdy tune that seemed to flow well with the drumbeat of battle.

The party ran forward, but Silverback hung back not wanting to reveal himself. Ratchis reached the opening first followed by Jeremy. Martin and Jana ran past the opening, the latter taking some cover from the wall on the opposite side. Tirhas, bow in hand went to the center of the opening, while Kazrack took up the rear.

In the opening there was a group of five human men out-numbered by quaggoths. The men seemed experienced warriors, as they had spread out in a nice circle from which they could get to each other, but so they had their backs to the walls as to avoid being surrounded.

Closest to Ratchis was the singing man, he was of slight build, and had wavy light brown hair and a soft handsomeness that was emphasized by his palpable dislike of being underground and dirty, but he fought well with a long sword, slapping the two quaggoths back deftly and avoiding their blows – fighting in a brown waistcoat and breeches – no armor. (84)

Across the cavern from him, facing two quaggoths himself, was a tall and lanky man in leather armor fighting with a long sword as well, but he seemed to be struggling more, and he displayed several deep wounds in his right side and shoulder. He had dark brown curly hair, and bad skin. He had a slack-jawed look to him and he whined the whole time he was fighting, “I need some healing over here!” (85)

Beside the lanky man, was broad man of good height, dressed in splint mail and bearing a heavy mace and a shield. From the shield shone the light that illuminated the cavern, and it also bore the insignia of a scepter held in a black hand and bathed in flame. He wore a full helm with a tassel of black sticking up from the top. He fought silently against two quaggoths, slamming his mace into their ribs again and again. He was splattered with much blood. (86)

At the far end of the cavern fought the remaining two against five quaggoths. The one on the left was very short and stocky. He wore armor of cured hide dyed gray. He wielded a great sword, which he used with great efficiency. The man was almost as broad as he was tall, with black hair cut short in the front and long and stringy in the back. He had olive-skin, and a permanent grimace. Over his armor he wore a cloak of wolf fur, the head of the former animal serving as an intimidating hood. (87)

The last man was noted for his endless stream of profanity that spewed from his mouth in a cadence that went with the music, filling up the spaces between notes, syncopating the rhythm. It was a foul and degrading string of words and insults that would make a sailor squirm. He had wavy blonde hair and a thick mustache. He wore a chain shirt, and black leather breeches and tall boots. He fought with a long sword in one hand and a short sword in the other, and whirled them around with a proficiency that made Jeremy feel envious. (88)

The Neergaardian threw a dagger at one of the quaggoths attacking the bard, but the blade went wide.

The quaggoths noticed their additional adversaries and one ran Jeremy, who ducked the club as he drew his short sword. Another ripped into the bard, whose song never stopped. The squat barbarian with the great sword roared in pain, as one of the quaggoths cracked his head with a heavy blow that made him spit blood and teeth at his opponents.

The bard hit a high note as he hit the quaggoths still on him (as the other had gone after Jeremy), while Ratchis smashed the skull one by the tall lanky man of the other with his war hammer.

“Where’d you come from?” the man asked the half-orc, bewildered.

“Nephthys sent me!” Ratchis replied, setting his sights on the other quaggoths trying to relieve the tall man of his pancreas.

“Nephthys? I thought we were supposed to go to you to hide!” the man said, cryptically.

Martin the Green pulled a bit of loose wool from his cloak and with a gesture and a word, a creature of black shadow appeared before him and charged through the melee. One of the quaggoths, followed it with its eyes, but none seemed willing to leave their prey to pursue the phantasm.

The barbarian’s great sword emerged from the back of one of the quaggoths and it fell to the stone floor shuddering, while the heavily armored man cracked the skull of another – but it kept on fighting.

“I like your song,” Jeremy called to the bard, drawing blood from the creature before him. “It is good music to fight by!”

Kazrack moved to Jeremy’s side to help flank the creature the bard still struggled with.

The blonde man with two blades was a blur of action, striking again, with his long sword, feinting with his short sword and striking a second time with his long sword. One of the quaggoths before him collapsed in a pile of blood-soaked fur.

The lanky man ran from the quaggoths Ratchis was trying to help him with, dodging the opportunistic blows of quaggoths, as he took a safe spot beside the barbarian, and pulled out his bow.

Meanwhile, Tirhas was firing arrows at the back of quaggoths, being careful not to strike her temporary companions, or the five men, but her efforts were for naught.

A quaggoths struck the bard again, and this time the young man did stop singing, crying out in pain instead. It was a cry that was echoed by the barbarian, and by Jeremy who took a particularly bad blow to his neck. He could feel his blood pouring under his chain shirt and soaking his clothing.

Jana cast her daze spell on a quaggoths fighting the heavily armored man, while Ratchis stepped over and crushed the ribs of the one the tall man left behind. It fell. The heavily armored man, slammed the dazed quaggoths with his mace, but it still would not go down.

Kazrack continued to aid the bard.

By now the companions realized that these five men were the same they had met at the Sun’s Summit Inn in the alder-village of Summit, months before. (89)

End of Session #23

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Notes:

(82) The Ogre Scar is a great rent in the earth in the middle of Gothanius, known for the presence of ogres.

(83) Silverback is a half-breed ogre/frost giant. Special Thanks to the Rat Bastard’s Club for their help in detailing him. :)

(84) This bard is called Frederick the Amazing.

(85) The lanky man’s name is Rondar.

(86) The heavily armored man is called Aldovar

(87) This barbarian is called Debo.

(88) This blonde, loud man is called Gunthar.

(89) See Session #14
 



Dawn

First Post
Just got caught up after two weeks of being away. Nice campaign choices - help the gnomes, pursue individual quests, or track the drow-witch. So much to do and so few heros to do it.

Keep up the good work - GM and players!
 


Horacio

LostInBrittany
Supporter
The old giant chief, injured by his own subjects because he didn't want to fight against impossible odds, waitng in the dark to have a glorious death...

That was poetic, Nemmerle, I almost had a tear on my check when I read it...

The other grooups of adventurers, their description was a masterpiece :)

And some other minor details...

I cannot explain it, but this update was, for me, one of the best of all the story.
 

KidCthulhu

First Post
Horacio said:
The old giant chief, injured by his own subjects because he didn't want to fight against impossible odds, waitng in the dark to have a glorious death...

Something very King Lear about the whole thing. It was a marvelous image.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
KidCthulhu said:


Something very King Lear about the whole thing. It was a marvelous image.

Well, I'll take something I made up being mentioned in the same sentence as a Shakespearean Character as a gargantuan compliment :D

Thanks J.Lo!
 

madriel

First Post
I too found Silverback a truly memorable NPC. That whole scene is the best yet. He comes across as noble, but still very very dangerous.
 

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