"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part Two) - {complete}


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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I'm sorry. . . Non-gaming interests have distracted me from the huge under-taking that this story hour often is. .

I have had an installlment in the works for about three weeks now and I worked on it some - so expect it sometime this weekend. .

We just played session #39 this past Saturday and I am in the middle of writing up session #32 so yes, I am falling further and further behind. . .

But do not give up hope!
 

Horacio

LostInBrittany
Supporter
Horacio saw that Nemm has written in the Aquerran thread, and felt a warm wave of hope. It was an update, he was sure, an update that will calm his addiction, for a while at least.

Without a moment of hesitation, Horacio's mouse pointed to the
"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part II) link and voilà, Horacio arrived to his first and favorite Story Hour.

Horror... Sadness... Withdraw syndrome... Broken hope... Nemm han't updated. He wrote only to say he wouldn't update still for some weeks. He talked about some non-gaming interests...

What non-gaming interest could justify that!?!? Horaco was shocked. How could Nemm forget all his faithful readers. How could Nemm forget that Horacio needs a periodic fix of Aquerran Story Hour...



;)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Here ya go. .. Thanks for your patience. . .

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Session #32

Martin pulled a chain shirt off of one of the bugbears, and collected a few javelins, looking to Ratchis for approval. The half-orc nodded. Ratchis felt the exhaustion brought on by his recent wounds, but still his huge muscular frame was such that even in such a condition he was stronger than the average man. He lifted Jeremy by the shoulders, and Kazrack and Jana took one leg each. They carried him back towards the wall of thorns, the hooting of bugbears echoing behind them.

The passage back through the wall seemed narrower than before, and they had to carefully move Jeremy through to avoid being pierced any of the thicket. On the other side stood Drenthris, the dark elf druid of the Circle of Thorns, and he led them back to their camp.

As they prepared to sleep and cast off the fatigue of battle, Martin addressed the other crankily. He could feel the exhaustion of his long day deep in his muscles, but no drowsiness came to relieve him of the feeling because of his magic ring.

“Come the morning, we should all talk,” the watch-mage said.

“About what?” asked Ratchis.

“About what we may have learned today, and about tactics,” Martin said.

“I agree, we do need to coordinate our actions,” Kazrack said, unrolling his bedroll.

Many hours later when sleep finally came to Martin he thanked Isis deeply following the ticky-tacky of broken thoughts into a deep dreamless slumber.

Anulem, 21st of Dek – 564 H.E.

In the morning after their prayers and spell preparations Ratchis and Kazrack applied the healing favors of their gods on the injured.

“You can rest in the glade,” Kazrack said to a groggy Jeremy as he helped the Neergaardian to his feet.

“I doubt I will be much help,” Jeremy said.

“We only desire your company,” Kazrack replied.

“Sure, I guess you deserve that much,” Jeremy said, with a smile.

Kazrack rolled his eyes.

Drenthis, Efner and the reptilian-footed druid came to the campsite to lead them to the Glade of Hennaire as they did every morning.

As they walked Kazrack spoke to Drenthis, “I will be done smelting in two days time and will actually be able to begin the crafting on the sickle after that, but my arm is broken.”

“How do you expect to complete the sickle with you arm injured so?” the dark elf druid asked.

“Well, either you druids will be kind and help me, or I will fail in my quest and die,” the dwarf said, making no effort to hide the annoyance in his voice.

“Perhaps we should bring him the dog,” Drenthis said, turning to his kobold companion.

“Knap! Knap! The dog!” Efner replied, happily.

“What is the dog?” Beorth asked.

“Oh, knap! You’ll see.”

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

Later that morning as Kazrack worked, and Ratchis helped as he could the party began to discuss tactics and how everyone seemed to do whatever they liked in combat situations, leading to their often being routed, or barely succeeding over their foes.

“Should we have leader?” Martin asked.

“My father trained me as a soldier and thus, how to take orders, but I do not see that life working for many in this group,” Kazrack said.

“But there will be situations where we will need to act as one,” Martin said. “And if we do not have some form of tactical guide our lack of organization could cost us one or all of our lives.”

“Are you willing to obey someone even if you do not agree?” Kazrack asked, wisely.

“If I trust the person’s instinct for combat,” Martin replied.

“If we elect a leader are we to assume that personal initiative is to be discouraged?” Jana asked, in her usual snide tone.

“We should at least make some arrangements for the night of the full moon,” Beorth said. “We know something is going to happen and it will likely involve trying to stop Kazrack from completing the sickle. We have never had an opportunity to know what we were going to fight, and when. Now we do…”

“What we need to do is communicate more in battle,” Kazrack said.

“And when we fight that shape-changing creature we need to trust each other and not hesitate, in case we may need to attack something that does not appear to be a threat,” Jeremy said, not bothering to open his eyes, as he lay near the bonfire on his bedroll.

“A shape-changing creature could come into our midst and use that against us,” Kazrack said. “Especially if can assume one of our forms.”

Jeremy nodded silently.

“Beorth,” Ratchis said, looking to the paladin. “Are you confident in your knowledge of battle tactics to be responsible to call retreats under certain circumstances?”

“I am still only learning,” Beorth said, and Ratchis nodded.

And on and on they went in circles trying to come up with rules of thumb for various situations and means to communicate things to each other in battle.

“I could teach you all orcish,” Ratchis offered.

“I will cut my tongue from my mouth before I learn orcish,” Kazrack said, spitting.

Ratchis snarled.

There was an awkward silence, broken only by the hissing of the metal dipped into the water trough by Kazrack.

“You should be leader!” Thomas chittered in Martin’s mind.

“Ssh, Thomas,” Martin thought back.

“You wouldn’t have to shout to be obeyed, you have charisma,” the squirrel continued.

“Thomas, you are so nice to me.”

“Well, if we cannot plan tactics for all occasions, or even for this shape-changing creature that we really know nothing about, perhaps we can devise ways to defend Kazrack and the forge on the night of the full moon,” Beorth said.

“Trenches might help,” Martin suggested. “Long ones around this general area with stakes in them to limit the approach of enemies.”

“But what if they can fly?” Jeremy suggested.

“Then it won’t matter, but we might as well do what we can,” Ratchis replied.

“I do not think whatever it is will fly,” Kazrack said. “I have dreamt of this place and always there were many glowing eyes in the dark and among the trees, though in the dreams the trees were closer.”

“Heh, I have dreams all the time and believe me they do not always come true,” Jeremy said, rolling his eyes.

“But his dreams were divinely inspired,” said Beorth.

“Whatever,” Jeremy said, shrugging his shoulders. “You know, it seems suspicious that the druids seem to know exactly when we’re going to be attacked. It is as if they are arranging it.”

“Maybe they are,” Martin replied.

“And there is nothing we can do about it,” Ratchis added.

“Perhaps all the spell-casters can could confer one what spells to pray for and prepare that day so that they may compliment each other,” Beorth added.

“I do not need to prepare spells,” Jana said. “But still, that is a good idea.”

“Well, before we do anything we should confer with the druids and see if it is okay that we dig up the ground and do whatever else we have to do,” Ratchis said. “The ground is hard and frozen, so we should start as soon as we can as it will take a long time and be very hard work.”

The half-orc walked over to where the Bear guarded the entrance to the glade and asked if it were okay to dig.

“You are going to dig up trees?” the Bear asked.

“No, and we will avoid killing anything,” Ratchis replied.

“If it will help you with your task and not harm the Glade, feel free.”

And so the day was spent digging the first of what the party hoped to be many trenches surrounding the whole area of the forges, the anvil, the trough and the other tools and accessories. Ratchis began a trench on the east-west axis of the forge-area, just south of it, while Beorth helped to clear dirt, and Jana and Martin sharpened staked from the dwindling pile of firewood.

By day’s end there was but one day’s worth of wood left in that pile (as they used it to feed the forges and to keep the huge bonfire going). When Drenthris and the other two druids came to lead them back to the camp he explained to them that some of them would be led to a place where they could safely collect more firewood, the next day.

Ralem, 22nd of Dek – 564 H.E.

This was another day of digging. Jeremy, Jana, Beorth and Martin were led by Efner and Drenthis to a place where frost and disease had killed many trees. They were provided with a sledge and spent the day cutting and splitting wood and then dragged it back to the Glade of Hennaire.

The party would soon fall into a routine. The next evening when they returned to camp there was a sack of living snails, some nearly eight inches in diameter. Ratchis dropped them into a pot of boiling water for the party’s dinner.

Martin watched them boil with wide eyes. In Thricia, similar snails were a delicacy, but because of his ring he knew he would not be able to enjoy them. He sat far from the others as they ate, so he could not smell the appetizing aroma.

Osilem, 24th of Dek – 564 H.E.

The days were not as cold as they had been on this morning, and as usual Drenthris, Efner and the other druid brought the party to the Glade from the camp for their day’s work.

As they walked, Drenthis came up beside Jana. “I wanted to inform you that a certain invitation has been accepted that will allow you to attend,” he said the young witch (139).

“A priestess of Isis?” Martin asked, overhearing.

“Who accepted the invitation?” Kazrack asked, coming up from behind.

“That is not in our power to divulge,” Drenthris replied. “But I can tell you that something will be provided to take care of your arm this day.”

“Good, because by mid-day the smelting will be done,” the dwarf replied.

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

At noon they heard the growl of the Bear, as the hiss of Kazrack’s work died down as he finished. The party looked over to the edge of the clearing from where they carved stakes and Ratchis continued to dig, with Beorth moving the dirt away with his shield.

Efner approached, hopping along joyfully like a killer lap dog in robes, his deep indigo fur glistening in the sunlight, shining black in place. Behind him walked Drenthris the dark elf, the hood of his gray cloak up over his head, and beside him was the huge bugbear they had seen the first night. He was shaved on the face and neck and everywhere else his natty goblin-hair was dyed red and black, what showed of from beneath his toga of flayed human skin. And now their attention was brought to a much smaller prostrate figure that hunched and crawled through the snow, their arms and legs bare from underneath a rough piece of fur tied around his body. It was a man, with shorn brown hair, portions of his scalp scabbed over from large cuts. His face was the same where he’d have a beard. He huffed and puffed, as the bugbear dragged him along with a leather leash.

“Knap! We have brought you the dog!” Efner cried, happily as he hopped forward.

“We have brought you the dog,” the bugbear repeated. He had a deep voice that rumbled from the bowels of his immense fur-covered stomach.

The bugbear pulled the leash upward and the man was raised up gagging for a moment as he clawed at the collar to pull himself up and keep from choking. The bugbear plopped him down on his feet.

“Why is this man on a leash?” Kazrack cried dropping his tools and jogging forward. The dwarf moved to pull the leash off the man, and the bugbear yanked the man (now obviously seen as muscular and over six feet tall) as if he were a toy, the cracking of his muscles audible over the call of voices.

“No one touches the dog!” the bugbear barked, his fangs dripped mucous as he roared.

“Kazrack. Wait,” Beorth said, coming beside the dwarf and pulling him back.

“Is this man your slave?” Ratchis said, stepped forward, his hands were balled into red fists. The bugbear looked at him, the slightest trace of joy entering his bulging left eyes, as he raised a eyebrow and cocked his head.

“He does what we say,” Drenthis said, raising a hand.

Ratchis stopped and sized up the bugbear.

“Where did you get this man?” Jeremy asked, coming along side his half-orc companion. “What is he doing here?”

“Knap! He is a priest of Ra!” Efner snapped.

“What?!” Martin’s jaw dropped.

“Let go of that,” Jeremy grabbed for the leash, and the bugbear raised his left hand casually as if to swat the Neergaardian away.

“Nephthys!” Ratchis cried, invoking his goddess’ name as the spell Word of Freedom.

The leash collar popped open and the man tumbled down to the ground.

“Wait!” Drenthris cried. Jeremy placed his hands over his head, anticipating the blow from the bugbear druid. “There is no need to violate your agreement.”

The bugbear held his hand in the air, and Jeremy crept backward.

“No! No!,” the nearly-naked man cried, as he scrambled to grab at the collar, obviously wanting to put it back on. The bugbear seemed to like this and pulled out of the man’s reach a few times and let out a low laugh. He finally dropped it on the ground and the man hastily tried to put it back on.

Ratchis stepped forward onto the leash.

“No! You can’t stop me!” the man cried and looked up to Ratchis pathetically, pulling at the leash.

“What are you talking about?” Jeremy asked, astonished at the pitiful sight.

“I have sinned against Ra,” the man cried. “I must do this.”

“What could you have possibly done to allow yourself to be treated in such a way by these beasts?” Jeremy asked.

The man fell silent and dropped his head.

Ratchis lifted his foot from the leash, and the former Sunfather (140) snatched up the leash and collar and strapped them on.

“I am a sinner. I have sinned against the grace of Ra and have humbled myself here for five years,” the man said. “I may not rejoin my brethren until this time of penance is done.”

“But what did you do?” Jeremy asked again.

Kazrack raised a finger to his lips and looked at the blonde Neergaardian. “If you had done something that made you submit to this, would you want to talk about it?” he asked quietly.

“I guess not.”

The priest of Ra placed the end of the leash into the bugbear’s hand and the humanoid yanked it harshly a few times as if to test it.

“Give them your gift, dog!” the bugbear barked.

The man reached into his dirty urine-stained fur and pulled out a crusty old scroll. He handed it to Ratchis.

“If used properly the spell of this scroll can be used to re-grow or reattach a severed limb. It should be more than sufficient to set a broken bone,” Drenthris said. “Of course, it will take someone of great wisdom and faith to successfully cast it.” (141)

“Thank you,” Kazrack said, looking down at the priest.

“We will leave you to your work now,” Drenthris said, in his usual polite manner.

“Knap!” cried Efner, seeming especially playful this day.

The bugbear began to turn and yanked ‘the dog’ after him, but stopped and pulled him to standing position.

“Before we go, tell them what you did,” the bugbear bellowed, shaking the man as he spoke. “Tell them so that they may know the foul black darkness in the hearts of humans who hold themselves above my kind. Speak! Speak!”

The man stood straight up for the first time, though his head and shoulders still drooped. He spoke softly. “I was… I was in charge of the defense of a town that was to be raided and razed by a band of orcs and near-men, like him…” he pointed to Ratchis without looking up. “The leader of these Near-men offered me a deal. All I need do was hand over to him 12 young girls, and they would leave the town alone. We were outnumbered. We would have all died, man, woman and child would have been killed, but not before those 12 girls and every other woman, and likely boy, would have been raped first. I was arrogant. I thought I could give values to some lives over others.”

The man was sobbing by now. “I used the trust these families had in me and rounded up the girls and sent them to the leader. He… He… raided anyway, and killed everyone… everyone, except me. He kept me alive. He tortured me and used me and then left me on the side of the road so that I may know what I had done and what he had made me give up.”

The bugbear pulled the man away, as he continued to sob.

----------

The party spent some time cleaning up the area around the forge and preparing the tools and resources needed for the next day’s first round of actual crafting.

In the evening Kazrack reviewed the scroll and found that its power was such that there was a really good chance that it would not function if either he or Ratchis tried to cast the spell from it. (142)

“It seems a waste to try and cast the spell from the scroll if it will likely fail,” said Kazrack. “These druids’ help seems dubious to me, best we save it for some future time when we might have the power needed to use it successfully.”

“But what about making the sickle?” Jeremy asked.

“I will have to do the best I can with a broken arm and with what aid I can gain from the rest of you,” Kazrack said. “Remember, there is not only a great chance the spell from the scroll will fail, but also a small chance that it may go awry and have a negative consequence.”

Martin sighed.

“What about you, Martin?” Jeremy asked, looking to the watch-mage. “Can’t you use the scroll?”

“I cannot call down divine powers, Jeremy,” Martin replied.

“I will sleep on it and see what wisdom I can muster on this problem,” said Kazrack.


Tholem, 25th of Dek – 564 H.E.

Morning found Kazrack explaining to the others that he would simply do his best with his broken arm and hope that it might heal enough to allow him to finish the work by the next full moon.

“But if you don’t do it you may die,” Martin said. “We do not know exactly how the promises to Osiris work.” (143)

“It matters not,” Kazrack replied. “The chances are the scroll will fail and then we’d be in the same or worse position.”

Feeling low, the party gathered their things and followed Efner the kobold druid towards the Glade of Hennaire.

When the arrived the others looked around for ways to help Kazrack as he looked at the forged and sighed and shook his head.

Ratchis followed Efner halfway back to the edge of the Glade.

“Efner,” Ratchis said. “You know the scroll we were granted?”

“Knap! Yep!” the kobold replied.

“We might be able to use it, but the chances are small,” Ratchis explained. “Do you think one of the other druids might be able to cast it for us?”

“Knap!” The kobold smiled. “Knap! There is a price.”

“I’ll pay a price,” Ratchis replied.

“You already paid the first price,” Efner said. “Hafta pay new price.”

“What is the new price?” Ratchis asked.

“Knap! Your seed.”

Ratchis’ eyes widened with surprise, and he paused not sure of what to say to that, but finally he let out a breath and lowered his gaze to meet that of the kobold directly.

“Okay,” Ratchis replied.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes:

(139) When the party first met Mardak the Elder, leader of the druid Circle of Thorns, she was warned that she might not want to be present when the final crafting of the masterwork sickle takes places under the full moon.

(140) Priests of Ra are given the title ‘Sunfather’ after a time of service in the church.

(141) This was the Regeneration spell.

(142) In Aquerra, it not necessary to have a wisdom score sufficient to normally cast a spell from a scroll, but it does increase the chance of failure or negative side effect.

(143) When Kazrack was delayed in following up on the task assigned to him in return for bringing Jeremy back to life he began to suffer from weakness, boils, dizziness and an overall malaise.
 
Last edited:

madriel

First Post
Poor nemm. People pester you for days for an update and then hours go by before anyone posts a reply.

Nice to see the party finally trying to coordinate their tactics.

Another great update.
 





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