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"Out of the Frying Pan"- Book III: Fanning the Embers

Pyske

Explorer
I've made it as far as the (second) death of Jeremy, reading from the beginning, and accidentally spoilered myself on Derek while scrolling. Definitely an interesting story to read. ('Though I must admit that I'm probably among those who prefer a different style at the table.)

Anyhow, I know you prefer to hear from your readers, so I thought I'd post a quick note to acknowledge the many, many hours I've spent reading the story hour, even when I should have been being productive. :)

. . . . . . . -- Eric
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
handforged said:
maybe the vampire that got ousted in one blow, that would be nice to see. everything else I want to know about seems like it might not be resolved in the story yet and I wouldn't want to ruin the fun. Glad to know that you are working on another installment, I can't wait.

~hf

Zedarias? You got it. I'll see if I can type the stats out of my campaign notebook tonight some time.

Psyke said:
I've made it as far as the (second) death of Jeremy, reading from the beginning, and accidentally spoilered myself on Derek while scrolling. Definitely an interesting story to read. ('Though I must admit that I'm probably among those who prefer a different style at the table.)

Anyhow, I know you prefer to hear from your readers, so I thought I'd post a quick note to acknowledge the many, many hours I've spent reading the story hour, even when I should have been being productive.

Thanks for reading, psyke. . . And glad you enjoy reading it - even if you would not enjoy playing in it :\
 

Pyske

Explorer
nemmerle said:
Thanks for reading, psyke. . . And glad you enjoy reading it - even if you would not enjoy playing in it :\

I take it that didn't come out as complimentary in tone as I intended. Apologies; my only excuse is that it was posted at 12:00am after working through the weekend. I'd make another attempt, but I think I should wait until I can think a bit more clearly. No offense intended.

. . . . . . . -- Eric
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Pyske said:
I take it that didn't come out as complimentary in tone as I intended. Apologies; my only excuse is that it was posted at 12:00am after working through the weekend. I'd make another attempt, but I think I should wait until I can think a bit more clearly. No offense intended.

. . . . . . . -- Eric

No, no. .. I didn't take offense at all. . . I know my game isn't for everyone. . . It is just a matter of personal preference.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
part 1 (of 2)

Session #57

“Hello?” the voice called down again. It was a fair voice, with a high lilt, as if it might break into a melancholy song at each syllable.

Kazrack walked over to the where the rubble of the stairway now lay, craning his neck to get a view of who might be up there.

“Kazrack! Be careful!” Beorth hissed.

“Hello?” the dwarf called back up. He held a loaded crossbow in his hand.

“Are you Kazrack?” the soft voice called down. The dwarf squinted, trying to get a better view of who was up there, but the figure was backlit. All he could tell is that the person has a very slight build, and long hair that hung down over her shoulders. He decided it was a she, for he could not imagine a male having a voice like that, unless it was an elf.

“Who are you?” Kazrack called up, suspicious.

“Are you traveling with Martin the Green, Jeremy Northrop, Beorth Sahkemet, Ratchis of Nephthys and a boy called Derek?” She rattled off the names of the Fearless Manticore Killers as if she had spent time memorizing them phonetically.

“Yes, but again I ask, who are you?”

“I am Anarie Mathaliel,” the figure said, and then she stuck her head down through the hole and Kazrack could see, his guess had been correct. It was an elven woman. “I come from Aze-Nuquerna. I was sent by Ethiel to aid you in your quest.”

Kazrack looked back at Beorth and Ratchis, and shrugged. “I don’t see any reason to doubt her, except that we are in a region surrounded by enemies…”

“…and liars,” Beorth added.

“Do you have a rope?” Kazrack called up. “We do not have a means to get you down. Unless you simply come to convey a message, if so you can tell us from up there and then flee this dangerous place.”

“You asked Aze-Nuquerna for help, did you not?” Anarie called down. There was a hint of haughtiness n her lilting voice.

“We have to get a rope up to you,” Beorth called up weakly.

“There is no need for that,” Anarie said. “You might not be able to get your rope back.”

And with that she disappeared from the hole for a moment and then stepped into it, but her descent was arrested as all of a sudden, she began to float down gingerly, swaying slightly back and forth. She kicked off the top of the pile of rubble and flipped in mid-air, landing with a graceful tumble in front of the party and then up to her feet.

She wore a bluish-purple velvet clock embroidered with bright red along the seam, and bluish-black traveling leather pants that matched her leather armor. She had very slight, almost spindly, arms, and delicate fingers. There was a long sword at her side, and an unstrung bow stuck into the pack on her back. Anarie had very light brown willowy hair, almost the color of straw, pale skin, delicate features, with the slightest upturn of her tiny nose, and large sparking green eyes. Her ears looked even pointier than those of other elves the party had met, and her face was nearly expressionless, except for the slightest hint of a smirk.

“From your hair and eyes, you could be Ethiel’s twin,” Kazrack said to her.

Anarie’s eyes narrowed, “No, I don’t think so. If you are testing me, it is a good try, but I look nothing like him.”

“Well, you are welcome,” Kazrack replied, frowning. He did not feel as satisfied with how his ‘test’ worked.

A little red animal face peeked out from the top of the elf maid’s pack. It took a sniff around and then ducked its head back in.

“That’s a big squirrel!” Kazrack commented.

“Yes, indeed, it would be if her were a squirrel,” Anarie said, with a puzzled look.

“Then what is he?”

“He is a fox.”

“Do all mages have animals?” Kazrack asked, but Anarie did not have a chance to answer.

“If you and your animal want to live, you should leave now,” Ratchis said, aggressively. He walked right up to Anarie and towered over her. He stood head and shoulders taller than her.

“Sometimes one doesn’t always do what it is smart when they are doing what is right,” Kazrack said.

“I know,” Ratchis replied.

“I did not come all this way to back down now,” Anarie said, her impassive face making it difficult to tell if she were insulted or intimidated at all. “Are those monks tied up above those who would not listen to your warning?”

Ratchis grunted. Beorth introduced himself, and did his best to explain about the monks.

“I’m surprised you were able to reach us alone,” Kazrack said, still suspicious. “You must be a great warrior in addition to one who can, uh…use magic.”

“Magic can be useful for many things, and one person alone can get through some place unnoticed easier than a group can,” Anarie said, by way of explanation.

“Heh. You may prefer to travel alone then if it is so much safer,” Ratchis grunted, angrily. He sat down. “In any case, don’t listen to anything I say, it may lead to your death.”

“Given the dangers of this place I can understand your grim attitude, but is it really warranted?” Anaris asked.

“We have lost two members of our group to Anubis Realm, already, and we have barely breached this place, ” Beorth said. “And I was almost lost as well.”

They sat down to talk more, as Martin the Green continued to sleep.

“Forgive me if my next question makes me seem less than grateful, but I was curious why you agreed to come here,” Kazrack asked.

“Ethiel asked me to, because you asked him,” Anarie said.

“So, it was out of obligation to Ethiel?”

“…And curiosity. It is not often that one gets the opportunity to Walk through a dwarven citadel, even a fallen one.”

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

Hours passed. Some in silence, some in more conversation with the elven woman – though Ratchis did not say a word. Beorth and Kazrack decided to use some rubble to cover the hole down to the lower half of the area. There had been a stairway there once as well, but it seemed to have collapsed long before the upper one.

Not too long after that the party noticed movement above.

“Do you think that the other monk has returned?” Beorth asked.

“Most likely,” Kazrack replied in a whisper. “I just hope that he does not cover our retreat through that way.”

As if he had been heard, Kazrack swore as he saw the wooden planks cover the hole back up, and they all heard the sound of stones being laid atop them.

“Well, at least they did not come down after us,” Kazrack said, shrugging. “I am more concerned about going below and destroying those incessant mumblers down there.”

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

Martin had just woken up suddenly, to the sound of Thomas chittering in his head, when the others heard the sound of creaking and shuffling approaching in the darkness from the other side of the great chamber.

“Something is coming!” Anarie announced.

“Beorth, get ready to make a light!” Kazrack ordered.

Ratchis could two shambling dwarven forms coming at them in the darkness. Their bodies were bloated, and rotting, and they still wore scraps of chain armor. One of the had its entire lowered portion of it face ripped down to the barest raw flesh atop of bone, and black bile dripped, shining bright white in the half-orc’s darkvision oozed out.



Ratchis hefted his hammer and walked cautiously towards them, eager for their attack.

Martin squinted, as Anarie now held a lit torch, casting wild shadows, and making them feel as if there were movement all around them.

“Lady of the Raised Shield (1), protect me from my foes, that I may defend my companions,” Kazrack called, holding his bag runestones with his right hand, and casting Protection from Evil. He hurried to support Ratchis, halberd in hand.

The two forms hastened their approach toward Ratchis, but they still had an uneven, almost ape-like gait.

Anarie spoke a word softly in her mellifluous tongue, and the torch in her hand began to sail of its own accord over to illuminate the undead. (2)

The first one leapt forward at Ratchis. It’s eyes bulged and its skull cracked as Ratchis brought his hammer down on its head with both hands, but it did not even slow, and while it clawed blindly, its jagged teeth ripped into his forearm.

“Don’t let them touch you!” Martin called out, recognizing ghouls from his Introduction to Undead class at the Academy. “They can paralyze with a touch! Lentus!

The ghoul clawing at Ratchis suddenly slowed down in a bizarre parody of itself.

The other one came at Kazrack, and the dwarf tried ripping it from its feet, but it leapt easily avoiding the pole-axe’s hooked blade and it two brought a bright down on one of the Manticore Killers. Kazrack pushed at with the shaft his weapon, and suddenly Ratchis was on its left flank, bringing his hammer down on its back. It screeched and hissed and moved away from Kazrack to keep both foes in its line of sight, Kazrack could see that the first ghoul was now a lifeless pulpy mass on the stone platform. Ratchis had smashed the head from its body with a hammer blow.

The second ghoul was still reeling from the blow, when Beorth stepped up and brought his sword down, nearly cleaving head and shoulder from the thing, “Anubis! Your blessings guide my weapon!”

The Fearless Manticore Killers began to debate moving their camp over to an area of the platforms where access would be more limited from below.

“And you are?” Martin asked Anarie.

“Anarie Mathaliel.”

As they were in the process of moving, more ghouls came climbing up from below, splitting part of the group from that which had already set themselves up in the smaller area. Kazrack has created a barricade with rubble.

One climbed over and made it way to Beorth, who did not hesitate. In a second he was bringing his sword down on it, cutting a huge gash in its chest. Kazrack leapt over the barricade, Halberd in hand to aid Beorth, and Anarie move to flank. Ratchis and Martin who were furthest away, were cut off, as another ghoul leapt from another platform, knocking Ratchis down.

“Kazrack! Ratchis needs help! Augh!” Martin barely finished his warning, when his stomach cramped, and he felt his bile rise. He could hear something clawing its way up one of the solid stone supports and it smelled of a rancid moldering corpse.

Beorth cut deep into the dead flesh of the ghoul before him, but it would not fall, clawing and biting the paladin, who felt his muscles harden and quit responding to his commands. He was paralyzed. The ghoul licked Beorth’s face hungrily, but then cried out as Anarie spoke some arcane words and two arrows of light flew from her out stretched hand, striking it.

Like the original ghouls, these were the twisted forms of dwarves as well.

“Come with us, Kazrack.” one hissed. “Join your fathers.”

The dwarf charged at the one between Martin and Beorth, but it ducked and the dwarf swung around to interpose himself.

There was a loud clank as whatever was climbing from below threw over a hand holding a two-handed hammer and began to pull itself up.

Ratchis got to his feet, and slammed the ghoul that attacked him with his hammer, full on in the chest. The thing’s chest caved in and a huge piece of it fell away as if it were a false panel, revealing fresh bleeding flesh and a protrusion of bone below.

Lentus! Martin tried his slow spell again, but this time the ghouls were unaffected.

Anarie’s sword was suddenly in her hand, and she skipped forward at the one hoping to devour Beorth, as if frolicking in the woods, with a flick of her wrist, the top half of the head was clipped off and flying into the darkness. The thing’s body collapsed.

“Devious elves,” the rotten thing said, as it came up onto the platform and went for Kazrack.

Ratchis finished his foe, and moved past Martin to help Kazrack. The watch-mage pulled knife and hurried over to cover the paralyzed Beorth, to allow Anarie to join the frey. The elfin warrior, tumbled to flank it.

Kazrack cried out, as the rotten ghoul’s filthy claws ripped at his face, drawing blood. The thing wore a rotten tunic, and hefted a great hammer, grasping it with two hands again to strike down on Kazrack. However, the rune-thrower, stepped back and thrust with his halberd, cutting deeply into it.

Ratchis choked back bile as the foul stench filled his nostril. He swung weakly and nearly lost his footing.

“D’nar! Watch out!” Kazrack warned, but he should have taken his own advice as the ghastly thing’s hammer struck him across the top of his head painfully. Luckily, his helmet absorbed most of the blow or he might have been brained. However, he could still feel the wound begin to swell and bleed beneath.

Anarie coughed softly. She felt nauseated as well, and was barely able to scratch the thing with her sword as her limbs felt weak and heavy. The ghast snarled and knocked the blade out of sync.

Ratchis just tried to get through the thing’s defenses with brute strength, but all the while partially digested bit of rations bubbled out of the corner of his mouth. He was less than useless.

Cautiously, Martin left his post to join the fight.

The thing dropped the maul, and ripped Kazrack with both hands. “You will taste the flesh of your friends,” it said, as Kazrack’s movement was arrested and he stood perfectly still, unable to move, but aware of what was going on around him.

The ghast spun around to handle Ratchis and Anarie, but the half-orc got lucky as able to drop his hammer atop its head. It floundered to the right, and Anarie caught it under the arm with her blade, nearly cutting it arm off. It fell lifeless to the floor.

In a couple of minutes, both Kazrack and Beorth shook off the paralyzation. The party used the last of their available healing just to keep themselves from hovering too closely to death's door.

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

The Fearless Manticore Killers and their new companion finished moving their camp over to one of the smaller and less easily accessible stone platforms, and Ratchis draped his hyenadon hide over an exposed portion of an arbalest to provide some shelter from the dampness.

Thomas sniffed curiously at Anarie, as Beorth spoke some words over the ghoul corpses and he and Kazrack buried them under cairns made of rubble.

“I smell something funny… Ah!” Thomas ducked into Martin’s shirt shivering as Anarie’s own familiar poked his head out wit hcuriosuity. “He’s gonna eat me!”

“Don’t worry, we won’t allow that,” Martin comforted his familiar, and turned to Anarie. “And who is your friend?”

“Tuko.”

“The squirrel is Thomas,” Martin replied wit ha smile. “You have to understand, he is uncomfortable with foxes.”

“If you two are done playing with your animals we have work to do that would go faster with some help,” Ratchis scowled, lifting a heavy stone to lay upon one of the ghouls.

Martin sighed, and he and Anarie helped what little they could.

Soon, everyone settled down to rest and catch some sleep, except Ratchis and Anarie, who agreed to watch. In the morning, they would make their way down to the lower level, perhaps to never see the sun again.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Notes
--------------
(1) Rivkenal.

(2) Mage Hand
 
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Pyske

Explorer
Right, then, I'm all caught up. Anarie is what, a Ranger / Wizard / Thief? I caught 1st level spells, tumbling, and long sword use. If she's a cleric as well, I promise to be very amused. :)

. . . . . . . -- Eric
 

handforged

First Post
It's nice to see a new face, and one that promises to bring a new view on things. My prediction is Wizard/Rogue and the longsword proficiency coming from Elf. I would have said Sorceror but there ain't none of 'em in Aquerra, and I doubt that Anarie is a Witch, although if she is, that could tie things back into Richard the Red quite nicely...

~hf
 

Dherys Thal

First Post
About Nemmerle's game

Long-time lurker emerging...

I too have found myself thinking "Wow, what a hard-knock campaign world these poor PCs have landed in."

However, I find myself coming back to this story hour as one of the handful I've kept up with. Nemmerle's creativity is outstanding, and it's very apparent that the PCs are dedicated to being the PCs, as opposed to trying to "win" at all costs - subverting the rules and legitimate RP in the process.

There's also something to be said for scarcity creating value. Instead of a "+1 sword" - we've got the Right Sword of Arofel (or whatever it's called).

As a DM who tends to lean towards the stingy side (though not this far) - I applaud Nemmerle's discipline. I'm sure it's a fantastic game to play in - and a great group to game with. My compliments. Now, back to lurking.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Dherys Thal said:
Long-time lurker emerging...

Thanks for the kind words. . .

The discussion about the "value" of a Ring of Sustenance in this thread made me realize that I can't help but think of magical items as items to help move a story along either by origin or use (or preferably both). I said, as much in another thread in House Rules about Buffing Items. . . The fact that magic would ever even be reduced to such a catch-all and flavorless phrase just work for me in terms of why I play and run this game.

While I understand what the designers of the game were trying to do by codifiying the cost/value of magical items to "balance" them and give DMs a judge by which to determine their power - the problem is that at somewhere along the line players started seeing items in those terms as well. They are more than plain bonuses and a form of currency that helps you kick ass along the way. . .

Okay enough ranting. . . I merely meant to thank you for your post.

But you know, now that you've popped your posting cherry I'll be looking for your comments in the peanut gallery. ;)
 

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