"Out of the Frying Pan"- Book IV - Into the Fire [STORY HOUR COMPLETED - 12/25/06]

mmu1

First Post
el-remmen said:
Sorry Gunthar made it that hard for you to play your character the way you envisioned. It was certainly not my intention to have that effect.

I don't think you have anything to be sorry about... I think I just made a character that didn't quite fit into the party - and that's going to happen, if the other players are serious enough about their RP - you can't make everyone change to accomodate every character concept that might come along...

Though in retrospect, I think I should have embraced those differences, and challenged the more stolid party members a lot more often - it could have led to interesting things. Instead, it was pretty clear that Logan was unhappy a lot of the time, but he wasn't that vocal, aside from the occasional snipe, which just made him seem sullen.

A lot of that actually ended up being driven by the fact that this was a campaign that'd been going on for a long time now, and heading for the finale, that I was a recent addition to, and I didn't quite feel comfortable trying to make several other people with a lot of time invested in their characters do things I'd have wanted - besides, I figured I'd get outvoted, anyway. Looking back at it, I realize that most likely no one would have minded if Logan had dug in his heels, and tried to sway things in a particular direction, or challenged what he perceived as the de facto leadership of the group.
 

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BlackCat

Explorer
mmu1 said:
Logan, self-centered? As opposed to, say, Roland? ;)

I actually consider Logan to be something of a failure as a character, in most ways, since he just didn't accomplish anything I had initially in mind for him. (I'm glad a few people found him interesting, at least)

Roland tends to think of himself as self-possessed. He's quite well aware of his own flaws and his strengths. It's good to be confident and his braggadocio is part of his charm (at least in his own head). So :p !

I think Logan was very interesting and you're right...he didn't have all the bad experiences with Richard that the rest did. He has no reason to hate him and a lot of reasons to follow him. Roland has to stay with the party...if only because he can't be on the same team as Norena. It just seems so...wrong.

She's another interesting character.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Jeez, this next installment is taking longer than I thought it was gonna be.

I figured about 8 pages in word. I just hit page 12 and probably have another page to write.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
14 sessions to go. . .

Session #88 (complete)

Gunthar spotted the approaching orcs and took off eastward once again, about forty feet south of the ridge wall. Black-feathered orc arrows bit into the dirt and into trees around him.

“Can you levitate him up to us?” Kazrack asked.

“He is too far,” Martin explained. “And even if he weren’t it would not help too much to have him dangling in mid-air. I could levitate some of us down there.”

“Invisibly?” Ratchis asked.

“None prepared,” Martin sighed.

Ratchis shook his head. “We need to find a way to get him up here or keep them from getting to him.”

“Illusionary wall of fire?” Martin suggested.

“Do it,” Ratchis replied.

The orcs were all dressed in studded leather armor that looked like it had been pieced together from the scraps of others, but thick black seams looked like they held it together as strongly as a brand new set. Some held bows, but others held battle axes and had heavy maces slapping their thighs as they ran. They each had a pack and a bow on their back beneath their purple-dyed hair-woven cloaks. (1) Speaking of hair, they had natty locks like Ratchis’ but entwined in purple ribbons.. These orcs had coal black face like black orcs and were of a similar stature, but they stood tall and had long legs. Snaggled teeth pushed out from behind their thin black lips. There were more than a dozen now passing the party’s position above them.

The Keepers of the Gate let loose with a volley of arrows and bolts. Dorn watched his arrow pierce the top of an orc’s head and it did not get back up. The rest of the orcs scattered and spread in a line to take in who or what had attacked them, while more than half the group continued after Gunthar.

The great boar that had disappeared for a moment in the shadow of the trees snorted and rushed at the Neergaardian, crashing through the undergrowth and kicking up a cloud of ash.

Imago Majorum Igneum!” the watch-mage chanted and a wall of fire nearly ten feet tall burst into being from the base of the ridge way out into the gloom. The chasing orcs held up, but the boar burst through not heeding it, or perhaps unable to stop. It slammed into Gunthar as the blonde warrior tried to leap behind a tree. His cry echoed up to the ridge as he flopped to the ground. He then scrambled up to his feet and kept on running, zigzagging to keep trees between him and the dire beast.

Roland transformed to human form and began to load another crossbow, as he stood to get a shot, he felt the bite of the first volley of orcs arrows from the bushes below. Though the party was nearly eighty feet above them, the orcs could stand in bushes and at the edge of the treeline sending arrows up in high arcs to land amid the party. None of the other arrows found a target, and Roland crouched back down, as Dorn, Ratchis and Kazrack leaned up out of their crouching positions to send back more arrows and bolts. Kazrack’s bolt found the same orc as his first had and he smiled as he saw it fall.

“Gunthar! This way! Come to us!” Kazrack bellowed.

“I’m going to fly down and get him.” Martin said, his body changing to the now familiar winged draconic form akin to Tanweil’s. Thomas leapt from the billowing and changing cloak, and took refuge in a nearby tree.

“You have to protect yourself from arrows,” Ratchis warned.

“None of those either,” Martin replied. “But don’t worry, I’ve improvised.” (2)

The transformed watch-mage took to the air flapping his small wings awkwardly to get some lift before attempting to swoop down to Gunthar. He was startled as an arrow struck him in the chest and bounced off harmlessly unable to get through his thick lizard hide.

“Looks like we’re having bacon for dinner!” Gunthar quipped as he spun around to slice his long sword across the dire boar’s face, and followed it up with the jab of his short sword.

There was a sound like hard rain as a nearly a dozen arrows struck Martin at the command of an orc standing by the illusory wall of fire, but they all fell down harmlessly. Not one was able to harm him. The orc leader was now yelling at the chasing orcs to leap through the fire after Gunthar. They seemed reticent.

“Aim for the leader!” Ratchis commanded, and he, Dorn, Bastian and Roland let arrows fly towards the mailed orc. Only Dorn’s bolt found the target, and it was not enough to drop him.

“Martin! Use the trees!” Kazrack called as the watch-mage awkwardly made his way down, dropping below the treeline to get even more cover.

Gunthar swore as the boar slammed him to the ground again. He barely escaped being trampled as he crawled up on the other side of a thorny bush.

“Oh sh*t! It’s the dragon guy!” Gunthar swore again, as he turned and saw Martin approaching him. He held his swords up defensively, risking a glimpse at the boar from the corner of his eye.

“It’ssss me, Martin!” the transformed watch-mage said. “Get ready! I’m going to levitate you up and you have to grab on.”

Levitatusssss! chanted Martin in his sibilant voice, as the boar snorted and charged again. Yellow cracked tusks slammed into Gunthar from the side and the Neergaardian crumpled, his body jerking bonelessly as the beast trod over him. Ratchis had moved over to his left to keep an eye on Martin and sent a couple of arrows at the boar to distract it. Martin grabbed the weightless and bleeding Gunthar and flapped out of the beast’s reach.


The others dodged the rain of arrows that was once again concentrated towards them. Three of the orcs that had stopped before, finally backed up and ran leaping through the wall of fire. The leader leapt after them but fell short, screeching as he scrambled around in the ‘fire’ trying to get up. He dragged himself back to the original side of the wall and patted his body to make sure he was not on fire. Roland and Kazrack laughed.

Infuriated at the loss of its prey the boar mowed down an orc that had just leapt through the fire to find himself not burned.

There was another cry of commands in orcish as another mailed orc appeared in the brush on the right side of the archer orcs. At his command, they all turned their bows at Martin once again as the draconic watch-mage appeared above the treeline and wall of fire with Gunthar in his arms.

The watch-mage struggled to keep any arrows from striking Gunthar, and succeeded but lost some lift as his wings flapped madly. And yet despite this and the flurry of arrows back and forth, Martin the Green managed to lay Gunthar down gently beside Roland as the Bastite cheered. His last crossbow bolt had knocked one of the orc leaders backward into the bushes.

“Gunthar is dying and needs to be healed!” Martin told the others, and Roland called to Bast to close the warrior’s wounds. The watch-mage grabbed up his crossbow and began to load it.

Littermate of the blood!” The leader who had been knocked back called up from behind a tree to Ratchis. “Why be a slave of men when you can serve Scartesh and be free?” (3)

Ratchis stood and looked down and it was then that he noticed a third set of orcs creeping out of the trees on the far end of where the wall of flame was (for it winked out of existence in that moment) and beginning to climb the cliff face. There was a third orc in a chain shirt ordering them to climb.

If he keeps the same company perhaps you’ll be lucky to eat the scraps from the ogre’s table! Do you really wish to be food for the carrion-eaters? Ratchis bellowed his answer.

He was answered with an arrow that bit across his forearm. The half-orc ducked back down and pointed out where the orcs were climbing. Kazrack ran over to intercept them. The dwarf peeked over the side.

“They are staggered as to present less of a target,” he moaned. Bastian moved in beside him and let and arrow go, puncturing the chest of an advancing orc.

“Just what I like to see when I first wake up,” Gunthar smiled up at Roland. “Pussy.” He slowly got to his feet feeling the strain of his recent wounds deep in his muscles. “Got anything for exhaustion?”

Roland called to his goddess once again and Gunthar leapt happily to the edge of the cliff to support the others.

Roland moved to a spot along the cliff edge between Kazrack and Ratchis’ positions and fired his crossbow down at the climbing orcs, missing. However, one of the archer orcs below totally misjudged his shot and ended up striking one of his climbing companions in the back. The orc slid back down the ridge wall crying out in horror, and splattered lifeless against its base forty feet below. (4)

Climb! Climb! Climb! the one of the orcish leaders commanded. A cry from the other and another volley of arrows came over the wall. The third leader to appear was now climbing the wall as well, but about half way up he took an arrow from in the shoulder from Bastian and slid back down painfully. Cursing, the orc ran further down the cliff face and began to climb again.

While a few of the climbing orcs were sent plummeting to their death by the Keepers of the Gate, the steady and staggered arrow fire from the orcs at the edge of the treeline allowed a good number to make it near the top.

One threw itself over the edge and leaping to its feet threw a javelin at Martin, but it bounced away as ineffectually as all the arrows had earlier. Bastian dropped his bow and drew his hammer and ran over to slam it on the top of the head the leader who had also made it to the top by now. The leader fell all the way down and did not get back up again.

“Oh no!” Roland said after he luckily took a moment to get a get a grip on how the fight was going up and down the line. “Behind you to the left!”

The others looked up to spy a fourth group of about a dozen orcs already a top the ridge and advancing over the mica-strewn rocks to the east. They swung battle axes over their head, and were being commanded by another orc in a chain shirt and wielding a short bow. He barked commands as he sent an arrow towards Kazrack from atop one of the stones in the area.

“If there are even more, we may want to consider disengaging,” Roland suggested. No one listened to him. Kazrack dropped his crossbow and brought his halberd to bear. He took a moment to send another orc plummeting to its death and then moved to cut off the approaching orcs from a spot between two large stones.

Ratchis quickly healed Gunthar twice more in succession and then he and the Neergaardian hurried over to come around the tall stones and pen in the approaching of orcs.

“Outta the way, Stumpy, I’m twice the man you are,” Gunthar said, leaping over a stone to bring his long sword down on the first orc to reach them. The blade rang off the iron helm the orc wore and its blow was driven off line.

“You may be twice a man, but that still doesn’t equal one dwarf!” Kazrack laughed back. The dwarf caught an orc in the arm-pit with the heavy blade of his halberd, and knocking him into the orc that faced Gunthar. A follow-up thrust and both orcs were unconscious on the ground, bleeding to death.

A wave of dyed hair-woven cloaks came over the rocks, and when the approaching orcs saw the armor worn by Kazrack and Gunthar, they dropped their battle axes to the ground and half drew their heavy maces (5) and continued to advance. The other half drew their bows and began to send a steady stream of arrows to arc over the clearing to give their compatriots a chance to arrive.

Ratchis pulled one of the clay vials of the Blood of Ashronk (6) from a pouch and pulled the cork off with his teeth, guzzling down the noxious liquid as he used his great strength to parry the blow of an orc one-handed with his great sword. He threw the clay vial at a second orc and then brought his sword into both hands feeling the aid of the orc god in his blood.

Littermate of the Blood! Drop your weapons and we will not kill you or the soft-ones, but bring you to see Scartesh,” said a tall orc atop a tall stone thirty feet away. He wore a chain shirt as well, but wielded a long sword and a pick. His hair was as thick and natty, but dyed green, his face was covered by a purple-color disfigurement. “Except the stonefolk. He belongs to Tish-wash!

Your bodies will be bloated with the stink of death by evening!” Ratchis replied.

Tish-wash thumped his chest and then deftly hung his pick from his shoulder and pulled his own clay vial, drinking down the contents.

“Um, Martin? I could use a little help back here,” Dorn called, as he fired his crossbow point blank into the face of a climbing orc that reached the top. But four more were pulling themselves over. Martin calmly walked over and with an arcane word a spray of many colors washed over the orcs. All four of them tumbled backward unconscious, tumbling down the cliff face.

Rain of arrows on the lizard man!” cried one of the orc leaders below when Martin appeared at the edge of the cliff. More than half a dozen arrows came down atop the watch-mage, but not one could pierce his protections. Martin looked over the edge and saw two more orcs coming.

“Go and join the others,” Martin told Dorn. “I can handle this.”

“Good luck,” Dorn replied, and he advanced, firing his crossbow at Tish-wash and striking him dead in the chest. The orc grunted and dropped down off the stone and temporarily out of view.

There was a chaotic mess of flailing limbs in the area around the stones.

Kazrack grunted as he took two arrows to his right side. The arrows punctured his plate and bit deep, and then quickly broke off. He looked up in time to see that Tishwash had snuck around the stone and through the crowd of orcs. The dwarf felt the crunching bite of the orc leader’s pick. Kazrack drove Tish-wash back with a heavy blow from the side of his halberd blade, allowing himself the opportunity to get into a better defensive stance.

Gunthar had made his way into the center of the fray and was leaving a trail of dead orcs as he moved, but was bleeding from many wounds once again.

“Grit-suckers and pig-f*ckers!” Gunthar swore, looking around to get a glimpse of Kazrack or Ratchis. “Always running off.”

He did notice that Roland was once again in panther form and was pouncing on orcs and eviscerating them.

Ratchis had run around the fray to join Bastian who was driving a fifth mailed orc back with many blows of his hammer. Ratchis came rushing in and cleaved the orc’s helmet and head open with a single heavy blow.

Kazrack and Tish-wash’s weapon rung out against each other, and time and again, Kazrack’s armor turned the blows of the tall orc’s sword and pick. The dwarf thrust his halberd forward and up, catching Tish-wash’s chainshirt near the collar and jerking it upward. The armor and blade slammed under the orc’s chin and he barely broke off, bringing his weapon back up to a defensive posture. However, he was bleeding terrible where his neck and jaw had been ripped and smashed.

The orcs up top who had drawn their bows dropped them and joined the fray with maces drawn.

Bastian noticed another of the mailed orc leaders trying to pull himself up to the top of the ridge, so he sent him back down to his death with a hammer-blow.

Ratchis moved into the fray and cutting the legs out from one orc, sent it bleeding to the ground, and then thrust the point of his greatsword through the back of another. He pivoted to bring himself near Kazrack and jerked the sword free. Gritting his teeth he brought his sword down on a surprised Tish-wash. The great blade drove down deep between neck and shoulder, driving the orc leader down to his knees, as he dropped his weapon and futilely clawed at the blade for a half a moment.

Send the runner!” he croaked before expiring.

Send the runner!” Another orc took up the cry. It was echoed by a cry down below.

“What are they saying, D’nar?” Kazrack asked Ratchis. He looked up from Tish-wash to noticed only four orcs remained alive up here. No, he saw a fifth running to scrubs east of their location.

“Something about a runner,” Ratchis replied.

Bastian looked over the edge of the cliff, and the orcs below were melting away into the ash-covered trees. The dire boar had run off in a random direction.

The orcs up top made to run, but Gunthar felled one with a javelin before it could get far. A crossbow bolt from Dorn dropped another, and Roland snapped at a third who had made his way to the cliff edge and was about to climb down. The orc tumbled down to his death.

A crossbow bolt and one last arrow from Ratchis dropped the last one before it got too far.

“I did not know the orcs had gotten this close to here already,” Kazrack said.

“They haven’t,” Ratchis replied. “I think this is just a scouting party, sent to scope out the situation and test the strength of resistance.”

“They were camped when I happened upon the filthy pigs,” Gunthar said. He was already dragging the bodies into a pile, but checking their cloaks and belts for any pouches with anything of worth. “I killed two of them and ran. I thought I lost them, but that one was a good tracker, I guess.” He pointed to Tish-wash’s corpse.

Ratchis looked at Tish-wash’s crumpled form and a sad expression washed over his scarred face.

“Let’s search these orcs for anything useful and gather up the arrows, we might need them later,” Ratchis finally said.

Roland prowled off, but Bastian and Dorn helped gather the dead orcs and go through their things. The golden center of Ra’s Glory was visible above the horizon.

Kazrack picked up Tish-wash’s pick and examined it with a frown. He then crouched beside the orc leader and looked at he chain shirt on the corpse.

“Could it be…?” Kazrack stroked his beard. He turned to the others. “These are of very good craft. Could they have been stolen from dwarves? No, they are very good, but they are not quite dwarven.”

“Someone else could have learned dwarven craft,” Martin suggested.

Kazrack rolled his eyes.

Ratchis handed the dwarf a broken tablet of solid gold he had found on the orc leader. It was covered in dwarven runes. Kazrack held it in his palm and rubbed it. He put it away for safe keeping along with several dozen gold obleks and nearly twice that many in silver that was found among the orcish leaders. There were also two masterwork bows. Gunthar took one and Bastian, the other.

“Who the hell is Beardy?” Gunthar spat, looking at Bastian.

“This is Bastian. We met him in the city of the Ancients we were forced to journey to in order to unlock the entrance to Hurgun’s Maze,” Martin said. Bastian put out his hand.

Gunthar spat again. “I’m not impressed,” he said not taking it. He looked up at the others. “So what’s the plan?”

“What happened? Why were you delayed?” Roland asked, still in panther form.

Gunthar was startled by the talking panther, but finally replied.

“I told ya. Deebo double-crossed me. He turned into a troll! And then suddenly there were three other trolls and I had to get the hell out of there,” Gunthar explained. “I spent days hiding.”

Kazrack let out a laugh.

“Laugh it up, Stumpy! I used my head and used some of the smoke-powder to blow them up,” Gunthar laughed.

“So you killed them?” Martin asked.

“Maybe. Or it might just take them a long time to grow back their bits,” Gunthar replied.

“So what are we doing next?” Kazrack said.

“At this point it is pretty clear that Martin was right and tomorrow is the day we were waiting for,” Ratchis said. “So we find a place to hole up not too far away, prepare spells, and hope we don’t run into any more trouble.”

“But what about these orcs? Why are they here?” Dorn asked.

”They mentioned a half-orc I know of from when I was young and still with my tribe,” Ratchis said. “His name was Scartesh and he was trying to unite all the different tribes under his rule. My tribe would not join with him.” (7)

“Do you think he was bringing them together to serve the dragon?” Kazrack asked.

“I don’t think so,” Ratchis said. “At least not back then, or else my tribe just might have joined with him as we… they worshiped the dragon.”

“So your tribe might have joined them since you left them?” Bastian asked.

“Perhaps,” Ratchis turned away. “We need to find a place to camp. I say we go into the woods over there where we can be hidden.” He pointed to the west.

“Why not a place down in valley?” Bastian asked.

“Down in the valley?” Ratchis was skeptical. “We need to be able to get here quickly and with relative ease.”

“But I still think we should find a place down in the valley in case we have to hurry down there immediately,” Bastian said. “I know the area fairly well, and if the orcs come into the valley from the west they’ll be coming right by the amphitheatre. We are going to want a staging ground nearby.”

“You can just guide us to a place when the time comes,” Kazrack said.

“Things have changed down there,” Bastian replied.

“Let me check my map,” Martin said, taking his pack off his back. After a few frantic moments searching he looked up at Ratchis. “Did you take the map?”

Ratchis shook his head.

“Richard!” Martin swore.

“Or Logan, or Razzle,” Roland said.

Ratchis sighed and looked at Bastian. “Go scout and see what you can find, but don’t go all the way down. It’s dangerous down there. We’ll head west and you catch up with us, okay?”

Bastian nodded.

The Keepers of the Gate marched westward to where the forested portion of the ridge was thicker, while Bastian made his way north to get a good view of the valley.

The valley itself was quieter, though it belched acrid smoke every once and a while. And Bastian spotted a phalanx of large fire-wreathed salamanders moving through it, and then disappearing as the smoke became a jet of water that roared for a moment, and then all was quiet again. About an hour later he joined the other and described an outcropping of rock was halfway to the amphitheatre and gave good cover from above.

As the others settled into camp, Ratchis crept around trying to cover signs of their passage. The spot was protected by three large fallen trees and thick ash-covered growth above and between them. They then all did their best to prepare spells.

“I can use the miracle of softening earth and stone to make deadfalls around the camp,” Kazrack offered afterwards.

“Better to save it,” Martin replied. “If more orcs come and try to climb up the ridge wall you can send them all sliding back down to their deaths with that spell.”

“Good idea,” Kazrack smiled.

Just after noon there was the sound of another crack and explosion from the valley. From where the camp was they could not see what was happening, so Ratchis crept off through the ash-covered undergrowth to take a look. Bastian sent up N’kron to look as well.

Ratchis was shocked by what he saw. The tiered cliffs of the amphitheatre were crumbling. Huge sections of stone were sliding down in wedges throwing up great clouds of dust, and there was a rumbling in the earth. For a moment he saw the canvas tents and other gear of the camped monks go hurling up into the air and then it disappeared into the landside of rock, dust, ash and trees.

He hurried back to camp and led the others to a secluded spot to watch what was happening. The rumbling grew louder as they approached, and they arrived in time to see something huge that rising out of the earth where the amphitheatre had been.

“What is happening?” asked Roland.

“It looks like the fortress of Hurgun’s Maze is rising up,” Ratchis replied.

“Or else the denizens of the Plutonic Realms are rising,” Kazrack said.

”I think they’d be quieter,” Bastian said in his quiet clipped tone. The others assumed it was his way of making a joke.

“I doubt the monks upon that cliff could have survived that fall,” Martin the Green theorized.

“Probably, but we should not make that assumption,” Roland said. “I have seen monks do some amazing things.”

“Really?” Kazrack was surprised. “All we have seen them do is get defeated by us and then we let them go at Beorth’s request, only to fight them again.”

There was another nearly deafening crack as the area of the ridge that had been the amphitheatre broke away from the rest of it creating a deep chasm. They could now see water bubbling up around the rising fortress.

It took nearly an hour for the fortress to finish rising and still twenty minutes later a cloud of dust hung around it, but it was fairly clear: Where the tiered cliffs known as ‘the amphitheatre’ had been there was now a fortress with tall stone walls, and five staggered towers on the rear wall above the great cracked chasm that had developed between the fortress and the ridge. The towers were so tall they dwarfed the top of the ridge. The four outer towers were square and tiered, with steps running up the side from the battlements below. They were all the same height. While the middle of the five towers was nearly forty feet taller than the others and more like a black metallic tube that spurted smoke. Atop the four other towers were tall stone statues upon stone pedestals that ranged from fifteen to twenty feet tall, but it was still difficult to make out the details of them from this distance.

The rest of the fortress seemed rather like any other fortress with thick lower walls dotted wih squat square towers topped with ramparts, and tiered plazas surrounded by outer buildings. The place was quiet and seemed deserted.

“So do we stay here?” Martin the Green asked as the party headed back to their camp.

“Of course,” Ratchis replied. “The hope is the beam of light will strike where in the fortress we need to go to get into Hurgun’s Maze.”

“It looks like I was right and we’re going to have to climb down into the valley to get in there,” Bastian said.

“Let’s see where the beam strikes before we decide what route to take,” Ratchis said.

“Okay, but I don’t see that we have much choice,” Bastian said. He called mentally to N’kron, who told him more of the fortress’ layout that the familiar had seen from the sky. Bastian conveyed this to the others.

“So the plan is to see where this beam of light hits in the fortress and make our way there before anyone stops us without anyone else noticing where it is we are trying to go?” Bastian asked.

The others nodded.

“So who else is looking for this place again?” He continued.

“A half-demon gnome named Mozek, his mother who is some kind of demon-queen, the monks that hopefully all just got killed, and Richard the Red and his friends,” Ratchis said. “Oh, and maybe a warlock named Rindalith.”

“Who’s Rindalith?” Bastian asked.

The afternoon was spent back at camp going over the story of Jana and Rindalith, and covering some other details of their adventures that both Bastian and Roland were curious about.

Many hours later as Ratchis, Bastian and Gunthar slept, Roland sat in panther-form, as still as a statue, the perfume of his gifted incense of meditation (9) filling his feline nostrils, not quite asleep but in a deep holy trance. Kazrack and Dorn were awake, taking second watch, along with Martin who spent most of his extended awake time reading, and now trying to redraw his maps from memory, Dorn sighed and said, “I guess I am going into Hurgun’s Maze.”

“Are you?” Martin asked, looking up from his book.

“I wasn’t sure, but now…”

“The more hands the better,” Kazrack said. “Only a coward would walk away, or one who feels like the world’s well-being is not his responsibility.”

“I’m not sure,” Dorn said.

“You should go,” reiterated Kazrack.

”Oh, I’m going,” Dorn replied. “I’m just not sure the world’s well-being is my responsibility.”


Ralem, the 1st of Ese – 565 H.E.

In the dead of night, Martin the Green woke the others at the end of the second watch. It had been agreed ahead of time that the party would wake early move to the mica-strewn area and wait for morning there. Martin could get his two hours of sleep while the others watched for the sun on the horizon.

As they marched once again, Bastian pulled up along side Martin.

“Martin, there was something else I was wondering,” the bearded warrior said. “How come Gothanius has two watch-mages when most places have only one?”

“Hmmm? Two?”

“Richard the Red.”

“Richard is not the watch-mage here,” Martin replied. “He betrayed his oath and thinks everything he does is right based on his intentions regardless of the consequences.”

“Well, he said he was the watch-mage,” Bastian said.

“He is not above saying anything for his own advantage,” Martin explained.

At the barren rocky area where the rotted corpses of orcs were still piled, Martin unrolled his bedroll and grabbed his two hours of sleep while the others spread out hoping to get the best vantage point for the coming dawn.

This time of year Ra’s Glory rose slightly more south than the rest of year, and soon after the first light came in from the east all the bits of mica all over the ridge top in this area were sparkling as they not had the morning before. Suddenly as a third of the sun came of the horizon, the whole area glistened as sparkles of light leapt from stone to stone and a moment later a beam of light could be seen cutting across the clearing from one stone to another and out into the valley, but it died before it reached the fortress. A few moments later a second stronger beam appeared across the clearing from it, and was reflected into the first beam making it stretch out further across the gulf, but still it did not make it. Then there was a third beam and then a fourth, and they all focused together to send the beam of light across the valley.

Martin awoke and crawled to his feet to visually follow the beam with the rest of the Keepers of the Gate.

It struck near the top of the easternmost tower, but then began to slowly move to the west. Curious, Bastian stepped out of the clearing to see what kind of the view of the beam others could get from elsewhere on the ridge, and he noticed that even just a few dozen yards away the beam could not be seen. He hurried back to join the others to see the beam of light slow down as it struck the base of the statue atop the next tower in.

“I think there is a door where it strikes,” Ratchis said.

“Yes, I think I see it, too” Roland said.

But the beam of light kept moving, this time rising up to strike the statue itself. Down in the valley the reverberation of a lone trumpet could be heard, and in a moment it was answered by a rising clamor of horns and drums from beyond the unseen western entrance to the valley. (8)

The beam continued to point to the statue for half a minute and then the sun shifted again and it was gone.

“We are being watched!” Martin cried, he saw the normally invisible sensor of a scrying spell hanging above Ratchis’ head.

“Who is it?” Kazrack asked.

“Mozek,” the watch-mage said with fear in his voice as he saw the image of the half-fiend gnome behind his closed eyes. Their scaly green-skinned nemesis smiled and strings of yellow spit expanded from his sharp black teeth inside his impossibly wide mouth. Mozek’s eyes gleaming green eyes flashed as he stood from his frosted ball of crystal and climbed a some large purple blur behind him that suddenly came to view. The creature’s visage was blocked for a moment as something dark flapped in front of the sphere, but then Martin could see what Mozek had mounted. It was a black and purple scaled wyrm mottled with tarnished copper. It had two legs, a snake-like body and a sharp black stinger on its long spindly tail. It flew off as the vision faded.

“He is mounting his hell-beast,” Martin said, his shoulders sagging. “He is coming.”

End of Session #88
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
---------------------------------------
Notes:
(1) These are the Gu’tarsh, a tribe of orcs that makes an appearance in the Story of Ratchis.

(2) DM’s Note: Martin was protected by shield, mage armor and by +6 natural armor from his form.

(3) Translated from Orcish – as is all other complete dialogue between Ratchis and the orcs in italics

(4) DM’s Note: The orc archer fumbled, rolling a “Hit Friend” result.

(5) DM’s Note: Aquerra uses weapon type vs. armor rules. For the details check: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Armor

(6) You can read about the Blood of Ashronk here: http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Blood+of+Ashronk

(7) Again, for more about this see the Story of Ratchis.

(8) Again, see this map to see the area of Greenreed Valley and the ‘amphitheatre’, but actually the map is more than slightly off in that area and the ‘amphitheatre’ should stick into the valley further east and south, basically facing into the center of the valley.

(9) Roland of Bast was granted the Incense of Meditation by Chochokpi in Session #84
 
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Manzanita

First Post
Wow. I'm so excited that they're finally at the maze. I think the KOG should be congratulated for keeping their eyes on the prize and finally making it.
 

Dawn

First Post
Wow. All those opposing factions converging on this one spot. Shaping up to be a big show-down.

Just want to add that I too like the insight from your commentaries on the sessions. Good information and good view into what you were thinking while running the game. Keep them coming!
 


Ratchis

First Post
I have cleave. I will use the present tense since we have a reunion game coming up already to continue the story a bit.

Graywolf-ELM said:
Sounds like Ratchis has cleave, and was finally able to use it. Or did I misinterpret the writing?

Excellent update BTW.

GW
 

Ciaran

First Post
Martin's spells had a bigger impact on other battles, but this is the one where he felt the most like a badass. The orcs must have fired a good 40 arrows at him, and only one or two actually hit. Wimpy orcs!
 

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