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

handforged

First Post
Well, I certainly wasn't expecting that. I wonder what Scartesh would have asked of Roland if Martin hadn't been around? Perhaps to go to Nikar? That would have been interesting. I have to say that I like the idea of the campaign ending with the characters getting ready to go on with their lives.

~hf
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #103 (part 2 of 2)

Teflem, the 6th of Ese – 565 H.E.

Ratchis was awakened by a duodrone. It buzzed its wings and its rectangular body bobbed up and down as it led the Friar of Nephthys to the chamber with the stone golem statues of Hurgun. In a room behind the a door the party had simply run past, Ratchis found Gunthar in a sitting room, with a brown hunting horn of bone and wood in his hands.

The room was decorated in lacquered wood panels that traced the perimeter of the bare stone walls. There was a large hearth of stone that seemed to have been molded by hand in the far wall. A gold statue of a ram upon a mountain, and another of a horn of plenty, where the stone fruits were colored by being encrusted with tiny jewels, flanked it. There was a plush carpet and stuffed chairs.

Lying on a divan was the motionless form of Martin the Green. He looked worn and skinny, like he had since his experience with Lacan’s Demise, but the rot of his face was gone. His skin was its normal pallor. Martin had his hands clasped to his chest, and Ratchis gasped as he noticed that the watch-mage was breathing.

“What is this? What is happening?” he asked Gunthar.

“We all got what we wanted,” Gunthar smiled.

Hurgun of the Stone entered the room by means of the solid stone wall on the right.

“Ah, Ratchis… I see you have arrived and have seen your friend alive again. I explained to Gunthar that upon doing more research I realized it might not be a good idea to bring his brother back in the manner I had intended,” Hurgun said.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, he said something about a debt and being bound to serve Anubis and the good, since the price of his coming back last time was never paid in full,” Gunthar continued to smile broadly, and raised the horn. “Now I just blow on this and Jeremy shows up all bathed in the celestial light and ready to drink or fight or do whatever. (1) And this way he can pay back his debt and eventually have his soul at rest. I summoned him before and we talked about it. He’s still not happy that I’m his brother, but I think he’ll get used to it. I mean, to know me is to love me, right Snuffles?”

Ratchis’ grunt was non-committal.

“And that left the boon free to be used to bring back your friend as you and the rest of your companions desired,” Hurgun added, and gestured to Martin. “I asked Gunthar who would be best to wake him, and he said you.”

“I doubt I am the first face he would like to see,” Ratchis replied. “But I guess no once else would be any better of a choice.”

“Before you do wake him, I also wanted to give you two more gifts,” Hurgun said. He walked over to a chest at the end of the divan and pulled out a spear. He handed it to Ratchis. The spear’s shaft was an ashen color, and the spearhead was made of a reddish-black metal. There was an inset cut out in the lower portion of the spear head that had a single eye with a flame-shaped pupil in it. Golden hairs were tied tightly about the top of the shaft to hold the blade in place.

It was the Spear of the Boarblood, and Hurgun explained its origins and powers. (2)

“Elfbane?” Ratchis asked, wincing. “That means drow, too?”

“Yes,” Hurgun replied.

“Oh, that’s okay then… Thank you very much,” Ratchis shrugged. “I am most grateful.”

“I wanted to replace what you had to give back up to Chochokpi,” Hurgun said. “It might not be as prestigious an item, but I hoped its origins, and the fact that a spear is the weapon of your goddess would please you.”

Ratchis nodded. Hurgun of the Stone also handed him a bright green emerald the size of a large walnut “And this is just a thanks…”

Ratchis gently touched a calloused finger to Martin’s forehead. The watch-mage’s eyes fluttered open.

“Ratchis! Thank you for bringing me back,” was the first thing he said, as he slowly sat up.

“Actually, you have Gunthar to thank,” Ratchis smiled. He went on to explain about Jeremy. Gunthar and Martin shook hands and the Neergaardian slapped him on the shoulder.

“You’ll be back to being doughy in no time,” Gunthar winked.

There was a happy chittering and Thomas leaped up from where he had dropped onto the divan. Martin scratched his familiar’s head lovingly, and brought the squirrel right up to his face to let the little rodent sniff him.

“Is it just me, or…” Martin suddenly looked up at Ratchis. “Did we fight a dragon?”

Ratchis nodded, and did his best to explain.

“And where is Richard?”

“Lost in the planes,” Hurgun said, stepping forward. Martin greeted Hurgun with a deep bow. A few moments later, a monodrone showed Kazrack into the sitting room.

The dwarf nearly broke Martin’s back he embraced his companion so hard. Martin looked away embarrassed, and Ratchis laughed in a way neither of them had ever heard before.

Kazrack was given a magical halberd named Higador, (3) and a brown diamond, smaller than Ratchis’ stone, but of near equal value.

“Ooh gifts! I love do so love gifts!” Roland squealed after he had finished cooing over a resurrected Martin. The Bastite had left Bastian sleeping in the cloud room they shared the night before when a monodrone was sent for him, but the Gothanian was called soon after. Hurgun gave Roland the Collar of Fangs (4), and a jacinth, and Bastian some tall leather footwear, called Bucknard’s Boots. (5) They were given valuable gems as well.

Martin was given one of Hurgun’s Tokens, a large ruby and a fine dark blue robe that changed to has swirls of green in varying shades surrounding peacock feather-like patterns. Hurgun called it Issek's Robe of Eyes (6) He also was given back the Ring of Marked Excellence, which Hurgun said he had taken from the body of Ming the Dakkon-King. (7)

Hurgun of the Stone led the Keepers of the Gate back to the Dining Room, and they found Cordel, Norena and Razzle waiting for them. They stood and greeted Martin warmly.

“I am sorry that we were at odds,” Martin said to Cordell.

“It is the past and cannot be unwritten,” Cordell of Thoth said. “It does my heart good to see you among the living.”

Everyone sat down to the delicious breakfast spread laid out on the table.

“You know, Ratchis,” Razzle Greyish said, back to his talkative self. “You should come visit Ettinos. It where I call home, even though I am hardly there… It s a half-orc colony, but lovely people. I think you’d really enjoy it.”

“Hurgun? How many days have passed since we entered the Maze?” Martin asked.

“Five days.”

They all chatted breezily, except for Bastian who was as quiet as usual, and Ratchis who seemed to get clautrophobic when too many people talked at once. Gunthar and Norena fell to flirting shamelessly. Roland complained of boredom.

When breakfast ended, Scartesh was shown in again, and this time only the ogre, Dumasg was with him. Martin the Green was introduced, and Scartesh seemed impressed with Hurgun’s ability to return him to life. The watch-mage agree to carry the half-orc’s message, but added, “However, I will not be an advocate to plead your case. I will merely explain to the king the pros and cons of your offer as I seem them.”

“Fair enough,” Scartesh replied. He turned to Ratchis. “Are you ready?”

Ratchis, Scartesh and Dumasg were led to the Entrance Room and up into the Earth Tower and back down through the silent courtyard and out the gate that Ratchis had only seen from above when first coming here. (8) The orcs had pulled out of the courtyard, and he could tell right away that the army here was making ready to move. Sacks were being stuffed, tents taken down, and gear packed high on the backs of the mammoths that bellowed in protest. He even saw half a dozen of the dwarven riding lizards that must have been captured in the battle with the forces of Adoth-Rech. Orcs began to line up as Scartesh walked past, hollering gutteral encouragment to him, while some took the opportunity to curse or challenge Ratchis.

The Friar of Nephthys looked to Scartesh, who shrugged, and then he began to walk resolutely towards a large orc who had spat in their direction. The other orcs scattered as Ratchis approached. In a few moments, he had the spitting orc pinned to the ground, arm nearly broken behind its back.

“It is within your right to kill him,” Scartesh said in orcish.

Ratchis jerked the arm hard one last time and let go. “I will not. I prefer he simply know that I could, but did not…”

“Some will take your mercy for weakness,” Scartesh said as they continued walking through the camp.

“Then let them come and test my weakness then,” Ratchis replied. “For the others, I hope they can appreciate and learn the quality of mercy from my actions…”

Scartesh nodded. “You will make a good leader for your people. I could have brought the prisoners to the fortress, but I wanted an opportunity to see you among our people. You will do well, but it will still be very difficult.”

“When has life not be difficult for orcs?” Ratchis said. Scartesh just nodded in agreement.

The dwarven prisoners were chained together in a ditch. There were buckets of slop and excrement, but at least the orcs had kept those buckets separate.

“Traitor!” one of the dwarves suddenly yelled at Ratchis as he appeared with Scartesh at the edge of the ditch. It was a young dwarf with his fine golden beard now as ragged as the remains of stripped armor on his shoulders. Another dwarf that looked exactly like him stood as well. Ratchis recognized them as Golnar and Tolnar. There were nearly a score other dwarves there as well. “I knew he could never be trusted!”

“Foul blood of a bastard race!” Golnar spat. “Where is good Master Delver?”

“I have come to bring you and your kin to him,” Ratchis replied with more pity than scorn. “But I have no desire to rob you of your freedom. If you are to come with me, then come of your own accord.” The half-orc called out his goddess’ word of freedom, and the chains and manacles dropped off the dwarves.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the Keepers of the Gate accompanied Hurgun of the Stone to the top of the Earth Tower to await Ratchis’ return. They looked out on the great host of orcs begin to march away and wondered where among their number their companion might be. Bastian did his best to estimate how many orcs he saw. It was clearly more than six hundred.

Suddenly there arose a great clamor among the orcs. The Keepers of the Gate and their companions turned to look at where the orcs were marching out of the gap into Greenreed Valley and noticed a silohette snaking over the ground and looked up to see what it was.

There was a great green and black draconic form swooping over the orcs and headed towards the fortress. Many of the orcs began to break ranks and scatter, but others cowered in fear or awe, covering their eyes, while still others stood in stoic attention.

“Ah, good,” Hurgun of the Stone said. “Now no one do anything to provoke her, there is something I still need to find out about this dragon… Something I suspect from what you told me of your battle with her in the future…”

“At least something interesting is finally happening,” Roland said, as he had been complaining of boredom all morning.

Glamorgana swooped over the courtyard and landed atop the nearby Fire Tower. (9) Her claws clattered against the stone as she clung to the side and stretched out her neck towards the Earth Tower.

“Hurgun of the Stone,” She hissed. Her voice snaked up and down their bodies in that unnerving way, reverberating against the fuzzy memory of their battle with her, until it seemed a little clearer. “The agreement is fulfilled. Our worshipers are withdrawing, but now they are ours to command as we like.”

“Yes,” Hurgun replied, not raising his voice despite the gulf between the towers and the moaning of the late autumn wind. “But now you must depart…”

Glamorgana snarled and snapped her wings, pulling her great body in the air. She flew close over the Earth Tower, and the Keepers of the Gate ducked reflexivly, but she banked and flew out over the orcs again. The orcs cried out in fear and adoration.

“It is as I suspected,” Hurgun said, when the dragon was out of sight. “That is not Glamorgana. The thing only believes itself to be…”

“What is she then?” Kazrack asked.

“She is a simulacrum, made when Glamorgana was younger, and believes herself to be the dragon at that time when she had arrogance and little wisdom,” Hurgun explained. “As dragons get as old as Glamorgana should be now they withdraw from the world, and grow to have a more balanced view. The petty desires to rule over mortals is a game of adolescene and young adulthood for her kind…”

“So if that is the dragon Scartesh believes to be Glamorgana…” Roland began.

“Then if she is slain, the orc hordes will likely fall apart…” Hurgun finished for him.

“And that is a thing we know can be done,” Martin the Green said. “For we have done it once already…”

“Ratchis seems to feel that the establishment of the orcish empire is inevitable,” Kazrack said. “As is the suffering of the people of the Little Kingdoms…”

“But now it no longer seems inevitable,” Martin replied.

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Ratchis of Nephthys led the dwarves back out of the orc camp. The orcs hooted and hollered angrily, but Dumashg escorted them back and there were no attempts to stop them. Everything and everyone stopped when the dragon swooped by overhead. Ratchis cursed and continued, hurrying the awed dwarves along. In fortress courtyard, tridrones were scrubing the courtward with pushbrooms while others drew water from the well.

Hurgun and the others came out into the courtyard.

“Master Delver!” Golnar greeted happily. His face brightened and for a moment he looked more like the dwarf Kazrack had seen only a few weeks before. Kazrack clasped hands with each of the dwarves and introduced himself.

Tolnar looked at Ratchis with confusion and remorse, but Ratchis said nothing.

“Your brother, Jolnar?” Kazrack asked.

“He fell running to aid Captain Adalar who was still fighting despite having a leg crushed by one of the behemoths,” Tolnar replied. He looked down. “The captain was crushed under the beast.”

“They fell as any good dwarf should,” Kazrack said to them, gently. “They all did. And though I feel sorry for your loss, I say to you: Do not trouble your hearts with sorrow, but look forward to when you may remember your brothers as you slay the enemies of our people.” His voice grew louder, and all the dwarves stood up straighter as Kazrack paced up and down before them. “I shall lead you back to Abarrane-Abaruch and bring the news of what has happened here, but I also bring with me good news, though I cannot speak of it now. (10) And we shall raise an army to bring glory back to the dwarven people!”

“We are at your service,” Tolnar said. “But we have no arms for the dangerous journey back.”

“You may gather what you need from the fortress armory, though there will be little in the way of armor that will fit dwarves,” Hurgun said. “And now, I must say farewell, and bid you luck in your endeavors. There is much I need to do before I dissemble the Maze… Again, I thank you for your aid, and one day perhaps our paths will cross again.”

“Um, Master Hurgun?” Martin the Green walked over to him meekly. “I was wondering if perhaps we might arrange some training for me, as…”

“I must refuse,” Hurgun replied.

“Okay, well… Is there some message I can bring to the Academy of Wizardy from you?” Martin asked. “I plan to return there soon after I go talk with the King of Gothanius…”

“The Academy does not concern me,” Hurgun said. “But the king of Gothanius does… By the time you arrive I will have already have gone and paid him a visit and explain some of what has happened.”

“Oh really?” Roland perked up. “Can we get a ride with you? A quick teleport to Twelve Trolls?” (11)

“Again, I must refuse,” Hurgun said.

Roland of Bast frowned and nodded.

Martin and Bastian explained to Ratchis what Hurgun had said about the dragon.

“Then it is as important as ever to destroy the dragon,” Ratchis replied. “But not before I take this chance to return to my tribe and sow a seed of goodness in them if I can.”

“We don’t even know where the lair is,” Martin said. “I can use the time to research while I am back at the Academy…I think we all have our own avenues to persue…”

“And as I said before,” Roland interjected, as Hurgun had left. “We need to gather information. I shall stay here in Gothanius and see what I can find out, and I think I will be seeing if I can collect donations to refurbish and reconsecrate the temple of Bast.”

Kazrack went to Gunthar. “Gunthar, I was hoping you might accompany me and my brethren to Abarrane-Abarruch. Many of them are but new recruits and some are injured from their battle. It will be good to have another sword-arm with us.” The dwarf sounded pained to have to ask.

“Are all other dwarves like you?” Gunthar asked.

“Yes,” Kazrack did not hesitate.

“Then no, thank you,” Gunthar said, perhaps the first time he had ever been polite. He walked over to join the conversation the others were having with Ratchis. Kazrack joined them as well.

“I can go with you part of the way,” Bastian offered the dwarf. “Archet is close. It won’t matter if I go a few days out of my way.”

“I thank you,” Kazrack replied.

The Keepers of the Gate agreed to travel to Summit where they might gain some information about what had been going on in their absence, and to collect the gear and provisions Kazrack and his new dwarven entourage would need.

They arrived at the outskirts of the town at nightfall.

“Halt! Who goes there?!” cried a familiar voice out of the darkness. It was Finn Fisher and Carlos Diamante leading a squad of local militia men.

There were cheerful greetings, and Finn and Carlos and the others escorted them into town sharing stories of what had happened in the last few weeks.

“I have to warn you, Sir Clerebold is in town,” Finn Fisher said. (12) “He lost face with the king when he returned without you, but he and his men decided to stay and help against the orcs when we thought they would be attacking beyond the valley.”

“An honorable man, if misguided,” Martin the Green replied. “But it does not matter if he wants to return me to the king now, as I plan to go there regardless.”

As the others went to the Sun’s Summit Inn, Martin the Green went to see Alderman Henry Horton. Sir Clerebold was meeting with him.

“I shall save the accusations for the King,” the Alderman said coldly. “But I will say that I and the people of Summit are disappointed in you…”

“There was more going on than was ever made clear to you or your people, and for that I apologize,” Martin replied. “But at the time it seemed the best to limit who knew what… In retrospect that may have been a mistake…”

“So I take it the great task you had when we last met has been completed?” Sir Clerebold asked.

“Yes, and I am prepared to meet the king and face his judgment,” Martin said. “The orcs are withdrawing… At least for now… We have time…”

“I shall escort you there on the morrow,” Sir Clerebold said. “And your companions?”

“Roland of Bast shall accompany me, but the others have other tasks still before them,” Martin replied.

“A priest of Bast?” Alderman Horton asked. “Is he here because of the old temple?”

“No, but now that he knows of it, he plans to refurbish and re-consecrate it,” Martin replied.

”Have him return to me when you are done with the king,” the Alderman said. “There will be much re-building needed, and a nearby temple will help to cement the stability and prestige of the area…”


Anulem, the 7th of Ese – 565 H.E. (Remembrance Day) (13)

The next morning, after a cold breakfast, the Keepers of the Gate gathered to give a prayer for Remembrance Day at Roland’s request. When the others were reminded what day it was, they all agreed, even Kazrack, despite it being a day in honor of a human god – as there were many who had fallen in battle he wished to remember in his prayers.

By midday there was no sign of orcs in Greenreed Valley, every banner and standard and mammoth had disappeared over the western horizon. Ratchis informed the others that he would be leaving immediately in order to catch up with them and find the Darksh.

“Ratchis, I wanted you to know that I have the utmost respect for what you are trying to do,” Roland said to him, quietly. “And I respect Scartesh as well, but… You need to ask yourself if you think he can be trusted to make the best decision for everyone and not just for himself and his orcs. Remember, you said you wanted to limit everyone’s suffering, don’t forget that.”

Ratchis nodded. The half-orc shook hands and clasped the shoulders of his companions.

“We meet back at the temple of Bast in two months time, right?” he asked with his frightening smile. The others agreed. “I will be stopping at Aze Nuquerna on the way. I want to tell Ethiel what we have learned and see if he has any helpful news…” And he was off.

Bastian wanted to spend more of the day in quiet reflection of fallen comrades, so Kazrack and the dwarves spent their team collecting what food and clothes they could with the help of Finn and Carlos, and the town’s contable/smith, Maxel helped them with some spare spears, shields and helms. It was late afternoon when they said their good-byes to the others, heading west across Greenreed Valley and then northwest to Abarrane-Abaruch. It would take a fortnight to get there.

Martin the Green, Roland of Bast and Gunthar Northrop made their way east across the great Gothanian valley towards Twelve Trolls, escorted by Sir Clerebold and nine of his soldiers. A light snow began to fall as they stopped in the Alder-village of Three Trees and Martin was reminded of the party’s last journey in this direction, when they had been arrested in connection with Jana’s escape from Ogre Bluff’s gaol. (14)


Ralem, the 8th of Ese – 565 H.E.

It was just past midday when Martin, Roland and Gunthar finally gained entrance to Castle Gothanius. The snow had begun to fall harder mid morning, and they could barely make out the citadel towers as the made their way across the narrow stone path that bridge the great chasm all around the outer walls.

They were made to wait nearly an hour in the gatehouse with Sir Clerebold, and then finally were shown into the entrance hall. Sir Clerebold was taken away first and a few minutes later a brown-haired young man with a kind round freckled face and a Herman-lander’s complexion came out to talk with them. It was Daniel, the castle steward.

“Martin the Green! I had feared something had happened to you while out in the wilderness,” the steward said, shaking his hand. The young man’s palms were sweaty. Martin introduced Roland and Gunthar.

“I will bring you in to speak with his highness in a few moments. He wants to speak with Sir Clerebold first. I assume you are prepared to explain your whereabouts and your lack of communication since your last visit, and generally since arriving in Gothanius?”

“I shall endeavor to try,” Martin replied. “And to that goal I have brought Roland of Bast with me so he might corroborate my story.”

“Well, he intends to question you closely, so I hope your wits are sharp today,” Daniel said.

“I assume this ‘questioning’ will be more like yelling?” Martin asked.

“Perhaps… He sent many letters of complaint about you to the Academy, about one a month since last Nueit.”

“That’s fine,” Martin said. “I intend on returning to the Academy for a few weeks when I am done here. I am sure I will have to answer for those letters as well.”

A page came over and whispered in Daniel’s ear. The steward turned to the three Keepers of the Gate. “Okay, the king is ready for you… Remember your manners and etiquette in the presence of royalty…”

“Martin the Green…” The king allowed the watch-mage’s name to roll off his tongue with contempt after Martin and his companions were announced. The king wore a long burgundy robe of velvet and silk slippers. Middle-aged, he had a thick, but well kempt brown beard and green eyes. He sat on an ornate throne. Martin, Roland and Gunthar stood when told they could.

“Two days ago we would have had you thrown in the dungeon or perhaps immediately exiled, Martin the Green,” the king continued. “But luckily for you Hurgun of the Stone stepped out of legend, appeared in my court and vouched for you and the rest of your Keepers of the Gate…”

There was a long pause, but Martin knew to say nothing until he was directly asked a question.

“However, that does not mean we are not still angry,” the King snarled. “It does not mean we do not think you did a poor job in your duty to keep me apprised of dangers to my realm!”

Another pause.

“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?”

Martin the Green did his best to explain all he could about Mozek, the Garvan gnomes and Hurgun’s Maze.

“And now orcs…” The king said.

“Yes, and speaking of orcs…” Martin the Green explained about Scartesh and his plans for empire, and his offer to his majesty. Roland interjected describing the number of forces and immediately expounding upon various options the king might have.

“Ah, honored priest of the cat goddess,” the King said. “You do this nation honor by coming here and seeing to its spiritual needs…”

”Yes, and with your leave, your majesty, I hope to repair and re-consecrate the temple of Bast outside of Summit, that I might have a base to work from to guide and protect the people of Gothanius…”

“And help develop a culture that honors the gods…” (15) the King added, obviously eager and happy to have the priest there. Soon Martin was hardly a part of the conversation. He noticed Gunthar shifting from foot to foot, bored out of his mind.

The meeting ended with Roland being invited to be the King’s guest in the castle for the rest of the winter. Martin explained that he would be heading back to the Academy of Wizardry immediately.

“Very well,” King Brevelan replied. “And tell your Academy they owe us a new watch-mage, a communicative one, if not one more competent. Your aid is no longer required here. We relieve you of any duties.”

As they left back into the entrance hall Martin said, “Gunthar, will you accompany me to Bountiful? From there I should be able to arrange transport to the Academy with Alexandra the Lavender.”

Gunthar agreed. “But no bleedin’ further than Bountiful!”

“And what will you do with the rest of your time?” Roland asked the Neergaardian.

“Eat, drink and whore, of course!” Gunthar smiled broadly. “Now that I can take a break from saving your sorry asses for a couple of months, I’m gonna take a well-deserved rest!”

“Ah Gunthar, if someone had told me I’d actually find your vileness and comic arrogance endearing I would have thought them crazy,” Roland laughed.

“Keep it in your pants, buddy,” Gunthar shoved the Bastite and winked. “We ain’t at sea…” He walked off.

Martin the Green and Roland of Bast shook hands, embraced, and then shook hands again. “Be wary of the king,” Martin whispered. “We know he is no demonblood (16), but that does not mean he cannot be petty and vindictive and eager to save face no matter the cost.”

Roland nodded, finding it hard to keep a serious countenance. “Don’t worry I’ll have him wrapped around my finger in no time… And I plan to go meet all the Aldermen, as well… Are you sure you need to head out immediately? Why not leave tomorrow?”

“Heh… No, I do not want to test the king’s hospitality,” Martin replied. “We can reach North Fork Wall by nightfall, there is good inn there if I recall correctly.”

“Very well then…” Roland of Bast looked at Martin the Green for a long moment. They shook hands then embraced. “Two months…”

“Two months…” Martin nodded and agreed.

“But I shall probably be using sendings to keep abreast of how it goes with each of us,” Roland added.

“Good idea,” Martin replied.

“Farewell, and may Great Queen Bast watch over your long journey…” Roland walked Martin out to the castle gate where Gunthar waited for them, and waved as the watch-mage and Neergaardian marched southward into the town proper, towards the long road south beyond that, and out of sight.

End of Session#103

End of Book IV: Into the Fire

And so ends of the “Out of the Frying Pan Campaign”
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
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Notes:

(1) For more information on the Horn of Heroes, go here.

(2) For more on the Spear of the Boarblood, go here.

(3) For more on the Higador, go here.

(4) For more on the Collar of Fangs, go here.

(5) For more on the Bucknard’s Boots, go here.

(6) For more on the Issek's Robe of Eyes, go here.


(7) Martin gave the Dakkon-King the ring back in Session #92. For more about the Ring of Marked Excellence, go here.

(8) See Session #89

(9) The outer fortress of Hurgun’s Maze on Aquerra had four great towers, each topped with a statue representing one of the four elements.

(10) Kazrack is of course speaking of the spirit of the heir to the dwarven throne in the sapphire.

(11) Twelve Trolls is the capital of Gothanius, named for the Battle of 12 Trolls.

(12) Sir Clerebold Haganricht is the leader of the Company of the Impervious Ward, which the Keepers of the Gate first met in Session #79. They last saw Sir Clerebold when he was keeping to his word regarding his group’s conditions of surrender to the party in Session #87.

(13) You can read more about Remembrance Day, here. It was one year ago on this day that the party that would become known as the Fearless Manticore Killers, and later the Keepers of the Gate had their first battle against goblins.

(14) See Sessions #28 and #29

(15) Bast is the patron goddess of most art, song and high culture.

(16) The Keepers of the Gate found this out from the Commune spell cast by Lydia the Holy while they were in Nikar. See Session #71
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Click Here to jump right to the last installment

And so it ends…

The “Out of the Frying Pan” Aquerra Campaign began in February of 2001. It was the attempt to replay the beginning of the same exact campaign and premise with a different group of recruited players that just never panned out – and then go on from there. And go on we did…

This time I recruited from old friends who were now available to play, friends of friends, and from both the Gamers Seeking Gamers forum here on the boards and the good old-fashioned sign in the local gaming store (though not quite “local” – the Compleat Strategist is in mid-town Manhattan, we play out in Brooklyn).

I began to write the story hour immediately after the first session, but it not only took me a while to find a pace and voice I was comfortable with in writing the thing, but I think the pacing and voice changed over the course of the five intervening years – whether it be the gruesome gore scenes of the zombie hordes in the Necropolis of Doom!!! Or, the long intricate debates the party often goes into whenever a course of action was not clear (which was often).

The campaign was just one month short of reaching five years of real time, and I just completed the story hour I began just about two months short of six years ago.

It took a lot of friggin’ effort, and there was a point where I went from just being a half-dozen sessions behind from the present, to being nearly 20 sessions behind (or more, have kind of forgotten). There was once a gap of about three months where I did not write at all, and then a late night watching of Fellowship of the Ring had me cranking out installments at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Did I mention it took a lot of friggin’ effort? Even now that I am done I am not sure how many pages the whole thing is. I still have not combined all the installments of the last “book”, however, I do know that the first three books combined are over 1000 pages (that is nearly five and half hundred thousand words!)

But it was so worth it! I (and my players) have a document of an awesome campaign - The longest I have ever run in Aquerra, and while it was being played the story hour actually helped create a better game – as I could use it as a means to remember old plot hooks and refer back to how I described things and had villains behave so there would be consistency.

Plus, it is hell of a whole lot of fun to go back and read portions of it. Sometimes I would go back to look up some detail and catch myself re-reading whole sections! And often the re-reading meant re-editing – which there was a lot of. I was constantly re-tweaking older installments and keep a compiled word doc where I have slowly posted each edited and annotated “book” as I got around to correcting them. And as it is, those documents are still being tweaked all the time, as I go back and find even more things that need correcting – mostly just typos or awkward grammar – but that doesn’t mean I have never gone back to correct mistakes in timelines, or the revelation of information that had not actually been revealed yet, and the like…

Finally, it was worth it just because it was such a great exercise in writing, and there were days I literally forced myself to write just one sentence more in hopes of getting over writing inertia, and often that worked – but other times it would languish at one sentence (or, if I was prolific, a paragraph a day) – but heck, at least I was writing every day.

I want to thank everyone who played in the “Out of the Frying Pan” campaign for creating and playing such great characters to write about. I want to give a special individual thanks to those players who kept a combat/occurrence log (Helene) and a quote log (EricM/Ciaran), and for those players who kept up with the former log, trading off to keep it going until someone else would volunteer to do it full-time – so eventually everyone did their part to help keep the records.

I also want to thank the early story hour writers who inspired me to start this thing (there were only like 3 or 4 ahead of me, but without them I would never have thought to start it). In fact, I think I am the first of that crop to still be written at this date to actually “finish”.

Finally, I want to thank all the people who have popped in and read this monster, whether it those who have been around since Day One (any of you still around?), those who popped in near the middle, went back and then caught up again, those of you who have only recently joined in, and those lurked the whole time and never commented once – though I want to thank everyone for their comments and questions as well.

There is still much work to be done. I need to finish editing Book Three, and I need to compile and edit Book Four. There are still two “reunion sessions” that were played six (and eight) months after the final session detailed here, that I may or may not write up. I have not decided. I really like the way this ends, and it might be best to keep it there. Not that the two reunion sessions were bad, they were a lot of fun, but just combat heavy and did not forward the plot so much, except by means of news the characters brought back with them from their individual trips. We’ll see…

I am greatly looking forward to my next Aquerra campaign, and as of this writing, I am planning of writing a story hour for that game as well. However, I will be starting grad school at the same time as that game is starting up, so we’ll see how much time I really have… But I really want to, as this next game is going to be more like typical Aquerra games than “Out of the Frying Pan” happened to be (more world-spanning), and will be taking place (at least at first) in one of my favorite places in Aquerra, the Magocracy of Thricia.

Thanks again to everyone… See ya in the funny papers! :)
 
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Pyske

Explorer
Thanks again for sharing the story hour with us all... I know that hundreds of hours went into writing it up, and I hope it's been a rewarding investment. I'm sure your players have very much enjoyed re-living the campaign.

One of my favorite aspects of the story, and of your world, is that your heroes seem to move through the world, rather than stand astride it... while I love epic stories, your characters offer a refreshing change of pace in accomplishing great deeds (including freeing a god!) without coming to dominate the world and its residents.

Thanks again for all the effort of sharing this tale.

PS -- minor typo in the WIKI links: bloodboar vs boarblood in the spear's name
 
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RedShirtNo5

First Post
As a lurker who has been around since Day One (I still remember reading the intro years ago and wishing I had thought of the hook), I want to echo Pyske and say thanks for sharing this story hour. Having written up just a few sessions for a gaming log, I can imagine how much work it was.
 

Slife

First Post
el-remmen said:
(2) For more on the Spear of the Boarblood, go here.

Psst, the correct URL is
http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Spear+of+the+Boarblood

You have a space in there where you shouldn't.

(funky formatting to make it copy and pasteable)
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Slife said:
Psst, the correct URL is
http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Spear+of+the+Boarblood

You have a space in there where you shouldn't.

Thanks. :)

I fixed the actual wiki page, but forgot to correct the link. . .

Fixed, for real this time. . .
 

Ciaran

First Post
Great work as always. I do hope you write up the reunion sessions, possibly as a separate thread (an "epilogue" or "coda" rather than as part of Book IV), but of course this shouldn't take precedence over working on the new campaign! (Or grad school... :D )

Oh, and you seem to have forgotten Hurgun's last gift to Martin. You will add it in, right?
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Ciaran said:
Great work as always. I do hope you write up the reunion sessions, possibly as a separate thread (an "epilogue" or "coda" rather than as part of Book IV), but of course this shouldn't take precedence over working on the new campaign! (Or grad school... :D )

Yeah, maybe. . . I feel like I already miss writing this thing! But then again I am getting on a roll with finishing my detailing of Thricia for the next game and will be also working on the Black Islands Barony for another Aquerra campaign to be starting early next year to be run by a friend living up in New Paltz.

Ciaran said:
Oh, and you seem to have forgotten Hurgun's last gift to Martin. You will add it in, right?

I found it and added it to the last installment. So everyone go back and see what Martin's gift was. . .
 

jensun

First Post
Well, I finished reading the last section of this story hour yesterday so I just had to start the thing from the beginning to find out where the whole business started.

I have to give you props for some very good writing. I was particualrly impressed that you turned what could easily have been a rather long and dull journey into the Little Kingdoms into an interesting series of adventures. Also, lots of different plot arcs and twists and small personal side quests and issues really add to the mix. It has been a very enjoyable read and I am still not finished (about to start part 2 of the second section).

Having said that a couple of things have niggled me throughout.

1. Use of the egyptian pantheon? Was there any particular reason you chose to go with them. The setting doesnt seem to have much of an egyptian cultural theme to it and personally I found the use of the names a bit jarring and tended to break the mood somewhat.

2. Is there any particular reason you decided to hit arcane casters so hard with the nerf bat and yet leave clerics mostly alone?

3. You have mentioned a few times that Aquerra is low magic and yet it still seems to have lots of arcane casters around. I can definately see it as low magic item, but certainly not low magic.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
jensun said:
Well, I finished reading the last section of this story hour yesterday so I just had to start the thing from the beginning to find out where the whole business started.

I have to give you props for some very good writing. I was particualrly impressed that you turned what could easily have been a rather long and dull journey into the Little Kingdoms into an interesting series of adventures. Also, lots of different plot arcs and twists and small personal side quests and issues really add to the mix. It has been a very enjoyable read and I am still not finished (about to start part 2 of the second section).

Thanks a lot for reading the ending and going back and tackling it from the beginning, and I am glad you enjoyed it.

jensun said:
Having said that a couple of things have niggled me throughout.

1. Use of the egyptian pantheon? Was there any particular reason you chose to go with them. The setting doesnt seem to have much of an egyptian cultural theme to it and personally I found the use of the names a bit jarring and tended to break the mood somewhat.

I chose the Egyptian pantheon way back in '89 when I was 17 and first started detailing Aquerra. I think after years of people almost exclusively using Greek & Norse gods I just wanted something different - but I also knew that (at that time anyway) people were not excited about totally made-up pantheons - so I took the general form of Egyptian gods with their familiar names (and unfamiliar stories) and just used them as needed - using some Egyptian stuff for flavor, but not really caring if I got it "right".

Later, when I was detailing the pre-history of the setting (what they call 'The Time Before') I described something akin to a fantastical Nile delta/Egypt.

By now, we are all so used to it, no one blinks.

jensun said:
2. Is there any particular reason you decided to hit arcane casters so hard with the nerf bat and yet leave clerics mostly alone?

I don't know that I left clerics "mostly alone" if anything - they are the most changed class in my set of house rules.

However, all the priest classes have strong ethos that must be followed, essentially limiting how they can use their powers if they want to keep them.

Wizards have no such thing.

jensun said:
3. You have mentioned a few times that Aquerra is low magic and yet it still seems to have lots of arcane casters around. I can definately see it as low magic item, but certainly not low magic.

I think it is only "low" in comparison to the power creep common to the standard D&D magic guidelines. I have always prefered the term "moderate" magic - but no one knows what the means when I used it.
 

Slife

First Post
el-remmen said:
Yeah, maybe. . . I feel like I already miss writing this thing! But then again I am getting on a roll with finishing my detailing of Thricia for the next game and will be also working on the Black Islands Barony for another Aquerra campaign to be starting early next year to be run by a friend living up in New Paltz.



I found it and added it to the last installment. So everyone go back and see what Martin's gift was. . .

Do you see anything odd about this part of the wiki's description?
[url=http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Issek%27s+Robe+of+Eyes]http://aquerra.wikispaces.com/Magical+Item+-+Issek%27s+Robe+of+Eyes[/url] said:
Hurgun took this robe from the evil wizard when they battled for control of the Colossus of Abeode.

It is unknown how this came to be in the possession of Hurgun of the Stone, but he awarded it to Martin the Green for his part in rescusing the geomancer from the heart of his own Maze.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Slife said:
Do you see anything odd about this part of the wiki's description?


You are catching all the mistakes lately! :p

That's what I get for not reading my own description and just pasting it up there and adding stuff to it. . .

Fixed now.
 

Jon Potter

First Post
Mixed emotions...

I'm conflicted over this. On the one hand, the Story hour that first drew me to ENWorld way back when is finally complete. But on the other hand, it's finished and I can't look forward to any more updates. I'm not sure what to think. :\

But let me echo the praise that others have lavished on you. This thread has been nearly equal parts entertainment and learning experience for me, and I can't thank you enough for both. In particular, the time travelling bit toward the end was inspirational and I intend to use a similar set up in my own campaign.

Thanks for sharing this SH with us, el-remmen.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Thanks for comment, J.P.! :)

I had actually thought you had stopped reading as I had not seen a comment from you in a long long time.

Also, I just started your story hour. . . is there a downloadable compiled version somewhere?
 

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