Piratecat's Updated Story Hour! (update 4/03 and 4/06)

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Claris’ sepulchral voice rises from Stone Bear’s throat. The shaman’s possessed body nods fluidly before continuing. “Yes, you were careless. But I failed.”

“I see.” Malachite reacts to Claris’ spectral accusation by simply turning his back. His voice is cold. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it, since apparently it’s all MY fault. Anyone that gets killed by undead represents a personal error of mine.” His bitterness is clear, but Claris doesn’t seem to notice it. Her voice is unusually gentle as she responds.

“I’m pleased that you admit it’s your fault. You've shown a forthrightness and willingness to accept responsibility that I have found... wanting... in most of the Defenders past and present.” Since Stone Bear has no eyes, it is impossible to see whether she is looking at Nolin as she speaks. “Do not be too hard on yourself, however. You are not responsible for all undead, just the ones that you had an opportunity to personally kill.” Claris' head swivels towards Velendo.

“We attempted to confront the group of undead that was chasing you. The battle was still raging when I fell. I was horribly weakened by a shadow. The last thing I remember was being unable to move, all my muscles twitching uncontrollably, and the elven archer standing above me with a sneer on her face and her bow drawn.” Stone Bear’s body shudders involuntarily.

The group is silent for a moment, then Mara grimaces. “I know how that feels,” she mutters. Her tongue traces the raised scar in the back of her throat where Arballine’s bone arrow almost killed her.

“I’m sorry, Claris,” offers Velendo quietly.

Claris’ voice becomes brisk and to the point. “Apologies don’t matter at present. Promises are more important than death.”

“How did you come to be here?” Velendo gestures with his arm at the hundreds of faint disturbances in the air, each one a restless spirit.

“When I was killed, I felt my spirit drawn here. It was almost as if an ocean tide had me, and I knew that if I came willingly I would be with others who could be allies. So I came.” She rubs Stone Bear’s eye sockets with one hand. “It hasn’t been very long.”

The group sits down on rubble and catches up on old times with Claris. Despite the fact that the pilgrim of Vindus is inhabitating someone else’s body, her presence seems eerily normal. They discuss the progress of the war, the confrontation with the hated Halcyon, the ejection of Teliez through yet another gate, and the group’s utter lack of a feasible battle plan for when they actually reach Nacreous. “I’m tremendously worried,” frets Velendo. “We have no idea of how the city is laid out or what sort of resistance we may encounter. We don’t know what their plans are regarding Imbindarla’s corpse, and whether there will even be anyone in the city when we arrive. For all we know, they’ll all be out devouring the goddess’ corpse at the site where she fell.”

Stone Bear’s face twists and twitches, and suddenly Claris is gone and the spirit of Saint Morak is looking at the group once again. “Then you need to find out for yourself. Have you decided?”

“Yes,” answers Velendo as he glances around at the group. “We need to make sure that our bodies here are safe, of course. But if you really can transport our spirits into Nacreous, it seems like too good a chance to miss.”

“Then we will try it.” Morak’s voice seems weary as he looks down at Stone Bear’s hands. “I will need this channeler at his full strength. He will be the one who brings you there and back. I can only show the way. You will displace some sort of undead when you arrive. Be ready for it.”

The group picks a handful of people to stay and guard the empty shells of flesh that the group will leave behind. Malachite, Priggle, Galthia, Cruciel and Burr-Lipp are chosen, assuring that there is little chance of anything happening to the abandoned bodies that can’t be competently dealt with. "I’m afraid I don’t have any choice,” comments Malachite. “My soul is too tightly bound to my flesh for me to inhabit an undead form.”

“And I’d only ruin things for everyone,” predicts Priggle. “Better not to send me at all.”

“Well, the four of us will keep your bodies safe,” promises Galthia to the others. “Don’t worry.”

“Five of us.” The voice comes from below.

“Thank you for that,” says Velendo as he places his hand on Galthia’s wiry shoulder. “We appreciate it.”

“Five of us!” Priggle stands up indignantly.

“What?” Velendo looks down at him confusedly as Galthia realizes his inadvertent gaffe.

“Right. Five of us.” The monk gives Priggle a reassuring and thin-lipped smile, but the deep gnome doesn’t look especially optimistic as he stumps over to a shadowy chunk of rubble to keep watch and ponder his fate. Velendo sighs and turns back to Stone Bear.

“So, what do we have to do?” It’s Stone Bear’s own voice that answers him.

“Set up any defenses and preparatory spells here, first. Then you need to gather around me. Hold hands.” Stone Bear begins to reach out with his soul to prepare for the journey.

I’ve been waiting for this, hisses his spirit guide Elder.

This will not be a natural place, warns the animal spirit. Do not expect the rules of the living world to apply.

I won’t, thinks Stone Bear to his guide, and suddenly all thought is forced from him as his soul contacts the source of spiritual power in this cavern. It’s like stepping into a lightning bolt; the voluntary sacrifice of Morak and his compatriots centuries ago has turned the cavern into a place of tremendous power. Stone Bear feels the light growing inside him, expanding far past the point where he feels he must burst with the pressure. His heart and mind sing with the energy, and instinctively he knows that this could kill him if he doesn’t disengage or find someplace to channel the light.

Now, whispers the ghost of Morak in his ear. Fly. With a tremendous effort, Stone Bear uses the energy to rip his soul free of his mortal body. With him he drags free the spirits of one ghost and four other mortals; he can feel the tug as their spirits separate from their flesh.

I will lead you, says Elder, and they spiral downwards into darkness.

--- o ---

Mara feels herself free from her body. She is flying, and it is a glorious feeling. Like luminous torches she can sense her friends around her. Then her flight slows and she sees a light snuff out. A second spirit disappears, then a third. Mara sees a shape in front of her, and she instinctively dives into it – only to be brutally and painfully rebuffed. Whatever she tried to enter, she didn’t have the willpower to force her spirit into it. The last of the lights is gone now, and she can feel her soul beginning to fray at the edges. Panic! Before the last of her strength is lost, Mara forces herself into another body nearby, one with less resistance and a more pliable form. As she feels cold and crawling flesh reform around her, she opens the body's gummy eyes.

She is lying on the ground, staring at a hazy ceiling far above her. Around her she sees six feral ghouls crouching and chewing with looks of near bliss on their jutting and fang-filled faces. She somehow knows that five of them are her friends and the sixth is the body she was just jettisoned from. But who is she? Against all of her better judgment Mara slowly looks down, and two things immediately become apparent.

The first is that she is in the body of a goblin zombie, not a ghoul.

The second is that her best friends are in the process of devouring her intestines.

To be continued…
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Poor Mara. I had them roll a simple will save (or something similar) to make sure that they had enough will power to steamroll the intelligence already in the undead. Mara's player not only rolled a 1, she rolled a second 1 immediately thereafter. The only remaining body nearby was that of the half-eaten zombie.

I guess some days are just like that.

We're using the channeling, ley lines and power nexus rules from Bad Axe Games Heroes of High Favor: Elves. I've changed a few things to keep Wulf on his toes, but it meshes wonderfully with his shamanistic character.
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First Post

Looong time lurker, first-time poster (be gentle) here! Since I joined up to vote on the poll, I thought to give my praise for this SH as well!

I first read this SH during the Eversink days waaay back when and I keep coming back to it due to the numerous yoink!-able ideas and sheer entertainment value. So thank you PC and the DoD-members!

You guys posting comments are funny and insightful too! I'll get me lurking cloak now and return back to my dungeon in Finland... :D


The stony ground rises perceptibly near the northern edge of Nacreous, City of Ghouls, and from there the view southwards can be quite astonishing. A person standing with their back to the exquisite Gates of Shining Bone could see far past the reeking slave pits towards the martial Houses of the Unquiet and their vast army of the undead. They could gaze upon the swaying mushroom forests of white fungus, under whose spreading caps the ghoul nobles gleefully hunt their panicked prey. They would see the abrupt precipice that marks the the eastern edge of the city, as well as the Seasoning Pit where the capitol’s food is rotted to sublime perfection. In the hazy distance one could perhaps make out the Palace of Rot, the Temple of All-Darkness, the Hill of Bones, the Arch of Gl’Yuut the Redeemer, and thousands upon thousands of mansions and mausoleum-like dwellings where the armies and artisans of the city tirelessly work and worship and eat without cease. Overhead the wings of massive undead bats would beat the foul air, and the tiny winged eyes of the king would circle like tiny meteors, seeing all that occurred with sight of their everpresent gaze. This is Nacreous, the heart of foulness, and it is here nearly a score of miles beneath the surface of Spira that the ghouls of the White Kingdom plan their secret movements. It is here that the Defenders of Daybreak have gone in their quest to break the spine of the White Kingdom.

Unfortunately, at the moment no one is particularly admiring the view.

“Auggh! What are you doing? Stop!” Mara feels her spleen clawed out of her body, only to disappear whole into Stone Bear’s gobbling maw. She unsuccessfully tries to keep the panic from her thoughts, and then five of the six ghouls surrounding her fetid body snap to attention and stop feeding. The untenanted sixth ghoul latches firmly onto one of her maggot-ridden intestines and starts to blissfully slurp.

“Mara, that’s you?” Claris’ ghoul body would blink if it still had eyelids. “You’re a zombie. Why aren’t you in a ghoul’s body?”

“I don’t know. I couldn’t enter it. But stop eating me!”

“But you taste so good,”
confesses Velendo in the gurgling tones predictably caused by a rotted tongue. “Amazing. I don’t find this disgusting in the least.” He swallows another mouthful of putrescent flesh as he looks around. The group is crouched at the edge a crowd of another fifty or sixty undead soldiers. It must be lunch time; in groups of six, each pack of ghouls is eagerly devouring the flesh of a twitching zombie, and Velendo sees a ghoulish kobold manhandle another zombie out of a deep pit and throw it to the last unfed group. They fall on it with unbridled hunger.

Stone Bear glares at the sixth ghoul in their group which is still devouring Mara’s belly. The shaman whips the back of his hand into the monster’s face. “Mine!” he snarls viciously. Claris follows his lead with her own fist and the ghoul collapses backwards with its skull badly shattered. A foul-smelling ghoul from another feeding group falls on the body possessively to claim it as food, and none of the other undead even glance over at the disturbance.

“Well, at least we won’t have to dispose of the body,” remarks Claris wryly.

They pull Mara’s injured corpse to her feet and look around. Military minds begin to note defensive and offensive capabilities. They momentarily separate to scout barracks and troops, bluffing their way past nervous sentries, and within fifteen minutes they begin to gain a feel for the defenses in this part of the city. Chasing away several errant ghouls who want to devour Mara, the Defenders reconvene near the slave pits to compare notes.

“Those gates are solid,” worries Nolin. “They’re made of adamantine and highly enchanted. If I read the pictograms correctly, their very existence probably strengthens the walls of this huge cavern. I doubt we could get in here magically, either from another plane or by tunnelling through the walls.”

“The ceiling and floor, too?” asks Agar.

“Oh, yeah. They aren’t guarded incredibly well, but I don’t know that they have to be. I don’t think you can magic your way in here with earth spells.”

“Hummph. I’d know for sure if I had any spell components.” Agar scratches his ear, which partially comes off in his hand. “And did you notice? The air in here is unbreathable, with nasty vapors everywhere. I don’t think we’ll be able to breath.”

“It’s worse than that,” Claris adds. “You feel that power running through you, invigorating you and slowly healing you? There’s negative energy everywhere, although it’s not tremendously strong. Anything alive would be destroyed before too long. You’d be at a disadvantage just by being alive in this place.”

“Well, it’s a disadvantage we’ll have to deal with.” Velendo sighs. “It’s much better than the alternative.” He pauses, and clears his throat uncomfortably. “No offense, Claris.” The ghost of the monk gives him an icy look.

“The guards are nervous,” states Nolin with a certain hint of satisfaction. “They know we’re coming. They know we’re close, but they think we’re at least a day away. Many of them are worried that they’re going to be sacrificed by their King to stop us.” He picks a wriggling bug out of his leg. “We’ve developed something of a reputation.”

“I got the feeling that they think it won’t matter,” says Velendo. “They know that the Ivory King will rise from godling to God. They believe it fervently. He’s certainly planning something, but if anyone I talked to knows they wouldn’t say. He has gathered all the remaining clerics to him for some reason.”

“Well, let’s find out what. First, Mara’s body is horribly injured. Can anyone help her?”

“I could heal myself,” says Mara without thinking. “I think I can still lay on hands in this body.”

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.” Stone Bear shakes his head doubtfully. “That’s positive energy and sunlight you channel. You’d probably hurt yourself just trying to channel it, and it would definitely tear apart that body. The same thing for the rest of us.”

“Oh.” Mara looks down in disappointment, and begins to stuff her dangling intestines back into her stomach cavity. She holds them in place with one hand. “I’ll just have to make do.”

Velendo looks sympathetic. “I’m sorry about that, Mara. I might be able to summon a brick as a spell component, though. Let’s find out.” He concentrates and silently recites the prayer that he has known for six decades, and as usual a holy brick of Calphas appears in his hand – only to sear through his fingers with excruciating pain.

“Ow ow ow ow ow!” Noxious fluids bubble from Velendo’s burned palm. “That was incredibly stupid of me. I didn’t think it would do that. Oh, that hurt. It almost disrupted this body completely.” He looks down longingly at the stone floor and brick that he dares not touch.

“Look on the bright side, Velendo. Maybe someone will step on it.” Nolin examines the cleric’s wound without being able to really do anything about it, shakes his head, and glances around. “Everyone ready? Let’s explore.” The group forms up into something approximating a military unit. Mara’s weaker corpse ensconced safely in the middle of the group, they march downhill away from the military barracks towards the center of Nacreous.

“Look at this,” wonders Nolin as the group threads their way between low, squat stone buildings with black iron gates. “These look like tombs but they’re actually shops. Some of these creatures are aping what they did in life.” He grins. “Maybe I can get Shara a souvenir.”

“Then where is everyone?” wonders Agar. “Maybe it’s just me, but there just aren’t many of the enemy around. Either most of these buildings are unoccupied, or the majority of the ghouls here have gone somewhere else.” His train of thought is cut off as a dog-sized beetle scuttles across the cobblestone road ahead of him, setting him to shivering in fear.

“Well, we might as well… oh, crap.” Nolin blinks as he gazes downhill into a public square ahead of him, but he was right the first time.

“What?” asks Stone Bear.

Nolin gestures with a disbelieving flick of his feral, bony head. “Look down there. I think we know that ghoul.”

“Soder?” The group gazes ahead with anticipatory hatred, but who they see instead is a tremendous surprise. Mara is the first to speak.

“It’s… it’s what’s his name!” She snaps her fingers trying to jog her memory, inadvertently shearing off a little piece of flesh in the process. “Priggle! It’s Priggle!” Her voice rises in disbelieving lilt. “How?”

“It’s Priggle, all right,” confirms Agar. “Only a lot more rotted. This was my vision. That deep gnome looks like our friend, but he’s definitely undead. How could that be?”

“I have no idea,” says Nolin as he thinks out loud. “I don’t think he has any siblings. There was that woman in Akin’s Throat who offered to clone people. Could she somehow have been allied with the ghouls and gotten them a piece of Priggle’s flesh?”

“I couldn’t imagine it,” says Velendo with a frown. “How would the clone get here? And are there more of them, one of each of us?”

"I hope not," says Mara with a frown.

“She wasn’t exactly a woman,” clarifies Stone Bear. “I saw her spirit. She was a fiend clothed in human flesh. There’s a difference.” They watch as the undead deep gnome finishes speaking to a hulking undead ogre and turns to slink deeper into the city. Nolin is the first to speak.

“I say no one tells Priggle.”

“Good lord, no.”

“Not a chance.”


“He has enough to complain about already.”

Moving onwards, the group makes their way past the hill of bones that they saw from the northern end of the city. A deep moat surround the hill, and atop of it stands a large mansion built from bone, its ornate design terrifying even from a distance. It’s the kind of home that an insane man might build for himself.

“Soder’s house?” asks Mara. She feels drawn to it for some reason, like iron filings to a strong lodestone.

“Maybe,” says Velendo as he gazes up at the shuttered windows. “But now’s not the time to find out. Let’s figure out where everyone is first.”

“First I want to examine the cliff over there,” says Nolin. They soon arrive at the edge of the massive precipice that marks the eastern edge of the city. Looking out, they can see that the cliff drops downwards out of sight, and opens up into an immense and empty canyon that must be miles across. No light is visible across the yawning and endless expanse.

“Phew,” says Agar, impressed. “You don’t often see anything like that.” He moves to look over the edge and is roughly thrown backwards by an invisible wall. “Anti-undead barrier,” he says with surprise, wincing at his burns. “We can’t pass. I think it’s anti-life as well. I can’t imagine that there are predators out there, but this is definitely a defense. A powerful one, too.”

“I wonder if we can come that way?” wonders Velendo. “If you think you could punch a hole in it.”

“Oh, sure,” says Agar with confidence after considering for a few seconds. “It might take me a minute to do, but I should be able to get through it. If we were flying and there is some other way to get into the far side of that canyon, I could probably get us through here.”

That is the way for you to go, rumbles Stone Bear’s spirit guide Elder inside of the shaman’s head, louder and more clearly than normal. I know where you are now. I will be with you, and I can guide you to this place. Trust in me. The death spirit sounds supremely satisfied and almost eager. This is a special place, and it calls to us. There is death here.

You think? asks Stone Bear. I’d hate for you to state the obvious. Elder doesn’t reply.

They hurry along empty streets past the low mausoleums, and finally pass a small establishment with noise coming from it. The group ducks their heads as they enter the building.

“It’s about time you got here!” hisses a shrill and grating voice. An undead halfling waddles out from the back, bloated stomach protuding from under his ragged tunic. “You’re late. The last of them is ready, and it needs to be brought immediately. If it’s not ready by the time the feast begins, we’ll all be torn apart for food ourselves.” He squints. “Say, why do you have that zombie with you? And why so many for a simple delivery?”

“Don’t ask questions,” growls Nolin authoritatively. “We do what we’ve been told to do by people more important than you, and you’re certainly not going to question our directives.” He eyes the tiny ghoul speculatively, as if wondering how he would taste. “Unless you’d like to take it up with our masters who ordered the feast?”

The halfling immediately quails. “No no no!” it blubbers, chewing on its own tongue in horror. “Take it quickly! It should be the most delicious of the lot.”

“It had better be,” snarls the bard.

“Oh, yes. Most certainly.” The halfling ghoul pushes open a grating to reveal a huge silver platter. Curled on it is an actual dead halfling, carved and marinated and exquisitely seasoned. A dried heart the size of an apple is jammed into its open mouth. The group does their best not to recoil at the sight. “It’s all stuffed and ready. Just take it to the feast, to the central tables. They’ll take it from you there.”

“The worst part,” thinks Nolin over the mindlink, “is that seeing this is making me famished. It looks and smells delicious.”

Velendo’s face twists in horror as he realizes that Nolin is right, but the halfling ghoul in front of him is admiring his own handiwork and doesn’t notice. “What’s the fastest way to get there?” asks Velendo. The halfling stares at him in confusion. “We’re newly arrived,” clarifies the cleric quickly, “in the city just since yesterday. We don’t know where everything is yet.” The halfling’s features clear as much as their rotted nature allows them to, and he smiles a toothy grin. Velendo can’t help but notice that the halfling’s teeth have been painstakingly filed down into points.

“Ahh. You arrive at a fortunate time. Our King performs the ritual even now. Soon he shall ascend, and he will be the favored children of a God. Think of our bounty then!” Strands of ropy saliva begin to trickle unnoticed down from the halfling’s mouth. “All praise the Fallen Queen. They are at the Temple of All-Darkness, of course, where they call to Her. The Ivory King bargains with her servants.”

He is interrupted by the distant pealing of a discordant bell, the jarring notes falling upon them as if they were a rising tide of icy water. “Auggh, the first bell!” the halfling squeals. “Quickly now! Quickly! You mustn’t be late!” Without further delay, the group scoops up the silver platter and hurries from the shop.

“First bell?” asks Nolin worriedly. He glances back at the struggling Mara, whose zombie body can move nowhere as quickly as the rest of the group. “We’ll have to do something about her. She can’t keep up.”

“We’ll ditch this food in a convenient spot, load Mara onto the platter, and run,” Velendo instructs. “Claris, Stone Bear? You may want to range ahead a bit.” They move as rapidly as they can through the silent and empty city. The horrible bell rings a second time as the distant sound of voices raised in prayer can be heard, and the Defenders redouble their pace as a horrible premonition begins to form. Finally they skirt a fenced off hollow packed with thousands of skeletons and can see the tumbled stone temple rising up before them. The empty ground around it is packed with thousands of chanting ghouls. To their left they can see the area set aside for food and festival, but they push their way past the worshipping ghouls directly towards the rubble of the temple of All-Darkness.

Stone Bear is the first to spot the object spiked to the huge double doors of the temple, where everyone can see it. He blinks, then calls everyone else's attention to the war trophy. "You may want to see this. Is that what I think it is?"

Velendo tries to see, but the eyesight in his ghoulish body isn't the best. "What is it? It looks like a ghoul's arm pinned there, holding a sword."

"Not a ghoul's arm,"
corrects Stone Bear. "Look at the shining armor, ripped off at the shoulder. Look at the blood that's still dripping from the socket. Look at the sword."

Nolin looks over at the severed trophy, and almost chokes on his own tongue. "I know that sword."

"Yup. That's Halcyon's arm."

"But what's it doing here?"

Stone Bear gives his head a quick shake. "Bleeding, apparently. I bet she tried to kill the Ivory King after we warned her about his plans. She said he was on her list. Apparently he killed her."

"And ate her."
Claris has noticed the bite marks on the broken shoulder bone. The sword of Halcyon still is grasped in her mailed fist, and Claris can feel its aura of icy law all the way from where she is standing.

"More divinity for him to swallow," thinks Velendo. "If he's trying to ascend by eating his mother's divine spark, that absolutely can't be good."

"Maybe she's still alive?"
wonders Mara.

"I wouldn't bet on it," concludes Stone Bear. He considers the power of her sword, and decides that it isn't something he wants to leave here if he can help it.

He's still fairly far from the temple's door when the ghoulish chanting rises to a crescendo. From the canted bell tower of the temple the ghastly chimes peal out a third and final time, and their dissonant song is one of resounding triumph. Even as the Defenders begin to run past kneeling ghouls the ground begins to shake.

They’re too late.

The stone quivers, buckles, screams as something pushes it up from beneath. A fierce joy and power enters the bones of each Defender, and they know that the amount of negative energy in this place has suddenly increased tenfold. Many of them fall as the ground moves, and Mara watches as half of the bell tower crumbles away and falls on the ghouls beneath it. On the remaining platform she can see the bell ringer, a ghoulish version of herself but dressed in the mantle of an Imbindarlan priestess.

“Son of a bitch!” Mara actually swears as she sways back and forth amidst the moaning bodies of sycophantic ghouls. “I knew I hated those bells for a reason!”

But no one notices her curses. The entire city is being shaken as sections of paving stones buckle and swell and rise upwards. The ground under several of the Defenders’ feet is lifted especially high, giving them a unique vantage point. After an eternity the earth finishes moving, and the group can see what has happened to the city. From where they stand, it is clear that only certain parts of the city have suffered disruption. The center of the city has swollen upwards in a broad swathe, and two separate ridges far away, and separate bulges to both the right and left, and right underneath their feet a round plateau that. . . that. . .

Realization settles in. Stretching for thousands of feet, the uprising in the stone that now fills Nacreous is shaped like an immense body, one pushed upwards from deep beneath the earth and rising to use the stone of buildings and streets as a second skin. The damage to ancient structures is incalculable, but that’s hardly a concern. The Ivory King has bargained with the servants of Imbindarla, and he has made sacrifices, and his will has been made manifest.

The corpse of the Goddess has arrived.

Yesssss, hisses Elder in Stone Bear’s ear. Now you can feel it too. The shaman wisely ignores his spirit guide.

Closer to the temple and away from the heights of the Goddess’ head where most of the Defenders stand dumbstruck, Stone Bear’s ghoulish body vaults nimbly over fallen blocks of stone into the area where the ritual took place. Claris is not far behind him. The shaman looks down and for the first time he sees the Ivory King; as obese as ten normal ghouls, carried on a palanquin by almost thirty straining bearers, his fish-white flesh drooping and folded and puckered from a multitude of sins. Tiny glowing eyes circle him like fireflies, flitting in and out to nest in the folds of his flesh. He has just finished drinking the deliquesced remains of what was recently every surviving ghoulish cleric of Imbindarla, whom he gradually dissolved in acid and then fully consumed to power the ritual. The twitching, organic sludge dribbles down his many chins onto his naked chest, and the monstrosity smiles ever so broadly. His long tongue snakes out to lick the last morsels of gelled flesh from the inside of the tub.

“Sleep, mother,” he croons wetly to himself. “I will carry on where you could not.” He raises his voice and chortles delightedly for the benefit of his many subordinates. “And now, the feast!”

Stone Bear grits his teeth, braces himself, and leaps to attack. His fists blaze with ghoulfire, yellow-green in the darkness. Jumping from above, he closes on the Ivory King before anyone can react. The shaman’s fist buries itself in the squelching flab of the ghoul’s chest, and the Ivory King locks eyes with Stone Bear. Recognition dawns in his shining orbs.

“You!” He smiles horribly and reaches out with both spindly arms to grab Stone Bear’s shoulders. The Ivory King’s jaw unhinges as it yawns impossibly wide.

Stone Bear feels something twitch inside him, and he cedes control, letting his spirit guide Elder talk directly through him. He hears Elder’s voice come from his own mouth. “I am coming for you. I will not permit you to have Her. All your plans will be for nought.” Then the Ivory King’s gaping maw covers Stone Bear’s head, his jaws snap shut with a horrible click, and the world dissolves into tumbling darkness.

To be continued….


First Post
Wulf Ratbane said:
I bet that bitch would give her right arm to have another crack at us.

Best. Secret. Spoiler. Ever.

I've been waiting months to compliment you on that one, Wulf.
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Zaruthustran said:
-z, hardly believing that the Defenders just left that artifact hanging...

Not only that, it's still there. When all was said and done they had other things on their mind, and didn't end up going back for it.

I kind of feel sorry for the poor SOBs in the adventuring group that does end up questing for it. Lord knows what's going to move in after this adventure is over. :D

They may have to convince Halcyon's arm to let it go, though. . .


Dirigible said:
The ghoul king has certainly changed from his original appearence in the White Kingdom.

Yup, he was lame. "Ooh, adventurers are invading my kingdom! I think I'll hide in my palace in the last room, sitting around on my throne surrounded by inappropriate monsters, all skinny and moping and goth-like, while my girlfriend the lich hides in my basement instead of helping me properly defeat these upstarts."

Screw that. :)
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First Post
Piratecat said:
Yup, he was lame. "Ooh, adventurers are invading my kingdom! I think I'll hide in my palace in the last room, sitting around on my throne surrounded by inappropriate monsters, all skinny and moping and goth-like, while my girlfriend the lich hides in my basement instead of helping me properly defeat these upstarts."

Screw that. :)

Years ago, when PC was running his first after college campaign, we had a new player, and were invading an evil wizard's tower. The new player kept arguing that we should come in from the top, because the chief bad guy wasn't likely to be there, as he'd be sitting on his throne on the ground floor. We all shook our heads pityingly at him. "PC doesn't run that kind of game" we said.

Nobody sits on thrones and waits for the adventurers anymore. I blame lax standards. And television.

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