Scales of War

Claidheamh
Good night, sweet Prince of Darkness

We returned to the demon’s room to get some rest. The tension was palpable now. Having returned to the herbalist lady in the basement, we found her in the same state. Tired, hungry, angry. In a magic prison. With Thoradin back with us, a second dwarven sense let us be sure there was only one room left to explore. So that was it. The current Lord of Rivenroar expected us, after the last one’s death some decades ago. Could he be the Emissary Sinruth was trying to appease? So he could better control his new lapdog?

Barring Thoradin, all of us were very young. Aran (who waited for us at Brindol), Wil and I were all around the same age. Occam very slightly out-aged us, although his countenance and heavy chain vest made him look even older. Ugarth was no longer a child by orc standards, but neither was he as lived as either of us. So one understands how thrilled we were for finally meeting the one responsible for all the mess in the area. A healthy amount of excited fear walked with us, with every step we took down the corridor. Although well lit, the countless columns shed many shadows, fueled by the braziers wavering in the breeze. The 100 feet of cold stone corridor ended in a heavy wooden double door. Thoradin was not feeling too paranoid, so I pushed the doors open.

We found ourselves in a well lit hall. It was the throne room of old Rivenroar, and now it had been made so again by whoever had taken it. The throne was still there, at the end of the hall. And so were the remains of its last Lord. The cloth of his black robe didn’t seem worn out at all. Much less so did the longsword resting next to the throne. Its luster was of recently forged steel, a clear sign of its magic. I stepped forward: my reward was due. Thor held my arm. The cold grasp of a gauntlet, with the warmth of friendly paranoia. I quick saw why he had stopped me, since everyone else had noticed too.

What a fool I was, wanting no more than a sword, when doom stood in front of me. Only the Lord of Rivenroar seemed to have suffered a different fate than the rest of the castle. In fact, while the whole court was littered with bodies, twisted in the most horrible positions and visages, the lord sat high on his throne, hands resting in his lap, a grim smile in his white face.

“Waeit, lad. Lemme get’ya the sword, and we’ll beat it. Ev’ryone’s deiad hear.” – Thor whispered, as if to not wake the dead.

And he took off. Thoradin crossed the hall while we waited closer to the door. When he got to the throne, he took a bow at the deceased Lord, and reached for the sword.

I was told – hundreds of voices spoke at once – of a paladin of a dragon-god roaming my castle. Everyone was terrified of finding out where the voices came from. The voices – all of them – belonged to the lord of Rivenroar. I had a dragon once. But I broke it… The corpse lifted its head and his eyes shone in a blood-red glint.

Startled, Thoradin took half a step back. He went for the axe in his back and swung it wildly, shaving the corpse’s head clean off.

That… Was uncalled for. – the head rests on the undead’s lap, but it does not seem to bother him enough to stop the monologue – You haven’t even heard my offer, stone man.

Thoradin barely heard him. He drew a hand over the axe’s flat and it shone in its yellow glimmer. DIE, unholy one!” Too bad. Many would give their hand just to hear such an offer. The creature stood up, holding its own head in one hand, and lifted a hand at Thoradin’s height. It held its palm up.

FwooshWell, a head will have to do.

With a devilish burning sound, the Lord’s hand burst into flames, to be soon after mimicked by Thoradin’s head. How it pains me to remember how he stood still for a moment, before falling to his knees with a thud! The clang of his waraxe hitting the ground resonated all over the empty castle, leaving behind a sad, metallic hum. The warlock left us no time to be in shock. He dramatically flung his arms open wide, infused with dark power. Three of the less decomposed bodies slowly rose to their feet. Even now, I cannot say why we didn’t stop them. We could have slain every creature in the room and more, had we moved in time. But… It was the warlock, or the undead, or perhaps the place itself; it was Thoradin, his axe, or the place that once used to be his bearded head; it was terror. It was all that stopped us from moving. But it took only one thing to lead us forward.

The rotting undead were already moving for us, when the warlock waved a hand over Thoradin’s body. And as if an invisible claw held him by his heart and pulled, he rose to his feet. Upon his golden armor was cast a black shroud, over his shoulders and down to his feet. Now. – the warlock started, as he put his own head back in place – How about you?

That certainly was enough. I dashed forward the length of the hall, aiming for the warlock. One of the undead barred my passage, only to be defeated by a raging swipe. Soon, though, the others were all over me, giving the condemned a few more seconds.

Occam had much more breathing room. He stepped into the court, the wider area in he room. In his eyes, usually dull and blank even in the thickest fight, violence and anger burned. He closed them for a moment, begging his god for the strength to clear the world of this dark. And when he opened his eyes again and raised his staff, a sphere of ghostfire flashed for a seconds, mere yards away from him. When the flash worn off, the angel in the fiery mane stood in the spell’s place. It conjured its red flamberge. The nearby undead cringed at the hot emanations. The undead began to step back, away from the flames. And, as if Occam’s anger was his own, the undead were decimated when the angel opened wide his vests, revealing his true form of light. A sea of flames engulfed the returned, filling the air with a crisp smell.

The Lord was not amused by this. A wave of his hand cast a dark shadow around my neck. It did not hurt, not at all, not until fire flashed in his hand and darted straight at my heart. Then, it hurt. The shadow closed in around my neck, a guillotine of nothing that delivered me to the ground, gasping for breath. Looking up, Ugarth was lunging at the warlock. At the last moment, though, it vanished.

Wil had yet to do a thing. I wish he never had. “And what offer is that?” Horror. Would Wil sell us for his gain?

The voice came from behind, from the southwest corner near the wall. Kill’em. We… may discuss this later. Dread. Losing Wil would put us to a terrible disadvantage. Fortunately, Thoradin left him no time to ponder. He charged Wil, axe burning in a dark flame. Wil dodged, grabbed the axe with the gauntlet hand, and pushed him for a spin. It gave him just the time to reach for the sword. Thoradin no longer got dizzy, or unbalanced, or lost sight of his target. He spun around in a large cleaving motion, holding his oversized axe to the side. A large plate flew away from Wil’s shoulder, along with the head that belonged to the undead behind Thoradin.

Occam cast a word of binding at Thoradin, and let him to Wil again. A complex circle of light was drawn on the floor around the two, by divine guidance compelling them to fight one another. Occam refocused is fire on the Lord, and he too reached for his throat, and the shadow that grasped it.

Ugarth had reached his foe again. With dreadful accuracy he plunged Rising Sun through and through the Lord’s chest. Curses – he said, staring blankly at his new hole – It appears I have sprouted a steel rod in my chest. With some half-bred on the tip. Take him away! Chains of Levistus! Ghostly shackles of ice bound Ugarth and dragged him across the courtyard. His shadow constricted as well, hovering midair like a crucified hangman.

A sickening crush rang in the holy duel ground. Thor had bashed Wil with his shield, knocking him prone. Wil’s size advantage lost – over twice Thoradin’s size, now that the dwarf had been… significantly shortened – he could no more but raise his sword to stop the giant axe reaching for his head.
No other sound came from the holy ground.

I finally gathered enough of my surroundings to find myself lying beside the throne. Beside the sword. I picked up Left Fang from the ground near me, and grabbed the new sword with my right hand. I took a moment to feel it, and its power (which was, in retrospective, quite the bad idea). It was lighter, much lighter than either Fang, despite being larger. The blade slightly curbed upwards, more akin to the scimitar than the knightsword.
Hell no, you won’t. Damn it. Hellfire!

Six rings of flame surrounded the caster. They took their time, exploding in their coordinated rhythm that maximizes pain. Both Occam and I were caught in the blast. a seventh flare was started next to me, and I realized it was the angel, freed from his binding to Occam by him being delivered a crapload of damage to the head, that returned home in a massive burning sphere.

Lying down, barely breathing, I could see Ugarth and the warlock fight in a shrouding mist. Our orc leaped monstrously from side to side, dodging the Lord’s barrage of death bolts. The undead sidestepped away from Ugarth’s rapier with uncanny agility. The dark mist closed in more and more, and my eyes closed of their own accord. I still heard Ugarth’s heavy stomps, but they seemed so far away. Far away. So far away from here. Far as… Home?

My dazed contemplation was stopped by a sudden silence. A feeling of dread, accompanied by the understanding: I could no longer feel Ugarth.

Hope was gone with one last stab of pain in my heart. He had been beaten. I had been beaten. Occam, Thoradin. No more.

I never felt Ugarth get on his knees and leap on the Lord’s back. I never saw, heard, felt, the end of my story.

I was Claidheamh Geamhradh, the Sword of Winter. I quested for glory, I traveled, I fought. I won, and, ultimately, I lost.

No.

This will not end here.

View
Occam of Pelor
Rats and Riddles

Pt. 1

It was with great difficulty – and one eye open – that the party finally caught some rest. Ugarth and Thoradin’s arrival moments earlier eased some of the tension, although it was not the most common of appearances. Leaning against each other, both the half-orc and the dwarf seemed ready to drop unconscious, if not for the other: Thoradin was still half-dazed, half-bloodthirsty-zealot. ugarth was having a rough time coping with his injuries. A small spot in his arm was nearly necrotic, and he appeared to be developing some sort of fever. When confronted by Claid, he dismissed it with a shove.

“Dass me business Claid. Shoulda worry about yours.”

Occam noticed how Claid tried to hide the shiver that followed. His hides were doing a lousy job at keeping his temperature stable, and were steadily getting drenched in sweat. Though Occam was, at the time of the happening, having his senses beaten out of him by a bloody demon, he could sense the spreading of the rats’ disease the moment they sat to rest.

He made no remarks about it.

He let Claid and Ugarth keep at their bickering, smiled at the thought that the orc had caught filth fever, and got ready for the first turn of keeping watch.

The silence of his vigil was broken by a body crawling out of a blanket.

“You are silent, Ser Occam.”

“I am no Ser. Claid uses such honor for the ones he trusts.” He paused. “Everyone sleeps, Lady Jalissa, so I must be silent. You should, as well.”

The girl nodded, something that went quite unnoticed in the dark. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Then I am no Lady either, Ser Occam. I am just an acolyte, an..”

“You are not”, he interrupted.

Her blank stare told him to finish. Despite the dark, Occam felt the eyes. “Just an acolyte, that is. I know.”

Jalissa’s mouth opened and closed for no apparent reason. This was not, like in most people, a sign that no brain activity was occurring. Jalissa’s case was one where so many questions, and attempts of answers, rushed back and forth across her head, it actually forgot how to properly behave to save power.

For once, Occam was actually compelled to talk to someone. “Pelor’s guidance sheds his light over even the darkest mysteries. You belong to Ioun, you say, so I’ll bet you are either a sage or a prophet.”

“I.. I just…” It all made little sense to the young elf. “…know stuff.”

“A sage, then?”

“Not like that. I… knew your name the second I saw you. And everyone else’s.”

Occam considered the thought in silence. The girl was not so easily sated, though.

“Are all godtouched like this?”

“Godtouched”, Occam said to himself, smiling at the regionalism. “I’ll take you haven’t awakened your spark yet. Well, some of us will have some power, but for most, it is but fireworks, or a nice memory.”

She felt like she couldn’t ask any more of this matter today. She sat there, in the bare floor, until he spoke.

“We should sleep, Lady Jalissa. We must walk home after this is over.”

She nodded and crawled back to her blanket. The moans and murmurs that still echoed in the stone castle walls kept Occam company throughout his watch.

Occam didn’t pay much attention to it when, one hour later, Claidheamh climbed out of the very same bedroll to take his turn in keeping watch.

Pt.2

The new day dawned with a kick – Thoradin’s steel-tipped kick to everyone’s ribs, to be exact. “Dawn” was, either way, quite the relative term inside the windowless second story of an age-old abandoned castle. It was the time of the day (or, likely, the night) when everyone had finished resting, and all the rats and skeletons stirred and cracked more loudly, making it less likely to be ambushed.

This was such time, and Thoradin’s boot was great at reminding everyone of this. When everyone was ready, Wil dashed for the north passage. There were treasures to be found, and skeletons’ heads to be bashed together. Wil turned at the corner.

He ran head-first into a stone wall.

This time, even Occam allowed himself a jest. “Indeed, it is Wil, He WHo Walks Into Walls!”

“Heh”, Claid laughed, “behold Wil, the Wallwalker!”

Wil did not answer. From his advantageous position, flat on the floor, Wil had a perfect view of the block that so rudely denied him passage. An arch was formed by a string of letters from some ancient language none could understand. Everyone turned to Occam. He had barely closed his eyes when he felt it.

“Magical yes. No source, low power. Probably just a magical door to the cellar.”

Wil got up and touched the stone.

Wil was engulfed in light and lifted in the air. Everyone saw, quite in awe, the light gently lowering him back to his feet, where he stood as if he had found his god. He paced back and forth along th corridor, without a word, until he seemed to have an idea. He went up to the wall and touched it again.

He was engulfed in light and lifted in the air. And, when the light faded, Wil was gone.

Instintively, everyone stepped forward to grab the man that was no longer there. Occam was the first to the wall. He felt the world around him grind to a halt. The writing on the wall grew brighter, until a beacon of cold light was all around. He was floating, a foot above the ground, and he heard a voice.

“With the right answer I will open before you”, a deep, monotonous voice resonated everywhere. “Search inside your soul. What is the question?”

As the last echoes of the voice faded into nothingness, dozens of boxes appeared around him. White boxes, about the size of those used to hold one’s glasses, were each adorned with a red silk ribbon that fluttered towards Occam in the non-existent wind.

Occam reached for the ribbons. His hand disturbed the ether, and the ribbons waved away. Occam took a deep breath. He hadn’t quite grasped the meaning of all this yet, but he knew he needed a box. Off in the distance, he saw: a ribbon, not as red as the others, yet so much more red than the others. It was not his color, or its lenght, or its texture that was odd. Its existence, rather, is what Occam saw in the field of blinding light. He beckoned for it. When he finally touched it, the voice returned.

“Tell me, then: What is blind, deaf, and a fool, yet always tells the truth?"

The cold warmth of the light began to fade, and Occam found himself staring at a stone cold door-wall. Ugarth and Claid were beside him. They were silenced by an unspoken rule, knowing the others had experienced what they had. Thoradin was in a corner, rocking gently, muttering to himself. His armors clanged in the waving motion, an annoying metronome that seemed to disturb everyone but him.

Occam turned to himself and his riddle. It must not be a person, he thought. Only a mute can say nothing but the truth, and even then he can not say the truth (this also happened to rule out Ugarth, who filled a pretty important point). What, then? A book… But one can write falsehoods upon one, so…

Ugarth stepped up, and touched the wall. Again the light came and lifted the orc. And whe the light suddenly disappeared, Ugarth was thrown to the ground without the least caution.

“You have failed, Ser Ugarth!” Claid broke the silence, visibly amused.

“Dat wuz only my first choice”

He got up, and touched the wall. The light took very little time to think about the answer this time. A large shockwave propelled Ugarth back, who rolled his way into the opposing wall.

Occam was making progress. All that talks can lie. That meant no words: no type of language, not spoken, written, or… gestured. Occam had been fiddling with his stick, messing around with his implement, twirling his rod about in his hand, when the faded red jewel caught the fleeting light of Ugarth’s third try. He got up and went to the wall. The familiar light came and went. Except when it went away, all of it did. Occam found himself in complete darkness, except for the faint outline of a door right ahead. He felt a hand on his back.

“Occam?”, Wil’s voice scanned. The palm on Occam’s back turned to a firm hold on his shoulder. “Wait. Something’s there.”

Indeed, Occam could now feel a low humming noise coming from behind the door. “We wait.”

For a while they waited, in silence and in darkness. With a low crack, Claidheamh made his appearance.

“What a stupid riddle”, he ranted. “A stove? What’s it got to do with anything?”

Occam knew perfectly well stoves had nothing to do with his mirrors, but shrugged and let the rant on. Another crack signaled Ugarth’s arrival. The short-tempered hulk bashed the door open the moment he saw there was one, before someone could grab a hold of him.

Blinded by the sudden brightness, Occam relied on his mind’s eye to assess the situation: braziers provided the room with all the light they could muster; about a dozen of pews lined the room in two columns. Occam was quick to find a wererat that jumped behind a pew to hide, and another one that didn’t, and instead morphed into a dire rat and got ready to fight. Occam thought that he had had enough of having his eyes closed, so he opened them for the fight. He found very odd that, suddenly, a tree stood before him, the first of a small patch of dense forest that stretched for a few yards. Ugarth, Wil and Claid darted off in different directions through the trees. And in more than one occasion did someone go through a single tree, which was deemed rather odd by Occam’s shrewd mind. It was strange how they would dodge a tree and run into the next, being no more unsettled by it than if they had walked through a very thick fog.

Wil rammed the nearest rat, throwing it off-balance. A Fang pierced his chest a moment later, a brutal stampede that gave no chance for a second breath. Ugarth had lunged at the rat in hiding, but at the last moment was thrown aside by a ghost wind. The orc tumbled away from the rat to avoid a bite to his leg and quickly got back to his feet. He focused on not getting bitten again.

The rat focused on his next meal. He shifted back, so he wouldn’t have such a disadvantage against a rapier’s reach.

Unlike werewolves, who can take up to a minute, rat-men can shift in and out of any of their three shapes quite rapidly, usually faster than the time it takes to draw a sword. This one started shifting into ratman shape, thinner and faster, but in this case, the transformetion was only fast enough to have his ugly mousy face completely transformed when Wil grappled it from behind and smashed it into the ground.

Occam had yet to see a reason to intervene. He showed himself out of the small forest – actually, just 6 or 7 steps across – and surveyed the room more clearly.

The pews were indeed aligned as in a temple. The braziers burned fiercely … dully? There were three of them, for the four corners of the room. They retained their orange flames and normal height, but the light was drawn into itself, not unlike it would behave in the dark sun’s room. Near the northern wall was the likely cause for all the weirdness in the room. A large pillar, an obelisk, was carved from a black, marble-like stone and rested there, being all big, and dark, and weird (and weirdly phallic, as Ugarth would rather point out..). Light around it faded into a dim phosphorescence. Shadows, the wavering of the braziers, broke through the creepy ambient lighting. Occam’s eyes focused on the flash that oddly came from the darkness near the obelisk, before it became a shiny dart on his shoulder.

Seconds later, the gnome illusionist that had fired it lay dead on the floor, still twitching due to the knife at his spine.

View
Wil, Mercenary
Dead and Demons

Pt.1

Half a day’s journey was enough for Wil to reach the source of the rumors. More than enough, as as the sun settled, Wil had already roamed the silent corridors for a while. Silent, as the grave it was supposed to be. Chills ran down his spine. The denizens of the castle were supposed long dead. The fresh corpses littering the floors said otherwise. Goblinkind lay dead everywhere. Recent dead. The ground floor was completely bereft of life. Wil decided to have a sandwich before tackling the lower floors. “Almost over”, he thought to himself. “Those goblin better have some food with them. Better yet, some gold..”. Wil did not tarry in the front hall. He knew a battle when he heard one, and the goblin seemed to be fighting some kind of beast downstairs.

A moldy smell wafted from the room below. Still, no goblin were there. In their place, an oddest collection of characters, and the bodies of two drakes. Like a kitten playing with a thread, a heavily armored dwarf was in a corner, patting at a rope that came down from a hole in the ceiling. A simple-looking half-orc sat on one of the drakes, waving a hand in the air and wooooo ing in joy. Two women, another dwarf, a very old man, and two guys of about his age appeared to be discussing the near future of the former duo. The young males tried to convince the others to leave them there. They were bound to snap out of it eventually, an then they’d find the rest of the group.

This much had Wil heard from the lowermost step. There he had been, frozen, staring at the oddity of it all. some of these people were probably an adventuring party. The two men, surely, a one of them wore chainmail an the other a pair of long swords. The drugged blissful dwarf in the corner meant they were now missing a tank. Maybe the other dwarf had served as drake fodder. at least he had the sores and cuts to say he did. As for the others.. the women were surely no fighters. The old raven could have been, some 40 years ago. The orcish one was probably the village fool, even if this was not an orc area.

A monotonous voice snapped Wil out of his daze. “Claid? Someone’s over there.”

“So it is, Ser Occam.” Claid turned to the newcomer. “We’d invite you to join the festivities, but as you see, sir,” – he motioned to the empty room around him – “we’re full.”

Wil smiled at the witticism. “When I cleave your head off, you’ll find I don’t take nearly as much space as you do. Who are you anyway? And th’a hell are you doing here?”

“We were here far before you arrived, so I could easily ask you the same. Why don’t yo tell us first?”

“Right.” Assessing the situation, Wil was not about to get himself killed over a question of priorities. “Goblin. Goblin is my business here. Have you seen any?”

Not very smart. Claid drew the first sword. “Ser Occam, I’ll go out on a limb here and say our new friend is in league with the revolt. What say you?”

Occam nodded.

Wil took a step back and held on to his own sword. Killing goblin, you horse’s arse. YOU!” – his sword was drawn in a broad arch, pointy end towards Occam – “Who are you, and What. Are You. Doing here?”

As steel flashed in front of him, hundreds of thoughts flashed through his mind. The final one was pretty boring, however. “We’re just adventuring.”

Claid turned and proceeded to the east corridor. “I’ll leave him to you.”_

Occam went on. “They call me Occam. The now pissed-off one is Claidheamh. Just call him Claid.” He pointed. _"The small and uncivilized one is Thoradin. Large, uncivilized one is Ugarth." Wil was stunned by the idea that both of them were hero wannabes. Not that Occam noticed. “We’re trying to save some people that were kidnapped in a nearby village. And also, ..”

Occam was interrupted by Claid’s voice from the other room. “Ser Occam, would you please step inside? There’s a small matter that needs attending here.”

In their curiosity, the whole committee went to the side room. Ther they found one of the most bizarre situations yet. A quite old woman la sleeping inside a dazzling hemisphere of purple energy. she appeared to have slept through bothe the battle and the arguing that took place some fifty feet away. In the walls, there were many chains and cuffs, but the goblin seemed to think that using them on the lady was a waste of fine magics, so they put her inside the circle and in the walls had locked away some kind of walking stick instead. Jalissa stepped forward.

“Her name is Zerriksa. She is good with herbs and healing. People go to her, when”


Adronsius cut her off. “She’sa witch. That’sall.”


“Mr Adronsius, lady Zerriksa is not..”


“Don speak o’ whatcha don know, girl. That’s why them goblins locked her in magic.”


Everyone else knew there was a flaw in that logic, but none could quite put their finger on it. (One could also begin to notice a certain pattern pertaining to dwarves, but that’s beside the point). Not that any of that matter much to Wil anyway. Clenching his left fist, he punched the bowl with all his might. It was not very effective. Sparks flew out in every direction. Wil felt as if struck by lightning.


“Well, I’m out”, he quickly stepped back.


Occam signaled to the others to be silent. He knelt, and closed his eyes.


It was a while before he spoke again. “I sense magic”


Silence.


“But not his source. And sometimes,” – he opened his eyes – “It vanishes.” And sure enough, as soon as Occam stopped talking, the slightest flicker of the magical barrier happened.


Meanwhile, inside the bubble, Zerriksa had woken up. Claid approached the barrier, telling her how it would be fine. The crone, still groggy and half asleep, immediately requested that she be taken out of there, and compared Claid’s mother to the rear end of her captors. Someone was clearly tired of living in a 30 square feet hamster ball. She then proceed to compare Claid to his mother, and his celerity in rescuing her to one’s swimming speed in a non-newtonian fluid. Claid took a deep breath, thinking about how this was his job now (and not thinking on the fact that he never met his mom). He gently touched the half-orb. And out of nowhere, he stabbed it.


The wall reformed when the blade was halfway in. It was Claid’s turn to feel th jolt, as he magics rebounded, coursing through his arm. The wall caught the sword when Claid released it, and it stuck there, floating mid-air, twisting and turning on itself.


“That’s gonna work”, Wil ironized.


“Not as intended, idiot. Just thought it might break if it caught something.”


“Lucky your blade didn’t break. And I’m not pulling it out either..”


The team searched the room and thought it out for another half hour (to the cheering sound of “Dogs, curs, selfish devils! Let me out, you camel’s brain”). They concluded that once the threats in the castle were eliminated, the spell would lose its power (and if it wouldn’t, Wil would drag the lord of the castle down there so he would break it). So, everyone got up, and watched as Wil walked into the west wall for no apparent reason at all.

Pt. 2

Jalissa shuddered when she had to pass through the room she spent so much time in. But they went north instead, and found themselves at an intersection. In each of the ends, a brazier bathed the way in a bright light. A few feet ahead, a set of stairs went down to a room that felt quite damp. To both sides, the corridor would end in a heavy stone door. Wil pushed it open. He stopped, when the brazier suddenly. It didn’t go out, but it certainly wouldn’t be as frightening if it had. It simply dimmed. Even though its flame was as high and large as before, it didn’t shine as far or as bright. As if the light was stolen. And inside the room, the darkness was broken only by a gentle glow on the ground.

The team entered the room, almost as good as blinded. they found the light came from a sun, or more precisely, from the bas-relief of one. it’s eerie, dark light shone totally upon itself. One could not see the walls (some six feet away from the edge of the sun), hadn’t the dwarf lit a torch. Strangely, this common, brand new torch seemed to share the properties of the brazier, in that it shone only a pale weak light.

The sun reacted in the same way to word or spell. Jalissa failed to trace even the lightest source of magic in the room. Occam, too, sensed nothing. His Avenging Light managed no better. It flashed, but faded away before long. Wil and Claid were at loss. Their total lack of an affinity with everything magical left them guessing what that could be. Wil, upon comparing the sun to the golden one sewn into Occam’s tabard, stepped into the center of the carving and thrust his arms up in the air.

“Give me your power, O dark gods!”

They didn’t.

Or at least gave no notice of having done so.

In the dark, Occam felt Claid’s eyes on him, and the implied I told you. But there was more.

“Evil” – he started – “I feel it”

rotten Ghoul “I smell it" – Claid’s swords were already out. Scouring the darkness, he saw the source of the stench. A group of undead crept closer, coming from the East room. Two of them were slow, lumbering pieces of rotten flesh and brittle bone. But leading them, were two so corrupted by the necromancy it even changed their aspect. Some flesh had rotted away, while some was mostly untouched. The thing’s arms had developed in unnatural ways, and the fiend lurched back and forth under its swings. Long claws and overdeveloped teeth were no less of a weapon than Claid’s steel. Also, they stank. “Mr. Wil, we hope all that boasting was more than words. How about proving something? Ser Occam, FIRE !"

He fired. Driven by Pelor’s light, Occam shone in a white blast. The undead-turning spell was like the Sun for the evil creatures. What little flesh the ghouls had seethed away under the sacred fire. The look in their faces was pure horror. But then again, that’s kinda what they look like.

Aided by the flash, Claid and Wil rushed in. Claid’s swords met the long claws of one of the creatures. He feinted, gaining a better position, and unleashed a twister of steel, ravaging the flanks of both creatures. With a nod, Wil took that moment’s distraction. He drew his sword in a full arch, stepped in, and punched the thing in the face.

The fiend was not thrilled (hah, funny MJ joke!) . They were staggered, if only for a moment. Blown back, they gazed at the duo with vacant eyes, each locking on to its target. In the blink of an eye, they sprung forward, stretched arms threatening serious damage. Claid spun around, dodging the undead’s grasp. Seeing the opening, he whirled around, delivering a quick cut to the enemy’s back. Believing his quarry to be over, he dashed for the other breed of monsters across the hall. Wil, now, was not so lucky. The foul-smelling purple hand found its way to his head, and clenched like a carpenter’s vise.

Even the villagers could see the pain was undeniable. From the farthest corner of the room, they watched as Wil knelt as soon as he was struck. Hurt but eager to fight, Adronsius yelled at Occam “Dat on’, boy”. No longer able to see her champion from where she stood, Jalissa too cheered Occam .

“Pelor’s!” – Occam’s right hand lit up in a ghostly emanation – “Avenging.” – he pointed at Wil’s ghoul – LIGHT!” – the white beam of focused sunlight blast off of the invoker’s hand, and Wil had a moment to breathe, between the time when the ghoul’s head was pierced front to end, and the time that took the other ghoul to take over his friend’s place. Except, Wil would not be caught off-guard again. In his pain,slashed the undead’s fragile leg off. More light swoooshed by, unbalancing its foe, and Wil snapped free.

In the corridor, Claid had locked on to a zombie. he was sure the ghoul would be a tough enough enemy for his team, so the current plan was to leave them at it and keep the zombies from joining the fray. Facing the first zombie, he maneuvered well enough to keep the second behind. At the intercession, he slid, turned and swerved, and soon enough his enemies were in the main hallway. Away from all the heads burning and Wil’s shouting, Claid had enough room to bring out the wolf. Right Fang lopped a zombie’s head off in an amazing slash. Left Fang no more than tasted old sinew and coagulated blood that seconds before belonged to the not-quite-deader creature.

With the death of the first ghoul, the fight had turned considerably in the adventurers’ favor. While Occam blasted from the rear, all Wil had to do was to throw in a few punches, parry, and generally keep away from claw’s reach. Which, every couple rounds, he failed miserably.

Blow after blow, fates would have fist and fang vanquish their prey at the same time. The sword was sheathed, and the fist unclenched. The blood, though, was not as easy to put away. Battered, nearly broken, they rested in the sun room, so close they could see each other.

Occam was quick to recover. He was surely tired, tired of bringing light to where there was none. Claid did well with the weaker creatures, and there were but a few cuts on his leathers, and fewer still were deeper than that. Everyone was scared out of their pants, though, when Wil’s face was made visible by the grim dim light.

A hideous black mark could be seen there, starting on his left brow and stretching across the left side of his face. Jalissa could even make out the fainter outline of the ghoul’s long nails. One razor-thin claw ended inside Wil’s ear. Another went to the hinge of the jaw. The creature’s thumb had pressed hard against the mercenary’s forehead, and left there an impressive mark. “It’s healable”, Jalissa said, gently touching the burn mark. “Let’s go. Let’s go home, Claid, and I can fix all of you up. Let’s find Thurann, sirs, and get out of here.”

It is an amazing thing, fear. Its poisonous bite burns and undermines the iron will of the best men. It goes unnoticed among the small groups of people, slowly building up to the grand finale. Such bite had now been delivered, and immediately began to fester in Wil’s wound.

Luckily, it hadn’t spread too far. “No.”, Claid began. “Otherwise, there will be no end to this.” He stood up. “We press on”.

Occam stood as well. “Those were not alone. Lead on”.

They found out that the stairs in the main corridor led to the same place that the northern exit in the room. Such place was, at least, strange. Contrasting with the previous room, where the brightest light was decimated into nothingness in a heartbeat, the stony walls now glimmered in a greenish tint of a thousand shades. In the center, surrounded by a foot-high stone border, was a kind of pool, or well. Enough light shone on the water’s surface, even when everyone cautiously peered in to look at it. Wil took a nearby rock and dropped it on the well, to probe its qualities.

The disturbed waters immediately turned darker. The waves and ripples turned irregular as soon as they first hit the border. They took strange forms as they hit each other. Eventually it was clear that the pool was not a drinking well. As the small waves calmed down, the shapes took on a more recognizable aspect. A bare room, with only a desk and a chair, and the body of a large hobgoblin in a corner. He wore a heavy spiked plate armor and a flail, and was not hard to see it was the very same one that was behind the rebellion.

“Dude.”, Wil said, and reached for another rock. “Will it…?” This time, the waves broke into a vary dark room. The eyes of four statues of displacer beasts shone bright red. A large obsidian raven sat atop the altar at the end of the room, where a woman struggled in madness to set free of her chains.

Mirtala gasped when she saw herself and the room she had been locked in for days. Noticing t, Claid kicked another stone in. Now formed the image of a hallway. A row of columns sat across the length of both walls at regular intervals. Torches and rich paintings of the castle and its lords hanged from the walls in between the columns. The image zoomed in through the halls, and stopped a few yards from a large stone door. Then, the image slowly faded into the blue. “It is present as well as past”, stated Occam. Yet another rock – the stone door reappeared. It slowly opened, and everybody was silent in expectation. About a dozen people were in the room. It was the throne, or conference room of a castle. It was certainly not _this_castle, because the people were mostly happy and living. In the throne, a tall chair of steel, mithril and gold filigree, sat a robed man. And suddenly, all waves died, and the lake was calm again. Wil was on a roll, so he reached for another rock.

“We have seen enough”, said Claid, holding his arm. “If it shows more than the here and now, it might be misleading. Let’s move, Sers.” he added the last part, for noone in particular. Wil stared blankly at his stone. “Very well. Go”. He dropped the stone.

Everyone looked back to the sound of heavy steel hitting stone. Wil was still beside the well, and had just taken off his body armor. What the crap was the most common thought there. But it didn’t take much for the others to realize it was merely a bathroom break, and soon Claid and Occam were laughing their asses off, while the women covered their faces in shame and embarassment.

“Alright now. Follow me, kids.”

Pt. 3

Wil led the team west. Reaching a door, he asked the villagers to stand back. The three adventurers stepped into the room to be scared out of their wits.

The room itself was quite bare. Four columns formed a square. There was a passage to the north. But in the center of the room… A creature much resembling a red orc with huge hands and a very veiny body walked the room like a caged animal. When it spotted the party, it let out a scream, a frantic howl that was more akin to the strix than an orcish yell. It stomped its way to the party, but stopped near one of the pillars.

fugly Evistro “A demon.” Occam had a very small grasp of orcish, and that certainly wasn’t it. Also, he knew an Evistro when he saw one, since demons are the enemies of Pelor. Such information was of little use to Wil, who immediately charged the demon…

Only to be stopped by an invisible wall. Wil’s sword was one foot away from the demon’s body when it rebounded in midair. His face soon followed in the sword’s footsteps. Wil fell flat on his back, much to the demon’s amusement.

“This is your thing, am I right, Ser Wil? Running into walls?” Claid handed Wil his sword with a grin.

“Don’t say you knew it was there. Maybey you are the one in league with these things, Mr. Smarteypants”

“Well, that stopped before it could get to us.. And it looks quite starved."

Wil left Claid and Occam to their amusement and touched the wall. He began walking, so he could seize the shape of the demon’s prison. He went from the column in front of the door all the way to the next one, to the left, and then it disappeared. But, making a corner, there it was again, between that column and the one to the north. “It seems to be the columns. We’re safe to pass.”

He walked all the way north, to the narrow corridor that turned right. When he turned right, he stopped. “Another wall, Ser Wil?” Claid asked before again bursting in laughter.

“Men” he answered, stepping back into the room.

Rat-men”, a high-pitched voice corrected. “Rat-men, yup, yup!”, a second voice echoed.

WereratTwo shabby men stepped out of the shadows. They were both dressed in rags and thin as spears. One of them sported a long, well-trimmed mustache, while the other had a short goatee. As they walked into view, their faces shifted and contorted. Hairs sprouted from where there were none, and their noses grew to cover most of their faces. The dull grey eyes became pitch-black. Soon their shape was fully that of a wererat.

Wil was quick to point his sword at the duo. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

Friends, sir”, began the long-whiskered rat. The other echoed, “Friends, sir, yup!” “We were cursed, ‘sall. We’re friends”.

“Friends, you say?”, Wil asked, not without reserves. “Why are you here?”Scouting, friend. Looking for foods, sir”, the first said. “Yup, sir, foods. Times is hard, yup yup!” The bearded rat was either cautious, following his leader, or just plain stupid, as he echoed just about anything the other said.
“Well, can you tell us something?” Although uncertain to their intentions, Wil had to ask.

We can tell about the treasure, sir. For a foods?”. “Foods, sir, yup? A sammich, sir?

Wil reached for his backpack, while scanning around for Claid and Occam. Both were watching him, and neither was very happy to see perfectly good food go to waste. “Trick us,” Wil said, threateningly waving his fist, “and you are gone.” He did pull out a sandwich from his pack, and threw it on the ground at their feet. The wererats leaped in and devoured it in a flash. “A treasure, then?”

Riches, sir.” (“Riches.”) “Many golds, and jewels, sir, and a sword!” Claid’s eyes widened at the mention of a sword. “That sword, rat. What is it?” The rat seemed, or pretended, to have just noticed him. “A sword, my friend, sir. Long, and shiny, and they say it was the Lord’s sword. ’Tis yours, sir, friend. For a foods.” The bearded one was getting excited at the prospect of foods. “The Lord’s, friend, after all these years. Yup. Still there, yup yup!

“No foods.. No more food until you show us the treasure”. The rat-men’s squeaky voices and easy smiles were getting on Wil’s nerves. “Now, where is it?”

The bearded rat pointed in the direction of a recess in the wall. Upon closer inspection, it was clear the ceiling had, in fact, collapsed, and formed a fake wall. Occam peered into the small space. “The corridor. From the well”.

We can help our friends?”, the leader offered. “We’ll help, friends, and then there will be foods”, the other concluded. “Very well”, Wil began, but never had the time to finish his words. The leader slipped past him, twisting under his sword, and touched the wall that caged the demon. “You’re free, friend. We can have the foods, yes?

The demon howled at the nothingness above him, and charged at the closest type of food available, which happened to be Occam. Chainmail was barely a protection against the evistro’s 6-inch claws. It damaged steel and flesh in a sickening rip, and its head followed in for a bite. Occam’s blood boiled in his wrath and Pelor’s. The magical shield of light formed between Occam and the demon, and violently exploded, sending the creature flying. It pulled itself together, and roared. Occam pulled his hands together, and made thunder roar. Three bolts darted from Occam’s closed fists at his enemies. The smell of rat’s burned fur was a pleasant change from their usual stench, but the demon did not seem to appreciate it. His red skin turned a pale yellow, as if the thunder had become a part if it. It rushed Occam again.

Claid meant to leave Wil to the fight he picked, but the demon made it clear it was not an option. The Fangs were drawn mid-charge, and parried with great effort by the rat. The demon could be dealt with later.

The rats were clearly not friends. Like a pair of light duelists, their short swords stopped the attacks and cut back unmercifully. It was in no way one-sided, as both adventurers had had their fair share of brawls as well. A fast show of swordsmanship ensued, steel clashing again and again. Wil would sometimes strike a jab to the bearded ratman’s face, as Claid managed to slip an underhanded strike at the whiskered one.

The rats were relentless, but they were also starved. Every once in a while, when the duel drew to a dance of measured strikes and careful defenses, the larger, bearded rat would try a bite at the flesh of his opponent. They would then be punched in the face. Claid was not as successful, and got bitten his fair share of times.

Despite the disease-loaded bites and the razor-sharp brutish claws that ratmen and demons are respectively known to commonly carry, the fight went on without much of a commotion. Eventually, everyone was quite bloodied and unable to lift a finger, which made it considerably easier for Occam to cast the living lights out of everyone else.

One of the rats pondered on his fate, and found it better for all involved that he legged it. Which he would have accomplished, if not for a length of rope that had been misplaced and found its way into Claid’s hand.

“Whatta doing, hunter?”, Wil asked.
“He has information, Ser Wil. We’d better use it.”
“He has fangs and is a friggin rat. We’d better kill it.”
Occam felt the need for his voice to be heard. About time. “He may know something, Wil."

Nobody cared to ask the wererat’s opinion. As everyone knows, rats are very fond of rope of most kind, even if only for eating purposes. Ratmen, on the other hand, very much dislike being tied, so this one took the opportunity and, when the team was distracted by the sudden appearance of Thoradin and Ugarth, transformed into a dire rat and bailed.

Everyone was much outraged by this, and much fuming and stomping around was done. Still everyone was pretty broken and tired too, so Occam flashed a campfire for the night.

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Aran Wildspeaker
Friend and Foe

A red sun rose to the East. “Bloodshed”, Faerün’s voice sounded in Aran’s head. “Yes”, he snarled; “Let’s hope it was the good kind”. “It never is, young druid”. It was no longer Faerun’s colective grunt. Aran stared at the white bear, recognising the voice. Quieter, softer, full of wisdom. Female. “It is, master. If it is to protect, and not to harm”. “Like you protected them, the orc and the dwarf you killed. Twice”. All of Faerun growled in amusement. “No!.. I… I’ve learned, master. I’ve joined them. In their life, and quest. Theirs is my own, now. I healed them, and we shared a meal together. We are a pack now, Katar.” The shifter’s confidence steadily built. He stood tall, and again peered through the inn window. “Blood.. Close by”. “The bar”, ressonated Faerun. Katar agreed. “We shall speak later”.

The old tavern was as loud as ever. No hint of danger that would ever be. Inside, it seemed like half the town had gathered. Something was clearly happening by the counter. First of all, the large mirror was broken (“Again”). Everyone else seemed to be looking at some point near it. And finally, when a half-elm came flying from the front rows and crashed at his feet with a loud clang, Aran could practically pinpoint the source of the disturbance.

A myriad of options rushed through Aran’s head. In a second, a mighty savannah lion stood in his place. One roar was enough to clear the back rows. Like a domino train, one by one, all of the patrons rushed to the entrance of the bar.

All but a handfull. Near a small table, four men argued with a fifth. The group of four became increasingly nervous, but one could not say it was for the lion that walked towards them. The solo one, on the other hand, was quite different. A glimmer in his eyes, like he was waiting for the fight to start. A beautiful silvered scale mail, uncommon in such parts of the world. Two ridiculously muscled arms: one hand hovering over a longsword, resting by his side; the other, a mailed, clawed fist, angrily pointing at one of the men. He was yelling something about gold. Aran smiled from under his lion shape. This fighter, this mercenary, had been conned out of his coin on the cards. Aran let out another roar. Only a few feet away from him, two of the men fell to the floor in fear. The other two helped them up, and scurried out of the bar. Meanwhile, Aran was getting punched to the side of the head by a spiked gauntlet.

Aran rolled over on the floor and shifted back. “Who are you”, the fighter spat, “and what are you doing here?”. “My business is my own, mercenary. You, on the other hand, are making quite a fuss in such a small town. Besides, I could ask you the same.” Aran swatted the dust of the furs of his vest, keeping calm. He wouldn’t shift for this. “Mercenary. Heh. Yes, that I am. I saw fires in this area, two days ago. How do I know it was not you, mage?”. Aran’s eyes shone red at the mention of mage. “I pity you, human. Hacking at heads all your life, you wouldn’t know a dog from the spirit of a bear.” The other’s eyebrows lowered, as if wondering if the half-elf mocked him. “Worry not, though. The fires are through. Some rogue goblins, that’s all. Brindol needs no mercenaries.”

The fact that the mercenary simply walked away was as odd as the way he did it. With a small bow at Aran and an extremely fake smile at the bar (that is, at the two or three people still in it), he spun in his heels and made for the door. Always standing tall, he kicked it open (he kicked it out, as it opened to the inside), and turned left.

Aran grabbed a chair and asked for a glass of milk. It’s not every day you get to pick a fight before breakfast.

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Ugarth Hellscream
And suddenly, drakes!

So, we went down the stairs. Thoradin was ahead, like he used to do. “Penance”, he says. “I weell prrotect us”, he usually adds. More like playing the martyr, if you ask me. Claid and Occam walked behind me. Claid was all over the girl, Jalissa. An’ the girl was touched by her god, like Occam, so he been wanting to talk to her since he found out. ‘cept, he didn’t do . Funny ones, humans. Can’t want a woman and just steal her away, they have to be all talky and fuzzy about it.

My leg was hurtin’ a lot, going down those stairs. I thought that flail had done some serious business with my shin, and the damp air down there, I could feel it in the bone. At the bottom of the stairs, Thoradin looked back and yelled. “Anywun houngree? Fresch dinnehr heer!”, in his stupid rock-man words. The other dwarf, the young and less mad one, rushed past all ov’ us – tackling mah leg, too -, stopping next to Thoradin. And smacked him at the top of his head. “Arr ye mad, pal’din? These ain fer eatin’. They be taller then ourselv’s. An’ grey. Not a neece colour fer ye food ta haev.”, he was tellin’ him. Then Thor quickly turned around and stopped. “Waeit.” We waeit ed, ‘till he turned back and said. “I herd sumthin’ moov o’er there”. Claid stepped forward (and, curse the gods, mah leg). He listened to the nothing, but still said there could be somethin’ over a certain pile of rubble.

It wasn’t easy say which one he pointed at. The room was great. Twice greater than your great hall. The old guy we save’d said the room wasn’t a room, but a loads of ‘em, an the walls had crumbled. Anyways, it was big, I guessed Thor was talkin about those shrooms that wer spawnin all over everywher.

Nobody was movin, so Claid step’d up. Thor followed thru. An behind a pile o rubble, they found a drake. The thing hissed. Thor was kinda blown back, but not Claid. Heh, he decided it’d be nice to pet the thing. He reached out, ‘n of corse, the thing bit him. Really, what was he expectin? That a drake be all smiles an’ freakin sunshines? Well, the thing bit him pretty hard on the shoulder, hard ‘nuff te draw some red. Thor got all red too, in his raeg. There I got all this idea of keeping it as a pet. Heh. Or a ride. Heh! I smiled on the inside. Think about it. How many orcs do ya know that ride drakes? Drakes! I shouted at Thor to not kill it. And the moron charged the beast with his shiny arse.. heh, axe, and the damned thing can really cut you bad. Yeah, it did. The drake shrieked real loud. That’s when the Occam guy snapped back into our reality. “Ah! We fight!?”. Heh. That’s what he said, and he started his murmur chanting.

Noone ever listens to the rogue. When the rogue says like “Let me peek through the door first”, it has to mean he wants the treasure for his’self. When he’s all “Guys, let’sall do some restin’”, all he wants is to take folks unaware ‘n slit their throats. If the rogue’s leg is bleeding like a freakin pig in the stocks, all the damn thing is a ruse to get everyun to lower their guard. So while the team is sitting around an resting themselves fresh, Ugarth stands guard, lest he decides to kill us all. No mind he can barely stand. Better than havin him stab our backs. An that, ser, is all I wanted to do, when a darn drake growled at my face an I had to tumble back so I wasn’t drake fodder.

Them ‘shrooms were bright ‘nuff to see right, so I ‘n Occam stay’d back. Then, I threw a star at the drake. It was goin straight at it, but out offa huge pile of stuffs shot a second one, that pounced on Claid. It made quite a mess on his way. Trampled over a bush o’shrooms, that spread its dust things all over. Thor must have snorted some, coz in a couple seconds he was all drowsy in the middle of a fight.

On tha right wall was a way out. Someone was in there (or not, y’a know? Heh..), ‘cause Thor shouted at ‘em to stay there. As if any sane man would step into the room with two drakes an a maniac. Heh, an a rogue, of corse. Who doesn’t love ‘em? Anyways, Occam shot one of the drakes real nice, and it fell. Damn him. Had a black stripe down its arm, it’d be real nice to… Heh. Yes.

There was still another. Thor got a soft spot with the axe that made it roar. I limped to it. Then Occam shot it to the side of the head. Bad time. I had just got to it and tapped its shoulder. It snapped back, and tapped my shoulder. With claws the size of my arm. Luckily I put his head in a great position for Claid to stick his blades innit.

We stepped into the next room to see an old lady woman inside of a blue hamster ball.

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Sinruth, General of The Red Hand
Against the Revolt!

Dungeon155 sinruth

“Hey! What’s that?”. As the hobgoblin turned around, the puddle that certainly wasn’t there before started to gain a form. It grew, as if it had melted and time was now flowing backwards. The chest and legs it now had got a new texture and some color, as armor separated from water. If the thing had legs for real, Sinruth would say it was kneeling in some way. A moment after eyes appeared somewhere on the melty-stuffs, Sinruth picked up his flail. Smarter than most, Sinruth remembered there was no such thing in the castle. The was a jelly, yes, but jellies don’t turn all armor-y. There were his men, who usually are not that moist. And then there was.. it. Sinruth avoided it as much as he could, but he was sure it could not do that. So he did the smarter thing he could come up with. He slammed the flail as hard as he could on the thing. The thing, though, reacted, turning the newly-formed head to the hobgoblin. He – it was now clear it was a he- raised an elbow to meet the flail, and between them appeared a bright disk of an ice-like hue. Thousands of shards flew everywhere as the spiked ball crashed through the arcane dish. Sinruth reached for his helm as the other warrior stood and reformed the shield. “What you want?”, he growled. “My matter is my own, creature. Where am I?”. Although his words were short, only the longest caught Sinruth’s attention. He did dislike being called a creature. He swung the flail over his head, for balance, and again into his opponent. And for the second time, the other managed to raise his arm and stop it. Sinruth pressed on. He was at a size disadvantage, but the brutality he mustered more than made up for it. Sinruth drove the elemental to the door. He hated the cold room, with its cold ominous pillars, cold piercing breezes, and a generally cold overall atmosphere. But he figured a body of water would get colder than him, and that was called an advantage. Sinruth was not one to back down because it was cold outside his abode, or because his opponent was kinda moist.

It soon proved to be not a good strategy, for Sinruth quickly saw through the enemy’s ruse. “It’s a trap!” – he snarled at himself. About four men shot from behind a pillar and pounced him. Or did they? The smaller one shouted words of war at one of the pillars, like the knight of old would shout to windmills in the bedtime stories the wet nurse told him. Sinruth would smile, were he not overwhelmed. The old magic answered to none. None but it, who could stop it with a wave of its hand. In the end, Sinruth did smile. It was too much.

He should not have. His eyes burned as a fierce light shone on them. A moment later, the dwarf was on him. Or so Sinruth thought, for when he steeled himself for the attack, the axe passed right over him and into his foe. The elemental’s body backlashed, though, and ice shards sprouted and impaled the dwarf.

The two would keep at it for the most of the fight. Others, though, were not so keen to in-fighting. They had some sorceress, he saw. She talked to the magic, tried to make it not that much cold. The magic ignored her, and continued to buffet her party with frost.

Defeat eventually came upon Sinruth. It dawned on him, as did a certain ranger’s blade, that that was the end of the Red Hand of Doom. Who would command his men when he died? Who would The Emissary speak to, when the time came? Who would prevent it from doing whatever it pleased to everything in the area? “*grunt”-Sinruth thought to himself, blood running profusely down his eye-“Thems problems now”

The brave companions advance into the next room and find (in addition to Sertanian identifying the Dragoncrest helm and the gauntlets from the Hall of Great Valor) 260 gp and 2 potions the hobgoblin kept in a drawer. There’s also a small letter.

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Jalissa, Voice of Ioun
It's a trap!

There was once a time when the world was at peace. Ioun would shine His wisdom over man and beast, and all would acknowledge their place in the world. But, at times there would be some who would not listen to reason. They would rage and revolt, and claim the world for themselves, or so they would say. This is one of those times. A time of war.

My story is not that of a common village girl. At very young age I would argue with my father. At five, I would read him his letters. At seven, I could tell him he was getting less seeds than he paid for, at the market. At eight, an old man came to my house and told me -as if I hadn’t noticed- the temple of Ioun had just been finished. He had brought me a book. Mervelled at the prospect of all the knowledge, I went with the kind man.

For five years I worked with the priest. There were others, both boys and girls, and all older than me. Our duties were to read. The kind man would cook and clean and somehow pay for our things, and would sill find some time to do his reading.

It changed on the day I turned 13. As I woke up, I had a word in my mouth. “Naess?”. The old man (he was close by..) turned to me. “Wha… Jalissa? How..?”. That was the man’s name, he told me (we would call him ‘priest’). “A dream, priest. Or, maybe, another thing. I…”

Thus my gift came to be. His Grace now speaks though me, and I know all he knows. And we all know how knowledge can be a weapon. Except against goblins.

I am now nineteen, and an acolyte. Naess was feeling unwell, so I made him stay in bed and went to the market in his stead, having asked one of the altar boys to look for him. It was a quiet day. There appeared to be some trouble near the tavern, but that was most recurrent when strangers were around. Seeing a displacer beast cross the street like Pelor’s fire chased it, on the other hand, was not. I turned, but a cloth came down my eyes, followed by a soft thud.

I was happy to wake up between four stone walls. It immediately felt safe. But soon followed the dread of not recognizing said walls. A boy of no more than 9 was curled in a ball in the other corner. He was clearly scared. Also, those slabs of the stone floor looked creepily like sarcophagi.

It didn’t take much to make him talk. And, for once, someone knew more than I did, and it felt nice. Thurann, the boy, I found out to be the son of Kartenix. He is the chief of the guard at Brindol, and the boy was sure that he would come and save us. Well, that certainty faded over the week he was locked with me, but he always had hope. And he helped me keep some of min, too, until the day a couple of goblins took him away.

The next day, everything outside my four walls seemed to grow restless. My guards came and went without a rest, as if something nearby disturbed them. And as quickly as it began, it stopped. The noise downstairs lasted the whole day, though, and most the day after that.

After a week of captivity, the door that kept me away from everything was kicked to the ground. He looked like Kartenix, but he was Claidheamh. Maybe Kartenix was with the kid already. But…no. In my thrill to be released, I threw myself at my savior’s feet. “My lady”, he said to me, “Please, stand.”. I knew I was being childish, but I did not stand. Still I knelt at his feet, partly because I could still see the machines reeling and hacking in the other room. The swords he had crossed behind his back looked far less intimidating than the massive cleavers out there. And when a dwarf wearing the head of a gravehound over his helm, I couldn’t help but to shriek.

The crazy paladin (who kindly helped me to my feet) turned out to be Thoradin, of the old Oakenshield. He and Claid stayed with me near a corner for a while, until a steel plate caught their attention. A grey-skinned half-orc threw a knife, and the two opened the panel and tried sticking stuff in between the gears. After nearly shortened by a head, the dwarf finally found it better to call in the specialist. I was amazed that the orc from before was said specialist. Such mass can not help one being a good thief. Still, he seemed smart, and after a few tries, the pressure plates clang ed.

With the way cleared, Claid took me to the middle alcove, the corridor that took upstairs. As I quieted down, he tried talking to me. His finger was touching the blade of one of his swords. Maybe the castle was getting to him as well. Still, I told him – and Thoradin, who had come to hear me as well – the story of how I was taken. I talked about Thurann, and that his father would come. Claidheamh’s eyes faded, and Thoradin prepared to speak, and the Gift told me too, all the faces and all the silent voices, all screamed at once: He died .

Sem t tulo

I was on the floor for the next five minutes. Not much happened anyway, but for the appearance of a flaming angel. He vehemently listened to the orders of a man in a corner. The man’s hands were schorched and callous, with a look as hardened as their owner. He seemed hellbent on destroying the axes. Perhaps the ugly cut in his mail-covered shoulder was their doing. At some point, Sertanian, the old castellan, sat on the floor and mourned Kartenix with me. I had never met the man, even though he had been the captain for the last four years, but he was still one of Brindol.

Ugarth finally got to disarming the axe trap, at the cost of one of his best lockpicks. After a rest, where I retold my story and met everyone else (interestingly, I had hoped to meet with mr. Adronsius a week ago. Temple matters..), we proceeded up.

This room was strangely chilly. Those pillars emanated an unnatural cold. I immediately decided it would be better to stay away, and had barely grasped Claid’s shirt (to warn him) when he lurched forward to meet whatever made the noise everyone heard. From the north corridor stepped a tall figure, all blue and moist. Later being informed of the existence of the Genasi folk, I did not know what that was at the time. Locked in battle with the Genasi was a goblin. He was large, and was made larger by the massive armor he sported. The beautiful helmet struck me as familiar. Sertanian looked wearily at me, as if confirming both our thoughts.

The gobling snarled at me. And His Grace Ioun whispered a single word at my ear.

Sinruth

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Aran Wildspeaker
Previously, on SoW
For over a year, Aran roamed Greyhawk. Working as a hunter, or maybe a healer, or even the bodyguard of some lordling with airs of grandeur, Aran was comfortable in most any shape he took, but the greater fortunes seem not to smile at him. What he looked for, though, was some other like him. Another orphan, refugee or reject, with the least bit of respect to the spirit world. Katar had taught him well, and the best way to repay, he thought, was to bring to life another primal warrior.

It was on the outskirts of a small village where heard, from a small farmer whose crops he had saved, a tale of a dragon, to the South, which was said to rule the neighbouring city. Stopping at the village for some more info, he was at the bar when a horde of goblins decide it’s probably fun to torch the place. Somewhat annoyed (Aran enjoys his coffee cold..), he fights off the mob with an amazing display of force, and the small help of two bands of adventurers. When it calmed down, his heightened panther senses heard some kind of disturbance to the East, and went to help there too.

For a job well done, Aran was awarded a pouch of magical dust. His inability to recognise not-primal magic dictated that experimentation would be a good way to find out what it was. Along with the pouch, the promise of even greater riches, should he be able to recover that which the goblins took, was given to him by Head of town council, Troyas. And, ten hours later, Aran and his team arrived at the old castle ruins where, he thought, the goblins had set camp, controlled by some higher power. Such is his astonishment, when all they find, room after room, are the battered corpses of the Red Hand. After successfully destroying a Flan, for having taken too much time admiring a strange painting, the team finally detects live opponents. In mere seconds Aran sets up the ambush. And as he surprises his prey, he is surprised himself, for recognising some of the idiots from the bar. Aran is relived for only being able to see one of the dragonborn, although he was quite sure that, sadly, that one was the pyromaniac pyromancer, and not the weird devout of the platinum dragon. Behind the group was someone way past his time upon this world. Probably one of the villagers. Probably, that meant riches. Alternatively, it was food for Monty. The adventurers’ reactions gave no margin for doubt. There was only one option.

Monty had assumed the best position. Hidden behind the massive painting, the python immediately strangled a robed human. Benat charged a small lump of metal, a quarter his size, and Orton, son of Benat, followed through, only to be halted by two longswords to the side, and was suddenly more interested in whatever had made him hurt. Meanwhile, the mad dragonborn rained ice and fire; a hooded giant of tremendous agility swinged and stabbed with his shiny rapier; some ranger fought Orton, and the lump of metal (which, Aran curiously noticed, appeared to have a beard) was shouting challenges of war at everything it laid its eyes on (so, probably not much…). In a corner, the old man quaked with fear,and in the other, Monty toyed with his lunch. Aran, on the back, commanded. Spectral rats manifested with the wave of his hand. All insects in the castle coalesced, buzzed and bit. Knots and roots from ancient trees, buried under stone for ages, would revolt against anyone who would step on them. For a while, the battle was his. But the winds changed and, in that room, the gods would vanquish the spirits. Beam after beam of intense sunlight, Monty perished, finally releasing the human. Benat felled the giant, and Orton took others to the doors of the other world, but was not enough. More than once would an opponent fall to the ground, only to rise moments later. And when Benat and Orton fell, Aran thought it nice to lay down arms. He was no good dead.

So would Aran find the band of morons to be not that moronic. As a token of appreciation for a duel so epic, he offered the team the dust. Sprinkling some of it over the giant, his wounds twitched and the flesh quivered, and then fell together. The skin reknit and the spirit returned to the now only lightly damaged body. Aran gathered and healed his friends, and then talked to the adventurers. It was only fair they would be the ones to finish the job. Aran offered them his services, hoping for a new life, with both friends and meaning, and returned to Brindol, where he remains to the point, researching.

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