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Karthan 05 - Returning the past I
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vampyre



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
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Location: Upper Hutt

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:48 am    Post subject: K514 Reply with quote

K514 2Thardeth04-05 Maldiun Hills

“There is the remains of an old monastery nearby.” Kainan said. “I would rather do this during the day but my task must be fulfilled before the end of this night. If you are ready…then we will depart.”

Camp is packed up and they proceed into the woods. Kam’s ability to see in darkness with vivid contrast helped him follow Kainan through the dense forest and reaching a trail long overgrown, they followed it up the side of a hill to a rocky promontory, on which stands the ruins of a large 3 storey building on the edge of the promontory. “The ground has been desecrated.” Kainan states concentrating for a moment. “The monastery served the village and surrounding area for many centuries. But 30 years ago, the monks visits became fewer and fewer and no one really worried about it, until the dark monks appeared. Three of them, coming in the night and taking villagers for sacrifice. Paladins and clerics were called in to assist in finding them, but they were never found. However the fate of the other monks was uncovered. It seemed they were sacrificed so that the 3 could attain their lich like state, immortality of a vile form.”

“Who do you expect to be facing?” Kam asks.
“Just my uncle.” Kainan returns.
“You mentioned dark monks…what became of them?”
“He is the last of them…I believe he consumed the other two.”
“And tell me my friend what magic does Benneck specialize in. The last lich I met specialized in water magic. It took an artifact to kill him.”
“That is probably because he was a mage…my uncle is a monk, his martial training and lich like abilities are what we will have to face.”
Good so he won’t be as powerful…Kam thinks.

They cross a stone bridge passing crumbled walls and enter into an overgrown garden area that surrounds the ruined monastery. Kam looks around and sees no movement or nothing untoward…the place though reeks of evil. Carved holy symbols around the main door which is of iron and has been rented apart, have been slashed with reddish marks, defacing them. Kam feels it was an unholy act. “Someone has been very thorough.”
“They would have to be. As when they transformed to lich form they became evil and thus would have been harmed by the consecrating powers of the monastery’s blessing.”
“Does the evil have a name…deity, whatever.”
“There are two, Kharagh…who embodies Chaos and Darkness Claw who embodies evil…I think the latter is responsible. He resides not far from here in the Garthang Ranges and would do anything to spread his influence over the empire. Darkness Claw is Kharagh’s Lord Marshall and the only thing going for us, is that Darkness Claw does not see shall we say eye to eye with his master, as he wants to conquer the empire whereas Kharagh wants to totally destroy the empire.”
“Therefore Darkness Claw is the lesser of two evils.”
“Perhaps.”

They reach the main doors, flown apart by magical forces, the iron doors blackened and enter within. Kam realizes the overriding evil sense that permeates here is so strong that it could conceal the whereabouts of Benneck. He asks Kainan whether he can detect his uncle and Kainan replies he cannot. The monastery is searched…the ground floor a meeting hall, 2 kitchens, dining hall, chapel and 3 training rooms. Top two floors are private quarters, studies rooms, a library and classrooms. Other than rubble, the remains of smashed furnishings and the likes…nothing untoward is found.
“I see this place is empty. Are you sure your information is correct.”
“Yes, Laurien-Aredhil told me he would be found here.” Kainan says quietly. “His sanctuary must be beneath the monastery. There is no evidence of any of the missing villagers…nor any altar or place of sacrifice. We must search underground…darkness is a power that evil is drawn too.”

Quote:
Kam finds a secret entrance in the floor of the first training room (a stone that has moved slightly reveals an opening).

“This looks like it. If you would be so kind as to lead the way. I will follow.” Kam pulls out the Sword of Kalis as he says this. “Don't worry – I have your back covered.”

Kainan smiles and goes down the runged ladder first. Kam follows. This an old well that goes down 40' to shallow water in a natural cave. Very cold and damp but Kam realises this doesn't bother him like it used to.

The stone floor rises up to a ridge that encloses the water and there is a narrow opening near the edge of the roof. Kainan sees this to and crawls through the smooth rock opening. Kam follows, disturbing a couple of small skittering cave-dwelling creatures.

INT CHECK 16.

Reaching the other side they find another narrow cave. Kam suspects this is not right. Why would a monk drag victims through this? There is no evidence that suggests it ever happened here.

“It narrows ahead,” Kainan says.

“Tell me Kainan, what is really in this place? It is not very likely that victims were taken here by your monks. What are you really looking for. Are you really searching for your uncle?”

“The magic of the monks make places like this rather easy to traverse,” he says.

“Then forgive my suspicion, but you just need to know that I do have trust issues, on occasion, of course.”

“Trust issues?”

“Yes,” Kam replies. “As in if you lie to me then I won't trust you. And then you'd be dead. But right now I have a good feeling about this so lead on.”

The cave narrows. Kam sheathes the sword. A little kick from a small creature is received to the back of Kam's head, three times (12, 13, 9 hp). It really hurts. Kam spins around to see what attacked him, defensively, seeking to block any further attack. PERCEPTION 35.
He sees a brown robed figure, about a foot tall, move past, over his head. The robe is red stained.

“Kainan! It's above us,” Kam warns.

It attacks Kainan, hitting him three times in the face.

“We can't get through” Kainan says, “it narrows further up. And my uncle has disappeared.”

“That was your uncle? He's a bit small, don't you think? Let's move back into a more open space. “

They do so, and return to the cave.

He remembers his uncle telling him that changing their size was one of their magical gifts.

“Then that is really rather annoying. Perhaps we could take a different approach. Maybe we could flood this place with something like oil and smoke the midget out.”

“Midget? And where are we going to get the oil from?”

“Yes,” Kam replies. “Midget. As in small freak. Good point about the oil. Maybe you could get some from your village. We could go there and then come back?”

“No it must be done here and it must be done now.” He shouts his uncle's name, challenging him to come forth, in the name of Laurien-Aredhil.
Moments later, his uncle emerges dressed in brown robes, covered in blood. He wears no cowl and his skin is blue with yellow veins. No hair and the skin of his arms is the same. Smells of death. 6' tall.

“Ugly runs in your family,” Kam says.

He looks at them with black eyes. WILL SAVE 25. Kam feels pulled towards him as a kindred spirit. For a moment, just a moment, he feels like striking Kainan down. Yes, I am with you. Kam thinks, projecting his thoughts out. Soon. Soon, when your nephew is weakened. He will fall. He draws the Sword of Kalis.

Bennect attacks Kainan. His hands turn into claws as he does so, and he strikes critically, twice. A third strike cracks Kainan's spine and facing Kam, he falls to the ground.

Kam looks at Kainan and raises the Sword of Kalis, bringing it down point first towards the back of Kainan's exposed neck and Kainan mutters something. WILL SAVE 19. He strikes him in the back of the neck, critically (11 hp, 98%) which breaks his skull. Kainan mutters something again ... “Laurien-Aredhil, it is done.” and then he ceases breathing. He is holding something in his hand, firmly gripped. Kam kicks his arm aside and seeks to prise whatever the object is out of the dead/dying man's grasp. It is a cloth pouch with something in it. Kam spills the contents out, with Bennect watching. WILL 21, 17 – FORT 25, 25. A clear coloured stone falls onto the cave floor. When it touches the ground, it bleeds a clear liquid. At that point, both Bennect and Kam scream in pain as they feel the life being sucked out of them, ¾ CON lost and Bennect is literally dissolving before Kam's eyes. He is fragmenting and aging. His 'essence' is going from him into the stone, along with a reddish-white hue draining from Kam too. Kam feels as if he has been rended apart and he does physically have open wounds in his body from the effect. His eyes are burning, and his mouth, as that is where his essence passed through.
Kam is desperately hungry and, looking down, he recognises Kainan's body for what it is meant to be. Food. Rich, warm blood. He feeds until he feels sated. But he is still hurting.

Kam staggers from the cave, back to the well and climbs up to the monastery training room above. Then he rests.

Time passes. 3 CON are restored. His wounds heal, with light red scars remaining.

His attention turns to what has happened. The effect was unpleasant and chilling. He would not forget this. Where was he? Where is Lasgalen? How will he return to his master, Goddin? He considers for a fleeting moment, the possibility of investigating this village that Kainan comes from. But then he think better of it, for if one member of Kainan's family could employ such power, then what would the rest of them be capable of? And then Kam realises that perhaps the item that Kainan employed against them was something very special and uncommon. Except for the need to sate any further hunger he decided to avoid going to that place. Getting back to Goddin became his new priority.

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vampyre



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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 8:25 pm    Post subject: k515 Reply with quote

K515 2Thardeth05

Sitting recovering in the training room Kam looks up and can hear the sounds of wildlife outside and feels the presence of the sun as well, rays of light spilling into the hallway and few cracks along one walls.

He then sees the walls about him blur and finds himself in an expansive hall, brightly lit by sunlight coursing through glass domed roof, painful and irritating as is the other feeling, repulsive goodness and holy power. He sees a stairway that he climbs and people around him looking at him like he was the center of attention. He moves through rooms and there comes across one room, the door of pure bronze closed but as he approaches the door opens for him.

Inside, is the White Sword…that he recognizes, its power so…pure…no…he cannot look upon it…it detests him as he feels back…but how can this be. Such goodness reviles him but he moves forward and the sword is touched…is grasped and taken from its pedestal. He sees himself pulling back seeing a young woman dressed in simple dress holding the sword. Laurien-Aredhil, she is Laurien-Aredhil.

The room darkens…and he is back where he was…and he shivers, feeling the comfort of the environment...away from what he had just experienced, but what had he indeed experienced?
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vampyre



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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject: k516 Reply with quote

K516 2Thardeth05: Krushyck

Since returning to Khadazar, Mak, has been learning, instructed by scholars and sages of the geographical and peoples that comprise the Karthan empire. More recently religious beliefs and guilds had been discussed and though there were resemblances between the kingdoms of Eberron that he knew of and Karthan, there were as many differences, among them the gaps in history that he himself had personally encountered. Seeking a break, Bali has arranged an outdoor excursion to one of the Karniurtherim encampments that trade with the Tordagh kingdom. Apparently the “mountain barbarians” as Mak would understand them had been visited by an adventuring party seeking guides to take them deeper into the mountains. Bali is intrigued…and suggested one of his own people, Drusark, a Karnirutherim ranger as one of the guides…asking Mak whether he wanted to join him. Of course Mak wanted too…a break from the studies.

“The village you are going to is called Krushyck and it’s chieftain is an old friend of mine, Bryskannas. He is among a very few that know the existence of Khadazar but not it’s location. As you know when we trade, we trade using those Karnirutherim that reside here as traders. Tordagh are generally secretive and guard their mansions and kingdoms with almost zealous passion. So such is not unusual with the way that we are maintaining the secrecy of Khadazar. Just remember if the party asks questions, just mention you are a traveler yourself and have been guests to the Karnirutherim…nothing more…Drusark knows when to be silent and silent he will be. We are more interested as to why the party are here…adventuring parties are rare in these mountains and it takes a rather hardy type to survive in these conditions. More disturbing is that this region has recently become the focus of attention…from us firstly and the Falconer holds, to increased activity by the Zhan and now this party…making me rather curious about just what is going on…I hate not knowing. So I will leave this to you Mak…good luck, I know you will do you bit…Drusark here is reliable and trustworthy, otherwise he would not be residing here.”

Bali decides to teleport Mak and Drusark to a location 2 miles from the village. “It is one I am familiar with…a meeting point for our patrols, Drusark knows it well.”
They ready for the excursion wearing the warm fur coats to protect against the extreme weather. Two back packs with food and mountaineering equipment were provided by the Watch Guards who protect the few entrances to the mountain kingdom. Drusark is armed with a composite longbow, longsword and a mace…all magical items as is the thick leather armour he wears.

When ready, Mak and Drusark are teleported and appear beneath a rock outcrop in a gorge, the barren rocks covered in snow. Peering from the rock Mak sees a cloudy sky above, and tall rocky walls disappearing into the thick cloud cover. He feels the cold but only briefly, his breath rasping and bitingly so…they were high up, as breathing was more difficult.
Drusark nods and moves up the floor of the gorge and looking back Mak sees that the outcrop was very difficult to see from the floor of the gorge. They journey upward and following cracks and fissures in the rock to another enclosed gorge where the village was located. The village was carved and shaped out of a large spire rock outcropping where the gorge converges and ends. There was a single entrance with 8 guards outside and as they approach, Drusark communicates using hand gestures which is acknowledged by one of the guards. Approaching closer, Mak could see dark glass covered windows…8 levels reaching the summit above as well as terraces and small balcony towers for defense.

Quote:
This is not what Mak expected to see when visiting what he had assumed would be a rather crude and primative barbarian encampment. He had never considered that barbarians in Karthan might be civilised, unlike those from his home world Eberron.


They enter inside and is met by an elder, strongly built man of perhaps 60, Bryskannas accompanied by an entourage of a dozen or so warriors and shamans. “I like to personally met a guest of Bali Foehammer.” He says and Mak and Drusark are taken into the mountain, like Khadazar, Krushyck was hewed from the rock, into a myriad of corridors, rooms, chambers, dining and meeting halls, each level connected by 4 stairwells. It was a hive of activity, the ground level a muster area and meeting hall which was a market area, bustling with traders selling a variety of wares, people eagerly haggling for price, for hides, spices, food, tools and the likes. They climbed the stairs passing the levels before emerging into a meeting chamber, warmed by open hearth fires and lit by reddish white lamps.

Here Bryskannas offers Mak and Drusark seating on large cushions on the floor, covered in thick rugs. “These travelers came to us three days ago and one of them, Fiornan is his name, is known to us through the speaking rod we use. He is a Therim of writing, of lore and knowledge and some time ago requested of us to map the region to the north and west of the Ice Wall and this we have done, he in turn paying in kind upon his arrival. Now they seek guides to take them into this region…and Drusark here is familiar with the land. These travelers have come prepared and are definitely looking for something that lies within the land we call the Ice Plain, before the Ice Wall itself.”

Quote:
Mak addresses the leader of the tribe, the chieftain, “Bryskannas, I am honoured to meet you and must confess that I am curious. You speak of travellers searching for something. What do these travellers look like? Are they human?”

He replies “Fiornan is Tanatherim (high man) and one other is a Therim. One is a Tordagh. One is a Nanatherim (North man), one is a Daeostherim (Woodman) and the last, a female, is also a Tanatherim. Fiornan is a mage and leads the party.”

“That is very interesting. Do they travel under any particular banner or heraldry?”

“Two of them bear the raiment of the Foresters' Guild (Mak notes this is a translation). Fiornan is a guild magic user and the cleric is a cleric of Valicar, the god of magic.”

“Then it is fair to say they are no ordinary group. Their affiliation could imply their search is sponsored. Have they indicated to anyone what it is that they are searching for?”

“They have not. But Fiornan has a book and he constantly refers to it in his reading. Our shaman says the book has guided him here, or the spirit of the one who wrote the book.”

“How many days travel is this group from this location?”

The chieftain says “I believe their travel began before the start of this year. So they have travelled for over a month.”

Drusark comments “I find it unusual a magic user is leading a travelling party.” (he seems suspicious of magic users, so Mak determines he will keep his own ability, albeit limited, to himself).

“The travellers have come very well prepared.”

“Where are they staying and do they seem friendly or distant from your people?”

“They are friendly, enjoying our food and ale. They just do not speak of their task. One of them, Surdon, formerly served in the imperial star crusaders. We have detected no evil among them.”

Drusark says “such travellers are not common but they are growing in numbers, due to the guilds. My king told me this when he spoke about his adventuring years. It is very rare to see them here.”

“Then their task must be very special indeed. I wonder what it is that they seek. Tell me, has a guide been organised for their expedition. I am assuming of course, that Fiornan already has his map that he requested.”

The chieftain smiles and claps Drusark on the back “he is their guide,” he says. “And you will accompany him as our guest. They wish to leave immediately, to make use of the daylight.”

“I am pleased at this news, I am very interested in learning more of your ways and helping where I can.” Mak notes that Bali has already ensured both he and Drusark are fully equipped and prepared for this cold environment.

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vampyre



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PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 5:03 pm    Post subject: k517 Reply with quote

K517 2Thardeth05-06: The Ice Plain

Mak and Drusark meet with the party, led by Fiornan and is 6 in number:
Fiornan; Tanatherim; (10th lvl Mage (Ice/water elemental mage)
Surdon; Therim; 8th lvl W/Fighter (former Star Crusader)
Tanneth; Daeostherim; 8th lvl Ranger
Raddonil; (F); Tanatherim; 9th lvl Cleric (Valocar)
Lusann; (Nanatherim); 7th lvl Ranger
Daurrin; (Tordagh); 8th lvl W/Fighter

“I wish to leave as soon as possible to take advantage of the daylight.” Fiornan says. “You will be paid well for your services.”

The party leaves the village with Drusark leading and they proceed through a narrow gorge leading to a deep trough between two large mountains, as they drew ever closer to the dark bluish/orange cloud cover. Mak realizes how long the days were on this world…this was going to be tiring. They traveled throughout the day, and Mak began to struggle in the late afternoon, exhaustion setting in and some of the others felt relieved too, when Drusark called for a rest to establish camp. With Tanneth, Lusann and Daurrin, Drusark found cover beneath a rocky outcrop and secured it with a shield wall that protected from the cold and lit a fire, laying out the thick bed rolls and blankets they had brought. “We should reach the plain late tomorrow afternoon.” Drusark informs sitting before the fire as the others join them, Raddonil summoning forth a banquet meal to one side of the fire.

“Saves cooking.” Fiornan smiled. “That must be one of the handiest spells ever created…next to healing of course.”

Quote:
Mak elects to remain quiet and observe the group for any unusual behaviour, or possibly to catch a glimpse of the book that Fiornan references. From a distance Mak can see handwritten notes and Fiornan cross references them with a map.


A watch is kept throughout the night, and the party talks lightly about their travel here and they have been an adventuring group for 2 years now. Mak not required and he sleeps through the night.

Early morning just before dawn he is awoken by conversation and sees that Tanneth and Lusann are knelt behind rocks that form a small rise around their encampment, both with longbows aimed down towards the floor of the valley, arrows notched and ready to fire. Drusark is nearby motioning the rangers to remain quiet. Mak quietly joins them and sees on the valley floor 3 cat like creatures, six legged, the size of bears their thin fur, silver white. “Gwyvynn.” Tanneth mutters quietly. They watch as the creatures move slowly away from them, sniffing the ground, moving sleekly over the rocks and snow covered landscape. Once out of sight, Tanneth and Lusann breathes with relief.

“They are ravenous meat eaters.” Lusann says quietly. “We would have struggled to take them all out…lightning fast and very strong.”

“They hunt in family packs.” Drusark adds waking the others. “We eat…then continue.”

Morning meal is cold rations and after breaking camp Drusark leads the party up the valley. The clouds still hang above them, motionless like a thick carpet surrounding the spires of the mountains that pierce them. Snow began to fall about 2 hours into their travel and mid afternoon the party reached the top of the pass and looked down over a vast plain of ice…a glacier, glinting brightly under the sun’s light, almost blinding the party. They seek cover and Raddonil, understanding the concept of snow glare opens a scroll case and reads out the words in a language unknown to Mak. What he feels for a moment is a slight wash of energy.

“It is done…this spell will shield the blinding light for the day.” Raddonil says.

“I will take you to the plains…but what then?” Drusark asks. “Where do I guide you?”

Fiornan looks at his map. “Where we must go is to the edge and then along towards the Ice Wall.”

“Just how large is the Ice Plain.” Raddonil asks.

Drusark shrugs. “It goes many day to the west and splits into five smaller glaciers.”

Quote:
“Excuse me, I hope you don't mind me asking, but we have travelled a long way and my curiosity has got the better of me. What is it that your group is seeking? I am a scholar and an explorer from my own homeland. “

“Where is your homeland?” Fiornan asks.

“I am not supposed to say. But I can tell you that it is not this continent. It is from much farther away.”

Fiornan interjects “that is typical Perintherim double speak. You always guard your origins. I shall answer your question as thus; you will know when we reach the marker.”

“Of course. Will the marker be very obvious or is it concealed in the landscape?”

“It is both.” Fiornan says.

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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

K518 2Thardeth06-07: The Ice Plain : Zanan's Marker (Mak's Blunder)

Quote:
Drusark leads the party to the ice plain below and Mak overhears that the group is seeking Zanan's Marker.

“Who is Zanan?” Mak enquires.

“Zanan was the master of my own father's master.” Fiornan tells him. “We are here to find a rather unique artifact ... a frozen intact Kalnizhan (ice dragon).”

Drusark breathes deeply “do you not realise such places are cursed and protected ...”

“Yes ...”

Raddinl says “do you know what this means? Very few people have ever seen a zhan, let alone viewed one that is dead and preserved.”

Mak listens but does not seem fearful or surprised. “I don't understand what the fuss is all about. In my homeland, while a dragon is powerful and rare, it is not totally uncommon to encounter them. And there are many different types.”

Everyone looks at him and don't know whether to take him seriously or as a joke.

Raddinl (cleric) says “the cold must be getting to you as you are delirious. What would the zhan – any zhan – gain by encountering the likes of us? We are nothing but a plague to them and it is only our gods that protect us from their wrath.”

“That might the case here. But in my limited experience I know that dragons have recognised a trace of their power in the lesser races and as a result they seek knowledge. They use this knowledge to decipher a vast prophecy. That is not to say the same holds true here, but in my homeland there is a respect and an acceptance between dragons and man. It is a respect we uphold.”

Fiornan says “let me get this right; you say that your people respect dragons, respect the zhan?”

“Yes.”

Daurynn (Tordagh) looks at Mak and says very seriously “get this through your thick skull. In my eyes people that serve zhan are equal to those who serve Kharagh. The only reason I do not strike you down is that I do percieve you are not evil.”

“It seems you misunderstand. My people do not serve dragons – or zhan – there is simply a mutual respect between the races. There is no Kharagh where I come from.”

Daurynn swiftly removes his axe and holds it to Mak's neck. Mak looks at him. He demands to know where Mak is from. “everyone in this world knows the name Kharagh.”

“You are right. Everyone in this world knows the name Kharagh. I have learned that name since I arrived, in my travels and under many teachings from -”

Drsark interjects and says “shut up. Suffice to say he is a guest of the chieftain. Nothing more to be said. Do you wish to make camp, or enter?”

Daurynn lowers his axe but Mak feels the others distinctly distrust him. Fiornan says “well, the cave for this evening. The book says he had a magical fire in the cave and it did not melt the ice. And we have our good cleric friend here to summon food and I can provide magical heat as Zanan did.”

Fiornan leads the group into the cave. They stoop to enter and it soon widens. It descends and there are natural openings where they can rest. A fire is lit, camp is made and a banquet meal summoned. There is little talk.

Drusark goes on first watch and motions Mak to join him. Mak does so. They go to the cave entrance and look out. It is dark. However they do see the shape of the ice through reflection from the moons (red, blue and white).

Drusark says “look, I don't want to know where you are from. But I think since you are a scholar you should know that your revelations about where you are from has very much affected the party.”

“In what regard?” Mak says. “I have simply stated a truth.”

Drusark says “your truth defies our truth. What Fiornan is seeking is the preserved remains of a zhan. No one has ever seen one living or dead unless it has been flying miles above their head. One of them, of any type, can destroy one of our cities. Just one. They come in two groups, those created by Kharagh and those that have always been here whose lineage leads to but one of their kind. The progenitor known as storm wing. There is a mountain chain named after her. And it is known that some inquisitive tordagh that got close to her returned to their mansions to find them totally destroyed. No one communicates with them. No one trusts them and we all fear them. And here you come with your non nonsensical stories that have made them wonder why you are really here. Considering that as one who respects zhan (mockingly) it is just more than coincidence that we find you here on an expedition that is hunting for the remains of a zhan.”

“I see. It's not really my fault that I was sent and ended up on an expedition that was looking for a dead zhan. That is where the coincidence ends as far as I am concerned. I am merely curious at such discoveries but do appreciate the depth of concern and consequences such a discovery has in this continent. I am sorry if my words cause offence. That was not my intention. I cannot help it if I do not share the same fear. Perhaps, in some way, that may be of benefit to this group if we encounter difficulties when we go in.”

They keep looking out at the glacier and see a figure approaching. Mak turns to Drsark and sees he is asleep. The figure is tall and keeps approaching. Humanoid. Mak tries to wake Drsark by shaking him and whispering a warning.

Drusark does not awaken. Mak shakes him harder. No response. The figure stops before the entranceway, kneels down and pulls back its cowl. Mak recognises it as Lianna. Not smiling, she says “you have been naughty.”


It is at this point it dawns on Mak that he has made a serious error of judgement.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:54 pm    Post subject: k520 Reply with quote

K520: 2Thardeth06: Consequences

Lianna regards Mak for a moment before entering the cave. “I think you know what you have done Mak. Making out you come from a land that well, tolerates and does not fear the existence of Zhan has put you in quite a bind with these people, including your barbarian companion. You are not to mention anything about your own world, if people ask where you are from, speak of the Elder Wilds. You have been there and know enough of the people to answer questions that may follow.”

Quote:
“Yes, I understand my error. I underestimated the fear of Zhan in Karthan. I will remember that. I am sorry,” Mak says. “What will happen now?”


“Remember Mak that some of my kind would rather see you disappear…in a variety of ways. As for the now, I must adjust their memories so that the knowledge is lost to them as with the subsequent emotions and suspicions they now have of you.”

Quote:
“How is such adjustment possible?” Mak is curious. “That must be powerful magic.”


“There are spells but they are limited. What we use is far beyond anything mortals have ever created.” Lianna goes down into the cave to where the others are resting and Mak sees the room surrounded by a silver hue and strands reach out from Lianna to each of the party on the ground. Mak detects…nothing. However, behind Mak you hear Drusak moaning and regaining consciousness.

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Mak approaches Drusark and asks if he is alright. “You fell asleep unexpectedly,” he tells him. Drusak grunts an unintelligible reply and rises to his feet.

“How long hs it been,” he asks.

“Only a few minutes,” Mak tells him. “I was concerned for your wellbeing, so I stood watch.”

He grunts. “Seen anything?”

Mak looks around before replying and notes that Lianna has vanished, as has the silver hue in the cave. “No, we are alone. Nothing has disturbed us.”

“OK. We had better keep our watch.”

“Agreed.”

Drusark looks and sees the others on the ground. He furrows his brow. “They got to sleep quickly.”

“Yes,” Mak replies. “I thought it quite unusual myself, given the normal restlessness they exhibit. I just figured everyone must be quite exhausted from the trek to this location.”

“Well,” Drusark says. “Mountains can do that to you. Out here you can die of the cold, terrain can kill you, shortage of breath as you climb higher and up here a whole new denizen of creatures reside. Getting lost here is very easy.”

“I understand,” Mak tells him. “I have found the days very long and tiring myself. It is very different here to the Elder Wilds.”

Drusark says “I have heard of the place. My King has been there. But I thought you said you came from a land far away, for in the Elder Wilds there are no Zhan-lovers.”

Mak simply shrugs and says “I'm sorry. I don't know what you are talking about. Who would love a zhan? The Elder Wilds is where I have travelled from and that has been a very long way, as Bali would testify.”

Drusark regards Mak and says “Yes, I know you have the confidence of the King. But these others do not.”

“Are you telling me that the King does not trust these travellers?”

INT CHECK 9

“Has not our King told you that the existence of himself and the kingdom was to remain secret. These people think I am from a nearby village. These people think it was the Chieftain who assigned me but it was Bali who tasked me through his friendship with the Chieftain.”

“Of course,” Mak says. “I do have some trouble remembering some things.”

Drusark says “You do at that, it must be the cold.”

Mak is unsure if that was an attempt at a joke, or not. He shrugs and remains silent. Then both men stand watch. Time passes and Mak then observes that Drusark is unconscious again. He then hears Lianna nearby.

“It is nearly done,” she tells him.

Mak nods silently and hears her speaking in a different language for a moment. “Well it seems your friends are correct.”

“What do you mean?” Mak asks.

“Below the glacier there are indeed the remains of a Zhan. Frozen in ice.”

“Then what benefit will the discovery of it bring?” Mak asks her. “All I know is that any dealing with a Zhan, dead or alive, is not tolerated by these people. They say it brings ill omen and cursed luck. Why would they interfere with something that they despise so much?”

“Because they are foolish and they are greedy. They seek what they cannot obtain. Magic users believe that the Zhan have magical properties imbued in their blood. The Tordagh have long believed this, including Bali. So they have come here to retrieve as much of the Zhan's body as they can. However, they are going to be sadly disappointed.”

“Why is that?”

“Because Storm Wing will never allow her own to be discovered.”

“Then you are saying that we are in great danger? That this 'Storm Wing' will see that these travellers do not succeed in their task?”

“Storm Wing can make any decision she likes. If she wanted me to kill you and the others then I would have done so by now. Your dangers are the denizens and the elements around you. As I speak, Storm Wing is removing the frozen remains of the Zhan. Replacing it with quite a splendid ice sculpture of where it was.”

“Are you working for her?” Mak asks.

“No. But my father has an alliance with her as we are the two oldest races on this world. We share similar beliefs and enemies. Storm Wing is often in the court of my father.”

INT CHECK 20

Mak recalls being told about the War of Dominion, in that there were five powers. Gods, Kharagh, the ancient enemy (Alnuathor's people), Khios and Storm Wing. He now realises that two of the five are in an alliance against the others.

While he contemplates this revelation, Lianna tells him “It is completed. Drusark has been dealth with.”

“Thank you, when will I see you next?”

She smiles and replies “I know when and I know where.” She then disappears as Drusark wakes up.

“I didn't do it again,” he mutters.

“Yes, you did indeed.” Mal tells him.

Drusark takes out a time keeper (an hour glass like device). The top half is black with a silver glint inside it. The bottom half is half mauve and half blue. “It has been eight hours! What on earth is going on?”

Mak shrugs and simply says, “I don't know but you were snoring while I stood watch. Now it is my turn to be resting, like your friends.”

“Wake up one of the others,” Drusark instructs.

Mak wakes up Surdon, the former star crusader. He opens his eyes. “Your turn to stand watch,” Mak says. “Drusark is waiting over there.”

Surdon says he will wake up the dwarf, Daurrin.

Mak thanks him and rests.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:57 pm    Post subject: k521 chilblain Reply with quote

K521: 2Thardeth07: Chilblain

The party awakens enduring no encounters throughout the night. After a meal they break camp and head deeper into the cave using the picks to maintain footing as it is slippery. They are roped together as they were entering the glacier. Light and warmth is provided by two spells that illuminate the bluish white walls of the ice cave. Drusak leads with Mak and Fionan following, followed by Tanneth, Lusann, Raddonil,, Surdon and Daurrin the Tordagh guarding the rear. The cave twists and winds through the glacier, jagged in places and the sounds of movement creaks about them. The cave opens out into a cavern, part of the wall is smooth rock hewed over time by the glacier. “We have entered a pocket and this is the side of the mountain the glacier is moving down.” Fiornan says. Here the creaking is more apparent, almost groaning and the air is very still…and cold. Fiornan says that they are close pointing to a narrow gap where the ice meets the mountain wall at the end of the cavern. The party moves forward and is assailed by two ice blasts from ledges overlooking the cavern.

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REFLEX SAVE 13 – A blast of intense cold strikes Mak (27 hp) and the others as they move through the icy caves. FORTITUDE SAVE 30 – Mak avoids being blinded by the icy blast, but has frostbite.

PERCEPTION 21 - Mak sees two creatures looking down at the party from approximately 40' up, on a ledge.


Chilblain x 2; Creatures are 4 legged with thick blue-white skin and heavy clawed feet. It’s body is like that of a scorpion with a long powerful tail ending in a mace like club and huge jutting ribs of bone arching over it’s back. It’s head is insectile and has 4 bony legs and 4 razor like arms…each is about 35ft in length and perhaps 8 feet high A/C 32 HP240, attack Tail +23, (4d6+9 plus 2d6 cold) or claw +23 (1d8+4 plus 2d6 cold); Full attack Tail + 4 claws at +21 melee; special; breath weapon, cold aura, frost touch, frozen stare, spells (Water/Ice law to 20th lvl); Saves; Fort +13, Ref +9 and Will +14; Feats; alertness, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Multi attack, Power attack, Quicken Spell casting, snow runner.

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“I see two creatures!” Mak shouts out a warning. “They are above us on a ledge.”

Fiornan orders “Move!” and tugs the rope. “Forward!”
Drusark cannot see as he has been blinded and is shivering. Fiornan is unaffected. The others behind him look blinded also.

Fiornan and Mak lead the others with the rope to the gap. One of the creatures is skittering down the wall as the other launches an ice blast in their direction.

REFLEX 17 – fails to avoid (14 hp) and Fiornan instructs everyone to “Follow me, follow me.” He pauses as the creature advances and then throws a vial releasing a purplish gas. The creature moves through the cloud and it slows as a result.

Mak draws the glimmer sword to ready his defense if the creature gets closer. He looks to Fiornan to see what he is doing. Fiornan is holding another vial and has unroped himself. “Get the others in the cave!”

Two of the others stumble on the ground (Radinal and Lusan) while Fiornan throws the vial which explodes where the creature is into a ball of fire.

Mak assists the others to get them back on their feet. “The cave is close, only 40' to go,” he reassures them. “Come with me.” He leads them. They reach the gap which forms a triangular shaped cave.

Fiornan catches up “Keep going,” he commands. Then the ground undulates and he says “Stop. We should be out of the range of its frost blast.”

“What are those things?” Mak asks Fiornan.

“You are not going to like the name that Zanan gave it. It is a cruel joke on what they can do. ” He passes potions to Mak for each of the others to consume while he proceeds to create a magical hearth to produce heat and light, like a camp fire. Mak gets them to drink their potions and he sees all are affected by frost bite. They seem to get warmer and the frost bite effects lessen slightly, then fade more as time goes by.

Fiornan gives Mak some berries and tells him “Give them these as they improve and they will get better. It is best that the cleric does not use her magic at this stage. We will need it later.”

Mak realises that Fiornan is quite well organised. He also notes that the gap they have entered is too small for the creatures to follow.

“Zanan writes about these two creatures. If they are the same then they are old indeed.”

“How old?”

“80 years,” Fiornan replies. “My master's father wrote the book, who was following clues left by Zanan, who founded our magical school. There are Zhan of cold, light, fire, air and sea. Those are the ones that we know. Their progenitor is known as Storm Wing. Kharagh has two; chaos and black. We have long believed that the Zhan is naturally imbued physically with great magical power and magic users have often discussed and written about the possibilities of gaining these properties through samples of flesh or blood or skin. When Zanan founded our school, the Ice Lore magical school, part of the Imperial University, he promised that the school will be blessed and renowned for its lore into the element of ice and cold. It was learned later that he was going to achieve this by gaining samples of a frozen Zhan's body. So Zanan set out and never returned. My master's father went out 80 years and documented his retracing of Zanan's expedition. Now at my master's behest, I am here to continue retracing that journey and to find the remains of the Zhan. If it is in ice then it will frozen and preserved. My master told me that at the highest levels of the magic user academia there have been discussions on the theoretical possibility of a fourth magic. Now in here (taps book) Zanan says he believes the Zhan use a fourth form of magic that is primal. Can you imagine what good that would bring if we can access that?”

INT CHECK 22 – Mak knows what the fourth magic is. He knows Bali knows about it and suspects that Alnuathor and Lianna use it, the True Essence, from which the gods created the three other forms for use by humans (essence, channeling and mentalism). That caused quite a bit of friction between Lianna's people and the gods. No human could ever access it because it is too powerful and would 'fry their minds'. Mak can say nothing of this, for he is bound in oath to keep it quiet.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:00 pm    Post subject: k522 chilblains II Reply with quote

K522: 2Thardeth07: Chilblains II

Fiornan and Mak establish an encampment while the others recover from the icy blasts of the creatures attack. With a warm magical fire, the party recovers and the cleric brings forth a magical feast enjoyed by the company.
“We are close…if the directions are correct. There have been some changes, no doubt caused by the advancement of the glacier, but I know where we are…and further down perhaps an hour from here, is where the zhan remains are to be found.”
“Encased in ice?” Surdon asks.
Fiornan nods. “Yes that is what is written here. We have to go through a ravine that has been gouged from the valley floor to get there.”
“What about those creatures…what if they come back or are waiting for us to get out?” Lusann asks. “Is there any other way out?”
“Not that I know of…look the creatures fear fire and I have fire vials with me.” Fiornan says handing 2 out to each party member. “Don’t throw them in a blind panic, be sure of your target before you throw them. Otherwise it might be us getting burned.”

The party rests then after clearing the camp and roping to each other, continues following the rocky floor through a narrow gap between the wall of the cave and the glacier just a few yards above them angling down to the right and the floor of the valley. The rocky floor is strewn with gouged rock, rubble and the ice wall a dirty gray in colour imbued with chunks of rock and dust. The cold is biting on the face and eyes, but the clothing given by Bali keeps Mak and Drusark warm. It seems the others have something similar, not to affected by the biting stillness of the cold icy air. Breathing gets somewhat painful and lips begin to frostbite Mak using his gloves to keep the moisture from his face and that helps.

The party comes to a halt where the floor beneath them has been gouged out leaving a roughly hewed ravine that angles to the right, beneath the ice flow. “We climb down and follow this…perhaps for 5 or so minutes then we are there.”
Two sets of rope is tied to spikes driven into the ground by Daurrin and the rope is dropped about 60 feet to the floor of the ravine. Fiornan casts two extra light spells on Surdon’s and Tanneth’s helmets. “One goes down with light followed one who has not and followed by one who has. That way the light can be used by all of us.”

The ravine is narrow and straight and it is easy to traverse. The ravine opens out to a sunken depression hundreds of feet in diameter and lit by strange luminescence from the icy roof above…from three specific points, triangle shaped above the depression.
“What is up there?” Surdon asks.
“Whatever it is…it is magical, essence and powerful.”
“But surely whatever they are should have moved with the ice?” Raddonil remarks.
“No look see on the right of each point, there is a light ice trail following the flow.” Fiornan says. “The points have remained still and the ice has moved through it…the points burning the ice as it advances resulting in a tunnel in its wake.”

There before them is an immense creature of ice…a zhan, there is no other creature that comes near to describing it. The creature is lying at an angle from them and dominates the depression covering its entire length. “Zannan measured its length at about 700 feet long.” Fionan says.Everyone gazes at the immense creature composed of pure ice it would seem, massive ice coated wings spanned out towards them and on the far side towards a distant wall of rock.

Hearing movement they look to the right of them and see the Chilblains advancing towards them leaping over the icy floor with speed, about 400 feet away and 50 feet below them.

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WILL SAVE 17. Mak, drusark and Radinnl (cleric) hold ground as the others flee back to the opening, their faces full of fear. “What is wrong with them?” Maks says. “They look frightened.”

He readies fire vial and notices that Drusark and the cleric are doing the same. The creatures are about 150' away. “We need to wait until they are closer before we throw these!” he exclaims.

The cleric summons ten small fire elementals and sends them forward against the creatures. They fight the monsters and some perish. Mak observes the breath weapon and tail attacks of them against the elementals.

The cleric summons two more sets of ten elementals against the monsters but warns “these will not damage them, but will distract them.”

“Drusark, we should try to damage them with our fire. Follow me!” The cleric hands them her vials as Mak moves toward the creatures. CLIMB (Fumble, 27% ... 46% ... Mak slips but manages to regain his foothold). CLIMB 22. Mak gets down and sees Drusark ahead of him and more small elementals attacking the creature he intends to attack. It is defending itself with claws and a mace-like tail. It also uses its breath weapon and Mak can see it multi-atacks effectively and is very large. He positions himself about 40' away to make a medium range attack with the vial. RANGED ATTACK 10. The vial explodes on the ground doing 8 points of damage (1/3 of 10d6 due to poor throw on a peripheral edge of the creature. There is another explosion as Drusark throws his a hits directly. The elementals grew in size with the attack. Mak throws his second vial. RANGED ATTACK 12. 9 points of fire damage. Drusark hits again. The elementals grow again. Mak throws his third vial. RANGED ATTACK 28. Full damage doing 37 fire damage. The elementals gorw in size again (4') and Drusark throws another vial, hitting. The elementals swarm around the enemy and keep attacking until the creatures retreat, with the elementals pursuing them through an opening higher up in the ice than their own entrance point.

Drusark looks at Mak and nods appreciatively. Mak notices he only about 20' away from the wing of the frozen zhan. Mak notices it is more like an ice sculpture than a dead creature. He remarks to Drusark, “Does this look like a dead body to you? It looks like ice and ice only, to my untrained eyes.”

PERECPTION 35. Mak realises the entire body of the Zhan is hollow. The thickness of the ice is 4-5 fort. He thinks that the body has, indeed, been removed. This is effectively just the 'shell' of a dragon

The others join Mak and Drusark. Fiornan aplogises and says the creatures used a fear attack. He is visibly shcoked at the appearance of he immense body before him. “There should b a budy indtead. Bluish white skin encased in ice.”

“Has your book been misinterpeted? This does not match the description you have provided.”

Fiornan says “That cannot be asthe directions led us to this place.”

what has happened to it? Where has it gone? The entire body has been removed. Raddinl says “from my knowledge no teleport spell can do this.”
“correct, no known teleport spell can do this”

Mak examines the scene – has any evidence of the transfer been left behind? Has anyone else been here, in this location? Everyone starts moving around the dragon sculpture/body and can see the shell has been hollowed out. PERCEPTION 18, 24. Mak sees (looking down on the head and body) that it curves towards a ravine. It look like its front claws gouged into the rock when it impacted, like it crashed into this location in earlier times. He calls out to Fiornan an Drusark. “hey, come and look at the zhan from this angle. It's quite spectacular to think it was moving and possibly crash landed here.” they all come over and look.

Fiornan is excited “look that proves a zhan was here.”
The dwarf says “probably attacked by another zhan, one of Kharagh's kind. Air battle perhaps”
“So it's remains have perished and only the outer shell of ice remains? Is this what you thought would be here?” he asks Fiornan.
“No, I was expecting a preserved Zhan encased in ice. We do not know how long the creature has been encased here but it has been seen by Zanan and it was preserved back then. There is no reason for it to have decayed so completely over that time. It is impossible.”
“And this region has always been this cold since Zanan wrote his notes in that? Perhaps it warmed up here and then refroze after the body decayed? I realise that might be unlikely but could magic have done that?”
Fiornan says “Very possibly. Are you saying that someone was responsbile for it, or something?”
“I don't know, I was just thinking out loud that something like that might have happened. Still, we are here now and we can still get something to take as evidence, can we not? Is anyone here going to draw a picture of our discovery?”
“There is no need. I have illusion spells that can do that.”
“If Zanan never came back then maybe we can look around and see if we can find any evidence of him staying here.”
Fiornan says “Yes, do so.”
The cleric says “I'm going to take a closer look at those points of light.”

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject: k523 search & revelations Reply with quote

K523: 2Thardeth07:

Surdon and Daurrin set up a watch near the cave that the creatures retreated into, each armed with 4 fire vials. Fiornan sets about to use his staff and visually store images of the ice casing of the zhan. Raddonil levitates to the roof beneath of the 3 points of light and Mak, Tanneth and Drusark begin searching for evidence of human habitation. Lusann begins establishing an encampment at the entrance the party emerged out of. Fiornan states to the party before the individual tasks are begun, that he wishes to be here no more than 2 days.

Quote:
Tannyth and Drusark are with Mak, looking for any former signs of human habitation. “If no one survived previously, then how did Fiornan get the book?”
“Perhaps the creatures took them away and ate them,” Tannyth remarks.
“If that is the case,” Mak responds, “then it may be that we will need to investigate the lair of those two creatures to find the evidence we are after.”
Tannyth looks at Mak and says “don't think that thought out loud again.”
“Sorry,” Mak says. “It's not really something I'd like to do either.”
They search. PERCEPTION 25, 27 and 29. Mak sees halfway around, near the zhan's wing, in the depression, on a slight ledge above that part of a wall has been deliberately shaped. Possibly by magic. There is a very slight hint of magic to this area, about 3 ½ ' diameter. Mak call the others over and points this out.
“Really?” says Tannyth. “It all looks the same to me.”
“Do you see it Drusark?”
“I see rock and plenty of it.”
Mak draws the glimmer sword and thrusts it into the area he has identified, or at least tries to. The sword goes through. It penetrates, seemingly swallowed by the rock.
“It must be an illusion,” Tannyth says.
“Then follow me,” Mak says. “I am going to move through.”
He does so, climbing up and climbing in to crawl with the glimmer sword in his hand. He enters into a small tunnel and casts a light spell. The tunnel opens out into a small room that has been shaped (20' x 15') with a hearth in one corner and bedding stacked around. He enters this and searches the bedding. He finds various devices, metal tools, picks, rope and the bedding is still good. At the hearth is a small cauldron, plates, etc. It was a proper encampment. But there are no bodies. Under a mattress there is a small notebook, made out of rune paper. He shows it to Tannyth. “What can you make of this?”
Tannyth opens it and reads “It is diary entries. It seems they have made this place to hide from creatures they call 'chillblanes' and it sound like he was talking about breaking the ice to get skin and flesh samples to take back with them. Then it gets weird. Talking about nightmares and ghosts walking through walls to get them. Everyone starts going mad. And the writing gets bad ... “ he flicks to the last entry “... it says I am all alone in the darkness, not of my own making, and I am waiting for those who have been in my nightmares who have taunted us with madness, to come for me.”
“I wonder who the ghosts are,” Drusark remarks.
“We must tell Fiornan about this,” Mak says. “Just in case it starts to happen again.”
“I agree,” Tannyth says and Drusark nods.
They leave the small cave and join Fiornan who stands at the site of the zhan ice casing, taking measurements and writing notes. “Have you found anything,” he asks.
“Yes,” Mak tells him. “We found a small tunnel concealed by an illusion that leads to a small encampment in a concealed room. We found this notebook in there. It could be a warning of something else that is down here, something we should not disturb. Take a read.”
He accepts the book and begins to read it.
“This is not Zanan's hand writing, but it is from his expedition as it refers to Zanan disappearing just two days before the last entry. It seems that three of the party were driven to madness and killed by the chillblanes, another four fled after the camp fire was extinguished, sreaming of ghosts in their head, leaving Zanan and the author of this book, Strangely, Zanan did not seem affacted, and the following night he walked from the encampment and never came back, leaving the one who wrote this. He said he found Zanan's notes, the ones that I have.”
“So, was the author of this notebook, your master's master?” Mak asks Fiornan. “Was it him who gave you the book that you used to get here?”
Fiornan says “my master's master followed the original Zanan expedition using the diary of notes. If this is accurate, and I see it is written in the hand of a scholar, then by all rights no one survived this except possibly Zanan who just walked out, not taking his notes with him. From what I can see, these nightmares began five or six days after they were here.”
“Perhaps there is nothing here. Perhaps it was just the environment and its isolation that caused them to go mad.”
Fiornan nods. “Yes, it could be. I just don't know. We have seen no skeletal remains on the trail we have taken in.”
“Of course, the ice and the snow may have covered them,” Mak remarks. “Or the creatures may have taken them to their lair.”
Fironan nods “Yes, of course, that could be the case. And if we think the same happened to Zanan then the mystery is how this notebook got to be found years later in a dusty shelf, in the library.”
“Perhaps he returned and placed it there, but did not make a big fuss about his expedition because it failed. His party perished and he could not claim success with that. Without the skin and fleash of the zhan he had nothing to establish the great school he promised, so he may have just chosen to fade into obscurity. But he left the book as a clue so that someone else might succeed where he failed. Perhaps you are that person, Fiornan.”
Fiornan looks at Mak and says “why would he not return home in triumph? He has his notes, he is honest and highly respected. He could have easily started another expedition and gone straight back there. After all he knew what risks people might face. And what makes you think he did not fail, perhaps he did get a sample. Only a close examination of the ice casing will reveal if such has happened.”
“Then use the notes I uncovered to determine where they may have tried to extract the samples.”
“Indeed I will,” Fiornan says.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:09 pm    Post subject: k524 revelations Reply with quote

K524: 2Thardeth07: Eyes of Darkness Claw

Mak, Drusark and Tanneth maintain watch at the entrance way where the Chilblains had emerged from giving a break to Sudon and Daurrin. Drusark has 2 and Tanneth has 2 of the fire vials, Mak used all his, so the Glimmer sword is handy.
“Hard to tell the time of day or night down here, without a timekeeper.” Tanneth remarks looking at is. “Approaching nightfall outside I should think.”
“Do you think these creatures will return given what we have to offer them?” Drusark asks.
“Maybe, depends on their instinct and survival needs.” Tanneth replied. “We were lucky we did not bring the ice wall down on us when those vials exploded, fire and ice don’t mix in anyone’s rules one would think. I am getting so used to this damn cold.”

They heard movement from further in the dark cave, the sound of clawed feet moving quickly towards them. Tanneth looks for a moment and curses. “It is not the chillblains…too many feet I hear…can you see anything” he asks Mak. It sounds like it is nearly upon us.” Mak peers in and with his special sight is able to see what is coming towards them…a creature that looks like a huge worm with dozens of insectoid legs. It has red faceted eyes, and a wide mouth lined with jagged teeth and two claw like teeth on either sides of its mouth. The back of the head bristles with a pair of wing like fins. Its body is whitish blue in color and it pulses with a reddish glow form the heat their bodies produce. HP136; AC26; attacks; 2xbite+14; Damage 2d8+12; special attacks; improved grab, swallow whole; Special qualities; Heat, tremorsense; Saves Fort+10 Ref+6, Will+3; Feat; Power attack

Behind the creature Mak glimpses another, different…a black creature of equine beauty and consumate evil, flames emitting from his hooves and its mane is one of fiery brilliance as its tail. On the creature rides a black armoured figure…watching with intent.

Quote:
INITIATIVE 5 – the worm attacks Tannyth and Durin with bites. Tannyth's head is removed from his body and both his body and head get sucked into the worm's mouth. He is gone. Mak reacts and swings the glimmer sword, doing 16hp damage. INITIATIVE 10. Mak swings again, just missing. The worm responds against Mak, missing twice. It covers the entire entrance of the cave they are watching. INITIATIVE 13. It bites twice again, doing criticals each time ... 24hp, 13hp, 10hp ... Mak was struck on his chest and his armour was split ... 1 hp/rnd for 2 rnds ... and the back ... stunned for 2 rnds ... REFLEX SAVE 29 ... he keeps himself upright and keeps himself from falling down the depression ... he can see the other members of the party approaching and Durin presses back trying to hit and the others join the defense with rods in their hands. Durin is struck once and then Mak recovers from being stunned. He swings with the glimmer sword, striking for 16hp damage. INITIATIVE 6 ... the worm reacts against Mak, and misses twice. Mak misses. Urin hits. INITIATIVE 21 ... Mak swings the sword, missing. Drusark wades in but misses. The worm attacks Drusark, striking him once. INITIATIVE 13 ... Lusarn has joined the attack and Durin is using a crossbow ... the worm hits Mak, 24hp damage ... wounded in chest again ... REFLEX SAVE 20 ... Mak retains his footing ... Duran fires his crossbow, doing a critical ... INITIATIVE 13 ... Mak knows he is weakening ... he swings the sword defiantly just missing. The other miss, except the dwarf with his crossbow and the worm is unperturbed ... it bites Lusarn, ... INITIATIVE 19 ... the wom moves first, against Lusarn and hits once ... Mak slices the worm for 10hp of damage ... another crossbow bolt hits from the dwarf ... INITIATIVE 17 ... Mak misses ... Lusarn and Drusark hit with their swords and the worm retreats back into the cave ...

Mak retires back from the mouth of the cave, about 30' to inspect his wounds. Raddinl approaches and applies some magical healing to Mak. Mak thanks her.

Fiornan approaches and says “we all saw what happened to Tannyth. You did the best you could.”

Suddenly, the creature charges out, raging past the cleric and the others, down the slope towards Mak and Fiornan. It is about 45' long. Durin, the dwarf, gets out of its way. Mak will push Fiornan aside to protect him and stands his ground with the glimmer sword. INITIATIVE 14 ... the worm strikes Mak for 38 hp in the shoulder ... 3hp/rnd and -10% per attack for 2nds ... he feels Fiornan's arm on his shoulder and he gets 23hp back ... Mak can react and does so, successfully hitting ... critical 18hp plus 66% ... vicious strike to abdominal region destroys variety of important organs ... the worm squirms and writhes ... INITIATIVE 8 ... it lashes out at Mak, doing 15hp ...Mak swings back but misses ... INITIATIVE 9 ... Mak swings his sword and misses again ... the worm hits him ... 24hp less healing from Fiornan (21hp) and then it collapses to the ground.

Mak impales his sword through what he assumes to be its head, just to be sure of the task.

He thanks Fiornan for the healing during combat. “I thought I was dead,” he says. “But I survived because of you. There is another creature in that cave, I saw it briefly before the worm attacked. It was some kind of horse creature with a black armoured rider.”

Fiornan asks for a clearer description. Mak recalls what he can, INT 18, a black creature – beautiful yet evil – with its mane and tail in flames and there were flames behind the hooves as well ...

“We had better check to see if it still up there ...” Fiornan says. The group do so and take the wounded to the secret illusion tunnel discovered earlier. Mak also inspects the cave and sees that the creature is still there, and there is a chillblane with it. Mak casts his entropic shield to ward off ranged attacks and Fiornan motions him out of sight. “I have seen drawings of them before .... I'm trying to figure it out ... this is something to do with Darkness Claw ... I know that,” he says.

“Why would his minions be here?” Mak asks.
“It is the mount he is riding,” Fiornan replies. “It is believed that Darkness Claw has, as his mount, the progenitor of its kind. Known as Nightshade. So whoever is riding that lesser one, a child of the progenitor, is someone who holds a special position.”
“Then it is an enemy we should try to face, if they are a direct link to that evil master.”
“If it attacked us we would stand no chance. I find it strange that it uses other creatures to do its bidding. I would suppose this favoured minon is a dark paladin that works alone. They are known to have powerful empathic qualities with creatures of evil. And the nightshades are known to possess all evil languages of whatever creature utters such.”
“Then why would they wait, if they could just defeat us? What is the sense in that? Are they real, or are they an illusion. It does not make tactical sense.”
Fiornan says “not for us, perhaps, but we cannot think for them.”
“Then shall we return our hidden cave in the ice and wait for this enemy to depart?”
Fiornan says “Let's do so.” But he casts several spells on Mak and Durin first, saying “you will make your way down and will be silent. These spells ensure you will make no noise.”
They then cross the depression, climb the rock and enter through the illusionary wall. On entering they become visible to the others who are waiting, much to their surprise, and Mak's who did not realise he had been made invisible before that.

The cleric, Raddinl, says “The others should recover in a couple of hours.”
“That is good,” Mak says.
Fiornan describes what they have seen and the cleric says “I will pray on this.”
Then everyone rests.

Time passes.

Raddinl exits a meditative state and says “the rider is a dark paladin and ranger. I have been told by my god that they are few in number and it is here out of a special interest. He did not say what that special interest was. However, I got the sense it was one of us.”

“How curious,” Mak says. “How could that dark paladin know that any of us would be here in this far flung place of ice and snow? What special interest could it possibly have in any one of us? We are but adventurers and nothing more. Was it sent on purpose?”

“Yes,” Raddinl replies. “Darkness Claw sent it and brought it here through a portal.”

“Then who is so important that such attention is warranted? Surely such a dispatch is rare?”

Durin pipes up and says “I did notice something strange in the village before we left.”

“What was that?”

“When we were leaving, there were two barbarians who seemed rather interested in you and your companion. Just looking at them, I sort of wondered if they were barbarians, or not.”

Mak looks to Drusark and asks “do you know anything of this?”

INT CHECK 9 – Drusark looks at Mak and shrugs his shoulders. “Don't know why they could be interested in us.”

Mak shrugs in reply. PERCEPTION 25 – Mak thinks Durin is rather suspicious, as though something is not quite right to him. INT CHECK 20 – thinking more about it, it just could be that Mak's arrival, prior to Bali leaving, was detected. Now given who Bali is, and given that he holds a high status, and is personal friends to the empress, to find someone like him in such a remote area would be a rather strange encounter indeed. If Darkness Claw found out that Bali was at the imperial war council, then who or what was he representing?

Mak wonders to himself who among the barbarians could detect such things, if they are supposed to be opposed to magic? And then he thinks that perhaps it is possible that Darkness Claw is aware of his existence and association with Bali and Mak's earlier exploits through the Elder Wilds.

“I am sure it is nothing,” Mak says in an effort to sound reassuring.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:12 pm    Post subject: k525 Reply with quote

K525: 2Thardeth07:

Daurrin turns to Mak and says. “Don’t dismiss it out of hand…we have a major powerful servant of Darkness Claw out there, watching us for a purpose. He is not into the nice zhan sculpture outside nor interested in why we are here. The cleric said he was interested in certain individuals, so don’t think we will be shrugging our shoulders about this hoping they will go away. I think not…our lives are at stake here.”
“I agree.” Fiornan says. “Is there any way of finding out more…what can we do?” he asks Raddonil
“I can but try.” She replies sighing. “They are constrained by their own laws concerning such matters.”
Raddonil goes into a meditative stance.
“We cannot leave here with the dark paladin ranger observing our moves.” Fiornan said. “The Nightshade is a fierce creature in battle, there have been numerous descriptions of what they can do.”
Daurrin grunts. “They are demonic possessed of evil and malevolence.”
“I do not think Darkness Claw would be interested in our small school.” Fiornan remarks. “Nor on this expedition…he has zhan under his command at the Fortress of the Wind.”
“…Fortress of the Wind.” Raddonil whispers. “It is related to that…no…beneath it.”
“No one in their right mind has ever seen the Fortress…it is deep within the mountains.” Fiornan remarks surprised.
“Be that as it may…but our cleric says otherwise.” Daurrin says seriously. “And it is connected to one of us. The god Valocar, remembers speaks through his servant…who among us is Raddonil.”

Quote:
WILL SAVE 16 – Mak resists acknowledging that he indeed has been at the “Fortress of the Wind”, or to be more exact, in the ruins beneath it.

Mak remembers that he has been there and he knows there are remains of Zhan, among other things, in that place. He know he has encountered Darkness Claws' minions and he also knows there is a live Zhan slumbering in the lowest level outside the gates of the ruined fortress that lies in the dark depths. He remembers that is the place where evidence lies of what happened to those that Mak calls half-elves, those who travelled from the stars and settled in Karthan, who were slaughtered by the Silvarana many thousands of years ago.

WILL SAVE 28 – Mak gets the sense he is remote from the conversation around him. Head is throbbing, heart is racing ... he feels a malevolent presence invade his mind. For a moment he feels the presence is overwhelming in its penetration of his thoughts. Its evil permeates within him like stench. But within the evil is a very calculating mind. It wants something, it knows him and he senses it has observed him in the past. He senses another is observing Kam and, as it is about to retrieve what it wants, his memories of what lies below the Fortress of the Wind, he feels mentally and sees visually, a door slamming shut and the creature retreats, angered. His vision returns and he sees Raddinl before him, wiping the sweat off his face and he has a massive headache. She is asking “Are you alright, what happened?”

“I think that dark paladin has tried to invade my mind. But I have resisted.”

Durin exclaims “So, it is you! What have you got to say for yourself, you are endangering us all?!”

Mak looks at Durin, confused and says “I have nothing to say at all. This is quite a surprise to me as well. I can only think the dark paladin has tried to target me because I looked at it directly when I looked into that cave.”

Raddinl nods and says, “Yes, that could be so. It could be that he could target us all.”

Fiornan says “If that is so then our friend Durin here will of course have vital information that Darkness Claw would want. Is there any way that we can protect against such attacks?”

Raddinl says “I will attempt to seek guidance.”

Fiornan nods and says “I cannot help, unfortunately. Are you alright, Mak, and how did you resist?”

“I think I will be OK, I just need to rest a bit longer. I think I resisted by pure luck and thinking of nothing so that I could give it nothing but an empty thought. It was frustrated and I could feel its anger.”

“Given this, we must assume our location has been compromised. Unfortunately there is nowhere else to go. We have a better chance of remaining here and defend this place than defend anything open in the depression.”

“So we wait,” Surdan says, “until the next one of us is targeted, or Raddinl can somehow aid us.”

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:52 pm    Post subject: k527 Khadazar Reply with quote

K526: 2Thardeth07: Khadazar: intersecting directions

“Keep pacing like this and you will wear the stone floor out.” Elatan remarks watching Bali does just as he described.
“Damn it Elatan, I know Mak is in trouble. Lianna knows where he is.”
“She has visited him yes.” Elatan nods.
“As Alnuathor has indicated to me.” Bali added. “Of course, you knew all along…but cannot say a damn thing.”
“That is correct Bali…so why have the bard hang around you all the time?” A voice asked bluntly and Bali turns to see Lianna in the chamber dressed in black. “We know he has many thus selves in kingdoms throughout this world and others…including within Kharagh’s realm. Why should the one god need such eyes and ears...but then of course, you and Lonarwaen have befriended him, haven’t you.”
“I look at it this way…he is who he is and would…should be expected to know all, whether here or not.”
“Perhaps…but his presence exasperates your own limitations…and even Elatan has his own rules to abide by.”
“I do.” The young bard nods, expressionless. “Interesting topic of conversation…but not why Bali has called you here.”
“Yes…but the point has been made.” Lianna looks at Bali. “I was tending to the new citizens to the empire and was summoned here by my father, now what do you want Bali Foehammer?”

Bali was getting rather furious with Lianna’s blatant show of arrogance, but tempered his feelings. It was about Mak. “Look…I think Mak is in trouble. One of my seers has indicated a Nightshade is in the vicinity…just how close I do not know. Both however are beneath the glacier and in close proximity. I know the Nightshades are few in number…yet powerful in their own right as leaders and enforcers of their master. They are also mounts for Darkness Claws most elite lieutenants and dark paladins.”
Lianna nodded. “Father has informed me of this…as you speak.”
“Look I can possibly help, but to do so I risk comprising Khadazar and myself, for the power I would use would definitely attract the Nightshade’s attention let along whatever is riding the creature.”
“I do understand the situation you are in Bali Foehammer and it is vital that your realm remains secret. That is acknowledged by our people. I therefore presume you wish me to assist in this matter?”
Bali nodded. “I have spoken with Alnuathor and he has well…suggested it.”
Lianna smiles. “Probably because I am one of the few of my race who enjoys doing what I do.”
“And just what is that?” Bali asked. “You seem to like the therim world more than most.”
“The Therim are rather fascinating in some respects, such a vibrant race, probably due to their mortality and have developed varied cultures across this and other worlds. I will return and observe the situation…though if anything is going to change the situation it will not come from me.” with that she disappeared.

“What does she mean?” Bali wondered scratching his beard. “I sort of thought…well, she would assist. At least give the Nightshade something to think about.”
“I think she means that something else may make life difficult for Darkness Claw’s servant.” Elatan remarked smiling. “You have become a member of the Quiseraen, the high council of Alnuathor’s people that includes the exotic races of this world, Raenar (Pegasus), Nenime (Great Eagles), Fawnier (Hippogriffs) and lord of them all, the Iccan (Unicorns), the most ancient of all creatures on this world. More recently the Tordagh kings have joined the council and very recently yourself, an acknowledged king of a realm respected for its importance and its secrecy by all the Quiseraen including the silent members of the council, the zhan. You have in your time with the council typified Alnuathor’s people refer to him as their father…their creator for that is what he is, even though generations have been born the same way the Therim procreate their race.”
“I know that Elatan…I have seen and felt it whenever I have visited the hall of Alnuathor…the Sulthalion and Valandor, they are so opposites of each other yet their love for their father is zealous and passionate.”
“Meaning…even the Sulthalion, represented by Lianna is passionate. They see the world through different eyes, the likes of the Therim so minor and irritating to them, seeing them spread so quickly across the world as they have. Lianna are among a select few who relishes what she does…but you can never take what she is, that essence of who she is from her. I am beginning to see why she was tasked to accompany Mak and yourself.”
“Lianna is not the greatest ambassador.” Bali muttered.
“Lianna does make life…Interesting.” Elatan smiled ruefully. “She of course, like you, intrigued as to Mak’s journey. The journey will not be in a straight line…such journey’s never are. Every so often, the journey will intersect with others, each important and each part of the overall road Mak must take. Mak is where he is because of such another journey, taken by the adventuring party and there will be more.”
“So she is around because she makes life interesting for me and Mak…and this could continue.” Bali remarks unimpressed by the thought.
“No, but Lianna is best suited for the task.”
“Then why?”
“It is because of her father…and mother.” Elatan replied opening his books of songs. “I shall leave you my friends, inns to visit and children to delight.”
“No songs about Mak yes?”
“No…but later perhaps.”
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:58 pm    Post subject: k527 beneath the ice Reply with quote

K527: 2Thardeth07: The glacier

In ethereal form Lianna looked over the glacier below, the weather somber, thick grey clouds covering the mountains around her. She did not feel the cold…felt nothing of the environment around her. Below…300meters below lay the depression in which the iced outline of the Calnizhan lay and she could detect Mak and his companions concealed in a refuge in the rock and the Nightshade, its mount, also demonic and two creatures with them…both ice worms. Behind them deeper in the cave another creature awaited too.
Thinking of changing fate deep below the ice? Lianna muses. An accident in such a harsh remote environment…as I said, someone else is going to aid...so be it...I have always wanted to spread my wings and fly
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: k528 Malduin Hills Reply with quote

K528: 2Thardeth07: Malduin Hills

The ruins of a citadel is sighted by Kam as he moves through the night, lost amidst the hills the last two nights, moving aimlessly about trying to find the village that Kainan had come from. But he had sighted nothing, not even roads, just forested and wooded hills, valleys, ridges and narrow ravines. It lies atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the wooded valley he is travelling through. With his new found vampiric gifts, night was like day to Kam, seeing more detail and movement than ever before. The nightlife scuttling of creatures were all around him, many scattering in his wake, sensing the ground he walked on withering briefly…the smell of death perhaps.

Kam notices a camp fire at the far end of the valley and changing direction approaches warily. He sees a merchant train of 10 or so covered wagons, with a campfire near the tethered horses around which were sitting the drivers and 3 well dressed individuals, merchants perhaps. There were also guards at least a dozen that encircled the wagons moving in pairs. As Kam observes he hears a sound above him and swooping down from the night sky are winged creatures, that looked human, with fangs and gnarled faces. They fly into the encampment and before Kam observing from cover, literally tear the terrified humans from limb to limb, their dagger like claws, ripping apart armour, clothing and flesh with ease, feeding off the flesh as they did so. The guards are also attacked and Kam cannot make out how many of these creatures are, they move so fast, seemingly to be in 2 or 3 locations at once. The horses flee in terror and some of the guards who saw the attack flee also…but are hunted down by more of the creatures, their cries of horror and pain echoing in the night. The attacks last just a few minutes and the creatures sate their hunger then fly into the air towards the citadel.

Quote:
After witnessing the brief but violent attack by the winged creatures, Kam draws closer to the encampment and pauses briefly about 60' away to observe for any signs of life and movement amongst the torn bodies. PERCEPTION 39. He sees nothing and hears no sound. It has gone very quiet. Noting this, Kam strides into the middle of the encampment and searches for signs of where the humans have come from. He looks amongst the remains and the wagons for documentation or symbols, etc.

The first wagon is like an office. Inside it he finds various letters, some are unreadable. But a couple can be deciphered. Two letters in particular are encoded with symbology, so he keeps them out of curiosity. One letter, signed by “Tharsius, Guildmaster Carrisbrook”, contains a list of goods, delivered by the dragon-eyed merchant “Koster” and the destination of the goods is “Betalnur”. There is a map included. This map shows the edge of the hills that Kam is in, showing the Malduin hills and a small town bearing the same name as that destination. Kam is not entirely clear on his current location, although he can see a ruined citadel in the distance, which might offer him a clue on his bearings.

Kam examines the map with interest and mentally notes the important landmarks such as keeps, fortresses, etc.

A second readable letter contains instructions that upon arrival at Betalnur, the merchants are to seek lodging at the Windrider Trading Company where they will be met on the 9th to receive further instructions.

As he searches the other wagons Kam finds:

Wagon#2 – 15 large boxes and crates that are sealed, with rune wards on them.

Wagons #3,4,5, and 6 contain similar crates.

The remaining four wagons contain cages holding young children who are asleep, possibly drugged. The children are all chained. Child slaves. Kam smiles. Food. He approaches a cage and stands, watching to see if any of the children react. They do not. They are unconscious. Kam breaks a cage open and grabs a child to feed. He cannot remove the child easily, due to the chains, so he enters and feeds to sate his hunger. He thinks more of the creatures he witnessed but (INT CHECK Cool is unable to recall any memory of what they might be named as he is consumed by the blood lust.

He leaves the wagon after feeding and looks to the trail the wagons would presumably be following. He proceeds to move in that direction, on the path the wagons would be travelling. He remains wary, should other travellers venture the opposite way, so he remains ready to move to the side of the trail to let such travellers pass by. Then he pauses for moment and considers the ruined citadel. He is interested in exploring that and realises the trail goes a different way. He decides to trek across the valley towards the citadel instead. He does so.

He hears the sounds of horses approaching as he leaves the trail and sees a patrol of thirty Star Crusaders with ten knights and twenty-thirty cavalry with a few scouts stop nearby. He sees them look towards the ruins of the citadel and the cavalry arm themselves with heavy crossbows, before one of the scouts alert the patrol to the encampment's location.

Kam moves back away from the trail into the hills to avoid detection. He begins to move in the general direction of the ruined citadel.

He reaches the foot of the outcrop on which the citadel stands. It is nearing daylight. Kam searches amongst the cracks and crevices in the rock facing to see if he can locate any cave openings or deep fissures in which he can rest out of the sun. PERCEPTION 44, 46. He finds one that might be suitable but it contains wolves, judging by its smell and then he finds a deep fissure in which he can conceal himself. He climbs inside and ventures as deep as possible to escape the sunlight as it emerges. A few small creatures scatter past, leaving him alone. He rests through the day.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:04 pm    Post subject: k529 Reply with quote

K529: 2Thardeth07: Malduin Hills

Awakening, Kam leaves the fissure and tries to find a way up the outcrop to the citadel which is about 200ft above him.

Quote:
CLIMB 18. Kam attempts to climb the 80 metre rise but cannot find enough footholds and the rock itself crumbles easily. He circles the base of the rock outcropping and searches for a path that will lead up to the citadel. PERCEPTION 28, 32, 38, 39. Kam finds no trail or physical way of getting up. But there is a concealed cave entrance near the base, covered by creepers and undergrowth. He pulls the cover aside and hacks his way through to the cave, which he finds is large enough to put a wagon in, should anyone so choose. He goes further in and discovers two old wagons parked inside. He examines them and finds rotted grain and other food supplies. He moves past the wagons and searches the cave. He finds an open wooden lift with two chains that go up into a hole in the roof. A third chain dangles down by the lift. He stands on the lift and pulls the dangling chain. It slowly rises and gets him up through the hole to emerge in a dark chamber in the lower level of the citadel. The chambe is stacked with boxes and craes, many of which have collapsed over time, spilling out contents such as blankets, etc. He looks around for exits or stairways that might lead upward from here. There are no windows in this carved chamber, that has been hewn from the base rock. He finds a stairway and he climbs up into the darkness above.

He passes a smashed doorway on his right and he considers it may have once been a food storage room. Another doorway leads to a large kitchen area. Further along another doorway leads to a dining hall in which the furniture has been smashed and lies broken everywhere. The room itself is large, measuring approximately 80' x 80'. Kam pauses and listens for any signs of movement in this place. He senses nothing so he continues exploring.

The dining room has a doorway that leads out to a T-junction and some other corridors that lead to doors. He follows the corridors to reach the doors. The doors lead to armouries that have been emptied over time, although the racks to remain, and storerooms. Only a few crates remain and some few sacks of grain. There are stairs at the end which lead up. Kam climbs them and finds another corridor and the stairs continue up. He follows the corridor.

Doors in this level lead to offices and single bedchambers. He searches them all briefly. He does find the remains of rotted clothing, a scattering of coins (which he pockets) and then he returns to the stairway and climbs up. He reaches another corridor and there is an opening that leads outside to a ledge. He goes to the ledge and looks out. He discovers it is a small battlement, enclosed by a raised crenellated wall that forms a balcony, which looks over the valley. He sees in the distance, where the encampment was located, several campfires. He again pauses and listens for any signs of activity nearby.

PERCEPTION 40. Something falls behind him and there is a skittering sound. Kam turns quickly to see what is there. A small piece of rock has fallen. Kam looks up to see what might have dislodged it. There is another battlement up there, at the edge of which he sees part of a stone statue. KNOWLEDGE (ARCANE) 19. He recognises an alchemical creation, a creature he knows is a gargoyle. He nods appreciatively and returns inside to follow the corridor and to seek a way up to the next balcony. He does find another stairway, so he follows it up and it opens out into five corridors, each of which leads to a balcony or parapet. Each contains a gargoyle statue perched on the parapet. While each looks the same, there are some minor differences. The facial features differ, for example, and the number of talons that each possesses on their wings. The gargoyles look very similar to the creatures that attacked the encampment across the valley. He moves back inside and goes back down one level and searches that more throughly. He remains wary, realising the gargoyles are above, although apparently not active.

The level he explores contains a dining hall, living quarters and other rooms. Strangely enough, these rooms have mostly been undisturbed. An audience chamber has furnishings and crests, two chairs on a a raised wooden dais. Everything here is clean, with no dust covering the floor or objects. The private chambers are those of a married couples' and there is a nursery here. He locates a small box containing gemstones (which he pockets) and a small library with books. There is a loom for making tapestries in another craft room and there are servant quarters too. All are furnished, undamaged and unaffected by time. Kam approaches the chairs in the audience chamber and presumes they are for Lord and Lady. He examines them closely and also searches for any concealed catches or switches near the chairs. He finds nothing of that nature. He sits on the Lord's chair and contemplates his surroundings. Kam muses this might make a fine residence for him one day and he knows it would make a good base of operations but ... he also wonders why this particular level is so well preserved when everything else about the place is crumbling. This makes him think he should look around a bit more. He does so. He looks for pictures, memorabilia and anything else that might shed some information on the former occupants of the citadel. He searches for secret panels.

One room that he finds is a study, containing portraits. One is of a fine looking knight in blue armour with a paladin symbol of a good deity (unknown). Another painting depicts a man sleeping, with a woman floating above him in white. Another painting is the same person, but with a pale face and skin. Kam believes the painting shows the man has been changed in some way. Another painting shows that same man sitting on the same chair that Kam sat on, looking contemplative.

So ... Kam muses ... perhaps this citadel belonged to a paladin who has fallen from grace. Perhaps his spirit has remained here, waiting to atone for whatever it was that caused his transformation. The fool. He deserves to be restless. He deserves the fate he chose. Kam decides to return to the top level with the gargoyles and he approaches one of them.

“I know you are a magical creature and I know that you can hear me. I am aware of your kind. Can you understand me?”

“Yes, I can.” PERCEPTION 32. Kam realises the voice is coming from behind him, from someone trying to sound badly dramatic. Slowly, Kam turns to see who is speaking to him. There is nobody standing there.

Kam simply says with a slightly dark tone “Show yourself.”

“So, you can't see me then?” a deep voice says. “I have the advantage over you.”

“Correct. I want to see you and I think you want some company.”

“What makes you say that?”

“I have seen your paintings. They tell an interesting story.”

“Oh no ... he died a year ago.”

“Then name yourself if you won't show yourself.”

“Call me ... Venra.”

“I am Kam. Tell me more of yourself, Venra.”

“Oh there is not much to say really ... just a mild friendly pickpocket. And very trustworthy.”

Kam suspects the last remark was a joke.

Venra says “I don't remember seeing you here before, one of my former Lord's companions.”

“I am not,” Kam tells him. “I am a traveller who saw this place from across the valley. I came here out of curiosity. Tell me why you are here when this place looks to have been abandoned long ago.”

“Not all of it. Some of it is still used, I live here.”

“And do you command the statues?” Kam enquires.

“Oh no ... the former Lord did.”

“Do they now move of their own free will?” Kam asks.


“I presume so. They do their own thing and I do mine.”

“And what is it that you do, Venra? Do you simply stay here alone?”

“Makes a good hiding place when the law is after you.”

“Indeed. I am not the law. So show yourself.”

“No, I am not prepared to. And I know you are not the law, other wise the gargoyles would have killed you.”

“That's true enough,” Kam tells him. “The gargoyles know when a kindred spirit is near. Why do they not attack you?”

“Because I was Siobahln's loyal servant. Been with him ten years.”

“And he was a paladin, a man of faith who fell from grace?”

“Hmmm ... something like that. A long time ago though. Be 850 years or more, when he was visited.”

“And what proved to be his undoing? Temptation?”

“Oh, you got that right.”

“Explain.”

“He was seduced by a beautiful woman of incomparable beauty and seductive allure. She has done this a few times before.”

“And what did he become? I saw the painting. He changed.”

“Yeah ... he became undead. He became an evil paladin.”

“He became ... a vampire?”

“A what? Never heard of them.”

“Then what did he become?”

“I told you ... undead.”

“What kind?” Kam insists.

“How do I know?”

“Then how did you become his willing servant?”

“Well he helped me out one night and got me out of trouble. And ... ummmm ... things just went from there. I just became his spy in the town.”

“So ... you are still mortal? You are human? Can you still walk among the living, in daylight?”

“(hiccup) Sure can ... living ... breathing ... coughing ... whatever.”

“Then you are the reason I have been drawn to this place. I seek a place of sanctuary and I seek a servant. You would make a fine servant, should you be so willing. And I would make a fine master.”

“Really? Look here ... I have got the keys to this place, not you.”

“What did Siobhlan promise you when you were in his service?”

“Promised me a few things. All the wine I could drink. Food. Woman even. I am quite a sucessful merchant now, and thief. He was pretty loyal to his group.”

“There is no food here now. And there are no women. I wonder ... Venra ... what sustains you? Everything in storage below is rotten, decayed, abandoned. How is it that you survive?”

“Well ... just let's say ... you haven't been everywhere. I've followed you ever since you arrived.”

“Good. Then what have you learned about me?”

“Hmmm ... well ... you are evil, which is OK with me. You are definitely undead of some sort. You've got a wolf touch about you and ... power hungry, perhaps.”

“Interesting. Then if you think you know so much about me, then why do you not show yourself. Let me see who it is that I am facing. Let me see the one who perhaps thinks he is better than I.”

“No, I don't think I am am better ... as a thief, yes, as a merchant, yes, as a woman ... I can show myself now if you wish ... after all I know you won't kill me ... you need me.”

Just beyond the door a plain looking man, 5'8” tall holding a tankard of ale, appears. He looks like a scout perhaps. “Hail, and well met,” he says.

“Well met indeed, Venra. Thank you for trusting me enough to show yourself. I am grateful. You are indeed a very clever and resourceful thief. You really should tell me more about yourself and your former master. I am very interested to know.”

“I will tell you in good time. Suffice to say you can stay here the day, if you wish. The former Lord's chamber can be yours. Just don't get an ego ... you don't own this place.”

“Understood Venra, again, I thank you. I will accept the offer. Tell me ... does this citadel have a name that I should know it by?”

“It is called Harrad Waine.”

“Interesting. It is not marked on this map that I have acquired recently. Can you show me where it is that I would be?”

“Sure ...” Venra points it out to Kam. The citadel is in the hills, and it is located about 4-6 miles southeast of the nearest village, which is Nhurn.

“Thank you. I wonder ... after your master changed ... did he ever say what became of the woman that seduced him all those years ago? Where did she go to?”

“I thought you would know ... you seem to be her type.”

“I do not know.” Kam does attempt to sense if there is anything in the area.

“Oh, from I have heard, you have missed an amazing night in more ways than one. The woman is undead herself. In fact she is their queen and is known as Nienfiara. She enjoys seducing her victims.”

“Good. Obviously, in your master, she saw merit and mockery in transforming a knight of faith into what he became.”

“Oh yes ... she does like paladins and knights.”

“His pride and vanity became his downfall. Did he ever regret his change.”

“Oh no ... one night with her and it was forever etched in his mind. He spoke of it fondly and had no regrets. But I only knew him for ten years. Well nine. He died a year ago. You know ... some of the group is still around. Do you want to meet up with them sometime?”

“Yes ... tell me ... how did your Lord perish? He was undead. So how did he die?”

“A paladin killed him.”

“I see. Unfortunate indeed. And ironic.”

“Well ... paladins and clerics can desroy undead.”

“So I have been warned in my training. I recall as much. Fortunately there are none close by. We are safe.”

“I wouldn't say that ... there are a few around. But they are mostly at Copper Fortress.”

“There was a group of star crusaders that I saw earlier when I was across this valley.”

“Yeah, they are from the fortress. That is their stronghold in the region. Now if memory serves there are about a thousand there.”

“That is a strong force. Do they ever come looking in this area? The reason I ask is that when I saw them, the cavalry did cast a suspicious glance in the direction of this citadel. They had not yet discovered the encampment that had been slaughtered by flying devils. Of course, I now know those flying devils may in fact have been the gargoyles that perch on the parapets above us. I witnessed the attack and searched the remains afterward.”

“Oh ... so that is what they were doing. Well there are all sorts of ruours about the place. Gossip. But people just tend to forget. Its one of the charms about the place. Now excuse me ... all this talk has made me thirsty.” He walks off.

Kam shrugs and walks up to the parapets to look out over the valley and its surroundings.

In the far distance he sees lights from where the village of Nhurn might be. Outside that the only other lights visible are from the Star Crusaders' encampment. It is a clear night. Kam is curious about the village and so he decides he will go and look at it more closely.

....

Kam moves through the hills and reaches farmland. The village is a hamlet. The farms have livestock. He moves closer to the farm houses and watches, waits and listens. The village contains two storey houses. There is a grassy escarpment about 30' high surrounds the hamlet, with a wooden pallisade that is ringed with iron. As Kam moves around through pathways between the farms he notices that near the gate area, the pallisade is being rebuilt with stone. There are two closed gates and both gates have a small guard house above them.

Kam draws closer to one of the guard houses, seeking to remain concealed in the darkness yet close enough to listen in on the conversation. He is curious to know what the guards are watching for, to overhear anything of interest that might reveal what dangers the hamlet might believe it is facing in the region.

Lamps light the front of the gate house area. Kam avoids them. He learns there is a bishop, who is the guest of the Count, and he will be visiting hamlet in the next two days. The guards speak of a couple of recent attacks in the past few months, by wolves at night. He also hears there are ozgeyr in the area somewhere, which is why the hamlet and some others are being reinforced. It is rumoured they are Darkness Claw's ozgeyr. Searches for their base have been unsuccessful. One of the guards talks of how his son was healed by “Muriel” and the other guard is highly impressed, saying she is a great healer/herbalist and is clear she is repected. They also make a bet about an archmage who is staying at Betanur and wants to visit Enosyian. They debate whether he will or won't visit at all.

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Playing: Hastenmood (ucav.darkbb.com)
Running: BuffyTVS: Providence (ucav.darkbb.com)
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