Elder Players' - Interlude Fifteen
Ruadhin wove his large warhorse's path between the river rocks that littered the valley floor. It had seemed
like hours in the strange space behind Robert Nevo's vault door...perhaps days. He had been alone, sitting in the
dirt of the large round room, wondering if his comrads would actually be back for him. After all, their actions
were hardly predictable, and far from the ideals that Ruadhin aspired to. Dealing with thieves and making people
"disappear" in order to obtain the Book of Purity. It bordered on blasphemy!
Ruadhin patted the cloth-bound package under his arm. The White Book...The Book of Purity...the key to purifying Birchmont for the order of Heironeous. So much struggle and strife just to obtain this book. But Father Tunder had told Jeremiah that without the book, they would not survive the demons and devils that infested the abandoned temple. Without the book they may very well lose their souls at Birchmont...or unleash a fiery apocalypse upon this world.
Strapped to the rear flank of his warhorse was Vikos' axe. Ruadhin had looked it over upon its return from Nevo. It was clearly the lightning priest's axe. There was no way that Nevo could have created a forgery in such a short time. Ruadhin was wary of touching the axe, so he left it in the tapestry in which it was wrapped. Hadn't Vikos mentioned that no man should touch the axe of his god, Tobin? Well, better safe than sorry....
Ruadhin found the other Finders in Ockrote's Bar waiting for him. When he walked through the doors to the large tent, almost all of them stood...and several ran to him shaking his hand and slapping him on the back. It was clear that not all of them believed that Robert Nevo would keep his word to return their friend, the White Book, and Tobin's Axe. The statue of Zeek stood motionless, of course. Jeremiah grabbed Ruadhin by the shoulders. "Where's the Book? Tell me you have it!"
Ruadhin smiled. "Oh, it is here. No one speak its name...for we are too close to cleansing our ancient temple. There is no reason to give the demons the upper-hand now."
Vikos hadn't moved from his seat. He appeared to be deep in prayer, his eyes tightly clenched and his mouth moving silently, shaping words only his god heard. He slowly lifted his hand from the table and seemed to reach out into the air...towards the open flaps of the tent. A crackling and popping could be heard from outside...and Ruadhin's warhorse neighed and snorted. Leather straps could be heard snapping, and the crackling became louder. Oren held his arm out before him, and all the hair on it was standing. The others felt it too...the electricity in the air.
A shadow was visible on the tent cloth...in the shape of an axe. Sparks and pulses of energy ran up and down Vikos' arm, across his chest, and up onto his face. His hair stood on end and writhed upon his head. Then he spoke but a few simple words. "To me, my Striker." Vikos's axe slashed its way through the tent fabric, bright static arcing from its blade and handle to the ground beneath it. It floated across the inside of the tent, energy streaking off of it onto tables and chairs, as well as the tent poles and the statue of Zeek. The axe came to rest in Vikos' outstretched hand, and a calm seemed to come over it. The lightning priest's eyes popped open and he stood.
The rest of the Finders were very still and somewhat entranced by the display of power, and by the axe's loyalty. Vikos walked by them and out of the tent without saying a word.
It was then that Ruadhin realized how much Vikos had risked in order to secure the White Book. The axe was a gift from his god...a physical representation of the lightning aspect of Tobin, here on the World of Kempin. Ruadhin made a silent promise to himself to repay this foreign priest for his help in regaining this artifact of Heironeous...if he survived Birchmont.
THE PACKAGE (by Mark Stinson)
Ruadhin and the other Finders took their seats and ordered food and drink to celebrate their accomplishment.
They had regained the White Book. A bit of study...a bit of rest. Then they could resupply, and travel to Birchmont.
Halfway through the meal, Vikos returned and his foul mood seemed to have passed. "Pass me some of that rabbit
stew, Eytai. And Oren...quit hogging that pitcher of ale...fill me up!"
Ruadhin liked these moments within the group. No moral arguments, no conflicts between them...there were strong bonds within the group...bonds weakened when they were under stress on adventures, it seemed. It was then that Ruadhin realized he had forgotten the package. He rubbed his forehead and thought to himself, "Well, this will surely start an argument...but it must be done."
Ruadhin stood. "Good fellows. I hesitate to even speak of it, but Nevo felt the White Book was hardly sufficient payment for Zartus being removed from his position of power. He gave me this package to give to all of you. Before we open it, I want to suggest something. I have not opened this box. If this is money...or gems...or anything of value, it is surely blood money. Yes we regained the White Book through our actions, but that act is clearly defiled by the deals you struck with Nevo...and the killing for hire you committed in Tunis."
Ruadhin dug around in his backpack, and then sat a large wooden box on the table before him. The box was one foot wide by one foot long, by 6 inches tall. Oren reached for the box, but Ruadhin placed his hand firmly on its lid. "This is some unknown reward from Nevo. What percentage of its value are we to donate to our churches to make up for the sins we have committed as a group? What say you?"
(from Scott) Kit rises without pause "I spent my first 93 years in slavery. I would have taken out Zartus gladly for free after seeing the women and children we rescued from that wagon. I worship no God, for as a slave I was forbidden to worship any by the Drow. Even their own God Lolthe would not accept worship from lowly slaves. You may take a share of the group treasure for your part in recovering the book since you did deliver it and the payment. You and any others may donate whatever you feel is necessary to ease your moral transgressions to your religions. I will take my share and put it into potions that will aid us in cleaning Birchmont and giving the Azure Kingdom, which I consider my home, the best chance for survival. I consider the Finders my family and whatever makes my family stronger is my religion. This is how I "FEEL" my brother."
(from Chris) Zeek...or the stone statue of Zeek...stood motionless off to the side. Those who knew Zeek best...if they had looked closely at the statue's face at that moment, would have sworn he had something to say....
(from Brian) Could we possibly have Kit and Jeremiah use their communal abilities to determine if the package is a potential threat to any of us? If it is determined to be a bane to us, we should further discuss opening it. If it is determined to actually be a benefit to us, I believe I should search for traps with Kit's help. If it is some monetary reward over and above what was agreed, which I believe is unlikely considering its source, I would suggest a 10 percent tithe to the Churches/Religions.
(from Scott) Kit interrupted. " Perhaps we should consider Zeek. How do we bring him out of his
current state and what of his actions on the last adventure? He was even more vocal than usual and making even
more rash decisions also falling in battle. I thought she smelled Ale on his breath and caught site of him taking
more frequent drinks from his water bag. I fear he may be developing a drinking problem and suggests that an interdiction
may be in order since such a problem during a mission may endanger not only his life but those of the party."
Kit says all this with a concerned look and tone to her voice.
Kit walked up and examined the package with the blue glasses, and asked Caisel to look for traps.
(from Matt) "Open the box. If the item is best suited to women and children we will give it to them.
If it is a tool for us to use in defending the Azure Kingdom than we will put it to it's best use.
"Ruadhin, think of what has been done. An agent of death, one who favors slavery has been put to death. We know the location of the city of Tunis. We freed slaves. We have slain the increadibly evil eyes of the underworld...the terrible beholders. Bob Nevo the thief owes us a favor still. We will soon send the demons of Birchmont to their rightful place. Javair has sent me out to render judgement to those in this kingdom who do evil in the Azure Kingdom. Ride with me and we will bring evil doers to justice. With your sword and powers we can create a natural place without demons or Giants where people can be free. I need you to keep the rest of these scoundrels in line, especially once we free Zeek from his prediciment. Nothing wrong has been done. Pray to your god and see."
"Open the box Kit."
(from Mike H.) After much thought, Oren spoke up. "Open the box Kit?" Oren grumbled at Vikos.
"Is that the best you can do? A mysterious box that could be from evil or good, and you have someone else
open the box!" Oren stood approaching the box, pushing Kit out of the way.
"While I do find it somewhat humorous if Kit were to find something god awful, and have it come back to you later; Vikos." Oren commended, mainly at Vikos.
"Which God do you worship?" Oren commented sarcastically as he continued to push Kit away from the direction of the mysterious box. "Everyone who feels there is harm from this box, leave. I will open this box from the town of thieves. While my mind may not be as strong as others, I sure can take a beating if this puny thing tries to give me one. Besides, we need to start looking for assistance to our stoned friend." Oren paused. "Jeremiah and Kit! I believe you should find any divine favors to help Zeek in his troubled times. You should visit your gods.. Anyone for that matter, we need to focus on our friend, Zeek."
Oren walked over and picked up the box, putting it under his left arm. "I am still surprised that some think of things of greed in these times. We currently have many predicaments facing us. Some talk about a donation to the church, others in personal greed. Birchmont and Zeek should be our primary concerns." Oren walked a little further away from the party, setting the box on a table.
"I will open the box. Those who are afraid of destruction, please step out. If I do not rocket in the air, or cry like Vikos worrying about his axe, things should be well enough for you to enter the room again. Make your move now. In or out."
(from Chris) KABOOOM!!!
(from Chris) That was just Zeek farting.
(from Scott) Kit was standing behind Zeek "The Stoner."
(from Scott) What next? Will Zeek shit a brick?
(from Brian) Casiel praises Oren's bravery, and asks him to be careful as it is a gift from a thief we attempted to steal from. Then the elf thief steps outside and moves away from the tent.
(from Steve) Jeremiah speaks up I agree we should just open the box. But if you wish for me to use a commune spell first, I will do it. Jeremiah starts his prayer. Within a minute or so Jeremiah is lifted from the ground and thrown against the wall by a shadow that appears out of thin air. Before anyone in the party can act the shadow is gone. Kit and Oren come rushing to his aid. Jeremiah states that once he contacted Hieriounous he was pissed. He basically said that to waste his time (a god as such) on this type of questioning was inappropriate and not to do it again. This is not a life and death situation for the party. But if I contacted him again for this type of thing I would surely die. He also stated in no kind words that it is time that this party started looking to themselves for answers and not bothering a god with such mundane things. That is not the intention of his granted gift of communing. He has also stated for my penance I will be without his aid for the next day or so. "Can someone heal a broken arm as I seemed to have stumbled and somehow broken it."
(from Scott) Kit cradles Jeremiah's head to her bosom and replies with a smile, "The next time you need advice of a divine body I will be more than happy to tell you what I think." Jeremiah's face flushed red instead of the pale white it had previously been. Vikos stepped forward muttering prayers to Tobin, and Jeremiah's broken bone began to knit itself.
(from Mark, DM) Oren walked away from Jeremiah grumbling something about the "fickleness of Masters, whether they be gods or monsters." Oren stood before the wooden box sent by Robert Nevo...Bungling Bob.
Vikos finished tending to Jeremiah and stepped towards Oren. "Allow me to look the box over, Oren. I can test it for certain magics that could be harmful to us...and then I will open it."
Kit looked up from Jeremiah's face. "I believe Oren can handle whatever happens now. I know there to be no traps on the outside of the box."
Oren looks away from the box, and into Vikos' face. "I think not, Vikos. First you have Kit do it, and now a simple guilt trip? Ha!" Oren looked back towards the box. He spread his feet wide and squinted his eyes until only little glimmering slits were visible. Oren reached his mailed hand towards the box's lid. "If yer the sort to run...run now, friends."
Kit laughed, and thought to herself, "I love these guys."
Oren took and loud deep breath and held it tightly. He undid the latch and threw the box open. There was no light...no loud explosion...no gust of poisonous gas. Oren's leathery face was getting redder, and he allowed himself a short breath. "O.K...not what I expected. Not what I expected at all...."
Ruadhin, Eytai, Vikos, and the others walked over to look over Oren's shoulders to see what was in the box. Kit stood, helping Jeremiah to his feet as Casiel peered in through the tent flaps. Oren laughed. "What treasure or reward is this!?! Ruadhin...you have my answer...ALL of my share of this treasure can go to your church!" Oren walked away, brushing his way heavily through his friends.
Vikos shook his head. "What a sick bastard! What is meant by this!?!"
Ruadhin grimaced. "And you made that deal with, Nevo. If nothing else proves his evil ways...this clearly does. We took out Zartus, and gave this dark creature more power in Tunis!"
Sitting within the box, on top of a yellowed piece of paper was a human hand and arm, severed halfway up the forearm. An iron band was fastened around its wrist, with a chain extending from it to another, empty iron band. The skin of the hand and arm were dry and rotten. A foul odor emanated up from the box.
Jeremiah still held his one healing arm close to his body, in a pose that reminded Kit of their missing friend Damon Kradock. The priest's face was grim. "Fish that piece of paper out of there...perhaps Nevo explains this...this...monstrosity."
Eytai stepped closer to the box and leaned forward. "I'll fish out the paper...but first someone tell me what this is...what is this thing supposed to be?"
A deep voice answered from behind them. "IT IS THE ARM OF WORMIUS!" It was a voice they all knew. The entire party spun at once, shock on their face. Kit called outloud, "The Hooded Mage!"
When Vikos' eyes fell on the man in the doorway, with his hooded face, his expensive embroidered vest and clothing, he whispered quietly to himself, "Shapiro...you do live...."
Almost no one even noticed that Javair had entered the tent behind the new arrival. The Hooded Mage walked slowing forward, speaking as he did so. "It is a holy relic. Entrusted to Nevo by myself, years ago. Beside the money and power he provided me to build him his little vault...he promised to keep this ancient item of power safe for me. I believe the item scared him all these years...for I am surprised he betrayed my trust and gave it to you!"
Eytai stepped back from the box. "Who is Wormius...and where is the rest of him? Why is his arm chained?"
Shapiro stepped past the party and lifted the rotten arm from the box, carressing its flaking skin. The rusted chains rattled as he lifted it. "It is the Arm of Olas Wormius...martyr of his order, savior of the land, last of the priests of Birchmont. It was this hand that sealed the final seal...the Seal of Light. It was this hand that held back the powers of darkness. It was this hand that held back She that Suckles the Hoards of Hell."
Shapiro held the rotten arm out to Jeremiah. "Olas fled from Birchmont after the Seal of Light was set into place. His arm was infected with the darkness, and he cut the arm from his own body to save himself. This arm holds great power...though I have never learned how to access it. It is up to you and Ruadhin which one of you shall use the arm...I do not know who would use it best. I have never found a use for the arm...but have always feared that demons would try and reclaim it...and the darkness that infects it. I trust that in giving it to the Finders of the Key...it is being placed into good hands...."
Jeremiah looked down at the rotted arm and hand, and the chains that ran from one wrist band to an empty wrist band dangling below. "What evil will we face as Birchmont?"
The Hooded Mage took a seat at a nearby table. "Much has happened since I saw you last. We should talk...."
(from Scott) Kit speaks up right away."I would like to address a few issues, the first being our marled Monk over there so if you (Kit looks to Shapiro) or his lordship (Kit gestures in Javair's general direction) I would like to know now. Otherwise I will proceed to follow other avenues. As for Tunis and Jeremiah is spreading the word far and wide I would like to point out Robert Nevo had delt with us in a fair and just way, more fair than many in this room would have delt with anyone who had insulted them the way some here did him. The Drow say "It is better to have an enemy you know than one you do not" and I believe since we have eliminated Zartus that the slavery and drug dealing through Tunis will stop with Bungling Bob In a higher position. I says we need to let Tunis stay here it is and serve its purpose as opposed to destroying it and let some other group rise to lead the brigands and rouges of the land in a way that may be closer or worse than that of Zartus from somewhere we cant keep tabs on them. My ego was in no way hurt to have been trapped by one who was only guaring what he felt was his. how do the rest of you feel about this and what say you to this you who would shape this land?" Kit once again looks to Javair and Shipiro.
(from Chris) FROM JAVAIR To the Finders:
"I am sorry to say I cannot help our friend. Zeek fought well. He will be missed. I think Zeek will make a fine addition to my art collection." Some hefty dwarves move Zeek into a trophy room off of the dinning hall.
"You have done what was asked of you. Your mission to Tunis was a success. I ask that you leave Tunis to me. No, I don't ask. It is commanded that you leave Tunis alone. I do not make many commands. In fact, that is probably the first."
"Tunis will become a legitimate town, under the protection of the Azure Kingdom. Yes, those that have warrants will be served. Your handiwork should have most of those heading for the hills."
(from Steve) Jeremiah throws the following spells on the Hand of Wormius: (results provided by DM)
Detect Magic...It is magical in nature...and has a strong aura.
True Seeing...The aura of the item is a strange mix of good and evil, law and chaos.
Remove Curse...The spell is cast, no particular effect or change is noticed.
Remove Disease...The spell is cast, no particular effect or change is noticed.
Sprinkle holy water on it...The severed arm actually twitches a bit...and the water beads up and runs off quickly.
Bless...The spell is cast, no particular effect or change is noticed.
True Seeing...(I assume this spell was listed twice intentionally) The aura of the item is a strange mix of good and evil, law and chaos.
Detect Magic...It is magical in nature...and has a strong aura.
Once Jeremiah sees what happens, he will then throw commune for more answers. (Steve, we will resolve this at the game!)
CONVERSATION WITH A THIEF
(from Brian) Is it possible to determine what Zane's fine and/or bail is to get him out of Major Feld's hair? Or is it too late? I am attempting to get Zane to give me a letter of introduction to get me into Tunis without hassle, and also directions on how to get there (not letting on I already know), so I can fence various items in the future, especially the 7 poisonous daggers recently given to me by Eytai. I assume poisonous weapons are illegal. I am considering giving Zane the funds to pay his fine if he will provide me with what I request. This would keep me from having to explain my new acquisition of knowledge if I just show up at this hidden City. Brian B
My character is currently considering setting up/purchasing a tent within city of hope and putting up a sign Casiel's Expert Treasure Hunters, all situations considered. He can't currently afford it, and needs a place to fence goods anyway. Brian B
(from Mark, DM) Casiel went to Major Feld's Tower and knocked on the door. A guard answered, and Casiel told the guard that he wished to speak with a prisoner being held there, by the name of 'Zane.'
The guard laughs. "Sorry, but that scumbag is unavailable. They ship off the ones that take advantage of the settlers as quickly as possible. Anything else I can help you with."
Casiel scratched his head. "Shipped him off. I really needed to talk to him."
The guard looked suspicious. "Are you a buddy of his, I suppose. A fellow thief and scumbag?"
Casiel tried to look as respectable and upstanding as possible. "Heavens no! He stole some money from me in a scam. I was hoping to talk to him, and get back some of what was mine."
The guard seemed to relax. "Oh...I get it. Well, like I said its too late. They shipped him off to the Deep Pit. He'll be mining the purest of blue rock for trade around the world...for what...maybe the next twenty years. Check with him then!"
Casiel nodded and smiled, all the while thinking, "Twenty fucking years! Yowch!"
(Also from Mark, DM) Brian...loans for tents are available from Javair through Major Feld. Let's assume that Casiel applied for a loan, recently heard that he would be issued a tent as soon as it was made, and is waiting to hear word that his tent is ready to be picked up....(look up cost in rulebooks...pay off the loan as you can. Keep track of it closely, and be ready to tell me where you stand on the loan at any given time...OK?)
PASSING THE WORD ABOUT TUNIS...REQUESTING HELP
(from Steve) Using the Sending spell, Jeremiah contacts Phineous Thorn.
"Phienous this is Jeremiah, I have located the town of Tunis. Directions are being sent to you by carrier pigeon. You should have this my tomorrow. I know that you have offered an extremely large reward for this information. I would request your aid instead by sending your knights to Birchmont while my party agrees to clean it out. If you and your knights could set up camp while we are in the temple and offer up your prayers while we are there it would be of great help. This should also start some confusion outside and allow us a little more freedom while we are inside. Let me know and I will give you the date and time of our arrival at Birchmont.
Sincerely, Father Jeremiah.
Using two Sending spells, Jeremiah contacts Galen Green and Lord Bradley Dumit.
Lord (__insert each name here__) this is Father Jeremiah, I have located the town of Tunis. Directions are being sent to you by carrier pigeon. You should have this by tomorrow. I know that you have offered an extremely large reward for this information. I would request your aid instead by sending any donations to me as I hope to start a new temple and any offerings would be greatly appreciated.
(from Mark, DM) Jeremiah does not receive word back from Lord Bradley Dumit. No note, no messenger, no nothing.
Jeremiah wakes only a few days after sending his messages. It is then in the crisp cool air of morning that his mind is filled with the sound of Phineous Thorn's voice. "I hope you have acquired the book that Father Tunder mentioned to you. Without it you will fail. I accept your offer. I will bring my men...my elite squad, as well as 50 of my bravest knights. All others are needed to fight off the brigand armies within the Dark Woods Tunkerak. We will begin our travels to your area, please contact me when you have decided when to approach Birchmont. We will meet prior to this to discuss our efforts. Once Birchmont is cleared, Hieroneous willing...I will march on to Tunis and exact some justice.
A week later, Jeremiah is walking near the edge of the tent city that is the City of Hope, when a crested war hawk descends from the sky, braking on the air with its wings just a few feet above Jeremiah's head. Jeremiah covered his head with his arms at first, but then noticed the scroll attached to the hawks large taloned foot. Jeremiah held out his arm, and the hawk landed lightly. Jeremiah smiled as he realized the effort the hawk was making to not accidently draw blood with it razor sharp talons. "Don't worry friend, I'll untie this scroll, and you can be back on your way!"
Jeremiah opened the scroll as the war hawk flew away. "Father Jeremiah, thank you for sending me word of Tunis. I did at one time have a reward offered for its location, but as I am no longer a leader of men...or in a position to pay you for your efforts, I must direct you to contact Javair at his Keep. It seems that my people have taken up the challenge of founding a new city, and Javair is in a much better position to reward you for the information you have gained. It is good to hear you are having successes...perhaps we shall cross paths again in the Forest Green....(signed) Galen Green."
(From Matt) After a few days back in camp, from Tunis, Vikos is gone one day. This happens while he is gone. Mark you can play with the names and some of the effects. I had considerd inviting Kit along. I didn't write it that way but if it works into the story line that would be ok with me. I was going to more detailed of all the destruction, but I ran out of descriptions.
Vengence upon the Gnolls (by Matt)
Unseen (Sphere of Invisibility), Vikos hovered (Fly) above the encampment. It had been more difficult than he
thought to find Gos-ruch, the Commander of a large group of gnolls. The same commander that had consorted with
a Mind Flayer to capture the Emperors Ambassador and attacked the already the fallen city of Greenmark. Vikos had
his orcs scout in small bands and spoke to animals and plants to track down Gos-ruch. It has taken several days
to locate the main camp. However, once located, Gos-ruch was in jeopardy, for Vikos was to extract vengeance for
the attack on the city of Greenmark.
Vikos descended down to what he believed was the Commanders tent. He read the thoughts of those with in. “The Commander will be back soon, I must polish his armor or he will throw Ka-groosh in the pit again. He is off to visit the giants again. They will pay us handsomely for ransacking the city by lake at the Azure Keep. Ka-groosh will be fat from feasting on humans again.” It was as Vikos suspected, the giants used others for achieve there goals, rather to face battle themselves, the cowards. Vikos was lucky. His timing was good.
Vikos used the Helm of Norell Bos to summon a thunderstorm. 20 minutes later, the rain began. Gos-ruch hurried into his tent, in a useless effort to avoid the sudden storm. Vikos summoned lighting to supplement the natural bolts around him. Striker his Axe, ensured it would be strong, violent bolts of destruction.
Vikos called upon the plants in the ground to aid him with unseen spikes (Spike Growth) all around the Commanders and Lieutenants tents. The first bolt struck the Commanders tent, a 20’ circle was nearly obliterated (Call Lightning 6d10 maximized). From nowhere, four hawks appeared (Summon Natures Ally III) and attacked those who ran into the storm. Vikos, no longer invisible, hovered (Boots of Levitation) an unnoticed dark figure in the flurry of a storm.
Every step pained those who ran to the Commanders tent. Hawks swooped down on those who showed themselves and
those who fell in pain. Flashes of light (Flares) blinded some who ran out. Others were rocked by Thunder (Sonic
Blast). Electric bolts from the Sky rained down (Magic missiles x4, Thunder Bolts x3 , Lightning Bolts x2) on the
Gnolls. Many ran in fear (Cause Fear). More of the greater lightning fell (Call Lightning con’t) utterly destroying
what ever was left of the encampment. More hawks descended on the gnolls (Summon Natures Ally II).
Out of the fog at the edge (Obscuring Mist) of camp, a giant figure emerged. He spoke to the dead, wounded, and cowering gnolls. The figure’s voice boomed in the common tongue with a few phrases in giant, “You have slighted the us for the last time. You worthless gnolls. You did not do as the Giant Counsel asked. You wanted gold. For this you have paid and will continue to pay. For we shall exterminate all gnolls just as we will kill all the humans. You fools, trash, pieces of dung, feral dogs is all you are.” A final bolt came down (Call Lightning con’t). With that, the Giant disappeared back in to the fog (Major Image). The rain and wind and cold continued.
His work complete, Vikos walked a ways in the woods, covering his tracks (Pass w/o Trace) and then flew (Fly #2) back to the Azure Keep.
Vikos also takes time to write the Identify spell into his spell book from a scroll at some point in the interlude.
(from Matt) One night Vikos finds Oren at Ockrote’s bar, “Dwarf-friend, we have been at odds at times
and have fought side by side. Would you listen to some advice?”
Oren looked thoughtful, sort of. Was it the ale, or was he thinking? Then he said “No”.
“As much as I expected, hear me out this once anyway, we have no battles tonight. As long as I have known you, you have had a great physical strength, stronger than my own. But you could be stronger yet. You have battled inner demons that have clouded you mind. I have strength from Tobin that makes me fierce in battle, vanquishes demons, powers my magics and puts me at ease with my place in the world. You can tap this same source and have the strength as I do now.”
Suddenly Vikos leap across the table and tackles Oren, surprised, slowed by 17 ½ pints of ale, Oren belatedly
punches at Vikos’ grinning face. Oren’s fist seems to be pushed away from Vikos as if by magnetic repulsion, but
Oren’s great natural strength, and combat skill forces the punch to land on Vikos’ wooden smile with no effect.
Vikos hold makes his breathing labored. Shocked, Oren summons all of his strength and throws Vikos from himself.
Vikos is back on him in an instant, moving faster than Oren had ever seen. The wrestling match goes back and forth
with smashed tables and chairs suffering the most wounds. Ocrote fires his crossbow at Vikos, the instigator of
the fight, each shot leaves true but is deflected from harming Vikos by unseen forces. Eventually Vikos’ unseen
armor, supernatural speed, heightened strength and size, magical punches and 17 ½ pints of ale wear Oren
down. Oren is pinned. Now he notices Vikos is larger than he should be.
As he is holding Oren down, “I didn’t think you would listen, so I though I would give you a demonstration of Tobin’s strength, and this is without a storm.”
Vikos stands up, slightly weary of a counter attack from Oren. “Feel the healing strength of Tobin also, brother
Oren”. With a nod from Oren, Vikos touches Oren and he is renewed, as if the combat never happened. But the destruction
of Ocrote's taverns shows the real truth.
“Come with me to my temple at morrow’s dawn Oren and we can both draw strength from Tobin. Ocrote, if you quit
shooting bolts at me I will come back tomorrow before lunch and repair the damage.”(Mending, Wood Shape, Stone
Shape) With that, Vikos throws a bag of coins on Ocrotes bar and leaves. Oren wonders what to do, kill Vikos, or
go with him to his temple at the following dawn.
(Mike don’t be offended, let Oren loose this one, just for story purposes of Vikos trying to evangelize Oren. Vikos had a lot of spells on his side: Enlarge, Mage Armor, True strike, Jump, Bull’s Strength, Haste, Barkskin, Greater Magic Fang, Smite, Cure wounds. That would give Vikos a minimum Str of 22(max 25), +11 to his AC and extra attack per round and an extra +2 on his punching and grappling attacks. Plus Vikos picked his time to make sure Oren had enough ale to slow him down a bit. And Tobin might have been watching, I am sure he might affect the outcome also to prove to a powerful warrior Tobin's stregths. Continue the story if you like.... MHJ)
EYTAI AND THE WOLF (by Kevin)
It's been nine days. Nine long days and nine even longer nights since The Founders have returned to the Azure
Keep. Most of the founders have been able to occupy their time by moving stone, cutting lumber, building the City
of Hope. Eytai worked during the days and they passed quickly. But all the work did not improve his sleep. This
night was no different. He sat up quickly and looked from wall to wall. Each wall weighs on him very heavily. He
pulled himself out of the bed, threw on his cloak and rushed through the halls to get outside. Once free from the
keep he leaned his head back and inhaled deeply. Last night he went through the same exercise.
Although very thankful for a safe haven in which to rest and refill the body, this has been the longest he's been fixed in a single place in over 70 years. He only spent four days at home in the Forest of the Ancients to bring news of Ganraith. Eytai reached into a pocket in his cloak and pulled out the magic pointer. This was a most wondrous find and surely had many adventures within it. He turned it over in his hand then with resolve thrust it back into its pocket, turned, and went back to his room. He packed quickly. After preparing for hundreds of travels, packing has become an instinct. All his gear fit together into a nicely compact package he threw over a shoulder. The other carried a bow and quiver.
As he walked from his room for the second time, he felt relieved. Just the thought of moving through the mountains makes his mind at ease. He worked his way through the keep to the larder. He took two heavy loaves and a bag of dried fruits and left in their place five gold. The cook has always been very generous and Eytai would need travelling food more than gold. As he passed through the dining room, he thought of his companions eating breakfast the next morning. The would notice that Eytai was not the first to arrive as usual. They would mention this fact to each other but would not begin to wonder until they broke for the morning work. He stopped and thought of them a little more. He found a quill and scribbled a note to alleve their minds some.
"Been called into the mounts. Will return here soon. Wish all well. E." He left this on the table.
Then he went to see Zeek. The others have been trying to return him from stone. Even Oren had spent time studying the stone. Some have joked that he was planning some modifications to his physique. This situation is proof that adventures are dangerous.
Finally, Eytai is free of the keep. Again he pulled the magic compass from his pocket. He flipped one of the levers and waited for the needle to settle. He looked up in the direction indicated, away from the river, away from the keep. He chose the peak of a distant mountain in line with the needle, put the device away, and began taking long strides in that direction. He walked, head up completely at ease in the night. He could see quite easily the changes in the terrain. He had to deviate at times to work around a revine or fallen tree or large boulder. But never once did he hesitate.
Dawn was coming quickly. The animals were beginning to move -- birds and squirrels were common sights. His quiet footfalls brought him very near an elk and two calves until they picked up his scent and darted off into the woods. Eytai continued walking into the rising sun. At last he sat down on a fallen pine ate a small bite from a loaf. He pondered how far he had come realizing he can move much faster through a woods when he's not encumbered by those noisy dwarven legs. He pulled the compass from his pocket again lined up the needle. It still pointed to the same peak he'd been walking towards. He packed things away again, loosened his cloak and carried on.
A few hours further, Eytai's progress is interrupted. A rushing torrent of water cuts through the rock three hundred feet below him. He looks over the edge at a sheer face of rock. Left and right the cliff extends as far as he can see. Eytai pulls out his magic compass. The needle continues to point directly across the river. He cannot cross this here. Even if he could descend safely, there is just too much water down below. The only option is to find a way around it. Although he has never been here, he has seen many rivers and gorges just like this. He considers the terrain, his position up the mountain, and decides to move up hill against the current. It should be the shorter way around. Fewer rivulets will be contributing to its flows and he should be near the alpine basin in which this river begins.
At times the chasm is shallower, other times the river slower, but there still has not been a safe place to cross. At lunch, he dangles his legs over the edge and thinks about revising his plans. But he has only traveled for ten hours and he had no immediate desire to return to the stone walls of the keep. He would carry on until something happens. That night he camped high in an alpine meadow. The torrent he had been following had long since turned to a lazy meandering creek. It had been dammed twice by beavers into large lakes filled with fishes. He could easily have crossed the river many times, but when presented with the first opportunity, Eytai wanted to see the pass, he was so close, and instead decided to pick up his quest tomorrow. Eytai began to cook the trout he shot earlier. He propped the spit up with a couple of rocks and spent his attention on the emerging stars. The walls were leagues away!
Eytai suddenly heard light ruffling behind him the sound of small feet on loose stones. This certainly startled him, but he didn't feel threatened. He slowly he turned his head and looked into the eyes of a large wolf. The wolf had his head down low in a defensive posture. It pondered Eytai and the smells he brought with him. It then raised its head and walked slowly in a circle about the camp. Eytai turned to face the wolf as it moved about him. This brought him back to the wolf pack he met the morning after Ganraith was killed. Eytai began speaking in short barks and low growls. The wolf stopped and barked some replies. Eytai reached down for the fish and threw it to the wolf. The animal smelled it and looked up again. Quickly it snached it up and trotted off.
Losing the fish was no real concern for Eytai. Although it was too dark to fish now, he had lived on bread for more than just one night before. The fire died down as Eytai lost interest in keeping it going. The wolf had not moved very far off and seemed to be settling down. Suddenly the wolf bounced up onto all fours and cried a long howl. It echoed off the glaciers and rocks hanging above their heads. Just when the sound started dying, the call was answered from far off. The wolf then trotted off up into the mountains.
As the sky began to lighten, he pulled the compass from his pocket and lined up the new direction. Although Eytai had deviated from his inital course by miles, the pointer still pointed to the peak he had headed towards initially. To the peak he will go. It would not be an easy trek for that peak was very tall and the faces which weren't sheer had glaciers hanging from them. Eytai decided the best approach would be to continue to the pass and walk up the saddle to the peak. Of course, this plan would very likely have to be changed once he started the final approach. It was a long walk and the way would be hard. He must get moving so he can reach the summit before noon. For any delay now could leave him stranded on the peak.
He kicked out the last of the embers and packed up his things. He would easily reach the pass before the sun rose. It would be only another half hour until he would have to turn and begin the progression up the mountain. The meadow gave out to a final skree climb to the crest of the saddle. This required quite a bit more work and Eytai was breathing quite heavily as he scrambled to the top. The sun had already risen on the other side.
Eytai sat for breakfast of nuts and raisins. It would be a long morning to reach the summit. He didn't stop chewing as he pulled out the compass again. The needle swung to point to the summit. He assessed the rest of the climb to the summit. In another hundred yards, the path was nothing but a wind swept circ. Step after step, Eytai stomped his feet into the snow. One false step and he would be hurtling down the face of the mountain. He toiled like this for three hours before reaching the summit. Eytai was very thankful the sky remained clear.
The summit was no different from any other. He expected something here. He pulled the compass out and looked carefully at the needle. If he tipped the compass the needle would spin to the low point. Whatever was attracting the needle was somewhere beneath his feet. He looked very carefully for depressions or irregularities beneath the surface. Nothing. He kicked and dug randomly. Nothing. It was getting late and the clouds started billowing over far peaks. Eytai could not look any longer. If he postponed any longer he would Certainly have trouble getting down. Dejected, he began the long descent to the keep.
Eytai returned to the City of Hope late on his fourth day out. The wolf had followed him down the mountain. But when they came to the clearing the wolf held back. Eytai and the wolf exchanged some barks and the wolf trotted forward to Eytai's side. He was certainly tense. The two approached Okrote's where he knew everyone would be. The building was completed and the tent moved to provide temporary shelter for the livery. Eytai opened the door but the wolf would not enter. Instead he moved behind some barrels to protect himself from the unknown dangers of civilization.
Jeremiah, Ruadhin and Oren were enjoying some drinks. "Hoy! Where have you been!?" Oren said loudly.
"I followed the compass into the mountains. I climbed the large peak you can just barly see over there. It pointed to something within the mount but, but I could not find the entrance. I seem to have picked up another traveller as well. An adolescent wolf has left his pack and chosen me to follow."
DINNER THEATRE (by Scott Bower)
Grinvall sat on his rock, next to his stream, watching his hole by the fading moonlight. The moon slowly dropped behind the high peak of the western mountain that overlooked this valley. He thought back to not so long ago when he stood on the walls of his castle and cast spells that reigned destruction down on forces sent by Kings and Lords who feared the power he had gained and sought to rescue those fair virgins he had taken for the one he served. But he would not serve for long, he had a plan to take from RakRon his power and then he would be the master while others would serve him. It was the perfect plan without flaw and could not fail. He would be Grinvall the Soul-Eater, Lord of death. Now he sat in this lonely mountain valley, Grinvall the Hole Watcher. He once again considered descending down the foul smelling hole and facing death but he was too much a coward to do even that. It wasn't death that he was afraid of, that would release him from the painful memories of his fall from power. It was what was waiting for him when his soul passed over and the one he hid from on these towering Blue Mountains would do with it. He shivered at the thought of an eternity of punishment by the merciless RakRon.
Just as the moon slipped from sight, lights suddenly appeared over the stream he sat by. They danced around reflecting off the ripples of the bubbling water. Then on the other side a figured appeared, her dark skin outlined by magical light highlighting every curve while her white hair seemed to glow along with the thin translucent garment she wore. She danced in the air over the stream while the lights dance around her and she sang a hauntingly beautiful song in an ancient language he knew to be of the elves. A rare smile came to his face as he took in this exotic and erotic show. Then all to soon it ended as the dancer slowly landed across the stream. Grinvall clapped and shouted praise as the performer bowed. The lights all faded away only to be replaced by the warm glow of a fire.
Grinvall slid down from his perch and waded through the shallow stream to the other side where he saw the one he knew to be Kit placing a small pot over the fire. "Well my lovely, what brings you back to this forsaken spot?" he asked.
"I am here to trade." She said as her violet eyes, lit by the flames of the fire locked with his.
He questioned her further, "I have nothing of value, and you and your party took my bag. My ass ran off and was set upon by some mountain cat and every time I think about trading for some souls my bowels turn on me."
Kit smiled and replied, "You have knowledge of things that wish to know, Demons powers and weaknesses, tales of what befell at Birchmont that the church folk do not know or do not wish to be known."
Grinvall gave her a surprised look and asked "And what might you be willing to trade for these tidbits if I truly know them or wish to impart them?"
Kit took a deep breath and proceeded "I have a tale of how a Outsider named Adolf came to a painful end."
Grinvall looked to the ground and mumbled "An Outsider you say, no wonder he gave away his soul so cheaply" as he rubbed the bump still present on the side of his head.
Kit continued "I have some fresh bread and a pot of warm mutton stew with some Burly Hill Brandy to wash it down." Grinvall's mouth began to water, it had been some time since he had a warm meal. Kit went on "My friends and I may one day face this RakRon of yours and it would be to your advantage that we have a chance at defeating him."
Grinvall's eyes widened at the prospect of this but pressed for a little more "That is all fine but might you sweeten the deal with a few physical favors?"
Kit raised the top from the small kettle and the aroma of the lamb and seasoned vegetable filled the air and
his stomach gave a growl betraying his needs "I believe what I have set on the table is a fair trade for the
information I have requested." Kit said with a grin. "Shall we have dinner and then talk over a good
drink. We may even talk about a return engagement some time in the near future and how you might find some refuge
in this new land should you help out in the upcoming war against the giants. Aiding in the fight against them would
go along way in gaining you favor and acceptance and might give you a new course to follow, but that is another
deal to discuss." Kit stirred the stew and Grinvall inhaled its almost intoxicating fumes once again. Kit
again gazed into Grinvalls eyes and smiled "Well, what say you, do we have a deal?" Grinvall reached
down next to the fire picked up a bowl and held it out with a smile.
(response from Mark, DM) After eating the small feast Kit had prepared, Grinval sat back and softly rubbed his full belly. "I'm swollen like a black dragon fattened on chubby pink babies!" Kit winced at the evil words. Grinval noticed her discomfort. "I am sorry fair elf...words such as those will not earn my way into your heart...and will certainly not earn me a place within this new nation of which you speak."
Kit nodded and poured another glass of Burley Hill Brandy for Grinval. "Tell me of the demons...tell me what we need to know to take back Birchmont."
Grinval closed his eyes. "Yes...yes...She that Suckles the Hoards of Hell...old Wormius stood up to her...and see where it got him. His arm is a magical relic now...but what good does that do Wormius...I ask you that?" Grinval drank down some more brandy. "It is whispered that Wormius was a clever fellow, and that the White Book is a ruse. Do you know what that means, my dear?" Grinval's tone was actually helpful, and not in any way condescending.
Kit smiled slyly. "A ruse is a trick...I am an educated elf...and well-read. You need not stop to explain things."
Grinval tipped back his small glass of brandy. "Of course not...how very insulting of me. I'm sorry. Forgive me...I'm not used to dealing with people of intelligence, you know. Much harder to trade for souls when the person has a bit of brains between their ears!" Grinval laughed much too loud at his own joke. "As I was saying though...the Book of Purity is said to be a ruse. Wormius wrote the history of the destruction of Birchmont within the book...and then some advice regarding how to take back the temple from the demons and devils at a later date. The advice is all lies...and quite harmful to those that follow it."
Kit was quite angry, and it showed on her face. "You are truly mad. Do you think I would believe this...this vileness you are passing off as advice?!?! I should strike you down right here...were it not clear how painful every minute you spend alive on this world is. You are pitiful!"
Grinval appeared very hurt by Kit's words. "Sometimes I forget who I am...and that my word means nothing. I assure you I speak the truth, though my mouth is the mouth of a liar. It pains me to tell you this truth...for habit commands me to lie...but for you I have spilled forth the bare truth. Wormius' created the White Book as a ruse...and his advice is utter crap. It is a trap for those that would seek to conquor and command the power of the demons and devils...a trap for those such as I! Burn the White Book on white coals of the purest heat. Stoke the fire till the cover and pages turn black as your father's Drow skin. Only once the White Book is black as midnight will the truth Wormius meant for you to find be revealed. Only then. Burn the book...then read the white letters that all demons will fear."
Kit sat staring at Grinval. She knew that this was either a most obvious diversion and trap on the part of an extremely evil man...or the most clever bit of news that anyone had gathered thus far. Which was it. Kit was speechless.
Grinval stretched and began to get up. "Thank you sweet miss. You have warmed my stomach with food and spirits...and you have made me feel a bit useful...a feeling I have not felt for quite some time. Come again to visit me. I shall be at this spot awhile longer...but then I shall have to move on. Good luck at Birchmont...."
Grinval walked away slowly, and Kit wondered at his advice. She managed to focus on the present long enough to say, "Goodbye, Grinval."
THE NICK OF TIME
Dawn would be breaking soon and Kit awoke by her small fire. Grinval was sitting nearby...watching her. "That's not hardly polite...Grinval."
Grinval looked away. "I may have been watching you during the night...but I also watched over you. We both benefitted from my uninvited presence by your fire."
Kit told Grinvall she would be leaving at first light if she were to get to Citadel before nightfall. Grinvall
raised an eyebrow and ask as to how she was going to pull that trick to which she said with a smile, she knew a
short cut. At that moment lightening flashed across the mountaintop to the east and they looked up to see storm
clouds quickly rolling to the west. Grinvall said that was strange since storms tended to come from the west or
south this time of year. Then a flash from the north showed more clouds come from that direction. Grinvall wondered
out loud who was manipulating the weather hoping his ex lord had not found him. Kit responded looking down the
valley to the southwest she was afraid she knew who was the cause of this anomaly and she needed to leave sooner
With that she gave Grinvall a peck on the cheek and cast what he recognized to be a fly spell, the a second recitation caused her to blink out of sight and with a quick goodbye she left the man by the hole the same way she had arrived. The storms moved in to the main valley where the River of Blood flowed much faster than Kit Flew but the winds that came with it propelled her at a much greater speed that when she had come up the valley earlier. She could see as she was nearing where the side valley opened up into the much larger one that many large lightening bolts rained down onto its floor. As she neared the great wall the Giants had erected the bolts suddenly stopped save for an occasional one forking through the clouds.
The clouds were slowly growing lighter with the rising sun and Kit could make out large figures moving below putting out what looked to be huge tents that were aflame. Then as lightening lanced across the sky she saw a multitude of white smaller figures converging on the center of the wall. Kit quickly descended toward where they were heading and when another web of electricity danced across the rolling clouds she caught the glint of metal reflecting the light. As she arrived she found Vikos sprawled on the ground at the base of the wall with large boulders littering the landscape. He was not wearing his armor but still clutched his precious Ax in his right hand but his left arm looked to be fractured and the left side of his head was covered in blood. He must have taken a boulder to that side and knocked unconscious since she could se he was still breath. Kit heard movement all around and knew she had no time to waste so she lifted Vikos to a sitting position, propping him up with her knee she opened a Dimension Door behind her through the large wall. Thankfully he was not armored for it took all her strength to dragged him through just as half a dozen large white furred beasts closed in on them only to watch them blink out of sight.
From the other side of the wall Kit heard the angry howls of the enraged Yetis but she quickly blocked that out noticing fifty or so Orks surrounded her. She relaxed after she saw they had various signs of lightening bolts etched on their armor and shields and then recognized Tor-Forgen who she had seen with Vikos a few times. Kit told him he and his men needed to take their commander back to town to be treated as quickly as possible. The Ork leader nodded affirmative and Kit cast her last Invisibility spell and flew off toward the City of the Forge.
SHORT CUT OR CUT SHORT
Kit ran down the long tunnel with all the speed her legs could muster. She could hear the grunting of the pack
of Yetis close behind. She had figured The City of The Forge would possibly be inhabited with its close proximity
the Breach in the wall the giants had made but she was shocked with what she found when she got there. Being invisible
she hoped to slip through the tower holding the mechanism that extended the forge over the huge lava pit, and down
to long time refuge of Grazum Infernus, the ancient dragon and long time guardian of the key to the storm gate.
Unfortunately the tower was now home to about a dozen Yetis and when she was sneaking past them Kit found that
their acute sense of smell gave her away and that began the chase.
Kit know reached the end of the tunnel through open the door and turned to find the pack of furry white beast closing quickly. She waited till the last safe second and shouted the word "FIRE" and slammed the iron door shut. There was a loud roar mixed with some painful howling and the door grew warm then there was silence. Kit slowly swung the door open again being greeted by the smell of burning hair and the sight of twelve blackened figures. Once again she said "fire" this time only in a whisper and shut the door so that there was no possibility that any would survive to bring back word of this secret way. After the smoke cleared she made her way back, covering her mouth and nose to the stench of burnt flesh to the tower and closed the secret trap door and sealed it. She retraced her steps back and enter the now abandoned dragon's lair and proceeded down the hall to the paintings. Kit paused and made herself presentable then entered the painting leading to the lab of Vavasha.
Luck had it that Vavasha was present there and as usual the lab was a whirl with multiple projects and experiments going on at once while he worked with them all. Kit found a comfortable chair, sat and waited marveling at what went on before her, being reminded of the many years watching her father work only to a much more spectacular degree. After a few hours one by one each separate activity finished till finally all came to some conclusion of differing success with Vavasha giving it some response ranging from glee to a disgruntled curse. He then walked behind his large cluttered desk, sat in a worn overstuffed chair poured a glass of wine. Taking a drink and closing his eyes for a few moments and sank back into the chair. He finally looked at Kit and addressed her "Greetings Kitzarnycz Xeraz, your growth in the arts of magic have progressed at a rapid rate." Kit responded that for 42 years she watched her father cast countless spells and know that the secrets of the science of the Arcane have been opened to her it is like being given the last few pieces to a puzzle that she had memorized. He nodded at her statement then finally asked what brought her to his presence at this time. She launched into the tale of what all had happened after the party had turned down his offer choosing to use another way back to Tunis and ended in telling of Zeeks current condition of being stoned.
She said she was willing to offer her and his services in what ever way he may need if he could help Zeek be restored so he might join the party in their quest to cleanse Birchmont. Vavasha asked about the rest of The Finders and Kit responded she could not speak for them but hoped some or all of them might be willing to help her on any quest she took. Vavasha took another long drink and sat back and pondered the request.
"As much as I am tempted to close this deal with you...and garner from you a favor. I cannot do so in good conscience. It appears that Zeek as already been restored...by one most foul."
Kit frowned. "Zeek has returned to flesh...this is good news indeed. I danced with a pack of Yetis to reach here...and all for naught...But Zeek is restored! This is good news. He is like a brother to me in many ways, though I would never tell him so."
Vavasha drank a bit more of his wine. "Good news, indeed. Though I do not approve of the one who restored him. But enough of that. Tell me of your plans at Birchmont...your efforts there are being whispered of even here in the Empire. Give me a few moments of your time before you return to your quest...what say you?"
Kit laughed...and wondered at why she didn't laugh more often. "Yes...a bit of conversation...and then back to the quest."
Javair led Zeek down the long stairs to the City of Hope below. "I'm sorry you are in such shock, Zeek. I had no idea that the transformation to Stone and back again to Flesh would be so taxing on your spirit. You have hardly spoken a word."
Zeek shivered. "No...noth...nothing...to say...real...really."
Javair looked over at the tattood monk hanging on his arm. "Are you sure you are ready to help the Finder of the Key on this quest to Birchmont? Perhaps you should stay with me and rest."
Zeek shook his head. "No...I...must help them. H...How did you...restor...rest...."
Javair interupted Zeek. "How did I restore you to flesh, you ask? Yes...yes...I guess I never really addressed that, did I? Well, no matter, good sir. You are yourself again...and the Finders are better for it! Let's just let the means of your restoration be my little secret...O.K.?"