Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

A Rude Awakening

The plot so far…

Demon horse

At the end of our last adventure, we found our brave companions fighting for their lives after crashing a not-so-friendly masquerade ball. Without weapons and armor, Z’alden, Felsmon, Barrick, Tira, and Rift managed to defeat the evil thief Craith and his minions. But in the end, Elena Goodright, one of the instigators, made good her escape on a foul winged beast. The brave wizard Rift followed her on a white pegasus, and her current whereabouts and health are unknown.

Poor Mr. Goodright, Elena’s father, and the owner of the mansion, had been turned into an undead monster by Craith, and locked in his own cellar. With their new friend Lorelei, the adventurers, rejoined by Erik, managed to destroy Goodright’s unholy carcass. Knowing that time was of the essence, they found a shaman willing to perform the risky ritual for raising the dead. The experiment was a success, and Mr. Goodright now sleeps peacefully in his upstairs bedroom.

Now, after a long evening, the adventurers contemplate the events, and reflect over their next course of action…

Finnegan's Wake

Barrick’ turn. He got up, walked past the dead body starting to stink, tapped Felsmon on the shoulder, or anyway as high as he could easily reach, and took his turn standing watch over the street. No activity. Nothing would disturb the body this night, they would see to that – and that would be the end of it. He thought back to the evening that spawned this cursed vigil …

As so often, Barrick had been out of his element, trusting his more magical and, frankly, intelligent companions to understand this latest cowpie of a mission. Why should they ride in a carriage with this witch-woman Lorelei to a party, all having swallowed an unrecognition potion? Why should they give up their weapons at the entrance to the soiree? Why should they stay, when they were not greeted with a tankard of ale, or even mead, at the door?

Taking a seat next to an elderly human woman bedecked with jewels, the tough old dwarf stared at the stage. Could have sworn he saw a Beholder up there for a second, but now it was just a calm-looking man announcing a collection for an orphanage, and a young lass whose face he couldn’t see, passing around a metal pot shaped like a hat. He quickly grabbed the last five of the open-faced sandwiches from the table’s platter, while his neighbors stared at him slack-jawed.

Barrick’s companions (Rift, Felsmon, Tira, and Z’alden) were spread around the room, except for Erik, who had remained at the carriage. The music from the corner of the hall wasn’t half bad, but the several jesters attempting to entertain the guests were the worst he had ever seen. No smiles on their faces, no juggling, no pratfalls, no dancing, just a creepy, leering mime act, like they were trapped in a box, or trying to pull on a rope. Awful.

His ears were starting to burn, though. The chatter around him sounded familiar, something about a Mr. Goodright who had died at the hands of some scruffy adventurers – sounded not unlike some trouble they had had once in these parts, though they hadn’t killed anyone by that name, so far as he knew. He had the sneaking suspicion that the potion was wearing off – people were starting to talk behind their hands while looking his way, and at the huge, unforgettable figure of his dragonborn pal, Felsmon, nearby.

Just as Barrick was looking for more sandwiches, the entertainment kicked up a notch. The jesters had apparently just been doing avant-garde comedy, and they now all straightened up and pulled daggers out of their waistbands. Their leader, a convincingly mean-looking brute, announced that his name was Finnegan, and this was a holdup! Wonderful, a real piece of comic performance art. The jesters even grabbed a hostage or two, who looked truly scared! Barrick slapped his thighs with both hands and rocked with laughter.

At that, the nearest jester strode up and stabbed Barrick in the side.

The dwarf had shed his armor at the door, and he felt the blade cut into his belly fat. Did this idiot not know how to use a breakaway knife? Where do they find these guys? But the cruel look on the jester’s face, and Finnegan’s barking of orders, soon cleared his mind. It was on!

Barrick became enraged quicker than he could drain a glass. Finding himself without his usual weapons, he abruptly stopped laughing and, in one practiced motion, stood and swung his chair (about two hammers’ weight, he guessed) atop the knife-wielding jester’s head. His beefy assailant took most of the blow on his shoulders, and did not crumple.

Rift was, as usual, a few steps ahead of the dwarf, having cast a sleep spell on three of the jesters. She now proceeded to tie the hands of one of them – apparently she had spent some time on a ranch in her youth. Tira, thinking to press her unrecognition advantage for a few seconds more, tried a chaos bolt under the table, but it glanced harmlessly off the table leg. She then transported next to the lass who had taken up the collection. This was in fact their old “friend” Elena, who looked relieved to find that there were reinforcements among the guests, and even stabbed one of the sleeping jesters.

Elsewhere the fight proceeded in deadly earnest. Finnegan killed a musician who was trying to escape, as did another jester. One stabbed a peaceful hostage in the neck, but Z’alden, recently returned to the group, healed the guest, and cast a spell so powerful, it reached everyone in the room, doing serious damage to the three sleeping jesters. Felsmon, the largest figure present, struck a nearby jester, then took to the air – yes, he can fly – heading for one of the many suits of armor lining the hall. He janked its axe down onto yet another jester, whose hostage fell in a faint to the floor.

Barrick pulled a dagger from his usual hiding place – his beard, always close at hand and as impervious to quick searching as a Roc’s nest – and stabbed at his foe. This gave him an opening to retreat to a nearby suit of armor, where he grabbed a flail. He missed his trusty axe, but he swung the flail in a continuous circle around his stout frame, as he had been taught decades before. Jester, guests, and companions alike shied away from this dangerous dervish.

The fight might have ended in a few more seconds, the jesters no match for the experienced adventurers, but for Elena and the calm Master of Ceremonies, who turned out to be her uncle. They gave up any remaining pretense of dismay at the holdup, which it was now clear they had planned, and took to fighting alongside the jesters. Meanwhile the guests finally came to their senses and began to flee, scattering randomly towards the exits, which were barred.

It was Felsmon who killed the first foe, coldly murdering the last sleeping jester. In his glee, though, he misfired with his dragon’s breath, and the other two, now awake and free of Rift’s restraints, lit into him in response. Suddenly nothing was going well. Elena’s uncle could deal horrific damage, but was himself hard to hit. Tira attempted to toss him with a hurricane spell, to no avail, though the spell did push Elena out of the way. Finnegan, the leader of the jesters, acted every bit the part of a desperate killer.

Rift, having retreated to a corner, tried not once but twice with an icy-grasp spell, gave up, and set to trying to open the doors so the guests could escape the increasingly murderous situation. Barrick was by now surrounded by jesters, keeping their distance, looking for an opening. Felsmon was hurt badly, and Tira was bloodied.

Luckily Z’alden was once again in the house, and began to work his healing magic. Felsmon found solace in the Z-man’s Consecrated Ground, though the jesters found only pain there. Barrick, who had done so well with battle motivation in recent battles, tried again now, but his rage got the better of him, and he made a hash of the attempt: “I, General Barrick, command you all to fight better!” His companions, grinning or laughing outright, felt better anyway.

The 5 began to rally. Tira and Rift pulled off a pair of beautifully meshing spells. Fire from Rift was placed over ice from Tira, so that Elena’s uncle and some jesters, including their leader Finnegan, repeatedly slipped on the ice and fell into the fire. They only escaped by crawling.

And now the big guns came out; a tempest bomb from Tira, a blast from Rift, a revived Felsmon doing his usual bloodthirsty thing, and Barrick still whirling, with Z’alden watching everyone’s back, his healing spells at the ready. The jesters all took damage from fire, from ice, from Z’alden’s spells, from Barrick’s flail, from Felsmon’s blade. And … they lost their nerve. One tried to flee, but only fled this world.

Just then the doors burst open, scattering the guests, and the witch-woman Lorelei surveyed the scene from the doorway: the frightened guests, the broken, blood-spattered furniture, the dead bodies, the cowering jesters, and the 5 proud warriors. Erik, at her side, said, “S’up, guys”.

Lorelei called out to Craith to call off the fight, but as she watched, Tira took the opportunity to kill the jester leader Finnegan, Elena attacked Rift, Barrick attacked a jester, and Z’alden cast a spell on Craith, banishing him for a few seconds to an astral plane. Felsmon and the others prepared to ambush Craith upon his return.

Elena finally had her fill of the battle, and raced out of the room, leaping atop a winged creature she had left at the ready. A young lass, but not a foolish one. Rift barely hesitated, giving chase on a Pegasus belonging to Lorelei. Swooping and gliding, the duo of dangerous damsels vanished in seconds. Rift was gone!

With Elena out of the scene, Lorelei, the most powerful being in the room, commanded all to cease their fighting. Something in her voice made the command stick – probably a spell or three. Craith now became penitent, and promised to pay reparations: Dwarven chainmail for Barrick, a mace for Z’alden, and several wonderful potions, including a Potion of Unholy Life.

This last gift exposed a problem,in that Craith had carried out experiments with the recipe, and now that all doors were open and the fight ended, a faint moaning could be heard from the basement. Investigating, the group found a figure, chained in a corner, who looked like Mr. Goodright, only grey, sunken, and tattered.

Z’alden knew one thing, if he knew anything: The only good zombie is a dead zombie. He tried immediately to end Goodright’s godforsaken existence, but the battle ultimately required the might of all present (except Tira, exploring, and Barrick, drinking) to put down the monster.

Back upstairs, Craith also offered to pay for the reincarnation of the numerous dead, including Mr Goodright. Felsmon and Barrick looked at each other, then at the dead Finnegan, may his bones crumble to dust. Burned, slashed, bloodied, and broken, Finnegan looked to their eyes like someone who should not be reincarnated. While the hall was being cleared, they stealthily carried his body to an empty lot, where they would keep vigil, that night and more if necessary. Nothing would disturb the body, they would see to that – and that would be the end of it.

March of the Firelands
Dragonborn Flambe?

Z’alden had to smile as he stepped out of the Kengi shrine to Bahamut. A young dragonborn tugged at his leg. Dragons teeth but that itched. The cleric shook his head to pay attention. “Please Brother Zenithar, tell us the story of the Rift, again!” A small crowd of other youngsters nodded vigorously, “Yes, yes!” The Half-Elf just grinned. These youths had seen the ravages that the Fire Elemental army had wrought upon the warriors of the dragonborn Kengi. Thousands had perished before Z’alden’s friends had vanquished the primordial force that compelled the elementals forward. Z’alden shuddered at the memory of the behemoth Ryolith. 6 staff lengths of molten lava rising into the sky. A stomp of the monster’s feet could open cracks of lava-filled ground below one’s own. His new scale armor had been singed when he had fallen into one of Riolith’s staff-deep crevices.

He suppressed the shudder and turned to the leader of the young group. “Now, Laren-Tioth, surely your father has told you this story ten times already.”

“Yes, but want to hear it from you! My father was fighting the elementals with Ilkhan Felsmon and General Barrick." All fell silent at mention of the great dwarf. Laren-Tioth was too riled about to think about mourning, "But, he wasn’t there to face the snakeman or the evil fire elf, much less the mass of lava Ryolith!” All the dragonborn children hissed at that name. The Kengi had come to understand what danger the molten monster represented. The massive scar in the land, a chasm of unknown depths, 10 staff lengths across and an hours walk long, still smoldering days after the battle. The scar served as a reminder of just how close the Kengi had come to the brink.

The Cleric sat down, his leg itching. The Kengi healers had miraculously restored Z’alden’s severed limb. He still couldn’t believe how they had managed to obtain the necessary component, a half-elven leg bone, but he was lucky that they had. The leg had healed well and was actually much stronger then before. But, oh, how it itched. The skin was surprisingly hard, too. The healers assured him that the itch would stop eventually, but Z’alden couldn’t help noticing the worried looks they would give each other after answering his questions. Still, this was not the time to reflect. Just scratch and talk, the children were waiting.

The little circle of dragonborn surrounded the cleric. Each child held one or two small swords, and some waved them as though in battle while they waited quietly for him to start speaking. One burst out, “Take that Staghelm! I am the daring Ranger Erik and slash you with my twin swords.” Laren-Tioth growled, “No, shellhead, Erik slew Staghelm with his magical Moonbow. He slashed Ryolith. Brother Zenithar, would you tell Dandiflan that he’s telling it wrong?”

Again, Z’alden couldn’t help but smile at these youngsters. Brother Zenithar, yes that is the formal name he hardly ever uses. The stiff dragonborn clerics and warriors always call him by his proper name. Not even his mother calls him Zenithar, preferring her nickname for Zenithar al Denithar, her little Z’alden. Oh, if his elven father Denithar could see him now! With the safe return of his friends from their quest to seek out and understand the Dark Cloud in the south, and now the defeat of Ryolith, he had all that he could possibly need – good food, friends, and many young ears eager to hear him recount the recent battles. Well, almost everything. He had already mourned long and hard. Now, it was time to turn to tomorrow, and maybe he could work in a little sermon or two.

The cleric’s voice was practiced at story telling, a key skill for a preacher. And, how he loved to preach for the causes of the great Dragon – Hope, Justice, and Law. “Yes, good Kengi children, the story you shall have. First, there are the dragonfriends, Felsmon your noble Ilkhan.” The children cheered at the naming of their dragonborn hero. “Next, the great dwarven figher General Barrick who freed your great Dragon Aurumendor from the Yuan-ti and then came to Kengistan himself and led so many Kengi to victory despite the apparent hopelessness of the battle – the enemy was two to one against them!” The children and a few kobolds who had gathered bowed quietly at the memory of the fallen warlord fighter, the dwarf who commanded dragonborn. Z’alden heard sniffles. “Next is the quiet warrior of swift blade and sure arrow, Erik the Ranger.” The youngster with the two swords waved them in the air as everyone cheered. “And, the Sorceress exemplar Tira Duskmoon,” Z’alden made the very beginnings of his healing light illuminate his hands with a purple fire,” whose many colored chaos shredded the minds and bodies of the Kengi enemies.” The children jumped to their feet and slapped swords. They waved their swords like Tira’s powerful magic dagger, slaying unseen foes. It took several minutes before they quieted. Z’alden waited patiently. “Finally, the Eladrin wizard Rift whose magic rooted our foes to the place, rendering them fodder for my friends’ greatest powers!” Clawed hands extended as a gaggle of wizards surrounded the cleric, “You will bow to my powers!” the children shouted in one melodramatic voice.

Z’alden couldn’t help but wish that his dwarven friend was here to hear his re-telling of the tale. Barrick, General Barrick the Kengi called him, had gone into battle with Felsmon, leading thousands of dragonborn warriors. At the front line of the Kengi army massed against thousands of Fire Elementals, Z’alden’s two friends had held the elementals rooted in place while the cleric and the others were teleported behind enemy lines to break the power of the Fire Generals who controlled the elementals. If only he could have been there to save Barrick.

The children settled down and the cleric began to weave the tale.
“The Rift of Fire formed in the sky and on the ground. Just as in the dreams the Great Dragon had granted me. My friends and I would not stand idly by as thousands of Fire Elementals poured into the homeland of Clan Kengi. Your Tarkhan called to us and we answered!” The dragonborn children cheered wildly! A Kengi cleric brought Z’alden a tankard of ale, and a few other brothers stood by smiling as the half-elf continued.

“The Kengi mages penetrated the magic shield that guarded one of the Elemental’s Generals: Fenderal Staghelm, an elf turned by some primordial force into a fire elemental himself but with cunning and power, armed with twin swords full of evil to spread chaos and destruction across the Earth. This is just what I was called to stop, my little ones. This is the evil that I was given my powers to fight. We are all called to stand against evil in all its forms – this is just one of the most tangible.” He lost the youngsters at that point; too much sermon. Back to story.

“Using a magical potion, my friends and I disguised ourselves as Fire Elementals, and the mages teleported us into General Staghelm’s presence. The elf was surprised and paid the price. I called on Bahamut’s justice to send this elemental sprite back to the chaos that spawned him! By Dragon’s Claw, By Dragon’s Might, Prince of Darkness now beware, today you feel the Dragon’s Light! Claw daggers of blue light erupted from my fingers in answer to my prayer. The sapphire claws tore into Staghelm, ravaging his body, and more importantly his mind – leaving him stunned in place before he could even swing one of his twin swords against us. Tira the Sorceress beguiled his mind with a dazzling ray and stole one of his burning hot swords out of Staghelm’s hands. Then, Rift the wizard created a giant icy hand, a spell learned from the master wizard Bigsby! The Hand of Ice grasped the fire elf. Flames shot out of the icy fingers as the spell squeezed the fallen son of air. Rift grabbed our foe’s other sword. I called upon Bahamut and divine light washed over my friends, empowering them with the Dragon’s ferocity, even as the light seared the evil Staghelm. Then, with his own twin swords flashing as though some huge Wolf’s jaw had opened and closed on our foe, Erik slashed and tore into the flaming elf. It was as though slashes from a mouth full of razor sharp teeth engulfed our foe. The battle was in our favor and Staghelm was reeling. But, always remember, the battle isn’t over until the enemy is felled. Staghelm was far from defeated.”

The children’s eyes went wide as the cleric sipped his ale for effect. The gathered kobolds rocked on their heels. “Extending his hand, the flaming black sword of the elf flew from the wizard back to Staghelm, and the silver sword from the Sorceress. In a few short strokes, the powerful figher had penetrated the defenses of the Ranger with a quick backhand slash and a punch to the head. Erik was on fire and reeling, unable to think straight. Dragon’s claws! but I evened the tide by sending brilliant blue light into the eyes of that elf, blinding him. Violent winds erupted from Tira as a tempest battered our foe. The elf lashed out at me, and even my dragonborn scale armor couldn’t stop those sharp weapons. Emboldened, the elf looked to close on me for a kill. Little did he realize that my friend the Ranger’s staff had turned into a radiant Moonbow. Dazzling arrows flew at our foe, a volley of biting shafts wounding the elemental general. Tira’s lightning scored the elf further even as the great Hand of Bigsby’s magic squeezed him. Lightning and arrows rained down on the elf, but he wasn’t finished, slicing his swords into me and into our wizard. But, our flaming foe hadn’t reckoned on the Ranger’s arrows striking true, through his helm, and into his burning brain, felling the elf with a powerful enchanted arrow.”

Laren-Tioth stuck his forked tongue out at Dendiflan, “See, I told you the amazing Erik slew Staghelm with the Moonbow.” Dendiflan stomped his foot.

“But, good children, Staghelm wasn’t quite finished, yet. Even as he perished, he uttered a curse. The flaming elf shouted, as sizzling blood poured from his lips, ‘You shall fall before Ryolith’". The dragonborn children hushed at that name.

“We did not realize just what a curse that was. A name I had heard in the visions the Dragon had granted to me, giving us warning of our foes.”

“There was no time to ponder, as the mages returned us from behind the lines of the Fire Elementals before those monsters could realize we were there and as vulnerable as a plucked chicken. We barely had time to breathe, as the mages teleported us to the area of the other Fire General, the flaming man-serpent called Executus – a Yuan-ti turned into an elemental by the same great primordial power that had transformed Staghelm. Staghelm’s superior in every way. This was no foe to sneer at. Underestimate your foes and come home dead, General Barrick always told me, Respect them and have a tankard the next day.” The children nodded at the wisdom of the great fallen dwarf. Z’alden found it hard to speak for a moment as he remembered his friend. He took a deep draught from his own tankard and thanked the Dragon for it. He looked around. A crowd of Kengi had gathered. Most had tankards, many large, just the way Barrick would have wanted it. They raised theirs to the cleric. He continued.

“The shields protecting the huge man-snake were more powerful than those of Staghelms. The mages did their best but we were not as close nor as well placed. I was more than 10 staff lengths away and found myself with a fire elemental in my face rather than the flaming scales of Executus that I longed to extinguish. My children, those scales have haunted my dreams for the past moontide and here they were, so close but barred by an elemental. Such creatures are not to be ignored. Tira and Rift each had one in front of them as well. Singed we were but more annoyed than harmed. The Sorceress sent a wave of thunder all around, sending the elemental back to the chaos that spawned it. The wizard had no such patience, she sent a vortex of wind around Executus, battering him and tossing him into the air, leaving him dazed and wounded. Erik was not about to let such an opportunity pass. Quickly, arrows of light flew from the enchanted bow, ripping into the flaming scales. Dragon’s claws but I was not going to let these evil creatures bar my way to victory. Silver flames erupted from me in all directions, destroying the elemental in front of me and reaching all the way to Executus. Oh, that former Yuan-ti began to wish he’d never left his shell as the Dragon’s power froze him to the spot even as the wizard’s whirlwind bound him in the air!”

“But, the wizard’s power is not infinite, and as he arrived back on terra firma, waves of flames erupted from the snake, burning Tira, Rift, and Erik. The Ranger was on fire. Then, in an instant, the leather armor protecting Erik glowed and the fire was out. The Ranger’s eyes went like steel, arrows flew, destroying more fire elementals that Executus had summoned. If the Ranger was steel, the magic of the wizard was like titanium. The Eladrin called upon great powers, icy cold and warmth enveloped Executus. The snakeman’s eyes grew heavy. At first, he was simply moving slowing. We punished him for this weakness with spells and arrows, blinding light that seared his eyes. But, he had not yet seen the power that my friends could wield, nor would he, as he dropped unconscious from the wizard’s magical might.”

“Two perfect arrows flew from the Ranger’s bow. Never have I seen shots that were more perfectly placed to extract a price from an enemy. Two more flew, equally well placed. From the flaming snake, something akin to flaming pus flowed freely from each penetrating shaft. By the claw, this creature would fall! Bahamut’s brilliance erupted as white radiance engulfed the flaming Yuan-ti. What little breath the Ranger had left in him, by the Great Dragon, this Executus was no more!”

Cheers erupted from the crowd of Kengi and kobolds that had surrounded the circle of dragonborn children and clerics. Tankards chimed together like victory bells. Heads nodded and mugs foamed. The half-elf took a deep draught, even as he gathered as thoughts, “But, what about Ryolith?” young Larn-Tioth asked. Everyone hissed again at the name of the molten giant. Z’alden’s eyes narrowed as thought of the monstrosity, the exarch and general of the primordial Ragnaross.

Deep below the surface, not far from where the cleric spoke, a dwarf marveled at the filigree ring on his finger. Magic. I think it might have its uses. Told Felsmon I just might need this when Erik found it in that Devil’s muck. His beard singed, his armor blackened, the tough dwarf stowed his shield and axe. He looked to his left and right. Hundreds upon hundreds of Kengi dragonborn and kobolds lay dead around him. Most unrecognizable from the impact. He looked up and far in the distance; he could just see the faint outline of light. How many miles above? Who knew. But no flaming little cookies and their overgrown campfire were keeping this dwarf down. He pulled out his climbing rope, swung the climbing hook, and started to ascend. Barrick was getting out of this hole, no matter how long it took.

As the crowd quieted from the mention of the molten monster, Z’alden nodded, “Yes Laren-Tioth, the Exarch of Ragnaross put a sour end to our victory. Even as Executus fell, the elementals were strengthened by the arrival of the living Lava mound. The mages got us closer to our foe this time. A little too close. I was next to the giant. A full 5 staff lengths across, he was, in a crater that his heat was generating. We were all too close to the flaming arms and molten body. And we knew it. Strategic repositioning was in order. Little did this Exarch know that an Arch of Magic was coming his way, courtesy of the mighty Eladrin. Even as Tira flew on a dragon’s vestige, the Ranger was surrounded by lava as Ryolith melted the ground under him. What sort of monster was this that even the very ground became our enemy? Flaming cracks extended further, dropping me into another pit of fire. Rift also fell into the cracks but she would not despair."

“Calling upon that amazing Icy Hand of Master Bigsby, she tried to grab the giant. Even when times seem dark, and the enemy more than you bear, stand fast and have faith! By the Claw, I let that molten muddle know that I was a cleric of Bahamut! Silver flames engulfed his own fire, and Ryolith knew the pain of the light of the Great Dragon. The monster was rooted to the spot and his brightness dimmed by the Bahamut’s radiance. In that moment, the Eladrin saw her chance. Her powerful enchantment surround our foe, and he became slow and then, unconscious! The Ranger knew he had not a moment to lose. His brilliant arrows attacked the most vulnerable parts that had become exposed as the monster lagged under the magical lulling of the wizard’s sleeping spell. With 6 arrows in just heartbeats, Ryolith was much less than he had once been. He knew the bite of the Ranger’s volleys! Then, Tira battered the flaming hulk with wind – a tempest to extinguish the flames and send the creature back to his primordial master. Indeed, his flames were dimmed greatly. As I called on the Great Dragon, brilliant radiance from Bahamut stole more of the living flames from the mighty hulking lava mass. Ryolith’s flames were going out!”

“Then, the hulking mass awoke.” The crowd drew in its breath, even as Z’alden continued.

“100 of the Fire Elementals on the front lines of the battle with the Kengi vanished and as one, their flames poured into the molten monster, restoring him. He waved his hand and the ground under Rift turned into lava, searing the wizard. Ryolith moved closer to us to engage in melee with his great arms of flaming lava. The Ranger would have none of it. Arrows flew and huge chunks of lava could no longer bind to the mass. Thunder shattered more off of Ryolith’s flame as the magic of the Sorceress would not be denied. Even so, the beast stomped his feet and huge flaming cracks erupted in the earth, swallowing me. Tira answered with lightning that burst upon the monster. His flames were again dimming. Hope swelled within me. By the Wing, I called forth the image of the Great Dragon and silver flames poured forth over Ryolith. The monster was teetering even as the filled ground burned the wizard and myself. We were winning! But, never rest when the enemy is still above ground,”

“Or you’ll be the one below!” A dwarven voice growled. There from the edge of the crowd, a soot-covered dwarf stood. Z’alden jumped to his feet. “Barrick, by the Wings, you’re alive!”

“Aye, and thirsty.” The dwarf found himself with four of the largest tankards of dragonborn ale, two for each hand. The crowd cheered wildly at the return of the mighty dwarf. “Now finish the tale. I want to know just how that scratch in the ground formed.”

Z’alden just shook his head in wonder and thanked the Dragon for all that he had. “Thousands of the elementals in front of your troops vanished and Ryolith restored himself further.”
The cleric found it hard to speak. He was too full of emotion at the return of his friend, but the crowd called for more.

“Rift’s Icy Hand had just grabbed Ryolith but, newly restored, he escaped. He charged at Erik, but with a deft maneuver, our Ranger was too quick for the hulking creature. Little did Ryolith realize what lay in store for him in return for his trouble. In a blink, the Ranger was no longer holding his moonbow, but instead, his twin blades were in his hands, and he began to carve the beast as though it was soft dirt. Lava chunks fell in all directions. Tira, seeing a weakness in the creature, directed a thunderblast from her dagger straight into his chest. The thunder reverberated and Ryolith’s right arm flew off! The wizard summoned a magical gate to get closer to the beast, and twin arcs of magical missiles tore away at the outer shell of the creature. His lava shell began to fall away revealing an inner core of an iron skeleton that teetered.”

“It roared and shouted, you will never defeat the son of Ragnaross!” All eyes in the crowd went wide. “The earth shook and a wave of fire and a great wind blast flew from the front lines back across the iron skeleton into the rift in the sky. It was as though a raging storm of heat blew to the Rift, sucking up the fire elementals and the remains of Ryolith. Then we heard a massive explosion. Thousands of Kengi fell into a monstrous chasm that formed where the Fire Elementals had once stood. You, Barrick, were at the front of the line and also fell. Dragon’s Teeth, but it is good to see you!”

The dwarf accepted the embrace of his friend. A few seconds before another draught would be alright. “Does anyone have a meal for a hungry dwarf?” Kobolds appeared from all directions bringing food for the hero. Others ran to tell the adventurers of the return of their friend.

All Shall Burn!

Z’alden, awakened from his sleep, his leg repaired, sits up from his bed and notices that the chain armor on the wall next to him is split near in half and is bent out of shape. Rolling over he notices a shattered holy symbol on the bed stand next to him. Saddened by the destruction of his holy symbol of battle, he puts on a tunic and slowly walks to a dragonborn temple of Bahamut.

Since his leg was healed, this is the temple he has been visiting and where he has spent his time when not battling the scores of devils that seem to come from the south every day or so. Sometimes they are stopped, other times even when most are defeated, a dragonborn is lost to a squad of winged monsters who retreat like cowards with the body of a dragonborn.

In strengthening his faith to better battle the devils, within these walls and out on the battlefield, he has seen a new perspective on the gods from the Kengi clerics. They have taught him that all gods have a place in the world, even the most evil and violent among them.

As he enters the temple one day, the leading cleric approaches him and whispers in his ear, “My friend, come with me, we have a gift for you.” Leading Z’alden along through the back of a temple into a hidden door, the dragonborn cleric lights each torch on the wall and opens a chest in the middle of the room. From it, he procures a small holy symbol depicting a platinum dragon and a five headed dragon swirling around each other in flight. Confused, Z’alden asks the cleric why the symbol depicts both Bahamut and Tiamat. The cleric responds, “It is because the two dragon gods embody the darkness and the light of Io. Even a cleric as good as yourself may choose the path of Tiamat because it is the right thing to do, and even those in this city who worship Tiamat may choose the path of Bahamut because it may lead to even a greater challenge. Please take it fellow cleric, it is our gift to you."

Z’alden graciously accepts the symbol. He is escorted back out of the hidden room and walks to the entrance of the temple.

Wandering the streets of Kendistar during a respite from one of the devil attacks, Z’alden comes across the path of the Kengi Warlord Grash-Tion. It is he who was left in command by Feldagar of the forces remaining in Kendistar. Z’alden asks if there is a place he can visit to replace his old broken chainmail. The warlord responds and says, “Aye follow me to the armory, however there are few if any pieces of armor that will fit you so please accept whatever the quartermaster is able to find.”

Grash-Tion leads Z’alden through the Kengi command center to the armory. When the large door to the armory is opened, Z’alden is amazed by the sheer number of magic armor pieces in the room, rows upon rows of armor and dragonborn weapons. Near the end of the room there is a small dragonborn who appears to be covered by weapons, several daggers, an axe, two swords, and throwing hammers. As he moves toward Z’alden, the weapons clink as they bang together. In a husky voice this older looking dragonborn asks, “Elf, what are you in need of?” Z’alden responds, “I need a new set of armor. Mine was destroyed while fighting the northern trolls.”
“Ehm, well then, let’s just hope I can find something that will fit you, anything here on the walls will not work as it was made for dragonborn. But maybe there’s a piece that we ehm, found somewhere.”

The quartermaster shuffles over to a small door between two weapons and opens the door. He walks in, and Z’alden hears sever loud crashing noises before the dragonborn emerges with a dusty piece of scale armor. He says, “Well I hope this will do for you since we don’t have anything else. Its got a bit of magic in it and will protect you.”

He walks over to a small pile of armor and weapons in the corner and begins to place them in various piles based on their type. As Z’alden watches him his head begins to hurt, then the pain increases slowly until he is on the ground shaking, then all goes black.

As Z’alden comes to, he feels very hot suddenly. Then, as he opens his eyes, he realizes he’s floating in the air. He sees that he is in a volcanic region with meteors hurtling from the fiery sky and lava bursting from every crevice. There are huge mountains floating in the air with lava dripping down their sides. Below him he sees the same large figure as the last vision but this time he can make out the strange creature’s figure along with the snake like creature and a new person – a strange looking elf with orange skin and fiery armor. They are speaking as they look into the strange bowl they are standing by. In the bowl, Z’alden can see Tira creating lightning at her feet. She catapults into the air and kills several devils beside her, then he can see her landing next to other devils and electrocuting them as well. He can see Felsmon fighting for his life against devils that look like the ones he remembers from the Duergar Keep in Thunderspire. Then Felsmon becomes wrapped in spiked chains and cannot move or even swing his sword. As the fight seems to be in the devils favor at every turn, the large figure in the room says, “Are you sure these are the ones Staghelm? They are failing to win against even these petty devils.” The fiery elf responds, “Yes these are the ones that will either bring Ragnaros to power or defeat him forever. Now watch, this fight may not be as in the devils favor as it may seem."

Z’alden watches as Felsmon then escapes from the chains and a larger, trident-wielding devil teleports into the chamber. The Paladin charges at this winged devil, dealing a powerful blow. Then spine devils begin to fall and the larger devil becomes to look much weaker and finally succumbs to the many wounds inflicted by Z’alden’s friends. But, Felsmon falls! Tira falls, too! Z’alden sucks in his breath. Still, the party battles on. Now the only devil that remains in the room is the chain devil. With Felsmon and Tira revived from unconsciousness, the battle has suddenly turned quite in the heroes favor. The orange skinned elf then says, “See Ryolith, these are the ones.” Then he turns back to see the outcome of the battle. The heroes deal blow after blow to the devil as his chains swirl, but he still is fighting them. Then with Barrick dealing a blow that smashes into the Devil, he begins to weaken and finally fall to the heroes’ great prowess.

The view shifts. Now, Z’alden sees a huge army of dragonborn marching down toward where the darkness was so many weeks ago. The snake like creature then says, “The dragonborn appear to be weakened from the fightss in the north and now they are marching sssouth for sssome reason even though their champion and hiss companions have eliminated the darkness sssoon they will return, We should marsshal the armies of fire and march on the dragonborn then the heroess could be captured and the dragonborns’ energy ussed to fuel the return of our masster, Ragnarosss.” The Large figure responds, “Yes we will march. Staghelm, Executus, marshal our armies.” Then in a much louder voice that makes the cleric tremble he yells, “WE MARCH ON THE KENGI IN FIVE DAYS, FOR RAGNAROS!”

Z’alden awakens back in the temple. “The quartermaster brought you here,” says the monk who has cared so much for the half-elf. “Are you alright?” The cleric turns to speak, but the memories of the vision are fleeing. “Kengistan is in danger. I must speak to Ilkhana Monara.”

Party for a Pretty Girl

Fallcrest was such a simple town. It was a good place to stoke the fires of commerce and nurture a growing family. The pretty, young girl laughed and giggled with her girlfriends as they teased the shopkeeper. His fine porcelain figurines dangerously danced on their finger tips and he could not figure out which of the three pranksters to go after as they separated to different corners of his shop.

Shopkeep: Elena, if your father was here I’d, I’d…

His red face and stammering was made only worse by Elena mocking him as she scrunched up her face to mimic his frustration. With that she burst out in full laughter, looked the shopkeep in the eyes and dropped the carefully crafted dragon miniature to the ground. Her eyes studied him intently as he looked down in sadness at the dragon’s broken wings. Then, with a whirl, she ran out of the shop. Her friends followed quickly and continued to laugh.

The three adventurers continued their pranks down the street and open market, never missing a chance to pull on the loose end of a maiden’s apron strings or snatch a tasty fruit from an open cart, with the other two distracting. Such was Fallcrest. Kids will be kids and the the townsfolk were used to such shenanigans. It was a dangerous world outside of the town and so a little prank here and there was paid no heed.

As the sun set the girls cruised for more fun, but it was not to be. Finnegan, one of the stablehands at Elena’s estate caught up with the three. Elena was to report immediately to her uncle. With that news, the other two girls departed and Elena scurried back to the house. It was one of the older properties, but had undergone much work over recent years as her father’s business grew more and more successful. Now it had high walls around its perimeter and a lavish courtyard between the gate and the main entrance. Still, despite its extravagant nature, it felt somewhat dark and lonely as an enclave cut off from the vibrancy of the city center.

Elena slowly opened one of the giant double doors and slipped through. Before her was the long great room with high ceilings. Items of warrior antiquity lined the walls at appropriate intervals: suits of various kinds of armor, spears and swords. None of it ever wielded by her father but greatly admired by him and used to inflate his status among other businessmen and high society. It was a proper feast chamber. So, naturally, out before Elena stretched a long table, able to seat perhaps twenty on a side. At its far end was the master’s high-backed chair, and behind that a couple of steps up to a raised area that could be used as a sort of stage to speak to the seated guests.

Upon this stage now sat a white haired man, elbow on the armrest, long fingers stroking his chin. His thin body did not fit the chair too well, but he thought it suited him as it had been finely crafted specially for a man of importance – Elena’s father.

Elena: Uncle, you have sent for me?

Uncle: Come.

With that, the thin man moved from the chair and left the room through one of its back doors. Elena scurried to catch up. It was hard to follow him through the dimly lit corridors and he made so little sound that Elena had to guess where he was going. To his small chamber she went. His bed cloth still lay on the cold stone and that is where he sat. His spindly fingers held it – the orb.

Uncle: Sit. You are intrigued, no? Watch.

Elena dutifully sat facing the man. The dark chamber lit up with a long shadow of her uncle cast upon the stone wall. It frightened her, for though the man was smallish of stature, weathered and wiry, this shadow upon the wall was huge and menacing as the light caused it to flicker and shift.

Soon the orb grabbed all of Elena’s attention and she relaxed. Swirling clouds within the orb disolved and a sandy beach came into view. So too did the form of a dragon, some raggedy troglodytes and the five adventurers. Plus there was another, a young lady clearly out of her element and looking terrified. Elena’s heart grew excited when she saw the red-head – the sorceress to whom she could only imagine a persona. An idol. The wizard too. Strong women, like Elena wanted to be.

The orb’s images flickered and its master’s hand moved skillfully to clear the view. A nasty fog lay over the scene, making things difficult to see. For the adventurers it was a much more serious thing. The caustic fog burnt their lungs and eyes. They could just make out the shape of the great dragon Aurumendor, chained to an obelisk. Since last seeing the dragon held captive in the lake, the obelisk had grown so much that it was now pulling the dragon out of the water, by its chain. The chain glowed with a green hew that seemed to perhaps be the very life force of the great beast.

Quickly, the wizard cast a magical hand that carried a silver key to the dragon. With a bit of luck, the wizard was able to unlock the dragon’s collar. Yet the task was not complete, so the sorceress teleported to the obelisk and in a feat of great acrobatics, hung upside down, legs wrapped around the chain, hands dangling down to remove the collar and free the dragon. With freedom came a splash, as its nearly lifeless body fell into the dangerous waters. The orb showed that this was not at all pleasing to the Paladin Felsmon, a dragonborn whose kinship to the beast needed no explaining.

Elena and the master watched the battle unfold…

The adventurers rushed in to attack the troglodytes, but they were not ordinary creatures. Their flesh hung loosely off of their bodies as it is with the undead. If only the cleric Z’alden was there to dispel them. No. With blade and bow did the melee rage. The leader taunted the adventurers with how he, General Guano, would complete the transfer of the dragon’s energies to the great army that lay within the obelisk. Kengistan, home of the dragonborn, would soon be overrun and destroyed by means of the very life force of a dragon. Guano reveled in the irony.

Yet the forces of good were strong too. The stout dwarf, Barrick, raised up the Key of Bonderstrong and axes rained down upon his enemies. Acid and necrotic attacks were withstood as the Rift used her wizardly staff of elemental energy to protect the dwarf and other comrades. The dragonborn warrior’s might breath felled many an undead troglodyte as the evil general sought to release more evil warriors from obelisk.

Yet the crafty wizard had done more to thwart his plans. After ranger Erik had knocked Guano prone, the general’s skull tipped club lay on the beach and the clever wizard had grabbed it with her magical hand. Now the general was quite displeased and began showing signs of severe distress as he specifically targeted the wizard. Rift’s friends protected her, stopping the general’s advance as best they could.

All the while, the red-headed sorceress, Tira, was attacking the obelisk. To some effect, she could better discern the nature of the construction. Alas, its attacks on her were too much to endure, so she levitated away from it.

At that point Elena let out a suppressed cheer and soft hand clap, briefly breaking the uncle’s concentration.

The battle continued, now with the wizard blinded by attacks and on the deck, seeking a respite from the fray. General Guano sought his club, which gave him some powerful connection to the obelisk and the army that lay within. He moved toward the prone wizard.

Now, the key, the Key of Bonderstrong! Its powers stirred within the dwarf’s heart and he knew what he must do. Now was the time. The battle with Guano and the remaining troglodytes must be left to the others. Now was the time to fulfill the destiny of the key!

Pivoting in the sand, Barrick’s feet dug in securely to start his sprint and his fist reached toward the sky with key in its grasp. Off he went and with an acrobatic leap he bounded onto the dragon’s back and toward the obelisk. The key knew its part too and in concert it transformed into a great pick axe. Filled with the sense that he could destroy all of the evil in this wretched place, Barrick swung his mightiest stroke with the pick. Deeply into the obelisk it did sink.

A sphere of fiery energy began to emanate from the Pick of Bonderstrong and as it expanded its incredible energy affected all within its radius. Consumed within the sphere, the obelisk disintegrated in place and the screams of the warriors within were inflicted no more. General Guano turned to look and as the growing sphere engulfed him his outstretched arms could do nothing to hold back the sphere. He mouthed a silent cry as the sphere quickly moved up past his arms, turning them to fine dust before his very eyes. Then he was no more.

Elena: Cool!

The adventurers felt something quite different. Within the sphere they felt warmth and goodness. Their wounds quickly healed and they marveled at the transformations around them. The water turned pure again and so did the surrounding forest. The earth trembled as off in the distance the temple of evil imploded. Destroyed.

Now attention turned to the dragon. The Paladin organized his friends into a team that pulled the dragon from the waters. With the recovered golden claws and tail laid out around the dragon Aurumendor, the dragonborn warrior performed his ritual of healing. To their amazement, the dismembered parts slid back to their proper positions and rejoined the dragon, now fully whole again.

After a moment of studying his surrounding, the dragon regained his bearings and raised his head up above the adventurers. Gazing down upon them, he spoke:

Aurumendor: I am in the presence of more than heros. Thank you.

With that his lungs filled full with the now fresh air and he breathed. The humans, elves and dwarf amongst them squinted and braced, but the dragonborn knew that this breath was of a different sort. It was sweet to the smell and warm to the soul. All of the adventurers felt renewed and enhanced in strength. They were now more. Stronger. Smarter. More skilled. Their quest burned strong in their hearts and so did their resolve.

The dragon spoke again.

Aurumendor: Time is fleeting. I must soon bless the unborn dragonborn, lest they hatch into dracomen and unleash a terrible force upon not only Kengistan, but all good lands. You are the friends of Aurumendor, so to you I must repay.

Rift: How about a ride on your back?

Aurumendor: (With a sense of annoyance and regret.) Hmmm. Yes. Okay. This once.

With that, the five adventurers and the young farmer’s daughter, Xeriope, climbed upon the dragon’s back and took flight.

Panning quickly, the master struggled to keep up with the dragon’s quick movements across the sky. Its prowess was an amazing sight to behold and Elena’s jaw dropped. So how she wished to have such adventures. The man and Elena relaxed beside the orb as the dragon ferried the adventures over hill and field. With a stop at the Xeriope’s home, there was much rejoicing. Her father’s tears showed the appreciation he had for the adventurers and their rescue of his beloved Xeriope. A small drink of his finest was given out in celebration. Empty of wine but full of joy, the adventurers left him.

Soon the dragon swooped over Mount Hol’dna. Tira’s amulet had been drawing her to this rocky and foreboding stone. After spiraling in (Aurumendor’s signature move) the dragon landed outside a cave entrance. A quick dragon breath down its throat to clear out any immediate nasties and the adventurers were off. Excited and with renewed energy, the Paladin dragonborn lead the way. It was more of a charge. Oddly, the ranger was in the rear.

As he looked into the orb, the master could not believe what he was seeing. He shook his head and grinned.

Into a large chamber the adventurers stumbled whereupon they were greeted by a fireball from a pair of skulls. The skulls’ mocking of the adventurers was short lived for their fire was muted by the wizard’s quick use of her staff of elemental power, which blunted the attack. The owlbear that appeared next was in no mood for joking, as it charged the paladin who was in the lead. A mighty blow it was and the dragonborn reeled at the force of this strange creature. Yet the wizard, Rift, once again answered the attack with a powerful blow of her own – a tornado of sorts that would spell the beginning of a furious end to the owlbear. First the ranger would pierce it with two arrows and then the sorceress would set the beast on fire, its fur smoking as it connected once again with the paladin, who would soon be blinded by one of the skulls. Ah, to be on the sharp end. So too was the owlbear, pummeled by Rift’s spectral ram, teleported up high only to fall and sustain more damage. Lying prone on the ground, the owlbear took another arrow from the ranger and never did breathe again.

The battle with the two skulls continued with a game of cat and mouse as the five adventurers hunted them and pushed them back further and further into their chamber.

Elena: (Thinking to herself.) Skulls are cool and all that, but just kill them already.

Soon the battle was over. The skulls had tried to escape their fate by flying high above the adventurers but with ranged attacks they had been felled. No more mocking, though the adventurers could have easily been ridiculed as they attempted to disarm flame traps by using the smoldering carcass of the owlbear as a shield. All for a lousy 600 gold pieces.

Elena: Master, how long will this go on? I want to see someone die or something.

The man cast a stern eye toward the young lady. Elena had forgotten her place for just a moment. She knew that this man was very serious indeed and that her little act was a great annoyance to him. With eyes cast back down on the orb, she continued to watch quietly.

Soon the adventurers had healed and steeled themselves for the next battle. This time they carefully crept forward with the ranger in the lead. Foot traffic had passed this way, some human, some with large claws. As the path sloped upward it grew unnaturally cold. In the distance, a human could be seen midway through a large chamber. But this was surely no friend, for he wore a symbol of Dis and behind him the ranger could spy several spiny devils with long wicked claws and, of course, spines. These types had been encountered before in the Horned Hold and the adventurers knew them all too well, with their poison dripping quills that could be shot out a great distance.

A horrible moaning could occasionally be heard as if many men and women were suffering through captivity in a pit.

Erik the ranger paused at the entrance to the cavern but the sorceress entered further, readying her chaos bolt to respond to any aggression. Through the dim light she could see another human. Then Erik let loose an arrow. It flew true and struck the human follower of Dis in the chest, dropping him to the floor. The battle was underway.

Rushing to the fore, Barrick engaged the enemy but was soon surrounded by more humans – and a squadron of spiny devils. Then another squadron of devils appeared and the adventurers were feeling completely overwhelmed. Spines flew and struck their marks, leaving a trail of poison coursing through the valiant adventurers. Further still, a very large devil came into view, flapping his leather wings, twitching his tail and menacingly lofting his deadly trident.

At this point the orb began to flicker and its light fluctuated.

Elena: What’s wrong?!

The man waved his hands over the orb, attempting to regain focus. Elena knew that the orb would soon no longer be able to see the battle. “Just a little longer”, she silently pleaded.

The wizard’s ice storm froze the spiny devils in their tracks, giving her compatriots time to do more damage to them. The sorceress’ tempest surge. The fighter’s sweeping blows. Perhaps the adventurers could stand against so many. Perhaps they would get continued luck for as the large devil struck at them he would miss. Moreover, the dwarf had found his calling and to be a giant slayer it was. Such a stout creature could deal so much damage to a large one and that’s exactly what Barrick did to daze the giant devil.

Not to be outdone, the ranger stowed his bow and joined the fray up close and personal. The devil must fall! Four strikes from the ranger left the devil bleeding for many more exchanges to come. This must have greatly angered the devil for he cast a ring of fire around Erik and set his spiny devils upon the ranger, stinging him with their horrible poison. To make matters worse, all of the spiny devils were on the move again, so Rift cast forth silver energy from her staff, bringing many of them out of the air and onto the ground. Black ichor spilled out from within, but they kept coming.

The orb flickered some more and the view became a bit fuzzy.

What could be seen, though, was one of the greatest attacks yet witnessed by the young Elena. The dragonborn paladin revealed his true potential and amazed even his comrades, for in just one quick series of attacks he both froze and electrified no fewer than eight spiny devils, killing one outright and leaving the rest to seriously consider their mortality. The dragonborn’s breath was truly a sight to behold. Now it was easier for the paladin’s comrades to finish off the spiny devils and so that is what they did.

No valiant deed need go unpunished, and so the large devil retrained his focus on the paladin, pushing him back and knocking him prone. Yet the dragonborn still smiled for his last attack had turned the tide. Surely the large devil knew it too and his punishing deed went not unpunished by Erik who stood by his paladin and struck the large devil severely. All the while, more spiny devils fell.

Just as the orb finally lost its connection, Elena and the man could see the brave paladin rise and strike the great devil with what looked to be a final blow.

Elena: Wait! What’s happening?

Uncle: The orb has it’s limits. Elena, go find Finnegan. It is time to plan. We shall throw a great party with the finest of Fallcrest and the neighboring lands.

Elena: Yay! Party!

What a Way to Go


Ahhhh. I can feel the strength slowly growing within me. These mortal beings are weak, but with enough of them, I can mold myself into my final form. The one that called himself Slitheral – he had power. Power that I now possess. But that next one – the Yuan-Ti – almost not even worth the effort.

Two more…

I am so close to being finished. Then I will throw off these puny elemental bindings. They think that they can control me. That fool Noomar and his slimy snake minions. Would they use me for their pathetic plots? I think not. I am the Beast. No one controls me. Just two more feedings and I will have my full strength. Then let the whole world tremble.

Two more…

But wait, what is this? Noomar dead? Invaders in my chamber? They have stolen one of the prisoners, and left me alone. Come back! Well, I can wait…

Two more…

Yes, someone is coming. More of those foul Yuan-Ti, and Noomar – I thought he was dead. I would eat his brains if he wasn’t protected by an amulet. And what are they dragging through that portal? Some sort of large bat-like creature? What do they hope to accomplish with it? I do hope they are not thinking of feedi…

Ack! Awful! Do not! They are feeding the bat creature to me. Tastes horrible! But I must feed. Must grow stronger. They will pay for their insolence. Fight against the Kengi army? Pah! I care not about the Kengi. I will fight against them all, Kengi, Yuan-Ti, it matters not!

One more…

What is that fool Noomar doing? Why is he burning up the crocodile? Smells bad…

One more…

Now who is this coming into my chamber? Those pathetic fools who call themselves adventurers. One of them does not bear a symbol of Zehir. I shall feast on him. Then, when I am free, I shall feed on Noomar. The smoke is bad – I cannot see clearly. The bat creature was not good. Uurp.

Now I can see – the giant Yuan-Ti – fights the human ranger – that one is good with a bow. I will be glad to absorb him. And the smart one, the female eladrin. Her brains would taste good. She burns the giant Yuan-Ti.

What does the Yuan-Ti say to the dwarf? “I will eat your brains…” Hah! He jests. No, little Yuan-Ti, I will eat yours!

One more…

I must get them closer so I can grab the dragonborn. Curse my puny little tentacles. Noomar, I command you – bring them closer! Ah, look at the fool run over – he thinks he is under his own free will. But I control him. More flames from that wizard. And the sorcerer – she strikes fear straight into their brains – we have something in common, her and I. But what is this, has the dwarf gone mad? He attacks the ranger but misses… Ha, this is a good battle. Why aren’t my tentacles longer?!

Now the dragonborn attacks the ranger. What kind of adventurers are these? Can not they fight a single battle without turning on one another? Ah, but wait, something rises out of the elemental pool – a vortex of fire – this will be good.

Hmmm. The wizard disappeared and reappeared. I must learn that trick. She attacks Noomar – wait, no, do not destroy him – I claim him – arrrrgh – there goes his head… He is no good to me like that. Wizard, you will pay for that.

The dwarf can summon axes from the sky? This is strange. None of the dwarfs that I absorbed could do that – most were afraid of magic. However, this dwarf seems to revel in magic. I will be glad to absorb him also. And that sorcerer – she directs those bolts of chaos straight into the minds of her enemies – she is clever, but not very attractive – no tentacles or eye stalks. Sad.

Now the bridge is on fire. The fire vortex is a joy to behold. Hmm. Could I absorb something like that? Perhaps not. Wait, the dwarf is leaping over the flaming bridge – ah, burnt dwarf? No, too bad.

I see that the magic arch has reappeared. More of the pathetic Yuan-Ti. All wearing symbols. Too bad. I must learn more of this magic arch. Perhaps that is my way of gaining the teleportation ability. I will have to try it out.

The dwarf is indeed brave. He brings all of his enemies to him, and then kills them. Well done. And the human ranger is brave too, to stand in the midst of his so-called friends who so recently attacked him. But he should not have drunk from that dwarven well. I could have told him that, if he would only come closer and take off his symbol of Zehir.

One more…

Now the battle is drawing to a close. They must come to me… The strike leader – she has been teleported by the sorcerer. The dwarf is hurt – he is crawling towards me. Yes, come closer. No, do not drink in the fountain. Do not heal yourself. Ahhh. Too late, why did you do that?

You, strike leader – bring me the farm girl – yes, through the magic portal. No, now the strike leader is dead also.

The dwarf throws his axe and hits himself in the face. Ah, that is what happens when a dwarf meddles with magic. That was funny. Ho ho.

What is this? They are all dead. The adventurers have won. Now how will I feed?

But wait, what are they bringing? The magic portal? Oh joy! They wish to teach me the secrets of its use. Yes, activate the portal. I will go through it and conquer all. But first you must unbind me. I am trapped. Do not force my head through the portal. I do not like that. Wait, you do not want to do that. I must get free. Do not collapse the portal. Do not…

Alas. No more…

After a while, ...

As Prescott watches his recent companions pass silently through the door, wistful memories pass through his head. He had not known them for long, but they were a fun and interesting group to battle with, despite their inability to handle their experiences and their inefficiencies at working as a team.

Seeing Snorbaugh begin to turn, Prescott quickly raises his voice and resumes a discussion on the best tasting parts of a minotaur. A few moments later, a feeling settles over Prescott, like a sodden cloak. This feeling is one of dread; he senses that his friends of late are heading into certain doom. Stifling a sigh, Prescott knows that he must follow them, hoping to catch them and prevent their demise. None of them were as quick as he, or as sure, or able to deal massive damage from behind with a simple twist of a dagger; no they could not survive on their own, without his aid.

“Shhh!” Prescott whispers, “Over there, I think I just heard a wee lamb in the brush.” He waits for Snorbaugh to grunt and head in the direction of the next nonexistent sheep, then moves silently through the now closed door, careful to leave no tracks that Snorbaugh might detect.

He steps quickly and quietly past several dead bodies, then peers through another door. Seeing several large dead snakes and ichor still steaming from pools on the floor, Prescott hopes none of his friends are still inside one of the carcasses. One, two, three, …, no they are all here; a silent sigh of relief escapes his lips. Seeing no other monsters in the room, Prescott straightens himself and strides into the room, eyes quickly taking in the details of the fight, recognizing Tira’s imprecise spell blasting and Barrick’s neat blade cuts.

Making up an excuse about missing the action, Prescott quickly integrates himself back into the party. After being apprised of the situation, he joins Erik in an attempt to sneak into the large room beyond. Prescott moves in without a sound and then holds his breath as he waits to see if Erik can mimic his skills. Just as Prescott fears, Erik sneaks in as quietly as a kruthik hatchling, alerting the entire room. Knowing his presence is useful, Prescott leads the combat and quickly kills the nearest brigand, kicking his body into the oily waters beneath the shambling bridge. Erik redeems himself by taking out another, and Tira finishes off the last two with her bouncing multi-coloured lightning; neat trick that one.

The now enraged giant lizard she-thing steps forward and grabs Erik with her tail. Prescott wonders at Erik’s future, unstealthy and slower than a lizard’s tail today. Prescott knows he will have to try and watch Erik’s back, lest his friend finds himself dazed or confused.

Prescott leaps forward into the gaseous emanations of the belligerent one and critically wounds the she-croc, but in the process, Prescott’s dagger becomes electrified. No matter, he does not mind a little tingling zap here and there.

The battle progresses in the haphazard way Prescott expects from the group, an advantage narrowly growing. But then, a crocodile larger than Prescott had ever heard of or seen breaches the surface of the water and swallows Rift whole. Prescott falters for a second, seeing the moving bulge that is Rift moving on the surface of the crocodile belly. He prepares to rescue Rift, but even more suddenly than the attack, the beast’s belly shrinks, and standing 40 feet away, is Rift, covered in mucus, but otherwise looking happy; neat trick that one.

Prescott is feeling proud of his abilities to help, when suddenly a bolt of white light streaks from the altar, slamming into Felsmon. Realizing the battle is no longer a given, Prescott turns back to Noomar, getting in one of his wonderful sneak attacks from behind. Prescott glances over at Erik, hoping to find him still in one piece. Instead of attacking an archer, Prescott finds Erik, swords raised, attacking not an enemy, but attacking Prescott himself! “What do I have to do to protect these people from themselves,” Prescott wonders as he tries to evade Erik’s swords.

Stepping and leaping through venomous snakes, attacking and dodging, Prescott all the while watches as his companions take hit after hit. Erik becomes dazed, more than once, Felsmon is forced to use two of the magic jewels on his armour before slipping on the snakes and later becoming dominated, and Barrick almost dies, save for the healing potions he drinks.

Finally due in no small part to Prescott’s heroics, the tide turns. The beast Slitheral is sucked into the larger multi-being beast. Tira kills Noomar, and Felsmon kills Thunan. But then just as Rift determines a magical way to enhance her staff, Tira’s magic implodes and knocks Rift into the snakes. Why does this band stay together, surely there are better fighting companions to be found in any local pub.

An archer dazes Erik yet again. Enough is enough; Prescott begins to wonder if carrying the party is worth it. If they cannot dispel the archer, Prescott will do it for them. He deftly steps forward and, swiftly stealing the holy symbol from around the archer’s neck, watches as the altar changes focus and dominates the enemy. Now that is how that is done.

Prescott does give credit to Barrick, as he was able to rid all dominating and dazing effects with a single chant; neat trick that one. Prescott remembers it went like this, “Be the mayhem, death and destruction you wish to see in the world.” He files the saying away, wondering if he will be able to use it to similar effect in the future.

But before Erik can say thanks, the altar fries his mind yet again. Tired of the novelty, Prescott strides forward and destroys the altar. Expecting praise from Erik, Prescott watches incredulously as Erik turns away, runs, and dives head first into the healing waters.

Tira’s announcement of finding a prisoner and gold do little for Prescott, he knows he must leave the group and will most likely never know the outcome of the quest these folks are on. Seeing everything wrapped up, Prescott heads for the door. Stopping to look back, he can only laugh as Erik shatters the old wooden stairs with a careless jump, dropping the three girls into the snakes. Seeing Tira panic enough to actually fly off the floor is almost too much for Prescott. He shakes his head as he stops laughing and exits the room. Back in the room of the giant dead snakes, Prescott joins in the congratulations traded amongst the friends, secretly wondering how many will still be alive should he happen across them in the not too distant future.

Z'alden's Dream

Z’alden stirred in his sleep as a vision came upon him. He was in a very large, dark room. No not a room, a cave. There were two creatures, both very large standing over a pool of water. They were looking into it. One said, “Yesss they will do well.”
The other one said back in a gruff tone. “Are you sure? They seem too weak right now. Not even if they were combined they are not as powerful as the baron or his brother. They would swipe them aside like ants and devour them to make themselves stronger.”
“Yesss he would, but when they reach uss they will have grown in power, Ragnaros will be pleased with our choice.”
The two creatures turned to look down at the water. Z’alden floated up above them and saw what they were looking at. He saw his friends fighting strange half human, half reptilian creatures. Rift turned several to ice for a few seconds, but some were invincible, taking hits that healed over instantly. One of the creatures stayed back from the rest, standing by a lever next to the curtain. It seemed to be protecting the lever, but it stayed away from it for some reason.
There was an altar with blood that boiled whenever the reptilian creatures were hit by an attack of any kind. Erik jumped around the room to the altar and spilled the boiling blood. The reptilian creatures turned around and hissed at him. They started to try and surround him, so that none of his friends could help him. Felsmon stepped forward to aid his friend but slipped and fell in the mucky water. Barrrick then chopped one of the creature’s heads off and ran over to help his friend back on his feet. The creatures were soon all lying on the floor dead, some by Rift’s or Tira’s magic, others by Felsmon’s sword, Erik’s bow, or Barrick’s axe.
The five companions then proceeded to the curtain. There was much talk about trying to sneak in and slit the throats of whatever lay inside. Felsmon suggested that they charge in and slay the enemy in glorious battle. The others quickly put his idea down saying that the enemy could be killed faster if they were taken by surprise. So Erik stealthily looked into the room and saw four huge slumbering snakes. The party quickly walked into the room expecting an attack at any moment, but the snakes continued to sleep. Each party member prepared an attack on the snakes, but at Erik’s advice Felsmon drew his javelin. The party launched their attacks on the sleeping snakes killing two instantly but two others woke to fight the party. These were also quickly slaughtered.
As the party was resting Tira noticed some kind of symbol right in front of a heavy stone door, she told Erik about it, and he donned a symbol of Zehir, the yaun-ti snake god. He walked over to the symbol on the floor and kneeled on it. A blue line of energy went from his head toward the door, the door slowly opened revealing utter blackness. Erik walked through the blackness and saw a huge swampy room.
Z’alden saw the two large creatures turning on him. The one with the gruff voice yelled, “We are being watched! Quickly, dispel this unpleasant creature.”
The other creature said back, “Yessss I will.” The creature threw his hands into the air and yelled, “O lords of earthen flame grant me the power I deserve to expel this intruder!” The creature floated into the air and grew to a gargantuan size. In a deep voice he shouted, “By the Fire be purged!”
Z’alden then woke with a start in one of the Kengi’s medical tents.

Outside the door…

The Giant Room

Room – Side View

Creepy Tentacle Thingy

Snakes cover the Floor

The Crocodile Beast

Bowling For Zombies

It had been Erik’s idea, and a beauty, one of the Ranger’s best ever. Roll boulders down the ramp, smash the guardian skeletons to bone shards, and flow down afterwards like pirates down a gangplank, steel in hand. An idea this outrageous always got the thumbs-up from this band. After many sensational victories over heinous foes, they had no fear of a few walking ribcages.

Barrick the Twitcher

One among them, though, sheltered some doubts. It wasn’t that the dwarf Barrick was afraid, exactly. True, he had felt some fear months before, and had only gotten past it by concentrating on his Warlord learning, a kind of warrior meditation. But Barrick’s problem these days was more nebulous, a feeling of being ungrounded. This was an unpleasant sensation for one of his kind. Dwarves are normally stolid, dependable, steady. Barrick was instead feeling uncertain, flighty, indecisive, and even vaguely elvish, though he wouldn’t admit that while sober.

And, he was pretty sure he knew the root of his troubles.

Magic. This cursed magic that seemed everywhere, now.

Any adventurer had to face magic, of course, but in Barrick’s experience, if you kept your head down, your shield up, your axe swinging, and your wits about you, you generally came out OK, flying fireballs be damned. Fighting in this band, he knew there were some fancy finger-twitchers, especially the two gals, Rift and Tira, who didn’t always seem to mind whether their spells hit friend or foe. But friendly twitchers could be helpful too – especially the healers like his Dragonborn pal Felsmon and the much-missed Z’alden. No, his compatriots’ magical abilities weren’t the problem.

The problem was that he, Barrick the Stolid, Barrick the Steady, Barrick the Boring, was increasingly being required to – incredible but true – to use magic himself!

It had started slowly, when he received some cleats as plunder. They seemed like plain, sharp cleats to suit any Dwarf in a melee, and he had grown fond of them, but was later told they were actually magical. He had thought this a joke – but then came a suit of armor that protected against heat, a real help with Rift torching everything in sight. Ordinary armor might do the same, he thought, but then came a necklace, a belt, an axe, a helmet, supposedly all magical. From what he could tell, though, each gave him only the same advantage as a tankard of ale – instant confidence, and no more.

Lately the spooky equipment had gotten out of hand. As the only Dwarf in the band, he had been required to try to use an ancient twitchy Dwarven key to open some doors. It had worked, but he felt a fool anyway. Since then, he had been able to use the same key to call up a shower of painful blows onto the heads of distant foes, without ever looking into their faces. What fun was that, and what use? You couldn’t curse the spirit of a conquered foe whose eyes you had never seen. Anyway, he took this whole magical key thing as an extended joke, too. No doubt Rift or Tira would stifle a chuckle as they timed a real magical attack to his clumsy handling of the key, always so far before a battle heated up.

Now, in this latest quest, he had been given even stronger powers, they said. He was told he had the ability to teleport out of danger – he hadn’t tried it yet – and that if he threw his latest axe, it would fly back to his hand like a bird to its nest! He hadn’t tried that yet, either.

It was all getting to be too much. He felt like he was being groomed, manipulated, played, but by whom? And why?

One, Two, Three, Go

While the others meddled with magical potions and such, the Ranger and Barrick whacked the porous boulders into spheres. More like potatoes, really, but they would get the job done. Felsmon and Barrick of course got the nod to set them rolling and follow them down. Prescott, the newest addition to the band, came next. Just how he ended up in front of Erik was a mystery – maybe as a reward for thinking to cover the poison gas outlet with the door curtain.

Barrick wondered whether Prescott had been around long enough that the others would want to bury his corpse after this fight. Sometimes these fly-by-night amateurs were left to rot where they lay, especially if they got in the way too much. Other times a big deal was made of their help, and their passing. Whatever.

So Felsmon and Barrick pushed the two surprisingly light boulders into position, just above the icy ramp. They could see two flaming skeletons at the bottom, and, sure enough, along came two flaming orbs – always magic! – heading right at Barrick. Keep your head down when the fireballs fly, Barrick thought, and sure enough, one hit his boulder, the other flew over harmlessly. He looked at Felsmon, and the two mouthed the usual words together: One, two, three, …

On ”three”, Prescott leapt on top of Barrick’s boulder and threw a dagger, hitting one of the skeletons. Flustered, Barrick stood up and looked around to see why the plan had changed. Enemies from behind? Another cavein? Getting only shrugs from the others, he realized what had happened: Prescott hadn’t been told that this band always went on the fourth beat, not the third, a classic adventuring mixup. Barrick turned back to face the targets – and caught a fireball in the chest as Prescott leapt nimbly off the boulder to safety. His fire-resistant armor had been placed in storage in favor of a newer suit – yet more magical, of course – and THAT ONE HURT! Barrick looked back at Felsmon, who had given up on the timing and sent his boulder down the ramp with his strong shoulder. Barrick immediately did the same, not knowing whom to curse.

Both boulders in full roll, Felsmon leapt after them, sliding on his scaly feet like a Dragonborn youth having fun on a frozen river. Prescott leapt over Barrick, got off a shot from the air, landed on a boulder, and rode it down like an Elven youth rolling a log in a river. Barrick, his beard singed and his timing off, leapt after them both, caught a cleat, and landed on his face like a Dwarven youth on a dancefloor.

Rift, Tira, and Erik had all gotten off shots, but now the boulders were bearing down on the white stacks of bones. The first boulder hit both skeletons, glancing blows only, while the second, with Prescott aboard, hit one of them, Prescott leaping to safety on the other side. Nearing the bottom of the ramp, Barrick managed to get his feet up, willing his cleats to hit any bones still standing, but the boulders had broken into pieces, and he hit only stone. Felsmon, too, had slid into the broken-up rock, hurting himself into the bargain.


Shaking his head at the two mighty battlers lying on their backs on the ice, having made a shambles of his plan, Erik used a sword like an ice axe to stop his own slide short of the bottom, switched to his bow in his usual blink-of-an-eye, and got off two quick shots, both hitting home. Tira stayed above the ice, sending a lightning bolt that struck both skeletons and even jumped to one of two zombies coming up from the rear.

Rift, feeling indulgent of the new lad’s bravery, cast a spell to defend Prescott from the skeletal fire. Barely noticing the flames, the confident youngster sauntered up behind the nearest skeleton and casually cut the thing in half at the waist with his dagger! Barrick and Felsmon, struggling to their feet, paused in mid-struggle and both watched, slack-jawed, as he then went after a third skeleton that had come up from behind.

But the undead beasties were closing on Prescott. Both Zombies had staggered onto a raised platform that seemed to boost their power, and Prescott had no defense against their icy blasts. They both laid into the youth, as did the skeleton, and he was soon motionless and in apparent great pain.

Barrick, on his feet now, didn’t particularly like digging graves, which he reckoned Prescott would deserve after such feats. Stepping over the remains of his boulder, he shouted at the pack “Ain’t it good to be alive!” Whether they understood the taunt, or just recognized a more dangerous foe, all three of Prescott’s mindless assailants moved towards the waiting dwarf, who delivered his favorite backhanded sweep of the axe blade, dealing horrific damage to two of them – and smashed his shield into the face of the middle one for good measure.

Felsmon started swinging, Erik kept up his arrows, Tira sent in another blast, and Rift cast a fire shroud, then another, which took down an already-injured injured zombie. Prescott used the opening to teleport to safety next to Tira atop the ramp, and hunkered down to nurse his wounds.

Seeing Prescott teleport his way out of trouble made Barrick think that maybe his new equipment might be magical after all. The fight was going better now – Rift had taken out the other zombie, too, although it had exploded and hurt Felsmon – he thought now would be a good time to try throwing his axe. Erik had just shot a skeleton, and Barrick, 15 feet or so away, tried to take careful aim.

He knew the technique: wind back the throwing arm while peering over the shield, then swing the shield away and use the momentum to whip the axe towards its target, with just enough wrist for exactly one revolution. As he swung the shield to the left, though, a fireball from the other remaining skeleton got through, hitting him in the gut. His arm kept moving, but with no momentum he missed as badly as an axe-wielder could well miss. The axe bounced off a rock at Felsmon’s feet, launched back at Barrick and stuck in his shield. If that was magic, he thought, he could do without it.

After all the creatures had been sent back to the void whence they came, and the magic ice had been melted, and the raised platform had been destroyed, and Barrick had yanked the “magical” axe out of his shield, the group had to decide on what to do about the room next door. Erik, with his Ranger senses, could make out the voice of Lorvas, a human necromancer who deserved the same fate his zombies had just met.

There was no question of whether to venture into that room, only a question of whether to enter fighting, or try to close in first. Many Twitchers who were dangerous from a distance, Barrick and the others knew, were pushovers if you got up in their face.

It was decided to try a bluff, just to gain a few steps before letting the fury flag fly. Funny how often this ruse worked, Barrick thought. Lorvas must have heard the carnage, or rather boneage, that just ended, but a magic-mad fanatic like Lorvas could be counted on to never think he, himself, was in any danger. These types all seemed to believe that their mastery of some mumbo-jumbo or other would protect them against all possible bands of foes – even if it included ones like Rift and Tira who knew some mumbo-jumbo themselves.

Rift teleported through the door, actually a portcullis, and unlocked it from the other side. Erik scoped the room from the top of a grand stairway: a hulking green beastie in the middle; Lorvas lurking among pillars in the background with another twitcher named Nemeia; piles of bones everywhere. Barrick thought it wise to sharpen his axe – and did so with the “special” whetstone he had bought some time ago. Magical, of course, they had said.

When all was ready Tira, whose dagger actually encased a magical ring sought by this Nemeia, began to stroll down the stairs like the Queen of Light herself, flanked by Felsmon and Barrick, playing disinterested bodyguards. Lorvas and Nemeia looked up, the green hulk snarled, and Barrick eyed the distance to Lorvas’ neck. Lots of steps, probably too many.


Eh? What new treachery is this? Three strangers on my stairs?

“Nemeia, it seems our conversation may be interrupted. Some fools seem to have made it past the defenses that protect this chamber. Look, here comes a skinny little girl, creeping down our stairs with two beasts by her side. A Dragonborn and, I think, the other one might actually be a Dwarf! Ridiculous!”

There are more than these three, I sense them, filthy beasts hiding in the shadows above. They too shall die. Something else I sense – some strong magic, an enchanted item perhaps. Yes, they must have a powerful item with them to have gotten this far, and a bit of cleverness, but it will not save them.

“My dear Nemeia, I have something you desire!”

The skinny girl speaks! Could it be the ring that Nemeia has so long desired? Better it comes to my hand first. Slitherall will be most pleased with me for acquiring the ring for Zithruin’s attack on the Kengi.

“See, Nemeia, how she seeks to distract you. Leave us for now, and I will, shall we say, deal with these intruders.”

Obedient as always, my good Nemeia, and she never sensed the new power in the room. But the trio comes closer, and my hulking defender becomes anxious.

“Stop there !!!”

As I thought, the mere sound of my venom has the desired effect. Weak-willed animals. How did they even get past the guards outside? I could destroy them all with a single twitch of my finger.

“Come now Lorvas, you should be able to detect the magic in this ring.”

Her tongue is still loose, and she thinks to seem brave by holding a dagger in the same hand with the ring! Does she think I would cower in fear, I Lorvas, who can summon the hordes of hell to my will? And, she taunts me, which she will soon regret. I detected the magic ring at once, and even now I detect more than her puny brain can comprehend. A very plain-looking ring, but powerful, yes, that is certain.

“Come forwards.”

See how the two brutes eye me, like fowl eye a falcon. Perhaps I will allow my Defender to feast on them. What’s that, some noise coming from outside the door, no surprise, but perhaps I can use it to coax this lass into playing her hand too early.

“What was that?”

Hah, just as I thought, a dagger thrust as I feigned distraction, see her eyes go wide as she misses, and realizes her mistake! As for her bodyguards …

“Schlaraffe !”

There, those two have their hands full now with my Defender, the green giant. And here comes one of their hidden companions, an archer, it seems. He too shall die. As for the girl, I know how to control her.

“Give me the ring or I will destroy you all !!!”

See, the frightened child already hands over the ring. So easy, so pitifully easy. Now the ring is mine, and I shall … but wait, a trick! This ring is dead metal, the magic stayed in her hand! And the dwarf approaches! Now they shall feel my wrath!


Ha! That blast hurt the cretins, though it seems they all still live. Not for long, once I engage my preset blasts. The magic spot on this pillar is right … there! Amusing, the archer flies like a bird when a blast goes off behind him! So pitifully easy. My Defender is struggling, though. Perhaps I will need another. And the skinny girl is still on her feet. She stares at this worthless ring in my hand, as though she wishes to snatch it back. She will again find me too fast for her.


Impossible! Her snatch was a feint, and left a dagger in my side, aflame with powerful magic. She comes close to gaining my respect, this one, but she too shall die. Turn off the pain now, as I have practiced, must be able to think clearly. Just in time, I have let the archer and the cursed dwarf in too close, they are harming me, and two more are coming down the stairs – the last two, I sense, and I have just the preset blast for them. As for these foolish enough to have struck at me …


Now they feel proper fear of me! They all lie on their backs like doomed beetles, all but the Dragonborn, he comes towards me, as my Defender swings to crush him – but he still stands, and swings, even hits me, and breathes fire too! This one will be worth a remark to Nemeia, but he too shall die. When they are all dead, I will be healed even before Nemeia returns, I know just the spells.

<whump> “Hey there, I’m Prescott! How do you like me so far?”

Blackness enveloping me …

Coming back to the light, I see – my foes standing around me, my limbs bound. Can’t turn off the pain, must fight to clear my head. Maybe this fight was not pitifully easy after all, but soon they will all die.


“So you’re Lorvas, well I ain’t impressed. I’ve known dwarven women who were tougher. Hey, do I have your attention? Want another kick in the head? No? Then listen, we found a message from Slitherall in your pockets, and we want to know all about it. Spill your guts to us now, or we’ll spill your guts for you, like we did your big green buddy over there, may the maggots enjoy their feast.”

So they killed my Defender? Well, it will not save them. I, Lorvas, can summon the hordes of hell to my wishes, and I so wish.

“Schlaraffe !!!”

See, another Defender, and he swings already! These poor fools will all rue the day they entered my chamber! They will all die!

“Told you all, I did, should have killed him first time. I, Felsmon, show you how to deal with necromancers!”

Blackness envelops me.

Observations of a Pretty Girl

Elana Goodright pulled her long, flowing hair back into a ponytail for practical reasons. It would stay out of her eyes and her ears, both of which she would need to have at their sharpest if she where to avoid the master’s stern hand. Sensing temperature upon her youthful cheeks was not a concern, for he seemingly gave off no warmth, no heat. And so it was with soft shoes that she dared to observe once more. The orb was her link to an oft more exciting world of adventure.

Elena’s interest in the sorceress was particularly strong since in her she saw a gorgeous and sophisticated young woman, yet with fiery red hair, a strong will and a penchant for making mayhem. The wizard was not all too different at first glance, but one could quickly tell that her manner was often that of a precocious child whose impulses would also result in in a maelstrom, though by accident rather than intent. The young Goodright saw the others as a supporting crew: a lithe, yet strong ranger, a stocky dwarf fighter, a handsome rogue and now a dragonborn paladin. This last one interested her least, for righteousness was not on her teenage mind.

In the strongest terms, her master had told her not to ever again peer into the orb, yet exciting recollections of past viewings created a need for more and more. Just how could she not follow the thieves on their latest adventure? She must know. So it was that Elena Goodright tip toed her way into the master’s chamber. He would be gone for several more hours, and what was the harm anyway?

The room had few signs of his personal belongings. So odd that this man would choose a storage room for his place to bed. Surely he would choose one of the finer rooms of her father’s lavish estate, for each day he would sit at the head of the dining chamber’s long oak table, drink the house’s finest wine and feast upon the pheasants and game that the cooks would prepare. Yet no. Upon the cold, stone floor lay a bed roll and a dirty sack used as a pillow. Carefully maneuvering a foot over the bed roll so as to not disturb even a single wrinkle, Elena crept up to the pillow sack and tried to memorize it’s folds so as to be able to correctly restore it. Her heart was pounding and her senses were extra keen with the flow of excitement. She could sense changes in the currents of air. She could hear the stable boys mistreating the horses. With senses so heightened, she thought she could even perceive through the walls.

Just as her hands oh so carefully moved toward the sack’s drawcords, she heard footsteps. It didn’t matter whose they were, for the danger of them being her master’s would be too great to chance. For a moment she hesitated as she glanced around the room. Luckily the storage boxes were stacked just right to give her a place to hide. Now the heart really raced and the breathing had to be suppressed. From behind her concealing boxes should could feel the presence of the man. She did not need to look. White hair. Long yellow teeth. Stooped and sinewy. That long scar that ran from the inside corner of his left eye down his cheek like a tear like an echo of a scarred soul. It was all vivid enough in Elena’s mind.

Reaching for his sack, the man paused as if to think. Did he know? He then straightened himself to close the door and then returned to the sack. After loosening the drawcords he withdrew an impossibly large, fine wooden box and placed it upon the floor. This sound of the wood coming to rest upon the stone was familiar to Elena for it was the sound of the box that contained the orb. She wanted to look so badly! Trapped and yet not wanting to escape. Then all went dark as her master extinguished the candles. For Elena, seconds felt like minutes, but soon enough the glow of the orb filled the room with flickering light. Soft shadows danced upon the walls and Elena ever so carefully moved into position for a view. Breath ever so light. Now she could see a figure forming in the orb. A tall female. An elf. A wizard’s chamber. A knowing smile upon the elf’s face. Quickly the master ran his hand over the orb, dispelling the scrying. Minutes passed as the master and Elena sat in the darkness. His breath grew slower and deeper.

After a seeming eternity, the orb flickered to life once again. This time Elena could see something more familiar – the dwarven blacksmith working on a dagger. After a final pounding, the dagger was handed back to none other than the the beautiful sorceress with the flaming red hair. Elena was giddy with excitement, her mind still half focused on her dangerous predicament but also upon getting a chance to observer her sorceress, wizard and motley crew of thieves.

Staring intently into the orb, the man watched as the adventurers made their way through the Hold of the Hammerfell. Their manners interested him the most, for they did not stride normally, but rather skulked from crypt to crypt and wall to wall. Then, to Elena’s shock and horror, the master spoke.

Uncle: Interesting.

Alas, his voice was not directed at her. Her heart picked up the beat where it left off.

Uncle: The ranger, he moves well.

Behind the ranger lay a strung out line of the other adventurers. Making their way through the cavern, they crept up into positions to attack the evil dracoman known as Lacertil. Though the master did not know the name, he knew of these creatures and their reputation for extreme acts of evil, both physical and in manipulation. As he watched, the wizard and sorceress crept up upon the roof of one tomb from which they would make their surprise attack. The dwarven brute and dragonborn warrior lay in wait around a corner while the ranger and rogue move into position for range attacks. The rogue was first to release his attack. The bolt missed.

Uncle: D’oh!

The man chuckled. The ranger then let loose a rapid volley of two arrows – both striking – one biting deeply into the dracoman’s thigh.

Uncle: Okay, okay, not bad.

The game was under way. As the man panned the view back a bit, Elena could see little figures of the fighter and paladin move into combat. The dracoman could be seen turning his attention to them with a breath of poison. Then something very odd happened. The dwarven fighter attacked the paladin!

Uncle: Psychic puppet master attack. Nice. Lights out?

Sure enough, the dracoman pointed an arm and waved it across the full reach of the cavern, seemingly pulling a magical cloak down upon all and extinguishing light. However, as if the adventurers had heard the man’s commentary, they had a sunrod at the ready and as its light spilled forth, they pressed the attack. Bigby’s icy hand grasped the dracoman, crushing him with terrible force. But all was not lost for the dragoman. Three of his troglodyte warriors rushed into the fray, taking on the fighter and the paladin. The melee grew more confusing. Bolts from the sorceress flew forth. Arrows leapt from the ranger’s bow. The rogue’s crossbow sprang more bolts. The dracoman squirmed and struggled against the wizard’s icy grasp, and began to break free!

Uncle: Fighter, do your thing…

As if on cue, the stout dwarf’s axe slammed into the dracoman, ending the escape attempt. Yet the dracoman got in a poisonous bite upon the dwarf. From her perch some distance away on the roof, the wizard then surprised the observers. From the tips of fingers shot a thin yet strong line of fire, reaching the ground upon which a troglodyte stood. Using her finger to aim, she traced out a path of flames that encompassed not only the remaining two troglodytes and the dracoman, but her fighter and paladin companions as well! The wall of flames shot high into the cavern, scorching all who stood within the wall and even burning those adjacent.

Uncle: How unexpected. Ruthless. Excellent.

Elena could see that the master was entertained by this turn of events. She too marveled at the action the wizard had taken. Her companions were indeed fearsome and tough, but within the fire, could they outlast the dracoman and the troglodytes? The observers watched as the sorceress cast a thundering blast at the troglodytes. The ground shook and the cavern’s ceiling began to crumble! Rocks began to rain down upon the battlefield.

Uncle: Oops! (laughing)

The master was actually chuckling, like Elena had never seen before. His normally serious demeanor was gone as he sat cross-legged on the floor. Quite entertained, he was. The dracoman struggled and squirmed from the icy grasp, within the fire and rain of rocks. Finally, he broke free, but that freedom did not last long. The paladin warrior gave chase and cut Lacertil to the ground. Blood of his black heart lay spilled upon the ground and the dragonborn gave a mighty victory roar. The tide of battle had turned. The master looked a bit sad now that the battle would no longer be so interesting. It was not so easily finished as the troglodytes fought on with renewed rage. Elena could almost see the master’s eyes follow each draw of the bow, each thrust of the sword and swing of the axe. Following his lead, Elena too studied the melee, taking in what she could.

With the battle over, the man zoomed the vision of the orb onto the dragonborn paladin as he searched the dracoman’s remains. Though the view was a bit fuzzy, the master could make out a gem, shaped like the eye of a crocodile. As her desire for that gem spiked, Elena looked for a glimmer of lust in the man’s eyes, but there was none. Elena thought to herself that the thick-fingered, rough hands of the dragonborn were too clumsy to palm the stone. What kind of thieves were these? Also taken from the dracoman were a symbol of Zehir and a one foot long onyx key, carve in the likeness of a crocodile. If Elena had been able to read the man’s mind, then she would have know that these “lesser” items had great power, just like the gem. The master suspected that the symbol of Zehir might be able to be used to protect wielders from traps.

As the man and Elena watched, the adventurers left the large cavern through dirty red curtains. With the ranger in the lead, the party came to a large room with strange symbols all around its edges. A large crack split the middle of the room.

Uncle: Three… two… one! (laugh)

With that, skeletons appeared as did wights. Another battle was underway. Elena had never seen such fearsome creatures, and the skeletons especially excited her. On some of them bits of rotten flesh and clothing hung loosely, while others had long been picked clean by maggots, save for their blood stained chins. Visions of those skeletons sinking their broken and jagged teeth chin deep into the jugulars of their victims flashed through Elena’s mind. The ferocious horror of the scene both terrified and thrilled her. The wights gave her less interest, but to the master’s eye they were more interesting.

The wizard’s magic shattered the first skeleton and shards flew in all directions, one of which pierced the fighter’s forearm. Black, spidery veins began to creep from the site of the wound, but the dwarf’s incredible constitution quickly dispelled them to nothing. Should the others be so lucky. The rogue was not, for he took a terrible blow and a black pall was set upon him. Yet still he was able to return a devastating blow, as did his companions, with their magic and their armaments. The ranger let loose another pair of biting arrows, a move which the uncle now recognized.

Uncle: Impressive.

The stricken wight reeled back from the arrows as if its incorporeal form could feel the pain of those more tangible. And then there was a surprised look upon the man’s face – a sight he had never seen before sprang forth from the dwarven fighter’s hand. Held high in the air (for a dwarf) the Key of Bonderstrong lit up the room with radiant energy. Like fireworks, magical axes burst forth and rained down upon the wights and skeletons, killing one outright. Still, the fearsome clutch of the wights was felt. The largest of the wights momentarily grasped the dragonborn paladin, sapping him of his life force. So too did the dwarf feel the draining powers.

The melee continued and the observers watched as the the wights and skeletons were whittled down. The wizard set fire to one of the remaining wights as the skeletons were smashed to even more bones. Shards flew. Arrows flew. Blades cut and crushed. Psychic attacks from the sorcerers removed the last remaining thoughts from the skeleton’s vacuous skulls.

All the while, poisonous gas seeped out from that crack in the middle of the room. The vapors spread slowly but in time would fill the room. The skeleton’s exploding ribs and the wight’s sharp nails took their toll on the rogue and fighter. The dwarf was able to heal, but the elven rogue grew only weaker. Odd how the the battle was surely in the favor of the adventurers, yet the damage they suffered was mounting. Through the orb, Elena saw the ranger move away from the poison to the far corner of the room and then in into a hallway. The last remaining wight followed, but so too did the paladin, to aid his friend and finish this nasty apparition once and for all. Yet it was the wizard’s hand that sent the wight to whatever doom lay in store for such creatures. A ray of cold it could not take. And so the battle was over, but the poisonous gas continued to spread. The adventurers coughed and choked on the noxious fumes.

The master’s hands maneuvered over the orb, spinning and panning to the point of view of the ranger. The corridor the ranger looked through was slanted and slippery looking. At its end lay:

  • Two zombies standing on ice.
  • A symbol of Zehir.
  • Two flaming skeletons.
  • Two orbs of fire rapidly approaching the ranger.

One of the orbs hit the ranger in the back as he turned to shield himself. The last vision Elena could see was of the ranger, on fire, sprinting, with puffed cheeks of held breath through the poison, and arms flailing at the others to flee back to the cavern.

Uncle: Amateurs.