Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Session 58: Showdown under the Black Tomb!

Picture by Andra-MutantKitty https://www.deviantart.com/andra-mutantkitty/art/Pissed-off-elf-38745450

Go to the Bard’s village, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. We’re on day 2 and I’ve seen more corpses than a gods damned undertaker. And, gods, the smell. You can smell rotting shit for five miles. No wonder the Bard left.

So there we were before this massive mausoleum. We heard a witch’s horrifying cackle and then the cemetery grounds began to heave and shift around us. Three great mounds of grave dirt, with rotted roots for sinews and broken tombstones like gnashing teeth, arose around us.

The goliath barked out some words to his god in his guttural, brutish tongue, and, oddly, a sheep made of crackling energy answered his call and head-butted one of the grave dirt monsters. Taking up his hammer, the goliath joined his minion, striking at the creature with a wicked crack of thunder. Meanwhile, that handsome elf we met back in the village nocked and fired an arrow at another of the mounds. Watching his nimble fingers play along the bowstring sent a shiver down my spine.

Just then, a bolt of bluish light lanced down toward the Bard from atop the mausoleum, where the witch had been waiting for an ambush. The Bard’s tongue was faster though and, with a quick word of magic, an energy field sprung up around him. The witch’s beam of light washed over the shield and dissipated. With the witch revealed, the big warrior, despite his heavy armor, clamored up the wall of the mausoleum and threw his hammer at the witch. He’s got shit aim though and the hammer sailed way over the dead bitch’s head. The dwarf took up his own hammer then and gave the grave mound next to him a good bash.

The Bard pointed at me with that stick he’s always going on about and I felt a kind of tingle. Then he climbed up the side of the mausoleum next to the big warrior. As I watched him climb up, I realized I was still eye level with him. I looked down and nearly dropped my bow when I saw I was floating twenty feet above the ground. Fucking crazy Bard could have warned me he was gonna do that. Snapping back to reality, I fired a couple arrows at the mound the goliath was beating with his hammer. Then the grave dirt monsters took turns pounding the shit out of the dwarf. Not that he minded, he’s more or less a pile of rock himself. Certainly moves like one at least.

A night fog began to roll in. Towards us. From different directions. With no wind...Not fog! Wraiths! A whole bunch of wraiths surrounding us. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit!

The goliath struck another blow with his hammer but then doubled over in pain from some kind of rotting magic that stuck with him after being hit by the mounds. I think the same thing happened to the dwarf but I can’t tell. His expression never changes. The dwarf grumbled a prayer and a wave of healing energy spread out from him. It was a good thing too since I had five of those damn wraiths swirling around me, taking swipes. That handsome elf fired some more arrows at one of the mounds while the warrior marched toward the witch and lashed out with his sword. I couldn’t heard the clang of metal though because the Bard called down a spell of silence to blanket the area around the mausoleum. Good thing too, don’t want that dead bitch cackling spells at us all night.

The Bard dodged between a pair of wraiths, drawing his sword as he leapt, and stabbed at the witch. His aim was a little off though since he took a swipe from one of the wraiths on his way. More of the wraiths gathered around him and then he went down. Meanwhile, the warrior and the witch traded blows, the warrior striking with his glowing sword and the witch lashing out with her twisted, skeletal hands. A few of the wraiths streaked past the dwarf, raking him with their ephemeral claws, and then the grave mound engulfed him whole. I fired a couple arrows at the witch but I had to dodge a couple wraiths clawing at me and the shots went wide.

Just then, the goliath roared and a massive boom of thunder echoed through the graveyard directly below me, sending a shock wave through the mass of wraiths and grave mounds all around us. The wraiths, their wispy bodies disrupted by the shock wave, appeared diminished. And one of the grave mounds outright shattered from the force of the thunder.

The witch, hearing the thunder and realizing the Bard’s silence was disrupted, grinned and croaked some arcane words. Gesturing toward the warrior, a bolt of dark energy crackled from her outstretched claw and struck the warrior, causing him to stumble and fall. Meanwhile, a number of wraiths gathered menacingly around the hooded elf as he struck out with his bow.

Then something odd happened. The mound that had engulfed the dwarf shuddered, lurched to a halt, and slumped forward. It then seemed to rise up and, with one earthy hand, punched two holes at its front, side by side, and then made a slash underneath. It looked like…a smiling face? It then turned toward the other mound next to it and, just as it was about to clobber the goliath, the smiling mound tackled it. Slightly confused but taking advantage of the momentary reprieve, the goliath called out a prayer and summoned a wave of healing energy and I saw the Bard and the warrior both stir.

From the ground, the Bard spoke a word of power and there was a loud crack like a whip that engulfed the witch, causing several bones in her skeletal form to crack and sunder. The warrior, jumping to his feet, lashed out with his sword, damaging the witch’s decrepit form even further. Focusing all fire on the witch, I took another couple of shots, striking her in the shoulder and torso. Then the wraiths, shrugging off the disruption from the goliath’s thunder, swarmed again, and the Bard and warrior slumped to the ground once more. The goliath too, though stalwart and formidable, was brought lo by the wraiths.

Sensing victory nearly in her grasp, the witch began an unholy chant that made the hair on the back my neck stand on end. Power gathered around her and the air grew colder as her magic swelled. As her spell began to take form, the elf raced up the smiling mound to gain a vantage, causing his hood to draw back as he did so. As he nocked an arrow, a streak of dawn’s first light fell upon him, lighting his mane of golden hair, long and luxurious down his back, though shorn and cropped close at his brow, and he appeared like some kind of fiery eladrin. As he released the arrow, I couldn’t help but swoon and begin to cream my knickers. The arrow flew straight and true, striking the witch squarely in her jaw just as she was finishing her spell. Her final word of power disrupted, the dark energy swirling around her imploded, shattering her skeletal form into dust. With a nightmarish shriek, we saw her wispy spirit float down into the crypt below.

The wraiths, unbound with the witch’s destruction, dissipated as dawn broke the horizon. The two grappling grave mounds both crumbled and broke asunder. The dwarf, covered in dirt and the dust of shattered tombstones, shook himself loose from the remains of the smiling mound.

We tended our wounds and gathered our strength under the grace and protection of the sun, knowing that with nightfall, we would need to enter the crypt and battle the forces of evil and death once more. For, as the Bard would say, two witches, a coven doth not make. Or some other such useless poetry.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Session 57: The Black Graveyard


Sometimes in life the easiest thing to do is to focus on what’s right in front of you. You see an undead dragon flying with what appears to be an undead woman directing it. You know that this is an abomination and cannot stand. The living will not suffer this and must return these things to the soil. Though we were offered no aid from the people of Volodimer's home we knew what are had to do. We had our task in front of us: to save the living and lay the undead to rest.

After dispatching these things we took our rest and recouped our losses. Sadly, a large number of the town folk were slain by the undead. We offered thoughts and prayers for the dead but knew our task was not finished. Time for us to be off to the cemetery to deal with the witches we had been warned of.

I imagine that the cemetery would have been better defended from the witches had it been less than half a day’s journey from the town. What sort of ceremonies do they have for the dead in this town that requires it to be so far away? Regardless, we arrived and set ourselves to the task as night was fast approaching. From a distance we could see that the cemetery was already in disrepair. We thought that we spied a giant skull on a mausoleum but were attacked by two purple worms before we could figure this out. No sooner did these beasts attack than one of them swallowed Werr-Boy. Flint and his mechanized companion have a knack for being made meals of, although they always seem to make it out. Our wizard was able to displace one of the beasts to another plane of existence while we focused our attention on the other worm. Our combined efforts proved to be enough to destroy the worm but not before it sprayed its poison on some of the group. Sick and vomiting we fought on and once the other beast returned to this plane of existence we destroyed that one as well. Our warlock’s patron wasn’t able to protect him and he suffered greatly from the poison spray. Daylight was fading and time was against us but we needed a moment to cure some of the ailments of our group. Flint and Volodimer granted by magical means the feeling of a great rest to the group. Pushing on we entered the dilapidated cemetery. Judging by the surroundings we knew it was only a matter of time before we were set upon by the witches or their undead forces and we weren’t let down. Once again a hodgepodge of bones put together to resemble another creature much larger and potentially more dangerous came to defend their undead masters. Knowing that this was just the start of the creatures that would attack us I decided to save some of my magic for the witches. Galacart, sword in hand, and I, swinging my hammer, ran to engage two of the three creatures. Aided by out allies using ranged attacks we took these things down with great haste.

This place needed a sacrament and I wanted Flint and I to consecrate the grounds. Before we could even discuss this we heard what sounded like teeth grinding. I heard a voice telling me that I killed “her sister”, although I wasn't sure if this was audible to the group or strictly in my head. From some of the expressions on the faces of my companions I thought they may have heard something similar. Assuming the giant skull on the mausoleum was about to open we scattered to one side so as to not be caught off guard by whatever would come out of the mausoleum. Things were not to go so well for us. Three shambling grave mounds sprang up and surrounded the group. Time to steel ourselves for this next and hopefully final battle with the undead. Time will tell if the Gods shine down on us!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Sessions 55-56: The Witch Fiend Attacks!



Returning to to visit my ancestral village, Amberdale, has been a bittersweet affair. I was excited to hear from my mentor, the esteemed Barondo, but saddened to read of the circumstances surrounding his missive.

With all due haste and concern, my companions and I traveled the many leagues to the bogs and forests of my homeland. As we neared the village perimeter, my heart was a-flutter with the thought of returning from a long journey. However, my elation was shattered when wraiths appeared from the very air and brazenly attacked my companions and I in the middle of the open road. Unforgivable! We made short work of the restless shades and entered the village proper. Heading to the inn, I reunited with Barondo who explained that my family curse was perhaps to blame for the peril now facing the village. It seems that my father’s inadvertent defilement of the hallowed cemetery grounds left a stain of wickedness over the area. Later, a witch worked her unholy magics over the site, opening a rift to dark lands through which all manner of living dead poured. Even as we spoke, Barondo related that, with nightfall, a horde of undead would descend upon the village, intending to drag it down into ruin. With my companions in tow, I resolved to defend my ancestral homelands with my last breath.

With dusk fast approaching, we had little time to see to the village’s defenses. We were able to sequester many of my people in the old keep overlooking the river, while others took refuge in the hallowed grounds of the village temple. While I set about bolstering the innkeeper’s resolve and ensuring that the remaining villagers were able to hide within the inn, my warrior friend worked to rally a defensive force from the able-bodied men of the village. Sadly, my people being an insular lot and he lacking my command of words, the warrior was less successful than I hoped. Still, he was able to provide another defensive structure to protect my people with his magical citadel even if he was not able to convince them to aid in their own defense.

Soon enough, night was upon us. Out of the forest, on the far side of the river, a mob of skeletons, some stained by time and others, the bleached white of new death, shambled forth, intent upon the village. We fell upon the horde with spell, arrow, and hammer. Between the two priests, a host of hammers, rams, chisels, anvils, and other wonders sacred their gods wheeled and buzzed, shattering the magic animating skeletons with every pass. The warlock, meanwhile, called upon his eldritch powers to blast the hordes from existence. High up on the bluff, a newcomer, not of the village but welcome nonetheless, fell upon the undead with his bow. Though the horde seemed endless, their depravity could not stand up to our righteous defense of Amberdale.

Just as we finished the last of the skeletons, we heard screams coming from the inn. Running to investigate, I was horrified to find that a pair of wraiths had managed to sneak behind our lines and decimate the population of inn. Of perhaps a hundred of my people hiding at the inn, only a score survived the wraiths’ onslaught. Though we dispatched them quickly, many a soul were lost to their wickedness.

Sadly, a similar fate awaited the villagers taking refuge in the old keep. Another three wraiths beset them, killing many before we could save them. Luckily, the magic of the warrior’s instant citadel and the sacred grounds of the temple appeared to hold the wraiths at bay. But the loss of so many of my people pains me beyond measure.

I called upon the Rod of Seven Parts to grant me the agility of the wind and took to the air, scouting the nearby area any sign of the witch causing all of this mayhem and death. Unfortunately, though I thought I saw a shadow flicker over the moon, it must have been my imagination for the witch yet eluded my gaze. I did, however, spot a second group undead shuffling through the forest on the way to village. They assembled on the far river bank, preparing sweep over the town and drag all of us down into their unholy existence.

My heart cried out for justice for my people. It was time to take the battle to these wretches. Grasping the dwarf with one hand, I sliced through time and space with the other, creating a door of magic. With the dwarf in tow, I stepped through the gate, bringing us both into the midst of the undead horde. Immediately, my companion crushed one of the gems of his magical helmet and a great wall of fire sprung up before us, laying waste the undead horde and cutting their army in half. Just then, a bolt of lightning streaked into the army’s flank, following the path of the warrior’s magical javelin as it sailed into the air and embedded into one of the skeletons. Meanwhile, the goliath called upon god to unleash a great storm of lightning upon the enemy as he called down bolt after bolt into their midst. Surrounded as we were, the horde of undead clawed, hacked, and bit at the dwarf and I. With a quick word of the arcane tongue, a shield of force interposed itself before their advance. And my dwarven friend, practically carved from the living rock himself, was unfazed by the their attack. Still more arrows and blasts of eldritch power rained down upon the undead from the far side of the river where the warlock, Lynnya, and our mysterious new ally stood.

This horde though was not the simple brood we had dispatched before. These undead were bolstered by their dark master in some way. They were more robust, harder to destroy. And where we failed to destroy them, they were able to sacrifice themselves, detonating in a blast of fel power. Such was the fate of the skeleton impaled by the warrior’s enchanted javelin, and so the javelin itself. The undead behind the wall of fire, smoldering from the flames before them, broke over the wall, crashing over each other to reach the sides of the wall, creating bottlenecks at each end. The two clerics, with spirits once again flitting all about them, channeled the undead through their energy fields, dispatching many of them whilst I felled many a skeleton with a blow from my sword, enchanted as it was to dispatch the undead. Though it was a formidable battle, we, the hand of righteous justice, prevailed against the horde of evil.

Taking a moment to address our wounds following the battle, I heard a woman’s cackling issue from the half shattered skull of one of the defeated skeletons strewed on the banks of the river. Her cackling, mocking and arrogant, told me that this long night was not yet over.



As the mists of midnight rolled over the town, a quartet of osseous abominations emerged from the forest. They looked as though they had been pieced together from the bones of all manner of creature, from horse skulls to bear claws and the hooves of cattle and goats’ horns. The magic pulling them together glowed deep within their bony crevices with a hellish, infernal light.

As the undead constructs marched toward the river, the dwarf crushed another of the gems of his helmet, causing another wall of fire to appear. As before, the abominations, charred but unbowed by the flames, hastened toward the sides of the fiery wall to resume their march. As they rounded the corner of the wall, with the withering of another of the gems, the dwarf unleashed a dazzling display of color and light and rays of power washed over the creatures. Diminished, they yet marched on.

Just then, the shadow I had glimpsed flickering over the moon suddenly made itself manifest. My heart nearly leapt from my chest as a dragon, its wings tattered and bone peeking through cracks and holes in its leathery hide, descended. However, when I saw the crone, wizened and withered, perched between the dragon’s exposed shoulder blades, I felt the fervor of righteousness rise within me, for my enemy had at least made the error of showing herself.

The warlock intoned alien words of power over his sword, causing it to darken with eldritch power. With such a weapon in hand, he leapt forward to attack the abominations still rushing toward us. With the destruction of another of the gems in his helm, the dwarf unleashed another barrage of light and power at the dragon and its master. Despite its size and undead state, the dragon was surprisingly nimble in flight. It thus managed to avoid the most devastating rays of magic that raced toward it, merely being grazed by the magic. The dragon then changed its trajectory, raking its claws across the goliath as it passed. Incensed, the cleric called upon his storm god to rebuke creature for this offense. With a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, the dragon fell from the sky. It was then that, with another gem of the dwarf’s helm meeting its ultimate end, another blast of radiance erupted toward the dragon. This time, neither the dragon nor the crone would escape the scorching rays of power arcing toward them.

Meanwhile, while we tended to the dragon and the crone, the warrior and our new found ally joined the warlock in dispatching the skeletal constructs bearing down upon us. The battle to come is perilous but, as the righteous hand of fate and law, we must prevail. I will have justice for death of my kinsmen and vengeance for the ruin and destruction this unholy witch has visited upon my ancestral homeland!


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Session 55 prologue: A message arrives


It has been three and a half months since the Abolitionists returned from the cloud giant keep. Volodemir was taking a rare night off from performing at the Golden Cockatrice -- the famous elven bard Aloria was there for a few days, and was every bit as good as her reputation. As the party enjoyed their evening, the door to the inn flew open, and a travel begrimed messenger ran in. "Volodemir! Is Volodemir here? I have a message," he cried. "Hello, I am Volodemir," came the familiar response. "Father Barondo sent me. He needs your help!" The messenger handed a letter to Volodemir. Flint waved a server over to get the messenger a drink while Volodemir began to read.

Dear Volodemir, it is said that the transgressions of the father fall on the son, yet I never thought the desecration your father wrought would fall upon this town so much later, and so terribly. The Black Graveyard has become home to a wretched evil which uses the power of Law to reach through the hole Manchenko rent and summon all matter of monstrosities. Amberdale is sorely beset -- please come with all haste to aid us and redeem your father's failures.

As Volodemir finishes reading, the Abolitionist turn to other, and they begin to discuss what they should do next.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lyonia

Map courtesy of Inkarnate
Lyonia is the most populous and richest of the young kingdoms, known across the world for the quality of its wines. It was united following the Second Demon War by the adventurer known by Charles the Mane. He made common cause with the wemics, who had suffered at the hands of the independent baronies to their east. To the north is the Senj, a harsh and barren land nominally claimed by Lyonia, but largely lawless and infested with pirates and bandits. To the south is the Gwynn, hill country inhabited by a proudly independent people.

The capital of Lyonia is Marsay, located at the joining of the Peregrine and Kell rivers. Rion is in many ways the spiritual capital of the country, known for its cathedral and beautiful stained glass. Lyonia is one of few countries in this age prosperous enough to have a small standing army, and the pride of the army is the Order of the Chalice, dedicated to questing and the knightly arts. Despite the excellence of their military, the two times Lyonia has tried to invade Fogelon have resulted in draws.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Session 54: Escape from the Sky

Goliaths being the largest of the common races in the world, we have our perspectives of the peoples that inhabit it. We even have our friends, allies, associations and enemies. I sometimes wonder if the Giant races feel the same about the world or if they just look down on all of us haughtily from their castles in the sky. Those that float in the clouds - the Cloud Giants - are certainly rumored to have this nature. The Fire Giants on the other hand are known to be barbaric. So we were understandably apprehensive about entering the realm of the Giants. The two elves that got us into the castle are going to have some Hell to pay with the Cloud Giants once they realized what we have done.

With the aid of the “help” we were able to navigate the great halls. Seeing part of the rod being used as a hair pin by two Fire Giants was pretty disgusting but fortunately one of our team was able to sneak it out from under their noses using an invisibility spell. Rescuing the baby dragon made us feel better about breaking and entering. Lucky for us the dragon could polymorph and with our guise of being exterminators we were able to sneak out with her shaped like a spider, though not without heavy questioning (and embarrassing answering). I thought it would be to my advantage to wear a Frost Wolf's hide as a cloak but to my surprise the giants had their own tools for making animal hide clothing. If the dragon understood what was going on I’m sure she must have been frightened, though she remained calm as we negotiated this obstacle. Eventually we made it out of the castle and onto the cloud bridge.

Walking away from the castle we eventually heard some shouting and turned to see two giants coming after us. Flint and our warlock jumped on a flying broom and took off towards the base of the bridge. The dragon polymorphed back to her regular form and we asked her to get as far away from the castle as possible, only to realize later that we may never see her again. We could only hope that the family of dragons figured out it was us that rescued her if we should ever run into them again. Strategically placing magical barriers and wards we were able to stymie the progress of the giants on the bridge while we made good our getaway. After some distance we turned back to the castle entrance and saw two giants transform into dragons and fly away. These must have been the parents of the dragon we rescued and we knew we were safe for the moment. Feeling good about our actions and knowing we had to get as far away as possible we took no time to rest but put as many miles between us and our new foe. Once again I return to this notion that giants must think that they are superior to us smaller races. Two Fire Giants and what must have been hounds from Hell thought that could sneak up on us. Twice the size of an average human male makes it near impossible to do this but they still tried. Maybe they knew we were a fighting force that had to be dealt with or maybe they just thought we were ignorant. In either direction they were defeated and we continue our search for the rod of seven parts.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Session 53: Flint's Report, or What the Hell is Up With This Masonry?


After our last run in with the fire giant, we were a bit wary and more than a little thankful that Ghal'Alkr still had his instant fortress to protect us. Volodemir tells us the rod is beckoning him towards the castle in the clouds in the distance. Even though I don't know how we're going to get to it once we near it, I follow, having felt the call of the rod in the past and knowing that it needs to be reassembled for some greater purpose.

Early in the hike, we came upon a large lizard, who turned out to be quite polite if a bit haughty. It seems that this youngling, Kieran, was a small silver dragon. His mischievous sister, Ariele, disobeyed their parents and went near the giant tower, with the result being both her capture, and the slaughtered fire giants we saw yesterday. Volodemir took pity on the wyrm and said we'd try to find his sister, though he lied to us about not knowing where to bring her to sample their parents' gratitude. Probably for the best. Dragons may be quick to react to the sight of their young in the company of humanoids, and we don't want to tangle with any grown ones over a misunderstanding.

Midway through the day's trek, we spot a number of winged beasts circling, and before we know it, they're diving at us. I was able to summon a spiritual hammer and tongs to batter one nearest the ground, and Ghal'Akr knocked another out of the air with a skillful shot. Volodemir confused yet another, and Goliath charged the felled one. As the battle continued, we managed to kill the felled one and two more, but two more got away. Looking closer, they were griffons. It seems like they may be giants' companions. Good riddance, but I feel bad for the others who may have wanted to tame and ride them. I'll stick to the ground, or under it.

Finally making some progress up the mountain, we came across a decent sized ledge with some dead giants and two elves poring over them. We introduced ourselves, and found out that they were spider hunters on their way to the castle to do some exterminating before an upcoming nuptials. They were called Ciellan and Ruusa, a brother and sister warrior and mage. Volodemir had heard of them, and they us. Ghal'Alkr seemed to be eyeing the male the way he does sometimes and flexing a little. I wonder what that's about. When they asked us what we were doing on our way to the mountain, Volodemir and I didn't miss a beat and said "We're with the bride's side!" Relieved to have gotten that far through a lie without contradicting someone or my voice cracking, I let him do the rest of the talking. After some negotiating, they agreed to let us in on their invitation for a fee. We countered their offer to include a ride on their magic carpet to the top, and to my relief, they accepted.
The sight that greeted us was impressive indeed. A 30 foot gate in a cloud castle, the make and material of which I couldn't really fathom. It lacks the art of a craftsman's touch, though, so I assume it's a mage's doing. Within, we find a large cloud meadow and giants and ogres busy making preparations for the wedding. We managed to speak with a huge cloud giant, Yurik, and found he was the proud father of the groom, Diomed, who was to wed a fire giantess, Siiri. Strange bedfellows-to-be, in my opinion. After amusing ourselves with the giant versions of fruits and vegetables, and peeping at some giant tools in a toolshed, we got down to business, and followed the rod's divining to the inside. There, we snuck around and found a guardroom, and a chamber holding an impatient Sirie yelling at servants trying to fix her hair. Using some guile and magic, we managed to send a flying invisible warlock within to pilfer the piece of the rod. I was for leaving unnoticed, but the others wanted to try rescuing the wyrmling Ariele. We deduced that any dungeons must be in the lower levels of the castle, which were below ground/cloud I guess. This is one place I really don't want to dig too deep. I find myself having to force myself to stop asking questions about how any of this works just to stay sane.

In the cellars, we managed to find a guard we could not sneak or talk our way past. Undeterred, we feigned ignorance and pretended to leave, secretly letting the flying warlock do some reconnaissance. After finding a pit he thought might hold the dragon past the guard, we readied ourselves for a fight. Calling on a guardian of faith, I effectively pinned the dutiful gaoler in the corner, and we were all over him before he could move or raise an alarm. A great deal of stabbing, spell flinging, blinding, and shooting, he was done for. With nothing of interest on his person, we moved on and pushed aside a huge stone from above a pit containing a small, presumably frightened Ariele. Adreham knows how we're going to get her out of here alive. If we the elves and/or their carpet, it would be child's play, but I suspect our lack of planning may come back to haunt us next.