Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 32 total)
  • Author
  • #30127
    • Markshire PCs:

    “”This isn’t going to please my father one bit once word gets to his ear….””

    “And then he just passed out. Was out cold like the living dead he be. I was sure he would have awaken on the trip, the dogs didn’t care what they dragged him over. I was able to cough up a name from him, Opinvu if my memory serves me right….Thank you Sir! I will send him to Foothold soon as he is able…”

    Lad, you may not remember what happend or even who you are when you awake from this, but fear not. I saw it all. Even saved your life, I did. Then again, maybe you will remember, and I be an old fool wasting my strength for the halfling from the sky.

    You lucked out lad, luck you have, if your reading this, then strength and will you have as well. Just what’s needed up here. Good, strong men. You hear me? You got the fight, harness it, use it for the right purposes.

    I supose I should tell you what happend then. It was early morning, I had gotten my supplies packed up right this time, nothing loose and maken noise. I started up the mountain before the birds had begun to forage. It’s the perfect time to be in the wild. The hunters are heading to their dens and the prey are just waking up. The wild, to tired to be anything but a sight to see. By mid sunrise I first noticed you strange vessel in the sky, but aodd spot in the distance. I knew that day was different. Never before in all my years had such an object been in the sky at that time before. But, it didn’t change my mind, I ventured up the mountain still.

    Wasn’t tell late sunfirse I had made it to the bluff. The very bluff I was going to jump from. You can see the area, Stonemark off the horizen, Foothold at my feet, The vast forest like a carpet to the south. But for some reason I hesitated, I thought about that spot and wonderd what had come of it. I scanned the sky to find it quickly enough. It was a wonder how I missed such a large sea vessel hanging in the sky as it was. This is not something one ever see’s in a normal day in these parts. Why, I don’t think it has ever been seen around these parts, not in my lifetime.

    Before my eyes could focus on the entire ship, the voices and screams from it hit me. I could see the fire on the sails, fire coming from the aft port bow. I thought I was going to be killed, and not by my own doing this time. The ship became ever closer with tremendous speed. Before I could realize it would pass me over I was tackled by a flamming halfling. You, Opinvu caught me on fire and rolled me to the ground. I nearly fell off the cliff I was but amoment ago planning to jump from. Unfortunately, you did not escape the fall. But as your luck would have it, my dogs were in their place, down below barking at me, taunting me to do it. One of them gave it’s life to coushin your fall.

    Know, by the time you read this, the sickness will have taken my life. It has already been a month since I mended your wounds, and my health has become worse than fortold. I have sent word to the Gravedigger of Yar. If you do not wake before my time is truely up, I can only pray those filthy, gold digging whores in the Red Dragon keep their words!

    *A drip of blood stains the end of the parchment*

    • Markshire PCs:

    Journal #12.

    If I have to start another one of these I may go mad. I refuse to even attempt to rewrite the stories I lost to that bloody airship. My own near death experiance is good enough for many new stories.

    I was nearly killed when dragons rose from behind the approaching mountain. They unleashed unearthly fire upon our vessel. Many of the guards were thrown off the decks, caught off-guard. *wait for laugh* It was left to me to save the innocent on board, we were surely going down in these mountains. I had barely gotten everyone below when the first landed on the stern. I had no other option than to confront it. It’s weight was forceing us down ever faster. All I had was a dagger and mop handel I found floating along the deck. *wait for questions*

    I snuck around some stairs o catch the dragon from behind, when at that moment it rear’d it’s giant head around the corner at me. It’s nostrals steaming with head that dried my sweat, it stared right at me. I couldn’t move, I thought I was food. Right hten, it spoke! It started to ask me questions. I knew this was my only oppertunity. I lunged at it, landing my dagger deep into it’s eye, and with my other hand I drove the mop handel into it’s ear stabbing it’s brain! Blood spewed forth like fountain.
    I had killed it. *wait for cheers* No, this was a bad thing. It was still on the airship, dead weight pulling us closer to the mountain tops. I had to do something. I could have simply abandoned ship, but there were woman and children below deck.

    I will have to think of good ending for that. The children will love it. MAybe I should describe the ship more at first. Yeah tell how I found it.

    I spent 40 days 30 nights wandering the desert. Looking for a lost city of Gnomes, I had nearly run out of food and water. Near the end I was ready to give up. I had begun wandering in a circle, always back to thiese old ruins of hut. I was completely lost of direction. My mind was racing in and out of maddness. The squaks of the vultures enfuriated me. It wasn’t until I collapsed curseing them I finally saw it. The city, floating above me. Floating.. over my head the entire time. And at just that moment a voice reassured me the vultures couldn’t understand me. I lept to my feet to find a puggy little man as tall as I with a beard that would make any dwarf jelous. I had found it. Or he found me and took me too it, I still had found it. It, was magnificent.Gadgets, gears, wheels, rods, and pins.. strange mechanical machines working in eary direction. Ships flying away like birds leaving the nest.

    Hrmm. I will have to fluff that up a bit. I wish they would have let me stay for a day. As nice as they were, I couldn’t help but feel I was unwanted there. If I ever wish to go home, I wil have to find a way back there.

    I could make a scarey story out of my awekening here in this house. I wonder who lived here. That note just doesn’t make any sense. This cold is going to be the death of me. Well who ever helped me, I am in their debt. I remember being on fire, but I can’t find any scars to match them. The gods only know how long I have been out. I see there is a village nearby. I will go there tomorrow and see about some answers.

    • Markshire PCs:

    What a strange, cold place this is. If I hadn’t found it already, I would swear this place is a freezing hell. The gods favor the adventuring over the citizens and nobels, and you have to get milk yourself, from the cow…yourself. I had hoped to get intamently close to a woman on my journey home, but for it to be a cow.. I think I may throw up.

    And yet it happend again. Snakes! Oh dear god! Why were their snakes in an ice cave?!?! I couldn’t hold it this time either.. their movement across the ground made me puk in my helmet. I don’t think anyone noticed, but my knowing was torture enough. I was prepaired for the hunting trip. Wherever that Spana girl goes, I will follow. What a woman.. tall, red hair, soft strong hands, and bakes blueberry pie no other. How she can burn one, ruin another, then produce an odd few that taste better than anything the gods could ever create.. it’s just beyond my comprehension. I can see the over cooking, but some of the ones she will toss out are perfectly fine by my eyes. She seems to have a connection with the animals.. a calmnes that mirriors that of a druid or an estimed Ranger. She has the makings of a great story making hero. The way she handeld the crazy blind woman during the hunting expedition.. her calmness and clear thinking really lead that days events in the right direction. If that mage Kamas had steered the situation instead, I bet half of us would be dead, encluding the Druid woman. His manner.. his reserveness. *scratched out* His reservedness… his deminor of reclution and contemplation seems deceiving. I am starting to wonder if it is due to imbaressment of his own thoughts. Either way, I don’t think he would have taken the same approach as Spana did. Kindness didn’t appear to be her own motivation. I thought it was some kind of deamon setting us up for a trap, or an evil whitch in disguise trying to throw us off the trail.

    I almost wish Kamas had stood his ground with the other mage.. Tharar…But, I have never seen a winged elf before, and I did get to see her fly away. This was my first, but if it hadn’t been for her, we wouldn’t have gone into that cave with the snakes. I wasn’t much help to them, but at least they remember me running in at the last moment for the death blows on some of them giants. All I could think to do besides run away was to try and be a distraction, and wait until they were weakend enough I wouldn’t just get killed if I attacked.

    Tomorrow I will take that job in Yar cutting wood for the reconstruction there. I know that will give my arms some strength. This quil has proved mightier than the sword for many years, but I think I found myself in an exception to that rule. Yet again father is right. A true bard can’t rely souly his stories. Sure they brought me wealth in the cities, but that was so short lived. People don’t want to hear the same old stories over and over again. Landing here has given me a wealth of new tales to tell, but also much realization. I was a fool to think I was ready to go home. If I hadn’t crashed here, I would have surely been the dunce. I don’t have to be the heroic adventurer, strongest of the land to gain great tales. Just good enough to stay alive and be witness to the adventures.

    I should go to Stonemark in a week. If am robbed by bandits and rogues again then I will know I am truely a failure. and none of this has done any good.

    • Markshire PCs:

    I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to go to Stonemark, I am glad I did. Kurm being on the same road made the journey safer and go much faster. It was almost an exciting adventure if I hadn’t ruined it. A great tale indeed, but I had o go and use a story once told by my father.

    I nearly soiled my pantaloons when the cyclopes emerged from the trees. Was more frightening than being chased by that grizzley. I was able to save Kurm from that monster, yet another giant suashed by me! Opinvu! The giant slayer!

    I never thought taunting a cyclopes with food would really actually work. But it did, their stomachs are like dogs. The smell of my rye bread got his attention to me. I don’t know where my calm came from, but I was able to tell, act out the story completely. I used wit to confuse him and food to intice him. When he agreed to the deal, I think Kurm was ready to kill me. The gods must have been whatching us, I couldn’t pass up their offer of luck. A small herd of deer had wanderd into a clearing. It took some reasoning, but with Kurms help we did keep the deer trapped long enough for the cyclopes to come and find us with them. He took the bait and helped himself to three of the deer. And I lost my bread and the rest of that pie Spana baked.

    A good tale wasted. I shall write a tale of Spana, saveing the forest fromt he mad druid. I have not heard a story as such. I witnessed enough to make it more exciting and still be truthful.

    You would be proud of me this day father. Although a I fouled up the workings of a great tale, I did use the wisdom passed by a bard’s tale to save our skins. I still don’t see why a little exageration isn’t harmless. But if your story had been a lie we would have been eaten.

    • Markshire PCs:

    This is just horrible. I upset Spana with my story of her. I was fearing she would say no, but I had no idea she would react the way she did. I kept the fundimentals and driving forces in tact just like you said, the messages that made the story worth repeating were all there. All I did was change the ending to make it shorter. I changed one fact and she was livid. Worst thing is my memory problem has made it difficult to rewrite the story with the long ending. I can’t remember some important details. I can’t ask anyone, people would know my memory is wavering.

    I figured baking some bread may help. But when I went down into the Grotto to use the mill there was an old rotten corpse wedged into it. It looked as though someone was trying to dispose of a corpse they dug up. It almost looked like the one I found in the Gargoyle the other day as well. Strangest day I have ever lived. Was as though the gods themselves had chosen me to toy with.

    After getting up and visiting the temple, as you say I should, I went to the Gargoyle for some breakfast. When I enterd, the place was empty. Not a soul was inside. Only other thing out of place was a corpse on the floor near the front door. Disturbed, I walked out, I went looking for anyone. The woman I had spoken to before going in was even gone. The street was empty, the Red Dragon was empty. It was like behind my back everyone was disappearing. I was starting to get a bit afraid, but I know it was cause I was confused. I thought I was dreaming, so I went back to the Gargoyle. Only, when Igot there it was the same, it was when I came out again there again was people walking the street, at the Red Dragon Inn, and in the Bazaar. I ran into Nordbert. He was with a strangly exotic woman. On her chest layed the largest weapons I’ve ever seen a woman carry. She was busy trying to count, so I just began o tell Nordbert about my strange experiance. Nordbert took off before I was ever finished. When we got to the Gargoyle there was people there, everyone that should be was there, even the corpse. We took it round back to the cemetary and burried it. If anyone had come up on us we surely would have gone to jail. We got Nordberts woman to do all the digging, being her weapon was made for it. Him with the corpse, her diggin, and me whatching out, it looked like I was forcen them to burry the thing. She made fast work of the frozen ground. We had to ask her to go deeper just for the fun of it.

    Why she made us say something, like it was real funeral, I can’t understand, I felt foolish. Why, who knows who that corpse was, and at this point, who cares. It was in the hole, and so obviously long dead, there was no finding out. No one in the Gargoyle cared there was even a corpse on the floor, why should we think he worth or words of kindness? And then I had to fill the hole? I coverd it with a bed sheet, that shoulda been just fine. We didn’t exactly have time to be doing everything so exact. What if someone came by and found us? We did not have permission to be burrying this unknown corpse. Not to mention we couldn’t exactly explain the corpse either.

    Just as we were leaving Nordbert hesitated a moment as Krise stated she would be off to change out of the dirt, Spana comes from around the backside of the tavern. A stranger confronts Krise on the road. I heard her speak, but his voice must have been to soft. We were very close to being found out if we had taken much longer. My bed sheet idea woulda payed off even more handsomely.

    If things couldn’t get any worse. I got myself killed again today. Not once, but twice. The second time was to much. My head pounds still. I think this is what is spoiling my memory. I will have to make more journal entries and notes of my days.

    • Markshire PCs:

    So many good days to write about. So little time… If I hope to see her again today.

    There I was walking like I normally do, to the Gargoyle for an early mead. The Sun was set deep behind clouds again, the fog hanging low, and the breeze cold as usual. Something had warmth, something was giving off a raidient warmth that the cold seemed to let slide. I could feel it like ale in my belly. I slowed my pace to soak it in. It was foriegn, yet familiar, then the smell hit on a passing gust. It was close, the source, it smelled of the nicest things. It had to be coming from the source of the warm feeling. The fog began to give brilliance to an area up ahead. Something shiny, raidient of light maybe. Was it the source, was whatever the light was from bring the smell, bring the warm feeling? The fog still thick, distance made it impossible to tell. As I approached the familiar spot of which Gustov waits his gofer minions, I see the source, it lie just beyond, standing, poised, waiting.

    I slowed my pace more as to not startle it before I could lay eyes upon it. The aura, the warmth, and the stunning smell truely came from the same. I slowly advanced and the fog began to fade revealing a silhouette of the perfect female figure. My intrest steeped to the max, I persued further.

    The Elven woman stand starring at me, I was turned to stone. Her words melted my feet to the road as my ears melted into the mess. Golden feather hair, blue crystal eyes, her voice sang like a goddess and her smile warmed anything near. All I could do was my practiced line. Pleased to see you..how cheesy.. moldy even. Gustov being the respectable gentleman did not step in and advise me to keep with it. For if he had, I would not have then spit out the next lines of embaressment. All I could come up with was, time to celebrate, come have a drink. For it was me that was blessed with cause to celebrate.

    Wisely I did not dig my hole deeper. I feed upon her words and obeyed her commands. Like a dream she turned and faded into the fog.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Her name is Tyian. The woman I met the other day. From a temple in Stonemark. Truely is a gift from the gods. I haven’t been thinking much about anything but her since that day.

    She has really changed my thinking of this place. I no longer care if I can find a way back, or home. I have been staying so busy with baking and the like, my writings have not been flowing. I am just enjoying these other things so much.

    In the cities living was so cheap and easy. Out here, everything takes a few hours.

    I got word of a contest coming up in Stonemark. I will deffinatly try my hand at it, the money couldn’t come more timely.

    • Markshire PCs:

    The contest in Stonemark was a hoot. I had no clue it would be like it was. I heard the Crier plainly, but still, I had never imagined it would be like it was. Penguins.. who would have thought it would be a contest of catching penguins. I was very pleased to hear this no doubt, it ensured I had an equal chance at winning. The competition was tough, a few familiar faces, even Tyian had shown up. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t let Tyian win, nor would I help her. I think she had the same sentaments, for she didn’t exactly acknowlege me once we were in Lord Allox’s presence.

    It was such an easy task, catch penguins. I could have done it in my sleep. But, they wanted us to catch the most. I found many and saw my advasaries few. I thought I had this in the bag. I went off on my own as soon as we hit the streets as they all ran around like children chasing puppies. I even ran into Tyian eventually. I got an unspoken mutual respect from her that I was practicing. It was still a bit unfair, she cheated. Her big smile and batting of the eyes was to much. I lost my train of thought and found myself out side the city, twice. Even if she doesn’t fancy me like I think she may, my Hobbit cuteness was not nearly as powerful as her beauty. Although it did scare the rats off nicely, I heard Spana was attacked by them at some point.

    All-in-all, it was so much fun I didn’t care who won as the call came out for time near end. Lord Allox wants to make this a renewed tradition of old. I hope so, I could stand to win next time as well. I still don’t understand how Tyian won, and beat me by so few and yet I was so far ahead of everyone else. The penguins must fancy her as much as I. But that can’t Be, Spana was out there too, and for a half-elf, a beauty contest between the two would be impossible to judge.

    I sure feel proud of myself for getting second place. The money came at the best time possible. I stashed some gold and weapons I had found, but I forget where. I need to find a better and safer storage place. The Inns wont rent to me, and Gustov warned me about sleeping in the barn. I am thankful he is a kind man, I thought I was unseen all those times.

    I don’t think I will ever fully get used to this snowland. I can’t hide in the shadows as easily, I can’t get milk from the general goods store, I can’t move as fast, and all these clothes and supplies are getting to heavy and numerous. Chopping wood is for the animals, the gods wouldn’t have made beavers and woodpeckers if it wasn’t true. I miss Gus, he cut the best firewood. I wonder if he’s still alive on his dam.

    In my lost journal I wrote many stories about Gus. Being lost I best remind us about it. ……

    *The page ends here, please turn the page*

    • Markshire PCs:

    Gus, Gus was great. My first pet and I didn’t even have to ask for him. I was traveling from Juricturdin City to the town Freij. So as you said I would have to, I went through Gnat Forest. I was going to follow the stream up to the base of the mountain and then follow it’s ridge. I figured that would be the best way to find the waterfalls you spoke of, without getting lost and headed in the wrong direction.

    I was a days walk up this stream when I cam upon his dam. It was the biggest mess of trees, mud, skeletons, wooden buckets I had ever seen. This beaver had used everything in the forest to hold back this great amount of water. The lake created was expansive. Only 4 feet deep it stretched a couple of miles in each direction.

    I had explored around it a few minutes befor returning to the impressive dam structure. I didn’t beleive an animal could have done such a job, but the evidence of a beaver was everywhere. When I got back tot he dam and walked over the top of it’s span, I noticed a couple of boys about my age coming up the stream side.

    When they reached the dam I questioned their presence and stayed atop the structure claiming it mine. After calling for their removal off my stream and away from massive dam I notice they were elven. They scoffed back at me with all seriousness, knowing my threats were spontanious lies. They warned me to leave the dam or be swept down stream by the raging waters. They had been sent by their elders to tear down the dam. I rememberd my readings about the Elf, and I tried to explain to them that this was a beavers home they would be destroying. I stuck by my words of ownership. I even went as far as threatening to call my army of 40 beavers to chase them off.

    Nothing I said budged their tone. They continued to belittle me and remind me of my age. One even drew his bow and pointed it at me. I looked back into the water behind the dam, looking to see if I was safe to jump or be impailed by sticks and log-spears. The other began to cast a spell, I knew it was something to destroy the dam, it was taking him much preperation and concentration. I had to do something, but I was in no position to do anything but speak without finding an arrow in my chest. I looked back again hoping for a better glimpse intot he murky water, when I turned back, with no thought at all I pointed down at them and yelled: “Beavers! Attack!”

    The look on our faces must have been worth hundreds of thousands. None of us beleived my call would produce anything but maybe a small echo off a tree. But, as soon as my last word finished and the echo was waiting to be heard, three beavers lept out of the water from behind me and down over the dam. The archer let his arrow fly as he realed backwards on his heals. The casting lad stopped and froze in place. The beavers landed not far infront of them and stood in a courched postion. I could only monopolize on the situation. I called out, “They were warned! Beavers! Kill them!”

    That’s when I really learned something that day. Beavers are smart. Not only did they build this might dam, they also turend themselves into mighty catapults. They began launching river stones witht their wide tails. Being so close their first assult nailed the two elves square in their noses. That alone sent them downstream as fast as their legs could carry them. Two of the beavers gave chase, must have followed them all the way back to whence they came. Gus on the otherhand, he stayed back. Scurried up the dam and whatched the running elvs next to me.

    It was strange our friendship. I talked, he seemed to understand. I think they knew I was defending their dam. As I started off to look for a campsite Gus grabbed my leg. I didn’t know what to think, how often does a beaver run up and grab someones leg and try to pull them in a different direction? That’s why I followed. The waterlogged furball took me to a grand camping spot. Although it took forever and darkness had already set in, It was still perfect. The moon shown through the canopy giving me plenty of light to raise my tent. The moss was so thick and soft I had no need to scrouge for bedding. But I did then turn to Gus and thank him w ith a slight aggitation of the time it took, and now building a fire was going to be a real chore. I think it upset him. He turned and bolted into the water dissappearing. I could hear him slapping his tail on the water somewhere back near the dam maybe. The wind chill was nipping at my calm cold skin, I began building a firepit.

    I just finished when Gus and a second beaver snuck up on me. I figured he must have gone for help, they had brought me two good sized fish. Course without a fire, they weren’t much good, as I explained to them. The third beaver just then came out of the forest behind me toting a long dead pine branch. It was perfect, they gnawed it down into sections as I cleaned the fish. By time I finished they had damned my firepit. All I had to do was gather up the needles and set fire to them with my flint and tinder.

    Gus ended up folloing me the rest of the way up the river. Well, actually I ended up following him up the river. He took me around impassible cliffs and treacherous terrain like he knew where I had to go. As we neared the end of the line we ended up on the wrong side of the creeks ravene. As I surveyed the situation Gus was already working a plan. He built me a fire dam again, I got the hint and set up camp. As I started with my tent he disappeared off into the thick brush. I could hear him chewing away at the wood off in the distance. After I got my fire started I went looking for him and some good sized peices to burn. When I found him he was resting aside a grand tree. He had me coverd. What a friend. What a pet he woulda made. Before I could even exhaust my own pondering, he was cutting me down a bridge. The tree he had been working on was due to fall perfectly across the ravene and give me access to the other side.

    Gus didn’t follow me across the log bridge the next day. Either five days with a halfling was to much, or his debt was paid, I don’t care. I will always remember that beaver. The laughs we shared, the tears, and even the complete silence throughout most of our time spent. To bad Gus didn’t come with me, I could have built a log home up here.

    • Markshire PCs:

    I know being a bard makes me a bit smarter than the average man on the street, more informed on the hot places to be, and of course an expert on the best Inn’s and taverns in any land. But, I have never heard any tell of Markshire. I have gone to every tavern, every market square, and I am yet to find any gatherings of bards. Stonemark really is like no other city I have ever been to before.

    I would have thought with no bards littering the streets like I have experianced in the past, story telling would be a welcome service. I am sad to say, I have yet to make a dime, or convince any citizen to allow me to bend their ear. Maybe it’s a good thing. With all my stories at the bottom of the sea, coverd in seweage, or burnt to keep warm through a desperate night, I would run out of memorized tales real quick.

    Gem cutting has taken a good place in my days. It’s hard work, but I have enjoyed it so much more than cutting down trees or skinning live animals. The screams from the deer were just to much on my mind. I still hear them in my dreams. I don’t think I will skin anything ever again for the rest of my life. M’lady Tyian can also use the dust left over from gutting the gems for her potions and alchamy training.

    Today we went back to the Foothold mines to explore deeper and see what other gems may reside there. Tyian had noticed my lantern reflect off something breifly on a rock spire at the narrow bridge through the chasem. It sure did look like gems in the rock atop it. I had a great idea. It always seems like the gods will put the best things in the hardest places to find. Well, that spot looked near impossible to get to without risking certain death to a fall that could last forever.

    Bards are smart. Why I felt I had to prove my thought to Tyian, I don’t know. Maybe it was boredum. MAybe I thought a good story would come of it. I did hope there would be diamonds or rubies there. All i needed was a really good plan. Oh yeah, I got her to go along with it. All we needed was some good rope. Tie ourselves to the rock colums and hope our we made the jump. Ederyn was in our way on the way back from buying the rope. He’s a normal sized human, looked strong enough to carry his own weight around. He agreed to help us. Being new to Foothold, I knew he couldn’t pass it up for more ampul boredum behind an ale stien.

    Of course Ederyn was happy with the plan, He had never tossed a halfling before, but I felt safer him doing it than Tyian with all that armor on. We damn near had it, his toss was good, the rope was strong, but he threw me like a dart rather than a good lobing. I almost wished I had a helmet, I crashed into the mineral deposit with my chin and lost any chance to grip the ledge as I continued over the far side.

    The rope held just fine, I simply swung my rope off that spire and and landed on a foot-ledge in the pitch blackness. I couldn’t see the bottom, or them above. It was a bit scarey. As they pulled me up something joined me in the darkness. It sounded like goblins, or trolls, yet, in the air. It couldn’t of been bats. The walls were far to sheer for even them. As I neared the top the lantern light became visible and I could see what I felt, it was bats, bats with strange shaped body. Biggest, ugliest things I have ever seen.

    Note: Markshire is home to the ugliest wolves, and bats.

    To bad I knocked the mineral beposite clean off the spire, I was hoping for another try at it.

    • Markshire PCs:

    *skipping past several pages of mundane daily notes, and thoughts of Tyian and a few unimportant tales one comes upon this*

    Today was rather strange. Tyian and I went to teach the ogres a lesson at their fortress. Our attempts went unsuccessful once we found the Warlord. He was the one we wanted. His death would would hurt them more than a few lackies. He was a massively strong contender. Jamel joining us was a real help.

    Our plan was brilliant, but that warlord smelled it. His ego was that of an ogre through and through. A mere taunto and the word ugly drew him into our snare. Showing him Garm was a moment to remember.

    We found a dead man in his chambers. A tatterd note lie on the floor. It spoke of a riddle and something about the writer wanting to stop the clock for a owman. We think he learned that what he needed to do this was the sands fromt he timeless desert. The bits of information are really vauge but our three minds have obtained a good picture and two solid theories. It just doesn’t seem to fit anything we know if. MAybe Kamas or Varidian …or someone with knowlege of the deserts can help shed some light on the gaps.

    • Markshire PCs:

    What does one do without hope and faith? My journey was all about hope and faith. Hope I would find what I needed, learned what mst be learned. Faith in the road I was taking. Faith it would lead me to more hope. Faith in the gods to make things right.

    Hope for fame, hope for wealth, hope for love. Faith in love, faith in money will buy the food, faith in the stranger has the morals not to rob you. One seeks it all, but only desires many to to insure the most important is optained.

    Why seek it if not valued. Why obtain it if it has no value. Why have faith and hope if people just hate you for it.

    I have learned allot on my journey, I must thank my father if I ever get to see him again, for his wise teachings. For wasting his time with his moral codes and romatic dreamings. Why bother if it has no value. Why bother if their is no hope for, no faith in love. Why bother if happiness for self is the only true value.

    All desire happyness, but value it not when they have it.

    I traveld far in search of lifes greatest happiness, lifes greatest wisdoms, lifes greatest stories. I have found examples of all, and attempted to create all. All for what? To obtain what is valued most. Love, happiness and peace. And only to find what? I am the only one that holds any value to any of it.

    I was to bring joy to children through story as you wanted father, I was to bring excitement to the elderly father, I was to bring safety and happiness to the woman I loved. But what does one do in a world where none of that is valued father?

    • Markshire PCs:

    Ederyn, Spana, Monty, Aderana, Dram, and Opi went for the Iron Ore tonight.

    The party busted into the mines with ease. Monty shot Ederyn with a lightning bolt at the first encounter inside the mines. Opis was hilarious through out. He led them to the Iron. He recalled a tour given by Vruruk and was told that the fires lay beyond/below the Boggels.

    The party headed down into the boggel caves. They searched, and looked, killed and came upon a massive force of Boggels. The battle ebbed, and it flowed in their favor. Two fell and Opi cleared the onslaught along side Ederyn. Luckly this man Ederyn had plenty of scrolls still.

    Then Opi caught eye of a glow. It was a leader or powerful mage. And indeed it was their King. He knoced everyone on their ass and announced himself. We charged him. He got scared and disappeared. Gave the party to raise the fallen woman. They mended their wounds and looked about seeing no paths leading down or elsewhere. That’s when the Kig came back. He unleashed hailstorms of magi hell upon them. Firey arrows, fire, missles, some un knowns… nearly killed them all in his reopening assult. The standing charged and the lackers healed. The party became a team of destruction. The King found his hands ful of unhindered attackers.

    Defeating him gave the party more time and ease to search the area. Confirmed dead end and no forges, they headed out. That is until they reached the exit. Ambushers were there waiting for them. The previous battle, round 2. First the Remus fell, then Monty, then Opi.. not before taking down 5 himself. Ederyn and Spana managed to finish the Opi batterd left overs.

    Spana used her last scroll, bringing Opi back to save them from any futrue onsloughts. The living searched the bodies for scrolls and found two more on Monty’s corpse. Spana’s attempt to read them went un heard. Monty’s corpse melted into the ground after reading one. Opi came up with the plan of all plans. Pray.

    After some time of praying the two awoke. Monty brought back as if from an invisibility spell. Starkadder heard the prays. But found himself lost deep with in the caverns. With all raised they made haste in leaving the area, only to bump into Starkadder. He led them back out safely. The party weary and drained of all supplies. Their ambition to find the forge for the iron they mined lost and left back in that King’s lair… they Only sought day light. Starkadder saw to an easy swift exit.

    Opi took the escape as an oppertunity to try and boost Spana’s spirits. He checked the Ogres pins, found they had caught two more white stags. After the yard cleared, Spana escorted the two back to the woods and gave a giddy giggle of her happier days.

    I hope I don’t forget to rewrite this. I fear I may forget by the time I wake after this ordeal.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Last night…. all them Boggels.. it followed me into my dreams. Their laughter echoing continuously, their chants repeated into a blurr. It woke me several times. I never dreamed of being in such a situation. So many hands clawing at me. Worse than the time in that city of Angora.

    I had told many stories by then. Traveled further than I had ever before this journey began. I had landed a show in the park near a school for the nobles children. I was expecting the usual. A few sitters, a few figiters, and few wanderers. But I didn’t expect what I got. All the children that attended my first telling were well-mannered paitent rows of listening ears. The silence was almost scarey.

    My story was immensly enjoyed. They cheered at the right times, and they laughed on queue. I was eager for the next day and telling to come. My next story was even better than the first.

    Something was going on at the school when I arrived at the park. I could hear the strange sounds and see random flashes of light from the building on occasion. I set up my spot in the same place in the same amount of time, even witht he distractions. As soon as I was ready a bell rang. Then, the clock tower bell rang. Then, a temple bell rang. I was spun in a full circle of suprise at this. Something was very different about this day. The perishoner that escorted me around the district said it was all normal for this time of year. He denied my suspicions of something extraordinary taking place.

    Once the bells stopped ringing the children burst out the doors of the school building. All lined up single file, they marched out of the building and paraded around a bench then lined up in another formation faceing the bench. I whatched as they stood in slience starring at it for a few moments. The children in unicen sat before the bench. Their heads like mechanical workings of a clock ticked slowly round to my direction.

    Startled and in bewilderment at their behaivior, I was caught off-guard. Stuttering, I voiced to the children I was all set and ready when if any wanted to listen this day. One child stood and turned to me full body. He spoke clearly in a calm normal voice, “We are ready. Today, is not yesterday, you will sit here, and tell us your tales. Now.” He sat down before his response was finished slapping me around and sink into my ears. My confidence and poise was erding quickly. I tried to regain it by gathering my things to move to their bench. A voice hit me in the back like an arrow. The cold chill of entrapment and unreversable chain of undesireable events went through me. A feeling I had only felt once before. When I was but a child climb the tree next to the house. Climbing like a tree rat only to find a bee’s nest. The fear of inetible sting reacted with a release of the hands to tree. Knowing I was going to fall to my bee stinging death sent the strangest feeling from my hair to my feet. Like my skeleton knew to run, but my skin was refusing.

    With out the props I had assembled and the small amount of smoke making powder, this story wouldn’t be as entertaining. I had no choice. If I was to be paid for this and the last, this story had to be told. But, this story will not make much sense without.. I could only obey. The events were to strange and unexpected. I hopped over to the bench and took my place as told.

    As I began the story it was clear the props were needed. Their eyes looked on blankly, almost never blinking. I quickly found it near imposible to look them in the faces. My eyes wanderd about the streets and into windows. It was then I took notice of another oddity. The streets were empty, the allys quiet. The man who was to pay me, gone from his post just minutes earlier. He gave me the slip. I was so distracted from all the bells, he must have left then.

    It was at that thought the bells chimmed in again. This time only from the school building. I couldn’t help but turn round and look to it behind me. A mistake I fear I might make again some time. Turning my head on them was the biggest mistake. Their hiss and screams didnt startle me, I was to busy falling over with the bench as their combined assult threw us.

    Near thirty children were swarming me with their hands reaching for my throat. I pushed and shuved with my feet to keep their grips from getting to tight. Their eye seemed to have rolled back in their heads. Their teeth had grown with their hisses. Their aggression grew with every push back I gave. I had to do something. Thinking like this was not a common routine for me.

    My strength was at full force, every ounce I had was needed to keep their teeth and hands off me, yet it was becoming not enough. My cloths were nearly gone to shreds and my boots had dissapeared quickly after being pushed off the bench. I finally rememberd my props. I had a bag of pwder to act as smoke. I was told to keep it away from fire. But it was such a short distance away, and so many children in the way.

    At the sight of my own blood running down my leg I relinquished any restraint I was still holding. I grabbed one of the children by it’s arms and began to spin us around. The kid became a useful weapon sending tiny bodies in all directions. When I let go, the small boy took tot he sky and found a windo to fall through. All the children turned and looked awaiting a sign of his condition.

    Plenty of time to snatch the poweder bag I held it up above my head and yelled to them “Stop! Or I will shrink you all into ants!” They didn’t beleive me and gatherd up before advancing on me straight on.

    With a grip on the bottom of the bag I swung it over their heads hopeing to make a cloud to ensure my escape. They froze and looked up at it once again in unicen. The cloud of dust stopped, like they did. Instincts took over and forced me strike the tinderbox. The cloud immediatly became a blog of fire and splashed down upon their heads. Like ants with heads a firethey scatterd and ran around screaming. Looking back I could see no one following me or helping them. I didn’t stop running until the moon set and it was to dark. A tree informed me well it was wise to stop now.

    I never went back or spoke of that city again.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Spana sat down in the chair opposite Opinvu and watched the halfling a moment as he poured over a parchment.

    “It was the oddest… rescue I think I’ve ever been involved in.” She grinned as he looked up at her, “Mind if I join you? A guard went missing the other day. I came upon a rather small search party of guards looking for their fellow guardsman.”

    She shook her head a playful grin on her face, “Of course I think the thought of hot soup was calling them more. Anyway, Monty and I offered to help search for the guard. Seemed he took a blow to the head and had wandered off. Dram, Tarek and Ederyn joined us, which made a strange event even stranger.”

    Spana paused briefly with a grin, “Don’t ever get Ederyn and Tarek together. Fortunately they decided to aid in the search instead of beating on each other. You’d never guess where we found the guard. Well, after following a trail of dead kobolds we found him in the Bear Clan’s cave.” She held up her hands in protest laughing, “I know that’s not so odd. He was claiming to be the king of the Bear Clan. He had a helm with horns and kept threatening to charge us. Tarek finally managed to knock him out cold, and we got him back home.”

    A thoughtful frown marred her brow, “He didn’t remember anything. Not even what had happened to the body we find at his feet. Dram carried the body back. The other guards recognized it as a petty thief.” She smoothed out her brow and smiled, “I tell you, Opinvu, it was one strange rescue, but I’m glad the guard is safe.”

    Oh it was aweful. The latch on the main gate on the west side. Phil, one of the guards on duty was tending to it when a man rushed out them. Sent him flying over the ledge. Also gave Phil a good bump on the noggen. Then the man slowed but had not noticed the effects of his actions, and strolled away into the night.

    Phil trying to recover sat against the wall and rested his eyes. The bump swelled. He sprang awake and ready for travel. The other guard looking to the greater threat potential, Southern tree line, took little notice to the swift comotion of Phil darting back over the ledge and scurrying to the North. Phil found a man, a large farmer to be exact. His odd behaivior sent the fearless farmer into his home. Stealing a helmet left about the house, Phil took to the Plains.

    Spana was spotted out by the soup kitchen on the road to Stonemark. The search party for Phil found her and rescued her from some marauding kobolds. She offerd to help in the search. The party assigned her the Northern Plains for searching. A small fire got out of hand and created a large amount of smoke in the soup kitchen. The search party was forced to leave Spana to the search alone while they aided in saving the soup.

    The search party was quickly overcome by a strange stomach illness. The condition so terrible they were subdued by slumber.

    Spana, had found more excitement than she had ever seen on this section of road. Normally a quiet stretch of homes, only livestock disturbed the calm. Monty and Ox joined her there, then Dram found them, and as if they had a downhill slant pulling the lazy, Tarek managed to wander upon them as well. Curiosity infected them all faster than any gas or light.

    The search began West of Yar. The befuddeled group trode into the cold sea of snow. Coming upon kobolds killed by something preceeding them, they took it for a possible trail. In the vast plains they held on and found more signs. Finding Ederyn brought question, assumptions of dead ends. The bodies were strange. Most and the last found had strange puncture wounds, and were pushed or drug a ways from their point of wounding. Tarek would find the trail lead north yet, into the Bear Clan Kobold Caves. The others catching up slowly behind.

    Tarek and Monty found the End of the line. But found not a thing more than a funny feeling. Regrouped, all re-enterd the end of the line. Phil was there, wet dripping, wearing a helmet with antlers reaching for the sky. His babeling was met with a magic spell sending him to sleep by Monty’s quick thinking.

    Seemingly unaware of the magic casting upon him, Phil fell off the raised rocks he had just claimed his ruling throne. He shouted and cursed the entruders presence. But yet again was put to sleep. No one brought rope. This man was clearly in a state not of his own natural kind. His head would rear about threatening them with the antlers. His babbeling produced some answers to questions. Phil thought he was a bear. The badgering was agitating the bear. The bear became restless. No rope to bind him, a problem surrounding a safe return was arising.

    The restless bear became rough. Ederyn thought best to knock him cold. His swings go to waste, missing their targets. The wild bear proves to be more agile than he thought. Tareks turn, an opening to end this, he took to Ederyns side and threw a few swings. Avoiding two men catching misses and wind ups the three danced for the others for a short time. A violent successful hit by Tarek hit Phil square in the jaw. His head pulling his body backward slamming into the cave wall and sending Phil to see the floor instead.

    Aback Ederyn is where Phil awoke. As if nothing more than a nap had occured he sprang from his semi-captive state and began attempting to comprehend his situation and surroundings. So many adventures, and himslef, and the strange location. Some sense was made, but not without paitence and a short, long talk. The crew took the walk back to Foothold.

    Glad to see their lost returning, the awaitng guards greeted the party. Again some sense to the situation was attempted to be made with diliberation and questioning the confused Phil. A corpse was found at his feet to be questioned as well. A banished petty theif, a victum of collateral damage it would appear. A strange adventure one man went through, without knowing it.

    Sent to the barracks for rest, the party was thanked and congradulated by the guards as they returned to their posts. The search party still remains missing. Tarek strangly absent, lost trak of during the journey back. The others leave the fact unnoticed and turn to the Taverns for some ale and unwinding.

    Another great story to add tot he collection of heroings that is Spana. I may be the only one to read them. But, a hero little ones will love to hear about in the future none the less. Maybe I can weave a moral into this… To work on a closed gate.. hrmm.. When working locks.. no. Another time…

    • Markshire PCs:

    If you only knew my insolence regarding my journal. So much has my eyes seen, and not to mention my ears heard. Great triumphs and remorseful outcomes. Nearly enough to write a novel. If you knew of the wonder the Cooper Chaz is capable of, you would say it should be full of content, fear and laughter, suspense and mystery. In a way, it is. Each spec of sand, peice of goods has some story to tell.

    The sentence Tarek the foul smell has been given made me think of you… home. What would happen to me if it was known I had not a scrap of today on paper. Today was one to remember for many seasons to come.

    Foothold was calm and set in for supper as I walked the streets for familiar faces, and new ones to convince to give up some gold. The rumors from breakfast still in my head about Red the Reinhart back in the mines for life. I have come along way from who I once was. Before I would have thought of the story it would be. Now, I recal a missed oppertunity to throw his body off a mountain. Lessons of my own stories told weighing heavy, coming to conclusions far from the majority. Evil knows know justice, giving them it only confuses them more. Over my own thoughts I still heard the caravan worker speak of a dropped crate of healing cloth.

    Insuring them it would be returned in due course, was simple enough, but yet enough to give the mind something to do while I forgot about revenge. The Northern Plains would be getting bitter cold bout now. A swifter step would help the ale run my veins.

    A normal day like all normal days can change with the weather. Without regard to lost crates or nearly finished meals, they will turn on you for good or worse. This day was just as normal as one of those. Something large ravaged the air overhead as I neared the Everspring. A thousand bats carrying away cows and badgers could not have been more distinctive as was the sound it made. It circled round acknowlegeing my presence but yet devoid of will to engage, my way to the Everspring was rushed and unfeathered.

    Darkness had already set with it’s quick hand. The air crispy and sharp on the face. The helmets do nothing. Mere masks hiding emotion and tears from the bothersome cold. The nights freezing grasp squeezing everything tightly, only the steps of your heat can be heard over your racing heartbeat. Even the wind refuses to blow with a voice. The Everspring’s oil lamp the only light of hope.

    I took the back roads, hiding under the tall trees and the moon shadows of the fences. A safer bet against his threat above. I knew what it was. My heart would not race as it does if it was only a mere dragon. But a visual confirmation I had not. Just this gut stabbing feeling. I don’t even know if this thing was coming or going. To Stonemark, or from. Only seeing Stonemark covered in cold and devoid of rampet fires would confirm it. The Everspring in got close in a hurry, it’s roof blocked any veiw of the skies over the city. As I approached, armed men appeared in my path as well. The shadows were already keeping me safe, their eyes were not saduced my way. I crept along the back wall of the Inn catching not few men, but a large group headed for the road, they looked hurt, tired but hurried. Fear was following them. So I did as well.

    They all took the road to the East for Foothold. I was sure to look for whence they came. That is when I saw it. The portal to the Moonglade. It was open. Right behind the spring just as before. I remember that day like it was I coming out of that portal with them now. It had to be Garrison, the Dracolich! I spoiled his plot for nesting there… had they found him there still? Had he nested? Did they even know to look for a nest? Did they bring him out?

    So many questions answered easily by the familiar faces already seen headed East. Sar Khan, Valgrimm Krowning, Gregor and Aleswith… A new one exited the portal though. With a dreaded penguin! The penguin that thinks it’s human. Why would anything other than a human want to think it’s one? His atire suggested something, but I didn’t take threat anyway. His limp and slow movement showed he was in no shape of wining any battles. He ignored my banter and lead me to the others while confirming Garrison’s flight. It passed me over. Why? I tcould only mean it had a strict agenda.

    The group was dressing their dressings and prepairing for their persuite. All were mindset on following it. I could only hope we wouldn’t find it. My sheild blocked it in the tight space of the Moonglade, but out here, and now after it could have grown in strength, it was ludacrise. But I followed anyway. Northward intot he plains we went. The night yeilding no restraint but to the wind helping it close bleeding wounds with painful frosted coatings.

    It was nearly an irony. An almost irony. A coppery. A couple men short of 13 hunting one of the 13’s minions. The one with the 13 story wing span. If we had 13, it just might be possible. But I haven’t seen a total of 13 elite warriors around Markshire yet, let alone in the same room. Let the gods be with us this day!

    With us or just trying to confuse us, we found something. A penguin cave. The penguin lead us to it’s home. For fish? Dracolich’s aren’t known to eat fish. Having a body without flesh makes it difficult to hold anything down I would imagine. It would need to eat Sar Khan with his armor garunteed to be cought in it’s ribs. Entangled for an eternity. Sar’s luck would shine this day, Garrison is not amung the things we found at this cave. Kalem Salt, an epic fighter of the 13. As though he found us rather, the battle begun.

    Alesworth, Gregory, Braetai, and the well dressed Belteron were awestruck at the immediate intinsity of Kalem’s attack upon Sar Khan. I was not prepaired for such an ambush. My eyes were to the sky. Valgrimm next to Sar nearly matched the quick precise flurry of attacks that came from Kalem. The two of them were only half a threat to this battlemaster. His stance did not move until I and the others joined in with our able assults. His movements only forward through the weak. Friends flew throgh the air before landing motionless. First Gregory, then Belteron, then Alesworth, then Sar… The battle was not organized, the chaos came fromt he start. A giant spider on the side of this warrior of the 13 spread it’s venom to all it could. I saw it fit to be the one to do this one in.

    The group fought valiantly amist the chaos. As fast as the wounded fell in pain, another was there pulling them up and taking their place. Like a poorly oiled mill with massive holes in its grinding wheel, we churned and mulled over spider and focused upon the biggest threat. Unaware our backs prone to the skys our swords jested with Kalem for nearly 30 minutes. This old man’s stamina must faulter soon. If not, ours would.

    Our backs need not eyes when the foul breathed deamon Tarek arrives on the scene. His presence swayed that shamless gnome’s allegance. I was shocked to turn from Kalem and see Tarek fighting witht he others. I had beseted him not long ago. I warned him he would only meet death when he meets me. One warning he needed reminding. I turned my blade to him. Valgrimm’s pride and honor had taken over. Matching blow for blow with Kalem they were locked into a rythme of swrod ringing.

    Tarek made a second mistake right then, his leasson would be two fold. My blade let blood soak his cloak and paint his back. I followed through with no mercy. His legs buckled from the blow and took his face to meet his future mistress. The other’s had overcome that tratiorous Scrimdad. Their wounds were still pulsing. The length of this battle was taking it’s toll. Red was becoming a primary color in the snow. There was little evidence of where Gergory first wet himself at the sight of the giant spider, spilled ale during battle should be a jailable offense.

    I stopped only for a moment to look at our situation. Valgrimm behind Sar trying to quaff a potion to sooth his bruised bones. Sar struggeling to keep Kalem’s sharp edge at arm’s length. OTher’s weak trying to plug the bleeding and regain focus from the loss of blood. Clouds covering the skies oncemore, the moon lost devoid of intrest in whatching the struggle below. Darkness was in complete control. My armor not showing courage in standing between me and Kalems weapon, it’s damage from his one hit was severe. I know I can’t hold up to to many more. And after that, not at all. The state of the others is at that point. They couldn’t survive another direct attack. The fight to feirce for many ranged shots without hitting Sar or Valgrimm.

    Tarek was awakened by this momentary quiet around the main clash. Retreat was his desire, he pushed the others asidequickly and went for the South. I took follow. The penguin was still alive. I seen it. With us this whole time. Had it fought? How do you bandage a penguin? Rumors say they are poisonous to the touch. A curseed illness is bestowed and some point later the penguins assume control of the afflicted and bring them back to their lair. Apparently no one has lived to tell of what happens after this. Kalem was still getting warmed up when I took chase of Tarek’s yellow back. He was running for the distance. Energy I was not going to waste on him. As I know his return will be immenent, I can strike him down with my swift blade.

    I returned to the others finding them holding their own stabely now. Kalem sounding like us a half hour ago, begining to sweat. I regoined the clash with Kalem. His legs were getting weaker after the fall we gave him earlier. Our combined onslought had forced him off the cave’s rised fromation. Valgrimm had forced him away from the cruch of the rocks to open ground. Our attacks were landing more true and with greater impact. It was begining to look like a winnable battle. If Sar and Valgrimm can keep up their volly with this savage of the blade. This must be the point when Tarek will decide to rejoin. With near divine senses I feel his presence.

    Kalem isn’t worried much with my lucky stikes as he is with showing up Valgrimm. The egos are naked to the eye locked in a stand off far away from from anything in our reality. The sparring raged on. Exhaustion was hinted in every aspect of the group, even my own. I would catch s hort breaks of exertion to look out for Tarek’s second attempt. He managed to come inbetween the times I expected. Gregory nearly lost his head. Alesworth and the others swarmed him like bees on a bear. I joined in with a reminder of his foolishness. I caought him by suprise with a swing to his side, doubleing him over to receive a nasty blow from Alesworth. His mistress once again embracing him and soaking up his blood. Kalem was finally showing real signs of fatigue. This old man couldin’t possibly last forever, an arm or a leg would have to fall off sooner or later.

    Well, maybe he could have. Lasted longer had we not all regained enough energy to assult in unicen one more time. Valgrimm took the final blow. Catching a percise jab with his blade, a sweet spot was struck and a major hole was filled with blood. His body falling limp opened up to many insurances of his end in this world. Kalem Salt fell after three hours of relentless firocitly. Sar’s list one man shorter, and one more champion of the 13 put back into the ground. Tarek, he was like a catfish out of water. But, we dragged him off to Foothold. For his history in this world, it will soon be just that. History, without a future. If the gods be merciful, he will have been beheaded and body burned at the stackwithin a fortnight.

    That is how I defeated evil this day. By following friends and not giving up. Not turning back or sword to the easy way out. I did it with the strength of the best of Foothold! I survived so well for same reason as the others, dedication and practice, ale twice a day and fishing on Friday. The feeling of triumph didn’t come tell after a good rest.

    A new life requires a new set of rules. I have come to beleive to come standing to point of stubborness requires reassesment and reform, not failure or surrender. I have long since given up hope and prayer for returning home. Home has been found and accpeted. This wild frontier will be the death of me. Why not make it home your dieing in?

    • Markshire PCs:

    I guess the boom in my jewelery making has gotten me away from my writings for far to long. I must say, Sar actually inspired me to get back to my journal. Well, indirectly. His tale of this lich under Yar. I had thought it was over after Vruruk stepped in. Sar’s story was different. and well, I’m glad I was the only to hear it that night. He asked me to hear it and take it down for the history books. Well, His tale was choppy, but he had names and places. Sources to check for better details. I must say it was a fun way to pass the time between Father Tan visits. As they are becoming fewer and further apart. I suppose I will do something with all these notes. Sar tells of the end, but I have here a great saga of this curse upon Yar…

    This should surely make it up to you. While the money I have made would ammount to nothing to you, I beleive the time it helped pass is repaid with this epic tale.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Chap. 1 An Epic Tale Begins…Again

    My memories of current events become some what questionable after visits with Garm. But, I remember this story like I lived it all myself. For I did live most of it, it all happened here in Markshire. I just happen to know everyone that was evolved personally now as well. It all began and ended right there in Yar Village. Dates aren’t much of importance here, but it wasn’t to long ago that Yar had a tomb in the town center which held a memorial for the lost heritage to the caved in crypt of old. For this tomb as we knew it was only a memorial built atop a once vast crypt which caved in long before my mother named me.

    Without warning this tomb decided to give birth to a new crypt as if by a set time. It’s doorway to nowhere now had a somewhere. Where ever the somewhere may be, it spilled undead skeleton into the streets. A few wandering adventurers I know personally came upon Yar that day, finding it overrun with walking bones and zombified corpses. Scratching at the doors and window shutters of the homes, they were cut down by the two warrior’s sword. The flow of undead would seem constant to the warriors retaking control of the village grounds. The undead did stop their advances after a long spell, lifeless bones and scraps of corpses returning to dust littered the streets. This new somewhere had made it’s existence known, well known.

    The town was in an uproar over this. Questions, fears, worry and suspicions plagued every mind in town. Brave adventurers discovered the presence of this crypt, but who had reopened the crypt of old times? Or, was it just some new abomination from a plane of Hel? Father Skyrme of the Odin’s temple locked the gate protecting the old memorial’s contents, this being the first time to keep the dead inside. Many came to explore and offer their theories and hunches. One hero of Yar would return to find his home defiled by the presence of this abomination in the town. Vruruk Kain would be first to unravel the great mystery of this strange crypt. Behind an elaborate set of traps and hidden switches he overcame some restless souls of a great tormented power. For deeds of protecting the enslaver, their souls twisted inside out, apparently trapped in this crypt and forced to use a power outside of their own. Their touch failing to subdue Vruruk Kain allowed the discovery of the master of this crypt. A powerful Lich had awakened and opened his door upon Yar.

    Discovery alone could never be an outcome of this pair meeting. A battle to the death of one, at all cost, a struggle would ensue. Skeleton golems unleashed upon the crypt floor would not slow one Vruruk from his target. The Lich’s assault would be swift and strategic. It’s foe an unknown. The Lich would learn this to be a mistake, a flaw in his assault. Although swift and strategic was his choices, Vruruk’s forceful hands were quickly punishing what was left of the Lich’s body. To swiftly for an unprepared battle with a Vruruk Kain, the lich would find itself being crushed into dust before an attack or counter could be executed. His strategy was to slow and out dated. The hands of Hel’s follower worked with a stinging blast which all undead should know to fear. Many things to be learned from this battle for the Lich, one lesson in particular would burn a sour hole in his mind. The Lich learned to fear and despise Vruruk Kain, an undesired better, the hard way.

    Vruruk’s swift work of this threat allowed Father Skyrme a perfect opportunity to place a seal on the tomb door. Closing the Lich’s door proved impossible, but blocking it worked well enough for now. The tomb sealed, the threat would be slowly forgotten. Not as fast as most would wish though. Memories of its chaos and death would linger. Only days after a miraculously conceived baby would be born, then the small new family disappearing haunted the town with hushed whispers in back rooms. The reappearance and theft of the child of this couple would trouble Father Skyrme more. The baby was brought to him by a man of a shadowy nature, he wished remain unknown. The babies parents were seen killed by wolves during a mad tirade the couple were having, the child was rescued and returned. Not a few days pass and the baby begins to raise questions in the temple. Its size and growth is apparently faster than normal. This discovery is only clouded and enforced by the baby’s kidnapping by a woman and a red Imp. The baby would never be seen by the temple again. Searches had to be called off due to lack of interest. Some began to doubt the baby really existed.

    Some may wonder about now, is this story about Yar, or a Lich? I would ask is Yar but a stage for life to play out in? Yar has seen much action on its stage. Experience makes the man, and experiences shape a town. Yar had nearly fallen to ogres. Its fortified keep nearly completely demolished. Many bruises upon the hearts and minds of its people, large and long lasting bruises. The town’s history plays a role in every story of each man woman and child that reside there. Without it, they wouldn’t be there, and this story would then be just a made up lie about an ant and an aardvark. The contrary be true, and both are right. This story is about a Lich, Yar’s Lich. So to tell the rest, you must know the past, the present and the other past between the two first cases.

    Yar was just a starter town after Foothold was settled and under some form of peace. The City of Arik was under siege and falling fast. Refugees fled the desert to the Gastlinyk Gate, a large city that was already near its full capacity. Few would be able to stay long, for West was their only saving grace. Foothold was fortified behind heavily guarded walls. At the mouth of a steep valley pass, the town had a defensive advantage. The dangerous pass would have to be passed over. Thrym’s children had control over this pass, but behind Foothold lay a calmer more civilized land. Upon their arrival a budding village was to perfect to pass by. The refugees settled claims and integrated with the village life. A keep was constructed in due course. A safe haven for the travelers on the road and for all that could come, a last retreat from the assaults of Thrym’s children. Yar’s heritage is full of struggle and determination.

    The safety of the land would be soon compromised. An Ogre mage would command an army of ogres upon the keep of Yar. Many warriors lost their life in vein, the mage ogre would take control of the keep and castle in the end. Thrym’s supply of troops was grander than the village of Yar could counter. A valiant knight from Gastlinyk Gate had resided in the castle with his family. They would be sacrificed and staked maliciously upon the walls to taunt the remaining villagers and strike fear deeper into their hearts and hopes. Their hopes and faith wouldn’t be easily spoiled, all would not be lost, word of the keep falling spread like wildfire across the region. The valiant knight and his wife would be displayed for only a short time. Before any troops from Stonemark could be assembled, a loan warrior rushed to Yar with determination blazing in his heart, and anger flaring out his eyes. Stonemark troops would come shortly after only to find their job already done. The head of this ogre mage hanging from the peak of the castle told all. The fallen had already been taken from their disgraceful stakes. The guard from Stonemark returned home after a short inspection only, with nothing to kill, their backs turned for home. Clean up would be hard and demoralizing on the villagers. In years following the keep would fall prey to many raids and attacks. With every expunged threat a new one sprouted in its place. The keep would become a lost cause, a forgotten hope. Its control would be relinquished by the villagers like a garden left overrun by weeds and bad bugs.

    Their faith and hope was crushed and left under the rubble and brick of the keep, its loss, a projection of a constant reminder of conquer and their weakness to hold a line of order. Four heroes would soon come and revive the village. Vruruk Kain, Nordbert Windhollow, Dolph, and Lalaith cleansed the evil of the ogre mage haunting the keep, and expelled the Orc Shaman Guntal that had summoned it back from the dead. The people of Yar and the nearby regions then proceeded with the repair and cleaning of the keep. New hope and a new light shined on Yar that day. The four were immortalized with statues placed in the center of town. Rebuilding would be slow, but their hope and will had been returned to them, their faith reborn by the fruits of a gallant four. For one of the four saw this for what it was. Inspired and touched like it was for the first time, a fondness for the town was blossoming within. Vruruk Kain decided then to take up residence inside the keep of Yar. Swearing to protect the strength and faith of the fine people of Yar, he built his own home near the South wall. Rebuilding went with a great fervor and near super human show of stamina and drive. The population would age in doing so, it would also soon wither. The old would die and children were not as numerous to replenish the workers. Strong raised walls and repaired homes, the castle’s repair took on a snails pace as the workforce shrank. We all know, in this land, a snail isn’t going anywhere for a while.

    So, you see. Vruruk Kain and this history of Yar are very important to the story. I can only assume this fact of Vruruk’s home be the reason the Lich chose to reopen his enclave tomb under the keep of Yar. Abandoned below the keep are some tunnels and barracks for the guard. The only access to the sewers below the castle is through these tunnels. One place not found by the ogres, was found by this crafty lich. How, is still a mystery, but the fact was too real for any to deny it. The tomb door of this lich opened itself in an unfinished tunnel under the Keep without notice. One location accessible to all, but known by few, seen by even fewer.

    **Edit revision for grammer/spelling**

    • Markshire PCs:

    Chap. 2 Gravedigger’s Tale

    Yar would appear safe for the most part. The minds of its inhabitants calm and resting at ease. The disappearance of the child from the temple and the strange opening of the tomb were fast forgotten, but not by all. Yar, as most towns do, has its own gravedigger, Yar’s wouldn’t soon forget the past. Some one to care for the dead and see to their respectful undertaking. Father Skyrme of Yar would tell me a short tale of this man’s daughter. He told me about the time she spent in his temple and how it was a crude reminder of his failure to protect the baby brought to him for safety not long ago. A few adventurers would resolve the problem at the gravedigger house, but little would be told to anyone. Be it resolved, there was still much mystery the good Father could not solve.

    My own charisma and friendliness would prove the good father wrong. Where he was finding a dead end, I found a man ready to get some guilt off his chest. Maybe enough time had already past, or my questioning was more direct, be what it may, the gravedigger told me a tale I couldn’t believe. His disabling guilt heavy on his shoulders and making his home nearly unbearable to live was laid out before me. Only he and his daughter resided there now. His grief was evident in his voice, though his story was foretelling that his own bad choices led to the loss of his wife, he was no longer in denial of anything. Why the choices came to his door may be a mystery to him, but obvious to any who talk with the man, he will never understand. Noble and humble he was, smart and quick witted he wasn’t. I took the time needed to get the entire tale from him. Which I assure you was longer than it will take to finish this tale for you now.

    It was a dark night during a loud thunder storm when the knock rattled his front door. About ready to turn in for the night he turned to the stairs to see what the commotion was. A loud knock trying to unhinge the solid oak rattled loudly again as he approached. Without more than a motion to unlatch the door, it swung open from the forceful knocker. A dark hooded figure loomed before the threshold dripping with melted snow. His robes were soaked and clinging to a heavy suite of red and black metal hidden underneath. The air was not clean and crisp as it would, the figure brought a warm damp musky stench into the home. The gravedigger would question the visitor and get no answers but the business it had come to offer. A choice, harm to he and his family or cooperation. A humble man such as this could only take the immediately apparent correct choice. Full co-operation. The figure with a lisping voice hissed its demands of three freshly buried corpses. In two nights the man would return. The graves of the bodies were to be made to look like a looting. The bodies then handed over to the man for his interested collaborator. No older than a month in the ground.

    The grave digger would do as he asked. A simple but crude and evil thing he was to do. If done right, he thought, no one would ever know. As he dug through the night, the fact haunted him. Grave robbery, it was too look as such, or his family would be in danger, and not his own doing. Three fresh bodies… Only two new graves lie in this cemetery. An open grave still waited for the elder woman hanging on to this world tell the very last. Only the gods knew when it would be filled. This fact was not helping his predicament. A third corpse was still needed. The two freshly buried bodies were exhumed when the idea came to him. What difference are a few months in the frozen ground when dead? The third body would have to be the next newest to reside in the site. It would have to do; it would have to come up, it was his only option.

    The second day came and went without incident. Worry beset the gravedigger. The bodies were beginning to smell within his home as they unthawed into his floorboards. Grateful something was covering the sulfur smell from the first visit of the man, the bodies had been discovered missing. His own daughter would find the disturbed graves the eve of the first day. His only option was to report it to Father Skyrme. Hoping his swift action would clear him of any suspicion. He waited up all night for the hooded man. No knock would come. Not until the next night at midnight. The gravedigger had just woken to a clap of thunder to feel the fire’s strength not reaching the upstairs. More wood would be needed to stoke it. To his feet he rose and descended down the stairs to find the fire breathing its last few breaths.

    His fiddling in the fireplace brought the flames back up around fresh dry wood. The crackling of hot embers once again resonated in the room. Like all fires, this one let off a loud ‘pop’ sending ambers to the walls of the fireplace sending shadows dancing and squirming to avoid the flashes. It sent a shudder down his spine. The preceding ‘pops’ would jump him to his feet. *BANG-BANG-BANG* The sound would send him faulting forward against the hearth to stop the spinning room of dancing darkness. The familiar rattling of the door from a hooded knocker was finally recognized. Hurriedly as not to let another knock wake his family, he rushed to the door. Indeed, the familiar smell of sulfur on a musky damp air wafted into his home. His stomach churned and tightened up making his throat tight and speech tough to choke out. The man didn’t allow for any greetings. His questions pierced the silence immediately upon sight of the gravedigger. It was time to make the exchange. “Exchange?” he questioned back. The gravedigger was surprised by this use of the term. Surely he wasn’t going to be rewarded for this awful deed. But indeed the man did reward him for the bodies. A golden anklet with small rubies set within its design was handed over to him. The sight of its beauty entranced the gravedigger. His memory of receiving it was vivid. The sparkle it gave from the little light casting upon it, the great detail of the tiny chain links, and the sound of the tinkle it made rolling around in his palm. He doesn’t remember seeing the man leave or going to bed. The next morning his wife happily admiring her new jewelry in the mirror would awaken him. Worry would keep him in bed. Worry that the older corpse would get him into trouble. Worry the evil men would not be happy and would return scared him immensely. Worry he couldn’t remember giving his wife the evil man’s jewelry was one quickly passed over.

    On the next night fall there was an unhappy returning of the hooded man. This time he would not be hooded. This time he would not be alone. Another man would join him knocking upon the door of the gravedigger’s home. The smell as strong and apparent as the first time, it nearly brought the gravedigger to his knees, he opened the door to them without hesitation. The grip of the man at the door finished the job the smell had started and forced him to the ground in the doorway. Unhappy their master was about the third corpse. They had noticed its age and had become livid over the double-cross. This man now showing the red and black steel armor that once hid under a robe gave the gravedigger an ultimatum. Find a fresh corpse and its grave defiled in one day’s time, or further punishment would be bestowed upon his family. Further punishment, he thought to himself after the men left for the third time. Before he could open the door to his room, the punishment curled his ears and sent a stiffening coldness through his body. Behind the door the moans were not like the voice of his wife. Thoughts of just running away battled for control in his mind. How wrong it would be to leave his family narrowly won. The door swung open from his will and revealed a pale green skinned troll and a vase flying toward him. The troll sent a barrage of projectiles forcing the door and the gravedigger to retreat. He took his Daughter out of her bed and ran downstairs. With his child safe he went back for the door that held a troll behind it and barred it tightly. Whatever that was and where ever it came from, no one must find out he thought. If anyone were to know, they would then know it was he who defiled the graves, it was he who had betrayed the village.

    This all had to remain a secret. Even from the questioning and crying daughter. All he could do to silence her was to send her outside and lock the door. Outside to play and be safe from his anger and what might possibly be what is left of her mother. Fear coupled and exaggerated by his anger over this mess, drew his hand far to close to his daughter’s face for his own liking when she questioned him. For her safety and his own sanity he tossed her out into the cold. Days and weeks would go by. His daughter locked outside only let in before the sun set to sleep; she learned far too early the easy dangerous ways to fend off the cold. Hiding in the mill shed ignoring the rats biting at her and filth to savor the warmth was where she spent most of her time. She often exploited the few precious moments in other’s homes for a cup of soup and some dishes to wash. Playing was impossible in the cold. She found other families unwilling to take in another mouth to feed on a regular basis. Questions of her father would soon come up. She did as her father demanded. Avoid the question and excuse herself she would. Ask them again for some time in their warm abode again she wouldn’t. Until the day she met a certain boy. The boy would quickly become a friend and show her things and tell her things she eventually would find that she didn’t want to hear and regretted knowing. They were the same age, so her trust was instinctual and naïve. Her only comfort was the strange pretty stone she found outside her home when her father had thrown her out the first time. It was warm to the touch, even in the cold, and when she held it her mind filled with warm thoughts of her mother. For safe keeping, she hid it away so no one could take her last bit of happiness away.

    Celdor Amakiir had come into Yar amidst all this in a round about way. He was greeted from a tree after slaying a great bear at the base of it while in the forest near Yar. A small boy had been treed by this bear and offered his crying thanks to him as he climbed down. Celdor was taken aback to say the least. Bear hunting was his plan; saving a child was just an unexpected effect. He asked the boy the normal questions. Where he lived, and why was he in the tree out here in the first place? The child was willing to tell. A girl in Yar had chased him out of town. Throwing rocks and mean words, he was forced to flee and hide. A girl named Missy caused his predicament. Celdor was a kind man, not one to let something a child says go so easily. Hunter and warrior, but gentle with people. He brought the boy back to the safety of the road and left him at Tobur’s camp. Tobur, the fur merchant was cooking up some kind of meat by a fire and agreed to keep the lad company until Celdor’s return, least if his soup is not gone by then. With the boy in good hands, he went into Yar to find this Missy.

    In Yar, what he found was a near equally saddened little girl near frozen by the mill. Accompanied by a doll and picnic basket she sat huddled under a large cloak. Her name turned out to be Missy, the very one he was told about. She explained her side of the story. Not explaining much about why she chose to throw rocks at the boy, she did lead on to a larger issue. His next round of questions learned her predicament with her father the gravedigger. His unreasoned will to keep his daughter in the cold was a far bigger problem to Celdor than a boy trying to take a doll from her. Celdor offered her some calming words and issued an order to come to the temple. He insured her Father Skyrme would feed her and keep her safe. He desired a talk with her father, alone.
    The gravedigger’s home lies to the Northwest of the Yar fortifications, next to the newer graveyard. The door rattled with ease as his fist rapped against its grains. Silence interrupted by a low murmur from inside was all to be produced from his banging. Celdor knocked again anyway, but harder this time. The rickety oak door popped open from his forceful pounds. The slim silhouette of a frail man standing before a fire ended near the threshold. His eyes followed it to find the gravedigger muttering to himself incoherently, unaware of his entry. A barked hello brought the gravedigger over for words. Words were plenty, but sense of reason was not. His rambling answers to questions gave hints of madness and an unsettling feeling to Celdor. Few things from this man made sense to him. The only thing that did was the mention of a priest of Njord. A priest, of whom he would seek out and return with, mentioned source of help out of the madness spoken. The word of curse stuck in the back of Celdor’s mind. Fearing the man’s madness may be a curse or real delusion were equally bearing on his compassion. This girl Missy didn’t deserve this. Something had to be done. And he was going to do it. Temples of Odin have open doors in every village he has traveled to; temples of Njord had yet to be seen, and a priest would be even more difficult to find.

    Celdor spent nearly all day tracking down priests. All of them pointed to one man, one man with a name. Father Ryche of Foothold had much knowledge, and much to say about graves, gravediggers and he knew the name of Father Tan. An older large man than himself, full of kindness and three hearts, and possibly two stomachs, Tan was a common man about this town of Foothold. Celdor had a name and a place to look. He also had more evidence to put this gravedigger in a dungeon for many years. A grave of Foothold had been pilfered, defiled and the corpse stolen to boot. From what Celdor had told me of the gravedigger’s ravings. This too was his doing. He could only hope this Father Tan could help this situation for the sake of Missy.

    Commonly found wandering about, Father Tan isn’t easy to track down; when Celdor did finally find him he wasted little time briefing him on the situation. Father Tan was enthusiastic to help on the matter. Not knowing what he could specifically offer, he went with Celdor to pay this gravedigger a visit. The door was closed again, but easily opened. The locks damage from before had not been repaired. It would appear the door had also given up on all hope; its hinges squealed and whined as they entered the house. Dark and colder than before, the smell of a smoldering fire was thick in the home. Furniture chopped to pieces and used for firewood left scraps strewn about the floor. Evidence of hatchet whacks to support beams and walls were everywhere. A man huddled in a corner produced a low steady hum of mumbling. When the two men approached him he sprang to his feet and raised the volume of his voice. Their calm greetings had no effect until the good father declared his allegiance to Njord. The gravedigger gathered some focus to stop his mumbling and look to Tan. Their questioning produced some sense to the madness around them. The gravedigger was going insane. His daughter was in better hands at the temple than here at home. There were still sounds from upstairs that remained under question. The location of the girls mother, his wife, where was she? He wouldn’t say. His tears and screams crippled him and sent him back to the floor.

    The two men had only one option. They took the right one and to go upstairs to inspect the sounds and leave the man huddled in the corner. Covered with woodchips and boards, the stairwell had hit been ravaged with a hatchet? A poor attempt to cave in the stairway left it treacherous at best. The men easily ascended the stairs to the upper floor. Sounds of heavy feet became fully audible, emitting from the master bedroom. Moans and scratching were new to their ears as they drew close to the door. Father Tan opened the door allowing Celdor to enter and discover a troll occupying the room. It backed away from their entry and clawed at the air between them. Celdor’s call to arms was not joined immediately by the good father. Celdor’s advance upon the troll set it screaming in its horrid voice. Its arms flailing about toward them, it caught Celdor clean on the jaw first. Father Tan countered the assault with a quick draw of his axe and a mighty blow to the trolls mid section. The troll’s fight would be weak and over powered by the two men. Its death swift and clean little blood pooled from its wounds. Its corpse melting like snow left only an anklet behind. Celdor recognized it from the ramblings of the gravedigger. It had been the anklet the stinking man had brought to his home a few nights back. The very anklet the gravedigger couldn’t remember giving to his wife.

    One less noise from the home, the two descended the stairs to find the huddled up gravedigger near catatonic in the corner once again. Right where they left him, mumbling circles of thought. Celdor’s voice and display of the anklet brought him to reality closer to their own. Slowly standing, the gravedigger sobered up and found a new emotion, a single one, real and all encompassing of his energy. Sadness, utter and ultimate sadness enveloped him. The anklet, the troll’s death, his wife now gone, he was dragged from his worried madness. The costs of his dances in madness were now real, more real and more exterminated than he had ever feared. He explained the connection, the anklet, his wife changing, and his ordeal in locking her in the room. He explained his reasons for sending his daughter out into the cold. Secrets and lies in an ill-devised plan to protect his daughter and himself from the truth. Secrets and lies he wished to go away and solve themselves without anyone finding out. The cost of his inactions paid to the fullest, his story of the men and the graves he robbed spilled out before the two saviors now before him. Foolishness and regret filled their hearts. Trickery and deceit by evil magic lead them to kill an innocent life. If only they had known more before. If only the gravedigger had regained some sanity sooner. Celdor and Father Tan quickly realized the full impact of their action on the behalf of the gravedigger’s inaction. Their own painful cost was the memory of their deed, and the confrontation with a small child ahead.
    Missy calmly waited at the Temple of Odin for Celdor to return. Despite the fine care and compassion provided there, she remained as fearful and exacerbated to the extent of her exhaustion. Both men returned to the temple to bare the tragic news to the innocent child. Missy took it with mixed emotion. Relieved to see an end, but devastated to learn of her great loss. Her memory would also become clearer with the truth exposed and in the open. Many mysteries and unanswered questions now solved and put to rest, details of the days leading to this one became clearer, a puzzle in her mind was fitting together before them. She recalled a stone, the pretty one she had found outside their home. When she touched it, it made her see her mother. It was calming and yet scary. Hidden in her doll this entire time she removed it to gaze upon it again. This time, the stone would do nothing more than look pretty. Celdor would take it as she handed it over for anyone to take it out of her life. The boy he had first met leading him into all of this had spoken to him of this after his first meeting with the gravedigger. The boy had wanted Missy’s doll even after he saved him from the bear at the base of his tree. The boy didn’t want the doll, he wanted the stone inside. The words and mysterious way he vanished made depressing sense. The boy had to be evolved in this somehow, for he knew the stone was linked to the gravedigger’s wife. The clues were there but overlooked due to age of the source, the stone might have been a way to save the woman. Out witted by a child, a dastardly evil child at that, Celdor returned to the forest, back to his hunt. Father Tan was never heard from again. Until a few hours later, he arrived in Foothold. The gate guards greeted him with a cheery voice, insuring him not all had to suffer the weight of this day’s tragedy.

    **Edit revision for Grammer/Spelling**

    • Markshire PCs:

    Chap. 3 Zairet’s Siege

    The cold summer of Markshire was nearly through; the colder winds would be coming soon. Most in the land had already forgotten the ill deeds of the gravedigger. All had forgotten the tragic loss of an orphan to some evil desire. A more serious blight was brewing. Champions of the blade and magic arts battled in the unseen regions of a villager’s daily life, battling a dire threat known as the Thirteen. An immense evil with cunning and patience, one by one would rise and elude them. Hunted and tracked until success was to the champions of good. With every storm follows calm. The calm would be short lived with reports of undead besieging Zairet. Many would hear word of this. Few would think of their options of helping, even fewer would question if it be sign of another Champion of the Thirteen. Only a handful, including one man named Sar Khan would stand up and desire immediate action. Sar Khan, a man knee deep in his life in Foothold would rouse the table dwellers to their feet and arm their minds with victorious re-conquering enthusiasm. Sar and a few of his close friends alone would set out to aid Zairet in there time of blight. While official procedures churned over the information like a windmill, Sar Khan and his loyal friends were half way there, swords in hand and quivers fully stocked. The cold wouldn’t keep them from slowing their pace.

    Upon arrival the gates were found open and in shambles, guards at their posts starring off into places and at things unknown. Caution was thrown to the wind by the warriors; haste brought them inside the commons of Zairet finding it calm and its normal inhabitants alive. Their behavior was out of place thought, altered and delirious almost. Sar Khan and his friends questioned most of the merchants, only to learn their one line vocabulary. Their minds seemed trapped in a loop. All the way up to Thane Gash, the people seemed in a daze of one track minds and programmed hallucinations. Within Thane’s grand hall a Grippli was found. Somehow unaffected, he had remained hidden in a bunk for some time. The Grippli had much valuable information. He told a tale of a child that had come to visit Zairet just that morning. The child had tricked everyone into believing he was just a child, tired and alone. The Grippli and his friend had been the first to see the child’s magic at work. Only the Grippli got cornered and trapped in his hiding place. One door lay impassable, none other than the child had passed it. Locked by key and made of thick steel, it was a relief to the group that the Grippli held a key to this door. It held it with a warning. The guards at the door in question chased him off before, and may attack them now. What lies beyond the door is unknown, but the sounds are loud and heavy footed.

    As the Grippli approached the door to the Smithy’s basement shop the guards of it launched their attack as predicted. Sar and his band thwarted the attackers with a swift vengeance in the Grippli’s defense. The door was open and the Grippli was fast out of sight. The party made a line, single file they descended the stairs into the blacksmith’s dungeon. When they arrived in view of the hall beyond a greeting party was their waiting. Before a greeting could even be uttered the sounds of bones clashing with metal echoed off the stone walls. Skeletons had filled the once desolate forge of the Zairet smithy. Numbers to quick to count rushed the group of freedom fighters. For Zairet their blades and arrows settled the bones upon the floor urging them onward through the sea of white and steel. Their feet still firm their push inward found them in the heart of the forge. The Smithy was still no where to be seen, his safety still in question, a shred of hope found itself in their hearts. Though only a shred, it is still hope, something worth fighting vigorously through the waves of undead skeletons that beseech them.

    The rough sea of axe and sword swinging bones had started to settle when a resounding boom causing everything in it’s presence to hesitate a moment. Giving a respectful pause for awe to the greatness of its origin, only the eyes of the hero’s would remain focused up it. Forcefully the sea parted, skeletons thrown in all directions like an explosion, an enormous zombie emerged up right resting its shoulder upon the ceiling, the entire room shook. Flesh of a smaller body fell from its bones. Cold fleshy hands created a path through the enraged bone sea. Sar’s eye would not waver from the enormous zombie. The band of righteous swords picked up their fierceness, quickened their already hasted assault cutting down the skeleton assailants. Their focus became the attention of the zombie. Its attention threw half of them to the walls with one unexpected blow. Their wills unbreakable, unlike their bones, they just returned to their feet and the fight. Chaos took over the battle; bones and blades swung and flew in every direction. None of the heroes can remember all the details. A second giant came from the shadows to join the assault. Almost a welcome sight the two giants would help rid the floor of the smaller undead still swinging their weapons at anything that moved. All in an effort to bring dismembering blows to the righteous heroes.

    Sar would be the last standing this round. Wavering and weak, he did stand. Other’s sat; some fell to their knees searching for another wind to bring them to their feet with strength. Their muscles weak like jelly, their bodies crying for a rest, collapses of exhaustion was uniform among them. Their tired bodies were still sharp of eye and mind, they watched as the giant zombies shrank and shriveled up into human sized bodies. Questions from confusion at this sight were slightly entertained. The Smithy was the voiced concern. His storage room remained locked. Somehow their will was able to persuade their bodies to beat the door down. I would think their bodies cursed their will that day. For beyond the door lies a third giant zombie, guarding a chained up smith. The fight was quickly underway. The shreds of hope they held onto with desperation had paid out in full. A new energy of relief inflated that final shred of hope into visualized victory. A grateful smithy was a blessing in its own right. Another innocent life saved, and proof their actions were not in vein.

    Hearing the Smith’s story was a welcome change to their stroll down to his forge, a welcomed break. He told of a child as well, this one he witnessed would be accompanied by three zombies. The Zombies grabbed him and held him down with an extraordinary strength, shackled him and held him in the storage room. The child proceeded with a few magic castings upon a forge in the shop while he was taken away. The child spoke of revenge upon Yar and some name he can’t remember. An army of undead would make this desire come true. He boasted this to the smithy, asking if he was proud that he chose his forge to make his weapons in. Attempting to break the smith’s spirit with his evil treachery only resulted in the child growing angrier. The smith refused to entertain the child and spurred a tirade and a fierce beating upon him by a zombie that grew to a gigantic size before his eyes. The child referred to it as his own slave from Yar. The child had power like no other but yet acted like a spoiled child throwing fits.

    The smithy’s story brought back many memories to the group. Sar Khan specifically remembered the Lich that had appeared in Yar. He had heard word of this crypt being found again after the good Father Skyrme had sealed up the entrance there in the village. Sar Khan was far from finished with this child’s treachery. The party had secured Zairet and was assured by Thane Gash everyone was back to normal just before he ordered them to travel to the crypt of the lich. An already exhausted group was hard-pressed to take up the order. Rest, food, a drink of water, none of which the party had seen since they arrived in Zairet were in high demand and a necessity before anything else could happen. A journey back to Yar would surely kill them otherwise. This would not stop Sar Khan. Two other’s would stand and accept his hasty and foolish challenge. On the journey they would attempt to feed and water their loud stomachs, and rest only their feet for short times.

    The crypt might have been a bad choice as Sar recalls when he tells me this tale. I might agree, but had he not persisted, the rest of the story may never have been written. This tale might be written by the lich rather than this rightful bard. Sar and his foolhardy followers traipsed into Yar Keep and descended the tower stairs into the subterranean barracks. Quiet and without words they arrived to the door their long silent journey had been bound for. A door beset upon a wall that mast masonry of that which is seen in a dead end. A door without threshold seems to occupy the space where a wall should. Monty Threecard’s hand can’t wait and opens the door. With a loud slurp the air of the halls gets sucked into the door, the bodies of three brave men rush through behind it. The crypt was, as it was for me dark and alive with its own form of life. A demandingly vast crypt suddenly unfolds at your feet. Giant heads line a walk around walls with few doors. Nearly like a floating mass, a chasm separates you from its main bulk. The walk is not without slight fright as the narrow bridge creaks under your step. If a bottom could be seen courage could overcome its perceived dangerous effect. Traps around every corner, doors controlled by the crypt itself. Locked they remain, keyholes they refrain, objects of deceit abstain. Behind them lay lost souls, restless evil haunting the halls and coves. Sar and his men had come with some preparation. Enough to overcome the resistance they had, but weather it would be enough to meet the lich was to be found out soon enough.

    This group had not had much experience with this lich. His spells were fast. Their assaults were slow. The fight was tough. Victory had appeared to be theirs, the lich fell to their swords and all became quiet like victory often did. Their search and final exit would go unabated. On their way to the tunnels under Yar keep, Sar came across something out of place. The battle with the lich had cause the crypt to shake violently. A corpse had spilled out of its coffin. It bared a strange crest in its hand. It was of a family of Gastlinyk Gate, but the name was oddly obscured. The symbol like carvings was unfamiliar to most he asked along the way. The crest would find itself now in the bottom of Sar Khan’s travel pack. This may make him sound a thief, but I know Sar Khan personally, and he is not a thief, or a grave robber. Fate ruled his hand that day. His honor carried the three bodies back to Foothold. A proper burial he desired for them, a more respectful site in the least. It could only be assumed these corpses were turned against their will. Father Ryche would find other clues. One copse wore clothes of the man which perished not long ago. His grave had been plundered, and his body stolen. Ryche took attendance of the bodies and returned them to their rightful graves. How a child came in control of these corpses would prove the biggest mystery.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Chap. 4 The Ending of the Lich

    Sar Khan was the first to find the family crest in the Lich’s crypt under Yar. I have speculated how it came to be down there. I believe it is that of the man’s wife. The wife of a man I have come to know through research by the name of Uehling Quilici. There is much history lost in this land concerning this man. For it is told that he was responsible for the raising of the lich many years ago in this very village. A threat once thought to be vanquished, resurfaced to cause chaos and terror once more. The secrets behind the family crest Sar Khan had found were uncovered by Collan Marshall, the sage of Foothold. Magic was clouding the name making it impossible to read, after removing it, he was able to read Uehling’s name clearly upon the front. Not much was known of this man at that time. His name not uttered in a generation’s or twos time. He was just a man of mystery to be solved in the pursuit of a final end to this lich, but the only lead for clues to its phylactery.

    Father Skyrme was helpful, it was known that this man had not resided in Foothold, and Yar being the closest town, Sar sought the Father for any clues behind the name. It was building up to be one lucky day for this man Sar Khan. A book regarding the name in question was in the possession of the good Father. He also remembered he was still getting monthly reminders from the library of Stonemark to return it for the past year or two. The library would hold more volumes on the man though. A fighter at heart, and expert with the axe, this man Sar took a bench and sat to read up on Uehling’s history. Only disgusted to find, the other volumes a necessary read for complete qualification of this lead. A trip to the library was next on his agenda. One he wished never to have on it again. I wasn’t able to get that story out of him, but from what I gather, the librarian and he do not hold each other in the same regards. He would not expect the professional greeting he would come to receive.

    The books weren’t there at the library in Stonemark. Mysteriously, all three volumes had been checked out, but this librarian has kept good records. The other two books were traceable, one to the South near Spinehold, and one at the Citadel of the Watchtower. Places Sar Kahn had traveled before. The South was the closer, and the easier to locate. Not many homes were occupied along this dangerous road. The ones which were had their names on the door, the owner not need to be home to find the tombs location. The second volume only turned out to be a good cliff hanger of this man’s life story. His trip to Gastlinyk Gate would be long and cold. Night had set and a caravan was not a possible option. Foothold would find his head laid to rest. The next day would yield a caravan and companions to travel with.

    Companions he had ready, a caravan was waiting, and the morning snow was delightfully light. Their journey would be uneventful, but relaxing and a good chance to catch up on his previous days events. It fit the tone of their trip. Find a book, do some shopping, maybe drink exotic ale, and basically take it easy. I think I should take this moment to tell you what he meant by exotic, it only was a figure of speech. We all know there is no such thing as exotic brews in Gastlinyk. And we all know that if we want really exotic brews, the kind that taste good and come with a rare fine quality, they are obtained in Foothold from Kurm Reyer. No one in the land has the skill to match his. Nothing gets more exotic than his own special brew, not that all his aren’t special, but the truly unique and one-of-a-kind; Kurm’s Kicker can’t be beat. This kick won’t get your mate all fired up, and nothing gets more exotic.

    The trip to Gastlinyk went exactly as planned. The shopping was good, and the man they sought for the book was in his office. The unfortunate news came from within the office by the lips of the man they sought. The book they needed had been in a chest left behind in the park when a picnic turned ugly some time back. The Captain and his family were strangely attacked, spooked if you will, and forced to flee their picnic. A mad red imp came from the trees riding a strange giant owl-like bear. When they returned with more guards, the park was clear and vacant. The chest lies behind some magic field of light. All of his men tried their best to break through and obtain the chest to no avail. Mages from the city lent their hands only to come up dry. Sar and his band of friends would take on the challenge. Since the book also resided in this chest, it was their only option to lend a hand and take their turn in solving the problem.

    When they arrived in the park they found the chest just like it was described. Owl-like beasts were also there hiding and ready to greet them from the trees. The threat commanded Sar to search the area. The area was clear of trails, but inhabited by some unusual artifacts. Each had a glowing arrow pointing to them in the grass. One a large plant of some type, another a sarcophagus etched with skeletons with no hands, a pillar simply depicting a rune, the last pointing at a giant mushroom. A puzzle, one of the top items on Sar Khans list of things he hates. His companions would have to do the heavy thinking. The rune matched one he had on a stone. It seemed it would not have anything to do with this puzzle for the time being. Everything they could think to try produced no results. Wandering from artifact to artifact, their spirits and wits were near an end. Desperate for answers, one of them noticed one arrow was surrounding by a swirling light, not like the others. The plant… its arrow needed attention first. But what, what attention was it calling for? The rune would not have anything to do with it as they attempted to satisfy the puzzle’s demands.

    Braetai was out of ideas and set to walking to a good seat by a tree when his path crossed over the plants arrow. He froze in place and his pack began to glow. The others were exacerbated. Bewildered as to what had transpired. Braetai was completely frozen, he could talk, but he could not move anything else but his eyes. Though he could talk, he couldn’t exactly explain his predicament any better than the rest. The glow from his back was soon noticed. One of the others dug into his pack and found a herb stalk glowing like an enchanted gem. Picking it up saved Braetai from his state, but only transferred the petrifaction to his liberator. It took Sar and Braetai together to pry the fingers apart which held the herb, allowing it to fall to the ground and free them from the spell. This herb appeared to satisfy the swirling. A puff of smoke rose from the ground where the swirl had been, the arrow faded with it. A major step had been taken. The remaining artifacts were soon deciphered. The order was now apparent. All the remaining arrows had been released from this world allowing passage to the chest. A conspiracy to hide these books from public knowledge was apparent to Sar. This lavish puzzle to lock a chest behind magic was solely for the purpose of hiding the book from willful eyes. Nothing in the chest matched or exceeded the value of the book he sought. This final volume had to hold the secrets of the past that held answers he sought for the future.

    The history of Uehling Quilici did indeed bring much to light, explaining the origin of the Lich itself. The final volume held the most important secret of all, information of the lost Lich killer, the Domeier. A great sword commissioned for creation by Uehling himself. His amassed wealth made the quantities of rare and precious ingredients an easy commodity. The Temple of Odin on his side was quick to allow Odin’s blessing upon it. As the story went, the sword was never used to kill the Lich, but instead stolen to end the life of Uehling himself. This act broke the sword into two pieces. The blade tip still in the chest of its victim, it was buried with Uehling far away from Yar. The hilt had been given to a guardian at the Winter Towers for eternal safe keeping. Sar would lead his companions toward their acquisition.

    The body of Uehling was discovered deep under the graveyard on the road to Spinehold. A place of rest for many evil doers of the past, this graveyard was known to be a haunted site. What wasn’t known was how deep the man had been buried. After six feet of frozen soil and roots, they began to fear his marker had been moved in yet another attempt to deceive. Sar’s stubbornness wouldn’t allow such a deep hole to go to waste, he dug on without help only to find a bigger hole under his. He soon fell through into a hollowed cavern under the cemetery. It was a hallowed cavern that hosted a troll shaman and his experiments no less. His companions on the surface were bewildered. The hole was to dark to see the condition of Sar or a bottom to its depth. They jumped down anyway, finding Sar locked in battle with trolls nearly two men tall.

    Defeating the lot of them was rewarded with a secured coffin of Uehling. Within it laid the blade tip of the legend sword, the Domeier. It would have to be another day before a trip to the Winter Towers could be set in motion. Rest was greatly needed after the near death experience Sar fell into. The trolls were an undesired surprise. Caught off guard Sar’s companions, Braetai and Belferon, were little match for the shaman’s magic. Protecting them became his goal. Killing these beasts was not an option less all three of them were able to fight. Their blood healed even the massive wounds from Sar’s axe just as swiftly as any. Chaos was taking over their situation, luck had fallen of this horse, and Sar fell into a deep hole where the shaman kept its failed experiments. This stroke of ill chance would prove to his advantage. The shaman would follow and confront him one on one. Braetai and Belferon were left to fend for themselves against two trolls of their own. They wished to keep these trolls out of the decision making, Belferon voted escape rather than stay and fight. The rope to the surface was still tight; their escape route was still open.

    Somehow, with the little strength they had left, Braetai and Belferon were able to make it out of the hole and pull up the rope. Sar was thought to be lost. An assumption they would not act upon without further inspection. They healed their internal pains and wrapped up their cuts. Decent back into the hole was going to be a better prepared one. Sar’s screams couldn’t be heard even though they were loud. This match was the most he had faced yet. It was wearing him down like a piece of chalk. His mind began to battle itself for victory or defeat. Questions and memories of other’s words went round inside his skull for inspiration and doubt alike. Was Opinvu, that’s me, correct, was I? Had he really gotten soft? I had asked him that back when he realized the true nature of his old friend Reinhart the Red. A man he considered another one of his own personal failures. Was this battle going to be another to add to his list? No, he couldn’t let me be right, especially when it is about him being soft or weak in the fighting sense. Victory as the only option would win in his mind with this, his body would attempt to follow suit. Follow suit it would, right over the shaman and through the undead trapped in the pit with him. His axe only slowing to stop when his swings became overpowered, due to the absence of more foes to resist its path, his balance lost its momentum swinging him round and to the ground. Everything hurt. His bones, his skin, his thoughts, all gave pain when he attempted to control them. Vision was his only comfort. The murky water and black dirt reflected his thoughts back to his eyes in a pretty display of swirling colors. Belferon would be all he could see as the vision came to focus first.

    The two had gathered enough strength to move toward their new goals. Both perusing the other’s safety, they met in the cavern of the troll shaman. Two strong trolls still remained waiting for them. Sar had little left after his struggle just too out last the shaman; two more would surely be his demise. The same thought went through Belferon’s head, Sar’s conditions was apparent and oozingly obvious as it flowed from his armor. The life of Sar was truly pouring out of him onto the floor. The two would use their only available strength to defend themselves from the troll’s onslaught. The two men’s drive was paramount over Braetai’s. Stuck with fear and trepidation on the surface, all will and strength would not return to him no mater what concoction he tried. Some magic or curse from that shaman lingered upon him. Frustration of his situation only fueled the other feelings keeping him apart from his battling buddies below. Sitting on the blade tip he managed to thieve from the coffin was his saving grace. His quick habit had done them a favor this day. All the others had to do was make it out of there alive.

    Getting out alive was starting to look like a slim chance for Sar and Belferon. They recall that fight like it just happened every time I asked them about it. The darkness of the pit became a comfort rather than fear. Not seeing the blows coming also obscured how badly they were damaging them. Both men were calling for the other to make their escape, neither wanting to leave this fight with a defeat or a cowardly retreat. Sar had come up dry of energy already, and that was some time before this battle. Belferon’s second wind was drawing short on breath, with no third queued for a reserve to tap. Only one thing was still strong on Sar’s battered body, his voice. A battle cry to fill the cavern and give the perception of strength he had already lost bellowed out of his lungs. A cry that would touch his god in a spot most never would dream of reaching, thus triggering a dazzling display around Sar. A spectacle that amazed Belferon and shocked him to the point of halting his defensive battle for survival to gaze at the aura around Sar. The surge of energy in the cavern lit it up like daylight. The flash and display was short lived, as it all vanished as quickly as it had come, the trolls fell to the ground. Sar stood over them confused and exhausted. The voice of his god remained in his mind, repeating over and over to confirm he had truly heard it.

    The walk to Foothold was slow and painful with every step. The three were thankful for the quiet, but the length meant more time with their sore muscles. Their next journey would be to the top of Cona Mountain peeks. Thoughts of the dreadful trek that would present only picked further at their dilapidated pride. Their success at the graveyard felt like a defeat, but the proof would prove otherwise. The sword tip displayed the first letters of its name. Half of this legend was now reality. A horizon with no more Lich under Yar was finally in view.

    The hilt of the Domeier would be a harder walk than the easy grade of the worn road to Spinehold. To the top of Cona Mountain was a disdainfully cold journey to undertake. Sar was not going to suffer alone. More people would surely make the trip warmer. Before Sar and his party could exit Foothold, he found himself in the presence of Vruruk Krain. A sight for sore eyes to the group assembled, he stood as a good omen for the journey to come. He had changed from the time I had known him back when we had seen the death of the Lich together for the first time. News of this pursuit Sar was leading caught even this man Vruruk off guard. For one that claims to be all-knowing and more perfect than everyone, he had not noticed this child working in the shadows, performing deeds for the Lich under his home. My memories held a different view of Vruruk Krain, before his long disappearances, that of a wise helpful man. One that would gladly helps point you in the right direction. To hear of him joining Sar on this journey set me aback, that day of Vruruk had past. But, join them he did, all the way to the Guardian of the Winter Bridge. The wise, all-knowing and most perfect Vruruk Krain, which now looks like that he claims to hate mind you, found himself in a quandary. This guardian had somehow changed. Its attacks were the same, its voice the same, even its looks were the same. His hands had suddenly failed to do any damage to its hulk. No matter, what he had thought to be a truth had changed to an uncertainty. The party was able to evade the Guardian and proceed to the second tower despite the oddity.

    Searching the towers was fruitless. Nothing had been found, and the clues in the history of Uehling were not explicit enough. The book would still be consulted for a reminder of the exact wording used. If I had been there with them, my suggestions might have saved them some time. But, it is easy for us to sit here in our warm comfort to look at the situation with a clear head and a thoughtful analysis. As it is always easier to see the forest through the trees after one has already been through it, it is easier to think fast in front of a warm fire than on top of the world swinging in the wind on a bridge while ice forms on the frost on your hair. I was not there that day, and the events are true only to the point, not the detail. Many recounts were full of emotions, not much detail is known.

    The real change to the Guardian was the presence of the Domeier blade. It stood waiting for talk again as Vruruk tried his hand at damaging the reluctant Guardian. It had refused to kill on their first pass, and was more reluctant to fight back on the second. I couldn’t ascertain who got the clue and called for the one called Vruruk Krain to stop and be civil to the Guardian, but it was done. They did engage it conversation and asked for it to open the vault it kept the hilt hidden in. As easily as the request was uttered, the portal was opened; the hilt of the Domeier was nearly in their grasp.

    This vault was of a different sort. It appeared like a miner’s tunnel, long and winding down into a darkness that became warmer as their depth increased. Finally opening up to a greater cavern, four light beams stood in a row in the center of the room. To one side lay a chest, enveloped in a fantastic white light, the chest brought memories of a puzzle locking a chest behind light in Gastlinyk Gate into Sar’s mind. A tunnel leading further down would lead to columns of ice protected by conjurations of ogres and beholders. Time had frozen everything real in this plane of magic. Whatever they sought rested deep within giant slabs of ice. Persistence and teamwork made the labor quick. Crystals they would find within the ice matched the colors of the lights above them. The order from left to right, the crystals were placed in the light beams; the hilt was quickly in their control. Only obstacle now was the reforming of the weapon. With it back to its original luster, the dawn of days with the Lich dead would soon come.

    My new impressions of Vruruk Krain, I will keep to myself. I will admit his ways and decisions are of a different logic than I can always comprehend. It begs questioning as to why he would drop interest in the destruction of a Lich under his home, when he reserves so much hate for them. Other questions some of you may be thinking of don’t apply to this story, so I transgress. Sar was left to do the deed. To see to the reforming of the weapon that was to do what Vruruk had failed in doing. His force would overcome the body of the Lich, but also leave its mind free to regenerate its physical form. It would appear there is a giant weakness to the hero of Yar, a newly exposed flaw that proves his mortality and his imperfection. It is hard for us mortals to face our own short comings. Even when innocent lives are at stake, or just simply your own petty honor. Honor is nothing if you don’t follow the ethics that create it. So children, live honorably, but learn what that means first. Sometimes it’s best just to let the gods handle things.

    The attempts of Sar Khan to defeat this lich and the child that lurked in the shadows were relentless and only increasing in their fervor. With the help of Trevor the Blacksmith, the Domeier had been reformed. Despite the fear of the enchantments upon it lie actively broken, Sar was determined to see to its trial. This child had haunted him to long. The thought of such a rouse to perform evil outside its sanctum was more than an atrocity, worse than any number of sins. It gave his will endless determination. If it allied with the force of the Thirteen, its threat upon the land would be unyielding. The importance of the Lich’s demise was all to clear to him. His party to lead against the lich would gather in droves at the Red Dragon Inn. But it would be only Aelswith, Belferon, Braetai, Anadra, and Vlan to take up arms with Sar for the adventure. Fear of the dreaded powers of a Lich would keep many in their seats. But wait…! Where would this adventure go? They all knew of the Lich and it’s crypt under Yar. But what of this child? Its whereabouts was unknown, and the true nature of its ties to the Lich himself was still a bit cloudy. Sar tells me it had come to him once as a girl, scolding him for attacking her father. He also knew of the child that had been kidnapped from the Temple of Odin in Yar. The child could only be some spawn of the Lich. Some kind of creation to allow him travels upon the lands? Was the crypt and the weak body of the Lich within it just a distraction for his better half? Would the Domeier even work on either of them? What effect will it have if it does? The group of anxious adventurers was ready to go anyway, but not this day, it would be three days before they go. Rest and other tasks had to be taken care of before another fight like they had been leading could be attempted again.

    It was this same group of people he was with just before the sword was finished when they found the biggest clue they needed for their biggest question. A trip into Thyme Pass was thought to be a good waste of time until the sword would be ready. Their trip would find themselves in a cave with a band of gypsy’s. Their goal was to slay the dragon within the cave; the gypsy’s were an unexpected surprise. The mention of their goal set the gypsy swords against them. For some reason they were wishing to protect it. A dragon fight they were ready for, a small army of gypsy’s they were not. The group suffered a few near fatal wounds to its members despite the victory. One lone mage managed to survive, the leader of the group they just fought was now begging for help. Help she would receive, Sar would carry her out of the cave as the dragon’s feet started to shake the cave walls. The clash had stirred it into a furry and lured it their direction. The cave entrance their only safety, to small of a crack in the cliff walls, the dragon could not follow past a narrow chasm, their escape was narrowly with the weak gypsy mage in tow.

    With their safety secured, the gypsy’s story was heard. Her own daughter, like others before in their clan had been abducted by a child who would come to their camps and lure them away. The child had blackmailed them into raising wraiths from graves of forgotten champions buried around Markshire. If they failed their children were fed to this dragon here in the cave they rested outside of. By the time they could plan a way out of this evil shadow it had taken one more child, her child. This time the child was already with the dragon before they ever got word of it from the blackmailer, guarded and promised to be eaten unless another deed is done. Their presence there was to bargain with the dragon, thusly besting the blackmailer. The adventurers had just ruined that plan and cursed their chances of a quiet resolution. This gypsy mage was familiar to some in Sar’s group. She had tricked them into doing the grunt work for one of their evil deeds not long ago. As much as revenge was desired, justice served properly was overbearing on their ethics. Sar left the others to watch over the mage as he returned to Foothold to find more help. The daughter of this woman was his only concern now, children were his favorite damsels to save, and there was never any slapping afterward. The dragon had to be fallen, and fast, his party was now in no shape to do such on their own. The mage wasn’t going to tell them the wealth of information she had unless the child was safe.

    Sar found Spana and Kamas in the Red Dragon. The offer of a dragon slaying was not questioned or passed up the vacant tavern was obviously eating at their nerves. The three were quick to return to the cave and the others. Help was not a waste of time in retrieving. The dragon had to hold the child yet for the Lich’s pact with it had not yet been completed. All they had to do was come at it with enough force and be sure it doesn’t fall on anything of value. If any have heard my tales of Spana, or perchance my mentions of Kamas’s magic, then you know that the dragon no longer had an advantage over the group. All participated in the attack, their number gave the heavy hitters an easy job. Distractions weren’t many or long, but enough to fall the dragon swiftly. The child was safe and returned to her mother. The gypsy woman gave up all the information she was still withholding. She had personal knowledge of a location to meet up with the Lich Child itself. On the third day of each week they would meet it as the moon rose in a home just northeast of the Yar Village walls. It was then their plan laid it self out for them. By the day she proclaimed, the blade would be ready with time to spare for practice.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Chap. 5 – The Final Battle

    The day spoken of by the gypsy had come; it was the third day of a new week. Sar, Aelswith, Belferon, Braetai, Anadra, and a strange man named Vlan had congregated at the Red Dragon to plan their assault on this Lich Child. The Domeier was complete and its weight had been adapted to by Sar Khan. He was to be the one to wield this lich killer and planned to be the one to sacrifice him self and insure the problem is destroyed for good. Their trip wasn’t far; Yar Village was only a few short leagues to the West. They all were ready, their blades sharp, supplies well stocked, and their resolve was at its peak. All that remained was for dusk to approach. Just before it had a chance to begin its decent Sar would take his party to the road and set out on their way.
    The house was easy to find, there was only one home in that area of the village, it also happened to be one of the larger homes in the area. Today this house had its own stigma surrounding it. Its once pleasant quaint appeal had been replaced by a dark overtone of suspecting and fear of the unknown inside. Its light brick work had a new hazy drabness oozing from the mortar; the vegetation taking on a sicklier theme than a decorative nature, the house just felt more haunted knowing a lich was possibly hiding within. The party approached it more slowly than in times past, the door was unlocked and allowed their approach to maintain its momentum. Once inside they found it darker than the outside was becoming as night took over for the daylight’s rest, a haze of steam rolled along the floor and skimmed the ceiling in a creepy unnatural fashion. As their numbers overwhelmed the space in the foyer Sar moved deeper into the darkness of the house toward the main living room. His slow cautious steps quickly changed to a gallop after his eyes caught the glimmering aura of the child piercing the darkness. A peculiar glow radiated from the figure in the center of this room, the familiar voice of the child stating the obvious facts of the absence of Gypsy’s was enough to let Domeier take lead in his charge.

    Sar’s compassion for innocence of children did not apply to seeds of liches and daemons. This was demonstrated the moment the Domeier and the child’s body collided. All recall only seeing one swing from Sar. The child was exploded upon impact of the blade and the force of Sar’s anger. Exploded like a barrel of water is the only way it could be described. All present had a hard time with what they saw. Evil or not, seeing it happen to a child form was to horrific for any sane mind. The ‘water’ spilling about the floor quickly rose to the ceiling and disappeared into the wood with no real concern to the onlookers. The party looked about the darkness searching for evidence of anything foul. The darkness was stronger than most sources of light they brought with them, a stairwell leading up was still found for the party to ascend.

    The darkness seemed to have only a soft presence upstairs. The smoke and steam stayed below like an obedient dog waiting for its next command. The search by the party continued despite immediate discovery of a pentagram upon the floor complete with candles and a pile of skulls. A uniformed feeling of prideful disrespect for the markings upon the floor produced a common reaction through all of them. Ignoring its importance and belittling its fact, they shuffled their feet through and past. As their eyes concentrated on the other rooms of the upstairs the pile of skulls became less restless and began to stir. One in particular was rising from the pile. All of Sar’s fellow heroes had their backs turned to the presence of this rising threat in the middle of the hall. It wasn’t ignored for long, the great power that once enjoyed disguise and shelter in the shell of a child’s form was quickly mustering protections around it and snares for the unsuspecting lich hunters.

    The encounter turned ugly real fast. The power of this lich had been concentrated in this child form. It was much stronger than the form they battled in the crypt below Yar Keep not to long ago. This rouse it had beset upon the land was in nearly realized in its entirety. That wouldn’t matter though if this demi-strengthened lich managed an escape or victory over the heroes. The details are un obtainable at what it did to the party when their backs were turned, but there was a short scuffle. Everyone was dropping to the floor after they attempted to counter the assault now being waged upon them by the lich. Its work was fast, too fast for their efforts make good. Belferon though was the last to feel the vengeance being unleashed by the lich. He was the first to take notice of the skull floating in mid air working magic over the pentagram; he was then the last to stop swinging for it. His final blow was actually aided by his near lifeless body falling to the floor dragging his weapon down much harder than his swing was going to produce. A miss calculation or the chaos of life just hard at work, the lich was not expecting this outcome either. The blow sent the skull reeling to the ground bouncing about the hall and knocking several candles out. With the party of heroes completely subdued, but not yet fully beaten, the lich was finding his means of stability in this plane now broken. His essence was instantly returned to his original half down in the crypt hidden below Yar Keep. Without the shell of the child and now also the wards from the pentagram rituals, Belferon got a lucky break. Belferon would be the only soul left barely holding onto its worldly body. Holding just tight enough to give strength to his arm allowing a potion to be drank, Belferon was able to recover. Without it, he would have perished and met the rest waiting in line for Garm’s fee to be taken from their souls.

    As quickly as he could manage, despite his own injuries, Belferon read the scrolls over his comrades bodies pulling their souls back from Garm’s waiting room. They were able to recover in peace and bewilderment on how they managed to prevail despite their defeat. I say I wasn’t there to witness what I wrote of their success. But all the facts are true. The candles were disturbed sometime after the lich made its attack at their backs and before they put out the last candle and purposefully obscured the runes and markings within the pentagram. As I described could be the only logical conclusion I could make with the facts described to me. Only the gods know how it all truly became possible. I wish to believe it was Belferon’s luck, though Belferon would say it was nothing but a retreat after a clear victory by the lich. I would think the lich would have insured all were at Garm’s door before making any form of withdrawal. Either way, the party was well supplied to recover from such a disaster. They were back on their feet and their attitudes restored to the level needed for the hunt to continue.

    Sar took lead once again, ushering his friends out of the house that now bore a calmer nature, he called out their next destination. The Lich’s home under the Keep of Yar, as stupid as it would sound after such a pounding it made perfect sense; it was the only option they had. The option no one thought twice about pursuing, it was more of an obligation they still set out to fulfill. They were still not sure what had happened, or if anything had been accomplished. Seeing the child shell broken was still a good feeling in the back of their minds. The walk to the keep was in full stride and without delay until Father Skyrme stepped in front of them. He had been waiting for them to come through. His concern over what might happen if this repaired blade called the Domeier should fail. He explained to them how the manor in which it was broken would also break the divine enchantments that were once upon it. Repaired or not, its original nature could never be repaired. Its broken enchantment may work but not in the original manor. His worst fear was the party would be deceived and believe their efforts a success and then forgotten, left to fester once again in the shadows. Despite the fact the legendary sword had allowed Sar to strike and destroy the child shell, Skyrme was not yet convinced. He waved to the party good-luck with a concerned frown and heavy brow.

    Once again Sar, Aelswith, Belferon, Braetai, Anadra and this man named Vlan were headed for a lynching of a lich. Through the underground barracks of the Keep and the forgotten tunnels under them they came to the entrance of the Lich’s crypt. Preparedness for anything was the plan, Sar explained his previous experiences in this crypt to the faces that still lay slack jawed and eye popping at the sight of the strange magical doorway. Many strange ghosts and lost souls dwelled in this crypt. The doors and walls seemed alive with their own awareness. As my own encounters in this crypt, it seemed alive keeping its puzzle locks protected and dangerous. The One door needed for passage to the liches sanctum was reachable but locked. Means to open it lay buried behind traps and more doors holding back tortured souls seeking revenge for their suffering on anything living. The party was ready for this after Sar’s direction. The restless didn’t care how ready Sar’s party was. Their efforts were simply reflected back upon them. Anadra would be their savior. Her late thinking would not be too late. Her power to take the form of elementals would be their saving grace. As a fire type elemental, Anadra fought through the restless souls allowing the rest to work on opening the doors. When the Final door was unlocked only a few more dangers stood between them and the Lich’s sanctum.

    A slow pace to allow Anadra to regain some strength was the only rest they could get away with. The final room before this sanctum they sought was full of these contestable restless souls. This last room would take them longer than hoped for to clear. The restless souls pushed them into retreat back down the hall they came from to a narrow pinch that seemed to be warded against the sprits. This allowed only some relief and the luxury of dealing with fewer at once. When it was finally safe they spent as much time preparing as they could before taking the final leg of their assault into the sanctum of the lich. Every protection in Anadra’s book of magic was cast, every potion that would fit in their bellies was drank, when there was nothing left to do prepare, they looked to each other for moral support. They had made it to the end; this would be the last fight with the lich they hoped too ever have to wage again. The door was finally swung open after much delay. Their motivation and drive finally enough to take them forward, the sanctum of the lich was finally about to be besieged. As the bone golem similar to the ones Sar had defeated here a few time before engaged them, they all realized there was no lich in plain sight to fight.

    After the bones fell to the ground and the magic propelling them at the party evaporated, the search of the sanctum began. As it had been looked over before, this time was with wiser eyes and for new found purpose. Everything was under a new scrutiny. Anadra and Aelswith were quickly drawn to the fountain on the far wall. A strange red glowing crystal was suspended in the center of a strange artistic statue looking device. It was Anadra’s first thought to destroy it. Destroy everything was on all their minds. But before anyone could raise a weapon to any one thing in the room the Lich’s presence was made known. Its previous trick of hiding in a pile of skulls had fooled them once again. And again, the lich caught them spread out with their backs turned. This time it attacked like it would if Vruruk had entered with maximum force. A balor daemon and some strange pit fiend rose from the floor next to Sar and Belferon, separating them from the others. Be it quick thinking or an unstoppable recourse, Anadra’s blade fell upon the red crystal in the fountain repeatedly until it shattered and strangely melted in the boiling water of the fountain. As the battle with the minions summoned by the lich quickly flared into a frenzy by the others, Anadra was sent whirling across the room from the explosion in the fountain, the lich fell to the floor morphing into a less powerful form, a rotting corpse on the floor would becomes it’s new body. A less than desirable transition I would guess. From my understanding, as a lich grows in power, the less it needs a body to live, but if it should loose power and fail to sustain life in it’s current form, it must find a shell of flesh to hold it in this plane. Well, something like that. Skyrme told me late one night after a long session, an expert on liches would know for certain.

    Anyways, these balor daemon and pit fiends are powerful summons and required a great amount of power to cast for any length of time. This crystal’s destruction must have stopped aiding the lich in some way and weakened it immensely. With this great loss in power, the summons would quickly run out. Sar and Braetai were crippled upon the floor after being subdued by the Lich’s summons. Aelswith and Belferon were the last to fall this round. They told me this was the end. They had failed. Upon wakening to Anadra’s warm smile proved them partly wrong. When Anadra had reawakened from her flight across the room, the summons and the lich were gone. She thought they had won. The party once again licked their wounds from a savage beating and re-prepared for a search of the room. Before another inspection could start it was discovered that no one had seen the Lich, or the summons be beaten. The cold feeling of danger retook its place along their spine. Sar took charge once again. His words of encouragement took the group back around the dark corners of the sanctum and down the hall to the exit. It was there they stumbled upon a recouping Lich. With the mechanism he was using to amplify his power destroyed, the odds had changed. Sar had a renewed faith in the Domeier, he charged the Lich with it as the other’s mounted their attacks behind him. A third battle in this war on the lich was fast in progress. Sar recounted how the blade seemed to be worthless against the Lich. As hard as he swung the Domeier he would miss more than the others and when he did land a blow it seemed only to be deflected like tin striking a hard stone. The realization of the swords broken nature was real and apparent. Its purpose was broken. Although the others behind him were tearing the lich down with their assault, Sar wondered how long would this defeat last, and would it just be like Father Skyrme’s worst fear?

    The corpse the Lich had taken on now lay lifeless on the floor near where Sar had found the family crest that started his pursuit for this day. The decision was quick; inspection of the sanctum and thoughts on the new purpose of the Domeier was the next course. As they returned to their search through the sanctum they mulled over the facts and truths they had discovered thus far. Several theories were entertained on what the phylactery of this Lich might have been or become. Anadra was certain the red crystal she destroyed was it. From my research of their testimonies, it is possible the red crystal was the phylactery, but more possible it was a tool of focusing his power. Even a complex summons spell would not have forced the lich to into a corpse as mentioned. These facts even mentioned by the party fondling the belongings of the fallen Lich. Desperation and fear of the on-setting confusion beset Sar into a fidgeting frenzy. The Domeier in hand, his anger wanted to beat the answers he sought out of something, someone, and anything. The nearest thing was the fountain. A strike of frustration alone sent the blade slicing through the fountain wall like it was made of cheese. Although it became stuck Sar was able to pull it from the stone. It took a two more instances like this for it to sink into Sar’s head, the sword was now cutting stone when just not long ago it couldn’t chip the decaying flesh of Lich’s body.

    It did sink in, experimenting produced the same results. The new purpose was of the blade was found. It could not destroy a lich in a single thrust, but its phylactery was now the only thing the Domeier would do damage to. A loud cheerful sigh and awe of enlightenment let out among the group. Sar turned to the center of the sanctum where a large support column appeared to grow from the ground into the ceiling. With a sharp stab the Domeier struck deep into the column, down to the hilt, it locked itself into the stone. The entire crypt began to shake, dust and chips of stone fell from the walls and ceilings around them. The command to flee echoed from several sources. Their mission was complete, the emerging danger and possibility of immanent death was surprisingly welcomed by the group. A clear sign of success resulting from their actions was finally something they could call victory. As they ran out the crypt was compressing and imploding in upon itself. A narrow escape as the last bridge was waving and rippling from the shockwaves of the collapsing crypt, the party darted out into the abandoned passages under Yar Keep. With the last person out the door to the crypt folded inward wrapping itself up into a column like form tied to a second column by a great blade piercing through them riveting them together. The phylactery of the Lich under Yar was truly and undeniably destroyed. Sar Khan had started a movement for peace, and with the combined efforts of history and the people of the present, a great evil was put to a permanent rest. All of the lives touched and affected by this felt a great weight lifted from their shoulders that day. Not one, but many heroes stuck by their word, upheld their ethics and morals to the end. Given many chances to give up and many hardships that would make most run home to their momma’s, these individuals should be held high and emulated, for they reached for their courage and pulled up their strong will to drive forward to success when the more common man would have turned around and given up. In my book, all these people deserve to be immortalized as a hero to the people with a statue in the square. But, that would make more of them than they would want. These heroes are true through and through. They do not wish praise or fame for their actions.

    Now, after the dust has settled, many larger threats have grown and changed, and some others died away; many new names have settled in the region and a few old ones have moved on. As I look out the window of the Red Dragon finishing these lines I see a man coughing over his coins. A merchant has just left the area and oddly enough people are all coming down with a similar ailment. I hope there are heroes about like these to save us all this time. Odin, save us all!

    The End

    • Markshire PCs:

    Something strange is going on about me. Stranger than the events I have missed witness to, but yet sort of in part with I think. My book has grown from an essay to some great length. I know father, you would be proud of this historic tale. Researched to the best of my ability too, it is good, but editing is slow and just making the work longer. It has felt good to put so much work into a long story rather than the short moral tales for the children. It has taken me away from all those I had called friends though. They all seem less like friends and more like people I once knew that live in town. I miss the latter. So much has gone by me with the passing of time. A plague even whipped through town without distracting me. But this I couldn’t let myself be distracted, no more, not when such is going on. Spana’s attitude is worse than any plague. I don’t know if she is just refusing to care to prove herself right, or has she really gone off her rocker from love sickness. It’s never the right time to confront someone with such deep talk. Even harder when they splash their negativity around in public like its some how the new right way to be. The Titan is still a threat, a bigger one than some silly temple of spiders.

    I heard the reports of the titan being free, even talk with Nashia and the singer Sam; it doesn’t seem as real as it did when I went there. Right after first word, I had to see it for myself. Alone, I couldn’t bring anyone with me on such a stupid scouting mission. I had no idea what to expect and was only prepared for anything, not everything at once. Alone I had no worries and nothing to slow me down. Thrym Pass wasn’t any trouble and all seemed well. This stopped at the city limits. Billowing clouds overhead and thundering bolts tying them to the ground about the city made it difficult to see much of anything. Upon search of the gates, I found the gates were gone; the walls were charred black with soot. Signs of the devastation were wrought throughout as far as the eye could see once in the gates. Small fires smoldered and popped anywhere the stone gave way to wood and earth. All of the beautiful maples and weeping willow that lines the wall to the park were missing, root an all. The park was just a smoldering net for debris to collect and pile up in.

    As I entered the warehouse district my gut turned head over heel. All of the tall buildings were now small gashes in the earth. Shallow pits mark their old locations. Smoke flowed like a thick fog hanging about the destruction making sure nothing got away without choking. The sky matched the smoke laden ground making it difficult to see the further East I walked into the city. The gates leaving the district were melted shut. The smoke thicker and taller about the area behind the wall was indescribable. I made my way to the Noble district to find the Hub completely caved in. More than half the homes were burning and several left evidence of their horrific explosion in the form of confetti about the cobblestone. The smoke and lightning storm became too much, I turned back to the west and vacated the city as fast as I could. The coughing and wheezing had slowed me greatly before I noticed. I was nearly crawling before the old gate to the road was in sight. If I have ever seen hell on earth, this was now it for sure. Gastlinyk Gate was a complete loss.

    • Markshire PCs:

    My life has gone to the birds. Literally. Ever since that raven got itself captured and Ederyn pulled me and others into it all for the fall, things haven’t been the same. My book is finished and printed in ledge able writing and on the shelf in the library of Stonemark. I should be happy, though I cannot find a shred of it anywhere. Father, ask Odin for me, I need help here. Vruruk Krain has it out for me now. Like I am the one who should have saved that bird, that raven Odin’s eye, like I could have overcome a dragon and friends myself. It still troubles me.

    I know I am right to do so. The trouble follows me still. When I enter the forests the trees become blackened with birds, the bushes carry a rustling along behind me. There is never anything there when I go to look, and if it had been Vruruk Krain, I would probably be waking up at Garm’s feet. This hasn’t happened yet. Since I have finished my book a publisher in Stonemark has asked that I write a few more for his shop. I have completed two already. His requests are simple enough and much fun to write. Just some simple booklets for children explaining how and why one would need to use the specific regent or tool he sold in his shop.

    I haven’t been to the forest in nearly two months. Soon I must go and build a gate for Sar Khan. I haven’t raised a gate since ours back home. Gate rising was a special occasion in our village. The entire village came to watch the gate be placed on its hinges and opened for the first time. I doubt these simpletons would know or care about the significance of it all or comprehend the tragedy of breaking the innocence of a gate for the first time. Sar’s gated estate will be no different than any other gate in this land, a barrier or blockade nothing more nothing less.

    I have heard rumors now of an Orc revival. Some new leader has got the daemon skull tribe some new strength somehow. I will be meeting with Jibby tomorrow to find out more. I am sure Belferon and Braetai are on it already. People are still talking in the streets about the newest reports. Recently the Orcs led a dozen humans to the base of Foothold and slaughtered them. I hope it is not so, but maybe I can find a source of these weapons and new strengths. I have done enough writing for the past few months, a break like this is welcomed.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Over the course of several long and cold weeks the gods find Opinvu engaged with many towsfolk in conversation. As they relive the events of past he vigerously makes notes and stays well past closings writing up their tales.

    When something has been killed we assume it is over and gone forever. Like the setting of the sun, we know the day has seen its last moments and will never be again. We pray that this is true with all things evil, but not for things of good. After Sar Kahn and his band of heroes thwarted the Lich hiding under Yar Keep like a troll protecting its proclaimed bridge, we thought the threat was dead and buried forever. A sense of peace and a reality of calm did fall upon the town after the dust settled. People were able to overcome the tragedies that transpired up to the time of its ending, fears and predations eroded to the usual cautions of daily life in Markshire, and lives were rebuilt. The crypt door was visible closed for eternity; the Domeier sword brandished its handy work for any that wished to check on its state. Peace was truly at hand. For the time being it really was over. The Lich really was dead, as dead as a Lich can be after achieving such power as this one had. No one was claiming responsibility, but many were confirming the claim. It was over, the legacy was over. This crypt lying under the sewers was empty and sealed.

    The sense of peace and calm didn’t last forever; no one expected it to, after all the times we live in are making history our ancestors never complained about nearly as much. The worst tale my grandfather told of rouges on the road was about a sock with some amount of money in it. The type of stuff that was possible when it took two hours of explaining anything with the language they used back then. Using words you had to ask meaning of every half sentence required a new tale and set of explanations. Asking directions to the local drinking hole might cost you two days time and three nights at guard hall before you discover it right behind the very hall you slept in. We can all be thankful our form of communication has narrowed in to the point and become efficient and streamline. These tales of current events become easier to spread and inform understandable for the many rather than confusing the few into retardation. Something was looming in the air around Yar, like steam it crept from the soil and tainted the air with its rotten bitterness, but whispers and old tongues talked around it. One might think it was denial.

    People in the town square of Yar were communicating effectively and efficiently as not to overstay their welcome in the cold air. New accounts of the threats coming from Gastlinyk Gate were even becoming less interesting; most were not mentioned to shorten the conversation. Yar village is not for listeners. People of Yar do not like to talk, ramble on, maybe, but talking to someone that’s listening or not is neither their forte nor a pleasure. If you want to listen to good conversation the place to be is the Stout in Cona. You will find many listeners and talkers, some liars, but best of all no Yar workers. One can listen to a keep worker moan on about the stone being colder than ice and the ice being heavier than the stone and why the humidity is ruining their leaning time only on the even numbered days is close to once, and only once. Many in Cona feel the negative energy about Yar, they talk about it allot. These days are like a giant rain cloud has come and settled over the quant village and alleviated itself of its bad mood upon the people. But more interesting than those rare mentions were the multiplying tales of Artic Bugbear sightings in the mountains to the north of town. Some worry they are planning war, others telling of trade requests and docile encounters in the mines hidden in the valleys of the pass. The question unanswered is why the migration into the area. What could it mean.

    Bugbears of this type are only known to be in the even colder mountainous regions North of Deephold. There they live in clans keeping mostly to themselves in the secluded wastelands they love so much. Understandably, no sane person would want to go there unless they were looking for endless deathly cold and solid white nothing for miles and miles. Deephold was built and raised on the prospects of the mountains at its Northern boarders. Long before the endless winters came the mines were nearly dried up, the berries brought down to gardens, and the mountain range well combed. Thrym’s winters took control from there. The glaciers grew, the snow levels rose, such a place became uninhabitable for most anything. A clue to why the migration came after a caretaker and some children were taken while on a hike in the pass. The Bugbears had taken hostages and blockaded the trails. Their reasoning was set upon bargaining tools in retaliation for alleged stolen alters by the humans. None in Cona knew of such things. None in Cona knew Bugbears worshipped anything let alone this migrant clan. It was all a surprise and scared the townsfolk stupid. They didn’t know what to do, what could be done, or who would do it. A few young men were finally sent to the neighboring towns for help.

    When helped arrived the situation hadn’t changed much. Malcontents were standing at the base of the pass trail muttering their discontentment’s and slandering the good Lord Mark for letting this happen.
    “Why weren’t these wretches wiped out long ago? Where is the Stonemark Royal Guard now?” reveled one, while the others listened with hope and callus.
    “Lord Mark probably sent them to charge us more taxes!” shouted some.
    “Is anyone thinking of the children?! There are children up there with these animals! Someone should do something.” whispered many.

    Despite the conversations the band of marry men that came to the call for help were not so much marry, or all men. Some were cowards, some were woman, and some were true heroes. All that mattered this day was that they had arrived on the scene. The demands of the bugbears were told to them and were still not understood. Alters for ceremony don’t get heisted everyday, nor do they get sold very frequently. Why anyone in their right mind would steal such an unusual item from a clan of Bugbears smelled fishy from conception. The band of help split into two groups that stormed the mountain using alternate routes. One group found themselves behind the fortified front the bugbears had crafted from debris and junk found in the mines. Bugbears aren’t exactly known for their building skills. This barricade didn’t look much like a fortification, but more like an angry wife sending a message to her husband that their living arrangement has changed while he was away, again.

    Assessing the situation didn’t happen like an organized mob would have done. This mob was angry, like all angry mobs are. This mob was thinking only one thing, not that mobs ever think of more than one thing, the amount of minds in the mob would surely entice any noble intellectual to assume that odds would favor to at least two level heads among the unleveled ones driving the mob a frenzy. At this juncture it was a recipe for disaster. Not that Bugbear has ever won something by their own skill and devices, which in itself is a known rarity. Bugbears live and are governed by dumb luck. Dumb was on their side this day; luck had taken to a safe distance where it wouldn’t be blamed for what was to happen.

    The two halves of the mob found the frontline of Bugbears at different times. The larger group had circled round to the back of the barricade using a cave network that tunneled under Cona and let out in several places in the pass. By this time the smaller group had chopped their way through the stick and straw bunks of the miners and armoires full of pick axes and shackles. As the first to confront the bugbears the small group closed their ears to the rough and broken common speak of the shaman Bugbear requesting the demands be met. His warnings of harm to the children would go unheard and unheeded. No one knows who is responsible, nor does anyone confess to the travesty. Without pause or care the Bugbears are slaughtered for their crimes and actions leading to the arrival of the mob. The mob sweeps in releasing the breath of life from all in their path.

    As the two halves of the mob descend upon the final defenses and the pin in which the children sit waiting for their release, caution is tossed out and left to the gods for consideration. Consider it not; man has always been left to his own free will. The gods laid out the choices as well as one could ask, it was all they were really allowed to do. The mobs ears remained shut. Warnings went unheard and consequences were swift and painless for the mob. The last Bugbear was slain in mid sentence. The body fell to the ground with chain in hand. The chain was conveniently attached to specially made collars for this type of situation. With a light pull the collars gripped the necks of the prisoner negotiating submission with an iron clad argument of pain and suffocation. With a hard jerk of the chain the collars squeezed enough to pierce the skin and closed completely beheading the innocent victims. Only a few eyes must have seen the tragedy. Talk of it was few and quiet afterwards. The whole story and real truth may never be learned. The mob was taught a valuable lesson that day. Be it they learned anything from it is impossible to ascertain. Fault was still on the Bugbears and revenge was still foaming at their mouths, more so now and with greater viscosity.

    Mobs are never known for their efficiency, or their brilliance. If a good idea was truly sound, it wouldn’t require an enraged mob to pursue it. This mob was no different and by no means exempt from any stereotype. The children were massacred and it was ultimately their fault. The source of the abductions was obtained. The shaman of the bugbears leading the act was slain. The stolen alter wasn’t found until later that night as the mob combed the mountains searching for more blood to wash their hands of guilt. At the Winter Towers it was finally discovered. A satyr waiting, sleeping from boredom surprised the mob with information and admission of responsibility. For reasons unknown, this particular satyr was leading these Bugbears to worship this alter he had stolen from them. None of it would make much sense. It claimed it was hoping to feed bugbears to its strange pet locked in a room of the tower. Being that the mob had ruined his plans, it conveniently left without delay or trace, leaving them to deal with its heinous pet. All four arms and seven tongues the disgusting beast was slain. As for the alter in question, it was destroyed soon after.

    Most alters of worship are nothing more than a flat surface with maybe some ceremonial markings on them. Any flat stone, woodpile or shaved ox hide could act as an alter. This particular one didn’t look like an alter at all. It was definitely more of the shape, size and perfect replica of a phylactery a lich would use to hide his heart. It consisted of mostly ice and pebbles molded like a child’s snowman, but its presence was just as disturbing as an authentic one would be. This didn’t bother the mob. It was destroyed and over with. Questions of why would have to wait until after a good nights rest, after their minds were able to truly forget about the innocent lives lost that day. It would only be briefly mentioned over ales at the Stout as guilt and shame saturated their souls, the mob defeated itself and retired to their homes. It was too late for lessons and questions of why and who done it. The greater minds of the mob were onto the bigger questions. Questions they would have to find answers for later.

    • Markshire PCs:

    **Found in the Library next to a complete published and properly bound book collection by the author Opinvu concerning a Lich under Yar, a basket of parcments rolled up waiting for public view this below resides**

    Piecing the dreams together was difficult. I want to believe they are nothing more than my own imagination, or just dreams to entertain. The first were so realistic, like I was there, but I wasn’t, what should have seen me glanced through and beyond paying no mind to my observance. It was only a dream though. Familiar figures of Bugbears were gathering in the forest. I knew this forest well; the first thing you see from the South walls of Yar Keep is this very spot opening up in the thickening forest. Bugbears come from all directions gathering round a huddled circle. The wind I could feel blowing under my vision, cold and bitter from the night. The masses gathering I could see plain as day. Chanting echoed and reverberated out of each new one to join the circle. I couldn’t feel anything, the chants were droll at best, I couldn’t make out any certain words, just noise from filthy beasts congregating for an unknown reason. All of them chanting and bowing, chanting and bowing. I would usually wake up and make note of this dream. It was the first of many to come. As I read back over my notes and notice repetitions and repeats, I can’t see any correlation to anything but my own amusement. I might have to blame it on this special brew Barrelgore is pushing lately.

    All of my dreams start the same. I wake up in a library I used to fall asleep in as a child. My father would take us there while he went off to the markets. The books kept us out of trouble, and in one spot. Seemed our lessons never actually stopped. There was always an answer to be found. If not found, a wise assertion based on facts at the least. Less you wanted to carry all of the supplies home, course I would fall asleep and dream up the answers, and then ended up carrying everything home. Adventure would always find me in the old building. Book piles the size of great cathedrals and towers all around; I dreamt more than I ever studied. So to say, all of my dreams start the same, they never play out the same. That is until this dream of Bugbears lurking the forests. On a waking venture in the very forest I did manage to find trail of odd paths leading nowhere and somewhere. Eventually I too witnessed sight of one of these bugbears. Brief and without confrontation, it seemed almost peaceful. Spooked to see me as a deer or robin, it ran away rather than aggresses or inquires. I left it to that and pursued my main objective.

    The second dream was the same as the first; I awoke in the library covered in books. Shadows danced on the stain glass from outside. Chants of a familiar tone bantered far away. I made my way to the window and found my vision afloat over the Yar Keep southern wall. I could only watch as they bowed and chanted over dead animals within a pentagram drawn upon the soil. The animals were not in the first, I noticed this change right away. The wind was still cold and sharp blowing south rather than north, there were fewer bugbears this time. I felt the sun on the back of my neck when it happened. The dream was about to end, but I saw it still. Before the sun came out, something melted their flesh and freed their bones to walk the earth undead. My attention scattered about my plain of observation in search of a cause. The fuss woke me up to a sitting position. I of course quickly noted this dream and sorely forgot about it and the other for a few days. The eerie feeling was easily drunk away.

    A third dream brought back the hairs on my neck to attention once more. The familiar feeling I knew was described in my journal. I feared a refreshing read more than the dream I had just had. It wasn’t so much disturbing as it was strange and mysterious. Like all dreams I am in, I awoke in the library covered in books. Something outside casting shadows and chants was disturbing my peace. This time I brought a good heavy book of manors to toss at the culprit. This mind trick had no power in this dream. When I reached the window to look, I once again fell through and into the wind. The book was left back in the library, waiting for me to find what fork to use on Pumpkin Day. Control of the adventure left behind and forced to watch the bugbear die, melt, wash away their skins letting their bones free to walk the forest. Immediately preceding the dust raising transformations a small group of people came right in to knock them down and pull knuckles and knee caps for souvenir.

    The next dream seemed to go on for days. I awoke only to discover the moon had not moved but a hand or two down the horizon. Awakening in the library was not so loud and violent, but more of natures calling to find a tree or shrub. Not finding one inside I did find a strange fountain in the middle of the room. No, it was more of a raised pool possibly for washing and certainly not for a now forgotten need. Imagery began to appear in the pool. Washing my hands brought forth a sharper image and a flash of smoke from the bottom. It was Kaldt, the lady of the forest. Years have past since last I seen her, but certain it was here I was. She was speaking to a group of people. They gathered around with concern as she spoke. Though I could hear her voice plain as day in the library echoing off the walls, I was sure I was alone watching this. Words I hear are of a language I can not recall or replicate. The voice draws to a close and so does her image before the people. It startled me enough to look about the room again to see if I had an unseen guest. All I do find near my feet is a small stone whittled to resemble a squirrel. Dream or not, I had to pick it up. There was no fighting it, I picked it up and set it in the pool. That action gave me a feeling of falling. Like I just triggered a trap and was falling to its confirmation. The darkness becomes disorientating, I could see up or down or myself. All there was to see was leaves and snow drops and then mud and roots, I was sailing along the ground climbing trees and bounding through the air. As interesting and neat of a view it was, I could only ponder why I was doing it and bet it was because I was now a squirrel. Course being a dream I couldn’t actually look to find out, just wait patiently for a glimpse. What I did see was evidence of Spinehold, the gates the docks and even that old large weapon school run by the Sterling family. Just when I thought this squirrel was going to reveal itself the ground departs from grasp and takes him away from me. The distance becomes too great for any natural squirrel to achieve. Looking to my direction I notice the same people from before arriving at a cave with trolls. When the people came out they went their separate ways. The sound of rushing water filled my ears and brought back a feeling in my loins. The only thing standing in it’s way was a bed pan that was already full.

    Drinking didn’t help but make the dreams more nauseating before, so the next night I was sure not to pass out from to much drink. The night was not as predictable as the dreams coming have been. As I felt it before the night before bed was the same. The dream was the same and the raised pool was the same. This time there was mood. The library was not as warm as before. This time I felt the cold wind inside. The water bore small crystals of ice trying to populate the brim. When the pools surface became full view my sight was fixed into a stare, my ears began to ring and a pressure on them like no other I have actually experienced to describe. Hands other than my own tatter and tear at the water. The area of vision I have left begins to elongate and freeze under the cold. Like the very light itself is slowing down to wait for an artist to draw it on parchment. Paralyzed I can’t move, the hands once batting at the water stopped and still, I try to speak and can’t produce any sound. The air rushing from my lungs is felt, but a sound of it is not. The water fades to red, then to an image of a group of people standing together in Gastlinyk Gate’s ruins. For a brief moment they appear to be searching the old Hub hallways. A cloud follows them out the city as they all go their separate ways. My ears ring once more, louder than before and with such pressure I want to wake up. Dreams aren’t supposed to have pain in them. Blood covers my vision causing the normal reaction of thrashing about. I know I was thrashing about because I awake on the floor beside the bed and a nasty cut above my eye. Either way I was so angry the rest of the day I spent it fishing and only lost two poles, a bucket of scrap bait, and one boot. Will be my first trip where the fish actually win, literally.

    Some dreams were exactly the same just repeated with subtle differences. Some had black blood rather than red, some times there were four people rather than three. Subtle changes that made them seem like the same dream only a different day. Each dream my books were all funny. Before these dreams my books were always blank. But these had shapes on them and the one with the name of it. Something to do like “Manors on Pumpkin Day Celebration”. Though the shapes escape my memory as I write this, the dreams have stopped and their recollection fades quickly.

    • Markshire PCs:

    While the dreams have appeared to stop, the type of dream is continuing. Some one’s dreams are bleeding into my own like ink through a page. The next wave of these left me watching the pass through some kind of round spy hole. My vision narrowed and black round the edges, I could only make out the central view as it flew by. Thrym Pass as it was just the last time I had traversed it. The second dream like this made it to the ruined city finding people actually searching it. As they looked under stones and around collapsed buildings I felt myself try to call to them. Only a breeze coming from my efforts I knew not as to why I wanted their attention. They followed a woman and reported back often as they progressed the searching throughout the city.

    The dreams start again as they should, but then my focus is directed by something off in another direction. This time I feel a presence in the library, someone is there with me trying to get my attention. Though the control I once had in my dreamlands is taken, I remain calm as if the guide has my hand comforting my locked stare. Several remain repeated copies with only subtle changes, but they all spell out a story. The people I see in the Pass are the same from the previous dreams. A few have come and a few leave but there are several figures that don’t change. Like frozen paper men they scurry across the landscape below.

    The last of my dreams was surreal and scary. I felt like a bird twice removed from the horror of the life below, but it all felt real, looked plausible and felt like the very brick used to entomb the dead, built to last the ages and few more just in case. It encompassed the entire village of Yar, parts of Foothold, nearly the entire forest south next to Spinehold. Small holes and cracks in the masonry provided glimpses of death and decay, molten filth bubbling from steam vents, Undead wandering about scavenging for lost and used weapons, killing anything that moved in any direction but toward death. I could feel tears start to make their escape down my face. Suddenly a feeling of falling overwhelmed my senses. The urge to wipe my eyes was nothing in comparison. Being locked in the stare I struggled to move, change my view, but I couldn’t. My focus only on the squealing bugbears and shlurping of their skins being sheaded to the black bubbling masses, the brick wall thickens; the cracks seal and the walls expand outward ever so slightly. My vision retracts and opens up widens revealing a blackness creeping upon my own surroundings in the library. A wall once behind me missing, replaced with darkness, nothingness. Room to stand is getting limited, the feeling of entrapment worsens. As I scan the room I find it’s shrinking as well as being eaten by the darkness. I hear footsteps coming from somewhere but then I awake with a horrible smell stuck in my nose as if it is in the room with me. I called up the Innkeeper only to find three people including him could not smell the stench I was.

    I wonder whose dreams are bleeding into mine. Am I the only one? Is there some magic or outsider playing with my dreams with spell or incantation? Has my food been altered to produce such captivating visions? What tricky may lie behind the scenes? I shall sleep on it for now……

    • Markshire PCs:

    The next pages of the journal is dated, written long ago the book must be turned and flipped round to be read in the proper manor. This story must have been written at random when there was many fewer pages used up.

    I remember a time I wish I could go back to. Though it was a time that was tougher than now, a bit lonelier than now, it was a time to cherish. A time when time didn’t matter and was forgotten, like that of a soft breeze, it is enjoyed as it passes but ignored of its existence lurking offshore. A time when youth was still clinching onto my imagination and immortality was the feeling of life. The days spent relaxed and carefree, the nights spent resting and drinking fine spirits with the occasional company of others. Each day a new world of possibilities were waiting to be explored. Now that all of them have been explored and the best of the easiest have become routine, as do us all, I seek a time when all of them were on the table for choosing once again. To remake them hasty uncaring choices with just a bit more care, a bit more thought.

    Wisdom from my entire experiences in life offer the questions of what would I be now if I hadn’t made choices as I had, and of course, could I have ended up worse? My choices in life have kept me alive all of these years, and brought me to a place I can call home, but, had I made a few different choices would my life have been richer or poorer? Even some of my bad choices changed my life for the better or given up some great memories to look back upon. One being the time I spent in a great human city deep in the Jungle 20 days ride from home. Travel here before this was with my family and was only for one specific task. Our stay was only hours, my stay this time was hoped to be as short. I remember still to this day my father’s voice when he spoke of the city. It’s dark and unholy past, the people of ill repute laden in the sewers and the allies. It’s attraction to dark wizards and sinners of the flesh. Murders were common place, thievery was unheard of, and prostitution and slavery were the foundation of it’s vibrant economy. This city looked as dark from the inside as it did from the outside. Pinned behind two massive cliffs, it would see only a few noon hours of sun a day, the vast jungle abound filtered the rest of the days ambiance leaving the ground nearly unworthy for life. Save for the giant trees reaching high as possible to fight for the little sun, nothing grew from the ground, save for this city.

    My plan was to only buy food and a new tinderbox, quick errands and back to the road beyond. A smaller village was suggested to me. It was only a half days walk east of the gates. I could rest there and be more warmly welcomed as entertainment. A safer place for a traveler to lay his head and know it will still be attached to rise up on the morrow. Fate, or destiny, one of the two always presents itself with options, forks in the road, or down right forceful decision making situations. When I arrived at the gates life had one waiting for me. The guards were not happy with my request to enter. They explained the fee and tax upon the fee very well with great detail and profound logic that made it hard to question as to why anyone in their right mind would refuse to pay it, even if they didn’t wish to enter it was fit for me to pay twice now, or I had the option of just walking round the walled city and skipping the hassle altogether. Their speech was long, as long as this wall and turrets was wrapping round the entire bulk of the city. I could see there was no way to skip over the massive pile of brick and stone. Their wind was that of Thrym, cold and unlimited. I knew it was a scam. But I chose convienence over burden. The burden of walking round would leave me without any food, the forest was without animal or plant, my strength wouldn’t allow a climb and a hunt in the tops of these giants.

    I nodded and graciously accepted the fee. Their math was imperfect and their final number was lower than the initial tax, so I thought I was making the right choice. I would learn it to be the wrong one as soon as I reached for my coin. The two drew weapon and marauded my purse and my walking stick leaving me to reel backwards letting them escape. The surprise of this was great. My pride of seeing through the scam had blinded me to the real scam. They weren’t guards at all. The real guards with their cut came out and wanted their own real toll. I couldn’t believe it. These two had nearly the same armor only their armor now had the same royal crest as the helmets of the first pair. It was clear. I had been mugged by two posers working with these two corrupt guards. Only now, I had not coin, nor any gold to trade with. If I didn’t get into the dark city I would starve in these dark woods or starve on the way to the village on the east horizon.

    Another choice presenting itself, another plan and decision required of my attention. Of course the easiest would be sought, and something had to be done out of view of these two sword wielding fools. An hour’s search of the forest found me a way; a tree formed a bridge over the wall. Only it was too obvious. Surely the guard watched this climb over spot well, waiting for a fool to shoot arrow at as he try and sneak in. I needed another way, another spot where similar could happen. One place I found south of the gates held exactly what I sought, a stealthy entrance over the wall. Limbs far too small for anyone bigger than I or a child to cross lent a plausible route, it meant I would have to climb but not as far and now, it was a must.

    Climbing the tree was difficult. I had only a small bit of rope and two daggers of different length. One was better used to cut cheese and spread butter with than a tool for climbing. The other was nearly too long and wide for me to pierce into the bark and leverage my weight up the trunk. Either way I tried I foresaw clumsy noise and many failed attempts resulting in possibly several bruising falls. My belly was calling the dinner bell, and the wind was ushering in the cooler night air. Time was suddenly apparent. My choice was now being made for me. Without options I had to eat my last rations and quickly get to work scaling the tree with all of my gear. The quick meal gave me enough energy to make good use of what tools I had and compensate for the clumsiness they created. As I reached the mid branches long abandoned by the leafy tops, the climb became much easier. I was nearly there. It dawned on me then that my pack was nearly the same weight as I was, and thee two added together was more than an average man without more than his skin.

    I dealt with the weight issue when I got to the branch. It was quick thinking too. I couldn’t loose focus on my climbing, so I just put it out of my mind until I got there. It was so dark and cold up there I could only think warm thoughts to keep my joints from slowing down and aching. A branch right above my target was slightly bigger and nearly twice as long. I swung my rope over it and fixed the looped ends to my pack to let the other branch hold it for me. I planned to slide it along with me then use it to swing down onto the wall. It worked like a charm and better than my first idea. Had I done it another way, I would have perished that night, in the dark, never to be found. I expected to find a bright busteling city beyond the wall, but what I found was a darker place than the forest.

    There must have been a candle shortage, and nothing but handfuls of anything to burn for light. It made it all to easy for me, the dark of night, the dark of the city, there was no chance a guard could see me in this black soiled garb I had on. I looked like a mud clod, still slightly damp next to the river’s edge. Mud sneaking into a muddy hole along a muddy trail, I was darkness sneaking into darkness. A turret with no windows was nearby; it had to be a wall access for times of attack and the occasional patrol. It had a door with a proper handle and lock which was locked. Below next to the stone floor was a grate also with a lock, clearly a drain for air and water to pass through, it was perfect size for me to crawl through. The lock was simple, more so than the one on the door. My simple pick worked well on the grate, I had no reason to attempt the challenge on the door. Funny though, I noticed this grate had seen much use, more than the door itself. Some one had been using it like I was just then. I entered it anyway.

    Upon entering I found the turret to be only a support column, a storage place of weapons and an enclosure for protection. There were no stairs leading down or up to the wooden roof that covered it. Only a small round room with an empty weapon rack and a stool across from it, a bail of hay had now become a moldy moss ridden pile of softness filling the last space along the wall. A grate upon the floor much like that I entered through gave access to the room below. This room was another neglected and forgotten storage room, exactly as the one above. Only this ones door and grate led out into the city grounds. I had made it and found myself a rather decent place to retreat to, not knowing I would need to do just that. I would find out soon enough after searching for an Inn and finding it closed and locked from the outside, this city didn’t seem keen on the renting of rooms.

    The next morning I awoke with a start. Jerking upright I quickly scanned the room finding nothing to explain my startled heart and mind. The air was still cold and dark. I expected daylight, some clue to time, time yet another aspect of the unknown in my confused state that throttled my nerves. I quickly gathered up my things and assessed my surroundings and situation. The grate leading down was open, swinging from its own weight trying to reach the ground. I remember closing it before I lay down to sleep the prior night. I figured it had to be early yet, the same eerie pale light from a sliver of a moon would lend to the night stalker on the eve of his trials. I felt like an assassin hiding from the lawful eyes of the city, freshly a fugitive for a murder I had not committed. My head poked through the square hole in the floor scanning the lower room for evidence of prowlers worse than I. Confirmation of my loneliness wasn’t as comforting as I had hoped it would be. Least familiar company would provide warmth of some pleasantry.

    Hunger was the only threat lurking in the damp dark air of the room. It’s growl familiar and welcomed more than any of the unfamiliar sounds coming from the city center. Day had to be upon me, the sounds meant life was bustling and going about normal business in the city. I had to venture out and find food, money and a tinderbox. Coin-less, the food part was going to be difficult. Merchants have an ear for the hungry belly. They can hear money’s jingle in any coin purse from many yards away. A belly means poor, a groaning belly means thief. They won’t even look ‘ya in the eye as they call for business. But watching they are, from the sides of their eyes and mind. Labor for services is never an easy subject to get out. Forbidden by the merchant code, it is asking a paladin sacrilegious deeds. One doesn’t dare least he knows the merchant well already and respect has already been earned. A traveler such as I know this, as we all should. Many travelers lost their lives bargaining such a deal, scheming or being scammed or trying to do right, it didn’t matter. You put your life in the hands of Loki.

    This city was dark by nature, by its location, by its architecture, by its citizen and by the air that wafted through it. All around dark and damp, drab and gloomy, faces of walls and people shown warn frowns and filth drooping with hard age. I couldn’t tell the difference between the night I arrived and what was to be this daylight time. There was no way a happy bard could work his craft and live in a place like this. There was nothing of beauty or real color in this city. Shades of dark gray, brown, black, and soot masked every color into a mash of gloomy darkness. A warm breeze picked up momentum and stamina. I noticed it slowly getting warmer but just as damp and humid if not more intensely. I began to sweat just from my short walk to what appeared to be a foundry. I hopped to use up any bit of strength I had left here to earn enough for a proper meal. I explained to the owner I knew horseshoes and was quick with repairs to most standard tools. He was actually keen to the proposal, pointing to a pile of neglected tongs and clamps, he set me to work based on how many I could fix before lunch.

    The smell of the furnaces and heat of the wind matching the shop, time once again was forgotten as the desire for food took reign of all comprehension of my surroundings. I managed to fix the lot of them just as they came to stop me. His smile was short lived, like any light in this part, it didn’t stray to far from a frown and died quickly as it tried to. The bag of coin said the rest save for his request that I leave while my luck is with me. I took it as a polite demand to never come back asking for quick work. His payment was more than I expected or asked for. It bought me everything I needed but more rations for the next leg of my journey. When I returned to my things in the storage turret It had appeared my fears were proven correct. A patrol must open the doors to check for vagrants daily. Dust from the door had fallen showing fresh tracks at the threshold outside. The swift opening swept the large bunnies and clods of dirt into a line pointing away from the door’s hinge. I hadn’t noticed the line building up before. All the grates were still locked as I had left them, my pack still hidden in the same place.

    Hadn’t I not wanted to write that night I might have never suspected anything. When I went for my quill and journal I found the quill missing. Further inspection found my flask of rice spirits missing as well. A simple flask holding only a few sips with a crude cork, merely for cleaning wounds, and my cheap quill I was a quandary. Why would anyone steal these two items from me? They were of nothing rare or special. Whoever had done it didn’t come through the door, tracks across the threshold would have been apparent. But the grates were also locked. I got up and checked the door, locked still. I was pillaged again but now for petty items. Even my last piece of sweets was gone.

    My skill of locks was handy here, in this dark city. No one stole because it was to easy to just murder them for what you want. The fear of being murdered had everyone on guard for it and everyone knew the other was ready to do it. Trust was abolished and respect was absolute, for fear of being murdered of course. Most valuables were for sale and the things I needed were locked up and hidden. A bakery near my hiding place locked away the sweat breads for his family. I found a grate like that at the wall its shiny lock made the grimy old thing stand out from the other grimy old things against the wall of the building in the dark ally. The lock was new, where the rest of it was old. A rather complex lock, someone had certainly made this weak grate harder to unlock, but not harder to just rip off the wall. This took my attention and imagination away from the gloomy city and the screams from a building down the ally. I felt safe there, in thought, less prone because I was investigating not simply lurking. The sense of control let my imagination take over and escape the fears of assailants searching for victims like me.

    I was about to pry the grate off with a broken broom handle I found nearby. It would have easily popped the grate from the hinges. But I stopped as I saw the grate flex from my light force. It was too easy. Looking at my surroundings showed no signs that I was going to be disturbed anytime soon. The lock was bolstered for a reason, and it’s strength was neglected, also for a reason, why? I inspected the lock closely in the dark, it was certainly knew and rather clean, easy to inspect in the dim twilight day of the dark city. Scratches about the keyhole were like the ones on the grate I had been picking to enter the city. Attempting to pick the lock proved difficult, it was a more sophisticated rig as it suggested by its clean and new-like appearance. Time was still absent from existence at this point, but memory of it feels like days went by in mere minutes. Many failed attempts resulted in one final victory. The lock finally sprung and let the air coming out of the building blow the grate open. I crawled in finding stacks of unguarded trays of flat bread and sweat breads of different flavors. Like a hidden pot of gold and gem stones, the room glowed with a color devoid in the rest of the city.

    Scavenging for a full meal took up the rest of the day. If I was to have enough for rations and the energy for the long walk I would need another source of coin or a grand haul of meat to go with this bread. When I returned to my stash I had found it missing. The bread was gone. On the lighter side, my quill had returned. Like a trade of missing items. Some one was messing with me I thought. Who would play such a prank? Certainly it wasn’t the guard. Certainly it wasn’t someone that wished me harm, or it would have come already. This meant I would have to get more bread. I searched for clues to the bandit that pilfered my bread. Completely around the room I looked high and low for evidence of movements other than my own. Just as perplexities settled in solidly and confusion won, its thoughts were silenced by the sound of the lock on the grate in the floor unlocking. Someone was opening it. I stopped and listened, waited for the next movement. I was sure someone’s head was about to rise up through the square hole. Nothing happened, I waited longer, quiet and still I waited in the dark. Still, nothing happened. Then when I thought I was hearing things popped into my mind another sound creaked from the grate as it swung downward opened and unlocked. I held my breath to prevent even the softness of sound from giving my presence away. Staring at the opening I waited for the ascension of the intruder. The seconds ticked by like my heart pounding. Louder and louder, harder and slower, my heart struggled to beat; I was going to have to take another breath soon. Nothing was happening but my own suffixation. Slowly I drew a breath in and let the old out through my nose. Slowly and softly as to not disturb the dust or an ear nearby I took hold of another breath of air. Then I heard it, the breath of another, sniffing the air I struggled to capture without notice. The loudest thing in the room was it, the intruder, just out of view, but in full earshot. Was it man? Beast? Ogre? A musky odor was faint but new to the room. It smelled, like flat bread. The thief…had it returned? I was ready, without weapon or protective armor; I was ready for a fight to the death never the less, just as soon as it showed its head, I had visions of its removal by my own bare hands.

    Waiting for the intruder to make a move lasted for nearly an eternity. Its patience was trying mine. Had it known I was there? Did it smell me on the air of the room? Was something even still there? I was ready for anything. A second breath I needed to take, without gasp or gulp or sound of any kind. I let the air slip from my body and prepared to restrict the reaction to suck in fresh. A head thrust through the hole, swinging like gypsy acrobatic performance. I leapt for it instantaneously without thought or hesitation of any kind. Sucking in a full chest of air while in flight making a startling sound that caught the attentions of both the intruder and I echoed in the room masking any other sound from my assault. My hands landed on target, right around the neck of the intruders head. The sensation from what I was touching was unexpected and far from anything I could have ever guessed it to be. A neck I had but it was not the neck of a human, ogre or beast. It was a furry raccoon. Its black eyes bulged at me with its tongue hanging to one side; I stalled for a moment in shock and amazement. The scream that came from it next was like that of a small child asking for mercy from the strangler. I loosened my grip and leaned forward allowing its hind legs to touch the ground. I felt it swallow a lump of fear between my hands, in reaction I to gulped down the remaining tension left in my throat.

    I stared at its eyes, not knowing yet what to do, I held onto it staring into its eyes waiting for it to start thrashing at me. Or maybe it would pass out from fear. I waited for something, anything to give me justification for a next move other than this petrified staring stand-off. I didn’t want to kill it, I didn’t want it to scratch me up and give me the madness. I was starting to sweat. I didn’t know what to do; there was no window, no door open to toss it out of. To throw it back to whence it comes would only give it chance to come back at me. I had heard it only takes one bite from a sick animal to spread the madness to people. Finally it did something. It raised its right paw reaching out to me slowly. I didn’t flinch or twitch at all. It had something in its little fingered hand. Flatbread, a decent portion of flatbread, it was offering it to me. Relief chilled my sweating back. I let go of the raccoon’s neck and took the flatbread nibbling at it right away. Damn thing had to be the one who stole my sweat bread in the first place. It was fatter than I was; I had no quarrel about stealing food from it. I didn’t think I could have just killed it and ate them both, not then, not that night.

    No, that night in that dark city was something different. I was something different. I was an outsider like that raccoon trying to sustain itself without being consumed by that which dwells in the city. While I ate the bread it had left and returned with more of its bounty it had waiting below. A whole smoked trout. We shared the safety of the storage room and shared in each others bounty. I gave up half of my jerky for half of its smoked fish. After our meal the feeling of understanding was thick and warmed the cold stone room like a wood stove. Our full bellies had relaxed both of us and tensions had long since evaporated. We looked at each other as if to ask the same question. What’s next?

    Talk of course, what us Halflings do best. I told it my story and why I was there. This raccoon was the one picking these locks and stealing from the bread maker’s secret stash. It deserved allot more respect than strangulation by a traveling bard. I had my quill back already anyway. I wanted to see this animal in action. It had heart, heart that of which comes with more experience than any average person, or raccoon could expect to ever experience in one or two lifetimes. I had even contemplated this animal to be a wizard under some magic from transmuting spell. But no, I would quickly learn that this raccoon couldn’t count. Half portions are all it understood. Sharing it knew hungry it knew I was, without bread it did remember I was. Mercy, it had learned and offered it to me as a request for mercy upon it. Rather than fighting it choose a wise option. I may never know truly for sure if that raccoon was smart and special, or a wizard in disguise. A soul cursed to this varmint’s life. The answer to what to do next came after the end of my tale. I mimicked storing food, and it seemed to click.

    The rest of the night I spent with the raccoon. Following it on it’s rounds through out the dark city. Over walls and roofs, along walls and ledges we crept like the only two thieves in the world. Place to place I watched it pull a tool from a loose shingle, or finely gnawed bone from a hole in the wood, the raccoon masterfully picked the simple locks on the windows. The windows so dark with years of silt and dirty damp air, none were transparent. Blocking view in and out they opened quickly for the raccoon releasing the smelly clues to me as to how it knew which windows to open. This varmint made many errors a trained or professional thief would ever make. How it was able to pick locks and open jars but not operate simple door handles and clasps of chests made it more convincing this bandit was just a one hit wonder in the raccoon population. I couldn’t resist teaching it how to open many of the boxes and specialized containers. I even dared to teach it signs of a trap. The crude snares in the trappers den were already known by this coon, but not that of the one he nearly got us both killed by when it came to the butchers barn.

    The last thing on my list was enough dried meat to get me there. Everything I needed we had found behind one of cheap locks the raccoon took me too see him work. Mostly places where the merchants and shoppers stored their best items. This suave raccoon was definitely refined from a long life of trials and wit. The barn was easily entered for him, being still smaller than I; I couldn’t follow through this hole. I had to find a different stealthy way inside. Not so difficult in the dark of this city, the barn was in a dark corner in a darker shadow of a taller building and the wall of the city. We blended with the hard mud ground about the barn, unnoticeable if still enough. Finding a way in took some time. While there were many ways to enter, none provided that I wouldn’t send alarm to any listening for unwanted guests. I found a feed trough that had a shute leading inside the barn. Feed for the hog en it serviced was wet and sloppy with standing pools of water and mud and mud covering water and water hiding deeper mud. Being silent through this would be a challenge. Two long strides like the wind I leapt to the fence rail and lunged for a beam jutting out from the roof. Hanging there in the night I had to chuckle at my strange idea, for there was no where for me to swing to or climb to. Mud below and a hog the size of a small horse stands chewing at the trough. I recall the oversized dagger I have been lugging around. With one hand I ready it and drop it upon the swine. Like a guillotine it drops on the back of the beast’s neck plunging through with alarming ease. Silently the animal stops chewing and settles in the mud where it stands. I drop down upon its back without much more than a slight puff of disturbance in the mud about. The fat of the pig cushions my fall like a giant down pillow giving me entry to the barn.

    Once inside I quickly spot the raccoon’s glinting eye near the wall it had entered at. We make our way up to a loft in the back. Rather hidden lofts to the untrained eye or casual observer, the stairs were hidden behind a wall in an unsuspecting place at the end of a hall sharing a room with a make-shift tool shed. Only enough room for the stairs and the door to this architecturally hidden room. The raccoon ran up the raining to the door and attempted the lock. Finally it made a sound. I hadn’t heard it make one sound after its shriek when we met. This sound was more of a snort of frustration and defeat. It couldn’t open it. It was just like the new lock on the bread makers grate, only it’s left handed. I call it left handed. The guts are flipped around and upside down. You turn it the opposite way to unlock it, and the normal way to lock it. Only a real novice is fooled by this lock. It feels like it’s broken when you try and pick it like a right turning lock. I tried not to laugh as I remembered that this is a raccoon I’m with. I showed it and showed it, it had a hard time understanding this lesson. A dumb and blind man could get this after being told once or twice. This animal was struggling for head filler. Finally I got frustrated and grabbed the raccoon and spun it upside down and faced it at the lock. Wouldn’t ya know it, it worked? It tried the lock and opened it just fine. The door was nicer than any door in the city I had seen thus far. The wood in this area of the barn also looked newer, and actually maintained with a stain. Still, a definite cedar smell was strong at the door. When I opened the latch and pushed on the door a blast of cedar and hops flooded my senses. I smelt ale, I tasted ale, I saw ale! There was everything. Mead, ale, spirits, jerky, salted meats, smoked fish. We had found the mother load. We danced our own little dances in the room until noting we were dancing, we both stopped with embarrassment. There was much loot to taste and steal. Time became of essence. Our haste grew rapidly and filled my pack and our bellies in no time. I must say this was the first time I ever stole and wasted so much food in one setting. It was also the first time I ever seen a raccoon drink until it was swaying.

    We left the barn like two bandits escaping from the castle. I flung the big doors wide open knocking the farmer clean over and pinning him down as the door swing over him. We darted straight at the wall of the city. I followed my friend’s lead, at the wall he darted right, I went right with him. Up a fence and over to another buildings roof, racing along the eve we hurled off the end onto another roof and down a plank over some scaffolding and across a pole to the city wall. Like the devil was chasing us we didn’t look back or stop until we’re clear of the wall and the city was mostly out of sight. No one had followed, and I don’t think anyone actually ever saw us, even the farmer couldn’t have any idea what really happened. Hadn’t he screamed like a woman in labor, I wouldn’t of looked down to see the bar door grow legs and trousers to cover them. The blow must have knocked the wind clear out of him. There were no other cries of pain or alarm. The size of the man and the force I pushed could not have killed him. I was sure of that. It didn’t really even matter. The city was behind me. We were on the east side of it and I had four times as much food as I had wished to have. I split our bounty in half and used one of my shirts to make a sack for the raccoons share. A heavy load it managed to handle alright. Slower than I had ever seen it moves, it dragged the bag of goodies off into the night. From the darkness I heard its call, a farewell on the wind I replied with my own version of the same noise. Turning to the road east had a brighter horizon that it did from the other side of this city. Looking back upon the city as I leave it, it also didn’t seem so dark. Somehow its darkness wasn’t so overbearing and oppressive. I had a friend in that city, the dark city, the city of loneliness and despair.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Gastlinyk Gate Survival

    I can’t believe what I just lived through. No one will believe I escaped without the help of Garm. I can’t believe I lived this time. Someone once said their cat had nine lives; the same must go for me. Distracting the titan was the easy part. There is no doubt my hired help got out unscathed by the titan, it was focused upon me like Odin and Hels’ fury combined. Its mass took after me like a bucket of water at a fly. His fury demolishing stone and brick all around me, the force of wind pushing me away faster than my legs could keep up with. Walls and their foundations rose and scattered about sending deadly shrapnel through the air in every direction. With the grace of some divine favor, all of the chaos about seemed only to usher me into directions I hadn’t even found logical reason to venture. When I run, I run to hide and towards exits. The flying debris and swings of the titan opened avenues of travel that were once homes and city wall. Luck and the favors of the gods got me back to the inner ring of the Hub. This partially submerged structure couldn’t be just picked up or swept away by flying widow makers. I thought I had found sanctuary again. This is where I had been trying to gain entry to for scouting. The inner halls of the Hub of Gastlinyk Gate, but now I had brought the wrath of the titan upon it in lieu of me its integrity was compromised as the feeling of sanctuary it was to give. If my word got back to Foothold, It would only be time before help would be on the way. I wasn’t sure I could wait that long.

    Once inside I knew I was safer for only a short spell, but in time the titan would choose extreme force over complex thinking, I presumed. I hadn’t much time before it found a tool big enough for the job of extracting me from the structure, or chunk of something to crush the ceilings down. The halls were full of debris from the crumbling ceilings and walls. Bodies of soldiers and merchant hired guards of Gastlinyk Gate lay trapped and rotting and some more fresh with still moist blood throughout the Hub. I for a moment wondered how long these men starved or struggled in here waiting for death to come for them. Was this my fate laid out before me? Every possible way to die in these halls was represented in my short progress to the next set of double doors leading to the Nobel’s District. I couldn’t let despair get to me. I wasn’t going to let my surroundings affect my pursuit of survival. The doors were not but a few feet away, the L-shaped hall was short but hard to traverse from the smells surrounding the loose shifting piles I had to maneuver over and through. Just before I reached the hinges I heard the sound of bad things coming. That sound you hear just before you say ouch, or just before you can turn your head. Not one of them “What’s that?” noises, but the kind of sound that triggers that instinct to duck but you want a visual of the threat to decide what ducking maneuver has a chance to save you. The kind of sound that doesn’t give you a chance to have this entire mental gridlock of what action should be taken first. I did like all people do when they hear it, stop and wait for it to pummel me.

    I like a good debate of facts and perceived understandings of theory and principles with scholars in the park at lunch when I can, but they always win out having more experiments supporting their case. This sound proves my case with facts I had never contemplated to use in an equation of cause and effect. The sound of a force building and displacing air with its sound so high most men can’t hear. Who would have thought to utilize a warehouse of spears as a projectile to crush another building nearby? I have no proof this is what the sound came from, but from what I saw and heard right after the noise that stopped me in my tracks of thoughtful progress, I can only assume on the evidence landing at my feet and over my head. The doors that were only three arm lengths away were tossed out into the district beyond in splinters, the sound and dirt flying through the halls was so great, I was sucked off my feet and up into a catch of large planks in the ceiling. Spears, axes, lumber and anvils came from many directions ignoring their obstacles and creating their own space to enjoy in the floor I had just been climbing over seconds before the barrage. Nearly instantly the floor became a bed of jagged and splintered stakes pointing up waiting for a slip up to puncture any careless touch. Another lucky but painful mishap sparing me from death, when it was over the wind that chased the sound died as quickly as it all came. Letting me the chance to get down, I hadn’t noticed there wasn’t another sound brewing like the one I had just lived through. I could still feel a breeze of fresh air; the hall appeared to be holding well. The doors I sought were gone, I did see them blow out into pieces, but to where I could only guess, there was so much stone and twisted wooden beams in the way, I would not have been able to get the doors open, yet the splinters were forced into and through this wall of debris without much resistance. Splinters littered the area. The handle of one door was partially embedded in a block of mortar. A sobering sight, I stopped panicking about the dust in the hall and the darkness, focusing on the light color of the mortar block I just listened and kept my balance trying not to let the shaking of the foundation throw me into any sharp objects.

    At least five minutes went by before the crumbling echoes of collapsing structure stopped adding to the cloudiness of my senses. After nearly ten minutes I was sure of it, it had definitely stopped. The titan must have moved on, its assault was over. I had survived what was nearly an impossible feat. Reflecting back on it standing there in the dark and dust, the realization of what still lies ahead crept in. I was going to need some light if I wanted to find the source of the breeze. The doorway was the only clear spot on the floor, where I finally stood without a clue on how to exit the building. I thought I was going to have to mark my name on it, in case it does become my grave. The dust was settled enough I could see the shapes and outlines of most things in the hall leading up to the merchant rooms in the center. Where the center of the damage was from the sound I felt wasn’t clear to me yet. I had two ways to go, what I thought to be the merchant shops and the hall leading to the west doors.

    I was surprised to find the merchant hallway was well protected and showed little evidence of such catastrophic damage the rest of the Hub was. I explored it first, my mind hadn’t forgotten why I was there, and I thought I should at least take a quick inventory of searchable locations. I also found that my searchable distance through the Hub was not nearly as much as I would have hoped. Down the hall west from the doors was a corner leading to the West doors of the Hub. Just out of line of sight it was walled off with bodies and splintered wood and brick. It would appear more than half of the Hub was inaccessible now. I never thought to look back the way I had come. Why, I even wondered myself later. But, that was the way back to an awaiting titan. Instead I kept my mind on my original mission. Find the Magi-pry in the Hub, where I was now entombed.

    There were only two merchants in this hallway prison, I was able to break into the storage rooms at the end of the hall as well but one of them was full of ceiling and didn’t appear to be ready for searching. I had the time and not the rations; I searched anyway, all of them. I searched the storage room quickly, the one room that wasn’t crushed beyond existence held many good supplies I could use to patch up some wounds and maybe live a few extra days. The two merchant stores were more or less neat piles on top of piles of nicely crushed things that fell through the ceiling. When I entered the Boyer’s shop it was a remarkable sight. The ceiling was resting upon two barrels stacked in the center of the floor near the counter. Rubble and unidentifiable garbage nearly touching the sinking ceiling took hours to sort through and remove from the small merchant store room. I labored for nearly two days straight, in the dark and the quiet. Though it felt like I was cleaning my casket, I worked diligently. It wasn’t until I was nearly done clearing the merchant rooms when I finally found anything that was the original contents of the rooms.

    Nothing I found in the rooms was solidly in one piece. Everything was broken, bent, burned and bent or on fire and broken. I did manage to find some record books of the Bowyer’s shop. His detailed lists of items sold and bought and traded was several large volumes. Each sale had a short summary of the transaction. Every detail of the transaction was noted, price, description of the customer, weight and look of the item and a gut feeling or comment to most. The words were hard to decipher in the low light. Nothing I found proved to be a good torch, not even the burning chunks of wood and unknown globs. In the second volume I found something listed as a pry-bar. The description listed with the transaction was long. A half-orc looking man brought it in waving a large sum of money to take it. It is also noted this was the first time someone wanted to pay him to take it from them rather than to receive a payment or trade. He wanted it destroyed, destroyed and then buried. The listing shows he received it and 250 gold pieces. Its location was listed too, from the looks of the room at that point; there wasn’t any place for it to be. The note went on to describe some of its history and how there was three of them in the storage room just down the hall that would never sell.

    ….to be continued.

    (Revised and edit for grammer, slow editor)

    • Markshire PCs:

    Gastlinyk Gate Survival
    “Three more in a storage room?” I read this and my jaw dropped, I had cleaned out one storage room of its supplies, but I never went beyond that. I dropped the book and ran to the storage rooms; the once empty hallway was now a narrow path stacked shoulder high of filth and garbage I pulled from the merchant shops. My careless furor didn’t go unnoticed by the heap; a small wooden pole poking out managed to lie in the right spot for me to smack the back of my elbow right upon its tip as I run by. The pain was instant, I knew what had happened, but why the pain and side effects I felt were happening was the mystery. A tingling numbness spread down my forearm and into my last two fingers and up to my shoulder. Stiffening as I go I could barely move it when I reached the storage room I sought. The pain was overwhelming by that time as well. I thought I was going to have to cut it off for a few moments. When the numbness was finished spreading I couldn’t feel pain or move any of my fingers. It was as though I had lost control of my own arm, it was dead.

    It is very awkward trying to make a corpse arm carry a torch made from a broom end. After I finally achieved it the broom was nearly spent and informing me that my numb hand could still feel heat. Though it wouldn’t respond it did want me to move away from the broom handle now tied to it. I stumbled back into the hall and over some junk knocking myself unconscious. When I woke it felt like early morning and I was late for something and something woke me. I don’t remember dreaming, and I don’t recall hearing anything. I sat up and looked around the darkness patting about checking for fire. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to point at as why I was startled awake until I felt it. The pain in my chest, as I try to calm my breathing it fights back with shooting pains in my chest. The air is raspy and hot, dry and absent of smoke it felt like I was filling with boiling water. The fresh air I felt before wasn’t moving about the air like before. The sense of emanate death tugged me to my feet and searching for a walking stick. My once dead arm seemed to be ready and willing to obey now and grabbed up the first loose thing it could find. I had to find an exit or opening for air, now. Breathing was getting more difficult.

    The darkness was so dark I couldn’t tell much of the difference between the black blobs. My memory came in handy now. I could still see in my mind what the hall had looked like. I didn’t recall where the extra Magi-Pry was. It was ahead of me in that storage room though, somewhere, I knew that. So, I crawled in and felt around. The barrels I had plundered in the light before were a familiar obstacle I used to center my self and perform my search with precision. Pulling the barrel away from the wall my goal nearly killed me on its way to the floor. The three tools stored here fell over crushing the barrel I just moved with all my might, and one of the bar’s handle striking me in the chin did spare me a few splinters from the barrel. Sitting with the pry-bar in hand I took a second to reflect on the need of a few new words for dark. An inspirational thought teasing the mind to distract from the throbbing chin and swelling head. I made myself the promise to write a few new definitions to be submitted into Lord Mark’s Dictionary for dark and darkness.

    I had only one option, the blocked exit I had seen the doors vanish into. They were the closest exit to me, south into the Noble District; it was easy to get to in such darkness. My narrow path through the neatly stacked piles guided me right to it. This Magi-pry was heavy, and the air was getting thin. Fear of over exerting and wasting my air was heavy on my mind. With nothing visually to distract my attention, my thoughts ran wild with possible deaths. When I found the southern doorway I tried the Magi-pry anywhere I could fit it. As much as I laid into it the obstruction wouldn’t move much more than a hair before the tool broke through the weak masonry or wood I leveraged on. I needed a pick and shovel to get through this way, Monty Threecard’s dangerous abilities came to mind. I thought I was surely looking at my grave site waiting for me to dig it and get inside. A chill ran up my spine giving me a shiver all over, I shook it off like a wet dog. Then it came to me, the same way I came in. Why, I hadn’t even thought to go back the way I came in to this mess, it was surely difficult, but unchecked for an escape route. The small bit of hope was great food for the soul at this point. The climb back the way I came in here was going to be painful now that it settled further and was slightly more periling with my encumbering tool.

    I would have to crawl at one point, and with this giant pry-bar it was going to be exhausting. A risk I had to take as I saw it. This much work with this little air, I could only hope there was fresh pockets around the debris I hadn’t inhaled yet. Most of the path I chose wasn’t the best. A plank that appeared to be a bridge to far away places down the hall wasn’t going my way. Mid-span it decided I was too heavy and sent me down into a hole in table that was covering a hole in the floor. I knew it was a table; I had been stuck in the middle of one just like it before. A feeling you never forget. My feet were dangling under the table not touching anything, I was more grateful for the tables grasp this round. The pit below was not a source of air or anywhere useful to gain an exit since I couldn’t see an end. The table was upside down, there was still hope I could get out. I easily climbed up and out with hold of one of the legs with the Magi-pry still in hand. After that fall it was rather smooth crossing. My cursing of the dark reminded me of the word my father taught me long ago. He said, “As long as you remember this word, you will never walk in the dark.” Course what he really meant was, the word would remind me of the spell he taught me thereafter. A simple spell I seem to forget I know. Most times, it’s best forgotten. But this time, this time I needed it to get out of the deadly darkness no matter what sees me. With a few quick words a light was glowing abound me I quickened my haste to a rush for the entrance.
    The entrance looked worse off than my first planned exit. I worried the debris would jut crumble under its own weight like at my first attempt and resist any effort. The entrance was actually cordial and polite. I remember the entrance being cold and unresponsive but solid stonework. I placed the tool anyway and gave it a tug. The blocks thrusted upward with such swiftness I nearly fell over, I had to pick myself up from the gust of fresh air that blew me the rest of the way to the floor. It taught me yet another new word, a word for thirsty and dry mouth. It felt like I had dirt forming in my mouth. But I didn’t care anymore; I had fresh air to breath now. The fresh air brought some sense back to my brain as well. I realized the predicament I was in, alone with a bridge to raise and no one to hold it. I could open it and see my exit, but not leave without crushing myself in the processes. I needed a plan, one the got me and a Magi-pry outside without the attention of the titan. I didn’t think he heard me yelp from the gust of air blowing me down.

    In fact, he didn’t hear me yelp, nor did he hear me curse about the fact that there was lightning and thunder, but no rain. I could see him from my perch on the city wall just outside my entrance I held to survey my new situation and realized my previous. The titan was playing with giant blocks of stone, stacking them about the west exit. Stealing from the buildings in the north district he was plugging the holes in the hub. He must have jumped onto the northern part of the hub, as he was standing in it working at some final holes waiting for something to cry or strive for survival and burrow out. The nice stack at my entrance made this easy. The fresh air supply allowed me to be able to run back for a second Magi-pry and use the two of them at once and hold up the massive stack as I made like a crab and scuttled under. The pry-bars pivoted easily allowing me to maneuver one close to the edge and remove it while holding both effortlessly. I would think I was free after all that. The titan seemed content and well occupied, and my closest exit now was a wide open gate. An eerily wide open gate of the east wall. I slowly advanced a nearly straight path right out into the desert without delay or unfriendly notice. Midway I stopped to look at my back behind a broken wagon. I scanned the horizon behind and to my left, when I swung round to look right and about the cover something spotted me from above and landed on the wagon I was using. Its wings and breath were louder than its weight hitting the wagon as it perched to look for me. I froze and pressed against the wagon. The beast let out a terrible shriek I had not heard in my few battles with these. I thought it was an all clear signal maybe and it was going to fly off, letting me out. No, no, not today, I was wrong again. A swarm of these things dropped from the sky landing on the walls and columns about the courtyard I was trying to cross. No sooner than their descent upon my vicinity did the titan take notice to the commotion. Within moments I was surrounded by the searching eyes of flying minions and the titan himself. I stayed as still and quiet as I could. I slowed my breathing and closed my eyes to pray. Minutes passed like days, I could feel the sniffing of the air as the shrieking minions searched diligently for me. They could smell me, but oddly enough, not see me. I new I was good at hiding in the shadows, but I hadn’t a shadow here, and they all have come to close not to have seen me. I didn’t question it to much as I tried not to think about anything but slow breaths, in and out, in and out. When the searching eyes and noses ascended back into the skies I made my ever slow creep to the desert.

    “Opinvu, you’ve done it!” I rejoiced aloud in the desert night air. Even hearing it I couldn’t believe it. I should be dead, maybe I was, still unconscious without air, dieing right now. I pinched myself to make sure. The pain was real and clear, what I was to do next wasn’t. I had more than intended to have, and it was heavy, and I was in need of a days rest. Sitting for a moment I dusted myself off. I was coated, head to toe, completely with a thick layer of dust. I looked exactly like the ground, the walls, well anything in Gastlinyk Gate. It was all covered thickly in this same dust. I went unseen due to my camouflage; this dust I was sprayed with saved me from the hoard. My options were few still; North to the dwarves city, or East into the desert, or sleep on a mammoth and hope it gets me near Arik and not dead. The latter sounded fun, and soft. Soft, I really needed something soft, I tried to think of Spana rather than pillows and beds. The cold night would surely freeze me to death if I fell asleep then. One would have thought it would be smart to head back to Foothold, get some rest and help. But, I didn’t do it. I did think of it indirectly, I thought I should best take it to Valgrimm and convince him it’s his duty to finish the task. But I still didn’t act. All of that meant time. Too much time. “Would Kaldt put her wants before our needs?” I asked myself. “Would Kaldt seek glory for achievement before freeing a loved one?” That’s all the answers I had, more questions, more “What if?” scenarios. I may not be a servant or a follower of Kaldt anymore today than I was back when she saved myself and others a time or two not to mention her aid to me and others during battle of a few of the Thirteen Champions of Otha’s Spider Temple. My mind still sought a reason or superior excuse to make way to Foothold, but it wouldn’t have won even with persistence, my feet had taken me too far east to turn back when I noticed I was already rerouted to the lost city, Arik was in the horizon.

    … to be continued, again.

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 32 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.