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    • Markshire PCs:

    Gastlinyk Gate Survival

    I hadn’t been to the lost city of Arik in many months. Allot can happen in such time. Allot could happen to me because of it. I didn’t know where in Arik I was going to either. I didn’t know where to start, or what way would be the safest. I knew from a reliable source there was a surprisingly dry towel hiding there. I also knew why I needed it and that was enough; Spana and the others told me everything concerning Kaldt. Even the shared dreams Spana and I both recounted. I had a long cold walk ahead of me yet. The wind on the desert was cold and pounding. For every step forward I was half a step back. I had to hide behind my shield and walk with eyes upon the ground. Thinking over the tale that brought me on this journey in my mind took me away from the cold and the fraught walk. My mind became lost in the tales of past events. The frozen sand and rock at my feet blurred together forming images of the past. I lost track of time for a good while.

    It’s all because of that lich Sar Khan swore he killed. When it was over the first time, he didn’t want to be mentioned in the tale of its defeat, and now it is clear why. He knew it wasn’t really dead, he knew the broken Domeier didn’t get completely fixed. Whatever it did, it’s allowing the lich to harm Kaldt somehow. He knew something might happen and didn’t want to tell. While Sar Khan did beat the lich into some kind of remission, the Domeier sword didn’t exactly defeat the lich like it was made to. I remember writing the recounts of him and his party. They defeated the lich; the sword was lost to the walls of the magical crypt that was thought to be the phylactery, and it even collapsed in upon itself for some time. They believed it was done. I now know the lich lived on somehow; it grew its power back in its own new way. It crept up on the world through the ground, maybe the water supply and sewers under Yar Keep without notice, all the while execrating Kaldt from the forest and enjoying its own undeserved freedom. Kaldt called out for help to any that would hear; a band of selfish warriors for profit and fame would find the call first. It was their failures and lack of ambition to act in Kaldt’s favor that directed the drive upon me to make this journey alone. Images and memories of others as well as my own cascaded like waves of thoughts in my mind. I could feel the weight of Kaldt’s fate resting on my shoulders and this Magi-pry in my hand. My thoughts eventually came back to my own planning as reality sets in that I was closing in on the City of Arik’s walls. My plan was becoming clear, once I have the towel, I can soak up this evil Lich and his watery reclusion, sending him to the fate of countless other unfortunate ilks. I will search the entire city if I have to for it. As I saw it, Kaldt had been forsaken by the ones she trusted. Abandoned by those that once depended on her, I was the only one making the trek. Many of us in Foothold knew this tool was at Gastlinyk Gate, yet no one came for it or for me that I had seen in my trance. If they had, they would have made it a quest not a burden of conscience, I would have been found while I was trapped in the hub. Though it is easy to write off one man for dead I understand that, but Kaldt isn’t one you just give up on and hope death was quick to make your search easy and quick. She was reaching out to me, guiding me; I could feel it ever so strongly. As I strode toward the cliffs hiding the lost city her touch began to fade and the grounds detail returned to my focus. I still felt warm and comfortable thought the trance-like numbness faded.

    Some say a hero does what I was doing, some would say stupid or brave, I think it was just the right thing. I have always tried to do what was right for my life, what was right to get it through to the next fork in the road. I made few obligations and tried not to do wrong that harmed anyone. I had never tried to be the world’s justice and law and order vigilante as the Vruruk Krain would demand. Helping Kaldt, here and now just feels like it was what I was here to do. I didn’t seek it, it fell upon me and I took charge of this runaway wagon. The more that became clear, the easier it got. The walk seemed less resistant and my pace quickened. I was at the walls of Arik before the sun was up. My stomach was growling and my feet were creaking, I needed to rest before the day came with roused and angry slavers. Following the wall to the north I found a small cave leading to a deep pit. Not much bigger than a platform for two people to shove off a dead body, it was enough room for me to plop down and wrap up in my bedroll out of the wind and sight of passersby. I didn’t care enough contemplate a patrol of any kind that might come looking there or to toss down any corpses; I just relished in the odd warm breeze exiting it and fell quickly asleep. I slept long enough to dream. Dreams of Arik and a day long ago, people walked the streets and peered out windows of buildings. As I looked about I felt as though someone was giving me a tour, all the people were pointing me in one direction. As I followed their lead I found myself in a somewhat familiar place on the west wall of Arik. Just north of a very large building I remember the dream vividly even now as I tell this tale it was so life-like. I recall wanting to see if I was still asleep over in that cave. But the people wouldn’t let me; they began pointing to the north wall of the city. I passed Loki’s temple in its youthful glow, then a second temple with no markings upon it, citizens’ stand at the doors blocking my way with their arms ushering me to the building next door. When I reached the door even streetwalkers here stopped to point me to it, I was getting frustrated at how pushy they were all getting, gathering around, surrounding me at the door. Strangely the door was hard to open; it moved enough to let some steam from within out into the street and raising the hairs on the back of my neck. The crowed hissed.

    That door had a strange pressure or force behind it, maybe the air was so thick with steam and tension of the occupants it leaned on the walls and doors of the place with such a force that required me to push with all my strength. I asked for help from any gathered there, but they wouldn’t, only watched and pointed. This struggle with the door gave me glimpses into the eyes and faces of those gathered around. All had black glossy eyes, like a thick tar in water, their lips were sewn shut with straws made of wood or bone or metal sticking out the one hole left in the center right under their nose. I oddly wasn’t terrified by that, but I was startled that I wasn’t afraid and began to question what I was doing. The fact I was trying to break into this building next to a temple with freaks such as these watching, coupled with the fact that it felt perfectly natural that I do so, was circling in my mind. To recollect back into the dream I can see it. I was under some kind of mind control, my mind was free but my body wasn’t. My perceptions and senses were all blocked and numb to the surroundings, and after all, it was only a dream it wasn’t so strange. When I awoke in the cave it was still dark, but night had not yet fallen, the clouds of storm clusters in the sky blocked the sun entirely. It looked as though it was to rain. The thunder from its struggle woke me right quick just before I could get the door open in my dream.

    I have seen many storms in my lifetime, but none such as this or in a place like this. We have probably all heard of fantastic spectacles of weather and its stormy shows. But it isn’t until we see one larger and fiercer than the ones in the stories do we really appreciate the good stories. Here before me a new kind of hell was brewing. From my cave opening I could see the northwest corner of the city walls as well as some distance over them. The wind was picking up its pace and frequency of extreme gusts. The clouds wanted to rain but the air wanted it to snow, what came down was a mixture of the two swirling at glorious speeds that blurred their movements into long tracers. Much like what you see after being hit with a bar stool after drinking half a barrel of ale. The distance I could see rapidly retreated to the city walls. It was nearly a white-out blizzard, only worse. I thought this was a great time to sneak into the city. Conditions like these depress everything, even slavers and conceal strange noises. I was sort of wrong. Dragons flew just under the clouds, circling and swooping about like sparrows catching swarms of bugs. I knew from Ederyn that if they hadn’t taken notice of me by the time I spotted them, then they most-likely aren’t interested. I thank Odin for my 4 foot height every time it comes up. Little people don’t make meals. Dwarves do! I just might make it in undetected after all.

    Despite dragons over head playing games with the lightning I ventured out repacked up and ready to climb a wall. This wall is five feet high. But most of it is frozen, with layers of ice like miniature glaciers forming atop miniature mountains. Too slick to risk a hasty climb, but I had Magi-pry with me now, I intended on using it here as well, somehow. As soon as I stepped into the weather brewing before me I felt its awesome sting across my face. Ice and snow on this punishing wind cut my face causing it to bleed from two wounds. I felt it swell up with blood and freeze over bringing another pain to the fray. To climb this wall in this weather without being heard or smelled or both, I was going to need some kind of protection from the painful sleet and the hard corners on the wall. I retreated back to my cave and fished out more clothes and cloaks to wrap up in. I still had a half torn off cloak from my mother on the day I left. It was the last bit thick enough to do any good in this temperature. I could still smell my mothers perfume about the clasps. If I loose it here and now I would be devastated, but necessity took rule again. My mementos of home have dwindled down to only two items, this cloak piece and my shield. The rest stolen, lost or given away in trade to sustain myself, if this cloak is lost so then might be the fate of hope for me I thought.

    I made it this far afterall, and this dangerous storm is the perfect opportunity to make it further. I had a last boost of inspiration before I set back out into it. Better camouflage I needed now, I still had this coating of dust from the city that actually stuck out in this frozen desert. Using a notch in the stone wall of the cave, I filled it with icicles I found outside around the entrance. Placing a rock atop the pile I cast an enchantment upon the rock, as it lit up the room and glowed brightly, the rock heated up melting the ice and snow making a nice puddle of lukewarm water. I soaked my cloak and the gifted remains in the water rinsing off the dust and doing the one dangerous thing to do in a frozen climate, I got them soaping wet, then rolled around in it myself. Before I let them freeze I smacked them against the frozen ground. Eventually the ground became loose and dusted my cloaks with their likeness. As they became stiff I wrapped myself up in them. Cold at first, the heat from my body warmed up and I would get wafts of warm air to ease the cold stinging from where the cloaks repeatedly touched my skin. A brilliant idea, I was protected from the elements of on the wind and I looked liked it too. My only obstacle left was the wall, again. This was going to be more difficult now that I had on two layers of armor and one of them being frozen stiff. I moved quickly reaching it down wind from where I started, like crossing a river I was swept down wind a good ways off from my originally planned crossing. The wall wasn’t as high at this point and was going to be the better path, though the ice was more jaggedly stepped smooth from the wind. Magi-pry in hand I found a good hold in the wall to set the tip of the tool into the base at the ground. I gave it two heaves with little success. The sound it made straining on the wall and in my shivering hands it nearly sounded like a dragon screeching at its prey. So much so I turned round and looked up to my surprise, a blue dragon was swooping down on me and was about to pick me up. I jumped to the side leaving the pry bar to its own fate in the path of the dragon and tumbled along the ground to a tree a few yards away.

    …Dun dun dun…. 😯

    • Markshire PCs:

    Gastlinyk Gate Survival

    The moment that just transpired is forever burned into my mind. As I toiled at the wall I must have looked like a tasty treat squirming over an obstacle to big for its clumsy build. I noticed every detail of the beast hurdling out of the sky at me. The mask on my helmet changed its expressions, its eyes grew wide and open, ears swung forward, a horrid shock took over as it did on my own hidden face. As his out reached hands readied for snatching cringed and retracted in a disgusted this dragon began to rear and abort its trajectory. It was too late at this point, my quick roll to cover was far enough to avoid a collision. The dragons hind legs did smash into the wall as his control faded causing a wing to come down on a buildings roof. This dragon had completely lost control of its flight and was careening dangerously in spirals off into the distance. Conveniently enough the wall was demolished and now an easily climbable pile of rubble. The Magi-pry was also in perfect shape, lodged under a few rocks and bricks I was able to recover it and preceded without much further hassle. Once on the inside of the wall I wanted back out. The full weight of what I was about to undertake hit me. I didn’t know where to go next, fear and the instinctual need to hide was pushing me in three directions. I thought I was near the place in my dream, behind a familiar temple with no markings on the outside as to which god it belonged to. I hugged it for safety anyways. Only the gods knew if that dragon was going to come back for revenge. The wind was still fierce and visibility was nothing more than a few hundred feet now with the sand stirred up from the crashing dragon. I couldn’t see the sky of dragons and clouds anymore; it was all frozen rain, snow, and sand swirling about attacking everything in its path. I tried to remain calm and focused. I set myself a task to find shelter, a command post to start my searching from. A safe haven I could hide from all this danger for a spell.

    I wasn’t too picky in my searching for a hideout. I checked under rocks and in collapsed towers for anything I could fit into and not be found so easily. The streets of Arik now are dunes of sand covering most everything, tracks last only a few minutes in this storm, my worry of being seen traveling from building to building and being followed are being eased by the storms intensity. As dangerous the storm is, it is a blessing in devilish disguise. As I come around another building I find myself back at the wall I crossed over to gain entry to the city. I had already done a full circle without knowing it and in only ten minutes roughly. With the great distances between the ruins and buildings still remaining in Arik, it is hard to plot a course and staying hidden in the surroundings when you can’t see either of them. I tried again though, to plot a course into the city without landing back at my starting point again, when I found a strange grate near a dilapidated tent close to the center of the city. It was hidden from view on two sides leaving only one side to watch out for. It was partially covered in sand, wasn’t long before I had it cleared away and trying to pry it open. The Magi-pry popped it open like a cork in a wine bottle. The grate had only two holes in it and they were plugged up, upon opening it looked as though it was an access point to the sewers. A ladder set into the stone walls of the shaft leading into darkness was cold and dripping with fresh melt off. A mixture of warm and cool air swirled in the shaft, warm from below and cold rushing down it combined making this the warmest place I had found yet. I reached the bottom only to find a skeleton hunched in the corner holding onto its favorite treasures. The shaft opened up into a larger opening, it didn’t look like a sewer but maybe a dried up well. I cast a light spell upon the dagger in the hand of the skeleton and ascended back up the latter to close off the top. Midway I stopped with the eerie feeling I may be repeating this skeletons own fate. Maybe he got stuck down here; maybe he closed it thinking the same as I and the grate was covered by a new dune. I searched my pockets for a picking tool. I wedged the tool between the lid and its recessed threshold propping it open ever so slightly. If the lid became covered in sand, I might not be able to open it. But with it this way, just maybe the Magi-Pry would save me from certain death again and wedge it up enough to let in more air. I wish not to suffocate down here.

    Settling in at the bottom of this well with a skeleton was more welcoming than anything I could have guessed to be down in such a place. I thought this place perfect for a better rest. I was already exhausted from my journey of only two hours. I had to restack the bleached white frozen bones into a neater pile so I could stretch out my bed roll enough for a good sleep. I didn’t think it would mind since I left its trinket and dagger in hand and on top of the pile. When I woke to it thanking me I was assured it didn’t care. I replied to it my normal trained response. “I’m only passing through, just a few more minutes please.” When I opened my eyes to see who or what I was speaking to I first looked to the bones before noticing a ghostly figure above them continuing to talk on the matter.
    “Dweeble likes it better, before Dweeble looked sad. Dweeble look neat and clan now.” Spoke the voice of the apparition.
    “What? It was really no trouble; you were sort of taking up all the room in here.” I replied rubbing my eyes.
    “Dweeble no mind sharing, Dweeble like company. You’re first to visit Dweeble.” The ghost spun around over his skeleton as if dancing in joy.
    “I didn’t mean to intrude, had I known this place was still being used, I…”
    “Dweeble not mad. You welcome here. Dweeble enjoy company.” The ghost fidgets with his hands letting them melt away into his apparitionous mass.
    “I take it you are Dweeble? My name is Opinvu. Opinvu Usken. I come from Foothold.”
    “Dweeble is dead. I was Dweeble. Dweeble knew peoples from Foothold. They Free Dweeble from Master.”
    “Dweeble, why are you a ghost then? I could bury your bones and help free you from here, you know that?” I changed the subject that was quickly about to die but wasn’t going to allow me to sleep. Dweeble responded with an unexpected tone.
    “No! Don’t take me from here master Opinvu! No! Dweeble is home. Dweeble thought leaving good when Corgano come and try to save Dweeble. Dweeble no want to go anywhere.” He replied.
    So naturally I asked the same question again. “Why Dweeble?”
    “Dweeble here. Dweeble nothing before Dweeble die here, Dweeble become nothing when leave here. Here, Dweeble in home, Dweeble a hero to friend Corgano.”
    “How are you a hero? You help him somehow?” I knew this was an easy task. I had met Corgano several times and even crafted him a beautiful wedding ring for Miss Aelswith. That man was always in need of some kind of help; help with words, with directions, and probably even with eating soup. I wish he had come to me for help child rearing too. If I was going to break my promise to myself about relations with another ever again, it would have been for a woman like that. I didn’t contemplate the answer Dweeble gave; my mind was wandering off in the wrong direction again.
    “Dweeble no remember things so good. Dweeble remember friends though. Dweeble remember what Corgano do for Dweeble. Dweeble helped Corgano and saved him. Dweeble want to do more. Help more. Dweeble do well now.”
    “Well Dweeble, you could help me. I need to find a special towel, a surprisingly dry towel. It is said to be hidden in this city.”
    “Dweeble no need towels. Dweeble don’t remember.”
    “Dweeble, you have to help me find it. If you don’t help me, I will bury your bones.” I didn’t think before I made the threat. Threatening a ghost to do him in isn’t a wise thing to do, or good negotiating. Dweeble ran screaming, he ran through the walls of the well up to the street level where I heard his voice echo down the shaft of my hideout. I wasn’t sure what to make if it, was he going to come back, or was he running off to show me this towel, or what I had no idea. I didn’t want to contemplate it and jinx my luck. I waited sitting quietly for nearly an hour before sleep pulled me back down to the floor. Not sooner than my eyes shut they were jolted back open by my name being called with a feverish haste.
    “Master Opinvu, Master Opinvu, Opinvu! Dweeble help, Dweeble search dangerous place with Opinvu. Don’t bury Dweeble!”
    “Where did you go Dweeble? Do you really know where it is or where to look?” I asked him.
    “Dweeble don’t know, but Dweeble help any way Master Opinvu wants.”
    “Alright Dweeble, I appreciate it, I really would like that. Can I get a quick nap first though? You can start looking if you want to. But, I need this sleep. You don’t have to worry, I won’t ever bury you. You after all are a hero and could be for me too.” He nodded to my request with buggy eyes and floated away. I am not sure how much longer I slept, but when I awoke, he was there again hovering over his pile of bones doing a little silent dance waiting for me.
    “Good morning Dweeble. How is the weather up there?”
    “Good evening master. The Sun is ready to set in the horizon master Opinvu, it is not morning.” He replied.
    “Ahh, excellent, thank you Dweeble. That is good to know. Was your searching fruitful?” He answered with a shake of the head and a long pause.
    “Dweeble not know what a towel is. Dweeble look in old temples though. Dweeble only find sleeping slavers and giants and pretty sashes.”
    “That is ok Dweeble, a towel is just a fluffy cloth you dry yourself with that is about this big.” As I give him the dimensions in arm length gestures I take the opportunity to tell him all I know about Kaldt being in some kind of danger and how the Lich that lies under Yar is some how involved despite it’s presumed destruction by Sar long ago. Dweeble’s good listening skills let my discursive tendencies saunter off into the entire story about the Domeier and how Sar killed the Lich and details of the dreams Spana and I shared about the forest being consumed by an unseen force. In the telling of this history I recalled the mages story about his own experience with Kaldt requesting help from him and some of the Ravens group. He was the one to tell us of the towel and the Magi-pry. Dweeble was very familiar with the tool and claimed to hate it more than being dead. It just so happened that Dweeble was a servant to the inventor for a spell during the time of its creation. Not being the best of storytellers and a memory of that of a goat, I pieced together the history behind the tool.

    Dweeble said this strange weapon was originally invented to pry up extremely large and heavy objects and move them by pivoting on the focal point of the tool after the object was lifted, the design gave enormous leverage. It wasn’t until the operators of these tools banned together in protest of the forced use of such a back breaking tool in order to save money on rope and pulleys, these tools were found to be better used as weapons for one side was sharp. The inventor of this tool was eventually beheaded with his own creation. Historians say he was in the wrong market his whole life. He was also known for the double sided shovel, dual-ended pick axe with a spaded paw, and the seven handled bucket. He was only allowed to invent these tools for the king’s men after the ruling lord of Arik found he was the one who invented the hoe. But, he invented the hoe to spite the man who stole his idea for the spade.

    Consequently, this tool is the only in existence that allows anyone able to carry the thing to lift nearly 5 tons straight up nearly 1 foot off the ground. It is said that this endeavor followed after he became dreadfully fearful of being crushed. This was due to the witnessing of his own wife and children being crushed by a mammoth while they sat on the only patch of grass out side the temple in the Timeless Desert. For five days the mammoth stood atop them refusing to budge no matter how many men and crane was hauled to its location then rebuilt to lift the mammoth off their bodies. Dweeble believes the mammoth was a reincarnation of someone who spited the inventor and had sought him out specifically. The mammoth had died from starvation when they finally got it moved to collect the bodies for burial. The temple priests wouldn’t allow any harm to come of the mammoth, the guard wouldn’t allow anyone to feed it. The grass was burned in an attempt to scare it. When that didn’t work the man was left to his own devices………………………..

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