Friday, March 26, 2010

The Story so Far XIII

I'll have our last adventure up soon, this is our previous adventure.

6th Day, Goldengrass the 12th, 1845
7th Day, Goldengrass the 20th, 1845

The days passed swiftly for the adventurers as they planned for their expedition to Riveon.  Svarnos took advantage of learning some new spells from Aness' spellbooks, and the party spent their days either at Aness' tower visiting with her apprentice Vanen or in Berengel at the Jaded Unicorn.  During this time Aness was showing signs of fatigue and stress that the party attributed to her possession of two of the Shadow Cylinders.  Aness admitted this was true and claimed that she could hear voices at night in the dark, see fleeting shadowy forms at the edge of her vision, and she had the constant feeling of being watched.

For their journey to Riveon, Aness let the party borrow a magic ring of spell storing with a Lightning Bolt spell stored within. She also used her spells to identify the magic items that the party possessed.

As the days passed the heroes began to notice that every time they were leaving the tower there were three horsemen that they could see in the distance on the road towards Berengel.  At first they thought this was a coincidence as there are usually regular travelers on the road between Berengel and Grisoan.  Soon however, they began to suspect that they were being watched as the riders appeared more often than not.  The party decided to concoct a plan to discover who the riders could be.

In the afternoon of Goldengrass the 20th, Svarnos sent his familiar cat Jarvis out of the tower to investigate.  The cat stealthily watched the riders from the cover of the rocks to the east of the road.  They were gray cloaked and hooded men mounted upon warhorses.  Their dark hoods hid their faces, they wore plate breastplates of dull metal and clothes in dark shades of gray, and they were armed with longswords.  As the cat watched (sending his senses back to his master) one of the men temporarily removed a glove revealing a hand of dark gray skin and pale colored nails.

The adventurers committed themselves to solving this mystery and endeavored to discover why they were being watched.  They decided to leave the tower to head back towards town and Svarnos would concentrate on his familiar to see what the riders would do.  As soon as the party was mounted the riders began to head back towards Berengel.  Svarnos sent Jarvis after them and the familiar ran at top speed to keep up with the riders.  Gjord led Svarnos' horse so he could keep his attention upon his familiar.

A the riders approached the gate the one in the middle seemed to incant some sort of spell.  He suddenly transformed into a golden haired young man in a bright blue cloak that waved a greeting to the guard as they sped through the gate.  The exhausted familiar followed the riders through the gate but lost them on a side street from the main road.

The party rode back to The Jaded Unicorn and Lono was sent to scout out the area where the riders were last seen.  Turning around after heading down a dead end alley, Lono saw the riders (none of which resembled a blonde haired man) pass the mouth of the alley.  Lono followed them and the riders took up a position down the street in sight of The Jaded Unicorn.  It appeared they were watching the party again. 

Lono snuck back to The Jaded Unicorn and entered (after picking the lock) through the back door which brought him into the inns kitchen  He finagled his way past a cauldron scrubbing barmaid, first pretending to be a delivery man, and then telling her that he wished to surprise his friend who was out in the bar.  The daft wench was a bit charmed by the rogue and let him through a door into the common room of the inn.  He came out and announced "Happy Birthday!" to his friends as he sidled past the confused barkeep.  Lono then related what happened out on the street with the riders to the rest of the party.

Gjord came up with a plan to trap the riders.  They sent Jarvis out to keep an eye on them and report back to Svarnos. Then Fionnula was sent out as bait to see if she would be followed. The rest of the party would then come out and try to trap them.  To the party's consternation only one rider followed after the half-elven cleric but they thought might still trap at least the one.  As Fionnula turned down a side street the rest of the party followed but they in turn were pursued by the two remaining riders.  They knew that this would happen but they were determined to try to trap at least one of the riders.

After she turned down the side street Fionnula accidentally gave her self away by trying to cast a Protection From Evil spell upon herself.  The rider that was following her turned his horse about and tried to get back to his comrades.  This drove him almost right into the middle of the following adventurers and he had to violently reign his horse in to try to turn about.  Knowing that they would never catch up to him on foot Svarnos cast a Sleep spell upon both rider and horse.  The cloaked riders warhorse fell to the ground beneath him asleep as the rider jumped clear and landed on his feet.  The rider than whipped his longsword from his scabbard to meet the attack of the charging adventurers.  Martijn, Gjord, and Tursan took the fight to the single rider as the rest of the party prepared to take on the others that were fast approaching.

The three warriors swung their weapons at the rider but he parried and dodged most of their attacks but Gjord was able to get one good strike in.  Suddenly,  one of the approaching riders from behind incanted a spell and the three fighters fell to the ground before their enemy overtaken my a magical Sleep spell.  One of the mysterious riders was obviously a wizard.  Svarnos rushed forward to awaken Martijn and as he did so the rider they had been battling turned his longsword point downward and set it against Gjord's throat!  He called out to the party (which were about to engage the other riders) to stop fighting and lay down their weapons.  Fionulla came around from the side street then and attempted to use the Wand of Fear that they had acquired in their last adventure.  The wands spell washed over the rider but he resisted its power and almost plunged his sword into the dwarf.  A tense stand off had begun.

In the midst of the conflict the cowls of the riders had fallen back to reveal their eerie visages.  They all had skin of a dusky dark gray hue, gray hair, and dead white eyes showing no pupils.  They looked like men that had been drained of all color.  There were some townsfolk in the street that were watching the conflict and most of them cried out and fled when they saw the faces of the riders.

The stand off led to a tragic conclusion.  The adventurers were at a loss of what to do as the valiant dwarf was at the mercy of their enemies.  Martijn had been awakened by Svarnos but continued to feign sleep in hope of catching their enemy unaware.  The riders grouped together around the helpless dwarf and one dismounted and kicked the sleeping horse to awaken it.  The rider that was threatening to kill the dwarf shouted for the party to get back.  One rider that seemed to be the leader (and the spellcaster) proclaimed that the party was being deceived by the elven sorceress Aness and that they knew that she possessed the Shadow Cylinders.  Svarnos began questioning the riders in hope of wasting time as he knew that the Sleep spell upon the dwarf would eventually end.

Lono, forgetting about the Geas upon him, spoke up and let slip his knowledge about the cylinders!  He felt the spell subtly take hold and he knew he had erred as soon as the words left his mouth.  Lono, unfamiliar with powerful magics like the Geas, wondered if he would drop dead at any moment.

NOTE: I can't remember exactly what Lono said.  So maybe you guys can fill me in.

The strange riders knew that the wizard was purposely wasting time.  They told  the party that they were leaving and that the battle was over.  The one threatening Gjord shouted for them to get further back down the street.  The heroes were at a loss of what to do as they did not want the riders to escape but the at the same time the dwarven warrior's life was hanging by a thread.

Finally, realizing that the effects of the Sleep spell would end soon the one on Gjord shouted for the party to run away.  The adventurers, thinking he was bluffing, stood their ground.  It was then that evil rider thrust his sword into the defenseless dwarfs neck!  Martijn, who was feigning sleep,  tried to thrust out with his dagger at the rider but he was not fast enough to stop the slaying of the dwarf.

Horrified and angered the party went into action.  The fighters took the attack to the one that had killed Gjord and Galyfinakus destroyed him with a powerful sweep of his two-handed sword.  The creature faded away into a cloud of grey smoke leaving a heap of his clothes, armor, and weapons behind.  The other riders tried to escape.  A furious Svarnos took out a powerful scroll of Lightning Bolt that they had discovered in Gormoon's tower and used it to blast the other dismounted rider (the spell caster).  All that was left of him was a smoking pile of his equipment.

The last rider began to try to ride away down the street and Svarnos launched a Magic Missile spell at his horse in hopes of taking it down under its rider.  The spell struck but the rider was able to escape.

Gjord was dead and it was soon obvious that the party was ready to do anything in their power to change this dire situation. For the heroes knew that there were powerful magics that could recall a being back from the grip of death. Not knowing what else to do Svarnos wanted to go see Aness to see if she knew of any way to accomplish this.  Fionnula and Martijn wanted to find a temple to the Immortal that they worshipped, Varcan.  Powerful priests of Varcan have the power to raise the dead.

As the party was discussing this, men-at-arms of the town watch had finally arrived, and wanted to know what happened.  The party told them and many townsfolk in the street corroborated their story.  The men-at-arms took possession of the horses of the riders and told Martijn how to get to a shrine dedicated to Varcan that was located nearby.

Martijn, Fionnula, and Tursan took Gjord's body to the shrine while the rest of the group went back to the sorceresses tower.  Both groups were successful in their endeavors to some extent.

Aness was furious at Lono when she discovered he had activated the Geas and she told him she should let the spell take its hold.  She calmed down however, when she realized he had only spoken of the Shadow Cylinders and had not mentioned the passing of the archmage Moandor.  She would remove the spell that bound him and then cast the Geas again upon him.  Aness also told them that she could recall the dwarf back from death but she needed the proper components.  Namely 5,000 gold pieces worth of diamonds.  She would cast her most potent spell, Limited Wish, that could mimic the power of even a clerical spell.

Martijn and Fionulla found no cleric of sufficient power to raise the dead at the small shrine.  An old priest named Omarth who kept the shrine took pity on the adventurers and their dead comrade.  He revealed that there was a trust of treasure that was being attained for the construction of an actual temple to Varcan in Berengel.  He said that the high priest that had passed away years ago had the means to raise the dead and there was a cache of diamonds for just that purpose secreted away by the remaining clergy.  Fionnula knew this ids what they would need if they found someone to cast the spell.  Without hesitation they exchanged the glorious sapphire of Gormoon for the diamonds.  They thought that they could find a cleric at the temple to Varcan in Wychton so they went to seek the others.

Eventually the party came together and the body of the dwarf was taken to Aness and her conjuration room.  She invoked her most powerful spell and sprinkled the diamonds upon the dwarf which turned into a phosphorescent dust as they fell.  The body glowed with an eerie light and suddenly the wound upon the dwarfs neck was gone and Gjord's eyes fluttered open.  He was among the living again.

They heroes gave a sigh of relief and they were happy to have the stout dwarf back.  Gjord had no memory of what occurred and was surprised to find himself where he was.  He was also greatly weakened by his ordeal.  Aness comforted him and the party saw a brief moment of tenderness from the usually stern and enigmatic demeanor of the elven sorceress.

She told the party that they should continue upon the adventure that they had meant to set out upon.  Riveon was waiting and that possibly another Shadow Cylinder could be found there.  This would be one way they could strike a blow against the Shadow Dragon and his minions.

Aness said the mysterious riders were creatures called Shades. Servants of Zorvoath the Shadow Dragon, these were beings that had given over their life essence for that of the demi-plane of Shadow.  This shadow essence gave them supernatural abilities and it was a quick way to power.  It also enslaved them to Zorvoath's will.  These creatures were drawn to things of the shadow plane like the Shadow Cylinders and anyone who bore these was not safe from them.

Aness looked weary and she asked the party to be on with their quest as soon as possible.  The sooner that the mystery of the Cylinders was revealed it would be better for them all.

The Books that Founded D&D

This is an interesting article I found by James Maliszewski the prolific writer of the Grognardia blog.  If you ever wondered what books most influenced the creation of D&D here is a complete list with descriptions on how they influenced the game.

I would also suggest checking out Grognardia itself for a host of great articles on D&D and swords and sorcery pulp fantasy in general.