The new edition boasts revised Knockdown rules that are more compatible with the rest of the system and a new appendix The Modern Weapons & Vehicles Supplement! The second edition core rule book is still mostly compatible with source books from other editions. Don’t fret there are 2nd edition versions of those coming soon as well as the upcoming release of the Character Codex IV and the Player’s Handbook over the next several months! There will be several new releases for the 2nd Edition Dice & Glory.
The Character Codex III: The Book of Eastern Fantasy Character Classes for the Dice & Glory rpg system was released yesterday. The book is 100 pages with character classes drawn from Japanese, Chinese, middle-eastern and to a lesser extent Indian lore & history.
The book has over 50 specialist character classes, NPC tables based on some of those classes for easy NPC reference for Game Masters and 23 forms of stylized martial arts. There is also a large section on the ancient weapons of the east with pre-generated stats for each.
The pdf version is available now at RPGNow and will be available in a printed edition September 1 2014!!!
Our trio of heroes found their selves gathered around a table in the Harbor Tavern in Asternor two days after the battle on the delta their weary faces masked in yellow candlelight. The army had left earlier in the day, earlier than they had told Bers and Vorwulf due to Lord Vorahd wounds not healing. Grom the shaman had diagnosed that the satyr’s ghost was at work against Vorahd and realized that it would fade into the astral plane every sunrise and emerge each dusk to prevent his wounds from healing. Grom had also run into the faunic bard Canohk accompanied by a rather large arborean and the druid from fertum Vorahd mourning the loss of marshal Bullom Rock-Puncher. It was then he realized that they meant to bury the dead under stone cairns and then he went on a rant trying to convince them to burn the bodies as “Blackbrow was on the move”. It was at this time that a tired looking warrior pushed a jack full of wine into his chest which he gulped down and then promptly passed out from exhaustion rather than the wine. The next thing he knew, he told the other two slayers, was that he was being carried on a litter through the woods. He ended up having to guide the army to Asternor as they had decided to travel overland back to Merdna but had become lost.
While collapsed by the treasure chests Bers and Vorwulf had suffered another nightmare from the fighter lich (see the Dragonslayers II Pt. 5) and saw in the nightmare the black disc high in the sky which they now recognized as a black moon with a vast army of undead marching even in the day before Dead-Eye, their former companion now presumably undead, loosed his arrows on them which prompted them to suddenly awake. They let the shaman know that their chests were intact but they had to leave them in the lair. The pair had flown during the night using Bers’ Cape of Bat Flight along the river in search of the ships eventually finding them safely moored in Asternor. They rented rooms and went to Vorwulf’s to make plans for the recovery of their treasure. Bers & Vor revealed to the shaman that they had taken the Gate Stones and a manual that the trolls had been using when they interrupted them. When Bers and Vor had arrived at the Harbor Tavern they found the shaman drinking and eating with Zancor the one-armed. Vor dusted himself off as he entered in an effort to appear “all tough” and began bluffing Zancor telling him that the “troll-guy” had taken their stuff. Zancor had easily seen through the ruse and excused himself after shooting a glare at the ranger/dragonslayer. After they had decided on a plan of action they all retired to their respective beds.
The slayers’ sleep was fitful plagued again by the fighter-lich and the visions of the black moon and an undead army.
Come morning after finding there were no mounts or even beasts of burden available for rent or purchase and after buying 1,500 gold pieces worth of rope and tackle they had decided to jump on the wagons contracted by Lord Vorahd to take him, his jarl and housecarls back to Merdna. By late afternoon they were back in Merdna and had already paid the wagoneers 1 gold talon apiece to take them to the top of Hirok the following morning before they went back to their tavern the Hopping Rat. As soon as they stepped in the door they found a messenger waiting for them from the Blackwings Guild. They went to the cellar to meet with him and received word and a warrant for the apprehension of Xanto the Wasp as the Tome of Dragonslaying that was recovered from him turned out to be a fake. The price on his head was 10,000 gold pieces and they would have exclusive rights for 1 year, if he wasn’t apprehended (or killed) before then the guild (with the blessings of the mage guild of Chago, the Pillars of Vision) will issue an open bounty throughout the land. They agreed and went upstairs to sleep.
Bers (Played by Jen): “C’mon let’s get to the lair. I want my treasure!”
It took them a full day to travel from Merdna to the top of Hirok along the North road losing 1 wagon to a mishap with a boulder and a broken axel, the driver and the oxen were fine however. They set up the rig above the gaping hole which opened into the high chamber of the former dragon’s lair and through that floor down into a massive water-cavern. It was after the rig was all set around noon that they noticed the black moon low on the western horizon. Basically they all shrugged. Grom cast a spell on himself enabling him to fly for a brief time (Nature’s Ability) and took the end of the rope and flew down into the passage into the treasure room where the chests rested. He landed on the precipice of the passage, a 20 ft. drop to the dark water behind him, and lit a torch. He saw something step from the darkness about 20 ft. in front of him.
It: “I’m gonna skin you alive and laugh in your face while you scream!”
The creature stank of rotting flesh steeped in brimstone and appeared as a winged, horned emaciated creature whose blackened flesh appeared to drip from its partially exposed bones. He recognized a demon when he saw one. Its claws slashed at him narrowly missing and he stepped to the side and let loose his Primal Scream which alerted the other two who waited above for a tug on the rope but which did not have as much of an effect on the demon as the shaman had hoped. Vorwulf immediately went to grap the rope and rappel down but fumbled (a Natural 1) and fell straight into the water taking no damage from the 100 ft. (but probably more) fall arcing his body into a perfect dive (Cris rolled a Natural 20 to save). Bers successfully grabbed the rope but as Grom was still only holding the other end she found herself falling into the black water below and sinking quickly in its depths. The shaman got a severe rope burn across the palm. Vorwulf activated his boots of water walking and grabbed Bers on his way to the surface.
Grom tried to push the demon over the cliff and into the drink using a Windrush spell twice, unsuccessfully before Bers and Vorwulf were able to make it to his side. The demon had unleashed a couple of blasts of black lightning at him hitting him causing his flesh to whither where it touched him passing through his armor proving it useless. The demon backed away using its leathery wings and cast a death spell which Grom and Vor were able to withstand easily, Bers however rolled a Natural 1 and dropped dead. Vorwulf shot the creature but did little damage even with a magic frost arrow and quickly switched to his swords. Grom kept dodging the monsters’ attacks as it kept flying in and focusing its attacks on him. Bers’ corpse sprung to unlife before the end of the first round and swung its axe at Vorwulf but missing and Grom blasted the demon with another wind-rush but he failed to take into account that it had gotten in between him and Vorwulf. The ranger was slammed into the wall opposite Grom and then slammed by Bers’ corpse before he and the newly undead Bers fell into the water. The corpse went under but Vorwulf landed on the surface due to his magic boots. He used his cutlass to dimension door back to the shaman’s side.
It took another 2 rounds to take out the death demon with the shaman sticking to a strategy of dodge-everything and Vorwulf getting the deathblow which caused the monster to explode in a storm of purplish bolts of negative energy. The surviving pair of dragon-slayers were somewhat hurt and in shock at the loss of their companion.
Gill (Grom’s Player): “Aww man, our heavy-hitters’ gone!”
They spent the next 3 days recovering the chests and another to make it back safely to Merdna. They set the chests in the cellar and contemplated hiring guards and getting security installed. Over the next few days Grom crafted a Totem of Spirit Protection for Lord Vorahd solving the satyr-ghost dilemma and the pair prepared for winter. The surviving slayers took note, kind of, of black moon as it inched painfully but steadily along its path in the sky day and night from west to east nearing its zenith just before the first winter storm.
Sometime later long after the first snowstorm of the season and on the eve of another in the dead of freezing night a messenger beating on the door of the Hopping Rat roused the duo from a dead and strangely un-haunted sleep delivering to them a message.
Messenger: “Lord Vorahd demands your presence at his manor now! Achoran has fallen and Asternor is under siege. A sizeable force is on the move north along the road and they have a DRAGON with them!”
The End of the Second Dragon-Slayers Campaign (played between January and July 2014).
The battle was over and the field was aflame, the moans of the dying barely audible over the roaring fires. The slayers had begun to fall back with the Westlander forces that were dragging what companions they could grab with them. Vorwulf glanced over the field as he and Bers retreated. He caught sight of a pair of wounded and barely moving lumberjacks through the flames their gory broadaxes next to them. He ran over to see what he could do. The first he came upon was lying on his back grasping a severe stomach wound. Vorwulf recognized him as Forgax the bad-tempered foreman of the woodcutters. He went to grab the elder man by the shoulders.
Forgax (begging Vorwulf and motioning to the other woodsman): “Wait. Wait. Check on poor Arik.”
Vorwulf went to the other man who was considerably younger and lying face down. He confirmed the younger was dead and when he turned to take Forgax up, he was dead as well.
Vorwulf: “Damn. Oh well.”
Back at the far south end of the delta Bers and Vorwulf met beck up with each other at Lord Vorahd’s pavilion. They saw the shaman assisting the healers with the wounded while at the same time trying to cook a stew under the nose of the camp cook. The pair left eh shaman to his work. When they turned they saw Lord Vorahd being drug on a litter into his tent with a gaping belly wound and rent armor.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “S#*t. I’ll give him one of my healing potions. Does that help?”
The potion helped somewhat but seemed a bit ineffective though it stopped the bleeding. Lord Vorahd immediately gave the pair orders to scout out the lair and authority to take along a few men. Vorahd wanted to make sure they would not be ambushed while they were still so vulnerable. The pair of slayers decided to forego snatching up any “peons” and decided to double time it to Old Sawback’s Lair and from there try to prowl inside. They decided to eat some of the shaman’s soup before setting out on the mission. Grom had made the soup from the frogs he found on the battlefield, the ones that used to be trolls.
After about an hour’s travel they made it under cover of darkness to the mouth of the lair to where Vorwulf had tracked the retreating trolls, the trickling of the creek water which flowed from the cave being the only sound. The bright orange of the flames of the battlefield loomed angrily behind them past the night-black pines. Both the slayers could see the giant troll commandant trying to stay hidden just inside of the cave entrance probably prepared for a surprise attack as soon as the slayers attempted to enter. Bers used her magic boots to kick a boulder at the giant troll but missed.
3 large trolls armed with two-handed hammers and wearing scale mail armor, wolf-skin mantles on their backs, and steel caps on their heads. Vorwulf dropped his bow and pulled out his heavy great axe and Bers repeatedly swung power attack after power attack with her axe. It took only 2 rounds to bring down all 4 trolls. After they were all down Vorwulf emptied a jug of acid he had purchased for such an occasion over the twitching and fast regenerating corpses.
After their easy victory over the last troll unit that had taken the field they were trying to remember where the treasure chamber to the lair was and how to get there as the lair was by no means small, it was a twisty complex of caves with a subterranean river running through it. After a short while they just decided to use Bers’ Cape of Bat-Flight, as it was still night, to fly to the top of Hirok where they knew the opening to the central shaft of the lair was located. They had hoisted the 3 massive treasure-laden chests through it before burying them under the shadows of the broken towers; ruins at the far end of Hirok. This took them about an hour to maneuver up to the shaft at the top of the hill. Once inside, however, they easily maneuvered their way to the entrance of the inner lair, a passageway lit with hundreds of oil lamps set into the niches in the smoothed rock walls. They landed on the cliff’s edge which dropped to the dark subterranean river below. At the end of the massive vaulted passage where a pair of equally titanic polished gold doors bearing the image of a ridge-back dragon behind which was the treasure chamber. However four 10 ft tall suits of animated armor bearing the twisted faces of roaring trolls stood in a line before the doors, from behind them the pair could hear chanting.
The slayers turned invisible using their cloaks of Invisible to Sight and tried to sneak past the orange-steel constructs. As soon as they got within 100 ft of the orange-armor the constructs began to advance on them. The constructs were armed with shields and spiked maces made of the same strange metal as themselves. The pair rushed to meet the lumbering things with Vorwulf peppering one of them with his nega-steel arrows then switching to his great axe when he finally closed. Bers rushed in swinging wildly and in the second round dropped it to slip on her Gauntlet of Transmutation in an effort to reduce one of the constructs to a puddle of slime, but it made its save easily against the gauntlet’s magic. Vor became surrounded by three of the four while Bers bashed away at the one dueling with her in the third round. The tide turned when Bers shattered the one she was fighting and ran to assist Vor who was taking it from all sides but steadily wearing down two of his metallic foes. By the end of the battle which lasted for 5 rounds Vor was somewhat worse for the wear but Bers was only slightly scratched. After guzzling some healing potions they noticed that one of the great double-doors was slightly ajar. They peaked inside.
They saw a pile of gold and other riches disappear with a flash at the center of a circle of roughly hewn gemstones while a nearby half-troll mage chanted in front of an open tome. 3 latter-generation trolls each bearing a large chest (an Orange-Red Metal Chest, a Mother of Pearl Chest and a Titanium Chest with Quartz Hardware; the slayers’ buried treasure) were approaching the circle. Looking on the proceedings were 2 young brownfang dragons, 2 very tough looking brown-skinned dragonsauri and a giant creature which looked like a cross between a brownfang dragon and a troll with a large tome dangling form a chain around its neck.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Aw man! We can’t take all those guys on! We’re wounded on top of it!”
Jen (Bers’ Player): “Maybe I should just use the mallet!”
They waffled a bit finally deciding on using the Mallet of Mass Harm to even the odds possibly netting an easy victory reducing its remaining charges to 1. Bers struck it on the ground and the latter-generation trolls, the half-troll mage and the pair of young brownfangs shrieked and fell dead onto the floor. Bers activated the shield ability on her helm and charged through the gap in the doors and came face to face with a dragonsaurus it snapped at her but missed. She swung at it with her axe wounding it.
The big creature, the so-named God-King of Trollguard, ran at her and stomped on her dissipating the shield spell on her. The second dragonsaurus charged her and snatched her in its jaws, she had rolled a natural 1, and then proceeded to rend her whipping its head and her side to side savagely. Vor, still just outside of the doors, activated his Boots of Fleet of Foot. When Vorwulf charged in Bers retreated to drink down a Potion of Heal as she was very badly wounded saved only by a successful luck roll from instant death. Bers rejoined the fight and the pair battled it out with the pair of dragonsauri and the God-King next to the double-doors. By the end of the first round they had taken out one of the dragonsaurs and leaving the other badly wounded and dying. Vorwulf, using his extra attacks granted by the Fleet of Foot ability, drank down a Potion of Might essentially turning himself into a superhero.
The second round saw Vor a whirlwind of activity delivering power-attack after power-attack and Bers downing two more potions in order to stay in the game while the God-King of Trollguard kept trying to stomp them into jelly forcing them to dodge repeatedly. Bers dropped the second dragonsaurus. The third round of battle began with the God-King missing with a power-claw strike at Bers and her retaliating with a power-chop with her axe and Vorwulf following with a slash of his paired cutlasses. The God-King then made a stomp at Vorwulf who rolled a Natural 1 to dodge the monster’s giant foot.
Fortunately a luck roll saved him, barely though he took enough damage to be very near death. Bers took down the monster with a power-attack dealing just enough damage to drop it. They doused its corpse in the remaining acid they carried with them and collapsed giddy from exhaustion and loss of blood against their treasure chests.
To Be Continued…
In the creaking, smoking ruin of the Grey Fort the dragon-slayers after dealing with the berserker ambush and their compatriot’s betrayal began to poke around. Vorwulf checked the east stairs for stability and slowly walked up to check the mezzanine from the steps. He found the wood of the walkway that rimmed the main hall had many, too many, loose and rotten floorboards though he did spy three hallways stretching to the rear of the longhouse. They decided it was a good idea to just go back to the ships. The shaman, Grom, used his magic helm to cast Heal All and they made the trek back to the ships.
Reaching the lead ship just before dawn with the setting of the great purple moon decided to slip under-decks for a 4-hr nap after debriefing with Lord Vorahd. The next stop would be the determined battlefield of Delta Glade between the Estnik River and the creek which runs from Old Sawback’s Lair. The next thing our intrepid trio is aware of is that they’re shaken awake by a scrawny, sweat-drenched sailor.
Gil (Grom’s Player): “Aww man! That’s not 8 hours is it? I’m not gonna get all my spells back am I?”
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Nope.”
They were told that Lord Vorahd wanted to see them and so they walked still battle weary to his pavilion. On the way from the ships they saw the wood-cutters climbing and tying ropes to the tall pines scattered on the southern flanks of the battlefield and chopping the trunks most-of-the-way through. They were dumping barrels of lamp oil on the trees. The rest of the army was clearing the brush from the southern half of the field. They passed between the Housecarl guards and into the pavilion.
Lord Vorahd stood before them behind a heavy wooden table a map spread out over its surface. Next to him stood the Jarl (no one ever asked this guy’s name so I never gave him one, go figure). Marshal Rock-Puncher was on the field supervising its preparation which needed to be done before dusk. Vorahd’s camp was confident the heavy-trolls whom seemed to be proof against the daylight had been significantly diminished by the slayers and so would not try to ambush them with a full force behind them.
The battle plan according to Lord Vorahd was that he would command the housecarls and hold the right flank with the farmers with their javelins behind a makeshift bulwark of logs and earth at center. Jarl Wernoll (there he has a name now) will command the warriors from Fertum Vorahd taking up the left flank. Marshal Rock-Puncher will command the handful of warriors from Marnez and serve as skirmishers on the front lines with cover from the farmers’ javelins. The woodsmen will take positions in the cover on either side of the field where they will ignite and pull down the pines on the charging trolls. The slayers would reinforce the farmers in the center.
Jen (Bers’ Player): “Aww. I wanna be where the action is!”
Vorwulf felt something tug at his sack of holding and something else vibrate within, it was where he stuck the claymore looted from the satyr’s sarcophagus that he had picked up after Kyr had been changed into a snail.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Aww f**k it!”
Vorwulf opened the sack and the shaman with his spirit sight saw the semi-transparent image of a powerfully built satyr with blind-white eyes bulging from their sockets and black lips curled back revealing bleeding gums and a swollen tongue lolling loosely hanging from its slack jaws as flecks of bloody foam drooled to the floor in long strands reaching into the now open sack. The others in the room could only see the sword rise from the sack and swing at Lord Vorahd whom stood frozen in terror as he seemed to recognize the blade.
Vorwulf jumped in between the blade and Lord Vorahd taking a defensive stance. Grom attempted to exorcise the spirit but failed and Bers struck at the sword shattering it with her axe thus ending the threat. Vorwulf apologized and gave Vorahd the golden flamberg that had been Kyr’s weapon (he had taken that also) as a gift. The jarl guided the slayers from the tent and shed a little light on what had just happened. He told them that the claymore was a recognizable weapon with a reputation that was the owned by a Satyr lord whom had ruled over Hirok-Nor in Lord Vorahd’s grandfather’s time. The satyr-lord had been poisoned by Vorahd’s grandfather subjecting him to a slow and agonizing death. On the day of his death it is said that his apparition had appeared in the hall of Vorahd and laid a curse on the Westlander lord Afterwards the newly self-declared Lord of Hirok-Nor attacked the Grey Fort and the surrounding village laying waste to it and slaughtering every man, woman and child sparing not even the livestock. Shortly thereafter the elder Lord Vorahd fell ill and lingered for a decade, insane and raving until he mercifully passed. The Grey Fort and the land it sits on has been shunned ever since, the tale of the Satyr-Lord of Hirok-Nor and the Vorahd Clan just a tale to scare children.
The slayers shrugged in unison and decided to layout their bedrolls in the shade of the pavilion and sleep until dusk.
Come dusk the slayers found themselves in the center position of the battle line. Bers’ axe was ready in line with the farmers. Vorwulf and the shaman remained a few paces behind them ready with arrows and magic. Several open barrels of lamp oil were among the farmers into which they were dipping their javelins and lighting them in the braziers blazing behind the punji-stick studded logs. The great purple moon rose in east as the sun set and the silver/white moon was high in the darkening sky. At Vorahd’s command the warriors beat their shields roaring as they did so and others blew their horns. It wasn’t long since the last rays of sunlight disappeared that a troll scout unit broke the north tree-line and the leading gigantic earth-skinned mountain troll blew his horn.
Another troll unit with a similar mountain-troll with stony skin but armored in half-plate and bearing a serpentine bladed great sword followed by 3 trolls armored in scale mail bearing hammers emerged, obviously the commander of the troll side. Bers’ knuckles creaked on her ax. Three dragonsauri smashed through the tree-line and roaring charged the Westlander line splitting between Marshal Rock-Puncher’s unit, Lord Vorahd and his Housecarls, and Jarl Wernoll’s warriors. Vorwulf got an arrow off and wounded the dragonsuarus that was among Lord Vorahd’s men. Grom unleashed lightning which exploded from out of the sky and crashed into the troll commandant dealing little damage. The roars of dragons echoed over the battlefield and from over the tree-line flew in 3 young brown fang dragons hauling long chains with spiked iron balls on the ends. They immediately strafed the Westlander line with fire with one scoring a direct hit on the farmers and Bers.
The farmers withered before the dragon-fire and the barrels of lamp oil exploded in a blast of flame and splinters. Bers ran backward towards her companions screaming and wreathed in flaming oil. Vorwulf shot an arrow at the nearest dragon and scored a hit wounding it badly. It circled back around and engaged him directly. Another unit of trolls broke the tree line which were wearing chain mail and bearing war-hammers. The pines on either side of the Westlander lines burst into flames and were pulled to the ground exploding in a shower of flames and white sparks putting a barrier between the trolls and the Westlanders and isolating the dragonsauri already engaged. Rock Puncher met claw, fang and steel with stone smashing knuckles. Grom began summoning small fire elementals and sending them out to engage the trolls. Bers eventually stopped dropped and rolled (she kept rolling Natural 1’s to put herself out). A unit of heavies smashed through already ruined north tree line crushing it flat and began marching towards Lord Vorahd’s unit. The rhythmic clank of the heavy-trolls’ orange full-plate could be heard over the roaring of flames, beasts, dragons and general cacophony of battle. Following them was yet another troll unit consisting of a single mountain troll, 2 more heavies and 3 trolls in chainmail with serpentine swords.
The second round began with Vorwulf avoiding the ice-spit of the Brown-Fang Dragon which was flying at him felling it with a single arrow and then having to dive out of its way as its corpse crashed into the ground engulfing the slayers in a blinding spray of dirt. A dragonsaurus charged through the flames and swirling dust clouds to attack the slayers, Bers chopped it down with 3 power-swings. Grom could hear the screams of the woodsmen as the troll forces met them from beyond the flames and knew that they were through. Vorwulf drew his bow to try to send an arrow into the dragonsaur that was at the moment snapping at Lord Vorahd but his string snapped. He threw the useless bow down and drew his cutlasses. Rock-Puncher’s skirmishers fought a single dragonsaur to a standstill among the roaring fire. The housecarls were swinging their bearded axes wildly against the trolls that charged them as the dragonsauri broke off and continued on. The battle raged for a total of rounds (mass combat) with the Westlanders barely holding on and the slayers making all the difference.
Near the end of the battle the slayers finished off the last two dragonsauri which had leapt over the flaming logs (one of which was angered by Grom slinging a stone at it) and Grom reduced two of the nearby troll units to frogs and rats. They also witnessed Rock-Puncher and the Marnez warriors fall but taking the unit of heavies with them with the druidic-marshal setting the last troll-corpse ablaze holding the burning fagot with bloodied hands before he dropped. They saw Vorahd and his housecarls advance to the far end of the field to engage the troll commandant but lost sight of him through the flames. The troll commandant retreated shortly thereafter. Bers had killed all 3 dragonsauri, Vorwulf had killed all 3 Brown-Fangs and a Heavy Troll. Grom wiped out 2 untis of trolls and took down a Heavy Troll. The day was won but Vorahd’s army had paid dearly for it.
The battlefield was ablaze and the dead and dying were scattered between the flames, the large corpses of trolls sizzled in the fires. Vorahd had lost the farmer/javelineers and the woodsmen, 30 men between these two units. He had also lost 4 of his 8 housecarls and Rock-Puncher and his skirmishers. Of the 30 fertum warriors he had lost but a handful. The troll forces were all but wiped out.
The slayers surveyed the battle field for any forgotten foes and when they were satisfied they fell back with the remaining Westlanders.
To Be Continued…
The flask of alchemist’s fire shattered and the statue niche in the wall, sans statue, blazed with flame. The thick netting of webs burned and the dozens of hand-size yellow spiders scattered fleeing from the flames. Bers congratulated herself as it had been her flask and unerring throw. Kyr suddenly slammed herself to the floor squashing the last of the creatures which still clung to her armor. She rose and the others could see the score of disembodied twitching yellow legs which were scattered over her chest plate in the dwindling firelight. Vorwulf identified the swarm of spiders as Yellow Marsh Spiders and the shaman, Grom, determined that neither Bers nor Kyr had contracted the dreaded Marsh Fire fever from the bite of the venom-less spiders. They had entered the Grey Fort and found it utterly deserted and in a truly ruinous state. They had walked into the longhouse hall and walked through a doorway into the rear chambers into the rear stables and into the chamber in which they had been attacked by the spider swarm. The whole place was choked with a thick layer of soot and dust and tangled with dense wafts of spider webbing. The tang of ancient wood mixed with dry rat-piss permeated the place. As the slayers slunk through the ruin they spied rats skittering across the floor before them.
They reentered the great hall, the group emerging from a narrow doorway next to the dais where a throne should have been surmounted by a stone sarcophagus bearing the relief of a Hill-Lander satyr lord. The hall occupied fully one half of the massive longhouse its ceiling reaching to the roof from which hung a large chandelier of stag horns the upper reaches completely obscured by webs rendered into a multitude of wafting ghosts by the white moonlight which penetrated the smoke-ambered glass and broken panes of the windows in the second story. There were creaking wood stairs on either side of the hall leading up to the mezzanine which occupied the second floor of the hall supported by thick pillars made of the trunks of stripped trees carved over with images of nature; stags, goats, boar and twisting vines and leafy tree branches. The six support pillars at the center of the room, identical to those that supported the mezzanine, reached up into the unseen reaches above with a stone-lined fire pit at center which was nearly filled up with dirt and detritus. There were also 7 heavy wooden tables scattered throughout the hall all covered in a thick layer of dirt. The wall behind the sarcophagus was a rusted panel of cast iron with the relief of a dancing satyr playing his pan-pipes. They had already pried open the coffin on their first walkthrough and took the only loot they had found, a superior quality claymore with a carved bone grip, a solid gold cross-guard and a large smooth emerald as pommel stone which Kyr was carrying in its gold-trimmed black leather scabbard. Vorwulf and Grom hopped onto the dais determined to check out the iron panel.
Vorwulf [closely studying the iron wall]: “This is definitely a secret door. Hey! Shaman check this out to see if it’s got a magic trap on it or something.”
Grom [after concentrating for a moment]: “I sense some slight magic on it.”
Cris [Vorwulf’s Player]: “Great it’s probably opened by music. Hey where’s the bard! Ha! HA! Ha!”
Kyr [nervously]: “Hey guys maybe we shouldn’t be checking out the door since we have people waiting for us.”
Bers and Kyr had walked to the center of the room and were keeping an eye on the passages to the rear of the longhouse on either side of the dais. Kyr watched the southerly one and Bers the northern. Vorwulf found a purchase on the edge of the panel fit for the group crowbar.
Bers: “You need me to pry it open?! Let the ladies handle this!”
It was then that Bers heard someone stumbling in the chamber behind the portal she was supposed to be watching. She was able to see a mostly naked woman ready to charge through the doorway her hair in a state as wild as what shone in her eyes. She was wearing a war-belt, bronze bracers and greaves. She was armed with a claymore in each hand. On her chest was the brand of the Obsidian Gauntlet. Bers shouted out a warning and a fireball whizzed into the center of the room from the main entrance and exploded.
Vor ducked behind the sarcophagus, drank down a potion of fire protection and drew his paired cutlasses. Bers was burned badly (36 points of damage) and changed her helmet out for another with the Shield ability on it. A heavily muscled man in bear hides charged her from the passage she was guarding and slashed at her with his bladed iron claws which she easily parried save for the last backhanded slash which caught her cutting deep. Two berserkers charged in foaming at the mouths from the main entrance their dull red cloaks billowing behind them. The pair swung their bearded axes at Kyr and Bers respectively. Kyr defended herself easily but Bers was hit finding herself badly wounded and flanked by one of the berserkers to one side and iron claws on the other. Grom leapt from behind the cover of the sarcophagus and relieved Bers with his healing touch. He then quickened a mass Bear’s Strength spell reinforcing Bers and the other slayers. The wild woman who’s stumbling initially alerted Bers leapt into the fray onto a nearby table and swung clumsily at Bers missing with both blades and fumbling one which flew from her hand lodging itself into a pillar on the other side of the room.
A large muscular man with dark skin and equipment identical to the wild woman save for the bearded axe in his left hand strode through the passage that Kyr was supposed to be guarding. He was handsome save for the handprint shaped burn scar which covered one half of his face. A bronze facemask with the face of a drooling maniac beaten into it was sitting atop his brown-black mane. Kyrahma recognized him as Norwulf the leader of the Obsidian Gauntlet berserker coven.
His wild brown eyes locked onto and gazed deeply into hers. With a snarl his calm indifferent face turned fierce and flipping down his mask, attacked the young Ferenoi. He missed with his axe and got locked into a clinch with his sword against Kyr’s gold flamberg. Another of the coven strode confidently in through the main entrance, a smaller but still significantly tough looking man wearing only bronze bracers and greaves and a red cloak. A flame shot from his hand aimed at the shaman as he charged forward. Grom was burned but managed to still dodge out of the way. He recognized the spell as Throw Flames (see the Dragonslayers pt. 34) and his new foe as a fire elementalist.
Cris (Vor’s Player): “That’s why I guzzled that fire protection potion! After that first fireball man!”
A half-giant wearing wood-plate armor bearing a great club eased through Kyr’s door immediately smacking her for a good deal of damage. Vorwulf activated a magic item and was surrounded by colored magic orbs (Ring of Orbs spell) and sent the green orb to strike the elementalist wounding him with the orb’s acid. Bers hacked the female berserker’s belly open spilling her guts and splitting her body into two pieces dousing Grom and herself in the woman’s blood. The slayers held their own in this first round of combat with Bers trading blows with iron claws and Vor expending the orbs at the elementalist. Near the end of the first round found Grom simultaneously attacking the elementalist with his battle magic attempting to change him into a frog but the enemy mage was able to shake off the spell with a saving throw of Natural 20. By the end of the round the shaman and Bers found themselves surrounded on one side of the room and Kyr found herself fighting both her former leader and the half-giant alone on the other.
The second round began with the iron claw fighter making a double power attack on Bers which she easily parried and countered with a power attack hacking him into two separate chunks covering her, the remaining two berserks (both were now facing off with Bers) and Grom in his blood. Vorwulf leapt from the dais at the half-giant landing a double cutlass strike. Grom realizing how wounded he truly was went on the defensive as strikes rained on him from all sides transforming all of the berserkers save Norwulf and the elementalist into frogs but the tide shifted back when Norwulf began chanting beneath his mask restoring his followers back to their complete and savage states before the weapons could drop from their hands. By this point Bers was badly wounded as was Grom and Kyr. Vorwulf had taken a nasty hit from the half-giant’s great club but was in the best shape among the slayers. Norwulf unleashed the Ignus Malus spell using a dark prayer causing the center of the room to explode in a storm of blood-red and orange fire wounding all the slayers save Vor and sparing his own people. Two of the support pillars at the center of the room were completely burned away and parts of the ceiling began to rain down as the decrepit structure of the house groaned.
Isis (Kyr’s Player): “Uhm guys!? Maybe we should try to take this outside we’re fighting in a place that’s falling down around us!”
By the end of the second round it appeared as if the slayers had the upper hand though victory looked as if it may cost them at least one or two companions. Norwulf suddenly broke from fighting with Kyr, hopped onto the dais as she looked on and launched himself at the shaman in a vicious leap attack but was zapped into a frog just before his hungry blades could meet their mark. Bers dropped one of the berserkers surrounding her and Grom.
Kyr approached the shaman her berserker rage seemingly assuaged. Grom prepared to give her his healing touch. She struck at him suddenly but she failed to catch him off guard and he turned her into a snail. The elementalist then went into a rage magic flames erupting from his eyes and mouth and levitating 10 feet into the air as bolts of energy struck all about him. The third round began with a bolt of fire striking Grom and Bers chopping down the raging mage out of the air.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “He’s not goin’ to explode right?” The fire elementalist didn’t explode after Bers killed him.
Bers charged the wounded half-blood and smashed through his wooden armor with her axe easily slaying him covering Vor and herself in a shower of gore. The remaining berserk near Grom was reduced to a frog before he could even react. Grom bent down and picked up the snail that had been Kyr dropping her into a potion bottle.
Gil (Grom’s Player)[to Isis Kyr’s Player]: “Don’t worry I won’t eat you.”
Vorwulf searched out the frog that had been Norwulf and stomped on it.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Hey, just in case so the guy won’t come back y’know.”
The shaman snatched up the coven leader’s bronze mask and tucked it away.
Gil (Grom’s Player): “Man, I want this mask. Defeating my spell like that.”
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Well, at least he didn’t transform into a large monstrous thing with tentacles.”
Jenn (Bers’ Player): “Yeah.” (see the Dragonslayers Pt. 13)
The freshly singed room was scattered with smoldering bits of shattered wood and the bleeding remains of the Obsidian Gauntlet berserker coven. A single frog croaked and hopped away.
To Be Continued…
The bright morning sun shone over the marketplace in the city of Asternor. Vorwulf and Grom were at the tent-shop of a mage. Vor wanting the bronzed chest plate he had taken from the fighter-lich, who now was haunting his and the rest of the party’s dreams, to be identified and the shaman desiring that the ring he had taken from the corpse of the were-raven be enchanted. Vor was told after paying his 100 gp that the armor had the ‘feather light’ ability rendering it nearly weightless and that was all. Vor still refused to wear it since it bore the arms of Blackbrow beaten masterfully into the chest. The shaman paid the mage 16,000 gp in 8 superior quality diamonds and 1,000 gold coins to get the ring made into a magic ring with the Frost Nova ability built into it. It would be ready for pickup in ‘3 days and a fortnight’.
Bers and Kyr meanwhile, were sitting at a sticky table in the beerhall with Zancor the one-armed. They were simply chatting and drinking for lack of anything else to do when after some small space of time Bers spotted a pair of suspicious men in dull red cloaks. They were very obviously trying to act as if they hadn’t been eyeballing the 3 at the table just a second ago.
Bers (to Kyrahma): “Hey, check those guys out.”
Kyr looked over and recognized them immediately as members of her berserker coven, the Obsidian Gauntlet, but she successfully ‘played it off’ and Bers was none the wiser.
On their way to the beerhall to join their companions Vorwulf and Grom stopped at the blacksmith’s. They paid him 2 gold talons to get him to melt the infernal slag rod down thereby destroying ‘the evil thing’. Foolishly the blacksmith agreed and heated the thing to red hot and began to hammer it down on the anvil. It exploded.
Bers was busy guzzling ale with Zancor and Kyr was simply hiding behind her mug when the two women noticed that the patrons, mostly members of Vorahd’s army, were running outside and gathering near the saloon doors. They pushed their way out from between the men and saw a large dust cloud and smoke down the street from the hall and heard the exclamations of ‘explosion’!? They saw Vor and Grom stumbling out of the ruined smithies’ singed and covered in black soot then tending to the smith whom they had dragged out among the debris that had been flung into the street. Minutes later after the crowd had mostly dispersed back into the beerhall along with the other two dragon slayers. Vor cleaned himself off in a horse trough before walking through the saloon doors after the shaman.
As he entered the building a pair of fairly large men wrapped in red cloaks pushed past him hastily on their way out. He noticed the large tattoo on the chest of one and barely putting 1 and 1 together he recognized the brand.
Vor (to Kyrahman as he sat down): “SO what’s with those guys? They have the same tats as you. They yours or what?”
All those around the table turned their eyes to her. Kyr just “kept her mouth shut”. Vorwulf left it at that and pulled out his magic goblet of Swap Places and kept an eye on her. They passed the rest of the day drinking and talking little. At sundown Bers, Kyr and Vor decided to leave back to their respective rooms in the tavern at the docks. The shaman remained in the beerhall chatting with Zancor.
Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Man that guy is a damned SPY.”
Gil (Grom’s Player): “I know man; I’m trying to get some information from him.”
On the way to their rooms at the tavern Bers spotted a pair of Coiled Serpent berserkers following them. They were trying to follow the slayers in a sly manner but were failing miserably. Bers alerted the other two and they simply carried on to the tavern where she bought a hot bath. Grom had decided to return to the tavern and his bed since his attempt to ply information from Zancor proved unsuccessful with the old one-armed man wandering off sobbing after blubbering a sob story to the shaman.
As the shaman entered the threshold of the tavern Kyr pushed past him to outside and shouted an angry challenge at the pair of Coiled Serpent berserkers who were leaning on either side of the door. She successfully intimidated them and they walked off under the gaze of a small crowd which had gathered due to Kyr’s shouting. After that the group settled down to sleep.
Come morning Bers bought breakfast at the tavern for the entire group including Zancor who just happened show up as soon as they had sat down. They were getting ready to ship out with the army by noontime and their equipment had been gathered and packed, weapons and armor inspected. As they finished their meal they heard a ruckus outside and decided to investigate. They found a crowd gathered in the middle of the street gawking at the pair of headless bodies that laid there each bearing a coiled snake tattoo on the chest.
Vor: “Aw, sh*#.”
Kyr: “Awww Crap!”
The slayers joined the army and Lord Vorahd at the docks there Vorahd had revealed to them that the army was going via the Nirix River up into and along the Estnik River northeast on 3 ships to a depression called the Red Glenn. They would be with him and his warriors on the lead ship. The ships were going to stop at the mouth of the Red Glenn on the southern bank to let the slayers off so they can scout the nearby ruins called the Grey Fort to make sure the enemy, meaning the trolls of Trollguard, hadn’t occupied or engineered some sort of ambush. After the scouts return the ships would land on the northern bank directly across river form the ruins and from there the army would move to a place simply called the Delta Glade where the creek that flowed from the cave that was Old Sawback’s lair spilled into the Estnik just northeast of the Red Glenn. That was where they would face off with the trolls.
The ships were typical Westlander 6-oared river-vessels shallow bottomed with storage under the deck, single leather sail painted with Vorahd’s heraldry and a large wheel-stone attached to an iron chain for an anchor. The slayers mounted the ramp to board their vessel. Zancor put his hand on Bers’ shoulder to stop her and asked in a high, pitiable voice where they were off to as he was curious wouldn’t be allowed to follow. Bers just shrugged and said she didn’t know.
Jenn (Bers’ Player): “Dunno, I wasn’t listening, I’m not hitting stuff. Don’t care.”
It was a several hour trip up the river. The ship landed at the drop point at midnight and in the deep darkness the slayers disembarked moving silently and swiftly over the gravel beach inland but keeping the river bank in view. Vorwulf was able to discern that someone had been in the area in the past few days and warned the others to be ready. They traveled through clumps of woody bushes making their way towards the direction of the purported ruins. When the moon-limned outlines of their goal was visible Vorwulf stumbled upon and odd collection of stones and markings in the dirt by a bush. Kyr recognized it as a coded signal set by members of the Obsidian Gauntlet. It said ‘we are following you’. She couldn’t say if she was in good standing with them or not when pressed by Vor. She had parted them under ‘weird’ terms. (It’s funny that none of the players asked as to how the berserkers were able to know where they would be or how they beat them there but anyways.)
They began to approach the ruins and noticed that the natural sounds of the area were much louder than they should be with seemingly every insect and small nocturnal creature buzzing, squawking, squeaking or chirping. The shaman communed with nature and found that the powers of nature were magnified here but for the reason he did not know.
The ruins were ringed by a burnt and mostly fallen wood palisade with about half of the gatehouse left intact. The central longhouse, the only fully intact building, came into full view. It was huge and was at least 2 stories high and very deserted. The first story was built of windowless stone blocks with a helmet armed with two curling ram-horns and a small heart below it carved in the stone by the front doors. The upper reaches were wood burnt in large patches and where the wood lay un-blackened the wood had faded to a pale grey speckled with white accentuated in its ghastliness by the pale light of the white moon. They also noticed once inside the perimeter of the old palisades that the longhouse sat on possibly older ruins as the ground showed a rectangular outline of solid stone larger than the area of the longhouse and which was orientated northwest to southeast facing the Estnik River. The longhouse was oriented to the west and east. They crept past the piles of ruin covered in weeds and probing vines to the gaping door-less entrance. They slowly and with care moved past the threshold into the murky darkness.
To Be Continued…
By nightfall the slayers were camping with the army just a few miles outside of the city of Asternor, its high palisades visible on the eastern horizon. Lord Vorahd welcomed the slayers into his pavilion where he sat at one end of a heavy wooden table making battle plans by oil lamp.
Lord Vorahd: “At first light, you, scouts will go north to investigate the farmsteads there, between the Low West Road and the High West Road, if you find all in order gather able-bodied men for my forces. We will continue to lead the army into Asternor; we will be able to gather more intelligence there. We will be there for two days, if you cannot make it back before then, meet us on the road north, Hill Road.”
The slayers agreed and by late the next morning after rejoining with Kyrahma were again moving through wild glades and weed-tangled fields. They traveled for about an hour and wound up running into the High West Road. Realizing they had gone too far north they turned back south. It was another hour before a cluster of small wood buildings could be seen in the distance. They were brought to a standstill a few hundred feet away from the farm buildings when the stink of rotting troll hit their noses. The fields they were moving through were fallow, with the summer harvest rotting in the field and choked with weeds. They could see a large cloud of flies hovering over the buildings. They moved in cautiously and saw that the buildings were wrecked and apparently abandoned. Vorwulf looked out for an ambush and realized something large was in the closest building, a large barn which was laid open on one side. Vorwulf used the Prying Eye ability on his magic scimitar and sent the thing into the darkened barn. As he concentrated so he could see the inside with the eye the giant corpse of a troll stepped from around corner and attacked!
The giant troll corpse was joined by two others each of the bloated stinking bodies were covered in large open sores and hollowed wounds which were gushing maggots and black swarms of flies. The eyes and mouths were just gaping holes black with buzzing crawling flies; their nostrils dripping with bile-yellow maggots.
Jen (Bers’ Player): “Can this game get any more DISGUSTING! Enough, enough description! [gags]”
Bers took out and began to light a torch as the flies began to surround them flooding the area as a black buzzing torrent. Four giant flies, metallic green spattered with oily black hairs, flew out of the barn at the slayers and those were joined by 3 gestalts born of other masses of flies which flew in over the roof of the barn at the heroes. Vorwulf nailed a giant fly with an arrow, Grom tried to rebuke the gestalt spirits but failed and Bers dropped the unlit torch and pulled her axe. The first round found the adventurers covered in acid spit from the giant flies and the dense swarms which were beginning to choke them as the flies were crawling up their noses as well as getting in their eyes. They could barely see one another. When Bers and Kyr ran forward to engage the troll swarm-corpses Grom and Vorwulf could no longer see them through the swirling swarms. Grom was able to repel vermin causing a sphere to open up in the swarms around himself. Kyr lit a torch but it went out when she swung it at masses of flies swirling about her. Vorwulf managed to pinion a giant fly with an arrow and Bers splattered one with her axe getting covered in dark, red gelatinous fly-blood. She then hacked open a maggot-gushing wound in a troll-corpse with a powerful axe blow.
Jen (Bers’ Player): “This is the grossest battle ever!”
The second round opened with Bers chopping a troll-corpse into two halves revealing a massive gross mound of flies and maggots. Vorwulf retreated until he was out of the swarm but was assailed by an acid-spitting giant fly which he spent the rest of the round shooting at ultimately killing it on a simultaneous attack. Grom was able to rebuke and disperse all 3 of the gestalt-spirits. Bers and Kyr were forced to dodge slam attacks from the remaining corpses which they each facing off with. The shaman cast windrush in an attempt to blow away the flies which he did in a 100 foot long 5 foot wide column along the ground as well as knocking down one of the corpses, a giant fly and unfortunately Kyr, all of which were blown to the end of the 100 feet. She got to her feet and slicing the giant fly into two bleeding chunks with her sword. In the third round with only one of the troll corpses left they ganged up on it with Bers finally chopping it down. The group wasted no time in dousing themselves with their water-skins washing off the acid-spit which was covering their armor.
They made a final inspection of the premises and found that it appeared a fight had occurred here as evidenced by old blood stains but the bodies of the farmers were nowhere to be seen. As for anything valuable or even useful the place had been completely pillaged. With Vorwulf taking the lead the four slayers headed back to Asternor.
Once back inside the palisades of the city the group went their separate ways hoping to unwind. Grom went to the marketplace and found a mage that he paid to identify some of the gear he had pilfered from Ekit’s Watch. He found out that the strange tuning-fork shaped rod made of pale pitted metal was indeed of infernal slag and was used to summon a “pretty nasty” demon. Vorwulf went and rented a room for 3 days in the tavern by the docks. By the end of the day all of them wound up in the tavern by the docks bereft of Vorahd’s warriors as they filled the beerhall. The slayers sans Vorwulf, he had went upstairs to his room, were all sitting at a table near the saloon-doors which led to the streets in front of a banner bearing the city arms, a brown ram’s horn pierced by an arrow with white fletching against a yellow field. After a few rounds they decided for a change of venue to the beerhall as there they could drink for free, they had just realized as members of Vorahd’s army they could drink in the hall financed by Lord Vorahd free of charge. A dirty old-man wrapped in tattered purple robes limped up to the table and as he leaned on a polished black staff put his hand on Bers’ shoulder. She recognized him as Zancor, the old Hyvalian outcast she and Dead-Eye had rescured from an ice-troll so long ago (see the Dragonslayers Pt 16: Gone Troll-Hunting), she welcomed him to the table and bought another round. She found out that he had been in Achoran only a few days ago and was on the last ferry out before Asternor’s Elder Council decided to shut down harbor traffic from the southerly city. Vor showed up washed and perfumed and was introduced to Zancor. Vor remembered what his master had told him about the old Hyvalian.
Zancor: “So you guys a part o’ the army eh?”
Bers continued to talk with him mostly about what they were doing now and what happened to Dead-Eye for which he gave his condolences. Grom asked him a few questions but didn’t get any straight answers and was able to discern that he probably had ulterior motives. They got up and went to the beerhall, Bers invited Zancor and he followed. The night spent in the beerhall had been a bawdy, rowdy one but ultimately helped to relax the adventurers though Bers who had tried to seduce another healthy farm boy went back to her room a little frustrated. Vorwulf, ever mindful of security while he slept, set up a noise trap by the window and on the door to his room.
That night their dreams were again haunted by the Lich-fighter with the shadowy image of Dead-Eye at his shoulder.
To Be Continued…
A few hours after splitting from the army on a recruiting mission among the farms just south of Merdna the slayers were traipsing through a wild field crowded with high grasses and peppered with clumps of woody bushes. The land was eerily quiet, no sounds of any birds. In fact, they had not seen any birds in the area since shortly after breaking away from the main force of Vorahd’s army. That was when the stench of troll and rotting flesh invaded their noses and the nerve grating buzz of flies seeped into their ears.
They slowed and continued stealthily ahead until a large corpse, the grey oozing bloated remains of a troll rotting in the sun came into view lying among the grass and weeds, then another, and another, and another. The flies grew thick and hovered in great buzzing masses about the eight blubbery corpses and swept over the field in sickening black waves. As the slayers moved through the gross masses flies began to crawl up their noses, gather on their lips and they could feel them pop and crunch as they got under their armor and clothes. The cacophonous buzz became deafening and the slayers began to run through the swirling clouds of flies. While running Vorwulf and Bers saw vague humanoid shapes and ephemeral sneering faces take mercurial form in the constantly shifting masses. Grom caught sight of them also and, after a successful spirit lore skill check, guessed that they were malignant spirits which were assembling gestalt bodies from the fly-swarms. As the other two continued to run at top speed he stopped and raising his arms, rebuked the spirits. The malignant spirits fled and the flies not blanketing the troll-bodies soon after began to scatter. The three continued on to the farms reaching them within the hour.
They approached the farms careful to make sure they were seen as they could see the farmers at the nearest stead were armed and bearing javelins behind a makeshift bulwark consisting of stakes studded logs and a shallow defensive ditch surrounding the central cabin. Grom walked ahead and was able to act the diplomat allowing the slayers to recruit 20 farmers armed with wooden round shields, short spears, 2 javelins apiece and a battle axe on their belts. The shaman “blessed them welcoming them into the company”. The group returned to the army whom they met on the road 2 hours later.
Vorwulf took up the lead and accidentally followed a game trail leading the army off of the road and into the Aeoch Woods west of the South Road. He realized his mistake when he came upon an ancient monolith at sundown. The slayers and the army set camp, all save Rock-Puncher kept their distance from the monolith. After the camp fires were started the shaman began to cook up a stew consisting of a few dead chickens, he pulled them out of his Bag of Holding, and the wheel of cheese he had taken from Ekit’s Watch of which some of the soldiers partook of. The farmers had their own rations.
Just before dawn the woods were silent save for the army which lay sleeping around smoldering embers except for a couple of guards, a symphony of snores drifted over the camp. Marshal Rock-Puncher lay propped up against the monolith. An ear-shattering roar ripped through the air rousing all except for Grom, the shaman, whom due to his newly acquired deafness remained peacefully unawares. Another roar ripped through the air and Vorwulf identified it as a dragon and as the roar seemed to originate several miles to the south he assumed it was the zombie dragon sieging Achoran. Vorwulf went hunting while the camp sprung back to life intent on getting fresh meat for breakfast. They broke camp shortly after he came back empty handed telling a tale of running into a Chaos Boar. He avoided it by hiding then fled back to camp.
By nightfall Vorahd’s army reached the South Road-High West Road fork where they set camp. Bers tried to seduce a strapping young farmer tempting him with a bottle of fine wine (taken from Ekit’s Watch) but he ultimately drank the wine with her and fled her tent shortly thereafter. During the night as all the slayers slept the fighter-lich haunted their dreams once again fortunately all successfully resisted the constitution drain.
By late the next morning the army had traveled to the town of Marnez marching into the surrounding fields which were a patchwork of fences, fallow fields, tall late season crops of grain all crisscrossed by irrigation ditches. The town’s arms consisted of a golden wheat stalk against a brown field which was painted on most of the buildings that squatted along the main street. The slayers were told just before they entered town that they would be scouting the Low West Road which went southeast along the bank of the Arz river to the South Road Bridge which crossed the Arz to make sure it was safe and clear. The slayers decided to “lunch” in Marnez before heading out. Later just as they were leaving town Bers had to talk the shaman out of buying dozens of chickens getting him to settle for 3, which he put into his Bag of Holding.
Following the Low West Road they, being Bers and Grom led by Vor, reached the bridge by evening. Vor spotted a trail of large clawed footprints which he identified as those of a dragon, a skeletal dragon apparently coming from the water near the bridge heading towards the forest lien then turning back towards the water. He knew they were less than 24 hours old. Vorwulf found a well hidden camping spot in the tree-line. The shaman took the first watch while Bers took the second and Vor the third.
The night passed quietly, again too quietly for the first 2 watches. On the third Vorwulf caught sight of the skeletal rising form the river waters and slinking unnaturally quiet towards the campsite. He shouted the alarm and the other two sprang to action. The battle didn’t last long with Bers getting in 3 power attacks the third smashing the creature to powder. Only the shaman was slightly wounded having been bitten as he engaged it with his magic mace. At sunrise the group returned to Marnez to report the way cleared arriving by midmorning.
They found Lord Vorahd and his jarl were only able to recruit 4 warriors from Marnez whom were armed with round wood shields, battle axes and wearing leather jerkins with the golden stalk embroidered on the chests. The slayers purchased supplies of dried fish, a few casks of ale, and wheels of bread for the road. By the afternoon the army was marching out of Marnez south along the Low West Road. The army set camp by the bridge at the tree-line.
By late the next morning the slayers again found themselves sent on a scouting-slash-recruiting mission. They were to push ahead of the army and then travel off of the road heading east into the north-receding tree-line of the Aeoch Woods where they would find a woodsmen’s camp. It could’ve gone better. The slayers made it easily to the camp after only a few hours and Vorwulf announced their intentions to the woodcutters whom met them with shields and axes. He found that the foreman, Forgax, an older man, was reluctant to commit and was essentially bluffing them when he said, “We’ll meet the army in a few days at Asternor”. So Bers tried to intimidate the woodcutters into following them which did not go over well.
Vorwulf (trying to smooth this over): “We don’t want to kill all of you.”
Strangely enough, this seemed to work as his statement gave them enough pause to look over the very experienced and very well-equipped dragon-slayers more thoroughly. Grom jumped in and helped to disarm the situation with a Social Aptitude skill check of natural 20.
Vorwulf: “A few days then.”
The slayers slunk back to the road and Vorahd’s army with Grom gathering various herbs and roots along the way.
To Be Continued…
The early morning sun streaked through the windows of the Hopping Rat tavern gilding the damp taproom which still stunk of spilt ale and worse things with lazy gold. The only two figures amongst the tables and empty mugs were Kyr sitting on a bench by the door and the shaman Grom who was busy putting war-paint on her face.
Isis (Kyr’s Player): “I’m so pumped!”
A few minutes later with the full of the morning sun blazing down on the scene, Kyr entered the ring formed by members of the Coiled Serpent berserker coven in the middle of the muddy street. She faced off with Andracor, a young Coiled Serpent berserker with shaven head. Both were completely nude lacking all else save the war-paint on their faces. Her face was painted yellow with diagonal red streaks and black rimming the eyes and lips. His face was speckled green and blue with bright yellow around the eyes and black along the lips.
Andracor immediately charged, foam bursting from between his black lips, missing with a wild swing at Kyr’s head. Kyr instantly exploded into a screaming rage and snapped at his arm with her sharpened teeth but was easily slapped away. He followed with a vicious punch to her guts and she took the opportunity to bite a chunk from his shoulder barely missing his neck and the carotid artery. He snatched her up in his knotted arms and began to crush her, compressing her ribs; she in turn sank her teeth into his forearm to the bone. Blood and filthy mud flew and spattered onto the roaring crowd as the fighters grappled. Kyr broke free of Andracor’s rib-cracking bear-hug and tried to snatch him up in turn but was instead forced to parry a kick to the stomach. She managed to grab onto him and bite into his shoulder as hard as she could, him head-butting her to keep her from locking her teeth onto his flesh. She landed a tooth-crunching power-punch to his face and his counter went wild missing completely. She followed up with another power-punch but he parried, ducked under her blow and let loose a shot at her jaw. She knocked his fist aside just in time to parry another kick aimed at her stomach. Both were badly injured and bleeding and covered in mud. Andracor threw an overhand swing, was parried and then Kyr jumped forward for another hard bite at his throat. He threw a fist at her face in an attempt to stop her attack. Her nose splattered but her teeth still clamped onto the mark tearing his throat open. Torrents of hot blood gushed everywhere. The young berserk fell limply into the mud. Still in a blind rage Kyrahma leapt atop the corpse and rained fists into its skull peppering the dark mud with white teeth until her rage faded into exhaustion.
Jen (to Isis): “Oh No! You’re sweating! And your face is all RED!”
Isis (Kyr’s Player): “Yeah and I’m breathing hard too!”
Jen (to Isis): “Maybe you shouldn’t play this game!”
Isis: “No man no! I’m fine, she survived! I thought I was gonna die but whew! I did it!”
The Coiled Serpents left their be-shamed brother’s body in the street and dispersed with the crowd. Vorwulf was annoyed that he couldn’t find any ‘action’ during the fight and the shaman had remained in the Hopping Rat after painting Kyr’s face to converse with a young shaman apparently another vagabond of the Ogtra who had shown up late the previous night. The army of Lord Vorahd was preparing to move out by at least noontime so the slayers, after Kyr’s trial by combat, prepared their kits for travel.
The shaman introduced Og to the group a little while later telling them he was another errant shaman of his tribe, the Ogtra tribe from the far north. Og was going to wait for Grom to return and stay in the tavern with Drasknor, Vorwulf’s protégé. By early afternoon they marched out. The army marched along the South Road on their way to Marnez, a farming community on the banks of the Arz River a tributary of the more southerly and much larger Nirix River. From there Lord Vorahd planned on heading to the city of Asternor along the Low West Road which followed the northern banks of the Arz and then Nirix rivers. It was figured that it should take the force of forty-one men plus the slayers 2 days to reach the South Road/High-West Road Fork about 4 miles north-east of Marnez.
A few miles outside the palisades of Merdna just as the tree-line of the Aeoch woods came into view the slayers, as the army’s sole scouting force, was commanded east-north-east towards the farmsteads there to recruit all able-bodied men while the main force continued south on the road. Kyr would remain behind with the main force as she was still badly hurt not to mention she was also busy stringing the teeth she had picked out of the mud into a necklace. The remaining 3 slayers broke away, rushed into the bush and quickly disappeared into the high, green grass.
To Be Continued…