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The Cabal of Eight Pt.5: Thug Life

It was nearly two hours before the trio of mages was able to make it to the necropolis gates. All the way Where the thug led them.the air seemed to become increasingly still and just before the gates the wind itself seemed to fear making any sound at all. They stopped just outside of the gates at the ragged edge of an old irrigation ditch just before the old road.

Accordingly, they surveyed the pitch dark for the evident light of a campfire but all was black. Suddenly, a shape rose from the shadow gesticulating wildly. All three of the young mages recognized the senior thug. He was signaling them as silently as he could to DUCK!

As a result and almost as a reflex, their heads turned in unison past the overturned wagon and the body of one of the thugs to where the Wher dragon was butchering the dead horses with its teeth and claws. Immediately the mages jumped into the ditch and pressed themselves hard against its slanted overgrown sides.

After an hour, every thug and mage present had kept a keen eye locked onto the dragon as they waited the situation out, the Wher flew off back into the necropolis bearing the better part of a horse carcass. Consequently, Excor decided to stay where he was for the rest of the night and sleep in the ditch.

Gornix dashed over to the thugs who were held up by the overturned wagon. The older thug was somewhat upset. Apparently he owned the wagon and was a bit angry that it had been broken up and both draft-horses eaten by the dragon. Fauna simply stayed in the pit with Excor following his example as well as being more comfortable in the thick tangled grasses.

Finally, morning came, the great purple moon and its rings darkened a large portion of the blazing orange dawn. The young mages and the thugs quickly wolfed down their iron rations and used what of the grog they could salvage to wet down the hard tack. After breakfast they assessed the damage to the wagon, it was determined a total loss. As a result, the old thug went on a tirade about “that double-dealin’ dishonest soft-skinned shiesty fop! Easy money my @$$! It weren’t enough! Not by a long toss! Owe’s me a pair o’ good horse an a WAGON!”

The angry old man roughly wiped the spit from his beard and flung his arm clean. He walked over to the other two thugs.

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “So. What do we do now?”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “We walk.”

Gil (Gornix’s Player): “What!? Anybody have a flight spell or something!? Nothing? My CON’s not good.”

Cris: “You got anything?”

Gil: “No?”

Excor marched off by himself and looking back at his companions shouted, “C’mon! Let’s Go!”

The three thugs grumbled, “Who the hell does that guy think he is?” between themselves. After a few seconds, they shrugged their shoulders and followed. Fauna and Gornix searched the broken wagon for rations for some unknown reason. However, they found nothing. Therefore, the pair had to run to catch up to their party.

Come noon the sun was high and blazing like molten platinum down onto the backs of the young mages and the surviving thugs. Accordingly, all were drenched in sweat and partially stripped of excess clothing. Road dirt smeared their faces and collected in dark patches to their sweat-soaked clothes. Fauna and Gornix were exhausted. A young thug, the youngest of the remaining three, dropped passing out from heat exhaustion face first into the pale rocky jaundiced dust of the road.

Barely even winded the elder thug and his pal continued on at a brisk pace ignoring their fallen compatriot as well as the mages they had hardly tolerated. Excor decided to wait after some thought and squirt some water from his waterskin onto his dirty sunburnt face. While the crunching trudge of the deserters faded into the heat-shimmering distance.

Regardless Gornix struggled over to the unconscious thug and splashed his face with some water. The young ruffian twitched showing that he was alive but he did not wake up. The remaining group decided to rest where they were. Fauna set up her pup-tent and slept. Gornix tried to help the sun-struck thug but was too weak and so stripped down rest under the arid shadow of a nearby rock.

Cris (to me, the GM): “Hey! Am I carrying that dagger? I sure I am I got it wrote down!”

Gornix as he waited for his companions to recover enough to continue to foot it to the city walls identified the dagger they had taken from the sarcophagus of Dag-Athar. All he could get from the obviously magic item was its mystical connection to a demon. Some runes blazed into view like fire along the curved golden blade.

Cris: “That’s it. I stop touching the thing and wrap it in a rag and stash it away!”

Cris (to Gil): “Hey man you want to carry the dagger!”

Gil: “No. No. I’m passed out right now.”

The day progressed and by late afternoon (approx. 3 pm) Gornix was fully recovered however Fauna and the thug were still out of commission. Gornix summoned a pair of earth elementals (again barely hitting the control roll DC) and had them carry the druid and thug. After an hour when the creatures melted back into the yellow road Fauna had recovered but the thug was still out.

They paused long enough for Gornix to render first aid and when the thug finally was able to stand, barely, the mage lent him his staff to walk with. They soldiered on towards Ezmer. It was not for several more hours (till about 9 pm) that they reached their goal, the city gates of Ezmer. The gates were shut tight.

This was because the gates shut every day at sundown only to open again at the first light of dawn. So, to one side of the gates was a wayfarer camp and to the other a gypsy camp filled with music and Southern Nomads dancing wildly around their roaring bonfires.

Fauna decided to “check out” the gypsy camp. As soon as a pair of nomads approached her showing signs of the mixed blood of humans, faun, and Naga she freaked and left to rejoin Excor who leaning against the city-gate.

Gornix, on the other hand, was trying to follow the thug that had his staff and lost him somewhere in the wayfarers’ camp. For this reason, Gornix rejoined his companions at the gate where they had set up to sleep in a corner against the great wood and iron gates. He cast clairvoyance focusing on his staff and on the strength of his vision, he urged his companions to the western aqueducts.

Finally, they stumbled to one of the gargantuan aqueducts that fed the city water from rivers miles away to the south. They observed the white stone arches as they stretched over the wide and deep stone-lined dry moat. Constructed behind the moat were the battle towers and city bulwarks. The three mages heard a slight chirping from above.

Gornix caught his staff, tossed to him by the thug he had doctored. The young man was above them on a ledge of the aqueduct. He signaled them up. The only words he spoke were in a raspy whisper, “Shh. Keep quiet and follow my lead.”

Therefore, they carefully edged their way across the aqueducting along the narrow bird-dropping encrusted edge. Occasionally they suffered the nip of a beak on a finger misplaced in a pecked out burrow. About midway across the span and only halfway from their goal the leading thug signaled them to stop and lean in against the stone. At this point if any of their grips failed the height of the fall and the impact on the stone lining of the moat would’ve killed any one of the four sneaks.

The young thug sent a twittering bird-call across the moat to the other side. Consequently from the top of one of the battle towers they could all see the yellow-white flash of a signal lantern. The young thug looked back and signaled them to follow. Finally, they continued to the other side where a watchman armed with a crossbow helped them down into the battlements of the bulwarks and from there the thug led them into the streets after sharing a special handshake with the man. Only Fauna noticed this but was unable to memorize the handshake.

Soon after, they were somewhere in the Southwest District of Ezmer navigating a narrow alley among the small crowded multi-story buildings. At this point, the young thug turned to Gornix as he started to duck into a dark and narrow side-alley. “You’re a good man. I would’ve left you.” Gornix began to try to say something back.

The GM (Me): “Dude he’s already gone.”

After getting their bearings, the group headed out to the Red Helm hoping that Draiga had their pay in hand.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.4: The Tomb of Dag-Athar

The trio of young mages (Excor the Ivoran schemer played by Cris, Fauna the Southlander druid playedThe map of the titular tomb by Jenn, and Gornix the Ivoran Wizard played by Gil) slowly progressed down the dank ancient passage their lights pushing back against the smothering darkness of the tomb. Gornix led the group tapping each flagstone in turn before he stepped upon it with Fauna just a step behind him. Excor was 10 ft. behind her however.

Fauna (Played by Jenn): “Hey you! Get up here!”

Excor: “Hell no!”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “Hey ya never know! Am I wrong? Am I wrong?”

Gornix paused due to an unexpected floor feature. He carefully inspected it. Laid before him was a large flagstone with the graven image of the grinning horned demon. After contemplating how to proceed and after some needling by Fauna he decided to just jamb it with the butt of his staff. All three of them froze in place as the strained squealing of some hidden machine echoed from behind the walls presumably triggered by Gornix’s hasty action.

A stone slab slid and crashed down suddenly just in front of Excor sealing him off from his two companions. Gornix and Fauna inspected the other side of the stone drop-door.

Fauna: “Awww. It’s too heavy for us to lift huh?”

Gornix: “Do. You.  Have your crowbar?”

They searched for a reset or switch or anything to retract the door. They even checked for magic but nothing. The door was too heavy to lift, left no purchase for a crowbar, and was airtight. About the time Fauna and Gornix were shrugging in frustration, the grinning demon’s visage mocking them from the door’s face, Excor Ghost Step-ped through to join them.

Gornix: “There’s gotta be a way to get through that door around here.”

Excor: “No. It was probably meant to trap whoever comes down here. AND it’s airtight huh? Damn. We might die down here even if we get the dagger.”

They continued in a single group this time just behind each other proceeding just as slowly, if not slower, than they had been before. As the end of the tunnel was starting to become visible by their lights, they noticed the flags abruptly ended with the floor continuing as moist bare black earth.

Gornix: “I’m not touching that.”

They conferred for a few minutes ultimately deciding to use various spells to “ghost over” the patch of bare ground deeming it to be an obvious trap (it was, just your average 20 ft. deep concealed spiked pit). Excor cast Ghost Form and floated over. Fauna cast Gaseous Form over both her and Gornix. Their mist-forms drifted to the terminus of the tomb throat.

They all found themselves in a chamber identical to the entrance vestibule save that there were three narrow openings into passages that snaked so that they couldn’t look too far into them from the thresholds. A pair of thick stone supports and a stone lintel formed each of the three openings. Carved into one of the supports to the center opening was spiral design.

Excor (as he’s staring at the inscribed spiral): “I bet this one is where have to go. Hmmm. Not sure though.”

Fauna and Gornix solidified reverting to their normal mortal forms. Immediately, Fauna used her divination skill to determine that their goal was indeed through the center opening. As Excor’s Ghost Form spell was still active, he elected himself the first to proceed down the central snaking passage. At the end of the narrow passage was a small rounded chamber with a stone sarcophagus at its center.

Gornix’s spell expired then setting him down near the stone coffin. Suddenly a large golden scaled serpent struck him with its venomous dagger-like fangs. The creature appeared as an unnatural cross between a viper and a constrictor. Dropping his torch he reeled back away from the monster its venom searing along his veins to the other side of the sarcophagus. The torch continued to burn casting long shadows along the chamber walls and leaving the entire portion behind the sarcophagus black. This creature was doubtlessly the tomb’s guardian.

Cris (to me, the GM): “Damn! I’m almost dead. I do a recovery. I need to or I’m dead!”

To save his own skin Excor cast Blinding Flash but to no effect. Dropping her lamp behind the threshold, Fauna charged in and cast Arcane Bolt at the creature but the spell seemed to have no effect. Immediately behind her, Gornix jumped into the small chamber and cast Chrono-Missile but the creature dodged the missiles easily. Gornix again cast Chrono-Missile and again the guardian serpent dodged. So, the young wizard tried to summon some earth elementals (of all the spells to pick for his starting spells he picked Summon Elemental IV, hope he knows what he’s doin’ with that) but failed.

Three medium-sized earth elementals in humanoid form rose from the ground and walls, their bodies of clay and stone. Gornix had successfully cast his spell and lucked out with the control roll to keep the creatures under his spell. The elementals immediately fell upon the golden serpent but it dodged all three of their attacks. Fauna tried to cast Lightning Bolt but the spell failed.

Excor as well cast Lightning Bolt the electrical bolts erupting from his hands as the magic went wild but dealing some damage to the creature as it struck its target. Gornix also cast Lightning Bolt, twice, in quick succession each bolt finding the serpent but dealing very little damage.

The guardian serpent struck at one of the elementals retracting with nothing but a mouthful of dirt. Gornix readied as his elementals attacked. Two missed with clumsy but powerful swings of their rocky fists. The third trapped the monster within its stony grasp and held the squirming beast against the flagstones. Gornix saw his opportunity for a coup de grace striking its head sending the butt of his staff crunching through its skull and into its brain killing it instantly. The tomb-snake’s corpse melted away to nothing as a result.

Without missing a beat, the trio turned their attention towards the sarcophagus and hoped that it contained their quarry. All three left the room and stood behind the threshold. From behind the burial chambers threshold, Gornix commanded his elementals to throw off the lid of the stone sarcophagus. A sparkling cloud of poison dust burst into the air hovering in a dense cloud about the radius of the room. They waited for around 10 minutes while the cloud dissipated.

After the remaining dust settled, our trio carefully moved one after the other into the burial chamber of Dag-Athar. They peered over the chest high sides of the sarcophagus and within they saw a shriveled skeletal corpse with only shreds of pale blue material left clinging to its bones and grey bits of petrified flesh. Moreover, across its sternum under the mummy’s crossed arms rested a gleaming gold dagger.

The dagger was of mirror-polished solid gold with a curved and wickedly sharp blade. In its pommel was set a smooth polished emerald that sparkled venomously even in the scant light of the tomb. The three mages debated on whether or not they should just grab for the blade and hope for the best. They also argued about who would be the one to make the grab.

When the corpse sprung unexpectedly to a sitting posture, the group leapt back from the coffin and prepared for battle. The corpse began saying something in a voice that at first sounded faint and hollow as if echoing from an immeasurable distance. Slowly the eerie voice moved into the burial chamber with them. It was full and deep carrying with it unbendable authority. However, the voice was speaking in a language alien to any of them.

The GM (me)(to Jenn): “Um, don’t you have the Druid Secret Tongue as a language?”

Jenn (referring to her character sheet): “Nope.”

The GM: “Crap. That’s right you’re a rogue druid.”

Gil (sonsulting his character sheet): “Wait. I think. I have something.”

Gornix cast Comprehend Languages and began to translate for the benefit of the other two.

Dag-Athar (the corpse): “…a boon I grant to you tomb robbers though your fate will be that of any common thief to lie with me forever in this tomb. For now, you have 3 questions to ask of Dag-Athar the Golden.”

Gornix: “Where’s the dagger?”

The mummy of Dag-Athar the Golden presented the dagger to Gornix so he snatched it from the corpse’s claws.

Fauna: “Is the dagger magic?”

Dag-Athar: “Yes.”

Gornix (before Excor could say anything): “How do we defeat you?”

Dag-Athar: “By asking the last question.” With that the corpse fell back and completely disintegrated.

Jenn (turning to look at me): “We could have asked it anything huh? DERP!”

Cris just shook his head and gave a disgusted sigh.

Excor searched the remaining dust in the bottom of the coffin and came up with a wood bracelet with a small carved non-precious stone. He tossed it back into the dust of Dag-Athar. There was nothing of apparent value in the detritus. He was still terribly wounded from the snakebite.

The trio was trying to figure out how they were going to escape the sealed tomb. They decided on using Gornix’s elementals to search the remaining two branches of the tomb. The group remained 10 ft. behind the earth-creatures as they led the way into the West chamber. As soon as all three of the elementals were inside of the threshold, a stone door fell sealing them in.

Gil: “Aw man. I lose control of them?”

Cris: “Yeah man, they probably f*@#n’ melt into the floor and walls.”

GM: “Yup.”

After a little bit of in-game arguing Fauna charmed Gornix into leading the group into the last remaining burial chamber. They all pause as halfway to the room through the narrow bend of the passage a boulder that composed most of the ceiling and part of a wall moved and dirt fell (trap mechanical failure). Nevertheless, as it did not fall he continued on stopping at the threshold and visually inspected the chamber. He determined the whole thing was a trap. Possibly, the low ceiling which appeared to be a single massive stone would fall in if they were to make it to the sarcophagus at room center.

They backed out and sat in the antechamber. With the entire tomb explored, they were trying to come up with something, anything to get themselves out of this. They finally decided upon simply getting back to the drop-door near the entrance and “ghosting through” again though Excor was the only one that could actually do that. The air was already heavy. There was no proper ventilation to the tomb. They would soon suffocate. There wasn’t time for Gornix to learn Excor’s spell. Fauna channeled her powers from nature and so couldn’t learn any other spells aside from those she already knew.

When they reached the stone door that prevented their escape, Excor cast Ghost Step on himself and stepped through. In a sudden burst of inspiration, Gornix cast Mini-Portal and almost at the same time, Fauna cast Gaseous Form on herself and Gornix. Using the short-lived mini-portal they drifted through to the other side. They were reward immediately with a fresh gust of cool, breathable air.

Cautiously they wended their way up the stone steps to the surface and into the moonlit night. The cool air lightly tinged by ocean salt was such a great relief that they each spent a few seconds just taking deep breaths. However, they noticed something that left them somewhat uneasy. The graveyard was dead quiet. There were neither sounds of night birds nor the chirping of crickets or the tympani of cicada.

They stood crowded on the last few step with their heads sticking up from the subterranean tomb searching in vain for the whereabouts of the Wher. When they were confident that the dragon was nowhere in sight, they were definitely suspicious though, they made a break for it.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight – Pt.3: Navigating the Necropolis

A light cool, breeze drifted over the irregular crowns of the tombstones, monoliths, and various stone Similar to the one on the tomb at the Necropolis.memorials. The air was strangely fresh having blown from over the ocean, up the Ezmerian cliffs, and onto the foot of the headland. The horizon was dull red with a brilliant yellow white slash in the west.

Excor (Played by Cris): “Man. We don’t wanna be in no graveyard past sundown! Sheesh.”

Excor, Gornix (Played by Gil), and Fauna (Played by Jenn) were making their way across the impressive Ezmerian Necropolis proceeding in a north-easterly direction in search of their quarry: a tomb marked with a golden, grinning demon. They kept their bearing easily using a combination of Clairvoyance (courtesy of Gornix and Excor) and Fauna’s divination skill.

It had taken them almost 2 hours to get to where they were at and they knew they were real close. The strange place posed little hindrance to them in daylight though Fauna had almost stepped on a viper unknowingly. Fortunately Gornix had spotted the creature and warned her in time. He had taken the lead and led the group at a breakneck impatient and nervous pace. Suddenly, they found that they were lost.

Eeriness assailed the minds of the young mages brought to a ringing clamor in their brains now that they had stopped to catch their bearings. The groupings of the graves, the locations of the tumuli, the narrow paths, and wide avenues all bred a vague familiarity within the trio. It was only that they had a brief moment apart from their all-consuming goal that the realization hit them like an icy wave. The layout of the ages old Ezmerian Necropolis was identical to the current layout of the fair bustling metropolis of Ezmer.

Fauna took charge and pulled out a dowsing rod, and easily led them straight to the titular tomb, which was literally just around the bend of a large barrow. The tall age-worn monolithic stone stood among a small tight group of similar albeit shorter stones and was nestled in a sort of alleyway created by the surrounding above-ground sarcophagi and small mausoleums. All covered with heavy tufts of yellow grasses and weeds as well as a thick layer and clumps of stony earth. On the face of the tall stone was a deep carving of a grinning demon with a crown floating above it head inlaid with gold.

The group duly noted that the carven image in the stone resembled, greatly and probably not by coincidence (tee-hee), the banner of the Golden Devil West Company. The Hyvalian trading company, which specialized in slavery and spices, oversaw the Slavers’ Castle in the Slavers’ Quarter of Ezmer.

Excor cast Danger Sense and kept his concentration acting as the group sensor. The great purple moon was quickly fading into a faint shadow as the first stars of the evening began to shine. Fauna inspected the tomb.

At the base of the monolith was a pale coffin-shaped slab of slanted stone. She could see several fresh pry marks all around the presumed edge of the lid but the seal appeared to be intact. Fauna tested the capstone but it seemed immovable. She tapped at the weatherworn stone and contemplated trying to smash her way in but quickly abandoned that idea. They hadn’t the means. All the while the image of the grinning demon seemed to mock her.

Gornix searched around the perimeter of the tomb and found that the lid was a false one. It only appeared that there was a lid; it was a single piece of cleverly carved stone. There was no prying it open.

Gil (Gornix’s Player): “Why didn’t they take hammers to this?”

Cris: “They would assume it was magic if they thought the lid was real. Besides we don’t know what kind of protections this thing has on it.”

None of the mages was able to sense any magic over the tomb but they were picking up some ambient magic about the place.

Stumbling to the east side of the tomb Gornix located a large weed choked sinkhole. He climbed down and found a secret door down into the tomb half covered by the earthen wall of the pit. Recklessly he opened it and peering within found spiral stone steps winding down into the black earth.

Cris (to Gil): “Man! Watch it! You’re gonna get us KILLED!”

A loud groan emitted from a large dugout opening in the tumulus a mere 20 ft. across from them. Fauna immediately cast Invisible to Sight on herself blinking from view. Gornix fell to clearing the remaining debris in the way of the passage into the tomb. The sun fell into the sea and as the last rays of daylight extinguished Excor’s Danger Sense triggered.

The groan turned into a low rumbling growl. The young mages turned to see a pair of jewel-like eyes glaring with a multitude of angry colors as the creature emerged from its lair. It had bronze scales and gnarled claws on its four feet. Excor using his dragon-lore skill was able to discern it as a dragon, specifically a Wher.

Cris (Excor’s Player): “A DRAGON! Man, we’re only first LEVEL! You tryin’ to KILL US! How’re we supposed to fight this THING!?”

The GM (me):  “Who said ya had to fight it?”

Cris: “Yeah, well! Pfft! Whatever. We’re all gonna die.”

The Wher fully emerged from the burrow in which it was squatting and readied to pounce on any one of the three mages. Fauna’s invisibility didn’t seem to hide her from the dragon’s keen senses. Gornix ducked into the tomb entrance and made his way down the first few steps.

Gil (Gornix’s Player): “I stop after the first few to let the others in. Just in case! The steps are trapped. And I wait for those two.”

Excor cast Lightning Bolt at the dragon but dispirited as the bolt of white hot electricity harmlessly skipped off of its glistening hide. The foolish young mage stepped back towards the sinkhole stopping right next to an unseen Fauna. Thinking quickly Fauna snatched hold of Excor’s collar and leapt down into the ditch.

Just as the thing came bounding towards the pit, the druidess and the mage rushed into the stairway. Fortunately, the opening was too narrow for the beast to follow. It stayed for a few seconds testing the stone and earth with its claws. They could here its mighty lungs sniffing the air as it vainly plunged its maw at the opening.

Fauna (Played by Jenn)(to Gornix): “Okay lead the way.”

Gornix stepped carefully down onto each step and in turn tapped the next with the butt of his staff. After several agonizing minutes, they were deep underground having reached the bottom of the spiral steps. Fauna faded back into view her spell expired. The tomb air was stale, musty, and surprisingly dry. Gornix illuminated the crystal at the top of his staff.

Excor pulled out some steel and flint and lit one of his torches. Fauna extracted an oil lamp from her pack and lit it. Before them lay a long stone tunnel its other end shrouded in darkness. The tunnels walls were of chopped stone with monolithic supports. Large flat flagstones made its floor and its ceiling was of large flat stone sat against each other forming an angle creating a peaked ceiling. They were in some sort of vestibule or antechamber with a domed ceiling formed of stacked stone, the only other way to go besides back up into the maw of a hungry dragon was down the throat of the tomb of Dag-Athar.

Excor: “Well I’m not going first! I’m stayin’ back here at the rear. Go on, you go ahead.”

Gornix took the lead and slowly moved forward over the dusty flagstones tapping at them a little bit before stepping gingerly onto them. Fauna followed closely behind.

Cris (to me): “Oh yeah. I stay about 10 ft. behind her. Just in case.”

To Be Continued…

Arvan – Land of Dragons *Update*

The Bad News…

Unfortunately the Arvan setting will not be released on time due to the art simply not being done. We originally shot for a November 2016 release but a few unforeseen situations cropped up and the month of release kept getting pushed back until December. Of course, by the beginning of October we were out of money, the budget of the book was bust.

The Good News…

The art will be done and the book will be finished. So we have set a specific date of release. The date set is February 15, 2017. We will first release the pdf version through the normal channels and then by the end of March it will be available in its print edition.

The Arvan Setting

Dragons infest the land of Arvan a high-fantasy setting with the dark and brutal overtones of sword & sorcery. Set during the rise of an age of exploration and trade it’s a world fraught with the ruins of former ages inhabited by the folly of the Mad-Mages and dominated by Dragons!

Arvan The Land of Dragons

Player Races include Arboreans, Amazons, Fauns, Hill-Giants, Humans, Naga, and Ratlings!

The Book

This Dice & Glory world book includes a mass of general information on the planet and its peoples. Also a great many details about geography, flora, fauna, natural resources, places of interest, religions, cultural spheres, ethnic groups, and archetypal equipment for each of the 7 main regions of the sub-continent of Ar. There is supplemental and background information on the ancient nations of the eastern side of the continent, called Van. There is also introductory info on the world of Eu on which the continent of Arvan floats and a GM section dealing with time measurement and the multiple Moons of Eu among other GM-Only details!

250+ Pages!

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Written By: Robert A. Neri Jr.

Cover Art By: Jamie Noble <=== Facebook Link

http://thenobleartist.com <=== Website Link

A Quick Word about the Blog

For those of you who read my gaming blogs, the blog will return next week. Due to the Cabal of Eight campaign sessions being a little erratic my material is running up to the current game-play. Fortunately, we have a (hopefully) stable play schedule coming up through the holidays so it should resume weekly as usual. That is, weekly barring any information that may be given away to the players via the blog anyway.

The Cabal of Eight Pt.2: Wagon Ho!

The monotonous grinding of the wagon wheels going round and round against the yellow dirt had aEzmer City Seal from which the wagon traveled. hypnotic effect on all those riding in the back of the high-sided wagon. Gornix the Ivoran wizard sat silent his body wobbling occasionally with the movement of the wagon over the terrain. Excor, the Ivoran mage in Westlander clothing, lit his pipe and after taking a deep tug at it, tried to start up a conversation with one of the rough looking men they had met outside of the Red Helm at dawn that morning.

The young mages were accompanied and being driven by four toughs presumably hired by Draiga Skullshine. They were all Ezmerian but undoubtedly thugs drawn from the city’s underbelly. They were hulking brutes with deeply scratched and heavily lined features. All were in some sort of dirty and haphazard sort of studded leather armor.

The leader of the four thugs was the eldest, with wintry white hair and beard and a crevasse of a scar diagonal across his face that etched a notch into his punch-flattened nose. He sat next to the second in command the next eldest with peppered black hair and a bristly dagger-hacked beard. They were driving. The young mages and the last two younger thugs were all sitting uncomfortably in the bed of the wagon.

Excor (Played by Cris)(at the thug directly across from him): “So. This necropolis we’re heading to … ya got any info on it … er.”

In response, the ill-tempered bigger man spat a gob of snot at Excor’s feet then looked away towards the sky. The hired ruffians had been hostile to the 3 mages since the start of the trip; they hadn’t even given their names to the trio. Of course, the trip was miserable. All were soaked in greasy sweat. They had left the relief of the fresh gusts of the salty sea breeze far behind as they traveled south away from the cliffs and sea on the western trade road out of Ezmer.

Fauna the rogue-druid was gazing blankly out the back of the wagon at the road behind and the choking cloud of yellow dust thrown up by the wheels. She drifted back to the night before.

After Draiga had met with the trio in the basement of the Red Helm and essentially hired them to retrieve a certain item for him, Fauna took her bindle and left for her regular campsite, the central grove.

The Grove is a large open park consisting of a remnant and very ancient druidic grove with a central great oak. At its head in the north is an open well-manicured field with a central menhir circle. To the west of this circle of standing stones is a permanent executioner’s scaffolding. At the south end of the Grove are the remains of an ancient amphitheater sunk deep into the earth. All this situated as the city center. A dense cluster of shops, taverns, and residences surround this marking the circular border of the Old Market District. The Grove has its resident tender hired to maintain it via the City Council.

Fauna was familiar with the resident tender, he was also a rogue druid and in the habit of calling her “little sister”. His name was Anishi. He was tall, in his mid-thirties, and dark of skin, probably with some Creschan blood, with black hair burned short.

Fauna had just reached an isolated spot in the Grove and just settled down in the grass. She was letting the sounds of the crickets and wind rustled leaves take her into dream when suddenly she heard a noise. It was a small group stealthily creeping towards her position.

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “I ready my staff! Nobody’s going to touch my stuff.”

Just then, she saw Anishi emerge from the bushes. He was wearing a bright blue robe with a yellow silk noose around his neck. Being especially eagle-eyed for the moment (she Natural 20’d the Spot check) Fauna noticed a line of similarly attired individuals save that they had full hoods over their faces with only the perforations of eyeholes to be seen in lieu of faces.

Fauna (pointing at the other figures): “Who’re they?”

With that Anishi stumbled back quickly to the others and it appeared to Fauna that a brief but excited conversation ensued. He stumbled back and asked Fauna a series of strange questions. She answered each in turn. He smiled and cordially invited to join their druids’ group. She would come again to the Grove, to the amphitheater, on the next full of the White Moon.

Fauna: “Um. What if I don’t. Agree.”

Anishi: “Oh then we’ll have to kill you. Track you down no matter where you are in the city or beyond its walls. And kill you.”

She agreed to their terms and the mysterious group shuffled on towards the old amphitheater.

Of course, she followed, stealthily enough to remain inconspicuous, all the way to the old amphitheater and down the parodos into the orchestra. She saw the lead figure walk to the lichen-spotted stone altar at the center of the orchestra ground. The figure chanted some arcane words and gestured over the elderly stone. Miraculously the altar moved to one side revealing a secret stair down into the earth under the old amphitheater. It was down this that all of the members of this strange group, Anishi included, disappeared.

Fauna had briefly contemplated chasing after them but the altar-stone immediately slid back into place as soon as the last blue-hooded head dipped below ground level. She spent a few minutes inspecting the stone and found some very faint inscriptions around it though weatherworn to near invisibility.

Several hours later at dawn, she found herself in the back of an old rickety wagon driven by the city’s worst crossing through the metropolitan bulwarks headed south. The wagon trundled through the titanic stone gatehouse that served as the city-gates onto the exceedingly long drawbridge that spanned the moat.

Land-side a network of stone-faced adobe and packed-earth bulwarks armed with state-of-art repeating torsion ballistae defend the city. In front of the stone-faced defense wall and at the foot of its crenelated palisades is a spiked trench that runs the length of the defenses. In front of that, is a packed earth berm and in front of that a deep and wide stone-lined dry moat open to the sea cliffs in the west and connected to the drain-works of the Tanners & Dyers Complex in the east to prevent flooding.

A sudden bump in the road shocked her back to the present in the sun beaten wagon and flying yellow road dust. The wagon had left the trade road behind and was now passing under the towering arch of one of the several aqueducts that fed the city. It was already mid-day and in view of this Excor was getting restless. The wagon continued west towards the river Wira. It wasn’t long before the wagon had turned completely around north to follow the river back towards the sea.

Cris (Excor’s Player): “C’mon! How far away is this Necropolis? They still use it right!? C’mon! It’s gotta be closer than this! It can’t be more than half a day from the @#$%*^& city! C’mon! People need to get back before dark after a funeral!”

The wagon began to slow to a stop and all could again smell the cool sea breeze flavoring the hot, dry overland air. Without warning, a massive shadow passed over them sending Excor into a panic. He had spotted the full-grown Brown-Fang dragon just before its shadow fell over the wagon.

The Elder Thug: “Oh. That. Don’t worry your pretty little heads. That’s just Gristle-Talon.”

Excor: “What! Who?”

The Elder Thug (champing down on his pipe): “Gristle-Talon, he guards the Slavers’ Quarter, the castle back in the city. He’s a mercenary. Paid really well from what I hear.”

The dragon’s mirror polished breast-plate blasted the on-lookers with reflected sunlight. As the flew the glare dimmed so that they could see the city emblem, an acorn and oak leaves, emblazoned on the chest as it passed swiftly over. The mages watched in awe as the dragon disappeared into the endless blue distance.

The thugs began unpacking some supplies. They were passing out wooden bowls, pouring a ration of ale, and a wad of bread-mash to each member of the expedition. Thus the thugs began to soften the mash into an oatmeal-like consistency with the ale and slurping it down. So, the three mages followed suit.

After taking a brief break for lunch the wagon continued a little farther finally reaching their destination sometime after mid-day. The mages and the thugs disembarked. The trio could see a massive tombstone crowded cemetery across the well-rutted wheel-ground dirt road.

The Elder Thug (pointing to the north-east of the massive cemetery): “Over there. The far side, err, second rung.”

Excor: “Where? Do ya know …”

The Elder Thug: “That’s all I was supposed to tell ya.”

The other three toughs were setting up a makeshift camp by the wagon. The elder thug turned and walked away towards them leaving the mages to their own devices.

Cris: “They better not leave us all the way the @*#$ out here.”

The young mages already knew what to look for in the Necropolis. The entrance to the tomb would be marked with a 10 ft. tall monolith on which was carved the gold inlaid countenance of a laughing demon with a crown floating above its horned visage.

To Be Continued…