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The Cabal of Eight Pt.31: The Welfare of Rats

After about 2 days of straight travel, using a combination of the black knight’s warhorse (stripped of its barding and equipment) and the blue Cloak of Teleportation the cabal mages found themselves within the walls of their beloved city. Fauna (played by Jenn) released the hapless snow-white charger from her control at the gates. It ran away starting eastward then suddenly it turned and shot southward instead. Over the next four days, the cabal mages went their separate ways planning on meeting up on the 14th of High Summer at the scheduled cabal meeting.

During this stretch of time, Excor (played by Cris) bought a change of wardrobe complete with gloves and spent most of his time drinking in the Red Helm tavern. Gornix (played by Gil) and Szoosha (played by Isis), both sharing a common paranoia about the twin swans catching up with them, went to the Yellow Spears to contract out some bodyguards (oh the irony). Szoo hired two lower ranked spearmen for 50 gp per month and a 110 gp contract. In comparison Gornix hired three lower-ranked spearmen and two “top ranked” fighters for 175 gp per month with a 110 gp contract.

They went to Virtra Wefa’s abode to collect their reward. The ill-tempered servant tossed the sack out into the street from a gap in the gate. They were then unceremoniously shooed off.

Cris: “Awww man she’s gonna have us whacked.”

Hence they rushed back to the cabal room and split the 8,000 gp bounty. They had also split the take of the dragon’s treasure. Szoo took the superior quality scimitar with silver wire wrapped grip and large sapphire pommel (with +3 magic attack modifier). Fauna got the dagger that was identical to the scimitar. Excor got the blue cape of teleportation, and Gornix the purple velvet shoes with gold tracery. They granted their wearer a +3 bonus to Dodge and a +5 ft. bonus to Speed. The blue robes with black and silver embroidery would be stowed away in the cabal room with their hidden trove.

Fauna decided to rent a property for 45 gp per month from an associate of Draiga Skullshine (the Red Helm’s Publican) and bought a horse for 200 gp. She didn’t lose any time letting the others know and thus was quickly joined by them at the aforesaid abode. The property appeared long derelict and encircled by several high apartment and shop buildings. Therefore from the street only two narrow alleyways could be used to reach it.

The place was a single story house after the Westlander longhouse though it showed Creschan influences. It had a four stall open-faced stable to the left of the front door built directly onto the house. Its hayloft led back into the rafters of the main house. There was a slate-tile roof and tiny two-by-two square windows with wood shutters in the thick stonewalls. It was located in the North-Quarter district, very near the Bardic College and Guildsman’s Square. There were only two ways onto the street from the house. There were other narrower alleyways leading to the south-west, deeper into a small maze of hidden courtyards and dead-ends.

Soon the old house began to fill with the strange artifacts that inevitably accompany mages. Szoo had his dragon’s eye encased in glass and a polished bronze stand made for it. Fauna purchased some healing herb seeds, some vials of yellow lotus, and eight alchemist kits. She also purchased a potion formula for healing potion from Wensaer’s Alchemy Shop. Szoo also purchased a large iron banded chest with built-in lock and put in an order for a naga bowl-bed of rich wood and a superior quality engraved ruby and gold ring on the hard sell.

Isis (to Gil): “Be jealous! Ha! Ha!” He responded with a pained and puzzled expression.

Later Excor met with Jirek at the Red Helm to discuss the welfare of the rats and if any were showing any kind of “promise”. Hence the conversation moved smoothly along that track as the pair talked and drank wine from tin cups in the murky atmosphere of a busy pub. Then Jirek asked about where and what Excor had been up to, out of curiosity. So Excor hand-waved his and the others’ absence away as a minor political adventure, Jirek reminded him that Belrae had warned everyone to avoid politics. He added, “Did ya hear? Someone assassinated Hufom the representative of Bread Basket and waylaid the twin swans? Can you believe it that someone would piss those guys off like that? Could anyone be that stupid?”

Gil stood halfway up from his seat.

Meanwhile in the yellow-lit taproom of the tavern a fight had broken out between some Ivorans and a group of Creschans, which Draiga was trying to break up. As Excor left, he noticed that the Ivorans were wearing black and white checkered actons with the image of a purple axe on their chests. They were knights.

Gil: *face palm*

Later that week Fauna purchasing a goat and five chickens (for some reason), Excor and Gornix began formulating a spell, and Szoo was finally taking it easy somewhat believing that the twin knights had died in the desert. Fauna later sought out another member of the Brothers of the Rope (a secretive cult of which she was a member) at the city gates. She found a captain of the guard named Nelig, he also volunteered to teach her horsemanship due to her semi-successful “holy mission”. Vertra Wefa (the cult leader) had failed to get the nomination of her party and her plans went completely awry from there. This news increased the tension of the already frayed nerves of the cabal mages.

Fauna: “Don’t worry guys. He’ll send a messenger to alert me when the knights show up.”

Isis: “WHEN!?”

Cris (to Isis): “What? You know they’re both alive!”

Isis: “I know! Can’t we just pretend so I can RELAX!?”

It was the morning of the 13th of High Summer that the entire household shot straight from a dead sleep to wide-awake as the news of a distant crier met their ears. The twin knights were both alive and well and had just entered town. There was a knock at the door and it was a messenger for Fauna. Indeed, they had entered the city just before dawn and were meeting with the city guard.

To Be Continued…

 

The Cabal of Eight Pt.30: Black Day

The impact of the magical force tore off the black swan’s/white knight’s great helm and sent himBlack, White, & Bloodied and a few splinters of carriage flying. A blast of ice spears hit Szoosha (played by Isis) through a window from inside the carriage. The naga attempted to dodge but failed. Gornix (played by Gil) cast mass Ghost Form again. The white knight pulled out a potion of maximized Heal and drank it. His wounds miraculously closed restoring him to full health. In the distance, the black knight, in full control of his mount now, was charging back towards the fray. Fauna (played by Jenn) tried to command the black knight’s horse once again to turn tail but failed as the animal was too far away.

Hufom peaked out of the window and ghostly white flames erupted from his palms in a cone at Gornix. The flames only slightly singed his phantom form. Gornix responded with an Elemental Blast (frost) which the ratling easily dodged landing near Fauna. The white knight stood up and pulled his weapon, his war-hammer. The black spurred his charging mount forward. Fauna attempted to cast Wizard’s Trick on Hufom but couldn’t get the spell off. Szoo threw flames on Hufom but the fire didn’t even singe his whiskers.

Gornix summoned two large-sized earth elementals next to the white knight. He was forced to dodge their stony grip. The black knight was near and very soon would charge right into the fray. His light lance lowered and aimed at Szoosha. Gornix slung chrono-missiles at the white knight injuring him even through his armor. The black knight came roaring into battle trying to skewer Szoo though the naga was still able to dodge away.

The GM (me): “Um. You know you’re still under his Ghost Form spell right?”

Meanwhile 10-miles north of the battle on the trade road Excor was trudging along the dusty road having finally reached it from where he had teleported. From behind him, a small caravan of Southern Nomads came trundling along. They asked if he wanted a ride but he refused.

Cris: “Hell no I’m not taking a ride with gypsies! They’ll rob me blind and leave me naked and tied up out in middle of the desert!”

The nomad caravan trundled away into the distance, a gaggle of young women (each an exotic mix of human, faun, and naga) waved and winked to him from the back of a covered wagon as it disappeared into the distance. The bitter mage just kept walking north along the road.

To the south however, the battle raged on. The white knight gripped his war-hammer with both hands and said a prayer but nothing else seemed to happen. The black knight shouted out what also seemed to be a prayer as he reared about on his horse. Szoosha suddenly became solid losing all bonuses and abilities from the active mass Ghost Form spell. Fauna once again attempted Wizard’s Trick this time aimed at the White Knight but again she failed the casting. Hufom cast Ghost Fire at the druid. Her shield spell caught the damage. The earth elementals slammed their fists into the white knight injuring him badly. Gornix attempted to cast Force Ram on him again but failed.

The white knight’s hammer did little to the stone behemoths assaulting him. The black knight circled around and decided to try to stick Fauna but his lance passed harmlessly through her as he rode by. Fauna tried to use Wizard’s Trick yet again, on the black knight this time but again her spell failed. Hufom tried to cast Ghost Fire but the spell went wild resulting in a sudden explosion of magical energy. Fauna dodged away from the blast as it would have injured her even in ghost form. Szoo was caught and needed to do a recovery check or be instantly killed. The white knight also dodged. The elementals were chipped and pitted but were still almost at full strength. Gornix cast Force Ram at the black knight knocking him from his horse and horribly injuring him.

The black knight threw his helmet to the side and drank a potion as he sat up. Hufom cast Ghost Fire again catching Fauna and Gornix in the silvery flames but causing only a little actual damage. Gornix cast Force Ram again at the white knight but he dodged.

Gornix’s elementals attacked the white knight. He dodged the first blow but the second smashed into him. Blood spewed from his mouth and nose. Gornix cast Force Ram once again at the white knight forcing him to dodge yet again.  The black knight got to his feet and drew his black mace. Szoosha still on the ground from the magic explosion simply stayed down and “played dead”. Hufom cast Ghost Fire again at Fauna, who bumbled right into the blast in her effort to dodge it. She was in bad shape.

Gornix cast Force Ram again on the white knight forcing him to dodge again but this time the spell still smashed into him pushing him into the carriage. Luckily, he wasn’t pinched in between the wagon and the magic force avoiding crushing damage (he got a successful luck roll to avoid the crush). The wagon overturned with a crash. He was barely staying on his feet.  The black Knight screamed at Gornix and attacked but his mace passed harmlessly through the mage’s ghostly form. However, Gornix felt as if the strange weapon had stirred his ghostly vapors. Hufom cast Ghost Fire at Fauna again forcing her into a recovery check to avoid death.

Gornix tried to cast another spell but the spell failed. The black knight swung again and this time his mace connected dealing minor damage to the salt-lotus mage. Hufom again cast Ghost Fire at Fauna catching her again. With a shriek, she collapsed to the ground.

Meanwhile in the north, a group of farmers drove by Excor but completely ignored the lone and dirty mage. He sighed and kept walking. A sudden gust of wind blew a small cloud of yellow dust across the road.

The first elemental smashed a fist into the white knight flinging his body like a ragdoll into the air. His limp form fell into a clump of high yellow grass off road. The second tried to grapple the black knight but he was able to stave it off. Gornix tried to cast Cloud Memory on Hufom but the ratling wizard fought off the magic, barely (he rolled within 1 pt. of the save). Hufom moved up towards Gornix and cast Ghost Fire at the salt-lotus mage dealing a little damage to him. The black knight swung on Gornix again but his weapon passed harmlessly through. Szoosha meanwhile crawled to Fauna and pulled out a potion uncorking it with his teeth.

Again Gornix tried to cast Cloud Memory on Hufom and again the ratling was able to fight off the magic (again he saved successfully by 1 pt.). From the corner of his eye, Hufom spotted Szoosha pulling out a potion and shot Ice Spears from the tip of his staff at the naga injuring him badly. The black knight furiously swung at Gornix but his weapon again passed harmlessly through. Szoosha poured a healing potion down Fauna’s throat.

Gornix cast Slow on the black knight but a Shield spell saved the white swan. Hufom moved further away from Szoo and Fauna’s position. The black knight swung impotently at Gornix again working himself into a frothing rage. Gornix again cast Cloud Memory at Hufom which took this time causing the ratling wizard to take pause as he forgot what he was about to do.

The first earth elemental tried to stomp on Hufom whom easily dodged. The second elemental grappled the black knight. Gornix then moved towards Szoo and cast Close Wounds on him. Fauna came to and prepared to cast a spell at Hufom. Meanwhile the black knight struggled valiantly to free himself from the stony grip of the elemental, in vain. Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor (fire) on himself.

Gornix cast Chrono-Missile on Hufom but to no effect his robes protecting him. The black knight broke the elemental’s grip. Fauna successfully cast Wizard’s Trick on Hufom turning him into a harmless snail. Szoosha coiled and then whipped his tail crushing it. The black knight wailed in rage. Gornix cast Slow on the white swan.

Fauna took control of the black knight’s warhorse and her and the naga leapt onto it and rode away. Gornix commanded his elementals to grapple the black knight, which they did. Sir Illin was helpless within their crushing grip. He was shouting “I’ll KILL YOU ALL!” at the top of his lungs repeatedly. Gornix cast Nature’s Ability on himself, grew wings and flew away.

Meanwhile to the north Excor continued his slow progress towards the city. He was covered in road dust and sweating profusely. Occasionally he grumbled to himself.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.29: Knight Crash

The dense musk of damp earth crowded the desert air. The light rains had just subsided and the dark grey clouds were in the distance, only bare bright blue sky was above. It was nearing the tail end of early afternoon and the sun was high and blazing. Already the temporary mire that the storm had created hardened and the vaporized rain hit the air thickening it to the point of making every breath a sluggish chore.

It was second watch and the cabal mages and their three draft horses had gotten approximately 4 hours of shut-eye. Excor was keeping lookout and noticed in the distance about a thousand feet or so away a small group breaking camp and packing their horses. He could also make out the presence of a carriage or wagon. He immediately jumped down from the carriage and woke everyone inside.

Gornix got out and used his magic ring of Call Nature’s Ally (Eagle). He had the eagle fly in towards the knights at a low altitude and circle a few times to catch their attention. The eagle then flew back over the mages and flew in a low circle over them a few times.

Gornix (to his companions): “It’s them alright!”

The knights were easily able to pick out the cabal mages in the distance. They waved in response although they still packed up and rode out at high speed on three horses leaving the wagon behind.

Fauna: “Well, I guess the chase is back on.”

Szoosha: “Aww. I didn’t get enough sleep!”

Excor: “None of us did!”

Wearily Fauna took the driver’s seat and spurred the horses into a full run. The elegant blue carriage was off with a jolt and a spray of pebbles and moist clods. They passed the former campsite of the knights and could see the ironclad wagon and what were they assumed the driver and the crossbowman tending to a broken wheel. Hufom’s wagon had sustained damage in the battle with the blue dragon after all.

Excor turned his head and happened to glance out of the open window in the opposite direction. He caught a sudden glimpse of an abandoned wagon in an open field. In that field, he could clearly see three headless corpses and the distance a pair of oxen grazing on the sparse, rain freshened grasses.

Excor (leaning out of the window): “Fauna! Stop! I think I see Corje!”

Fauna: “Does he look alive!?”

Excor: “No!”

Fauna: “Then we don’t stop!”

Thus inside Excor and Gornix decided to inspect the blue dragon’s/blue-stranger’s gear. The curved dagger and scimitar with silver wire wrapped grips and large sapphire pommel stones were superior quality weapons with a +3 magic modifier each. The purple velvet shoes with gold tracery granted their wearer a +3 bonus to Dodge and a +5 ft. bonus to Speed. The blue robes with black and silver embroidery granted the spell Elemental Alter Self (Water) twice a day and Conjure Water once a day to the wearer. The blue cloak with the silver clasp was a level 10 item with the ability to cast Teleportation I once a day. The two mages gathered the gear together and left it in a neat bundle on the floor of the carriage when they finished identifying the loot.

It was late afternoon as the blue carriage was rumbling up behind the twin knights on their warhorses, a third horse in tow. On the third steed was a small hunched shape in a powder blue wizard’s robe with silver fringing, a small lacquered staff on his back, and a long wormy tail trailing behind from under his robes.

Jenn: “Guys we got ‘em!”

Cris: “Ugh. It’s a ratling isn’t it?”

Gil: “Can’t you like put his horse to sleep!”

The black knight, Sir Illin, turned towards and glared at the mages as they drew in closer.

Fauna: “Um guys? I think they know.”

Cris: “Of Course they KNOW!”

As the black knight was looking away from his charge, he didn’t notice when Hufom’s horse fell out from under him. However, the small ratling wizard leapt easily from his horse as it collapsed into the road dirt onto the back of the white knight’s horse.

Jenn: “Damn!”

Hufom turned and taking his staff in hand began waving it around obviously targeting the carriage horses. However, he was unable to cast the spell due to the rough ride of the chase.

Gornix: “Fauna! Get me in closer. I got this guys!”

Jenn (to Gil): “Hey! Aren’t you still high!”

Gil: “Oh yeah.”

Excor cast Neutralize Poison on Gornix. The salt-lotus mage instantly regained his wits and climbed out an open window.

Excor (to Gornix): “What are you doing!?”

Szoo (to Excor): “You know I think we should cut our losses and get out of here! This is a disaster!”

The wind whipped through Gornix’s hair and gouts of dust blasted into his eyes and mouth as he strained to make his way to the seat next to Fauna. Eventually he made it. Both knights were on guard with light lances couched. The knights on their steeds tried in desperation to outrun the carriage spurring their mounts on but Fauna was somehow able to keep on their tails and even ride up even closer on their tails. Gornix took his chance and cast Force Ram at the white knight’s warhorse.

The column of force smashed into the unfortunate animal crushing its ribs and throwing it and its riders into the speeding dirt road. The white knight flew head over heels into the air and crashed into the ground with the crunching of metal. Fauna yanked the carriage to a screeching halt nearly turning it over in the process.

A cloud of yellow-red dust enveloped all save one. The black knight, quite a ways ahead, was turning his horse around. None of the mages could see where Hufom, their target, had been thrown by the crash.  Excor cast Shield on himself and stepped out of and away from the carriage. Gornix used his acrobatics skill to roll with the impact of the crash when he was thrown from the carriage landing on his feet. Fauna smashed hard into the dirt road headfirst but the shield ability on her magic necklace saved her from damage.  The white knight/black swan achingly got to his feet on shaking legs. Szoosha slithered out of the opposite side of the carriage to try to remain hidden from the knights and Hufom.

As the dust cleared, the Black Knight lowered his lance and began to charge, targeting Fauna as she slowly got to her feet. A Bolt of Stunning shot from an unseen position striking Gornix. Fortunately, he was not stunned. Excor cast Invisibility I on himself and disappeared from sight. Gornix successfully cast Mass Ghost Form. Three of the cabal mages faded into incorporeal phantoms, Excor had resisted it for some reason. Fauna took control of the Black Knight’s warhorse causing it to turn and flee from battle. The White Knight suddenly had a silvery war-hammer in his gauntleted hand and struck at Gornix but the weapon passed harmlessly through him.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the mages just surrendered.

Cris: “WHAT THE HELL!?”

Excor rushed around back into the carriage and picked up the blue cloak of teleportation. The White Knight shouted at him and charged swinging his hammer in a devastating arc. The weapon hit its target but only served to dispel the active shield spell on the mage. Excor took the opportunity to use the cloak and disappear from the carriage reappearing about one mile north on the road.

Jenn: “I don’t believe you just deserted us!”

Isis: “YOU RAN AWAY! What the HELL!?”

The White Knight (pointing his hammer at Gornix): “I command YOU to return to flesh you COWARD! You are ALL under ARREST!”

Ultimately, Szoo was able to convince the white knight to take to the carriage and Hufom and leave them alone as they were proof against his weapon and were out of “tricks” so to speak. Therefore, the white knight convinced that they were more concerned about their own skins than fulfilling their mission climbed into the driver’s seat. Hufom’s tiny frame leapt from seemingly nowhere straight into the carriage. The white knight readied to leave.

Gornix (to the White Knight): “This isn’t personal. We weren’t trying to kill you. Just business. … Oh hey! Let us get our equipment first before you go!”

The White Knight ignored him and was about to spur the horses. Gil was twitching.

Isis: “Bro! What are you doing?”

Jenn: “Guillermo I’m pretty wounded here and out of magic!”

However it was apparent that he was not about to just let it go.

Isis: “Okay then, I start getting ready to cast something!”

Jenn: “NO! Don’t encourage HIM!”

Gornix got the drop on the white knight and cast Force Ram.

To Be Continued…

Dragonslayers, War, and a Delayed Blog

Unfortunately, my personal life has been keeping me very, very busy this year and more so the past month. As a result I will do not have a blog entry ready for this week. However, the Cabal of Eight will continue next week and after that at a regular pace to completion.

I am working diligently on a few projects concerning the Arvan setting. Unfortunately only one is nearing completion. It started as a side project slated for some time next year. However fate has it that it might be ready in the next two months or so. But more on that later.

Meanwhile here’s a little something I wrote a while ago on using War and large battles as set pieces in fantasy campaigns.

Here on Hubpages: Game Mastery: War As Set Piece

Examples of this technique are few in my campaigns but are present. They are present in the Dragonslayers campaigns. The first example is in The Dragonslayers I Pt.13: Berserkers, Otkids & Crusaders, Oh My! At about the 8th paragraph (note the writing is rough and the narrative somewhat condensed). The next is in The Dragonslayers II Pt. 15: Troll Battle where the slayers assisted local forces in their mutual goal of assaulting a force of trolls and various other menaces shoveling out a dragon’s (Old Sawback’s) hoard. The last that I can think of is in The Dragonslayers III Pt. 3: Zombie Dragons Doom where the slayers fended off a force of a powerful Mad-Mage Lich-Lord’s army at their end of a city rampart. Hopefully the simplification and storification of the game didn’t completely wipe out the sense of time dilation.