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The Cabal of Eight Pt.28: Wagons & Dragon

The motley caravan began to slow and the dust clouds that the wagons had sent billowing as they tried to maintain top speed for the past few hours inevitably shrank as they slowed. The lead wagon was iron plated and assumed to be carrying one Firstborn Hufom, target of the cabal mages. Leading that were the twin swans, a pair of twin black and white knights. Two horsed lancers were riding alongside either side of the lead wagon.

Behind the lead wagon was a blue lacquered coach being driven by a hunchback and pulled by a team of six horses. Aboard was the Blue Stranger, dragon in disguise, and three of the cabal mages: Gornix (played by Gil), Fauna (played by Jenn), and Szoosha (played by Isis). A ways behind them was a rickety farm wagon driven by the cloaked and mysterious Corje. Aboard it: a pair of cloaked associates of the driver and an unconscious Excor (played by Cris).

It was late in the day though evening was still a few hours off. The horses were tired and the black and white knights relented allowing the caravan to slow. They figured they had left behind the enemies that had attempted a hit on their charge back at Farmers’ Cross Lodge. Meanwhile on the boards of the rear wagon Excor was tossing and turning in the grips of a fitful nightmare. He was mumbling something unintelligible over and over again.

Fauna, Szoo, and Gornix were stiff as boards as they sat with what they knew to be a dragon in the fancy blue carriage. Its interior furnished in black leather and the seats padded. The rear bench had small table that projected out from one side and stretched about halfway across the width of the cabin. To the left on the bench was a built-in cabinet/bar tinkling with bottles of all kinds of liquors. Only Gornix had indulged in some of the wine offered by his host. The others just stared wide-eyed at the Blue Stranger.

Meanwhile Excor continued to toss but ever more violently. The cloaked pair beside him noticed his eyes had almost opened. His words were becoming ever clearer.

Excor: “Lightning…..dead horses…”

In the blue coach the stranger seemed bored of the terror he inspired and of drink as did Gornix, both were visibly agitated.

Isis: “Oh boy…”

Jenn: “Uhm. Bro. Be careful…”

Gornix: “So you’re a dragon huh, the blue one that killed our oxen.” Szoo and Fauna face-palmed.

The Blue Stranger turned slowly to the lotus wizard and suddenly a wide toothy grin broke across his mirthless face.

The Blue Stranger: “Well. Let’s stir things up and see how luck favors the bold shall we?”

With that, the Blue Stranger opened a window shutter and began screaming at the top of his lungs: “No! Watch out that mage is casting a spell at YOU!” He lunged forward sticking his head out the window, suddenly his jaw dropped absurdly extended his gaping maw, and his teeth lengthened into fangs.

Excor (leaping to his feet wide-awake): “The DRAGON IS ATTACKING!”

A blinding blue-white bolt of lightning shot from the dragon’s throat at the two horsemen on that side of the caravan blasting them and their horses to bits. In response the twin swans reared their war-horses. The other horsemen began to circle around the carriage.

Szoosha leapt from the carriage out the opposite side from which the dragon blew its breath weapon and cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor (Fire) on himself. The dragon leapt out of his finery leaving it a heap on the carriage floor as he took his true form that sprung from the carriage in time to blast away the last two horsemen with another bolt of its breath. Excor leapt from the farm wagon and activated the Shield spell on his amulet. Fauna exited the carriage and cast Throw Flames at the dragon but to no effect. Ice Spears flew from the general direction of the lead wagon striking the dragon only slightly scratching it. Gornix cast Mass Nature’s Ability (Flying and Thermal Vision). Unfortunately, as it caused everyone besides the dragon to sprout wings the twin swans fell from their horses in excruciating pain as their wings sprouted under their armor.

Gil: “Um. Whoops?”

Szoosha immediately flew next the lead horse on the ironclad wagon. The dragon had snapped its jaws at him but missed by a hair as the winged naga flew past. Excor cast Slow on the dragon breaking through its magic resistance. The players cheered. Stepping from the carriage Gornix cast Cone of Energy (frost) at the dragon but to no effect. Fauna cast Air Flurry at the dragon successfully knocking it from its feet (it rolled a Natural 1 to maintain balance). More Ice Spears struck the dragon from a slightly different angle from the last time hurting it a little.

Cris: “That’s Hufom!”

With a little luck, Szoo unhitched the lead horse from the ironclad wagon. The dragon flung its tail at Excor smashing down his Shield spell. Gornix failed in an attempt to cast a spell but quickened a Force Ram at the dragon but could not break through its resistance. Three more Ice Spears flew from a random direction nailing the blue dragon.

Gornix cast another Force Ram striking the dragon and dealing some damage this time.

Gil: “Yeah! When in doubt cast Force Ram!”

However, as the spell failed to push the dragon’s mass the white lotus wizard was flung to the ground instead.

Szoosha cast Elemental Alter Self and grew a pair of fire tentacles. Fauna again cast Air Flurry at the dragon successfully keeping it down with another bout of winds. More ice spears flew from an unseen location dealing some damage to the dragon. Excor cast Mass Shield erecting protective fields over all of his companions as well as himself. Excor cast another Force Ram at the dragon dealing it a serious blow. The twin swans, the Nature’s Ability spell having expired, shook off the lingering effects of extreme pain. The dragon regained its footing.

Szoo cast Elemental Half-Plate Armor (Fire) on Fauna. Fauna again attempted an Air Flurry against the dragon but to no effect. Some ice spears flew at the dragon but shattered harmlessly on its blue hide. Excor tried to cast Force Ram but failed. Gornix got to his feet. The swans got to their feet and drew their weapons. The Black Swan/White Knight drew a war-hammer from nowhere and the White Swan/Black Knight pulled his black mace. The dragon inhaled and blew a lightning bolt at Fauna. Luckily, she was able to dodge the earth-shattering bolt.

Gornix tried to cast Blinding Flash on the dragon but somehow the magic got away from him and went wild. He nearly blinded himself. Three ice spears stuck into the dragon dealing some damage.

The angry young blue dragon got to its feet and unleashed a blast of lightning from its mouth blasting Fauna. Fortunately, it only managed to blast away her magical protections. Excor dodged because he was in a direct line with Fauna. The White Knight attacked the dragon with his war hammer but missed. The Black Knight missed with his mace. Szoo for some reason leapt onto the back of the horse he had unhitched and as a result was promptly bucked off as he was covered in flaming half-plate armor. Gornix using his staff to channel the spell cast Force Ram yet again at the dragon. The force of the spell smashed into its side dealing significant damage.

The chromatic blue dragon beat its mighty wings flinging itself 15 feet into the air and blasting its attackers with a wave of dirt. As a result the twin swans were blinded as was Excor. Fauna cast Air Flurry again in a desperate attempt to keep it from flying away but it had no affect other to clear the lingering dust cloud. From somewhere out of sight there was a burst of blue light and an alarmed shout. Hence, the cabal mages knew that the invisible Hufom had fumbled a spell. Excor tried to clear the dirt from his eyes and Szoosha got up off the ground. Gornix again channeled Force Ram through his staff and the spell smashed into the hovering dragon crushing its ribs and throwing it to the ground in a flurry of gushing blood.

Immediately Szoo and Excor fell upon the dragon’s corpse like hungry hyenas hoping to dismantle it for components. Gornix rushed to the carriage and began eagerly searching it picking up the dragon’s finery in the meantime. Fauna decided to Commune with Nature in order to try to find the dragon’s lair but she failed. That was when she noticed that the hunchback was gone.

Excor broke a dagger trying to cut off a claw. Szoo managed to “pop” out an eyeball. Fauna and Gornix joined them but like Excor were unsuccessful as they were not dragonslayers. After a long while, Excor remembered that they had a job to do and looked around for the other members of the hasty caravan. All were gone.

He could see a slight dust cloud far north of them on the road assuming it was the ironclad and the knights riding for Ezmer. He could only assume Corje and his pals were following because they were nowhere to be seen either.

Eventually the cabal mages gathered their wits and prepared the blue carriage to ride. Fauna tried to cast Control Animals on the draft horses but the magic went wild and she turned three of the six animals into mummified corpses. She instead cast Communicate with Animals and got the remaining horses to agree to pull them along the road at a reasonable speed.

The clouds moved in as they took off and it began to rain. Szoo noticed Gornix counting a handful of gems. He had taken 100 sapphires and 2 large diamonds from a purse that he had found among the dragon’s things. Of course, they split the take getting 25 sapphires apiece. While Gornix retained the diamonds for safekeeping.

The white lotus wizard leaned back and presented the gear he had picked up that the dragon had dropped when he had shed his human guise. Gornix then picked up a crystal decanter filled with what appeared to be a very dark wine. Of course he took a big swig of it and fell back very high and barely functional. Fauna snatched it up and identified it as Assassin Berry Wine.

Szoo: “What the HELL are you doing here!?”

Fauna: “What?”

Excor: “Aren’t you DRIVING!”

Fauna: “It’s okay I talked to them. It’s fine. Besides it’s raining I don’t want to be out there.”

Finally, after some protest, Fauna with a sigh climbed back out of a window and took her seat as carriage driver. The storm grew quickly in ferocity. The road became a yellow quagmire hot wind howled, lightning cracked. Fauna drew the carriage to a slow stop and cast Calm Storm I creating an eye in nature’s fury. She drove until they reentered the storm from sunlight through a wall of humid gloom.

All night long, she pushed the hapless horses. The storm subsided near dawn and as soon as the great-ringed purple moon made its appearance, she spotted for a suitable turnoff and campsite. They eventually turned off the muddy road and stopped for rest.

To Be Continued…

 

The Cabal of Eight Pt.27: Farmers Cross Fiasco

The great purple moon and its ring gave way in the gloaming to the gold-red then orange-white of dawn. The sun rose over the far off farmhouses and laborers’ hovels as the sky went blue then shone on the banners of Farmers’ Cross Lodge as they unfurled over the front gates. The four mages of the cabal walked into the tavern side of the lodge from the reception area after coming down from their rooms on the upper floors.

They saw the Blue Stranger sitting at the first table beyond the door and spread out before him was a feast of roasted ribs, steaming vegetables and heaps of fresh flatbread. It smelled sweet, savory, exquisite. He motioned for the mages to join him addressing Gornix (played by Gil) by name. Excor (played by Cris), Fauna (played by Jenn), and Szoosha (played by Isis) shot him dirty looks. They joined the stranger regardless that they already knew to be the blue dragon in disguise.

After Fauna and Szoo started eating the Blue Stranger asked, “How’s the food” he had not touched any of it.

Gil (horrified): “It’s POISONED! I didn’t eat anything! Wait. Would he…”

Isis: “WHAT!? NO! WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE Tell ME!?”

Jenn (shrugging): “My girl doesn’t eat meat so…”

Cris: “No. He’s a dragon, hell it is a blue dragon…No. We’re eating our oxen.” He shrugged. Excor dug into the ribs, they were as good as they smelled.

The Blue Stranger smirked in entertainment at Gornix’s and Szoo’s wave of initial horror. Hence the mages and the dragon finished their meal under a cloud of weird tension. The Blue Stranger was the first to take his leave and then the mages left after and tried to refocus on their mission.

By late morning, the mages were circulating amongst the flood of wagons, merchants, and farmers that were making their way through the crossroads with destinations in all eight directions, some close by others as far away as Ezmer. Szoosha kept a vigil at the front gates, namely due to his ability to remain in direct summer sun for extended periods of time and keen eyesight, for the arrival of their target.

Suddenly, Szoo caught glimpse of a cloud of dust riding up from the south cross. He thought its size indicating the caravan that they were waiting for. It wasn’t long before the Black-scaled Naga’s sharp vision picked out a caravan of a covered supply wagon, 3 armored wagons, all protected by a small force of horsemen led by a knight bearing a white longshield with a black swan upon it.

Isis: “Guys! I think he’s here, I think Hufom’s here…”

Cris: “You have to come get and tell us.”

Isis: “Well. Where are ya at?”

Excor was wending his way through a dusty crowd to a large covered area on the east side of the lodge building where most were parking their wagons and tending their animals. He was trying to find Corje and the wagon. It wasn’t long before he bumped into him, the cloaked driver had two others with him.

Corje introduced them as “reinforcements” for the mission. Excor was less than thrilled and quickly made an excuse to get away from the wagon-driver-probably-assassin-in-disguise and his similarly dressed two pals. They were looking for Fauna. The only positive as far as he saw it was that Corje had managed to replace the oxen on the wagon.

Utterly paranoid and a little exhausted already, Excor quickly retreated to his tiny corner room on the third floor. To try to gain a little “insight” into his and his companions’ situation he decided to take a dose of some yellow lotus that he had lifted from Fauna without her knowledge. Its quality was a little higher than expected. As a result he fell into a drug-induced coma. As he collapsed onto the sleeping mat, an intense vision ripped through his brain, a chaos of shattering wood, smashing stones, a blue dragon and roaring lightning, and a black mace whistling through the air.

Fauna was wandering aimlessly around the lodge-enclosure talking to the occasional stranger that might peak her interest. Eventually Corje and his two allies found her.

Corje: “There you are little sister! I’ve made contact with our two allies!” He introduced them but Fauna did not pay attention to their names.

He went on about how they were ready to deal a blow for “our good lady” and if need be do it here if the chance should present itself “even at the cost of all our lives”. Fauna humored them and mentioned it would be a good idea for her to track down her friends and formulate a plan before Corje and his compatriots should do anything. Meanwhile it would be best if they would get the wagon ready to leave at a moment’s notice. She parted ways with them and disappeared into the road-weary press of the yard.

At the same time, Gornix joined Szoo as the caravan the naga was spotting rumbled through the gates, a blast of yellow dust preceding them. The three armored wagons had shutters over the windows and thus any passengers hidden from view. On each wagon were a driver and a crossbowman. The wagons also bore the pennants of the Iron Wheels of Ezmer. The emblem of the Iron Wheels being an iron grey wagon wheel against a crimson field. The horsemen on the other hand bore the arms of the Yellow Spears on their wooden longshields, wore chainmail shirts with steel open helms and were armed with light lances. Their heraldry being a yellow diamond-headed spear against a field of orange and azure bent sinister. Leading the whole lot was a white knight in a checkered surcoat, atop his white great helm was a carved wooden black swan.

The Black Swan/White Knight was as a towering and intimidating figure as his brother in full regalia. However, when he removed his helmet he was the spitting image though his brow was more prominent and his chin stronger. He also had a wide scar across his face and another across his lips to his chin. He was very systematic in habit, the stripping down of his equipment even his dismount. At his hip was a great sword with a gleaming golden grip and pommel.

The pair of mages tried to approach the White Knight but he kept them at a distance while he stowed his equipment. Even when he was finished, he arrogantly brushed off any attempt to engage him. Therefore, Gornix and Szoo were trying to gather as much info as they could just hanging around and keeping an eye out on the whole scene. Gornix spotted out someone moving between the armored carriages but he could only catch a glimpse of a long wormy tail.

Szoo: “Is that our guy?”

Gornix: “I don’t know.”

Eventually Fauna met up with the pair and without waiting for Excor, who was still unconscious, they tried to formulate a plan. They would wait for the horsemen and most of the guards to go into the tavern and then Szoo would set the wheels of the carriages on fire so they couldn’t get away and then Gornix would use his Summon Elemental IV spell to summon a giant earth elemental to cause a diversion. After that, Excor could keep guard with his magic and Fauna and her crew could move in with their daggers to finish off the job. They hoped they could escape in the ensuing chaos.

The mages held and waited while the carriages were parked. After they had been parked near the front wall in their own special cordoned off area, Fauna went to scoop up her people and Excor. She soon found Excor completely knocked out and realized he would be out for quite some time. However with Corje’s help she dragged him to the wagon.

Not long after the carriages had been parked Sir Illin, the White Swan/Black Knight, met his twin brother with a roar of a greeting and they started to the tavern. The dismounted mercenaries and crossbowmen followed. Left behind the drivers tended the carriages and draft animals. The passengers within had failed to disembark. It was still early in the afternoon.

Isis: “Can I BURN things now?”

Gil: “Do it.”

Szoosha kept his distance and using the minimal somatic components to remain unseen set the first two carriages wheels ablaze. Unfortunately when he targeted the third carriages wheels, the magic got away from him and nearby piles of hay and the supply wagon burst into flames letting loose a massive fireball into the sky.

Isis: “Hee-hee, YES!”

The Lodge guards were panicking and ran to the well attempting to establish a bucket line. Meanwhile, Gornix cast his spell at the rear of the lodge. As a result, a giant semi-humanoid earth elemental rose from the ground.

Gil (*roll*roll*): “Uhm. Oops.”

Isis: “What’ya mean OOPS!?”

Gil: “I can’t control it.”

The elemental giant immediately smashed its massive fists into the corner of the lodge building tearing out an entire corner. It had completely taken out what had been Excor’s room. Then the creature swept its arm across some nearby guards killing them all.

Isis: “This is not going well.”

Fauna: “Corje! Get the WAGON!”

The Black and White Swans ran from the tavern weapons drawn. They gathered up their mounts and ushered the last remaining armored wagon to the gates. So Gornix approached as close as he dared and shouted to the White Swan/Black Knight. The knight shouted back that if he wanted to caravan with them they were pulling out NOW. Four of the horsed lancers were already galloping through the gates. The cabal’s wagon pulled up with the unconscious Excor in back along with the pair of cloaked men he had met earlier that day.

Isis: “Wait. This might be perfect!”

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere a very fancy blue coach with a train of six horses rode up to the gates from the yard driven by a very familiar hunchback. The Blue Stranger opened the door into the vehicle and shouted to Gornix to get in. He would also be joining their little wagon train.

Isis: “Oh gawd NO!”

Gornix of course leapt right into the Blue Stranger’s coach followed by Fauna and a reluctant Szoo. In a storm of chaos and fire, the makeshift caravan fled north from Farmers’ Cross.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.26: The Stranger

Leaving Corje with their wagon the mages of the cabal of eight stumbled into the tavern half of Farmers’ Farmers' Cross Lodge emblemCross Lodge through the saloon doors from under the covered porch outside. The place was busy but not overcrowded mostly farmers, grain traders, and produce sellers. The ceiling was high; the entire log and timber structure of the lodge was three stories, the tavern ceiling reached all the way up past a long balcony on the second. The blue smoke that clouded there from the mass of pipes below concealed the timber ceiling. Scattered beams of light shone from various small square windows. Along the walls, the dusty preserved heads of pronghorn, wild bulls, and a few lions hung. Between those trophies dangled the hunting horns of lost hunters.

The bar was at the rear of the place behind it were massive hogshead-barrels half-built into the rear wall. Therefore the gang of adventurers/would-be assassins took an empty table nearest the east wall. Excor (played by Cris) led because he wanted to keep his back to a wall. A waitress approached the table. She was a well-fed country girl and awesomely attractive (very high BEA and CHA). So Gornix (played by Gil) made multiple attempts at seduction and failed every single one to the amusement of Szoo (played by Isis) and Fauna (played by Jenn).

The mages ordered an entire roast pig, a cask worth of ale, and a bottle of Breadbasket whiskey. A virtual feast was laid bare before them and they partook of it vigorously, especially Szoo. Not long after did a stranger of note stride heavily into the tavern.

Those heavy steps belonged to an Ivoran Knight shaking off the dust of the road. At his right hip was a straight bladed longsword, a black mace dangling on the other. He wore a full chainmail suit covered by a checkered surcoat. The knight removed his steel great helm and a gush of dirty sweat dumped onto the floor. Atop the black helm was a carved wood swan painted white. His face was perfect, unmarked by blade or talon, and beautiful framed by long blonde hair. If he was Hyvalian then he was from its farthest northern borders.

Cris (Excor’s player): “Lemme guess. So that guy’s with Hufom.”

Gil (completely lacking sarcasm): “You think so?”

Cris: “Pfft! Jes’ look at ‘em! C’mon! I pass the barmaid a gold coin for some info on tha’ stranger.”

The barmaid tells Excor that the Ivoran knight’s a foreign knight, probably Hyvalian, of some renown. He’s the White Swan of the Twin Swans, his brother being the black. They have quite a reputation as marshals of the prairies and guardians of travelers in the Breadbasket and Ezmeria. They’re also serving as the personal bodyguards of the Landsmen’s Representative headed to Ezmer city.

Meanwhile the knight approached the bar; the trembling bartender passed him a mug of ale free of charge.

Isis: “Yup. That’s one of them alright!”

Gornix immediately stood up and invited the weary knight to eat with him and his companions. The White Swan graciously accepted introducing himself as Sir Illin. After the player jeers and chants of “Sir Illin be chillin’ at the bar” subsided, he took a seat at their table and immediately began stuffing his face and gulping down lakes of ale.

Sir Illin turned out to be an amicable guy. He cracked a couple of jokes, charmed Fauna, and even got on the good side of Szoosha. At first, the black-scale naga was more than a little wary of their guest-soon-to-be-enemy. Apparently, Illin was sent ahead of the caravan which consisted of his brother, 3 armored wagons, and 10-horsed guards from the Yellow Spear security outfit.

At that, Excor told the knight about their encounter with a blue dragon on the road not far from this very place using his best manners. Sir Illin waved away his concerns and did not seem to care a lick about social protocol. Regardless he thanked Excor for the skinny on the dragon and as long as they had their own wagon anyway, invited the mages to travel with the caravan. They seemed all right to him (he couldn’t sense any evil from them anyway). Besides he and his brother had faced dragons before and come out unscathed. Granted they have always been Whers, not a particularly strong sort of dragon but not weak either.

Excor: “So. Tell me my friend, what’s the purpose of your caravan?”

Sir Illin: “Just escortin’ a politician but don’t worry about that. There’s drinkin’ to be done!”

After quaffing a full mug of ale, Sir Illin bragged about the speed and power of his warhorse. But the mages did not catch its name. However, the heroic amounts of booze and food began to loosen his tongue and he regaled them with his past adventures. This and as he took a liking to Gornix so he let them in on a little secret. His brother was the stickler for the law of the pair but he, the white swan, was the truncheon of justice.

One time his brother let a known criminal go just because he was “starving “. His excuse as to why he stole that loaf of bread in the first place. So after his brother rode off he circled back around and laid the man’s head open with his mace just like that scum deserved. He burst into uproarious laughter. The mages shrank into their seats.

After an hour or so, the White Swan excused himself and went to procure room and board. The night was almost upon the four mages before they knew it. Hence Excor and Szoo went to procure rooms, a wide doorway opened up in the west wall to allow entry from the tavern into the reception area. Excor got a room for the night for himself, a tiny room in the northeast corner of the second floor. Szoo paid for a room for both himself and Fauna on the second floor as well. Gornix and Fauna meanwhile were pounding down whiskey and ale in the tavern. Szoo had rejoined them only long enough to give them the room number and then retired for the night.

Later the place was beginning to empty save for a few armed guards in studded leather taking a break from the ramparts. As a result of the late hour the servers had all been dismissed and a new younger bar-back was slinging drinks. Suddenly the saloon doors burst open and in stepped a stranger dressed in vibrant blue.

Jenn: “Aw crap.”

This stranger wore blue robes with black and silver embroidery, a billowing blue cloak with a silver clasp, and a scimitar and curved dagger at his hips. Silver-wire wrapped the grips of each weapon and large sapphire pommel-stones glittered. On his feet were purple velvet shoes with gold tracery. Behind him hobbled into the tavern a bent and hideously pathetic creature.

The unfortunate man was a disagreeable mix of naga, human, and faun. Patches of alternating scaly skin, hairy hide, and bare human flesh covered the visible portions of his twisted body. His fingernails twisted into mostly useless talons, one of his feet was a hoof, a tail protruded from his rear, and his misshapen head appeared as if horns would burst any moment from that clammy forehead. Over one shoulder swelled a large hump.

The hunchback led his master to the bar, tossed a heavy red leather sack of coins onto the board, and ordered a meal.

The Blue Stranger (smacking the hunchback about the head): “No Onions you fool!”

After he was served and as the hunchback looked hungrily on, the Blue Stranger gorged himself.

The Hunchback: “Master! I’m sooo hungry!”

The Blue Stranger: “Shut up. You will eat when I say. Besides, do you want to make these good people sick should they see you stuffing that thing you call a face!”

Jenn: “I really hope he’s the dragon in disguise. I really hate that guy!”

Gornix, very drunk, stumbled up to the Blue Stranger and sat next to him. The hunchback hissed and put his claw on the handle of his dagger. The lotus mage engaged the stranger in small talk and then began to try to glean some information from him. However, the tables quickly turned and Gornix gave away that he and his companions, he named each, were going to travel to Ezmer with a caravan that was to arrive probably tomorrow with the Twin Swans. Realizing what he had done Gornix immediately walked away at as a fast as pace as he could manage with Fauna following shortly thereafter.

The Blue Stranger (after Gornix): “I hope you and your friends will join me for breakfast!”

Cris (scowling at Gil): “What did you do!?”

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.25: Wagon East!

The group of young mages found themselves being beaten down on by the sun while breathing the dust Helpful map for a wagon tripof the road once again as they traveled south along the Trade Road East. Fauna (played by Jenn) in an effort to relieve her companions of the blistering rays used her pup tent as a covering for the rear of the wagon. Excor (played by Cris) sat shotgun next the driver, Corje whom he engaged in conversation. Corje believed that their goal laid 3 or possibly 4 days ahead if all went well.

The wagon wheeled along at a somewhat frantic pace. The crew had decided they should push the oxen to the limit to reduce their time on the road. They also feared overlapping by their mark and that they should somehow miss them. However the mages wanted to be prepared before they ran into Hufom and his guards.

It was late afternoon, the unforgiving sun continued to blast the land with its shriveling rays. The sky was smeared with a few clouds here and there. The air grew heavy and increasingly humid as they continued south. They had made great time although the pair of oxen was losing speed and strength. They needed water. Therefore, the wagon stopped for a break near a low scrub thicket that partially leaned over onto the road.

Suddenly a lion leapt from the underbrush onto the back of one of the oxen tearing open its back with a great gush of blood and pulling it to the ground. Gornix (played by Gil), having spotted the lion the second before its leap, cast Spook. This causing it to turn tail and run away disappearing into the thicket. Gornix and Excor cast Close Wounds on the oxen as the lion’s attack had nearly killed it. It took Corje an hour to calm the animals and tend the still open though not bleeding wounds. They continued as soon as the animals were ready.

The landscape changed gradually from barren desert slopes with small tufts of woody tangled thickets and clumps of pale thread grass to flat spans of weedy fields of tall grasses and increasingly large thickets of yellow pine. It was early evening by the time they crossed the bridge over the River Wuhar stopping at the small hamlet there. The pennant that hung limp over the open-air tavern there bore a gold sun on a green field.

The hamlet, they failed to get the name of the place, was surrounded by a water filled moat carved directly from the river and instead of walls to protect it on the other side of the moat it had porcupine hedges, large shaved logs bristling with sharpened wooden stakes. They pulled into the wagon-park area just beyond the bridge and a gate and went to the tavern for food and drink.

Fauna commented on the amazing speed and endurance of the oxen having covered such a great distance in such short a time. Excor and Gornix innocently acknowledged as much and then exchanged a knowing glance as they took their seats at a table.

The group ate grilled fish and drank a couple of pitchers of ale. Gornix talked to the waiter as he delivered their food. More than likely the guards around Hufom would be guilded spearmen of the Yellow Spears outfit operating out of the city and not the Iron Wheels, which Gornix had surmised. Fauna asked the waiter about the safety of the road and the waiter replied that there have been plenty of dragon sightings lately, Wher mostly. Fauna turned to her companions and explained that Whers were nocturnal so they should be fine. Szoo (played by Isis), still chewing a fish, asked if there was another nearby settlement. The waiter said that the closest were back northwest and into the interior, mostly small ranches. Further south following the trade road, at least 3 days, there was Farmers’ Cross Lodge just before the territory of the Breadbasket.

Tempting fate the group decided to head out and try to close more distance in the few hours of daylight they had left. As soon as they finished eating and interrogating the waiter, they headed out at full speed. Only a few hours out a giant constrictor came alongside the moving wagon probably aiming for the oxen. Gornix easily spooked it away.

As night fell Fauna guided them to a well-hid campsite where they bivouacked. The night passed uneventfully.

The 2nd of High Summer – they had been on the road for some hours when suddenly just before noon Fauna shouted at Corje to stop. When he brought the oxen to a halt, she leapt out of the wagon and ran to a large blue-green bush specked with white blossoms growing a ways from the side of the road. Her companions looked on as she simply stood in front of the bush for some minutes before they realized something was wrong.

Cris: “Ha ha! I thought she was just taking a piss break!”

Fauna tried to back away as her mind reeled from a sudden psychic surge but found that some invisible force grappled her. Szoo leapt from the wagon and slithered close enough to conjure flame on the bush but to no effect. The strange flowery bush didn’t seem to do anything at all. Gornix jumped down and moved in as close as he could. He was unable to identify the plant. Excor jumped from the wagon and moved 15 ft. from the road towards the plant. He pulled his copper spike and shot a lightning bolt at the bush dealing a little damage.

Fauna again struggled in vain to free herself. Szoo summoned his fire naginata and slashed at the bush hacking free a few thick limbs. The strange flowery bush didn’t seem to do anything at all. Gornix pulled his sword and cast Brighten Blade upon it. Excor once again shot the bush with a lightning bolt dealing some damage.

Gornix slashed at the monster plant with his brightened blade chopping away a few blue-green leaves. The strange flowery bush didn’t seem to do anything at all.

Then Fauna winced as if in pain and the wounded bush seemed to heal a little.

Fauna again struggled redoubling her effort, as she knew the thing was now draining away her life but again failed. As all of the mages were close enough to be sensed by the plant’s tremor-sense it unleashed another surge of psychic energy stunning all of them. As a reflex Szoo struck with his flaming naginata but it simply glanced harmlessly from the plant. Gornix slashed with his sword and again only managed to hack free a couple of round leaves. The salt-lotus mage then quickened a Cone of Frost dealing some damage but nowhere near expected. Excor again shot a bolt from his copper spike but this time it had no effect. So he quickened a lightning bolt which upon striking its target blasted the bush to smoking bits.

Wounds were tended, the battle was over. Fauna was finally able to identify the plant as a Mind Trap Flower bush. She collected a few of the white flower petals veined with red and peach patterns akin to the striations of the mammalian brain. After this, they hopped back onto the wagon and Corje drove the wagon on.

Come evening however Coje suddenly stopped the wagon dead and pointed out a bright green bush growing at the side of the road ahead, its umbrage hanging over their path. Excor identified it as a Spring Jaw Plant. He quickly spotted for more as “they tend to grow in patches”. He saw no others. So Fauna cast Call Lightning on the plant from a safe distance successfully 3 times (out of an overall total of 6 attempts).

The bush was a smoldering wreck but not yet completely “neutralized” so she went to cast her spell for a fourth (technically 7th) time. However, the magic got away from her and went wild (Natural 1 casting check) with the spell detonating in a magical explosion. Gornix was able to dodge, barely. Szoo and Excor taking the brunt had to make recovery checks to stay alive. Both managed to remain standing but they were still badly injured. Fortunately, the plant had been completely obliterated.

Gornix cast Close Wounds on Excor. Fortunately, Szoo was able to use his Silver Ring of Close Wounds and using up its uses-per-day was able to fully heal himself. After the healing had been dealt with, Gornix sifted through the ashes and found two of the Spring Jaw’s poisonous red speckled fruits. He stashed them in his robes.

They moved further down the road from where the Spring Jaw had been and pulled off the road to set up camp. Fauna handed Excor a healing salve as they settled down in a reasonably concealed area that the druidess had already scouted out.

The night was relatively quiet, almost too quiet as the natural sounds of insects, distant night birds seemed to be absent, and if present, could only be heard with some strain. They set the watches as usual with Fauna on the first watch, Corje on the second, and both Gornix and Szoo on the third. Excor needed to rest and heal and so was exempt this night from a watch assignment.

The night had been quiet for the first and second watches. When it came to third watch Gornix had his nose buried in a spellbook with his staff providing the light. Szoo on the other hand, was jumping at every sound real or imagined. Suddenly Szoo froze with terror as he saw a massive blue-scaled dragon sitting right across from him just staring with a mocking and somewhat amused expression on its beastly visage.

From somewhere deep inside, Szoosha was able to pull some strength and resist the need to flee from the utter horror that he felt. He demanded what the beast wanted.

Young Blue Dragon (in an ultra-deep rumbling voice): “Maybe I’ll pull your arms and legs off and leave you to die if you’re lucky.”

The hideous voice alerted Gornix to the intruder and trying to think his way out of the situation started with some light flattery. Excor had awakened and was feigning sleep with one eye open. Fauna was dead asleep and still snoring.

Gornix: “Oh bright blue beautiful scaly one! Oh mighty dragon we are but lowly mages! We could um help you maybe uh sir, lord, dragon? Blue mighty, uh, giant, scaled one?”

Cris: “You should’ve asked for its name first. C’mon!”

Isis: “Yeah, geez!”

Gil: “Sorry guys I was too busy s#!ting my pants.”

In response, it lunged lightning fast and leapt into the air. Before any of the mages realized what had happened the dragon had absconded with their last ox.

Cris was notably upset.

By morning (the 3rd of High Summer) the mages and their driver headed out trying to maintain their highest rate of speed (without any experimental potion meant for a rat). However, the landscape was working against them. It began to undulate as the road passed over a series of low hills and into oblong depressions. The morning was utterly quiet as was the afternoon. Around evening, they spotted the young blue dragon flying above them. It was intentionally letting itself be seen circling like a vulture above.

By sundown, the dragon had disappeared again and Fauna spent some extra time seeking out a well-hidden campsite. They packed into a small hollow in the side of a high hill a ways off the trade route surrounded by high, dense, and pungently fragrant bushes. The night passed uneventfully but it was still just too quiet.

Come morning (the 4th of High Summer), Corje prepared breakfast. Meanwhile Fauna scouted the wider area around their camp. She found that the dragon had indeed been prowling the area last night. By the circular paths it took, she surmised it had been looking for them. They decided to move as fast as possible even if it meant driving the ox to death.

Breaking camp they sent clouds of yellow dust up as they fled tearing the sod from the road. The day passed quickly without a sighting of the dragon.

Cris: “The dragon won’t show up near civilization and we should be close by now.”

They then came to an especially high hill that the ox struggled to surmount. From its summit, they could see what they assumed to be the lodge just a few miles away. They cheered. The players cheered.

Suddenly a lightning bolt shot from the sky and blew their last ox apart. They looked up in time to see the young blue dragon turning flying away laughing. Cris cursed.

The group of mages and Corje pulled the wagon the rest of the way themselves. A few hours later at sundown just before the gates of the wooden ramparts shut, they dragged their wagon in. The filthy, sweaty mages collapsed into the dust before collecting their wits enough to look for the saloon. They ponderously dragged their road-weary hides from the lodge courtyard into the lodge proper.

To Be Continued…

 

Arvan: Land of Dragons RELEASED!

Arvan: The Land of Dragons, the new campaign setting for Dice & Glory. It centers on the Age of Adventure and a burgeoning international trade and era of conquest. As well as the reclamation of territory from the supernatural forces that have dominated it for so long. This resulting from an extended Dark Age of Mad Mage-Lords and Dark Warlords. In addition, in the East an ancient empire struggles to slow its disintegration into smaller feudal princedoms. While its central theocracy seizes power for itself by focusing the chaos on the empires’ former Western colonies. Power is up for grabs for those willing to seize it.

The world’s technology level hovers between the late Iron Age and the High Middle Ages. No “Tolkienesque” classical player races exist with Arboreans (tree-men), Amazons, Fauns, Ratlings, Naga, unicorns, and Hill-Giants instead. Of course, there are still human beings. The world of Eu, the planet on which the setting of Arvan exists, has a healthy dose of dark mystery along with a patina of medieval grit. It has realistic underpinnings established for the fantasy of the world to exist on. Inspirations include ancient Rome, Greece, the ancient Americas, as well as Warring States Era China, with some influence from ancient Africa and the Celtic lore and history of Europe not to mention Ancient Greece.

The setting focuses on an “Age of Adventure” wherein the players and their characters can explore and engage the world. Players have a chance of making a mark on the world of Eu. The focus of the setting is adventure be it raiding and pillage, thievery, monster hunting, dragon-slaying, establishing trade routes, exploration, or conquest.

This setting was nearly 10 years in the writing and evolved after several years of role-play. The history of Eu and its cultures were constructed to provide a deep background for fantasy games that may stay as standard and shallow as they please or take a deep dive into the people and places of the fantasy world.

The PDF is available right now at DriveThruRPG.com and RPGNow.com!

The print edition will be available sooner than expected from Lulu.com but more on that later.

Press Releases

Enworld

Tabletop Gaming News

Arvan Web Banner

 

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.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…

New Setting – Arvan: Land of Dragons!

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!

The Land of Dragons

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

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, named 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!

Coming in 2016

Written By: Robert A. Neri Jr.

Cover Art By: Jamie Noble

http://thenobleartist.com

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