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The Dragonslayers III Pt. 10: Hey! You Bypassed My Labyrinth!

Vorwulf gave those behind him the signal to halt while he crept up to the threshold of the main gate where he spied two arrow slits on either side in the walls and a murder hole in the vaulted ceiling above. He though he saw something moving above in the murder hole. He shouted taunts at whatever was there and called it out as a coward but to no avail so he decided to carefully move up his cutlass in his hand. As soon as he got under the murder-hole a large glob of foulness dropped onto him. He was completely enveloped in the oozing horror. The oozing blob was mostly black stripped with yellow stripes of liquefied fat and swimming with clumps of rotted hair and dozens of human teeth. Immediately Magiia rushed forward slashing at the quivering mound of rot with her axe. She sliced through its hideous membrane easily with the power of her attack but half way through her blow was deflected by something hard and metallic underneath. The creature popped like a balloon splashing grey-brown-black sludge everywhere. There stood Vorwulf still holding his cutlass in parry position oily with the monsters filth steaming due to the heat of decomposition.

Magiia (Jenn’s Character): “Sorry.”

The strength of her blow could’ve killed him had he not been able to blindly parry her weapon as it sheared through the necrotic gelatin.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “I’m gonna be covered in that sh*t this whole time huh?”

The party proceeded through the gatehouse and into the wide courtyard to a surreal scene. There were hordes of skeletons and animated corpses digging, hauling dirt and rocks and burning detritus, stoking the flames of the bonfires. The war-party continued to move cautiously, the dead seemed not notice the transgressors blindly carrying out their orders, fulfilling the purpose for which they were animated. Through the black smoke and glare of yellow flame they could see a large central tower at the current rear of the citadels courtyard next a cliff of dirt and rock at which a group of corpses were blinding working.

The earth-blackened tower was at least 3 stories high with looped crenulations along the top battlement its doors deeply recessed into an outcrop that spanned the height of the tower. The double door was a bronze gate crusted in verdigris but through which the finely crafted decorations on their surface, a skulls and roses motif, could easily be seen. Above the recess opening were gargoyle spouts, stone skulls with their jaws agape; they were spouts for hot-oil. The slayers stopped at the threshold of the door recess and Vorwulf spied the murder-hole which ran long-ways overhead above the double-door. They spent a few minutes trying to make a decision on what to do but nobody wanted to just walk in to try the doors including those in the rest of the train. Eventually Magiia volunteered and had the shaman help her tie her rope around her waist and pulled out her crowbar.

She walked up to the decrepit double-door measuring each step carefully and when she jammed her bar into the door they squeaked open on their own revealing they had been unsecured this entire time. Magiia sighed and laughed a little and then pushed one of the doors open. An audible click sounded and the floor fell open beneath her dropping her into a chute. Olf the Arborean healer acted quickly snatching her with his telekinesis holding her where she fell so she would fall no further. The spring-loaded trapdoors snapped back shut severing Magiia’s rope. Vorwulf went to push and hold open one side of the trapdoor while Grom the shaman tossed her the frayed end of her rope and pulled her to safety while Olf continued to concentrate. When they had her at the edge of the trapdoor she leapt in a single bound to the opposite side. She saw that less than 5 ft. from the doors were wide stone steps which crept down into the darkness but she could see some faint hint of natural light shining somewhere down there. She turned and they tossed her the rope which she held, there had been no place to secure it, so the party could get across the trap. It was then that Vorwulf spotted man-sized bat-like shadows flapping silently up from the depths.

“Lookout!” shouted Vor, he leapt to Magi’s side pulling his cutlass and scimitar in mid-somersault and the shadows were upon them. Immediately dropping her end of the rope Magi turned and spotting the first shadow creature bearing down on her she chopped it in two. The two shadowy fragments evaporating away before the fell to the ground. Grom readied his slingshot but couldn’t spot his any targets in the dimness. Olf backed off as he could see nothing and two of the three remaining beasts struck at Magi with their black talons but missing and the other went for Vorwulf, missing as well. Vor chopped one of the two on him down. Magi attacked the one on her with her axe but it passed through the monsters incorporeal form. Grom was finally able to spot one of the bat-creatures and shot a sling-bullet which bounced harmlessly off of the ceiling. Olf able to key in on one of the monsters telekinetically grappled it dragging it to the floor and holding it. It began to shriek. The fourth beast struck at Vor but missed and he struck it down with a paired weapons attack. Magi finished the creature that Olf had held. After they were sure there no more enemies headed their way Magi picked the rope back up and the rest of the party began to work their way over the trapdoors along the rope.

Vorwulf took out an oil lamp form his gear and lit it. He moved down to the bottom of the steps, about 25 ft., and stood guard to make sure no other late comers would come at them while they were vulnerable. Vorwulf surveyed the chamber. The room had a domed ceiling with an apex at about 20 ft., the interior of the dome was studded with gems as stars, the moon and the planets. In the apex of the dome was a diamond shaped hole which acted as a skylight from the top battlements through which the weak, greyish light of winter seeped causing the gem-stars to sparkle and shining a fuzzy diamond onto the encrusted fountain at the center of the chamber. In each corner was a round porphyric column. To the north was a 10 ft. wide archway opening into darkness and to the south, a man-size archway also opening into a shadow-choked chamber. In an alcove in the east wall stood an 8 ft. tall white marble statue, stained with age, of a wizard with an angelic and youthful countenance, which they took to be a representation of a living Parkannis Blackbrow, holding a large superior quality multi-faceted crystal orb in an outstretched hand.  The wall behind the statue rose only to about 10 ft. high creating a ledge just above the alcove which was also cloaked in darkness. He glanced back, the hallway behind was lit by the torches that Olf had passed out and that each party member now held.
The dragonslayers convened and were deciding which way to go when Grom got distracted by the sparkling of the crystal sphere and decided to take it. It didn’t take him any time to pry it from the statue’s palm with his dagger. He sensed no magic on it. Vor checked the wide north archway and seeing what appeared to be only a mostly empty storeroom. The floor was newly swept and the few crates had modern merchant stamps on them. He decided to lead the group through the south doorway. He tried to put his lamp before him as he began to walk through the man-sized archway but the passage seemed to be clogged with shadow and as soon as his arm passed into it Magiia witnessed him appearing to be sucked through the passage to be engulfed by shadow.

Olf immediately used his ESP to locate Vorwulf and knew he was somewhere on the other side of the archway but couldn’t pinpoint him. Magiia took it upon herself to tie a rope to her javelin and then goes to drop it through the archway by extending her arm through it into the shadows and so she was also sucked through. In an instant she found herself at Vorwulf’s side and they were both standing at the center of a small 15 ft. x 15 ft. plain square room with open archways in each of the four walls the space beyond each also obscured by shadow. They assumed they had entered the room via the north arch so Magi was preparing to toss her shield through it for some reason and as she did so Vor pushed her through. She hopped, or more accurately popped, back into the room where Vor was waiting more than a little irritated. She told him the room beyond was identical to this one.

Cris [Vor’s Player]: “Well, we’re in some sort of stupid dimensional thing.”

Meanwhile, Grom made a rousing speech to convince the rest of the party to follow their “comrades” into the shadows just before he leapt through. Not to be thought a coward each party member followed in turn.

Cris: “NO! What are you doing!? This room’s too small!”

Gil [Grom’s Player]: “Yeah but Grom doesn’t know that.”

Cris threw up his arms and sighed in disgust.

Jenn [Magiia’s Player]: *giggles*

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 9: Before the Unburied Citadel

They were astride the green dragon spirit as it flew above the silver clouds that the shaman had successfully summoned and barely was able to get under his control. The icy winter air hammered at them in unending waves, frost fringed every hair and crusted over their furs and clothes. After a few hours it suddenly plunged into the sea of grey mist below and before even the dragon broke through the fog they could hear the ring of the planishers’ hammers on the anvils as they worked to repair the ironworks of Blackbrow’s castle. Soon they were through the chill moist and blinding white-grey of the clouds and back under the seasonal gloom the fires and furnaces of the workman’s camp blazed red and yellow below to the north-east of the citadel walls. There were hordes of men working there some appeared to be slaves wearing chains and collars but the majority appeared to be freemen working for profit under the lich’s auspices. The citadel was only half unburied from the side of the mountain, gangs of hundreds of skeletons were busily digging and hauling earth within the walled courtyard. Within the walls were ruined halls and buildings which were mostly just piles of wreckage. A few skeleton gangs were burning the detritus in a large bonfire just inside of the walls near the gatehouse. They were approaching from the outside plummeting towards the main gate of the citadel the actual gates of which were missing and presumably being rebuilt/repaired by the hirelings. A deep cutting in the mountainside led from the castle throat to a trail leading down the mountain with a spur forking towards the work camp. Before the gaping opening and at the start of the cutting stood three Hill-Giants armored in dirty, shabby iron full plate capped with great helms only distinguishable by the weapons they bared – the first had a gudendag, the second a billhook with an over-sized blade, and the last bore a great club. The dragon ceased to beat and stretched its wings slowing their rapid descent. Her head suddenly reared up with a perceivable pointy-toothed grin and glared at her passengers. She jerked her head back towards the iron-shod hill-giants at the gate unleashing a mighty roar which echoed from peak to wintry peak of the Central Mountains. Then it disappeared from under the entire war-party dropping them 50 ft. into the snow.

Grom the shaman got his cantrip off and began to fly. Olf the healer grabbed onto him both making it to the ground unharmed. Vorwulf rolled with the impact of the fall and Magiia did a midair flip and landed on her feet, the deep snow cushioning the impact. The 11 Westlander warriors, the 3 Hill-Landers and the bard hit hard thudding into the snow and put of sight. The Blue Hand, his blue cape billowing from his slight shoulders, landed gracefully onto his feet and turned to help the others. The three Hill-Giant gate guards, whom stood as still as statues while the group was in midflight, started to move jerkily but still rapidly due to sheer stature towards the slayers. Grom in response immediately gestured and called down lightning from the clouds onto the head of the lead giant, the one bearing the gudendag. The blue-white bolts of electricity crashed into the armored mass causing a brief spasm. Foul rills of smoke wormed out of the metal joints and eye slits of the antique armor. The monster continued forward unabated. Vorwulf shot an arrow into it, the arrow punching a hole straight through its chestplate, black bile leaked from the puncture in thick gobs. The clanking and hammering of metal that had carried on the frozen air suddenly stopped as the workmen gathered to watch the spectacle.

Gil (Grom’s Player): “The giants are undead!?”

Cris (Vor’s Player): “Of course they are! Zombie Hill-Giants in full-plate [sound of disgust and a gesture in my direction]”

Jenn (Magiia’s Player): “Uhg! They better not keep getting back up after we kill ‘em!”

Magii charged the lead behemoth winding up a power attack with her axe. She missed (Natural 1). The second zombie guard moved up and power-sweep-attacked with its billhook forcing Olf and Grom to dodge backward their full movement. Vorwulf tried to duck. The blow caught Olf and Vorwulf injuring them both badly. The third giant-zombie guard moved charged forward and walloped Vorwulf with its great club nearly killing him. Olf activated the Shield ability on his magic helmet. The first guard swung its massive gudendag nailing Magiia ferociously wounding her. Vorwulf did a quick-draw to pull his heavy great axe and activated his boots of Fleet of Foot. Magi swung again at the gudendag wielding zombie hacking through its rusty plate dropping it unleashing a waft of hideous smelling steam from the gash. The remaining two zombie guards swung at Vorwulf narrowly missing. Grom stepped forward back into battle to use his healing touch on Vorwulf. Vor immediately swung at billhook wielding giant-zombie chopping it down. Magiia hacked into number 3 and Vorwulf finished it off with his follow-up blow. The supernatural speed granted to the range/dragon-slayer by his magic boots allowed him to whack the zombies’ heads from their iron-clad shoulders before they had a chance to stand back up destroying them and ending the battle. A few weak claps and some joyful mumbling came from the gawking workmen whom immediately turned back to their work, the ring of striking metal began anew. The rest of the party had just extricated themselves from the snow; they had taken only a few scratches from the plunge.

Vor swigged down a healing potion after giving the healer another. Grom did what he could to heal Olf the healer and Magiia without spending too much of his magic to do so.

Grom [to Magiia after using his healing touch on her]: “Sorry.”

Magiia: “No, save your spells we’ll need more of this. I’m still pretty hurt.”

Vorwulf: “Same here, I’m f***in’ hurt.”

The party got back into formation with the ranger in the lead, Magiia behind him, with Grom and Olf following her and the Blue Hand and Canohk the bard abreast, the Hill-Landers and then the 11 Westlander tribals taking up the rear. They moved cautiously into the cutting, every step deliberate, towards the wide open maw of the disinterred fortress.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 8: Dirty Black Winter

There they stood at the edge of the Hornwood the Blackwings (Grom the shaman, Vorwulf the ranger/dragon-slayer, and Magiia the dragon-warrior Ferenoi), Olf the Arborean healer, Canohk the faunic bard, and the remaining 5 Achaánal clan warriors of the Hill-Lands. Vorwulf forged ahead as they moved into the treeline. He picked up what he believed to be a scout trail moving due east. After several hours he spotted more greyish streaks lazily intersecting the trail occasionally moving in the same direction. The grey streaks in the snow were stains left from a cheap black paint which bled or was scraped off by the ice. It was easier going, the snow being much thinner on the ground as they moved deeper into the woods, but the light grew scarce dimming to a level of a moonlit night due to the snow-choked canopy above.

Well into late afternoon Vorwulf led the party on their mission to find the Blue-Hand and his camp of rebels, more to the point the magic sword that he was bearing, that dubbed the Anvil. Suddenly he brought the group to a dead stop. He had sighted someone up ahead in the dimness. It was a human male a war-belt girding his hips and belly and black bear hide with an open chest. He had bronze bracers on his arms, a steel skullcap on his head and a dirty wolfskin mantle on his shoulders, the black paint on the bracers wearing off in streaks. He sighted the Blackwings’ party almost as soon as Vorwulf saw him and a gush of steam obscured his grizzled face as he roared and charged towards them brandishing a bearded axe in each hand.

As the berserker charged Vorwulf the tattoo on his bare chest came into view, it was a pair of crossed black battle axes wreathed in red flames. Magiia and Grom could feel a rumble traveling through the ground as if something rather large and heavy was hurtling towards them. A thug leapt out of nowhere at Magiia swinging at her with his battle axe, she countered with her own axe which bounced off of his black streaked shield. Grom cast Mass Bull’s Strength increasing his allies’ ability. A blast of electricity shot from behind a clump of frosted bushes zapping Olf. The Blackwings could see it came from a medium-sized ratling warlock draped in black with a bronze mask on his face. The bard, who sang as he swung his curved long sword, and the rest of the warriors were already engaged at the rear with a larger group of the thuggish Black-Soldiery.

Cris (Vor’s player): “It’s one of those Poisonwood ratlings.”

The berserk made it to Vorwulf and swung with a paired weapons attack with his bearded axes. Vor easily deflected the first blow with his bowie knife and clinched on the second with his cutlass. Another human charged in from the forest-shadow swinging a great sword with a flame design engraved on the blade at Vor’s head. He missed. Grom took a sword blade to the guts in a sneak attack made by a faun wounding him severely.

Gil (Grom’s player): “Damn! He took half of my H-Pee in one hit!”

Olf activated the shield ability on his bronze open helm and used his healing touch on the shaman. The ground shook perceptively as the sound of splintering tree branches filled their ears and snow fell in great drifts from the canopy above as a Hill-Giant wielding a massive bearded axe crashed into the battle and swung a mighty blow into the healer, fortunately all it did was to dispel the magical field that surrounded him. Another thug in a black chest-plate brandishing a battle axe and a black round shield came into view.

Gil: “Damn! I cast Mass Animal Form!”

Instantly all their enemies with a flash of light and a slight pop disappeared and in their places were black rats which immediately scuttled away, the Hill-Giant was transformed into a rat the size of a cat but still he scuttled away with the rest. They turned to the rear the remainder of the party had been successful as well though 2 more of the Achaánal had fallen. The Blackwings found that each of the enemy warriors had a potion of warmth among their equipment, which had fallen into piles where they had stood. They also managed to loot a magic great axe from the faun, a magic great sword from one of the humans, a set of magic black robes and a pair of ruby studded bracers from the ratling warlock.

Cris: “Blackbrow’s hunting for the Blue-Hand too. We gotta move faster.”

The Hill-landers insisted on burying their comrades and thus the party was delayed an hour as all took a hand in digging into the frozen earth beneath the snow. It was evening by the time they again to move shortly after they set camp. They all crawled into their bedrolls after the shaman cast Protection from Elements (cold) on them and watches had been assigned. On first watch the entire party was abruptly woke up by a horn blast form Vor’s hunting horn. He had spotted the Brown Spine trying to dig through the canopy snow above the camp but the horn blast apparently had scared it off. It was third watch by the time everything calmed back down and Magiia and the bard were left on the lookout. It wasn’t long before there were knives at their throats and a, “shhhhh” hissed into their ears.

The entire party soon found themselves stripped of their weapons and tied up prisoners of a large group of Westlander tribals with tattoos over their faces. The bard tried to talk but choked as he was just too panicked. Grom on the other hand managed to charm them and convince the savages that they were seeking the Blue-Hand because they had a sure fire way to defeat the Lich of Blackbrow and that they didn’t mind being taken as prisoners to their encampment. So they were dragged through the snow along hidden paths many devoid of snow at a very quick pace. Each of the tribal warriors was wearing a steel skullcap, a suit of scalemail armor, a dark green though frost encrusted woolen cloak, buckskins and fur-wrapped feet. Each was bearing a wood round shield painted with a single blue hand and wielding a battle axe with a pair of tomahawks slipped under their thick leather belts. Exhausted, they reached their goal by next evening.

They had been taken to a large clearing in the trees. The forest had been chopped down around a large pond and they could see several tents and log cabins about the shore of the ice-over water. The outside perimeter by the tree-line was populated by the jutting stumps of the felled trees with a log fence on the inside perimeter of the stumps around the camp and a defensive ditch beyond that crossed by a narrow split-log bridge. The party was stopped at the split-log crossing and Grom was led by two of the Westlanders as the representative of the Blackwings straight to their leader, the Blue-Hand. The rebel leader was very young in appearance, basically a teenager, wearing a grey wool tunic and wrapped in a fine blue cloak. The Anvil was at his side. It wasn’t long before the shaman, ever the agile diplomat, had the Blackwings inside of the Blue-Hand’s pavilion pouring over his maps.

They found that the Blue-Hand had been “blessed” by the druid of Cleft-Rills, Siamnecca, and thus had gained the loyalty of the Westlander tribals of Veringer’s Field and Eagle’s Grove which comprised the main body of his forces. They although loyal to the Druidic Council of the Cleft-Rills are mostly on-board with the Blue-Hand for the loot when the fighting finally breaks out. The Blue-Hand had planned to send out small scouting and foraging parties through the winter and come spring move on Hornstone which was not too far north of the Hornwood, pushing out the “foreign” forces of Blackbrow. His plan relied on securing the Old High Road and the thicket above Loc Lake at first melt. He was sure the farmers which remained in the North Spur were on his side. It didn’t take much for the adventurers to convince him otherwise especially when the bard finally was able to deliver his message sent directly from the Druidic Council (about the Black Moon eclipsing the sun). The next day, day 9, the shaman gets an idea.

Gil: “I want to summon the most powerful spirit I can that knows the land the best.”

The Blackwings, the bard, the healer and the Blue-Hand were all in the Blue-Hand’s pavilion while the shaman used a bronze brazier to carry out the summoning. It took about an hour then after a sudden unnatural stillness overtook the whole scene and all the rills of smudge-smoke seemed to freeze in mid-air, the brazier erupted with a gout of emerald flame and the smoke about the tent became dense and green almost opaque. The image of the head of a green dragon with glowing red eyes floated in the smoke above the receding flames of the brazier. The shaman sweating and straining against an invisible enemy suffered an elongated battle of wills with the spirit finally seizing control of the powerful dragon spirit, barely. He was able to get its name though it spake it in draconic, the closest he was able to get was Adcahali. The pronunciation was deeper, more guttural and penetrated with a serpent-hiss which the human vocal anatomy is simply not capable of.

Grom: “I command you to tell us the best and fastest way to get to the fortress, Blackbrow.”

The dragon volunteered to fly up to 20 of them to the citadel on its back. With that the smoke slithered out of the tent and out into the snow where it congealed into the semi-solid ectoplasmic form of an adult green dragon. The Blackwings, Canohk the bard, Olf the healer, the Blue-Hand, the 3 remaining Hill-Landers and 11 of the Westlander warriors geared up and mounted the back of the strangely spongy and clammy dragon. Soon icy, winter air was blasting at their faces as the dragon flew up above the clouds out of the winter gloom into the bright winter sun where it shone with a vibrant green glimmer and semi-transparent like sea-green glass. Shortly they would be standing before the walls of fortress Blackbrow.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 7: On the Wings of a Shaman

Dawn. Vorwulf was able to find a narrow crag in the cliff of Nizgal’s End which allowed for the party to climb down into the box canyon and they reached its mouth by late afternoon. Vorwulf and Magiia spotted something sticking out of the snow ahead as they trudged on. It was a broken shield painted with green and white quarters the charge a black ram’s head with spiral horns. It was the shield of the Achaánal that had been snatched by the Brown-Spine dragon a few days before. Vorwulf looked back into the canyon to try to spot any caves or ledges that would allow for a lair a creature of the size of the Brown-Spine could occupy. He didn’t see any. The ranger/dragon-slayer surveyed the landscape to the south-east to where the canyon mouth gaped as dusk began to redden the sky. They set up camp and Grom, the shaman, cast Impervious to Elements (cold) before the party settled into their bedrolls to rest for the night.

A scream ripped through the camp waking the slayers. When they leapt to their feet they saw one of the Hill-Landers stumbling away into the pitch black night simultaneously laughing and crying his fellow locked in combat with a bizarre looking monster. It appeared as an emaciated corpse floating just above the snow lacking feet; a pair of splintered antlers jutting from both sides of its hideous skull. The rest of the warriors panicked and cowered behind the Blackwings as they met the undead thing in combat. Grom was the quickest to action but his attempt to banish it as a spirit failed revealing the creature to be an undead thing rather than a spirit. Magi charged the creature and power-attacked with her axe chopping it into halves with a single mighty stroke. The corpse that crashed to the snow resembled the monster she had felled only in that it was a shriveled husk of freeze dried flesh and brittle bone.

Olf concerned with the fighter that stumbled off into the dark used his ESP to locate the man. Grom followed after. The pair found him not far off but still well out of sight of the campsite. He was on his knees stuffing his mouth with snow and gibbering madly to himself, tears frozen on his cheeks.

Gil (Grom’s player) [to the other players]: “Should I try to Dispel Fear on him? Would that do it?”

Cris (Vorwulf’s player): “I dunno if that’s gonna work.” He thought for a second, “Naw. There’s somethin’ else wrong with the guy.”

Grom cast Mystic Diagnosis on the maddened warrior and found he had been afflicted with insanity by way of a curse. So he simply cast Dispel Curse instantly curing the wretch. They led the cured and shivering Hill-Lander back to camp and because the monster had invaded camp on the second watch as soon as everyone had calmed down the group tried to catch what little rest they could before sunup. Vorwulf and another Hill-Lander warrior took the third watch while the others slept. The sun rose on the sixth frigid day of travel.

Jenn (Magiia’s player): “Aw man! We’re not gonna make it!”

Cris: “We’re not going fast ‘cause of the snow. We’re up to our waists in it. Sh*t.”

Jenn [to me, the GM]: “You know, I’ve been reading this book and this guy was trapped in a jail cell in a dungeon. And the other guy with him, all the other people [NPCs] didn’t know that they were in the game but he did. Because he was a player. So he knew there had to be a way out because the Game Master wouldn’t put ‘em in a place with no escape. So y’know. The GM’s got to have a plan. If we fail…”

Cris (Vorwulf’s player)[sarcastically]: “Yeah, Only the worlds gonna end..”

Jenn [shrugging]: “If the players fail the GM fails. The guy said it.”

Before the party started to get on the move Vorwulf used his land navigation to try to figure out how much farther they had to travel. Due to his excellent skill and familiarity with the Cleft-Rills region he surmised that it would take them about 3 and half more days till they reached the edge of the Hornwood. The group set about on their way eastward with Vorwulf in the lead and the rest of the Blackwings at the vanguard with Canohk the bard and Olf the healer following. The Achaánal clan warriors were taking up the rear. Just before noon the sun vanished from the sky hid behind black clouds. An icy wind and a peal of thunder heralded a sudden blizzard which blasted down onto the heads of the adventurers. Not wanting to let the storm bog them down the Blackwings gathered around the shaman trying to give him cover as he worked his magic. Despite the cacophony of slashing winds and snow he was able to complete the ritual of Calm Storm II after an hour it was completed and the air fell still almost immediately.

The slayers looked about them and saw the grey-white walls of the storm with an appearance of wet clay swirling about them at a distance of about 7 miles or so causing everything to be washed out by the sun which peeked out from behind the silvery clouds directly above them. It was at this time that they also noticed the absence of the bard and the 6 Hill-Lander fighters. They dusted off the snow and ice that crusted their cloaks and went to find their missing charges with Olf leading using his ESP to locate the missing 7. A few hours into following the Arborean, Grom stopped suddenly and yelled, he had gone snow blind. Fortunately Olf was able to restore his vision using his Bio-Manipulation psionic ability. They treaded on.

It was evening and already pitch-black by the time they caught up with the missing party members halfway down the slope of a southerly hill. All of them were shivering, blue-lipped and suffering from exposure. The healer and the shaman spent a few minutes restoring their health and healing the damage they had suffered from the time they spent in the blizzard. They turned northward and surmounted the hill digging in immediately. The shaman cast Impervious to Elements (Cold) over the party. It was inevitable that the blizzard held temporarily back by Grom’s spell would move back in and swallow them in a hell of ice and winds. The night was uneventful while they laid in their snow-cave those on watch listening to the storm as it howled back over them on first watch and roared until the end of the third.

Come the morning of the seventh day the spent much of the morning digging out from under several feet of fresh powder, soon after emerging Grom had a sudden idea. He cast Channel Animal Ability (flight) on all of the party members pretty much using up all of the magic that he could channel for the day (i.e. spells per day).

Cris: “Aw man! It’s like when this guy said ‘look I forgot I had this’ and used that rod of Quicksand!” (see The Dragonslayers III Pt. 3: Zombie Dragons Doom)

Gil: “Well, it only lasts for 7 minutes.”

The players did the math. They would be traveling at a speed of 100 ft. per melee round which came to a rate of 20 miles per hour. They calculated the travel distance for the 7 minutes which was approximately 2.3 miles and if they were able to fly at a x4 maximum movement rate (I ruled they could) using up all of their attacks per melee round each to increase their speed putting them easily at the edge of the Hornwood before the spell expired saving them a couple of days of tramping through the snow. They had decided to hazard the flight despite the presence of the Brown Spine Dragon which had seemingly been hounding them and the potential for it to “swoop in on them”. They would be helpless not only because a dragon simply outclasses any other flying creature in the air but the spell would transform their arms into wings disallowing for hand-held weapons. The cost paid for taking that chance wasn’t evident until it had already been paid. The dragon was trailing them and while they were in midflight had flew up stealthily behind them and swooped in snatching the last man and was nearly out of sight before the shaman had spotted it disappearing over the rapidly approaching trees of the Hornwood. The head count after landing confirmed that they were a man down, another Achaánal was gone. Vorwulf was busy contemplating the grey streaks and trails in the snow he had seen from above seemingly pointing to the Hornwood hinting that a number of something was headed in the same direction.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 6: The Big White-Out

Our heroes trundled over the snowy slopes of the foothills which sparkled under the sparse moonlight through the scrim of clouds above and in spite of the Central Mountains which hovered blackly over the entire scene. They were in the lead of the party of 11. Behind them were Olf the Arborean healer, the green-cloaked bard Canohk and the half-faun warriors of the Achaánal clan taking up the rear; their battle axes with their daggers in their belts, their claymores strapped to their backs and their painted shields on their arms. Before long the clouds thickened and the cold night grew darker, a storm began to brew in a fogbank. The Blackwings could see it starting to move in their direction, an obscuring wall of bone-white which engulfed the Lich-Fortress that had been still visible in the distance in an ominous pall of churning mist. The snowstorm would bear down on the party within the half hour. Of course, it was then that Magiia realized that she wasn’t equipped with any cold weather gear. Grom, the shaman, tried to Calm Storm but failed. The 3 rangers that had accompanied the slayers on their mission to Cleft-Rills and that Vorwulf had sent southward to scout out a safe campsite several minutes before sighting the storm had yet to return. Vor and the 6 Hill-Lander warriors began to furiously dig into the snow. Increasing winds blew sleet into their eyes and the slayers lost track of the rest of their party finding that their dugout only sheltered Magiia the Feren Dragon-Blood Warrior, Grom the Shaman and Olf the Arborean (tree-man) healer aside from Vor himself. The storm raged above its roar rumbling through the snow while the slayers huddled together in their cramped shelter. They set to their assigned watches and took turns sleeping until the storm was finished burying the mountains in a heavy layer of fresh powder.

Dawn. It took a while for them to dig themselves out as the storm had dumped several feet of snow on them during the night. The foothills upon which they were traveling and the mountains to their north were a glittering desert of ice all of the crevasses, ridges and thickets filled and buried. Olf used his ESP abilities to locate the rest of the party and the slayers were able to dig all six of the Achaánal and Canohk the bard up, all blue-lipped and suffering hypothermia. Olf and the shaman healed what they could to ease the damage on the bard and all but one of the fighters. By mid-day they were again on the move in snow up to their waists. They had managed to cover about 4 miles by Vor’s reckoning spotting a large probably heavy-weight brown dragon in the clouds above when they were half that distance. None of them could identify it. Come evening Vor found a great place to dig a shelter at the base of a pair of rocks setting the fighters to do the actual digging. As they were getting ready to occupy the burrow Grom took the time to magically protect all of the party members with Impervious to Elements (Cold). Again they settled in for the night and assigned watches for the night.

Suddenly the screaming of the pair of warriors on second watch woke them abruptly to splattering snow and face-to-face with a rather pleasantly surprised (and very hungry) winter-dragon who had just dug into and opened the front end of their snow-cave. The Hill-Landers horrified were pushing backward deeper into the ruined shelter squeezing the slayers into the rear. Magiia easily pushed her way through the frightened half-fauns to the front. Vorwulf shouted, “Stand your ground!” to the Achaánal clan warriors and then shot an arrow from his bow. The barbed dragon-bone arrow found its mark striking deep, the dragon blasted the crew with its frost breath in response but to no effect. Magiia struck at it with her axe hacking a deep gash in its pearly-white hide the blood dropping as clumps of red ice crystals onto the snow. Grom tried to get a spell off but failed as he was jammed against the rear rock wall. The dragon leapt backward with a mighty beat of its wings blowing snow into their faces causing the Hill-Landers to hide their faces behind their shields. Vorwulf shot another dragon-bone arrow into the beast and it shrieked falling backwards about 100 ft. into the snow; the giant winter-dragon disappearing from sight. Magiia losing control of herself flew into a rage and chased after the dragon crazy for its blood.

Magiia (growling): “I need its blood!”

She leapt into the hole in the snow onto the rapidly sinking corpse. They realized that they were very near to North Lake, the stones where they had dug their quinzee were probably just beyond the shore, and the dragon had jumped backward and dropped dead over the lake falling through the built up snow into the icy water. Maggi (Magiia) was slashing madly at the draconic corpse steeping herself and her dagger in blood and gore. The others realized she would be dragged under into the icy waters by the sheer weight of the dragon’s body and probably drown due to the encumbrance of her armor. Grom cast Bestial Might and growing a pair of wings snatched her from the dragon’s mutilated corpse just as it sank beneath the freezing lake waters bringing her back to the camp by the rocks. She turned and spent the last of the manic energy of the episode trying to spot the location of the dragon’s body when she couldn’t see anything she collapsed to her knees finally recovering her senses. The party spent the rest of the night bunched up against the rocks in the depression where their snow-cave had been.

The red dawn saw the party breaking into their trail rations. Of course, it was then that Magiia realized that she wasn’t carrying any food. The shaman shared some of his rations with her and gave her 10 days’ worth to carry. After breakfast and just before they broke camp the shaman war-painted them as a “precaution”. Later Vorwulf found a stable and easy path across the hills and over the snow and led the party straight eastward. The day was uneventful but exhausting and by dusk they came to a steep decline. It was snowing. Vor knew that the Trade Road was very near and possibly the safest if not the only way down from the foothills otherwise the party would have to climb moving very slowly along the steep hillside. Due to the snowfall and the deepness of the drifts he simply couldn’t find it. He found what he thought was a safe camping spot and began to dig hoping to find the road in the morning. By dark the dugout was ready and the group gathered while Grom cast his Protection from Elements spell. He botched it and the magical energy got away from him exploding in a brilliant flash. Fortunately the explosion only really wounded Vor though somewhat badly (he rolled a Natural 1), the other fighters were only lightly singed. The shaman apologized from the center of a ring-shaped crater and used the Heal All ability on a magic ring to restore all of the wounded back to full health. He successfully cast Protection from Elements on the second try. The night went uneventfully as another winter storm raged above.

Come morning the slayers were puzzled to find dragon tracks sunk into the snow circling their burrow. They surmised from the tracks it was a heavy-weight and a five-toe.

Vor: “A five-toe, sh*t. Those things are smart.”

Grom: “What are they more powerful or something?”

Vor: “You remember that big red one? [The Dragonslayers I Pt. 38: The Big Red One] He was a five-toe but also a dragon-lord.”

Grom: “Oh.”

The slayers studied the tracks for quite some time, the rest of the party the six Achaánal and Canohk the bard, Olf was waiting patiently, were getting a bit restless and eager to get back on the move. Vorwulf guessed, due to a few recondite clues gathered from and around the tracks, that it could be a Brown Spine Dragon a species native to the Granfor forest but believed to be extinct. None have been seen alive in an age. Reminded of their mission by the bard they tore themselves from speculation on the tracks and began hunting for the Trade Road in the snow. Vorwulf still in heavy contemplation about the rare dragon started off in the wrong direction. It was the shaman who spotted the road only a few hundred feet east-southeast from the quinzee. They figured it was time to get some bearing as to where they should be headed so Magiia whipped out the sword named Anvil and let the shaman use his Clairvoyance on it. He was able to get a better read on the rebel camp than last time and could see with his mind’s eye the warriors the Blue-Hand had gathered to himself. Among the Blue-Hand’s forces were about a hundred Westlander “peasant” warriors and around fifty Westlander tribal warriors. Due to the shaman’s descriptions of their facial tattoos Vor thought they may be from the south somewhere around Veringer’s Field and Eagle’s Grove. They decided they needed to keep moving straight east as they had only covered about 14 miles in the past 2 days. They still had easily over 30 miles to go. If they kept making as little headway as they had so far they were going to lose the race with the Black Moon. Snow began to fall as they pushed on and soon the gossamer haze of the harsh Westland winter cut their vision to around 20 ft. They stopped and tied themselves together at the waist with a rope then continued on in the white-out. As dusk fell the haze eased a bit as did the snow fall though it didn’t stop. Again they found an obstacle in their path. They gazed over the steep drop to which they had just arrived. The hillside was extremely steep and below that another steep hillside which led into a gorge and that to a frozen but presumably still flowing river. To the north they could just make out a still flowing waterfall more by its sound than anything else.

Vor: “Devils Falls.”

They had come to the river gorge which fed Loc Lake and thus Farm Creek and which flowed under Miller’s Bridge to the far south. They set camp by digging another burrow at the base of some rocks. By third watch the snowfall had become a raging snowstorm and the team awoke to their snow-cave collapsing in on their heads! The Hill-Landers were able to keep it from completely burying all of them using their shields to shore up the ceiling while Vor desperately worked to repair it. Grom spent an hour trying to calm the storm but to no avail so he continued with another more powerful version of the spell (Calm Storm I & II) for an additional hour finally able to ease its elemental rage. At dawn they spent an hour at the top of the slope arguing about the best way to get across as walking around would simply take too much time; time which they did not have.

Eventually they settled on going north a ways towards Devils Falls so they can cross the river which flows from the mountains to the waterfall and having Grom cast Bestial Might on himself to grow wings, fly over and tie the rope to an anchor, and move across it in a daisy chain. After a couple of tries they got it right and were able to get their party across the frozen river without casualty. A few hours later towards early evening however, a deep and ominous rumbling came gradually to their frozen ears and they saw a billowing wall of white ripping down the mountainside from their immediate north. Someone shouted, “Avalanche!” Immediately Grom used his Bestial Might to fly off with Olf the healer and Vor slashed the air with his Scimitar of Dimension Door Maggi just barely jumping onto his back in time to be whisked out of the path of white death as he leapt through.

Late that night the team found themselves resting in the tops of trees in a thicket at the foot of a hillside. The slayers had finally regrouped with the healer’s help they had located the buried members of their troop and rescued and healed them among the thicket in which they now rested. The night passed uneventfully, the party decided to rest for another day as the shaman and healer were both still exhausted from the previous night’s efforts. The day was grey with unbroken cloud cover the only sign of dusk was an intensification of the wintry gloom prior to a very thorough and seemingly premature darkness. Just as they began to drift off to sleep a fighter screamed! The trees were whipped by a blast of stinging winds and snow. The slayers, the bard, healer and the fighters held on for dear life. In the sudden chaos Vor and Maggi caught a glimpse of a massive brown dragon with a collection of quills at its tail and horns over its back swooping in just above the skeletal treetops. It was a Brown Spine Dragon. Magiia’s eyes followed it as it soared upward into the clouds.

Magiia: “It’s flying east!”

Jenn (Magiia’s Player): “Should we go follow it?”

Cris (Vor’s Player): “Man, I want to get that dragon but we got a mission. Let’s find the Blue-Hand first.”

Jenn: “Aww.”

Magiia growled.

The next morning they climbed back up the hillside and continued struggling eastward through the frigid waist-high drifts. By sundown they found themselves at a dead stop on the edge of a 100 ft. cliff. Vorwulf knew the cliff and the box canyon it bounded as Nizgal’s End named after the fate of a petty warlord of a century ago. Stumped they bivouacked on the cliff’s edge.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 5: The Hammer and the Anvil

All three of the slayers sat in the taproom of the Rat in what functioned as an official guild meeting. Grom had managed to concoct 5 doses of highest quality healing salve and Magiia would have to wait for the month it would take the artist to finish her portrait. During their conversation about the current situation and what they should do about it the subject of the Gate Stones arose (see the Dragonslayers II Pt.14: A Black Moon Rising) that they, sans Magiia, had previously acquired in their battle against the God-King of Troll-Guard (see the Dragonslayers II Pt.16: The God-King Awaits!). The players figured that none of their characters could use the stones and the casting check to use them was just too high. Plus, none of them had the proper skills to even try. Then Cris (and thus Vorwulf in the meeting) had an eureka moment.

Cris [snapping his fingers]: “The Druid! Vezik!”

Vorwulf ran out of the Rat east along Sirti Street to the Town Center, past the blackened oak and into the beerhall where the druid’s party had decided to catch some drinks and a meal. A few minutes later the Haldred’s group was meeting with the Blackwings in the Hopping Rat. They let Vezik borrow the manual for the Gate Stones overnight and were set to meet up with him and his party at Town Center at sunrise. He would send them direct to Blackbrow where they could hopefully end this in one fell swoop. The rangers, Canohk the bard, Olf the healer and 6 Achaánal warriors would accompany them. The Achaánal were seeking to redeem themselves as they felt ashamed of their performance against the zombie dragon the previous night. The elders of Merdna when contacted could only wish them luck as they had no warriors to spare. The Blackwings began checking their equipment and packing their gear. The Hill-Lander warriors, Canohk the bard, and Olf had decided to stay in the Rat. Magiia sneered at the bard (Ferenoi are somewhat racially biased against Fauns).

Grom decided to cast Clairvoyance on the sword Magiia had “inherited” from Bers, the silver single-handed great sword with the stamp on the blade of an anvil being struck by a hammer. This after Vor told him that the sword had come from the ruins of tower Blackbrow. It had been acquired by Bers after her and his master had looted the place and cleansed it of its resident wyvern (see The Dragonslayers I Pt. 6: Part the Sixth). The visions and whispering of the spirits told that the sword was named the Anvil and was the twin of the magic sword named the Hammer. He saw that a young man with a blue hand painted on his cloak wielded the Hammer against the undead under his war-banner. His forces were camping in a clearing in a wood, a wood rife with faeries and errant magic. When the Blue-Hand wielded the sword against the undead hordes it emitted beams of sunlight and was able to hold the creatures at bay while his men copped and hammered them into dust. When he came out of his trance he relayed the information to his companions. The anvil was required to trigger the full magic stored within the Hammer both blades must be stuck into the lich’s body and would destroy the creature and its phylactery wherever it may be hidden as well as the 3 phylacteries in the form of crystals it wears on its right wrist and the comparably very large one it wears on its left. Grom gave Magiia his last Guardian Bear Totem.

Come night fall, the shaman took it upon himself to go to the Woodcutters’ guild at the North Gate to try to recruit some axe-men but was predictably turned away. While he was walking back along the snow covered street a sudden twinge up his spine caused him to turn to the northern horizon and there he saw a red glow as a forest fire hovering above the trees.  He shook his fist and shouted: “Damn You!” By the time he arrived back at the tavern the others were asleep, he soon joined them in dream.

Vorwulf suffered the dream-haunting of the Lich-Fighter of Blackbrow and suffered a nasty constitution drain (he rolled a Natural 1) and was deathly pale upon waking in the morning. The shaman had also had a dream and while Vorwulf drank down a Potion of Purification he told it to him with the Hill-Lander warriors as an audience while they geared up. The shaman related that he had been having the same dream for a while now about a large red dragon wearing a necklace of three dragon skulls laughing as it burned the forest and the monster’s desire for a giant glowing mushroom the height of a great redwood. The dragon he had recognized, it was the very same that had destroyed his tribe in the far north. An Achaánal perked up and said the dragon didn’t mean much to him but the mushroom sounds like the one that sprouts every snow-melt at the very end of winter in a placed called the White Heath among the cursed ruins which lie there. The White Heath was directly north from Merdna along the Barbarian’s Tread in what was their homeland and former kingdom, Norusk. The Achaánal had been ousted by a Low-Lander rebellion agitated by a fitful Hyvalian Paladin named Chinsalis. The High-Lander fighter spat on the ground to clear his mouth of that despised name and went back to quietly honing his claymore.

At dawn the party of Blackwings and Druidic marshals left the tavern hauling the Gate Stones with them as they made their way to the town center all wearing the war paint on their faces painted on by the shaman before departing. Soon they found themselves at the center of stones with Haldred Vezik chanting the inner glow of the various precious Gate-Stones pulsating with his voice each time growing in intensity until the final pulse was a blinding burst of light. When the light faded and their vision returned to them the war-party found themselves in an unexpected place.

They were at the foot of a mountain slope atop a range of foothills with a frozen lake visible a few miles off at the bottom of the foothills. Vorwulf and Magiia turned around towards the mountain and could see a large ruined fortress being dug out from under the snow, dirt and rock of the mountainside not far off further up the slope. It was being unburied by a horde of worker-zombies and skeletons. Vor was able to get his bearings and realized that they had been teleported to the foot of the Central Mountains at the northern border of Cleft-Rills overlooking North Lake with the North Gate Pass a few miles to the east. To their immediate north-east was a large canyon between the outcroppings of the mountains. The ruins of Blackbrow tower were about 12 miles directly south. That’s when they realized that since the Gate Manual was very ancient and thus the Blackbrow referenced within it written in Trollish Magical Script no less must have been referencing Castle Blackbrow. The map of Cleft-Rills and the position of all of the old ruins made perfect sense now in Vor’s mind (he had had his suspicions), they were watch and guard towers ringing the outskirts of a central fortress. They looked at the distant fortress ghost-lights aimlessly haunted it’s still earthy battlements.

Grom cast Clairvoyance again on the sword named Anvil. He told the others that its twin lay somewhere called Horn-Wood near a place called Hornstone.

Vorwulf: “Well, I guess we better go find the Blue Hand then.”

Cris [to me]: “This is a one-way trip through the stones isn’t it?”

Me [the GM]: “Yup.”

They began trekking east.

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 4: Tides of the Black Moon

It was the next day after the attack on Merdna by the forces of Blackbrow. The Civil Authority had decided to prepare for a siege demanding a written inventory to be submitted by all shops and guild-houses. The North and South gates had also seen battle but sporadically and with small forces using hit & run tactics probably as a diversion pinning down the defenders so they couldn’t redistribute to where they were needed. Runners had been sent out to all nearby settlements as soon as possible after the attack and had since returned. The news they had brought back was burning through the city igniting rumors and melting the general anxiety of the shaken populous into black fear. Lord Vorahd and his warriors were determined to stay in the Fertum where they believed they would have strategic advantage so they could not be counted on to help defend the city. Asternor to the south was still cut off by a siege conducted by the greater forces of Blackbrow. Those forces were in much greater number than those of the force that had assaulted Merdna. Sirti to the West had taken occasional raids and so refused to help in favor of their preparations against what they perceived as an imminent oncoming siege. There had been no word from any of the towns along the western half of the Nirix River. Runners sent in that direction had returned with the information that the roads are being patrolled and guarded by the Black Soldiery of Blackbrow (see Dragonslayers II Pt.6: Raven’s Eyrie).

Our heroes, the Blackwings, the slayers, were nearly fully recovered by the time they had risen at dawn with the pale winter sun. The inventory that they had just finished was more than a little pathetic, it was blank. The cupboards and store of the Hopping Rat Tavern were bare and all of the barrels empty. Vorwulf ordered the guild apprentices (consisting of his and Grom’s protégés; Zrasknor and Og respectively) to use his Bottle of Endless water to fill an empty hogshead, two barrels and a cask with water and store them in the rear storeroom of the Rat later putting the hogshead on top of the trapdoor that lead to the cellar “for security reasons”. Vor still wasn’t sure how the thieves that stole the money from the chests had gotten in. Grom was inspecting the chests in the “secret vault” in the cellar and cast Clairvoyance to try to get a better handle the identity of the thieves. He discerned it was indeed the ratlings, the Tat-Eyes, Merdna’s newest and currently dominant criminal gang. Vorwulf also checked around the cellar but was unable to find out how they got in and presumably out without anyone noticing. After spending about an hour of doing that Vorwulf gave up and went outside to retrieve his master’s bones and Bers’ corpse. Just after high noon they had a simple funeral and burned the remains of the pair in the courtyard of the Rat depositing the ashes in a couple of empty wine bottles and setting them on the shelf behind the bar. Magiia spent that time admiring her new armor. She was impatient for some “real” dragon-slaying to happen.

Jenn: “I dunno who those two people were.”

At the conclusion of the cremation ceremony Vorwulf went back to the gate to make sure everything was in order. After that he needed to find the armorer as his armor was torn to shreds (at about half its hit point total). The shaman left to see the apothecary. After they left Magiia decided to go to the Artist/Herald to order a portrait of herself that she could hang in the tavern/guild-house. She was sent by the Blackwings in Chago as a Guild Seeker, an officer meant to ensure service/product quality of guild members, but found herself hired on as a Clerk for the Merdna house. She was halfway there when she realized she had no money and thus caught up to the shaman, they were both heading the same general direction anyway, bluffing him out of 50 platinum pieces. She told him she had found “a guy selling alchemist’s fires”. With that she ran off putting in the order and having the artist do some very good sketches which painted her unfortunate visage in a favorable and somewhat unrealistic light. Grom walked into the apothecary shop and wound up with a crate of herbs that he needed to produce 30 doses of healing salve after slamming down a silver talon on the counter. He returned to the tavern first and began to grind and boil down the herbs processing them into healing salve.

Vorwulf had walked into a commotion at the gates, the guards were hallooing and very, very tense at a group that come along the Sirti Road to the West Gate. The ranger/dragon-slayer peeked through a fist-hole in the gate. He recognized the leader of the group as the druid from Fertum Vorahd that Grom had worked with for the plague cure (see The Dragonslayers II Pt.9: Rock Puncher). Vorwulf got up onto the battlements and shouted down the rowdy men seizing command he ordered them to open the gates. Once inside the druid leader introduced himself as Haldred Vezik. Vezik was Lord Vorahd’s Haldred with whom Grom had worked with to produce the plague cure (see Dragonslayers II Pt.9: Rock Puncher) for the Fertum, unfortunately the shaman never bothered to get his name. Vezik was currently acting as an agent of the Druidic Council as they were having a crisis in personnel since Siamnecca’s rebellion in the west against Chago had lured too many of their number away to the coast. With him also wrapped in green cloaks were 3 rangers acting as Druidic Marshals, an Arborean Healer named Olf (see The Dragonslayers I Pt.14: Winter at Veringer’s Field) and a familiar face Canohk the faunic Hill-Lander bard. The news that they brought was not particularly encouraging.

The undead have conquered Fort Ebernel in the Falmark but not the Fertum there and the town of Falton has strangely been spared the plague that has preceded the invasions of Blackbrow everywhere else.

Cris (Vorwulf’s player): “Oh yeah, it’s that witch there. The haunter of the swamp or something like that.” (See The Dragonslayers I Pt. 22: Into the Great Wide Open; the witch’s moniker is actually the Haunter of Witch’s Wood but it didn’t come up in game)

Jenn (Magiia’s player): “She wanted to kill everybody right?”

Gil (Grom’s player): “Yeah, why would she save everybody?”

Cris: “Her territory, they’re her people to kill.”

Gil: “Oh.”

In the Cleft-Rills region to the far east, Vorwulf’s homeland, Caer Dreyhawk has fallen and Lord Dreyhawk is feared dead meanwhile the ruins of Blackbrow were “inactive” at last word but those who have since been sent to scout it have not returned. There is a Draco-Lich dominating the crown of the hill above the Caer (a small Motte & Bailey). There was hope there still however, as there was a small resistance being led by one known only as “The Blue Hand” (see The Dragonslayers I Pt.7: Part the Seventh & Pt. 19: Black Wings). “The Black Moon is key to the undead Lord’s strategy” said Vezik. He told Vorwulf that the Druidic Council of Hirok-Nor believes that the black moon which follows the winter sun will cause an eclipse in a fortnight (2-weeks) and which will last around just under a fortnight. The black moon empowers the forces of darkness and death by its mere presence but during an eclipse they will be doubly powerful and may be reinforced by freshly “born” undead animated by the hateful powers of the Black Moon!

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 3: Zombie Dragons Doom

The group of 10 undead Arboreans continued to march towards the West Gate, these gate-breakers would soon be on the gate and the slayers knew if the gate fell the warriors on their side were both outnumbered and outclassed. It would be a slaughter. They continued to furiously battle the undead strike force that had been teleported in behind the palisades.

Magiia the Ferenoi power attacked the Bone-Lord with the axe she had taken from Bers’ corpse but the blow was parried easily. Vorwulf shot the Arborean zombie that was attacking Magiia. The undead captain, the Bone-Lord, missed Magiia with a clumsy slash of his mean-looking bone-sword. Grom directed his inferior earth elementals to slam the standing Arborean which had little effect due to the hardness of its worm-eaten body.  He then used his sling to take a shot at the “skull knight”, his bullet bouncing harmlessly from the Bone-Lord’s bone-plating. One of the sword-wielding skeletons which Magiia had just smashed down suddenly reassembled its bones and stood next to her ready to attack. The downed deadwood Arborean at the gate began to stir and stood up its body still studded with Vor’s arrows. The other slammed its club-like fists into Maggie (Magiia) whom attempted to dodge but failed. Another blow from the undead captain’s bone-blade was deflected by Maggie the amazon and an arrow from the ranger’s bow thudded into the newly (re)risen Arborean. The newly reassembled skeleton picked up its sword and stuck Maggie with a natural 20 wounding her badly; she made a recovery check to remain standing yet again. Grom sent his elementals to grapple the Arborean at the gate while he shot another sling-stone at the skull of the remaining sword-skelly cracking its skull a good one. Maggie struck the sword-skelly smashing it to pieces sending its cracked skull flying out into the snow. She parried another blow from the Bone-Lords blade and the Arborean that had slammed her earlier went for another but missed completely. The other undead Arborean broke free from the grip of the elementals. Vor put an arrow in the Arborean that was attacking Maggie and another in the one at the gates just before it smashed another hole in them. Grom used his sling to shoot Maggie a healing potion which she easily caught.

The amazon downed the potion after backing out of the reach of her foes. Vorwulf continued to shoot the deadwood Arborean at the gate and Grom turned his attention towards the oncoming gate-breakers as they drew too near for comfort. He called down lightning upon their heads splintering wood and blackening their bark-skins but not dropping a single one of the five he managed to hit. His elementals continued to harry the deadwood zombie at the gate. The Bone-Lord followed the Ferenoi and continued his assault, she easily parried his blows. The Arborean that had been fighting with Maggie, with the Dragon-Blood Warrior out of the way, moved to the gates ready to begin battering them down from the inside. Vor knocked one of his magic arrows, an ice-steel frost-burst arrow, and shot it into the Arborean readying to bash at the gates. Frost burst over its fire-blackened body then Magiia shattered him to splinters with a powerful blow from her axe. The shaman tried to cast another Call Lightning spell but failed but his elementals held fast the last Arborean on their side of gate. The bone-knight swung at Magiia again but she was able to parry him yet again. Vor shot the still-standing Arborean and the amazon hacked into the Bone-Lord whom struck her in a simultaneous attack. He came out the worse. Vor drew his bow again and the bowstring snapped. Grom pulled out a potion of Greater Fireball, essentially an arcane grenade, and used his sling to great effect launching the weapon at the nearing gate-breakers severely damaging 9 of the 10. Vorwulf pulled the longbow from his back and shot at the deadwood Arborean missing it by a mile.

The gate-breakers were now in charging distance of the West Gate. Vorwulf activated the Ring of Orbs spell on one of his many magic rings and launched the acid orb at the “skeleton knight” doing little damage. Magiia power attacked the Bone-Lord who “simuled” her again but she smashed him down the second before his blow could land. Meanwhile across the battlefield the general of the Blackbrow army, one of the two remaining of the three disciples (see The Dragonslayers II: Pt. 5 & Pt.6), was busy trying to cast a spell that would devastate the archers along the top of the palisades, fortunately for all he failed his casting check. Back behind the gate the grappled Arborean broke free and the Bone-Lord leapt back up from the ground worse for the wear but completely reassembled.

Grom: “Oh! Hey! I just remembered I have that magic rod of Quicksand!”

The shaman whipped out an electrum rod from his bag and used one of its charges. The ground directly in front of the gate in a 75 ft radius instantly turned into a slushy quagmire catching all of the gate-breakers whom immediately began to sink, the archers and javelineers on the wall were quick to take advantage. The gate-breakers were toast. Vorwulf launched the fire orb from his ring of orbs which were rotating about his person at the Bone-Lord again dealing little damage. Magiia struck at the lone Arborean cutting it down for the last time. Grom slung a stone at the undead captain doing no damage and Vor followed with a magic alloy arrow which did deal significant damage to it. Magiia followed that up with a blow that knocked it down again. Vorwulf, seeing the fight was now in their favor and under the control of the Dragon-Blood Warrior and the shaman pulled out his spyglass and turned his eye to the enemy line.

He could see the force was being led by a disciple of Blackbrow, a mage (necromancer) dressed in a crimson robe with a red silk hood over his head painted with a black skull on the face and he could see another commander a vampire in bronze armor and a black cloak appearing as a pair of bat-wings levitating above the heads of the man force. The disciple was surrounded by 6 deadwood Arboreans, the vampire had 10 wudu zombies and 10 skeleton warriors beneath him. There was also a lich fighter with the same behind him and a force of 25 soldiers in bronze plate and well-armed beneath the banners of Poisonwood, mercenaries. The line was marching towards the gates. So Vorwulf activated the Thunder-Arrow ability on his longbow launching a storm of crackling arrows composed of pure electricity towards the enemy line which rained down on their heads exploding with the crack of thunder. The disciple halted his forces and pulled them back probably in an effort to get them out of spell range.

Gil (Grom’s player): “Their pulling back? Really?”

Cris (Vorwulf’s player): “Yeah they don’t know what we got.”

Gil: “And they can’t get across to the gate.”

Magiia finished smashing the Bone-Lord to dust after he raised one more time, his magic bone-sword crumbled with the rest of him. Vorwulf took back to his spyglass. After a few seconds he passed it to the shaman. Grom could see the enemy army was staying put; it appeared that they were waiting for something.

Jenn: “Aw, no.”

Cris: “They did have a dragon with them.”

Cris [to me, the GM]: “That runner never came back did he?”

I acknowledged that he did not.

The 20 men along the battlements were cheering after finishing off the gate-breakers with arrows and javelins and were in high spirits some roaring taunts over the palisade they definitely believed they could take on any enemy at that point. The slayers all laughed, they knew better.

Vorwulf was contemplating going back to “the rat” to fetch the superior quality arbalests that they had for dragon-slaying to reinforce the gate-defenses when he and Magiia heard and felt something heavy moving possibly stomping about. They all heard the unmistakable roar of a dragon ripping through the air from the city center. Vorwulf took back his spyglass from the shaman and directed it towards the city center able to see over almost all of the buildings, most were a single story after all, from the battlements. He could see what appeared to be a zombie dragon. He tried but couldn’t quite identify what type it had been in life, it was fighting with the sheriff, his deputies and the Achaánal warriors. The druid tree in the town center was acid blackened and bubbling puddles of acid pocked the site of the battle, a few dead warriors lay strewn about. The fighters seemed to have just retreated to cover most seemed to be terrified and/or nauseated.

The wind was howling now and the snowfall was getting heavier. Vorwulf dismissed the power of the Ring of Orbs and then rubbed some Oil of Mend over his armor and activated his Boots of Haste. The shaman used his healing touch on Magiia and she donned the chain mail she had taken from Bers’ corpse. They also finally got around to letting her know that the helmet was magic and had the ability of Shield on it.

Gil: “Man guys, I’m out of spells, that’s it for the day.”

Grom pulled out his Mace of Supernatural Power.

The Blackwings abandoned the palisades and ran towards the city center. After several minutes, Vor waited to engage the dragon until the others caught up to him, they made it to where their quarry was and charged it as soon as they got the chance. It spat a gout of acid at them which Vorwulf was able to evade and the other two dodged. They chopped the zombie dragon down in record time. Every time that it had rose back up they simply hacked it back down.

Jenn: “It didn’t even get to hit anybody.”

After the dragon was done Vorwulf surveyed the area for any additional enemies. He spotted a robed shadow with one arm fleeing down an alleyway then suddenly disappearing in a flash of green. He guessed it was Zancor. He was right.

The slayers made their way back to “the rat” and delivered the arbalests to the guards on the West Gate. They found that the forces of Blackbrow were retreating from the field, for now. After that they took their leave to rest in their tavern, they had been relieved by the Achaánal clan warriors, they had lost 2 of their number but were still a formidable force (against the average mortal foe that is), who had volunteered to hold the gate while the Blackwings rested. Grom retreated to his quarters to pass out, he was utterly spent. Later in the day the snow and wind ceased and the a few breaks in the clouds let in a few golden shafts of sunlight. Vor took Magiia to the secret vault where they had stored their treasure chests in order to equip her with some more powerful items. He found two of the chests, the ones they had bashed the locks off of before trying the keys they had on the third, were light on gems and coin by about half.

Gil: “Aw! What the hell!”

Cris: “It was the ratlings.”

Gil: “What!? Really? Didn’t we pay them off!?”

Cris: “Yes. It was the ratlings. It was too much for them [to ignore].”

 

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 2: Under the Pitch Black Moon Part 2

Straight from the GM's Notebook

Straight from the GM’s Notebook

Vorwulf chopped Dead-Eye down for the second time only to have him reassemble his rotten and now badly splintered bones before he could hit the ground. Magiia power attacked Bers with her own axe but the blow was easily parried. Grom activated the Heal All ability on his helmet and restored Magiia to full health at the same time flooding the undead Bers with positive energy causing her dead flesh to suddenly rot and to ooze off of her bones. Bers swung with a powerful blow at Magiia but missed nearly throwing her sword but splattering the shaman and the Feren amazon with foul smelling slime and bits of gelatinous flesh. Vorwulf continued the duel with his former master in the alley exchanging blows one for one and taking some extra damage from the crackling purplish static that surrounded its body as he struck. Magiia landed a massive blow into the dripping corpse of her predecessor finally dropping the thing. Grom readied for the corpse to suddenly jump back up, it didn’t so Magiia began to loot the body.

GM (me): “Ya’know the armor’s gonna be foul with the juice from the corpse.”

Cris: “Aw who cares! You could just wash it off! I wouldn’t let go of a superior quality magic silver chainmail!”

Vor finally dropped the creature that had been his master the shadow-flesh all chopped away and the bones splintered. After taking the time for a breath he put Dead-Eye’s remains (with gear) into a gunny-sack. When he emerged from the alley he found that he had been left behind. The shaman had run to the west gate with Magiia following almost immediately behind following as soon as she had stowed the goopy armor and weapons looted from Bers’ corpse in her pack. She found the helmet that Bers had been wearing to be acceptable enough to don and did so while chasing after him and was now wielding the star metal shield. Vorwulf used his silver scimitar slashing the air its Dimension Door ability allowing him to step directly from the alley to the palisade above the West Gate through the dimensional gash.

The shaman and the Ferenoi ran into the runner that had been assigned to the West Gate, he was slick with sweat, his wet hair steaming. Gasping he saw and recognized them, “Oh there you are.” He huffed in relief and relayed that the other runners had been alerted to the enemy being at this gate and he took up his position near the buildings ready for orders but until then he leaned there catching his breath.

Vor was standing on the walk behind the wooden battlements over the west gate between the two timber watch towers that stood on either side of the still patchwork gate. He activated the Eyes and Ears of the Dragon ability on his magic coif as he gazed over the battlements readying his bow. He was already letting loose as Magiia and the shaman climbed the ladders to join him, the tinkling of glass which sounded as if in time with a rapid march, or charge drifted over the palisades. The first of the bottle stuffed skeletons charging the gate exploded as soon as the pair of dragon-slayers could see them. They could see there were 10 skeletons with several bottles of varying alchemical substances tied to the insides of each of their ribcages charging towards the gate. The first that Vorwulf had shot had exploded with a blinding flash splattering fire and acid in a wide radius about it setting off four others. It was easy to tell that each of those skellys packed enough punch to blow the gate sky high if even one made it to the gate. As the alchemical flames burnt out in the snow they could also see what the troops guarding the gate had been engaging were a troop of about 50 animated corpses bearing axes, hammers and shovels (nothing but workers) aimlessly meandering about occasionally striking blindly at the wooden palisades. Magiia pulled her shortbow and shot but missed as the skeletons flew towards the gate through the snow. Grom tried to cast Call Lightning but failed the magic getting away from him and causing the clouds above, through which they could still see the hideous black moon like a hole in the sky, to erupt with lightning. Vorwulf shot again nailing a single skeleton near enough the gate to rattle the battlements when it blew. Magiia shot and missed again then Grom finally got his spell off properly and blasted the last four away which were as close as the previous had been the flash lighting up the battlements as bright as day but only for an instant. They surveyed the battlefield steaming craters marked where the bomber-skeletons had been and the animated corpses which were meandering about the palisades were studded with javelins and arrows to little effect but they could see something coming in from Sirti Road. It was a group of 10 of what appeared to be zombie Arboreans marching towards the gate. Vorwulf and Magiia spotted a bright green flash in the distance behind the enemy lines beneath the war banners of Blackbrow and the mercs of Poisonwood. They both caught the flash that came an instant after behind them as did the bowmen on the palisade whom turned and began shouting.

Vorwulf: “Archers! Archers!” He pointed at the group of creatures that had just teleported in on their side of the palisade near the gate. He then changed his mind and told them to fire on the Arboreans marching towards the gate and shouted to the guardsmen to get their spears on the enemies that had just appeared on their side of the battlements. He downed a healing potion. The runner had already torn off through the snow towards the beerhall to alert the Achaánal Clan warriors that the enemy had breached the palisades.

The enemy strike force was below them where they had magically appeared in the snow not too far from the inside of the gate. The strike force consisted of two skeletons wielding superior quality longswords wearing bronze scale-mail and bearing bronze shields and two unarmed (relatively speaking) undead Arboreans all four of these being led by a slightly larger skeleton with bones grafted over it forming into a sort of grim plate-mail. This fiendish commander was wielding a jagged bladed sword seemingly carved (or sculpted) from polished bone. Grom used his magic ring which had a single use Heal All spell on it that he had bought in Chago from a brownie (a minor detail omitted from that entry; whoops) in an attempt to fortify his allies and wound the enemy. The illusion that was on the ring that had made it appear as if it were a ring of Heal All disappeared; it turned out to be just a twist of rusted wire. It was then Magiia let loose a blood-curdling Amazonian battle-cry and leapt from the palisades with a power attack her sword crashing into the leader of the undead strike force smashing him to bits. The two sword bearing skeletons slashed at the Ferenoi wounding her slightly and then the pile of plate-like bones reassembled themselves. One of the zombie Arboreans moved to the gate and prepared to begin bashing at it with its clubbing dead-wood fists the other slammed its fists into Magiia’s unarmored body. Vorwulf turned his bow to the Arborean at the gate wasting two of his Ice-Steel Frost-Burst Magic Arrows which missed their target disappearing into the snow drifts on either side of it with muted blue flashes. Grom summoned 2 inferior earth elementals which erupted from beneath the snow as semi-humanoid piles of dirt which grappled the Arborean at the gates. Magiia endured blows from the skeletons and the other Arborean. The leader struck at her with its bone sword which glowed a deep purple as it struck passing through her chain mail slicing into her flesh completely bypassing the armor and that was when her chain mail shirt suddenly rusted and disintegrated off of her body leaving her completely naked. The shaman blasted the Arborean attacking Magiia with flames and held them on the creature hoping to set its dry, dead-wood body aflame.

Magiia disarmed one of the sword wielding skeletons. Vorwulf concentrated his sights on the Arborean by the gate which was able to break free and smash a small hole into the gate before being grappled again. Grom used his healing touch on Vorwulf. The Bone-Lord, leader of the undead strike force, slashed repeatedly at Magiia whom parried desperately. Grom summoned two more inferior earth elementals and sent them at one of the sword-wielding skeletons. They easily grappled it. Vor thumped his arrows into the Arborean by the gate finally doing enough damage to drop it. Magiia smashed through one skeleton reducing it to flinders then into the other which collapsed into a pile in the snow. The Bone-Lord hit Magiia his evil blade cutting deep forcing her to make a recovery check to stay standing and conscious. Magiia didn’t know that the helmet that she was wearing had the Shield ability on it.

Jenn: “Yes I do!”

Cris: “No ya wouldn’t. None of us had chance to tell ya yet.”

The GM (me): “Nope.”

Jenn: “Damn it.”

There was Magiia facing the Bone-Lord and the lone Dead-Wood Arborean the true status of the other undead creatures unknown. She was badly wounded, dripping with sweat and blood, steaming in the snow.

Jenn: “I charged in without thinking didn’t I?”

Then the lights in the dining room went out.

The power had been knocked out for the entire neighborhood suddenly leaving us in the dark and stranding Cris’, Gil’s and Jenn’s characters in the midst of battle. It was raining. Jenn went into the living room and looked through the curtains. She said she could see lightning in the distance. All of us sat around talking, waiting for the power to come back up and when it didn’t Jenn lit some candles and we continued the game by candlelight.

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 1: Under the Pitch Black Moon Part 1

There was a light snowfall as the slayers, now consisting of Grom the Shaman (played by Gil) and the Feren Dragon Blood Warrior Magiia (played by Jenn) both being led by Vorwulf the ranger/dragonslayer (played by Cris), trundled through the snow to the hall of the Elder Council seat of the authority of the civil authority of Merdna. There they were briefed on the currently unfolding situation. Achoran south of the Nirix river has fallen, Asternor north of the river overwhelmed with refugees and plague is under siege and will fall soon cut-off by a large contingent of undead troops and there was a black army of the undead on the move to Merdna accompanied by a black dragon marching under the war banner of Blackbrow (a black mailed fist gripping a white multi-pointed star against a purple field) their intentions obvious. Another banner among those forces also reveals that Blackbrow is reinforced with mercenaries from Poisonwood bearing the standard of a black scorpion entwined in the coils of a green serpent against a red field. It would be mere hours before those forces would be at the gates. Due to the battle with the trolls of Trollguard at the beginning of fall Merdna’s forces are much weakened some of which have been sent to reinforce Fertum Vorahd the seat of Furst Vorahd (sole lord of Hirok-Nor’s warrior-caste). The remaining forces within the city walls are 3 units of the Merdna Town Guard each unit consisting of 10 freeman archers (hey arrows for undead and foreigners) and 10 guardsmen (armed with shortspears, shortswords with medium wood shields, steel caps on their heads and chain mail shirts) which will be on each of the three gates to the city (the east is bordered by the city’s harbors and Mer-Lake). The Clothworker’s guild (with a force of 15 crossbow men and 20 maul-men) will be manning the south gate around which their circular two-story guild house is built around and the Wood Cutters’ guild (with a force of 15 crossbow men and 22 axe-men) will be on the south gate where their guild house sits. The sheriff of Merdna with his 9 deputies will take post at the ridge above the lakeshore by the Council House and Lord Vorahd’s Manor reinforced by 10 warriors loyal to Vorahd meant to steward his properties within the city walls. A fleet of runners will be the communication lines between the city’s defenders. The Blackwings Dragonslayers’ Guild will be defending the west gate (the Sirti road entrance), the weakest point in Merdna’s defenses where the gate is between two wood guard towers with a narrow walkway over the gate behind the palisades along with the city guard unit assigned to the same gate. It is the gate which they helped to defend against a horde of trolls and helped to repair afterwards (see The Dragonslayers II Pts. 2 & 3). There are also 12 Hill-Lander warriors of the Achaánal Clan, a Hill-Lander clan expelled from their ancestral lands somewhere to the immediate north/north-west by a Lowlander rebellion a few years ago but they have pledged their swords only if the enemy gets inside of the walls.

Straight from the Game Master's Notebook

Straight from the Game Master’s Notebook

The slayers along with the rest of those within the town hall rushed from the meeting; the slayers to the Hopping Rat to prepare. Grom prepared some warpaint for them while Vorwulf put the manual he had been gradually working through during the long winter days with the rest of his things in his attic quarters. The first to be painted was Magiia the Feren. She was sent by the Blackwings of Chago, a member in good standing she is a native of the Feren Archipelago and racially an amazon. Her expertise in mixing up alchemical concoctions from the blood of dragons in order to give herself supernatural abilities (al ’a chemical super-soldier) is invaluable and sending her to a place where dragons are endemic in order to harvest as much raw material as she can seemed like a good idea to guildmaster Douamo at the time. The shaman painted himself last after finishing with Vorwulf, all were eager to get to the battlements. They extinguished the candles in the tavern/guild house and lit their lanterns as they marched out into the dark and cold. They were making their way along Sirti street to the west gate when Vorwulf caught a faint voice on the chill winter winds. He turned to see an old man in a beggar’s cloak waving his hand at them accompanied by another larger warrior-type completely wrapped in an old dirty hooded cloak.

“Hail friends! Where are you headed?”

Cris: *sound of disgust* “I hate this guy.”

Vorwulf recognized the old man as Zancor the one-armed. Suspicious he looked over the old necromancer’s companion. He immediately (N20) recognized the fighter for Bers’ reanimated corpse.

“Wait! I found her wandering abroad and well… I haven’t had time to return her to you guys since I had to flee Asternor before the noose tightened!” The sly old bastard got a natural 20 to bluff. Vorwulf spotted the Gauntlet of Transmutation on the old man’s hand. The two sides were eyeballing one another each unsure of what to do next.

Jenn: “Uhm. Should we be getting to the gate?”

Gil: “I guess we go to the gate then?”

Vorwulf: “We aren’t going anywhere, we’re burying Bers HERE!” He whipped out his sword. The expression on Zancor’s face hardened into a sneer as he began to step back.

Suddenly, an arrow whizzed out from an alley about a 100 ft. away behind the necromancer and the zombie-creeper Bers imbedding itself in the snow at Vorwulf’s feet. He recognized the arrow and the decayed fletching of his former master, Dead-Eye.

Grom unleashed his Primal Scream catching zombie Bers and Zancor the necromancer in the cone of frightening sound. Blood erupted from the old man’s ears and nose and fear replaced the evil sneer. The half-frozen slab of rotten meat that had been Bers was unaffected. The zombie-creeper swung a powerful but clumsy blow with its great axe at the shaman fortunately missing him. Magiia moved in slashing at Bers but her blow was deflected off of the zombie’s star metal shield. Zancor fled into the increasing snowfall disappearing from sight. Vorwulf slashed at Bers his blow glancing of her shield. A bone white arrow came shrieking from the alley a hundred feet away nailing Vor. The shaman backed off shaken by the scream that blasted him from the dreadful magic arrow and with bleeding ears cast Dispel Fear on himself. Bers nailed the amazon with her axe opening a nasty wound the blood steamed as it colored the snow. The zombie parried the amazon’s retort.

Gil: “Man! That guy [referring to Dead-Eye] is gonna keep nailing us!”

Cris: “Damn,damn. I know I know. Well, it has to be like this.”

Vorwulf took off streaking towards the position of his former master. He spotted the cloaked shape duck back into the alley. The battle in the snow between the two Blackwings and what was once Bers, now zombie-creeper minion of Blackbrow, raged on. Magiia suffered several deep wounds but finally managed to disarm Bers whom simply pulled her back up weapon the superior quality silver-bladed great sword Bers had originally looted from the ruins of the tower of Blackbrow (see The Dragonslayers I: Pt. 6). Grom shot a stream of fire at the creature forcing it to keep its shield raised against his flames as it battled against the amazon the silver chainmail of the zombie absorbing some her strongest blows with ease. Meanwhile in the alley Vorwulf was dueling his master. Vorwulf wielded a cutlass and longsword and his former master wielded the bowie knife and longsword combination that had been his trademark in life. They traded several blows nearly matched in sword skill. Vorwulf’s blows sliced into a pitch black substance which seemed to flesh the bones which he could feel the blades ring off of from every blow.

Grom unleashed blast after blast of Wind Rush at zombie Bers whom was forced to dodge which she did easily. This allowed Magiia to move out of her reach and snatch up the battle axe and drink a healing potion, she was badly wounded.

Vorwulf had finally hacked away all of the black, shadowy stuff form the bones of his former master and will a couple of quick but powerful blows (double Natural 20’s; go figure) shattered the bones of the grinning skeleton that was left. It dropped into a pile of rags and yellow-grey flinders. He stepped over to catch a glance at the battle in the street in time to see the shaman call down lightning onto the head of the zombie damaging it horribly. Vorwulf sucked down a healing potion, he too was badly wounded.

Grom healed the amazon with his shamanic touch who had by now moved close to him. She redoubled her efforts at chopping down Bers with her own axe. Jenn (Magiia’s player) sighed in relief when Bers finally fell.

Jenn: “Finally! Yaay!”

Gil: “Alright! Yeah!”

Cris just sighed.

Dead-Eyes bones leapt back to life, reassembled themselves and prepared to continue the duel to the death with Vorwulf. The brawny (and well-equipped) corpse of Bers rose still wielding its silver sword and star metal shield.

Cris: “It’s what they do [in response to the expressions on Jenn’s & Gil’s faces]. This is why I hate undead. Damn ghoulies.”

The Blackwings heard the sounds of battle from the direction of the west gate, shouting, ringing steel, twanging bowstrings, and splintering wood.

To Be Continued…