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Necromancing Xuun Pt.12: Funny Little Death Games Pt.3

That evening half-hill-giant Skull-Smash whom the odds favored would be the opponent to Skull BashBludbaer as finale to the Pit Games. The official gladiatorial games would kick off with a fair the next day. Then the crowds and their money would flock to the bigger venues.

Jíen the necromancer greeted the morning sun with little enthusiasm. He stared out over the walled courtyard from the second story bedroom window. There were throngs of people trailing brightly colored streamers and waving flags everywhere. It made no difference to the dark mage. Through his eyes all was insubstantial. The sun drenched sky was a dull grey and an ethereal cloud obscured the distance even on the clearest day. The throngs of the living were as transparent as an army of colorful ghosts.

There were also bands of paladins and guardsmen on patrol among them. The young Deadlander thought it best if he stayed inside until he was to take his fighter to the match. He occupied himself by brewing potion (Aura of the Dead) using the adobe villa’s kitchen and a few secret ingredients. Later he stored it in one of the empty potion bottles he had been carrying on his person. The potion was of the highest quality.

The rest of the day he spent repairing, mostly stitching and channeling negative energy, the massive damage Bludbaer the mindless Dread Guard had sustained the previous day. It was nearly sundown when Jíen had finished his work almost restoring the creature to full capacity.

Evening came and the young necromancer brought his fighter/creature to the arena with no incidents on the way. There were a few prize matches beforehand then came the main event, Bludbaer versus Skull-Smash. All proceeded as before and soon the large heavily muscled opponents were facing off against each other in the ring. Bludbaer though huge was dwarfed by the half-giant who was wielding a heavy wooden great club.

The bell for the first round rang and Skull-Smash came out swinging landing two massive bone-crunching blows on Bludbaer one after the other dropping him. Immediately Jíen played it up doing the pantomime of a bereaved and ruined manager imploring the crowd to cheer for the miraculous rise of the fallen gladiator. It actually worked, the crowd roared for Bludbaer. So, the necromancer had the fallen fighter rise again. (Out-of-Game I did it to steal away Skull-Smash’s crowd bonus against my guy which Gladiators can get when being cheered on.)

It wasn’t long before Bludbaer was again smashed down without landing a single blow. However, Jíen playing his part as flamboyant fight manager worked his crowd-magic again and once again Bludbaer slowly, and what appeared to all, painfully rose to his feet. The look of disbelief on the half-giant’s face was priceless (unfortunately he didn’t suffer any morale penalties). Jíen however knew that if his creation dropped once more it would be the last.

Skull-Smash landed another horrid blow onto the battered corpse of Bludbaer but on the backswing the Dread Guard parried with his great sword catching the half-giant in a clinch. The crowd went wild. Suddenly, Bludbaer broke free and chopped into the giant, the crowd began to flip completely over to Bludbaer. Skull-Smash nearly silenced the crowd with a mighty roar and put all of his power behind a horrifyingly powerful finishing blow.

The crowd gasped and was silent for the instant before they let loose a deafening roaring cheer. The boneless mess of a corpse in the dirt of the arena that used to be Bludbaer lay at the feet of the triumphant Skull-Smash. Jíen stood wide-eyed and stunned. He was out of a lot of money. Then horror struck him and he rushed into the ring to salvage the corpse before the Disguise Undead rune branded on its forehead faded in its power.

All would see that Bludbaer was really a mass of rotted meat pilfered from the grave if that should happen. In fact, that’s what the potion of Aura of the Dead was for. He would shout that it was a vial of poison to his accusers, drink it, and then feign death. Fortunately a cloaked and hooded stranger helped him with his frantic work of hauling the broken but still very heavy body away on a cart that the stranger had conveniently helped the necromancer procure.

The Stranger: “It’s me.”

Jíen (Played by Me): “What?”

The Stranger lifted up his hood revealing himself to be Trantox the assassin.

Trantox (Played by Jenn): “It’s me. You tried to get me killed!”

Jíen: “What me? No! No I did not!”

Trantox (with a Yeah-Right scowl on his face): “I was there about 5 ft. away when you talked to that Naga. Hiding.”

Jíen: “Oh. Um. I thought I’d get paid more. He ripped me off.”

Trantox: “You know I should totally kill you right now.”

Jíen: “Um, uh. Hmmm. Don’t you have bigger problems right now? Like the Shakai.”

Trantox: “That’s why I found you. Um, huh what?”

The necromancer looked at the assassin like he was crazy before realizing his attentions had diverted to talking to the intelligent dagger. Jíen shuddered.

Trantox: “Naw we won’t kill him yet. We won’t kill you yet but the dagger wants bloooood, so don’t cross us again.”

Jenn was wagging her finger at me. Sheesh.

The necromancer and the assassin delivered the mutilated, rotten pile of meat and shattered bone to the charnel house. The pair decided to walk back to the Troll and wait for whatever would come besides Jíen had a debt to pay off. On their way out of the charnel house a street rat stopped them and passed them a message that Dravor (played by Gil) had skipped town with the dark priest Exvorum (Gil couldn’t continue the campaign as his work schedule had changed). The pair shrugged and continued on.

The dark duo made it to the Whiskey Troll Tavern later that night very near the middle of the night. The place was mostly empty save for those huddled at a table in the corner. These were the Half-giant Skull-Smash, his manager the faun, a human fighter in chainmail (probably a bodyguard), and a saloon bum. All were fairly drunk and the table was packed with mostly empty vessels and half-eaten food.

Jíen settled his debts with the faun and while doing so had noticed the bulging sack of gold at the faunic manager’s side. Skull-Smash’s winnings were substantial. The necromancer returned to his coconspirator’s side and together they hatched a plan. They ordered drinks for the whole place and before the waitress took the pitcher to Skull-Smash’s table the assassin dropped some paralysis toxin into it. Then the villains sat back and waited.

After an hour it was apparent that the poison had only affected the faunic manager and the fighter. The giant, though extremely drunk, showed absolutely no sign of the toxic effect. The saloon bum on the other hand seemed a bit stiff in the joints but otherwise he was okay as well. Trantox began mumbling to his dagger again and was preparing for a fight by oiling its blade with poison. Jíen was getting nervous.

Suddenly, a naga in a black-dragon hide cloak wearing a golden snake mask with emerald & onyx scales appeared right in front of the dark duo’s table. The creature pointed at Trantox and then his dagger shouting, “Thief! Return what you have stolen now!”

Another naga slithered from behind a pillar equipped with a naginata, there were undoubtedly more slithering about in the shadows of the musty tavern. Trantox stood and seemed to want to give up the dagger but simply could not bring himself to do it.

Cris (the GM): “Its not gonna let you do that. It’s want blood.”

Jenn (after failing the dagger’s ego check): “Awe man. I guess I’ll attack the cloaked guy then.”

Trantox (gnashing his teeth and sneering at the Cloaked Naga): “You’re gonna have to pry it from my cold dead hands!”

The assassin lunged at the cloaked naga but the one with the polearm leapt in front of the blow taking the point and the poison. The cloaked naga, recognizable as a mage, cast a spell that Jíen recognized as Bone Blast. The assassin’s left arm went limp as the bone shattered. The necromancer, while no one was paying him any mind, calmly but quickly moved over to the half-giant’s table.

Skull-Smash was completely embroiled in the fight before him. The necromancer eased over to the side of his unconscious manager and drew out a black pearl from his robe. The naga mage cast another spell and Trantox froze in place as another naga fighter slid from the shadows over to him.

Jíen noticed on closer inspection that the body guard was actually dead ( rolled a Natural 1 on his save) so the necromancer cast Animate the Dead and shoved the black gem into the corpse’s gaping mouth with orders to attack the drugged and sleeping manager. It immediately rose and coup de graced Skull-Smash’s manager. But the giant hadn’t noticed as at that same moment another naga fighter used his curved sword to decapitate Trantox.

So harnessing his experience as a gladiator manager, Jíen shot up and shouted, “Look! That evil wizard has cursed your companion and he’s killed your manager!”

The howl of anguish that escaped the mighty lungs of Skull-Smash rattled the bones of everyone in the place and froze the naga mage in his place his hand inches from plucking the prized dagger from the assassin’s headless corpse. The table splintered and flew as the half-giant kicked it away and charged the naga assassins wielding his great club. Jíen absconded with the sack of gold just before the carnage began.

Later, safe back at the villa, Jíen found that the sack held 20 gold talons stamped with unfamiliar hill-lander brands, 600 platinum pieces, and 1,000 gold pieces. Combined with his stash he was pretty well off. However, his companions were either dead or fled away. There were paladins patrolling the street and the city was probably going to carry out a no tolerance policy for the 7-day while the games were taking place.

Jíen the Deadlands necromancer thought hard about the direction his life had taken and quickly decided on what he would do with the rest of it. After all, managing fighters was very profitable and he knew where to get a real champ in need of a manager. Even if the champ didn’t survive the fight with the nagas Jíen could always fix that.

The End

Campaign Played between February and May 2016

Afterword: Skull-Smash did survive that fight by the way and Jíen was able to talk his way into becoming his manager. Go figure.

Necromancing Xuun Pt.10: Funny Little Death Games Pt.1

Late morning in the Whiskey Troll Tavern, Dravor the blackguard and Jíen the necromancer were eating a breakfast of stewed stringy gray meat, probably rat, tough coin bread, and whiskey Dagger and snake assassin guild markfortified ale. Trantox the assassin swooped in and sat at the table joining his compatriots. The Poisonwood assassin turned to the young necromancer.

Trantox (Played by Jenn): “Hey! Could you I.D. this for me? But don’t let anybody see.”

Jíen did as he was bid but as a favor. The weapon had a razor sharp serpentine starmetal blade with decorative runes winding up the cheek and a finely wrought gold guard and gold-wire wrapped grip with a strange purplish-black stone as pommel. The Deadlands necromancer visibly tensed as he touched the weapon and after summoning up the best of his arcane knowledge, almost spasmodically he slid the thing back to the assassin.

The assassin snatched it up and tucked it under his cloak quickly surveying the half empty tavern to make sure nobody saw the item. Jíen told Trantox that the weapon was intelligent and evil to boot (also a +2 weapon). The assassin was affected by a strange and disturbing (in Jíen’s opinion anyway) sort of glee. Trantox immediately slunk away softly giggling. The necromancer was suspicious that the weapon’s ego was already taking root in the assassin’s mind.

A little while after the assassin left the tavern for destination unknown the blackguard casually pointed out a corpse slumped against a pillar to the necromancer. Upon investigation the corpse appeared to be a murder victim with a gaping wound in the back, its feet bare, and the tethers to its missing coin purse cut. So, naturally the necromancer dragged it back to his tomb under the pretext of delivering it to the charnel house.

It took until evening to animate the corpse, programmed with a mission of vengeance against the one(s) responsible for its death whoever they may have been. Frankly, it was just something for the necromancer to occupy his time. A short while after the thing stumbled off into the streets Jíen made a beeline back to the tavern.

The Troll was packed it was again a familiar but reeking, as if it ever smelled anything but bad, sea of yellow light. After wading through the congested haze the necromancer quickly found a seat near the wall where hung the giant spiked club and near the always vacant and bone dry carven table. The place was noisy with agitated conversation and excited argument. The atmosphere as taught as knotted troll-gut, everyone was anticipating the games. There were Westlanders, Ivorans, and various others of all stripes most wearing cheaply dyed sashes painted with the heraldry of their favorite fighters marking them as games fanatics.

Then a fight broke out between the members of what appeared to be an adventuring group. Jíen spotted an unrolled parchment upon their table, the apparent source of ire. The young necromancer tried to keep an eye on it to see if anyone snatched it up. Eventually a few of the adventurers ended up dead and the others fled. Somewhere in this Jíen had lost track of the parchment and only realized too late that it was gone.

It wasn’t long after that before a duel between two pirate swordsmen broke out. Weary with boredom the necromancer took his leave of the place and retreated to his tomb. He spent the night preparing his fighter, making sure its makeshift stomach, a wineskin, was secure and filled with red wine.

Come morning the necromancer found himself breakfasting alone. Just as he finished eating Trantox stumbled to the table. He was covered in blood with a serious gut wound. A fat sack of swag tucked under his left arm.

Trantox (to Jíen): “You sense any magic?”

Jíen (Played by me): “I can only sense death and undeath.”

Trantox: *Blank Stare*

Jíen: “I have to inspect the item (using my Spellcraft skill). And it takes a little while.”

Trantox (disappointed in a sinister sort of way): “Oh.”

With his usual uncanny sense of perfect timing the bard, Rantcor wandered in and sat down with the necromancer and Poisonwood assassin. He passed Trantox a small vial of healing potion. He told the assassin to meet back up with him at the Broken String at midnight. To maintain appearances the bard signaled for a round of whiskey fortified ale for the table.

Jíen engaged the bard in some small talk about a few odds and ends eventually turning the subject towards the upcoming games.

Rantcor: “Putting my money on Zarcor, last year’s pit champ. 3 to 1 odds; can’t lose.”

The necromancer also found out that the underdog was one Blood-Axe with 12 to 1 odds. He was a half-faun from a place called Rockhollow or somewhere thereabouts. The bard took his leave soon after that. A few minutes later, a few of the city guard chased some “scumbag” thieves into the tavern from the street and thought that they had cornered the rogues who still were able to slip away.

Come midnight, Jíen found himself accompanying the assassin to the Broken String. The place was low key and quiet as usual with the same drunk passed out at the bar and the same faun bartender on duty. Exotic incense still perfumed the air that the necromancer found repulsive in its sweetness and for the first time he noticed that, the plastered walls were lavender in color. Quite the expensive pigment, he thought.

Already there, Rantcor waved them into a private booth. Trantox placed his sack on the table and slid it across the table over to the shady bard. He peeked into the bag shifting it a little here and there, inspecting its contents. After a few seconds, he produced a leather sack of his own and poured out a measure of gold coins. Nothing could make the necromancer’s eyes gleam more but a beautiful corpse or a pile of newly struck gold.

In total, the bard insisted that Trantox count them over a bottle of wine, the assassin had netted 3,600 gp. Trantox bagged the money and placed the purse inside of his shirt next to his heart. Rantcor then took it upon himself to give the hapless assassin a “head’s up”.

Rantcor (almost casually): “The Shakai are after you.”

The assassin shrugged it off meanwhile Jíen shot the assassin a wide-eyed WTF glare. The Shakai were the premier assassin’s guild of Xuun. Their emblem, a dagger with a red serpent coiled about the cold blade. The necromancer sat stunned while the bard took his leave. Trantox unconcerned went to haggle with the faunic bartender for some healing potions. After he was able to recover his senses, Jíen quietly slipped away back to his tomb.

To Be Continued…

 

 

Necromancing Xuun Pt. 9: Poison Phantoms

The dark duo stood before the looming adobe villa under the light of the white moon. It was time to face the wraiths of the house and earn some gee-pees. They had met up at the Troll, as usual, earlier that evening but Dravor the blackguard had been late.

On the way back from their initial inspection of the villa Jíen the necromancer and the blackguard had encountered a minor but loud argument in the street. A couple of town guardsmen were harassing a small group of peasants. One of the guards was holding a wanted poster aloft which was bearing the likeness of Dravor.

Jíen immediately pivoted and began walking, calmly, the other way away from the blackguard and the small group of guards and townsfolk.  The necromancer burst into a panicked run when Dravor cast Banefire on the wanted poster. As the Deadlander skidded around a corner he heard shouts of: “Over there! That’s HIM!”

After things had calmed down Jíen met Trantox the assassin from Poisonwood at the Whiskey Troll Tavern and the assassin had passed him 2 vials of paralysis toxin to be used to complete the gas grenades he had already ordered from the Deadlands necromancer.

It was dusk before all three were finally around the damp boards of their customary table. The newly united trio was again destined to split as Trantox had some mysterious “business” to take care of. The blackguard and the necromancer had decided to go on the ghost hunt come nightfall.

Both exited the place leaving the warm yellow light of the raucous and overcrowded tavern behind and trading its thick pipe-smoke rich atmosphere for the fresh empty night air of the city streets. They had little trouble finding their way back to the accursed villa.

They entered the place; Zarkar had lent the necromancer a key, and immediately the duo noticed that they had forgotten about the corpse in the kitchen.

Cris (the GM): “HA-HA Ha! That’s right! You guys left it right there! It’s all rotten!”

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Damn. Well, I guess after I’m done here I’ll drop the body off at the charnel house.”

Ignoring the sweet stench of rotten human flesh, Jíen began to use his uncanny sense of the undead to “sniff out” their quarry. It was no surprise that he was able to sense something hovering about the kitchen where the maggoty corpse lay.

Suddenly, emerging from the shadows was the wraith of the dead cook bearing a butcher’s knife. Its flesh appeared pale blue and withered which stretched it tight across the phantom skull underneath.  Jíen tried to rebuke the creature but to no avail. But, unable to resist its aura of despair (he rolled a natural 1), the young necromancer collapsed to the ground rendered utterly helpless at the feet the monster.

Dravor’s faith in his demon lord preserved his sanity. It slashed at him fumbling the attack badly losing grip on its weapon. The wraith’s butcher-knife flung across the room landing point first into the butcher’s block in the corner.

The blackguard used his Hold Undead ability against it stopping it in its tracks. He smashed his zanbato into its strange demi-corporeal phantasmal flesh then fumbled the follow up blow flinging his weapon across the kitchen floor. As he ran to fetch his horse-cutter Jíen was finally able to shake off the effects of the monster’s unholy energies.

The blackguard readied his weapon after snatching it back up and waited for the necromancer to work his magic. Jíen seized control of the shriveled monster (a successful Rebuke Undead). Upon questioning as to where the one who turned it the creature simply pointed up.

They guessed that in the upstairs bedroom they would find the “head” wraith. So without hesitation the daring duo stomped up the steps and found the heady old wooden door ajar. Just inside they could it. Its skull was bald and its mummified face hideously withered with its skin pulling away from the wet black rims of its eyes and gums. It was dressed in fine blue-green garments which appeared as if new. In its claw-like right hand it clutched a mace.

The pall of despair that surrounded the creature failed to take hold of the young necromancer’s mind but the blackguard backed off and wept that it was a losing battle. They were going to lose and die and if they didn’t die here they would eventually die anyway.

The creature struck out at the necromancer thumping him with the mace. Jíen felt a little of his life-force seep away (he suffered a Constitution point drain) so the young necromancer tried to seize control of the creature but failed. The cook’s wraith put itself between the necromancer and the mace-wielding monster granting Jíen some cover. Dravor fighting through his deep misgivings and loss of drive tried to cast Hold Undead on the creature but failed.

The necromancer tried with all of his will again to try to control the monster but again failed. The blackguard readied his weapon should the necromancer fail again.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Aw man, don’t kill it! I want this thing as one of my minions!”

Gil (Dravor’s Player): “Okay. It’s your funeral. But if I get a chance I’m going to destroy this thing!”

The necromancer’s last rebuke attempt was successful. Jíen dismissed both wraiths to the astral plane “until further notice”. The creatures faded back into the gloom from whence they came.

Later that night, the duo split up and went their separate ways, after collecting the 25 gold pieces Jíen headed back to his tomb. He was certain he had a new place to hide out besides the stuffy and somewhat crowded tomb even though Zarkar had taken his key back. As he laid back on the slab to sleep Jíen counted the days until the games. He figured only 2 or 3 more to go.

Next morning Jíen headed back to the Whiskey Troll and passed by a sight that caused him to rubber neck, stop, then cock his head to one side. There were wanted posters, a lot of them, and everywhere. All of them had the woodcut likeness of Dravor on them.

The bills listed his crimes. He had robbed the Silver Coil, roughed up the clerk at the Golden Feather Inn, a place he had also robbed, and killed a couple of city guards. The price on his head was 1,500 gp.

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.8: A Bag of Black Pearls

Dravor the blackguard and Jíen the necromancer found themselves before the blazing Black pearls from a ratteroversized marble hearth of the black hearted Korvo-Doom, master-slaver. They had presented the underworld boss with the severed heads of four Hyvalian Templars. The pair was now each 400 gold pieces richer.

The young one-armed necromancer offered Korvo an extra service, to make one of the heads speak the answers to two of his questions. The master-slaver offered 5 platinum pieces and the Deadlander worked his necromancy.

Jíen (played by yours truly): “You may now ask your questions. Um, sir.”

Korvo-Doom (rolling his eyes to the gory skull on his table): “Who’s… was, your leader?”

The dead thing lurched a bit as its jaw seemed to flap uncontrollably for a second before a gurgling wet voice oozed from behind blood-crusted teeth.

Severed Head (opening its eyes, the yellow orbs rolled slowly transfixing on Korvo-Doom): “Croale Strohm … High paladinnnn… of the light.”

Korvo-Doom: “How many troops on the boat, the Golden Wind?”

Severed Head: “Left port… with… Fifffty templarsss… ten… paladinssss.”

The thing’s miserable yellow eyes rolled back up into its head as its eyelids drooped and it was still. Almost reflexively in a fit of disgust Korvo snatched the head by its scabby hair and tossed it into the fire.

Jíen: “Um. Do you need the heads for anything else? I could take them for you.”

Korvo-Doom dismissively gestured with his hand as he sat and gulped a mouthful of dark wine. “Take ‘em all.” The necromancer even pulled the head from the fire before parting ways with Dravor and retreating to his temporary home, the tomb in the city cemetery.

Jíen went about de-fleshing and boiling the heads the roasted head providing a meal of warm brains to fuel his night work. He thought about perhaps a nice head-cheese after he fished the clean skulls out of his small black iron cauldron. However, he hadn’t any spices and was an abysmal cook. So he satisfied himself by creating four Chattering Skulls instead which would help to secure his tomb. He later just dumped the steaming Templar renderings over a nearby grave.

After animating the skulls, the necromancer charged an unused long-bone from his stash with a Wound spell. Amid the musky stench of boiled human flesh the necromancer laid on the slab of the sarcophagus to catch some shut-eye, sleeping under the unblinking watch of his undead gladiator Bludbaer.

Morning at the Whiskey Troll Tavern, Trantox the assassin slid 10 gold pieces over to Jíen. The assassin wanted the necromancer to make a poison-gas grenade. The trio, Dravor the blackguard was also at the table enjoying his morning whiskey, noticed for morning the place was quite crowded.

There were cultists with black tattoos of chains around their necks, wrists, and ankles, currently probably apathetic allies at most. There were also gladiators and their entourages from far and wide, presumably for the games and a few Hill-Lander fauns whom were talking to the Troll’s owner bearing with them several barrels of high quality Hill-Lander whiskey.

Trantox then passed Jíen a slightly used Alchemist’s Kit but the assassin also lacked the poison with which to actually arm the grenades. The two reached an agreement where the assassin would go concoct the poison and the necromancer would formulate and fill the glass containers for the grenades. Hopefully after about a day the assassin would have 3 poison-gas grenades.

Trantox left the tavern with a flourish of his cape and as the necromancer stood from the damp board readying to leave for his lair, a human ratter accosted him.

Ratter (in a hissing phlegmatic whisper): “Hey! You the one lookin’ fer black gems.”

The necromancer asked to see the gem and was shocked to find a weighty large black pearl in the palm of his corpse-pale hand. The ratter shook then opened his bag slightly revealing several other black pearls of the same apparent quality.

Ratter: “A hundred gold apiece.”

Jíen paid the price and stuffing the small bag of black pearls in his shirt over his heart left with Dravor following. In lieu of going to his tomb to bother creating the grenades for Trantox as he lacked the essential ingredient, poison, he instead decided to go check out the haunted house gig to try to rake in some more cash and maybe scope out a new target.

Sometime later, the duo met Zarkar the landlord in front of the tall wooden gates that stood as entrance into the adobe villa’s courtyard. After a brief and somewhat terse round of greetings, Zarkar knocked on the gates, somewhat reluctantly, but as no one answered he took the two hired Ghostbusters in. He was very displeased that the servants had failed to answer the gate or the summons he had sent at the top of his lungs.

Zarkar told Jíen in the brief stroll through the overgrown courtyard that a trio of adventurers leasing the place at the moment. They had paid him for a year in advance but had so far not really stayed in the place much. In fact, they had been gone for a few months now and he had no idea when they might come back, if ever.

The three men wandered into the heavy iron-studded front door which creaked open onto a dark, quiet, and apparently deserted front hall. Zarkar squeaked out a demand for the servants to answer but his weak words choked off suddenly as a foul stench met his nostrils.

Jíen (inhaling the foul air as a professional wine-taster sips a fine wine): “Yup, that’s a corpse.”

Indeed they found the shriveled semi-mummified corpse of the cook lying face down in the kitchen by the scullery.

Jíen (stooping as he inspected the corpse): “Maybe been here several days. Maybe a week, though not much actual rot. Hmmm.”

Zarkar (sweating and shaking): “But, but, I just talked to him YESTERDAY.”

Jíen: “Well then there’s definitely something here. I think I can deal with it.”

Zarkar (as he flies out the front door): “Let me know when you’re done. I’ll be outside with your fee!”

The young necromancer cast Commune with the Dead on the corpse and found that a resident wraith had killed the man, a wraith now himself along with an upstairs maid. The necromancer’s senses were piqued as finely attuned to the uncanniness of the undead as they were. Jíen could sense a presence over the corpse which then left the kitchen then floated almost aimlessly upstairs into a bedroom behind a closed door.

The blackguard made Jíen lead the way as he could “sniff it out”. The necromancer fearlessly opened the door to the bed chamber. He already knew wraiths are nocturnal and can really only manifest and therefore be dangerous at night. The duo left and met Zarkar outside. The necromancer telling him that he would be back after dark to exorcise the creatures from the property. Dravor asked after the occupants.

Zarkar: “Adventurers. Might be Swampers or something like that. They must be adventuring out somewhere; they’ve been gone for a few months now. But they did pay me in advance so I keep the place running.”

Jíen: “Can we know their names. Just in case they come home and um … I’m in the middle of … this.”

Zarkar: “Oh yeah. I believe the lessees are called Cantra and Phenox.”

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun PT.7: Golden Wind, Silver Gauntlet

It was night, the white moon was full and bright its light dancing on the black waters of theHoping for a Templar blood-moon lagoon-bay. Rows stirred by the blackguard Dravor sloshed in the water as the dark trio made their way towards the three-mast lugsail Templar ship, the Golden Wind. The trio was about to take action for Korvo-Doom against the Hyvalian Theocracy having just barely avoided some town guards on the night-watch.

Dravor had been extremely nervous at their appearance as if the authorities may want him. For what exactly was unknown to Jíen. As the guards neared them the young necromancer threw a Gnat Swarm their way and thus distracted, the trio beat it to the harbor. For the meantime, Dravor found himself rowing a rented boat which cost an additional silver-piece to keep its owner’s lips sealed. As he rowed he wondered why he hadn’t just murdered the man.

As the Ivoran-style flat-bottom row boat clunked lightly to the planks of the Golden Wind’s stern the team decided to go over the plan one more time. Jíen had failed in his part as they simply couldn’t track down a sailor from the ship. So, it was the assassin, Trantox that would have to silently scale the ship’s side and slip onboard killing the man on watch and then lowering a rope for the other two.

Jenn (Trantox’s Player): “Wait. I have to climb?”

Me & Gil (Jíen’s & Dravor’s Players respectively): “YES.”

Jenn: “Uhm. My Climb skill sucks. So…”

Me: “Let me see that, um, WHAT!? It’s at negative TWO!”

Jenn: “Well yeah. My strength sucks. But my DEX ROCKS!”

So, Trantox pulled out his trusty grappling-hook and promptly tossed it into the water unintentionally with a profound splash. The trio froze and listened, they could hear the muttering of at least a handful of sailors. Suddenly, a head popped over the edge of the railing and before the sailor could yell Jíen cast Gnat Swarm on him. While the sailor swatted at the flies sputtering Dravor rowed the skiff to the opposite side of the boat.

Sailor: “Hey! They’re over here! I see ‘em!”

Another Hyvalian thrust the business end of a crossbow over the railing and shot at Trantox. The assassin barely dodged the bolt. The deck bell began furiously ringing and the trio thought it best to abort their mission especially since none of them could swim.

Cris (the GM): “What? Really? None of you can swim? Huh.” He jotted something down in his notes.

Fortunately the trio had a wide lead over the other two boats which were in pursuit that first had to be lowered from the ship into the water. The trio was already dissolving into the filthy alleys of Xuun before the theocrats were halfway to shore.

Next morning the dark trio met back up at the Whiskey Troll Tavern. Dravor came to the table with some info on a couple of Templars whose morning routine was to head from the Golden Feather Inn to the Silver Gauntlet, a tavern that catered primarily to Hyvalians and a favorite of those theocrats that hadn’t given up the vice of drink.

On his way to the troll one Zarkar had approached Jíen as the man required the services of someone that could deal with “spirits”. Apparently the man was a landlord of an adobe villa which was haunted and he wanted the ghosts gone when his current tenants, a trio of adventurers, got back. It paid 25 gp and the necromancer had already promised to do the job but on the morrow. The other two weren’t particularly thrilled with that idea when Jíen  had brought it to the table and declined as “backup”.

Trantox however, was determined to seek out and eliminate his target, the Scael gladiator. His companions once again declined his plan. So in a huff the assassin got up from the table and headed for the Silver Scale. After a couple of whiskey fortified ales, Jíen and the blackguard took their leave and headed into the north-side of the city seeking the Silver Gauntlet. It would be an even two-way split on Korvo’s bounty.

It wasn’t long before the pair of miscreants with zombie-girl in tow, were skulking in the shadows of an alley that looked out onto the “good-guy” tavern. After some time the duo saw a group of four Hyvalian Templars approaching the mouth of the place.

The Templars were decked out in full chainmail suits with gold-trimmed white surcoats bearing the golden sun and rays on their chests and open helms. A golden chalice medallion hung around each of their thick necks. Each armed with a straight one-handed great sword and dagger. One of them was also carrying a light crossbow.

The group of churchmen immediately took notice of the scrawny one-armed necromancer near the mouth of a nearby alley especially when he shouted at his partner in crime: “Yeah! Get her Dranor! She’s a follower of Boahng! Let’s do her right in this alley!” They could see the large blackguard apparently dragging a struggling girl into the dark recesses of the alley. So of course they immediately pulled their weapons and jaunted heroically into the shadows.

In the alley the blackguard took a high guard stance with his zanbato as he and the necromancer waited to waylay the Hyvalians. As the first Templar charged in Dravor took an attack of opportunity. The blackguard smote the Templar on the helmeted head wounding him badly. The brained churchman responded with his great sword carving a nasty gash into Dravor’s side.

The second Templar into the alley grabbed the zombie in a mistaken attempt to rescue her. The third stopped about 10 ft. from Jíen and shot him. The zombie smashed her tiny fists into the second Templars face in a completely unexpected attack. He reacted instinctively by chopping her down in a single stroke, sudden horror smeared over his rugged but still boyish features.

Jíen cast Dread Invigoration and stepped in towards the first Templar touching him. The energy drain nearly stunned the man. The Templar then lost grip of his great sword which he flung deeper into the dark alley when he clumsily struck at Dravor. The zombie slowly rose back up.

The second Templar even more horrified chopped her back down again. The third Templar reloaded his crossbow. The first deflected a blow from Dravor’s horse-cutter with his dagger. The fourth who was lagging behind the group, charged at Dravor his sword narrowly missing the blackguard’s chest. The zombie rose for a second time.

Jíen tried to cast Animate Necrosis on the first Templar’s wounds but the church-warrior easily resisted. The second Templar shouted, “Undead!” and hacked into Jíen’s zombie, the sound of steel breaking through bone echoed down the filthy alley. The zombie however was still on her feet though she was now wearing her entrails as an apron.

Jíen hit the first Templar with another Dread Invigoration and Dravor followed up with a sword blow finally dropping him. The blackguard tried to cast a spell but failed distracted by the heat of the battle. The crossbowman nailed the necromancer with a bolt but dealt little damage through his magic amulet of armor. The second Templar chopped Jíen’s zombie down for the third time.

The zombie painfully lurched back up. Jíen hit the fourth Templar, the only one currently facing off with Dravor, with his Exsanguination spell wounding the churchman badly and healing his own wounds in the process as he gulped down the blood forced from the Hyvalian’s body.

The zombie slammed her mutilated body into the second Templar dealing no damage. His horror now turned wholly to disgust. Dravor struck the fourth Templar hacking a gory wound into his side. The Templar retorted wounding Dravor severely. The second Templar cleaved the zombie in two finally destroying it. The third reloaded his crossbow.

Dravor clinched with the fourth Templar on a parry and the second zombie-gore encrusted Templar hacked into him while he was helpless.

Cris (the GM): “Man, you could always just drop your weapon.”

Gil (Dravor’s Player): “No way! I need my weapon! My Zanbato.”

The blackguard was able to break the clinch and swung his massive blade around opening the fourth Templar’s chest dropping him. In a panic the crossbowman shot Dravor. The second Templar then hacked into the blackguard with a vicious strike and then easily parried the Dravor’s retort. The third Templar dropped his crossbow which clattered to the cobblestones and drew his sword.

All the while Jíen cast spell after spell but the Templars were either able to withstand the damage or resist the crippling magic of his spells altogether. In desperation Dravor power attacked the fourth Templar splitting his mail wide open and cleaving him into two gory halves. The last Templar charged and parried Dravor’s attack. The Templar responded with his sword and Dravor barely parried the desperate blow.

Again the Templar resisted the necromancer’s magic and Dravor eager to finish the fight put all his might behind another power attack hacking off the Hyvalian’s head in a single stroke. The trash strewn alley an abattoir soaked in blood, still warm guts squirmed over the filth.

Of course, before collecting their heads the duo looted the bodies for a grand total of 18 gp, 75 sp, and 70 cp. The pair split the take evenly and headed off to see Korvo-Doom with 4 bagged heads, after Jíen harvested a couple more long-bones, that is.

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.6: Blood Feast of Doom

Exvorum the dark priest led the trio to the hall of the master slaver Korvo-Doom. The Blood Chalice of Doombanner of the Golden Devil West Company wafted dreamily over the heavy wooden double-door, the entrance to his hall. The flag bore the smiling horned yellow demon with a crown floating above its head against a white field bounded by a blue border.

Jíen briefly contemplated on how strange it was that a creature like the Company should exist. To him it was a landless country with a fleet, an army, and lords, granted a Board of Lords. However, the idea that such a beast could survive on money alone did make a sort of sense, as money is power, the most material kind anyway. But knowing the impermanence of all things he brushed those philosophical concerns aside.

The priest with the shaved head approached the door and knocked with an uneven staccato. When the door cracked open, he whispered what the trio assumed to be a password but couldn’t overhear. A servant threw open the doors and Exvorum gleefully led his guests into the hall which was abuzz with activity.

A tall skinny Ivoran man in fine silk robes also with a shaved head greeted the group. He introduced himself as Ilhand interpreter and right hand of Korvo-Doom. He enjoined the trio to sit at their places beside the dark priest’s neophytes. The five young men were dressed in black robes similar to their master each also with a shaved head. Tattooed around their wrists and their necks were the links of black chains.

The table was already set with wood-ware and tin plates as well as wine, ale, and especially whiskey. There was also bowls of fresh fruit and nuts from all over the Westlands and along the Ivoran Coast. It was not long before the slaves and servants had everything in place for their master’s feast. It was not long after this that his guests began to ooze into the hall one after another.

Before long the hall and thus was populated with Doom’s guests, top members of the Swampers’ Guild, an ogrish fellow with a bullwhip pulling along 3 gladiators with spiked collars on golden chains, several roguish men and a few women, and an out of place noble couple in fine clothes. Naked pleasure slaves in chains lined the hall, both male and female humans, their flawless bodies and soft skins oiled and gleaming. Jíen found the atmosphere in the crowded hall a bit stifling, too many warm bodies.

After a while, the chatter amongst the presumed villains rose to a constant low rumble with the occasional outburst of raucous laughter. A slight fog of incense and pipe-smoke coalesced above their heads. Suddenly Ilhand emerged from a stairwell behind the head of the long table and announced, “The Prince Scourge of Hyval, Defiler of the Light, Whip of the Enslaver, I present Lord Korvo-Doom!”

Only after the last syllable had died which had been dragged out for effect did the master-slaver Korvo-Doom emerge from the very same stairwell. Draped in fine white gold-gilded silk robes with a golden chainmail shirt underneath he approached his tall-backed black lacquered chair in a surprisingly graceful manner as a downcast slave scooted it out for him.

Korvo’s shoulder-length platinum-blonde hair was square cut so as to exhibit his flawless pale face which had the appearance of an angelic very young man with scintillating crystal blue-eyes. It was in contrast to his heavily muscled and sun-tanned arms and broad muscly chest, he had to weigh in somewhere around 250 pounds and was very tall around 6’5”.

As the master-slaver sat he signaled with his hand the rounded sapphires on his gold bracers glittering in the bright lamplight. A slave began to pour out assassin-berry wine, a few of the more refined guests could tell just by the strong sweet smell.

Korvo-Doom made a short speech to which Jíen paid little attention. Then those wishing to squeeze in a little butt-kissing session began to purpose ever more pompous and increasingly ridiculous toasts by turn in the evil-angelic figure’s honor. Dravor cut-off the ogrish fellow in his enthusiasm and purposed a surprisingly brief and slightly awkward toast which seemed to please the slaver slightly. Jíen rolled his eyes.

When it came time for the priest Exvorum to mount his toast he first produced a spectacular chalice from a black lockbox that one of his neophytes had unlocked and then took away.

The chalice was silver with a gold inlay and had five large rubies inset in the cup and five bloodstones on the base. He held it aloft presenting it as a gift to Korvo-Doom. In response, Ilhand then produced a black box of his own which when opened revealed a gold mask in the likeness of a grinning demon encrusted with gems. With some ceremony, they exchanged both items.

Steaming pork dripping with fat, thick green soup, and oven-fresh bread were brought to the table on silver platters and bowls. The slaves that had been standing against the whitewashed walls of the hall moved to the guests and intermingled (as it were). The feasting began in earnest but to Jíen there was still a little tension in the air and amongst the indulgent guests as if something had yet to be finished; an incomplete ritual.

Unexpectedly Korvo-Doom turned towards Jíen. The young necromancer seated just on the other side of the dark priest’s retinue. He spoke in perfect Dead-Lander to the young necro-mage inquiring as to how he had found himself in Xuun and had a few questions about his fighter. Bludbaer was standing behind Jíen in laughable imitation of a bodyguard.

The necromancer had inquired about Shadow-Scale but found that Korvo-Doom had an unreasoning hatred of all Scaels (and maybe all Naga). When Jíen inquired of Korfin, the slaver had never heard of him. The angel-faced slaver however was familiar with the Silver-Owl. They chatted for a bit more.

Korvo then signaled the other two, Trantox the assassin and Dravor the blackguard, to lean in as he presumably had a business proposal for the three. He would consider it a big favor if the trio would help in clearing up a little matter. He continued on to say there have been multiple open attempts on his life by certain members of the Hyvalian Theocracy.

He was sure that the offenders are those that had traveled to Xuun on a ship that was currently at harbor. The ship’s name was The Golden Wind, a Hyvalian vessel with junk rigging and grand golden sun-casting rays painted on its sails. Should the church officers on that ship come to harm he would pay 200 gold devils per head (the Company strikes its own gold pieces stamped with the company’s logo, a grinning devil face, and worth about one-half a gold piece each).

He also extended the deal to any theocrat head they could deliver to him. Dravor immediately shook Korvo’s hand and accepted the deal for the whole group. Trantox wholeheartedly concurred and Jíen just shrugged. That business concluded the master-slaver clapped his well-manicured paws together, the concussion silencing the lusty party.

Without warning Korvo-Doom snatched the wrist of the naked slave-girl on his lap and slit her wrist to the bone with his dagger. He held the gushing wound over the dark priest’s gift, the silver chalice. The red stones on the vessel glowed venomously and the girl’s cries of protest cut off with a squeak.

She paled, her eyes went dead, her once milk-smooth skin curdled, and pruned about the eyes and lips. The flow of blood was an instantaneous torrent washing the entirety of the blood from within her body containing it in the impossible capacity of the small silver cup. Korvo-Doom flung the limp corpse to the side. It flopped onto the flagstone floor of the hall.

The master-slaver and apparent devil-worshipper took a drink and passed the bloody vessel to the priest who did the same and thus the cup continued around the table with each guest obligated to take a hearty drink.

When it came to Dravor’s turn he immediately stood and pledged his service to Korvo-Doom before drinking. Again, Jíen rolled his eyes and then wondered if the blackguard had foolishly become a thrall of the devilish-slaver.

Deciding to rib the blackguard a little Jíen shouted out “Hey! Where’d he go! I can only see his boots!” Of course he said it in Deadlander so only Korvo-Doom and Ilhand understood. They snickered. Dravor shot a harsh sideways glance at the necromancer.

After the blood ritual, all of the tension had bled from the room. The festivities moved to that more akin a delirious orgy rather than a ritualistic feast. Jíen pointed to the corpse of the girl questioningly as slaves began to drag her away. Korvo nodded in acknowledgment and then threw a dismissive hand gesture.

So right there, as an orgy heaved and sweated around him, the young necromancer animated the corpse of the slave-girl. Jíen left word with Ilhand, whom was coldly overseeing and not participating in the greasy festivities, on how to contact him should they require his services. The necromancer took his leave with both of his creatures.

Sometime later after leaving his creatures in the tomb, Jíen decided to have a peek at the Hyvalian ship Korvo had mentioned. He went to the docks and found that the ship was at anchor in the middle of the deep lagoon that served as Xuun’s harbor. His curiosity satisfied he figured he should be the one to formulate the plan of attack.

The next night the trio gathered once again at the Troll. Trantox brought up a plan about “eliminating the competition”, a Scael gladiator with a 5,000 gp bounty on his head. The assassin even knew where they were, the Silver Scale Tavern. Dranor on the other hand wanted to fulfill the promise the trio had made to Korvo-Doom instead. This time Jíen sided with the blackguard. Trantox sneered at him.

The plan the trio came up with after a few minutes of both planning and arguing was that they would find a crew member of the Golden Wind, assassinate him, and Jíen would then reanimate him. They would then have the zombie crewman row them out to the ship and help them get aboard. That was when they would “slice and dice” as it were.

The Poisonwood assassin oiled his dagger with venom and agreed to follow through with Jíen’s plan. Immediately, just as they rose from the table, Dravor called for a vote, which overruled Jíen’s plan. The pair even tried to get Jíen to agree to row the boat out to the ship for them after he lost that vote.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “I have one freakin’ ARM!”

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.2: Squatters’ Rights

The dark trio of Jíen the necromancer (played by me), Trantox the assassin (played by Fate of the hoods as they vs. the squatter heroesJenn), and Dravor the blackguard (played by Gil) found themselves settling into their bedrolls in a barren room of a deserted adobe apartment building. A few piles of detritus and some debris from the crumbling wall-plaster the only décor. Each settled into their own corner to sleep.

Later, Jíen was shocked awake by Dranor’s shouts. The necromancer awoke to find his companions cornered on the opposite side of the room from him by four black-hooded dagger-wielding rogues. They had not stumbled onto the young necromancer since he had camped out by the entrance and they had apparently gained entry through one or both of the glassless shudder-less windows along the outside wall. Jíen’s skeletal minion was standing between him and the group of hoods.

The necromancer leapt to his feet and cast an empowered Wound spell on the nearest thief. The sudden twinge of the masked man’s body told Jíen his spell had been effective. His skeletal minion continued to guard its master against approach. Trantox ducked behind the larger Dravor to load his crossbow.

A hood stabbed Dranor and another jabbed Trantox hurting him badly with a lightning fast flash of the blade. Another turned and lashed out at the minion, which parried the clumsy blow easily with its boney claws. The thief who had felt the sting of the necromancer’s magic turned and stabbed Jíen wounding him while Dravor clinched a thief’s dagger on a parry. Jíen stepped back and cast Animate Necrosis on his attacker. The necromancer’s back mashed against the damp disintegrating plaster, but the resultant scabby tendril failed to take hold of the man’s throat.

Trantox stepped out to shoot a thief whom tried to parry the crossbow itself but failed miserably getting shot and badly wounded in the process. The thief clinched by Dravor’s axe wrenched his dagger free and his dagger stung at the black guard whom barley was able to knock the blade aside. Trantox pulled his silver dagger and slashed but the hood dodged his blow easily.

The hood on the minion stabbed it piercing the black robes but hit nothing as the blade slid easily between its bleached ribs. Jíen’s attacker stepped in for a kill shot but the gruesome tendril sticking out of his shirt found its grip around his throat and squeezed the last bit of life out of him. The strangled corpse fell at the necromancer’s feet.

Dravor hacked one of the hoods down with a mighty swing and the assassin put another quarrel into one that was hitherto untouched. The thief on Jíen’s minion stabbed the creature again to no effect then it retorted by clawing him. Dranor swung on the thief that had run up to Trantox as the assassin was still badly wounded but his blow was parried. Trantox then got another bolt off from his crossbow nailing his attacker seriously injuring him.

One of the hooded men tried to make a run for it as the battle turned but Dranor took the opportunity to cleave his yellow spine in two. The last hood prepared to defend himself as he looked for a way out of the gauntlet. Dranor’s axe missed its mark as it whistled in from the side but Trantox’s blade found its mark nearly killing the thief. The hood sidestepped and prepared to leap from the nearest window.

Jíen threw a spell in the wounded hood’s direction and as his body convulsed a torrent of blood forced from the petty thug’s body flew directly into the necromancer’s mouth and down his throat, Jíen’s wounds instantly healing. Even so, the last hood, the largest of the former four, was still able to make a desperate leap at the window the two bleeding halves of his body impacting into the wooden windowsill with a thud. Dranor had chopped him apart while he was still in midair.

It took only a few minutes for the trio to loot the bodies. Afterwards the necromancer immediately went to work on the corpses digging out a few long-bones for use as Bone Wands later. The three tried to recoup some sleep for the last few hours before dawn and then parted ways as soon as the purple moon was full against the golden morning horizon. They would meet back up later at the Whiskey Troll Tavern around midday.

Jíen with his disguised minion in tow found his way across town to the charnel house in the east end situated right next to the very crowded cemetery. After a few more minutes he had found the proprietor and mentioning Rantcor’s name introduced himself. The proprietor was a tall, skinny Ivoran fellow with a baldhead and sumptuous oiled brown beard named Exandnor. However, the only business the Ivoran crypt-keeper seemed to be interested in was the delivery of fresh intact corpses “no questions asked”.

Just when Jíen thought that the bard’s tip was turning out to be fruitless the Ivoran offered the necromancer an empty tomb to sleep in which slouched near the center of the cemetery. The name inscribed on the small sunken mausoleum was Ranor Long-Rider. The dead-lander thanked Exandnor for his kindness and after inspecting the new digs went on his way to the tavern.

On the way to tavern however he had to cut through the town bazaar which was already reeking with its hoards of tradesmen, merchants, rubes, thieves, and whores. He passed close by to where a gypsy clan was entertaining, juggling and the like. Their children were moving in and out of the small unwashed crowd that had gathered. “Thieving no doubt” Jíen thought.

So mostly for sh*ts and giggles as one of the earthy haired bumpy-headed urchins passed by him (they were a noticeable mating of faun, human, and naga) he quickly pat the boy on the head all the while subtly casting a Contagion spell, nothing serious only a fever possibly lethal still highly contagious though. After that, feeling wholly satisfied with himself the necromancer continued on his way to the Whiskey Troll his black draped skeletal minion following closely on his heels.

To Be Continued…