Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sorvani's Carpet of Travel

Sorvani cursed his luck again and again. Zhentil Keep was far less hospitable than even its reputation would would lead one to expect. Still, even with the infighting between the guilds and ridiculous political scheming, he had managed to make himself a place in Lord Thagdals Tower of the Art. That is until these recent times of troubles had brought the damnable wild surges of magic.

Wind rushed through his hair and roared past his ears as he sped along over the black road. The meteor shower that changed everything had implications that simply eluded the way Sorvani thought. He understood that the forces that power magic were in world wide flux. That was obvious in the surges of magical power he seemed to summon at will, but not control. He knew that the star stone that struck his prized carpet that night changed it into something more, an item of Legacy, and he was lucky to have it. However, he just could not believe it had transformed into a "divine aspect". You see, the break between divine faith and magical power is a complete one, they do not mix. Nonetheless his carpet had a nearly sentient passion for Travel, and Sorvani could hear its triumphant glee as it fled the scene of his latest horrible mishap, at a speed he had never felt before.

The "duel" with the Zhent wizards was actually an ambush perpetrated by the Zhent trio. They desired his carpet and his death. Of course his carpet's Travel abilities helped him escape being pinned and trapped by the three, giving him time to summon his fiercest defender. Pressed by his dire situation, he spoke to quickly and missed the last syllable of the Vaporighu demons name, and he felt the familiar surge of uncontrolled power. Although he felt certain he was about to die, the demon appeared. As the air thickened with poison, the demon smiled, terrifyingly, hungrily, at Sorvani. " You have finally called me." it breathed. "Ha ha ha ha haa. Your death shall come after theirs!"

The staff-spear that once served as the summoning focus for the demon now seemed dull and spent. Sorvani still clutched it tight as he fled the three wizards and their battle for survival.Sorvani knew they would not win, but hopefully they hurt the beast badly enough to force it to wait and rest and heal. The staff-spear was the only magic weapon he had, and that demon would be hunting for him as soon as it could. He fled for the only place he could think of. He simply killed to many people to be able to return any where he had been before. Waterdeep, the City of Splendours, was a place big enough to hide in, and far enough away the demon might even be killed by something else before it found him there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The morning after Higharvestide.

The private parlor, more a safe room, was the setting for many discussions such as this Kalina Kormallis mused; for all of the nine hells, the death list was scrawled on the wall here, complete from the ashes of their fallen opponents. The room was the twin of the attic loft at the Pampered Traveler, sans the protections, so the ka-tet was forced to use other methods to hide and censor their palaver.

Gun oil hung heavy in the room as Arsten Thunderstaff and Damian Agundar worked at cleaning their guns. Bordane Agundar, complete with that particular task paced the length of the room; his boot falls made his disgust clear to all, and his new sword swung casually at his side.

After detailing her plans for ascension and possible ways to incorporate more divine power into her portfolio; Eva Maerklos mentally summoned Frederic who appeared diligently, awaiting her command. The undead servant nodded mutely and proceeded to service its mistress.

Tauron Tarm responded as his typical measured and thoughtful self; carefully choosing the right words regarding his beliefs on the matter. Briar Belabranta watched him closely with affection and adoration; the other men, while they reveled in discovering new ways to raise her ire- she loved them just as equally as the rest.

“It was someone who said,” Arsten began at last. “They admitted to knowing where a certain specific divine aspect lay; a power that was assumed to be an obvious goal for this faith, but resolved to leave it be for now. Somehow equivocating that knowing its location is much akin to possessing it.”

“Not that they would be able to use the power.” Kalina added but did not voice any opposition in Arsten’s line of thinking; only applying constructive questions to facilitate reason.

“Yes.” Arsten agreed. “However, it is a far easier feat to wage only one battle for control of the aspect than many battles as its defender. There is wisdom in staying ones hand, I warrant.”

“But if an aspect crosses our path as Eva has expressed,” Briar added. “and it falls into the framework of what Eva wishes to embody… do we act?”

“That is not the real question though.” Kalina said, quick now to get to the crux of the subject. “The question is: Do we choose our intermediaries or does AO? The overgod has already made it known that the cosmology as we knew it will or has changed. We know this because the limiting quantity of seven. No power’s bailiwick will hold more than seven. Nevertheless; will AO accept whom WE deem as our demi-gods? Our intermediaries?” Kalina stood, her pacing matched the cadence and sound of Bordane’s own.

“We presume,” Kalina continued. “AO will accept each of our concepts of what a god of the Dead, Trickery, or War needs to be. What if the overgod envisions a totally different pantheon structure than the old Greater, Intermediate and Lesser deities? What if the cosmology is limited to only seven? We simply do not know at this time; we can only work and hope for the best.” Her eyes rested on Briar; Kalina’s questions were leading to a possible solution.

“There may be a way.” Briar said returning Kalina’s look; together they smiled as the answer came. “Understand this guarantees nothing but mayhap there is a way to ascend with more than seven conceptual aspects.” Briar looked to Eva, who out of all of them currently qualified for this possibility. “One must open another vessel for divine power, by binding an eighth chakra focus.”

What you don't know will kill you

Arlos Dezlentyr stood inside his family vault weeping. Arlos’s hands which held his son’s note shook as he cried. His son had left him the message hidden here in the vault where only his father’s eyes would read them. All this time Arlos presumed his son Corin captured by the same pirates who stole his ships, only to discover today that his son has been leading a double life when travelling the high seas, sabotaging his own family’s trade and using that bounty to advance himself into a pirate king.

Arlo found the note in the staff’s case; a lead lined case specially designed for the magical staff it once held. Countless scrolls of elementary protection were missing along with a magical throwing axe, the trail of treachery leading the broken hearted father to the note his trembling hands now held. Corin had stolen the Staff of Power prior to leaving the city to personally escort their ships. Arlos’ choice was between his city , his life’s work or his son. The irony of the situation was even should Arlos choose Waterdeep Sai Piergon will kill him when it is discovered just who this pirate king is.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Becoming Bordane

Schhhhhhhiiiiiiiick... schhhhhhhhhhiiiick... Bordane rinsed the straight razor in the basin, the water had gone lukewarm by now. He looked into the mirror, studying his face in the silvered glass. His dark auburn hair had turn white after the last battle in Amphail, where he had been burned and dropped from a great height. That had resulted in his death. Through mysterious happenings, he was revived and returned to life with even more zeal. His hair had started growing back within the last week and a half. His face had become thinner, and if the mirror could be believed, was starting to become lined. The weak winter sun sent shafts of light into his darkened bedroom. Through them, in the mirror, Bordane watched Sim as he sat cross-legged on the floor, polishing his master's breastplate, making sure to get into the corners of the Samular device embossed in the steel.

There was a knock at his door. Over his shoulder, Bordane called out, "Come." The door was opened, and Lormo stepped in.

"The alchemist is in the entrance hall, with a package for you, Sai," Lormo quietly announced.

Bordane nodded, "I will see him there." He went to a chair and put on the robe that was draped over it. He then circled to where Sim was squatted and reached down to take the slave's leash.

Waiting in the entrance hall of the Samular manor, the wizened man nicknamed "Hues" shifted from foot to foot, idly examining the Agundar portraits that were hung on the walls. In his arms was a four foot long package wrapped in cloth. He turned at the sound of approaching steps, in time to see the youngest Agundar stalk downstairs, flanked on one side by Lormo, the ever correct manservant; and on the other, the foreigner named Sim, his neck encircled by a heavy leather collar and a leash that was clasped in Bordane's grasp.

"Sai Borda-" started Hues, then quickly stopping, realizing his error in speaking to a noble before being spoken to.

Raising an eyebrow, Bordane gazed at the little man, waiting a few moments as the man averted his eyes. "You have something for me?" spoke the Agundar.

"Yes, yes Sai. It's your sword, I have finished it," Hues announced, unwrapping the bundle and holding forth the blade. The hilt was wrapped in black leather, as was the sheathe. Adorning the scabbard were three diamond shaped studs down the length. Bordane reached out, grasped the hilt and drew forth the sword. He held the blade up, scrutinizing the sword closely.

"Forged of cold iron, I have been able to place an edge so keen, one could cut oneself simply by looking at it" said Hues, beaming with pride.

Bordane glanced at Lormo, who stared into a middle space. In a blink, Bordane broke into his sword forms. The Laughing Gentleman flowed into Parting the Silk, which became The Widow's Kiss. The blade sang through the air around the alchemist's form, first, then spinning to dance around the slave's body. The alchemist shrunk in on himself, stiffening, to present as small a target as possible. Sim, on the other hand, also gazed into nothingness, completely unfazed by whirling iron around him.

After five minutes of this, Bordane stopped, again holding up the blade before him, eyeing the edge. Hues looked expectantly. The young noble turned to the alchemist, "The blade appears sufficient, but only battle can tell truly. You have your payment, you may go."

Turning to the manservant, Bordane ordered that a puddle that had suddenly appeared at the feet of Hues to be cleaned up and headed for the stairs down, the slave obediently following.

Bordane stopped, half turned and said to Lormo before the butler was able to leave. "I shall be downstairs, practicing. Have word sent to Cherylynn, I'll have need of her... attentions."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Jealous Heart

Finnegan Blackcross cursed the cold wintery weather as he approached the old familiar tower. He had just returned, yesterday on Higharvestide, stayed one night at the Pampered Travelers and already he’s received a message inviting him to return- return to the tower. Although the masters change, the tower stays the same he thought as he found himself now standing in the shadow of that same tower. Finnegan removed a glove from his hand and pressed his hand to the door. Knowing it would open for him he promptly stepped in and was surprised when he discovered there were servants waiting just inside. Finnegan noted how they were dressed in thick hooded robes so that one could not see their features; they had the smell of rotten fruit about them which put Finnegan on his guard. Without a word of acknowledgement they simultaneously turned and motioned for Finnegan to follow. He checked his sword Riesen-Fluch to make sure it was clear before he entered and followed them into the tower.

Being the last scion of the former noble Blackcross' of Waterdeep, he'd left Waterdeep to seek out fortunes to try and pull his family back up the highborn ladder. Finnegan believed his fate to be in Waterdeep and the restoration of his noble family; a task not to be realized overnight and not without time, careful effort, or assistance. Now, with some recently captured treasure at his disposal Finnegan thought, it was time to stet these assets to task for him. He then realized that even if it was not for the message brining him, Finnegan would have found himself at the tower soon enough.

Walking at a safe distance behind the robed servants, Finnegan admired the four paintings of the tower’s former masters as well as Mardus and Korindell the builders of Blackspire Gap. Finnegan felt heavy pangs of nostalgia as he was at last lead to the familiar conversational room. It was an inviting parlor complete with a heavy dark wooden table were lain a map and several scrolls; several lush couches were illuminated by floating nodes of pale light; and a fire pit in the center that rigorously fought off the outside cold. A woman, more beautiful than Finnegan could have dreamt in seven lifetimes walked in front of the fire pit briefly cutting off the fire’s radiance; Finnegan thought the fire flared out in a red burst as she did. Amazing Finnegan thought; he would fight the gods if she wished. From a couch came a familiar male voice.

“Finn, how happy we are that you have come.” Jarred Mallred said. “When I received word that you returned to Waterdeep, how could I not extend an invitation to my old friend? How long has it been, five- six years?”

“You were not yet master of the tower Sai Mallred” Finnegan said after tearing his gaze from the woman.

“Sai? Please Finn- Jarred, like before…. Okay?” Jarred insisted.

“But things are not like before, are they?” Finnegan’s gaze was pulled back to the woman, who continued to linger just beyond his senses- enough to almost drive him mad.

“No, they are not,” Jarred said with a chuckle. “Many things have changed are many more are in motion, my friend. Please relax and make yourself at home… I believe we can all be of service to each other in unique ways the three of us. Finn this is Lilith.” Jarred motioned to the woman who entered into the light; her terrible beauty a thing beyond worlds or description.

“She has come to me in good faith in pursuit of divine power and has offered to assist me in ending a nuisance that has been a… ‘wand’ in my side for many years.” Jarred gave him a wink at the word wand.

“So how do I fit in?” Finnegan asked.

“Well, you see… I believe you can help her with her pursuits; there is a rival beauty, an Avatar of Sune and Lilith… well, let us just say she possess a jealous heart. As for me… well, I know I can help you realized your goal in restoring the Blackcorss family- something I know you have been trying to do for over five years.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A man, in wolf clothing

The scarab shimmered around Mika’s neck as the Axebeak circled. Its ability to enrage others had proven useful during his long trip south. With dinner tracking him down he was able to minimize his hunting time and increase his time spent traveling. The large bird charged Mika determined to shred him limb from limb. Mika easily sidestepped his opponent and chomped down on the large neck of the Axebeak, killing it.

It had been over a week since he had left his village. The return of his older brother Orkondon as village shaman had given him the opportunity to follow his dream. Not only had his brother not forbid his leaving, but he had guided him toward an individual who might be willing to help him. They both knew Mika’s fate would be uncovered in Waterdeep, and he had spent every waking hour since his departure pushing himself to get there. As he began to devour the bird his mind filled with fantastic thoughts of adventure and danger in this City of Splendors. He was determined to be the most famous Uthgardt to travel the realm and it would all start in Waterdeep. With eager anticipation he ripped a large chunk of flesh from the carcass of his prey, and bolted south as fast as his four legs could carry him. He just hoped this Briar Belabranta was going to prove as helpful as his brother said she would.

Truemanhorn and Durat

“Lemmy do all da talking.” Durat said to his counterpart as they walked up the Street of the Singing Dolphin; his unremarkable mace in hand while the crisp clean wind blew back his black hood. “We dunt want to look stupit, we speak for Sai Tauron.” He swung his mace in an underhanded swing aimed to loosen the jaws of some imaginary opponent.

Truemanhorn looked desolate; he wanted to be a part of the investigation and to experience some notoriety for being more than an indentured servant. While the brisk north wind made his eyes water up frequently, Truemanhorn was still able to see and be enthralled by the buildings and sights on this side of Waterdeep. The Sea Ward, nicknamed the Temple Ward, was a moving experience for Truemanhorn in its graceful steeples and the expressions of art. It reminded him of the art in some of the books he read as a child. Inspired, Truemanhorn formulated a plan and tactfully interrupted his friend who was still insisting he be the one to make their inquiries.

“We need a ploy to trick them into slipping up or mayhap uncover opposing stories.” Truemanhorn said. Durat looked at him as if insulted.

Ahead of them on the street, a group of five individuals turned in their direction; Truemanhorn thought they looked a little out of place for this side of town, but so, he mused- did they. To him they reminded him of Bordane for some reason, smug and opposing.

“I be gettn dem to talk.” Durat tested the weight of his mace in his hands; his voice began to take on a brutish quality that was definitely not conviction. “Dees people wheeled in a token gift when itz an evil trap aimed at me friends, and you wanta talk it outta dem!?” Durat looked at him as if Truemanhorn has just suggested they present them with perfumes and oils. “Have you gone mad?”

“No.” Truemanhorn replied; he was not discouraged by Durat’s protests.

“We can have it both ways my eager friend.” Truemanhorn said; Durat’s look of skepticism was comical, to Truemanhorn he looked like a stupefied thumb-sucking cully.

The five individuals were advancing closer now, Truemanhorn could see their black armor, red helms, and fearful wands; one of them could be mystic or warlock Truemanhorn thought because he held aloft a incense censor that bled aromatic smoke ahead of them, it was hard to look at that one for very long as that one was surrounded by a glamor that displaced his form from one blink of Truemanhorn’s eye to another.

“We can use a trick called good guard- bad guard. I’ll be the good guard who asks the questions like: are you missing any wagons and who they may have sold to that matches the description Tauron gave us. You can be the bad guard who then barks a more forceful interrogations.” Pointing at Durat’s mace, Truemanhorn paused for the understanding he knew would soon come. And when it did, Durat’s simple features began to smile.

As the good guard and the bad guard approached and stopped at the Assumbar estate; Truemanhorn realized why the group reminded him of Bordane, it was their symbols of Bane the Dark Lord.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

End of chapter three: Avatar

On the road to Waterdeep Part Deaux

After a night in the crumbling tower Geoff understood things better.  He couldn’t explain how he knew what he did, yet he was certain of his knowledge.  The long nosed bird that had been caught in the magical conflagration now touched Geoff’s consciousness and magical talent similarly to what wizards experience with their familiars.  Geoff suspected that wizards enjoyed a much more cordial relationship with their familiars than he was experiencing with his.  While the stirge followed all his instructions and was fully under the control of Geoff, the creature’s mental communications were full of anger and threats of recrimination.  It wasn’t until Geoff fell asleep that he came to realize that somehow the wild magical surge that obliterated Ilrin Sharadin, cast his soul or consciousness or both into that of the stirge.  When Geoff woke up the next morning, the tower was still cloaked in a huge swath of dark smoke that still flowed from the un-stoppered urn.  Not sure how he gained all the new knowledge, he now realized that the urn had taken on some divine property.  The phrase “greater than gold” echoed in his head whenever his stirge wasn’t interrupting.  
Geoff’s morning was spent ignoring the taunts and screams of the Ilrin/Stirge while trying to find something to stop all the smoke and nothing seemed to work.  Ilrin/Stirge was taunting him for being unable to stop the smoke, muttering about chaos and the divines.  For at least an hour Geoff ignored him.  Geoff’s Sorcerous blood was pounding in his head; the more he handled the urn, the greater his head ached.  Angry at the constant barrage of hatred from his new familiar, he ordered the creature to him and mounted the stirge, telling the creature to fly him above the smoke.  Once above the haze of smoke, some fifteen to twenty feet, Geoff’s head began to clear, the pain receding.  Ilrin/Stirge still held the urn in its rear talon; smoke trailing as he flew.  Geoff had been unable to find a way to separate them or to stop the smoke from spilling out.  Soon the sorcerous Halfling rogue heard noises below him, the voice’s owners hidden by the black smoke.  Geoff wasn’t surprised that others in the vicinity were now investigating, probably quite confused at not finding a fire or even feeling heat.
With his head clearing and strangers arriving to investigate, Geoff commanded his new familiar to continue flying North West towards Waterdeep.  Ilrin/Stirge continued on about chaos and the divines while Geoff’s attention was diverted by the new experience of flying and a bird’s eye view of the North.  Geoff had reduced the voice in his head to mere background noise until he was shocked from his reverie hearing Ilrin/Stirge insult him for ignoring wealth greater than gold.  At that moment, Geoff of Triboar, knew why he travelled to Waterdeep.  He would traffic in knowledge greater than gold.  Ilrin/Stirge now became silent, staying that way for at least two or three minutes.  When the Ilrin/Stirge spoke again Geoff realized  he wasn’t speaking about chaos and the divines.  The familiar was identifying the urn as Divine Chaos.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Wizard's Task

The beast stood three feet taller than the wizard, who was tall among his colleagues, and weighed on the order of 800 or mayhap 900 pounds. The air surrounding the creature did not originate from it; the odor came instead from the company the creature often kept as they are often in the service of fiends and other more terrible lower planar entities.

The wizard was cautious of the extra planar guardian and its powers of inducing memory loss with an exhalation of its dangerous breath; just its normal breathing vibrated against the wizard’s chest. The beast’s carapace was plated in areas to that formed a natural shell that looked scarred from many battles; obscenely large hands ended in rending claws; and atop its sloping shoulders is a head like that of a smallish pachyderm- coined a maelephant

The wizard had prepared for many months and had nearly bankrupted his family for this day to be realized. The maelephant had to come by its own will, the wizard tricked it; the beast understood it was here to guard over a ship in Waterdeep harbor…

The maelephant stood hulking over the wizard; together they palavered in the reinforced and remodeled cargo hold of the ship, the creature awaited instructions.

Beast,” the wizard began. His tone even and measured to pass as believable; he motioned toward the object in the hold, hoping the creature knew nothing of maritime operations. If the maelephant suspected treachery, the wizard would simply prompt the sea zombies that awaited his command to attack. “This engine will propel the ship efficiently without the reliance of wind or sea currents. Many of my adversaries as well as some colleagues covet my invention and would have it as their own.” He added a bit of tension at the end of this statement to add realism.

There is a cost as you know.” The maelephant stated deeply and flatly.

I offer a Harp of Charming. It allows the performer to plant suggestions within the minds of those treated to its beautiful notes. I know you may not find it useful,” gesturing at his large claws. “but I am sure you know of an enchanter who would make your simple task for me seem trivial.” The wizard felt the maelephant fall deeper into his plan.

What would you have me do?” The trunk of the beast writhed and lashed in excitement.

Guard my device for 24 hours whilst I enjoy the Higharvestide festivities.” The wizard smiled. “That’s it.”

The maelephant considered, while it did the creature began to grunt and fart; the wizard assumed this was normal albeit unpleasant behavior.

Very well; 24 hours for the harp.” The beast agreed.

Very good.” The wizard handed over the harp and produced a festival hat to show that for the wizard, the party was about to begin. The wizard led the maelephant to the William Device and indicated where locate, “I just need you to be ready ‘here’ if anyone but me enters the hold until tomorrow. Well enough?

24 hours,” the beast corrected as he assumed a posture as directed.

You will not be here for another 24 minutes; the wizard thought and flashed the maelephant another smile.

It must have sensed treachery; the wizard thought later, because just as he activated the William Device the beast suddenly reacted. The wizard was just about to call the sea zombies when the maelephant began to slowly settle from spastic fits to mild convulsions then dead stillness.

Time passed as the machine removed what the wizard hoped would be essentia; the material needed to bind spells to one’s self. What the machine gleaned from the maelephant was not essentia, but a planar substance; from creature of neutral morals and laws, exhumed by an intricate and complex machine, materializes the planar aspect of Mechanus.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On the Road to Waterdeep

The Halfling named Geoff had many gifts, one of which was to always know when he was being watched. Beyond that knowledge, he also received a mental image of whatever the person watching him was paying the most attention to. Geoff had left Triboar for Waterdeep two days ago with a group of four elf friends. They had parted company yesterday and soon after Geoff became aware of someone following him. The halfling’s size made it easy for anyone to keep up, overcoming any minor delay with their greater speed. The first few hours were very tense but Geoff understood if it were a simple bandit the criminal would have already made his move. No this person wanted to know where Geoff was going. The only image he had received of his follower was of a tall, familiar looking human, kneeling down studying the ground. The Halfling assumed his opponent was studying his tracks.

Geoff spied a three story crumbling tower. Years before the tower guarded a bridge over a now dry barren river. Geoff’s uncle had told him what the bridge & river’s name was but he hadn’t cared enough at the time to remember that now. Geoff ran past the tower some twenty feet hoping that whoever was tracking him would follow him past the tower. The hollow stone was still there, appearing to the naked eye to be a boulder, another lesson from his uncle. Back when the tower guarded the river, the hollow stone was used by the river guard to keep some weapons and personal items, such as their lunch, dry. Now there was just enough space for the Halfling to hide inside the stone and await his pursuer.

Geoff’s patience was rewarded after a half hour. Stepping into view, being exceptionally wary of the tower, the human was revealed to be Ilrin Sharadin, a guide from Triboar and an agent of the drow. The dark haired ranger was preoccupied with something at the tower, his attention so captured he did not see or hear his quarry step out of the hollow stone and begin to cast a spell. Geoff needed just a few more seconds to finish his spell when he noticed what had interested the ranger so. An orange brown owl like creature with an obscenely long and pointed proboscis flew down from the tower in a dive, straight for Ilrin. The ranger quickly drew forth his blade, preparing to defend himself against the strange avian creature, but he would never get the chance. As the flying creature buried his pointed beak into Ilrin Geoff’s spell struck the ranger and beast, the spell transformed by a wild magic surge.

Geoff was blown back some fifty feet by the magical explosion into the dry river bed. The area itself was suddenly, chaotically erupting in smoke, the sounds of the ruined tower falling, hidden from view. Geoff shook his head and gasped for breath, the wind knocked from him, his chest aching. Shocked but unable to move, the rumor mongering Halfling’s eyes widened in fear as flying out of the smoke filled area was the strange flying creature trailing smoke from its hind end. Much to Geoff’s surprise the creature merely hovered above him while he collected himself. Catching not only his breath but his wits Geoff realized that he felt a connection with this creature. Geoff wasn’t sure yet why, but he would stay at the tower this night and study his new companion. Moving closer, Geoff spotted a strange metal urn held in the rear talon of the bronze flyer, held close against its body. The urn was emitting smoke at an unnatural rate, thick and dark. Geoff searched for the human who had followed him but only the creature remained. Geoff walked towards the tower, the flyer hovering closely behind him, the tower and grounds completely obscured by the black smoke. Geoff thought back to his uncles lessons and he remembered the name for such a flying creature; Stirge.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tempus guide thy heart, Gond bless thy gun.

The Lord of Waterdeep stood at the edge the cave-in from where the dragonwrought basilisks emerged; stone horses stood sentinel in their pens while the air from the rift- rich in age and emptiness tossed his salt and pepper hair back away from his face. Sai Piergeiron ‘The Eld’, turned his attention away from the crevice into the lower castle structure and to his favorite riding horse, a snow-white stallion now preserved as lifeless pitted stone; he spat as he noticed bits of the stone were already beginning to degrade and flake off the ugly effigy. Soon it would be just a mound of useless white dust.

“We are fortunate we did not lose more head Commander.” Madeiron Sunderstone said. He was not good with sympathy; he was Piergeiron’s Champion and as such accompanied The Eld on sport many times and knew of his affection for the stallion. His condolences, however sounded forced and hollow in the empty stone stables.

From the darkness footsteps approached behind Madeiron’s towering eight-foot frame; from the stairs came Uthrac Ruldegost, Balin Jardeth, a smug Brenton Durinbold and a seemingly anxious Vhaas Gauntyl; answering the summons of the Paladinson. Each expressed their own brand of curiosity at the scene they were called to.

“Gunslingers, I want to know where these creatures, the basilisks came from.” Piergeiron stated as he pointed to the uneven cavity in the floor. “I’m sending you four down there to secure the lower levels and eliminate any further threats be them draconic or otherwise. It will be dangerous, but I will not send you without aid.” The four gunslingers exchanged mixed looks of determination, duty, opportunity, and trepidation; but no one questioned the Paladinson.

A short time later the four men stood ready and equipped with weapons as well as items like Keoghtom’s Ointment, Scrolls of protection from magic and potions of diminution. Their hope was to plan for the best, expect the worst.

“’Tempus guide thy heart, Gond bless thy gun.’ Good luck.” Sai Piergeiron wished the group well in the words of the Knighthood.

“Thankee Sai.” Vhaas expressed to Piergeiron as a castle guard lowered him into the stale, deadly darkness.

Standing nearby, watching as Piergeiron offered his words to the four gunslingers before they were lowered into the undermountain, were three fulcrums of power in the city; each individual offered a different prospective to the events of the night before.

Baerom Tunderstaff, firm and confident in the company of The Eld, his white scattershot Frost-Brand comfortably resting in a scabbard across his back; Jhassin Hiilgauntlet, Paladin of Helm, he of might and screwed cunning his guns fine and polished; and Giles Hawkwinter, a well-known noble in the city, Piergeiron doubted if the man even knew the word weakness. Madeiron stood sentential in the stairs to the upper feasthall while Piergeiron, Baerom, Jhassin, and Giles palavered.

“We must react to this before the day is out. The ffolken of Waterdeep relies on us for protection and we must show that we are capable of that. We are fortunate the dragons did not attack, though I fear that my still be our fate.” Piergeiron stated with finality. He knew the sentiment would be shared, but he wanted to see who upheld his sentiment.

“I concur Sai, as we all do.” Baerom stated, “and I have an idea.”

Piergeiron bent low to examine a shell casing, cast aside from the battle with the basilisk. “Speak your notion Sai Thunderstaff.”

Baerom looked to his colleagues before continuing. Dim torch light flickered the Thunderstaff’s form against the back drop of the castle’s under halls. “My son has acquired divine power.” He let the implications of the statement settle. “He has the power to discern where the dragons have gone, if they are close or far; mayhap he could identify a landmark necessary to dispatch Knights… with your command.”

Piergeiron rose to his feet and considered the plan. “No, Firelance Knights are not the answer here.” Piergeiron said tossing the spent casings into the hole.

“The Knights are needed here in Waterdeep.” Jhassin Hillgauntlet agreed with Piergeiron, correctly assuming his directive. “In fact the people need to see even more military support and tighter laws.”

Giles Hawkwinter then spoke up. “We dispatch adventurers instead; we cannot afford to spread our already reduced numbers any farther. Furthermore we have yet to hear from the Knights you dispatched to Luskan, Sai Piergeiron.” Giles was stoked, at last there would be adventure; he was not for all this politics- if it was not for the family...

“You speak of my reducing the Knights from twenty-eight? It was my intention all along to hold at twenty-one. In the eyes of the people, those who did not survive until now received a fair gamble and were not subject to a ‘selection’ process. Our ka-tet is very specialized Sai Hawkwinter- as are our enemies, we must be one in purpose and cause!” Piergeiron disposition and candor had the attention of each of the men as well as the majority of the steeds who stood anxious ready to charge if given the command.

The Paladinson returned to the issue at hand. “Baerom if it does not endanger your son then you have my leave to find where the dragons have gone. Jhassin coordinate with Brother Carmichael and see to recruiting more watchmen; and Sai Hawkwinter visit the Nobles of the City and appeal for contributions toward equipping adventurers on their…” Piergeiron hesitated. He had to sell this so that the people could rest easier- no one would believe he was sending dragon slayers against the numbers that flew in the skies over Waterdeep last night. “Quest; inquire about donations of malady and entropy.”

“Outstanding Sai,” It was Madeiron who understood immediately, “deliver items of mischief like a flask of curses or a ring of clumsiness into their midst or mayhap divine aspects that offer malaise instead of exaltation to weaken them and cause conflict in their number.”

Piergeiron once again thanked Tempus and his own judgment in his choice of champions.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Honoring Invitations

The young Wands wizardess felt the shadow of her ambitious brothers more and more in recent years. She was the youngest of them all, and was- as far as she knew, the only one to pursue divine power. 

Peering out over the city she wondered why Marcus has summoned her; mayhap it was new information on the Hosttower; the undead threat that occupies the Temple of Mysteries; or whether Frostburn is a legitimate threat…

Syndra Wands was a child prodigy in the Art; able to conjure mage armor by the age of 7 and command undead by 10, she was able to perform these and many other magical feats through her affinity with music. It was a family talent thought lost generations ago, but now rediscovered through her; she was the pride and joy of her parents: Sai Natasa and Lady Hyacia Wands, until that is their high adventuring and dungeon crawling caught up to them and brought the couple to an abrupt and early end. The city was in shock. 

It was at this point in Syndra’s life when she turned to the church of Azuth for strength and guidance. Without the praises of her mother and father, Syndra felt alone and lost focus for her talents; so she prayed. She was accepted with overwhelming enthusiasm. The Lord of Spells seemed to acknowledge the plea because opportunity soon presented itself to the young wizard. On her sweet sixteenth birthday she received her scholarship and later that year Syndra began to teach. In her lectures of magic formulae and alchemy she incorporated teachings from Azuth’s Blessed Tome of Spellcraft.

…Making steady progress through the temperature regulated halls; Syndra could see a bitter windstorm battering the windows of the villa with sleet and misery. For a wonder, each corridor’s magical features remained unchanged in the Time of Troubles; some other things did not escape unscathed.

Marcus’ office remained as she remembered it for the most part; however now it was monochromatic, lacking any color and therefore character. Much like Marcus in her opinion, his extremist habits were much akin to fits of black or white temperaments.

Knowing the door would yield to anyone expected, she opened the door, entered, and stood quietly. Marcus paced pensively looking down on a scaled model of Waterdeep. Perfect in every detail, it was impossible to look away when one learned to appreciate the master work quality of such a thing.

“Sister.” He greeted. “Thank you for coming, would you be as kind as to make me a drink?”

Confused, Syndra acquiesced and poured him is favorite ale. It was late at night, but she doubted she was called down here for her barkeep skills.

“Here you go... Marcus is everything ok?” Handing the goblet to her brother, she could feel his fury simmering when she saw his demeanor- even in the colorless environment of his office.

“Sister… Syndra, I trust you.” Marcus stated simply. After a movement he continued. “I want you to hear me very well and understand what that means. I know we have our disagreements, but we are family and a family needs to stay strong.”

“I agree brother, and I trust you as well.” Syndra’s conviction in this was never stronger. She spoke the honest truth.

Marcus stopped his pacing and looked at Syndra. “I have a favor to ask of you Syndra. I want you to represent the family at the Samular’s Higharvestide Ball at Castle Waterdeep tomorrow night.”

“Are you serious? A Wands among all those gunslingers and Tempus zealots?” Syndra asked, her eyes taking on a serious look.

“I wish to honor an invitation, and give you an opportunity to make acquaintances with others who see themselves as you do. Syndra, you will be in the company of those like yourself that acquire these divine aspects and desire palaver with others to mutual benefit.” Marcus said. He walked to his elaborate but colorless work desk and produced a box embossed with the Wands family crest. “There is one in their company I trust; however, I will not send you unaided sister, behold.”

“Is that…” Syndra began as she indeed beheld the Amulet of Beguiling. Such an item in social situations would prove to be a boon in making acquaintances and alliances.  

“Yes it is and I will also arrange for you a Rod of Enemy Detection to aid in your… networking.” Marcus smiled hoping she would not be insulted.

Syndra took the amulet and in fact did catch the slight, but let it pass; she took this as another opportunity whether by Azuth or some other power, she would continue her aspirations for the heavens.

Planting the Seeds

"We wuz kissed by Tymora hersef, to get outta here alive," the balding man said to Dannerlee as the young noble picked his way through the ashes of the cobbler's shop. Much of the timber was still smoldering as the younger Bladesemmer looked around, absently nodding and agreeing with the human.

"Yes, yes, this was a terrible thing to happen, and probably at the worst time of year as well. You lived here, I take it?" Dannerlee asked.

Pulled from his thoughts, the cobbler looked up and blinked, "Why, yes m'lord. Me, the wife and my fourteen chil'ens lived above the shop there," he then nodded his head upwards, where the nonexistant upper floor would've been had it not been burned away.

"Amazing that none of the other buildings caught flame, what with the winds that have struck Waterdeep," remarked Azrael, her leather-clad frame enveloped in a thick, warm cloak. She was on the other side of the shop, toeing through the debris. " 'Tis a good thing Sai Bladesemmer and I were making our way from the docks, and were able to help put out the fire."

The commoner nodded and bobbed his head, knuckling his forehead to both the striking noble and his lady, "Yea, 'course milady. You both have methanks." Although not for the first time did it pass through his head that all he really had to thank them for was just that, helping put out the fire. None of his shoes had made it through the conflagration.

From beneath his fur hat, Dannerlee watched Azrael picking through the ashes. They both knew their roles in this play. He had paid Quickfingers well to steal that bootbuckle from the dwarf cobbler Buckleburr. Days of research had led to the discovery that these two tradesmen had a price war going on between themselves. With a few deft words in the fellow tradesmen and buyers' ears, he and Azrael had inflamed that war. And then a few more coins, and empty promises, some street "rags" had gone about and set fire to the cobbler shop.

"Hey," started Azrael, stooping to pick something from the floor. The cobbler and Dannerlee made their way over to her as she straightened, brushing off a small, silvery object she held in her hand. "Does this look familiar?" she said as she held up the item.

"Huh, that looks like a... a buckle?" the cobbler said. "Not one o' mine, though." He took the buckle from Azrael's grasp, frowning at it as he turned it over in his hands.

"And how do you know it's not one of your's, Heckleman?" Dannerlee asked, shooting a quick glance at Azrael.

"Well, for one thing, this design. T'aint mine. And 'nother, here's the maker's mark. This aint the smith I use. This is, lemmesee, it's that dwarf's, Buckleburr's mark. Him's up the street a little ways." Heckleman instructed them as he examined the bent, and smudged buckle.

"Hmmm, now what would that buckle be doing here?" asked Azrael, her breath creating clouds that joined the smoking remains of the shop. "Has this dwarf been in your shop lately?"

"Nnnnooo, no he has-" the cobbler stopped, his eyes going wide as connections were made. "Wait, do you-, would he-, could he have started this?"

Dannerlee placed a calming hand on the man's shoulder. "Who else would want to not only deprive you of your livelyhood, and your life as well?"

Azrael stepped closer to Heckleman, her voice low, her eyes intent on the man. "Who's been undercutting you at every step, using every trick in the book to gain, nay, steal your customers away?"

Heckleman's eyes were fixed on a distant point as wheels turned in his head. He slowly nodded as the nobleman's and his lady's words sank in and took root. "Yea, I do sees it clearly now. That vile dwarf's been jealous o' me ever since he opened shop. He's got shoddy work, and you kin smell the ale on his breath, even in the morn."

Dannerlee clapped the man on the shoulder. "I think you know what to do. First, be sure to pass it around about the buckle. That way everyone knows that you had proof of who started this. Oh, and make sure you talk to your human... counterparts. Your neighbors, y'know. You don't want to accidentally tell the dwarf's... cousin, or sister or whomever." He ended with a chuckle.

"Ayuh, and then?" the man asked.

"Why, then, the dwarf pays," answered Azrael, batting her lashes at him.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Run and Hide

Max Rinnen stopped in the small stand of trees, his breath frosting the air as he searched the landscape behind him. Two weeks out from the crumbling keep known as Killraven Hold, he hadn't stopped for more than a few scant hours at a time, fearful that his pursuers would fall upon him. If he could just make it to Waterdeep, he could lose himself in the crowds, and a skillful merc like him, it'd be no time at all and he'd have a network of contacts for money, shelter and food.
Employed for the last four years by a powerful necromancer known only as The Magister, Max was one of the few living servants that had accepted the mage's coin. With the Gods' Fall, he felt now was the time to strike out on his own. Well, that and he had a nagging suspision that his time was soon to end. The Magister was making more and more undead, and sending out some of these servants to find others of the undead persuasion. Rinnen had finally gathered up his courage, and stole a scroll that would provide some protection against the spellcaster's minions. However, there was only one of the scrolls, and only one of him. He'd served in enough small armies to know, no matter how skilled an enemy is, superior numbers usually prevail.
Still peering out of the copse of winter-dead trees, he could make out the specks of trackers still following him. Max turned and looked in the direction he was going, north-by-northwest. If he squinted hard enough, he could make out the dark line of Waterdeep's southern walls. A day? A day and a half? He then looked up at the cloud strewn sky, the weak winter sun peeking out between the fast moving greys. About... four hours of daylight. Max sighed wearily, leaned against a bole of a tree and then pushed himself upright.
With a glance over his shoulder at his pursuers, he forced himself into a light, distance devouring jog to civilisation, and safety.

The man leaned back in his chair, away from the scrying bowl, and nodded to himself in satisfaction. He ran a hand through his unruly mane of coal black hair and then thumbed his bottom lip. Was he right in letting the mercenary go? Waterdeep was a meeting ground of powers, beings like Lord Darkness had been seen traveling in and around there. The Magister himself stayed away, knowing that even in the turmoil of these troubling times, he'd be targeted by many of the city's do-gooders. Yes, the mercenary was the right choice. The mage could follow him, and, if need be, assume command of the man to draw potential allies to his fold.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Lost Legion of the Melairkyn

Udall stood before the portal home, his thoughts returning to that fateful day all those years ago.  His cousin Vanos stood beside him as he had throughout all their battles.  Where once the legion stood one hundred thousand strong now only ten thousand remained, the best of the best Udall grimly thought.  It was almost impossible to comprehend that they had finally achieved the victory their king had envisioned all those years before.  Udall and Vanos, the leaders of the lost legion, destroyers of Edomira, stood before the flame portal home, their memories overwhelming them...
The drow spy lay dead on the floor, his formerly invisible blade lay at the feet of the Dwarf King Melair IV.  Silence filled the King’s chamber, the lack of sound almost as loud as the noise of battle the preceded it.  All six of the king’s men stood waiting for their monarch to speak, silently wondering if one of their numbers was also a magically disguised drow elf.  Udall looked across at his cousin Vanos who stared back and gave a short nod.  They both knew that the drow only would attempt something this brazen if they had already planned to attack.  Their army would not be far from the Melairkyn walls, their spies wreaking havoc throughout the dwarf city. 
“Now comes the true test of loyalty my brothers!” The king’s voice echoed loudly through his chamber piercing the silence that held everyone still and silent, “The advisors will be here soon filling my ears with their worries, certain that I must lead them to a war we will not win.”  All six of his men stared at their king, uncertain what he was addressing.  “Our fate is not this temporary home and our war is not with these cockroaches in the earth, the drow that hate us and lust after our mithral.” 
Udall and Vanos knew then that their King intended to continue with his plan, despite the drow army that was coming to vanquish them.  The other four dwarves, also generals in the King’s army, stared at their king, confusion on their faces.  “Our war, if it is truly to be won, is with the Red Watcher!” continued the king, “The beast will continue to send its allies and followers, manipulating the drow and other creatures, empowering this world’s dragons while hoarding all this world’s riches.  Shall we stay and fight wave after wave of an army without end? Shall we spend all our resources fighting to hold onto a strip of land while our enemy rests easy waiting for mortality to do what she could not? Nay! We shall take the fight to her.  None of our brethren that stay here can know the truth of our sacrifice.”
King Melair IV continued to outline his plan to send his best legion of warriors through the recently discovered flame portal to the City of Brass.  From the fabled city they would launch a battle to bring an end to the most of evil of dragons, Edomira, The Red Watcher.  The remaining dwarves would fight the losing battle against the drow army here, their defeat hiding the true goal and allowing the legion to gain a foothold in the elemental plane of fire.
A clap of thunder and both the dwarf generals were shaken from their thoughts, the portal stood ready.  Vanos called out to the troops of dwarf warriors, “At last to home! Let us return, reborn through fire!” The dwarven army’s cheers echoed across the battlefield where the elder dragon lay dead.  Each dwarf carrying all the riches they could recover from the limitless hoard, they followed their generals lead into the portal that returned them to Toril.