Monday, April 30, 2012

The Collection

Pads of the Dread Wolf
Atal of the Unholy Glamour of Air
Coat of the Viper's Invocation of Sadness
Endless Artist's Trident of Negate Control
Future Priests' War-axe
Serene Spectre's Mandolin
Spirits' Cube of the Cowardly Master's Abjuration of Happiness
Tonic of Darkness Chains
Warhammer of the Strangler
One by one each of these curious pieces became part of Raine Wands’ strange collection. At first they were quaint conversational pieces during dinners and guild meetings; but then it became some what of a minor obsession for the man. Each item procured from a fey-born, reminded Riane of each creature used in the Machine- the magnificent Device. This of course motivated Raine to add curator to his growing list of titles and calims.

“Gratitude for your support Lady Syllia,” Syndra looked at Syllia and then to Syllia’s twins sisters. “Should something to happen to you I would not be able to live with myself.” Syndra Wands finished. She was disarmed and surprised at the bold support offered by Marus’ wife. Syllia has come to Syndra with words and promise of support in the descrete war against Blackspire Gap? What is next?

“Not at all, it was actually their idea.” Syllia said hoping to assuage any suspicion. “It is a gesture to make up for the breach of ettuquette during my wedding.”

Aymee Talmost, avatar of Sune, likewise conveyed appreciation albeit hesitantly. Making an offer of wine, Aymee addressed Syllia. “It is believed Blackspire Gap has fallen from Jarred Mallred’s control, we do not yet know the extent of the dangers contained within.”

Syllia accpepted Aymee’s offered drink and looked to Syndra, “It was not my intention to insult the people of Waterdeep, only bring some of my culture west.” She offered Syndra her best dignitary’s smile.

Moala and Omerrta Abarbrent stood quietly, patiently listening to the women and their palaver. The young women were like mirror images of each other, indistinguisable to the untrained eye. It was appearant that great pains were taken to make them seem alike - above and beyond their common ancestery, each possessing strange identical accoutrements of unknown origins.

With little contact outside the family villa, the Thayan twins seemed very forgein in both dialog and habit. “Raine supplied we with magic from his collection, he say it will lower every risk from disvocery.” Moala said in an ackward version of the high speech. “and we want to help Aunt Snydra.” Omerrta finished.

Syllia was showing now in her late pregnancy, she carefully sat down radiating a smile to hide the pain of a contraction. Aymee looked from her to Syndra, “Let us have a demonstration of your skills young ladies. You must know that before we agree, Syndra and I have to be convinced that you can function in hostile situations.” Aymee offered, carefully looking at Sylla for a reaction, but there were only polite manners.

The girls proved practiced and precise in their movements—it looked as if there was only one girl dancing in front of a mirror. The fey-brand items were handeled expertly and with dealy purpose; the twins reacted to random suprises with ease. After an impressive display of proficiency with Raine’s collection; Syndra Wands and Aymee Talmost began to plan a strategy to seize Blackspire Gap. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Release Me

In all of his time, in all of his battles, Tauren had never felt so nervous and afraid. In Martin Luckjoys private chambers, Tauren and martin and Heilean had been conversing, discussing the discoveries underground and growing concerns within Waterdeep. Tauren had warmed up with details of his growing followers and burgeoning ranks of cavalry. He had come to where both Heilean and Martin could sense he was not coming forth with what he had truly come to say. Tauren closed his eyes and fell to his knees. Head bowed before Heilean, he said " Thou art Tymora before me. I have sworn my love to you, and my passion burns bright enough to light the world. I have protected your churches, and preserved their sanctity. My faith in your resurrection has fueled the calls and prayers of your clergy. As your devoted servant, I now ask you to release me of my vows of service with your blessing. Allow me to fulfill my destiny, and ascend as a god with you. Grant me this, so that I may be able to give my devotion to you as an equal instead of a servant"

Tauren felt his face burn from flush, his blood roared in his ears, and he could hardly draw his breath as he awaited Her reply.

Friday, April 27, 2012

All is Silent in the Halls of the Dead and the Rooms of Ruin.

Captain Daggrande has been a warrior his entire life, which some of his dwarven kin says he is older than Mt. Waterdeep itself—though not to his face, nay. These dwarves may also say, with sincere admiration, that Daggrande is exceedingly loyal to his friends, to his kin- the Melairkyn Legion, aye and to General Grumphery; which is why Daggrande responded at once when the General summoned him.

“Wher’s the fight’n at?” Gustaf Trueshot asked as Captain Daggrande trundled past the over enthusiastic axe musketeer.

“No fighting today Trueshot, I have orders to see General Grumphery.” The captain said, not slowing in the least. Daggrande could not help but feel pity for Gustaf because despite his birth-name; a true shot Gustaf was not. A fact that led to his fashioning that odd axe-musket weapon, a combination scatter-shot and hand axe, as well as Gustaf being refrained from formal armed service. Daggrande could hear Gustaf trying to keep up, but the din of his pursuit quickly faded out behind him. Daggrande would see him again soon he thought with little eagerness. 

After three security check points Captain Daggrande was led into General Quintin Grumphery’s war-room. The General as well as two others were hunkered over what Daggrande recognized as a map Underhome, it was made of many tattered pieces and was mostly incomplete. One dwarf was Blok Grimface, whom Daggrande knew quite well while the other he only knew from the dwarf’s reputation. He was Savin Lightguard (and his war-drums of deafening), champion of the Melairkyn and blessed of Clangeddin.

Daggrande greeted them all in kind, joined their palaver only to be startled to find a black skull staring at him from the center of the piecemeal map.

“Well, well.” Daggrande said as he reached out to examine the skull, but pulled back quickly when he felt the cold radiating off of it. It started to thrum, then shake, and suddenly the skull exploded sending black bone shards darting around the room.

“What is all this now?” Daggrande inquired as he recovered his wits.

“Something is causing the dead to rise to become what you just saw: black-skull skeletons” General Grumphery explained looked from Savin to Daggrande.

“It may be mischief from this mad-mage we have learned about.” Blok theorized.

“Perhaps,” said Savin. “But I bet me axe that our problems are about to double I warrant.”

Blok screwed up his dwarven features in confusion; he now looked like he had just tasted something sour.

“Because,” Daggrande concluded. “As we rid our Underhome of her monsters and vermin; we will have to contend with them yet again as skeletons unless we take certain precautions or soon this whole level will be roaming with undead." 

With understanding Blok handed down orders: From now on each creature slain to reclaim Underhome will have one of its feet removed. 

Calendar of the Realms

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tales from the Spine of the World 2

The Spine of the World Mountains
The new Marchion of Mirabar knew well the road between Mirabar and Luskan, and the dangers it hid- the road he called Auril’s Gale. If Umberlee was the bitch queen; then Auril was a witch and queen of the North. Auril’s church was strong everywhere darkness visited nine-months of the year. Indeed, the gods of fury were both sacred and feared powers in the pantheon of the North that was, and at the top this trinity—the church of Talos. Not even the faith of Umberlee, her Sisterhood of the Waves, or the Ice Regents of Auril; equaled the dedication and prowess that ran in the hearts of Talossans.

Neither could anyone rival Balazar Agundar in his fanatical commitment to the lord of destruction; but he was equally possessed of ghosts and rage. Each night in his dreams Balazar relives the horrible godsfall—the feeling of disconnection and desolation from Talos was like a phantom-limb haunting an amputee. Balazar tries to take up the mantle of his god's aspects to restore Talos, but he is foiled at every turn by the mischief wrought by both Umberlee and Auril—the bitch and the witch.

Balazar discoved many struggles in his attempts to focus energies on his responsibilities as Marchion as well as the duties imposed upon him by the church, but all this fell woefully short of exercising Balazar’s haunting memories: his broken family, his betrayer wife, and the two false sons. Their existence mocked him, angered him. How he hated them. He needed a drink, Balazar thought as he walked west with Auril’s Gale at his back, encouraging every step.

Bereft of his entourage, Balazar earnestly considered himself lucky to be drawing breath. His actions may have been hasty, but he would not let his city starve this winter. 

In response Luskan’s excessive taxing of Mirabaran shipping merchants, Balazar deemed swift and aggressive action was called for. He was the Marchion of Mirabar and her caretaker; he was responsible for her health and longevity.

War had a way of increasing the value of iron and mithril, and the Marchion believed the Captain’s Confederation was vying for control of martial-weapon markets. Balazar would not know until later how he was both right and wrong on this score.

Before Balazar and his two hundred Talossans were able to present challenge to the pirate captains, Balazar’s cohort Halvor came with a note delivered by a tiny yellow dragon- no bigger than a pear.

The Hosttower offers its hospitality in exchange for palaver before thee lay siege to the City of Sails. Signed: Kyrrolla of the Hosttower.

Leaving Kitiara in command Balazar and Halvor accepted Kyrrolla’s invitation, and after some weeks- during a moonless wintry storm the Hosttower of the Arcane came into view, a marvel of magic construction. The tower’s crown disappeared into the darkness, lost in the night sky. Faux flames flickered to life and floated up as Balazar and company crossed the bridge to the tower.

A figure soon came into view, waiting for their arrival. It was Kyrrolla and she was terrible in her beauty. Whatever her sorcererous bloodline is, Balazar thought, it had all the charm of a banshee. They entered the Hosttower and sat amicably upon a white arrangement of chairs and couches. An unremarkable man in sterling white clothes sat; he seemed to be waiting for them, but remained a silent observer.

“Gratutude for entertaining my invitation,” Kyrrolla said, around her magical stones followed her every movement. “We promise to delay you no more than is necessary.”

Her posturing angered Balazar, “My arrival should be no surprise to the Luskan pirates! Winter is coming Lady Sai and these excessive harbor fees are targeting everyone—merchants down to the citizens. This is about the metal trade- 'he who controls the weapons wins the war' right?" His rage plain as the axe at his side, “the captains intend to hinder...”

“Can I offer you a drink Sai Agundar?” Kyrrolla interrupted a trace of lust now in her voice.

“You may and yes I will. With thanks.” Balazar said but continued noticeably calmer with the promise of libations, “I have merchant warehouses and stockrooms fat with armaments and equipment, I am going to show the high captains that an embargo of Mirabar is bad for the economy of Luskan... I will burn their precious markets down with thunder and lightning.” Damn, putting words to his anger felt good! “The clerics of Talos…”

“Have no more power.” The man in white, silent until now, interrupted. Balazar found that despite the insult this did not invoke further his already simmering rage. “Do they?” He finished.

The ghosts of Balazar’s many failures and setbacks reflected in his eyes all at once as he came to terms with the truth of this man’s bold but accurate statement.

“But do you know who does have power in the North? The storm dragon Frostburn Sai Agundar and the dragons of the North,” the man in White said. Rising to his feet the man known as Karlott faced Balazar full-on. His eyes blazed with icy coldness. “It is inevitable Sai. Frostburn has assumed the mantle of beast lord and destroyer, it would be best for you to come to terms with this reality now… ‘winter is coming’ and you know how deadly winter seasons are in the North.”

“You say true.” Balazar said looking at his reflection in the ale served to him before quaffing it. “Why did you call me here White Magician?”

“It is simple really. We will entertain Mirabar’s patronage of Talossan clercis or Mirabar will suffer the wrath of the dragons.” Karlott said with cold assurity.


“You will know of us as the Cult of the Dragon.”

“Put words to terms and see them considered.” Balazar heard himself say finishing another ale.

The Man in White tittered and began to stroll outside. Kyrrolla stood as well following Balazar and his cohort. “Unite your ministry with us, be the first of the Storm Dragon’s followers, and become his divine shield.” Karlott stopped and Balazar’s gaze settled on the eastern horizon where scores of dragons were viciously slaughtering the Talossans. Death screams mixed with the battle-roars of the dragons in the shadow of the Hosttower.

Balazar Agundar
“You will also remit all mithril stores henceforth in Mirabar to the Hosttower. The metal is sacred and will henceforth be respected; it will no longer be defiled in the crafting simple archaic weapons.” Karlott finished. From behind Balazar Halvor cried out in pain and was suddenly silent, his cry cut off in a wet choke. Kyrrolla grinned while poised over Halvor’s body, the bloody dirk still in her delicate fingers. Balazar felt trapped, how long was the screams of his followers going to haunt his dreams? he thought.

Days later, alone in his travels, Balazar’s dark tired eyes focused upon the familiar mountain cluster to the east and central mountain peak upon which sat Mirabar and again considered himself lucky to be drawing breath.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tales from the Undermountain 2

End of Gunlinger report day 7
Brenton Durinbold

Putting away his journey book Brenton gathered his gunna and returned to the task at hand—getting the hell out of Undermountain. Over the days color seems to have drained from his normally smug features; from wandering the endless halls he thinks.

“Sounds of gunfire ahead Sai,” Uthrac said from point…

He and Uthrac are what remains of Piergeiron’s special team; losing Balin to one of Halaster's undead toys along the way. It had taken them nearly three days to find the dragon-kin’s back trail, and what they found startled them, because of what this portended.

“Scatter-shot by the sound of the rapport, and close,” Uthrac added. He wore an anxious look these days, as he did now. He was as eager to be freed from the dungeon as Brenton was…

Brenton estimated there was two-dozen robed individuals in a four arcs around what looked like an illusion of a dragon’s head. The slowly rotating illusion was pale, ghostly and appeared to be conversing with its audience who wore masks of white- each with a different terrible expression.

“Ok let us move out.” Brenton said, “Remember the face of your father and use be careful.” I do not wish to be left alone was the rest of his thought, but refrained…

A supplicant, naked but painted all white, visited each of the four groups gifting them each with artifacts. It was an offering of patronage, seven dragon horns. Then fear gripped Uthrac, panic welling in his warrior’s eyes, and suddenly a dragon appeared out of the rocks—and expelled a thick noxious cloud of nerve-gas.

“Ahead and to the right, about fifty feet.” Uthrac paused and allowed Brenton the rest of the way to the source of the din…

The cloud of dragon-breath overwhelmed Vhaas almost immediately causing him to go mad with terror. Dropping his guns, Vhaas ran head-long into the advancing dragon cultists, sacrifing himself so that he and Uthrac could escape (that’s what Breton tells himself). Unfortunately the tactic was only a delay as the dragon cultists have been steadily tracking them for over four days.

Snapping Brenton from his ponderings was a battle, thoroughly engaged, between a cluster of dwarves each armed with scatter-shot rifles. He branded them Flamebeards because with each blast from their rifle came a vigorous patting of ones smoldering beard. What was most curious of all was the symbol emblazioned on their weapons and shields: a hybrid symbol of Gond’s cog over Moradin’s anvil, like a sun over an iron mountain.

Beyond the dwarves, their opponents, and the origin of the magical firestorm against the dwarves—Thayans who are pressed into a small cavern pinned down and unable to escape. Brenton surveyed the Thayans and discovered he knew at least one of them: Tyrus Pagatha. Brenton’s pulse quickened, something deep in his Ka told him Tyrus knew a way out of the Undermountain.

“Brenton, behind us!” Uthrac warned, as a group of dragon cultists rounded the corner fifty feet back. They had finally caught up with he and Uthrac. The cultists quickly began throwing searing lances of magical death down the hall towards him.

A plan began to form in Brenton’s mind- one that will have the dwarves fighting the dragon cultists, while he and the rest make their escape in the confusion.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Undermountain: Day 3 (From the Temple to Giller’s Apothecary)

Exploring the remaining maze of halls and rooms of the lost Temple of Bane brings the Samular Seven to a room where three frost salamanders nested and guarded a pair of eggs. The battle was also fought against several mischievous Galeb Duhr who had strange powers over the stone and rocks.

Giller Kull
After defeating them the company headed east and south to a portcullis and jungle-like conditions beyond created from the nearby guardian elementals. An undead threat in the form of a corpse orgy was discovered as well as several rot grub swarms that were confronted and ultimately neutralized.

Deciding it was time to return to the realms above, the friends find themselves back in the dead-end slime and fungus room. Bordane is able to call down a stone slab and reveales a black iron stair case that leads up into the darkness. After what seem like hundreds of steps, the Samular Seven emerge in Giller Kull’s Apothecary where Arnivon, Danrly, and Flagg are found praying to the Grim Lord.

Tales from the Pampered Traveler 2

Malakan had never felt such complete pain in all his seventeen years. He had been beaten so severely that it seemed every part of him was in throbbing, screaming pain. It was even painful to draw breath. Just when Malakan thought the final merciful blow would send him to the clearing at the end of the path, he was instead knocked face down; his left eye beginning to swell shut from slamming down on the walnut-shell covered tavern floor. A firm boot fell heavily on the back of his neck. It was hard to draw breath. Pleading cries of mercy came from Tinuel as well as the haunting sounds of her attackers were blessedly fading as blood began to fill the young Malakan’s ears.

He turned his head and opened his remaining eye in time to witness the horror of his beloved father being murdered. Through stains of blood Malakan could see tumult and fighting just outside his rage of vision but all paled in comparison to the gloom generated by his father’s murderer.

The coup de grĂ¢ce came as black lightning from a deadly ebony staff-staff. The man spun it about, pivoted around, driving the spear-tip down Malakan’s father—the Bishou Dominicus’ spine. Malakan felt him being hauled to his feet and then piled next to Martel, who had fared no better: a broken jaw and two critical wounds, each from the Staff-spear. The chaos and fog of combat swam in and out of focus for what seemed to be a long time before darkness finally found Malakan Urmbrusk.

Cyric reveled in causing pain because people broke so easily in his hands. This made him smile. At a young age Cyric was always smaller than other kids his age; he was a runt with little in the way of physical strength. What made matters worse for Cyric was that his father was a high ranking general for the Zhentarim—which resulted in frequent moves for his family. From Mulmaster to Hillsfar, Cyric could never establish meaningfull relationships with friendships—only attract the ire and wrath of bullies and brutes around the Moonsea because of his frail size.

Fueled by revenge against a world where there was no room for the weak and where dominance came from strength and power, Cyric created a small ministry to Bane called Church of the Destroying Hand. He trained with his fellow ministry everyday; sometimes even provoking fights in the name of the Destroyer to further his prowess. This later evolved into a short-lived murder for hire fellowship, before the godsfall.
Maskul Mirrormane

One of Cyric’s original members of the ministry was Maskul Mirrormane, an orphan, raised by the church of Bane. It was Mirrormane that first answered the call of Iyachtu Xvim and introduced Cyric to the godson, opening his eyes to a world of divine aspects. Mirrormane was a warlock and devout cleric of the Black Lord, but when Iyachtu Xvim rose from the ashes of the Black Alter claiming to be the son of Bane Mirrormane was overwhelmed—he exalted the godson.

Together, Mirrormane and Cyric traveled with their messiah gathering apostles along the path to Waterdeep.

Outside the Pampered Traveler scores of people gathered to watch the carnage. Cyric stood next to Xvim passive and stoic holding the young Malakan in his massive arms; on Cyric’s other side was Ferestain holding the babbling Martel. Blocking any escape was the godson’s four other aspects, each an extension of Xvim and a source of his power. Mirrormane paced the length of the room to his lord, bowed, and asked for permission from the all mighty Iyachtu Xvim. Being granted his request Mirrormane turned his dark eyes on the boy.

Vigorous shaking woke Malakan from unconsciousness and when he opened his good eye Malakan was looking into the eyes of domination.

“On your knees!” Mirrormane commanded. “Men who are not born from the divine have no claim to its power and must prostrate before it,” giving voice to their situation. “Behold the godson—Iyachut Xvim” His father’s murderer said. Malakan saw that this evangelist was also speaking to Martel who had likewise been brutally roused to hear this man’s sermon.

“This man,” the cleric motioned to Malakan’s father. “Once held the Black Lord in high regard, served him vehemently in the Network, and dedicated his life work to the church… but in light of the godsfall, he would rather blaspheme, forsake the power a Bishou possesses, and most important forget his obligations! I want to know why?! Which of you is his bastard-child?” Mirrormane looked upon them with vile disgust.

Malakan and Martel exchanged looks—then Mirrormane cast a spell, commanding them both.


Unable to resist the divine compulsion Malakan responded, indicating himself as Dominicus’ son.

Mirrormane spat in disgust and struck Malakan with the blunt side of his staff-spear. “He was to elevate you to divine purpose?” The man growled. “I think not.”

Slowly Makakan rose to his feet meeting Mirrormane’s gaze. “I was born to fulfill this task; was raised and educated too; so when the time comes it will be I who restores Bane.” Malakan took a cautious step forward, “I am the result of an arrangement between Chimak Urmbrusk of Waterdeep and Dominicus of Zhentil Keep, each family—strong paragons of faith for Bane. I am not some bastard child.”

This caused a small crease to appear on the godson’s cheek, but impudence would not be tolerated. Iyachtu Xvim looked at Cyric and nodded ever so slightly.

Mirrormane took a knowing step back as Cyric began to demonstrate why he is Xvim’s aspect of strength.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sisters Reunited

Mardus’ Hall connected Blackspire Gap with the house stables; it was built over the warrior's grave as a memorial to his life and accomplishments. The floor featured a sword design that stretched the length of the corridor. Open arches served as support for the curved roof that redirected much of the wind from rushing unhindered through the hall.

It was in this hall Lilith walked at this time each day listening and watching for other devils of her kind. Unfettered by the wintry winds despite absent clothes, Lilith gathered her will and lent her voice to the wind. It was vulgar and painful and an unsettling contrast to her devilish beauty. As she sang oily black feathered wings sprouted from her back and unfurled to their fullest extent.

Coming out of hiding was a calculated risk, but one Lilith was willing to take. She sang out again and heard a return scream from not one but three separate voices. It was barely audible above the winter storm but it was there. Lilith visibly flushed, her lithe naked form assumed a damp glistening quality.

From the Sea Ward came three inky black winged shapes flying toward Lilith’s croon; they each landed in turn, their hair writhing and moving as if alive.

Welcoming them Lilith said, “Welcome to Blackspire Gap my fellow sisters.”

“Gratitude,” came a reply. “I am pleased to say our efforts have met with great success sister.”

“As have mine,” Lilith said, her tail whipping back her rope-like locks. “Everything is proceeding according to our plan.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Bearded Old Mage

There are feelings during great triumph or horrendous despair that one never forgets,even where you were when news such as these reaches you. The feeling of love at first sight or remembering where you were the night the Tears of Selune came crashing down from the heavens.

For Puccalli he will always remember where he was and what he was doing the night when the heavens shattered, godsfell, and magic went wild…

Old Puccalli enjoyed the pleasures Waterdeep life had to offer, such a change from the typical pleasure houses of Thay. Magic was restricted from Thayan brothels;not at the Efreeti Bottle however. All Puccalli was attempting to do was a little magical enhancing of coitus. When the Time of Troubles began; magic surged, and Puccalli’s ‘enhancement’ transmogrified his prostitute into a horse.

It was not what the magic wrought and the position he found himself in, but the feeling and knowing that wild magic now flowed forevermore inside him; it would jeopardize every magical gesture made and power-word the mage would ever utter. The only warning he would get was remembering that night in the Bottle, but by then it is too late.  Since that day Puccalli has kept this a secret from his Red-Robed Thayan colleagues, acting as a glorified messenger for Ambassador Homen, attempting to hide his condition.

Puccalli was over fifty winters and he never liked the cold, he rather preferred warm womanly company. He thought of easing the arctic conditions for himself as he hiked the icy streets of Waterdeep to the Dragon’s Head Tavern, but decided that would be folly. The cold biting air seemed to follow the mage into the tavern, his heavy cloak battered in his wake. He walked to the nearby cloak rack to shed his wet garments and as he did the mage noted the place was sparsely occupied by seven small groups of two or three.

He went to the bar, ordered a drink and surveyed again for his company: two mercenaries, eager to make names; identifying them Puccalli sauntered over to their table. The gentleman on the right looks outfitted for life in the shadows; dark hair, dark clothes, he is also likely vane judging by his mannerisms and the panache of his sleeveless tunic. The man on the left reminds Puccalli of a Tuigan horseman straight from the hordelands.  

“Caneither of you two use a magical dagger?” The bearded old mage asked the pair and waited for the correct response.

“Icould use such a fine blade, say true,” Sleeveless tunic began. “But I fight with two say thankya.”

Satisfied,the mage sat laboriously next to Sleeveless and Hordeland, motioned for another round of drinks, and peered around to see if their palaver was drawing needless attention. As far as Puccalli could tell, it was not. He considered conjuring a magical sound bubble, but decided that would be folly.
“Ineed two individuals to infiltrate a local merchant house during the winter months. This house is recruiting skilled swordsmen and knowledgeable experts into their ranks. I represent interested parties who wish to know more about their plans. These men must get into their inner workings and find out what their short and long-term goals are.” The mage explained and as he spoke Puccalli did in fact produce two magical crystalline daggers. He set them on the table in the company of their refreshed drinks. “These are not to be used until given leave, but I give now so that is it not remarked as new later, it will just be part of your outfit.”

Hordeland picked up one admiring its exotic craftsmanship while Sleeveless simply took Puccalli’s dagger, discarded his own and replaced it with the mage’s. Each dagger was sharp, cold to the touch and nearly weightless.

After taking a drink Puccalli reached under his belt and handed both bounty hunters a red gem, “You will check in with me each week to report and await further orders.”

Hordeland took the gem and deftly transferred it into his pocket; so fluid was his movements it was as if it had disappeared. “What house do you want us to spy on old man?” Hordeland flashed the mage a dark sinister wink.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tales from Storm Keep

Hues finished his alchemical notations and calculations on this, his greatest work to date and the hell of it was- it was commissioned work. Had he known it was going to turn out so exquisite Hues mayhap would not have used the exotic components from Adolmus, but such compounds were necessary to complete the order; and to add insult to injury it was for one of the Agundar boy’s sidekicks, Danrly Bladesemmer. Oh how Hues despised the Agundar boys, hell the whole lot of the Samular Shits. Hues would serve his purpose for now- the alternate would be to favor the wrath of Baerom Thunderstaff.

The alchemist was shaken from his reverie by a surge of energy that seemed to crawl up his legs like electric insects. He nearly barked out laughter, it kind of tickled. Then a rumble began sending ceramic potion vials and flasks of alchemy shattering to the floor. Hues fell to his hands and knees, cutting both on glass fragments; blood mixed with unknowable mixes of urgents and potables. Hues crawled under his alchemy table, which was considerable, and waited for the tremors to abate. From outside his Storm Keep workshop came shouts and calls of alarm and after a moment or two, a deafening crash. Hues’ last thought was how he would like to put a bullet in Bordane’s smug face.

The first two individuals to arrive at the impact were Adolmus Gladstone and Danrly Bladesemmer. From the roof of the top level, down to Hues’ alchemy lab; the damage was extensive, but nothing catastrophic- unlike Hues.

“It is amazing no one else got hurt.” Danrly pointed out kicking the destroyed table aside. He seemed to be looking for something.

“Yes unfortunate indeed.” Adolmus smiled wryly. “but fortunate for some.”

That drew a grin from Danrly. Adolmus surveyed the scene before approaching the damage; as he did three magic gemstones floated silently in his wake. His mastery of rocks and stones was perceptible.

“We should have someone examine this… whatever this is.” Danrly gestured toward his subject and continued to look around the debris until he finally discovered what he sought and picked it up. How fortunate indeed, he thought.

“Ahem.” Came a call from the door, it was Lormo dutifully arriving… right on time Danrly thought. “What in Damian’s name happened here?”

“Is it not obvious?” Danrly said; he enjoyed testing the Agundar Butler more than a little, but before more was said on the matter more personalities came to investigate the disturbance: Belgora Agundar, Ambrose Stormweather, Captain Arina as well as others- adding their voices to scene.

Several blocks away in what was once the Temple of Mysteries, the Skeletal One snapped from its reverie with the knowledge that the object of its desire has surfaced. Black pools began to swirl in the Skeletal One’s eye cavities while its teeth became noticeably longer and pointed. Shadow surrounded it like a nimbus about and inside its skeletal body making the nightmarish form appear whole in some areas and gaunt every where else. The undead skeleton sent out its will, summoning willing undead to its unspoken commands.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Recruits

Lakari’s heart raced width excitement. She had gone six months without word from the head of her order. Even after the gods fall, and their lord was killed she could not track down her mentor. However there was no doubt this summons came from Nastorrian. It had been delivered through the proper channels, and contained the same encryptions he had taught her as a youth. She had deciphered the code and it had led her here, a dark alley bordering the City of the Dead. Scouting the area everything was quite. She had noticed a woman dressed in a luxurious fur coat. Normal for this time of year, however her boots, worn leather clashed with the outfit. Lakari had noticed another interesting bit of information this particular women was walking over her own tracks, she was on patrol.

Kight was a bit nervous, though they had similar skill sets Lakari had an impressive reputation. Deceiving one of the top assassins in Waterdeep, then parading around in the open wasn’t her idea. Back home as a general rule if an assassin felt something out of place they burned the trail and disappeared. That usually entailed eliminating all possible ties and that would have started with her. She pushed those thoughts out of her mind, she was determined this assignment would go better than the last one. Eva said the assassin would meet her here. She moved towards the dark alley and produced a small candle.

“Need a light”? Lakari said as she appeared from the shadows. Kight was startled by her sudden arrival, but managed not to show it.

“I don’t think it will be enough to pierce the darkness” she replied as instructed.

“Who are you and why have you called me here” asked Lakari?

I come with an offer from the Matriarch of Souls, Kight said as she offered up her pendant. Lakari took the death mask pendant, a likeness of the future goddess.

“What kind of offer” questioned Lakari? Surely the goddess of the dead can find another way to have someone killed? If she has to resort to hiring outsiders, what kind of god would she make?

As the Mistress of Death, Eva is willing to accept the former followers of Bhaal into her clergy. She will grant all loyal followers with spells and abilities that will allow them to perform their expected duties. They will form a secrete sect in her church known as the weapons of fate. She would like you to begin recruiting for this sect and take over as head of the order. Lakari stood silent, trying to grasp the reality of the moment.

“Most of our order has disbanded, they scattered fearing some form of retribution. Just as the followers of magic were killed with their gods many believe those that follow Bhaal were doomed to the same fate”.

“That’s not true came a whisper from the pendant. I can tell you who killed Bhaal and why”

Lakari’s stared in shock, the nondescript death mask pendant she held was now a fully animated face of the goddess. Looking into the eyes of the pendant Lakari could feel the presence of the goddess. “What kind of trick is this “scoffed Lakari?

“It’s no trick” interrupted Kight, our Matriarch has many gifts. You would do well to heed her words.

“The Lord of Murder was betrayed” cried the voice from the pendant. He fell victim to the same treachery that befell our Old Lord Skull, the same betrayal that cast the gods from the heavens. Lakari could hear the emotions in her voice. Not only was she telling the truth, but she genuinely cared about the events that befell her former lord. We will not allow these actions to go unpunished continued the pendant. Bane & Shar saw fit to betray the rest of the Dark Triad. We will ensure these former gods pay the ultimate price for their treachery. They shall be stripped of their godhood, the members of the Samular pantheon will claim their followers, and they will be forgotten.

Lakari felt the presence behind her before a sound was made. Without a word she spun and buried her dagger deep into the throat of the intruder. Jumping back into a defensive stance she prepared for the retaliatory attack. Standing before her clad in full plate armor was a half decayed figure. Her dagger still protruding from his neck where it’s jugular would have been.
“Relax” claimed the pendant, he is with us. Nastorrian said you would appreciate this, Fredrick if you would be so kind. The zombie pulled a dagger from his belt and held it out for display. I know you have read stories of this dagger in various scripture. It has chosen to join us, just as Bhaal would have joined us. Become my weapon Lakari, and help me burry this dagger into our enemies. And once I ascend, you will become one of my daughters of death, and Ash will be yours.

Lakari never broke eye contact with the dagger, Ash was more awe-inspiring than she could ever imagine. “If Nastorrian has joined your ranks, I would be foolish to decline. I can have a dozen followers by midnight tomorrow. What are your plans Mistress”?

The Price

Loyalty. Men try to convince themselves it can be bought, both when accepting coin and offering it. Everyone knew the truth though; no amount of coin buys the heart. That moment when someone grabs you inside and you know it. You know from that day forward you’ll walk into the fire of Hades for that person. When it happens, it shakes you to the core. All the little lies you told yourself to get through the days, the small concessions you make with your pride until your youth is stripped away, all lay bare to your now wide open eyes. You fight it at first, assuring yourself you can go back to not caring, to playing it safe but your dreams won’t let you. You’re thoughts are drawn back to that moment that mattered, that someone awoke a passion in you, that made today and tomorrow matter.

Lormo’s loyalty had been purchased at first by Baerom Thunderstaff. Before either Damian or Bordane were born Lormo was originally hired by the nobleman to be Agatha Agundar’s personal valet and bodyguard. After Damian was born Lormo’s responsibilities shifted to Agatha’s young child and the younger brother that followed. Despite Lormo’s knowledge of Agatha’s affair it was not until the day the young Agundar nobles returned from their imprisonment and torture at the hands of the cult of the dragon that Lormo realized the truth of their parentage. Damian and Bordane could have been the children of Mephistopheles and it would not have mattered to Lormo, for his heart and loyalty was clearly with the Agundar brothers. He had seen them raised and truth be told had spent more time with them than any version of their parents ever had. Where their Agundar father gave Lormo scorn and menial labor, the two sons gave him adventure and responsibility. Damian has gone so far as to suggest a path to nobility for his cohort while giving him an elite position of leadership within the Agundar household. After the signs and visions of the last few weeks Lormo was sure that his life had been fated all along to be the guardian of newly born gods and the first follower of the first born. All was in preparation for the year and a day that the voice from above Waterdeep had spoken of.

Lormo is a 5th Level Ranger, 2nd Level Rogue

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tales from Skullport

There are times when sorcerers need loyal protectors who have mastered the art of swordplay. These guardians and enforcers are known as Thayan knights; familiar with magic and devoted to none but the Red-robed ones.

Born with no sorcerous bloodline, young boys are trained in martial arts; languages and spellcraft. During the feast of Labraen, a day when its constellation is at its zenith, squires are required to prove themselves in various contests of will, cunning and stamina. Many are knighted and are entered into these specialized Thayan ranks; alternately there are others who are sent west in disgrace…                                                                                                                                                 
Sturm Brightblade has always led his life following the Thayan knight code. Outcast from the order over twenty years ago; he could always find a mage or alchemist who needed a trustworthy sword or translator. Ironically Sturm has been fulfilling his training since Homen Abarbrent and his family has been in Waterdeep. Sturm has devoutly served the Thayan Ambassador in many ways often as proxy; today however brings the bitter taste of interrogating a spy.  

Brightblade was not Sturm’s family name; his truename was one that invoked horrible madness to anyone who hears him speak it, besides Brightblade sounded trustworthy and honorable. Nevertheless, Sturm found a sadistic pleasure in sharing his truename with individuals he thought he could manipulate, but more often than not such experiments ended with unintended results.

Sturm entered the dungeon chamber where the spy was being incarcerated; a box, known as an alchemist’s box because it once contained a complete traveling laboratory. The box was being tended to by two knolls or “watch dogs” that sniffed the air curtly when Sturm entered; a low growl emanated from the gnoll on the left.

“Open the box.” Sturm ordered the gnoll on the right, and when he did the first thing the creature in the box saw was a very agitated monstrous gnoll.

Sturm looked down at unfortunate man in the box. He was short for a man with a finely groomed mustache, expensive clothes, and… was that perfume? He barked orders to the gnolls while pacing counter clockwise around the spy who only watched. After what seemed like a long time to the spy, the gnolls returned with various instruments of pain and exploratory tools. Looking into the captive’s eyes, Sturm began to ask his questions.

A few hours later, Sturm found himself standing in front of Thayan Ambassador Homen reporting his findings; blood was still fresh on Brightblade’s arms, hand and face.

“The spy claims to be sent by the Knights of Antiquity to observe Thayan movements and explore your involvements, Ambassador Homen.” As Sturm spoke, a tiny devil shifted in the darkness.

“What has he learned, trusted bondman?” Homen spoke with the cultured sophistication of a Thayan Noble. The devil’s ears twirled toward Sturm, its hands thrummed excitedly.

Tyrus found a supply of Obliviax, memory-moss, in Undermountain and how it was going to be used; the treachery of Ar-Kane the Wise; but nothing about your daughters- the twins or even Syllia’s child. He says his name is…” Sturm was saying more, but the tiny devil known as Imp Lord Pinprik had heard enough and was away in a whisper. 

On a balcony overlooking the canals of Skullport, Moala and Omerrta Abarbrent waited for their punishment to come from their father. Their mischief has finally cost years of subterfuge and resources as well as the lives of others. The lives mattered little to the human-tiefling sorcerer daughters of the Ambassador, but they had hoped to one day oversee the Thayan operations in Waterdeep.

As swift as quicksilver Lord Pinprik appeared up and over the balcony to address its mistresses, “My ladies,” Lord Pinprik bowed deeply, its devil’s tail lashed from side to side. “Tyrus will have to be more careful in the future,” Lord Pinpirk laughed manically. “But, no one yet knows of your divine connection with Gargauth.”  

At this, the manical laugh was shared by all. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Undermountain: Day 2 (From the Temple of Tyranny and Back Again)

Early the next day Eva and Tauron overheard the discharge of firearms far down the wide double-pillar hall, ideograms on the walls indicating one was drawing closer to the temple. Others felt and some even heard a low stone rumbling that later proved to indicate the landscape of the Undermountain halls was in flux; a phenomena that occurred more than once throughout the day.

During their investigation, the Samular Seven happened across a fresh trail going from north to west. They follow it through a strange series of walls and dead-end halls; all under a magical circle inlaid upon the stone ceiling. Getting a close look Eva escapes the trap and fights off the compulsion to enter the circle's blister area.

Following the trail north, the ka-tet find themselves bookended by a pair of gelatinous cubes; invisible and silent. After defeating the cubes the seven back track; though not before another dungeon tremor and a new dungeon door blooming like a rose from the stone wall. After opening the friends discover themselves in front of a great old, open castle portcullis; beyond, an open castle courtyard.

Not interested with things at the bottom of rabbit holes, they continue back to the temple and begin a clock-wise rotation of exploring the temple interior.

At the top of a short level of steps a pair of trolls were testing their points skills by rolling twenty pound stones down at the group. They were defeated.

Next the Samular Seven discover a trio of guardian air elementals along a north passage and a message "Past the raging wind." They seemed to be protecting this passage from the other direction.

Heading south the seven find a dead-end room; all along the ceiling was green slime. The slime was quick to react to their presence; the room proved to be magic dead, but after defeating the slime the group discovered a pattern of the Black Lord hidden underneath. Deciding to investigate later, the friends explore further and find a four half-fiend Minotaurs defecating on a shambling mound.