Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prane Is A Pain


For untold decades the old dragon egg rested quietly and comfortably at the bottom of the fissure; a red volcanic tear to elemental fire in the surface of the Northern Realm. Over time the fissure slowly filled with lava and ignited new growth within the egg. When the hatchling reached the level of growth necessary to break free from its shell, it was forced to draw nourishment from the lava minerals and liquid ore hidden in the red fiery soup.

Having no parents to rear her Prane grew up without social interactions with those of her kind, instead she was ‘raised’ by her volcano environment and through the centuries, was courted by many powerful efreeti sultans, salamander lords, and some tell even Kossuth himself one fiery year—The Year of the Long Summer.

Despite her hue, Prane was largely given a wide berth by frontiersmen and merchants alike when traveling near Neverwinter Woods and the Hotenow Volcano; though Prane is a recluse, it is her unpredictability, callous ego, and her elemental courtiers that give many adventurers pause. “Prane is a pain,” is a common saying among Neverwinter merchants and along the sword coast. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tales from the Host Tower of the Arcane 2


Beyond his reflection in the window, the man in a white cassock regarded the turbulent weather outside the Host Tower. Outside over Luskan the sky darkened with boiling clouds, thunder rose to a steady roll, and lightning crisscrossed the sky in spidery motifs. In the streets merchants hurried to cover their stalls as dozens of other morning shoppers as well as men going to work each scrambled to find shelter.

To the white-clad sorcerer’s left, beyond the reflection in the glass, was a woman of such stunning beauty that she rarely left the tower lest whole nations fall into war over her favor. Her skills and true purpose was used with tactical restraint.

Pointing out a strange rise in the tide, she wondered what interested Karlott, the ageless one, about the weather; then from the east a sudden upsurge from the River Mirar, exacerbated by the risen ocean tide washes away the Caravan Street Bridge right before her deep cold eyes. She gave a sudden start, a reaction Karlott did not like in the least but it did not remove the small subtle smile from his pallid face.

Within the Host Tower a silent alarm was employed causing every lamp and mote of light to turn a deep green hue indicating a local weather emergency. The change in the quality of light caused Karlott’s reflection to disappear giving the audience of two a better look down on Luskan despite the hair-thin green light now around each of the tower’s outer doors and window casings.

The River Mirar continued to swell washing the debris from the CSB down river and into Luskan’s Lover’s Walk, the central bridge. That too, was destroyed in large chunks of stone and mortar by the rising strength of the river. The two watched in silence as one by one the River Mirar washed away the bridges and viaducts joining many Luskan’s districts together.  

“It would seem that the gods of Fury have become restless and unruly high on their mountain city; pack your things dear-heart.” Karlott said as he turned to Kyrrolla, her long fangs protruding hungrily from anxious willing lips.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Political Landscape


Blue: Knights of the Fire Lance
Yellow: Lord's Alliance
Green: Dragons of the North
Red: Luskan and The Host Tower

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Staying Connected


As the days passed with alarming alacrity the Seven Samular descendants nevertheless upheld their divine pacts with their followers and the city by warding off the dire-winter, being an icon of glory in a grey-gloom existance, and providing purgatorial services for the faithless who reach the clearing at the end of the path. Indeed it was, for some faithful of these divine vessels, a time of troubles. 

For Ord it was a period of soul-searching and a test of faith; In Waterdeep Orsos gathered his team of twelve and ventured north in search of his patriarch; for Sunmet a personal choice was made concerning the Fate-spinner over his oath against Set; and finally Teldicia, who reminded everyone of the glory of the Horselord and his pending return. But for the hundreds of other followers, they would akin the experience to speaking with someone who has drifted off in personal contemplation; a sensation of there, but distant as if in a day-dream.

For Arsten, Briar, and Kalina the bond of Ka-tet could not have been stronger; lending you conviction in your battle against the black-skull undead dragon and giving you vision into their perils during the Mid-Winter convergence:

It was Arsten who discovered Armult Tesper’s dead body in an attack on Castle Waterdeep. Death had revealed the creature for what it was. Arsten kept this information to all save Baerom who used it, in political fashion, to propel himself to First Knight. During the Midwinter swearing in, House Tesper moved aggressively upon House Thunderstaff as dragons continued their siege.

Reflected in the surface of the placid Moon Well in Amphail, Briar was shown an image of a great tree of titanic proportions: The Grandfather Tree. Seeing the great tree reminded Briar of Eva’s rituals of old; the act of stealing life force and magical capacity. Remembering how it was on the Feast of the Moon and that it was Briar’s Moon Well that was required in the ritual before. Briar knew that this tree is the location for Eva’s Greengrass ceremony and it was Briar's quest to find it.

Kalina continues to solidify her divine place in the Shadow Thief organization as its Matriarch, much the same as Tauron has for the Harpers. With uncessing ambition Kalina began to use doors opened by Damian with the hopes the drow could be potential followers. In due course they offered her the Aspect of Darkness in exchange for one Kalina held. Being agreeable Kalina quickly learned that not all drow are happy with this exchange. 

Over the next twenty-four hours the distant whispers of prayers rise and return to the steady but not burdensome rhyme of devotions; you begin their acknowledgements as easily as a subtle nod of your head. 

Making your way to River Keep and your mounts Damian begins to hear a prayer coming from close by in River Keep; Eva realizes who leads the new Fate Shrine in Waterdeep by way of the prayers to Eva; Bordane learns of Ord and Arnivon's escape in Luskan and their formation of a sect to the Brooding Lord; and Tauron feels the effects of a challenge wrought by the evil dragon of Mount Hotenow. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Neverwinter Woods and Wide Earth

This forest seems to have a magical quality about it, or at least an air of mystic secrecy. The always-warm river flowing from the wood has its source deep under Mount Hotenow, a sleeping northern volcano home to fire elementals. The steep mountains north of Hotenow hide griffon lairs. These woods have never been logged by men. Neverwinter is feared and shunned by locals .and even today its depths are largely unknown. The woods are said to harbor fearsome creatures, and even orc hordes always go around the woods, never through them.

The Crags
Beset with frost-touched giants and trolls who live in the dead mines that brought men to the area.

Gauntlgrym
Gauntlgrym is a large, underground city built by the dwarves of Delzoun for men in the early years of an amicable existence of dwarves, elves, and Samular's Kingdom in the North

This abbey of Helm Monks started as a single farm known as Helm’s Stead; however over the centuries it grown with its main buildings fortified against Uthgardt and monster attacks.

Mount Hotenow 
The volcanic Mount Hotenow is situated to the northeast of the city of Neverwinter deep in Neverwinter Wood. The active quality of the volcano warms the Neverwinter River to the point where it never freezes over, even in the heart of winter. Over history the volcano has acquired a reputation for attracting creatures of fire and flame including efreeti sultans, brass giants, and red dragons.

Morgur’s Mound
This sacred Uthgardt burial land is an altar mound shaped like a crude, long-necked, wingless dragon, the Uthgardt impression of the revered thunderbeast.

Tower of Twilight
To the west of Longsaddle, stands the Tower of Twilight; an enchanted tower that rises from an island in the middle of a small lake. It is invisible in sunlight, but as the light fades, the tower appears.

Wide Earth
In the North Wide Earth is a season when winter wanes and daylight begins to wax it’s warmth across the lands of men. In towns and cities nobles and common folk alike anticipate the coming of years end and to closing ones affairs. It is a somber time when individuals reflect on the year’s past ventures- both the mistakes and the successes and plans are set in motion business for the next year. Gods of rebirth, spring, life, and light are popular during this time. 
                                           

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bad Day at the Office

Khale finished his morning bread and washed it down with a quick drink. Several of his mine commissioners had entered the shack filing the past nights production reports and occasionally wishing him a good morning. Khale had taken over as mine warden for the Ten Thousand Trade Kings a few months ago increasing production by operating teams in each mine and generally improving efficiency. The religious zealots that previously worked the mine revered the metal to such an extent that they rotated mines, never harvesting from more than two in five year stretches. Khale suspected they had believed that their now dead god Talos, Bhaelros were Khale hailed from, would replenish their blessed earth, restoring the rare ore. Khale had no faith and years of experience taught him that this was a rich vein that would produce metal for years. As Khale remembered his childhood lessons Bhaleros was a destroyer, the idea of him replenishing the earth was laughable.


The mine warden started from behind his desk preparing to head outside and begin his first shift inspections. His few steps towards the door were interrupted by a chagrined, dust covered gnome entering that Khale recognized as one of their shaft box operators. “Good morning to you sir, sorry to be bothering you with this but my brother insists he is sure that he saw fliers in the night.” The rest of the gnome’s comments were lost to loud concussive sound that broke and clamored from behind their small office on the Mirabar Mountain. Every emergency bell in the small shack that served the officers of the mine began ringing, a magical distress signal from all of the active shafts at once.

Khale vision and movements slowed as the entire shack began to slide and move, the scene inside took on a surreal state. Among the strangest phenomena was that everyone’s hair stood on end and small shocking slivers of lightning pulsed around the now moving structure. Fear and realization stirred through the mine warden as he went to his death. As he was swallowed by the mountain he screamed, “Bhaelros has come!”

Mirabar the Jewel in the Mountain


“Welcome to Mirbar! Do you need a guide? My name is Sal… Sal Grimstalker, but don’t let the name mislead you Sai.” The dwarf said as phlegm filled laughter follows Sal’s crude attempt at humor. “And this is me brother… Igvand.” Hawking a troll-green puddle to the stone pavers, the crazy looking Igvand nodded in greeting.

Mirabar is a city of grim folk, hard work, long hours, hard drinking, and exhausted slumber. There is little rowdiness and little crime. Visitors are frequently watched to make sure they are not thinking of starting trouble or mayhap spying for other cities. Thieves are frequently apprehended rapidly by the militia, who employ professional ‘thief watchers’ throughout the city.

Some 20,000 humans and more than 5,000 dwarves live in relative harmony here, working the earth shoulder to shoulder. Rivalries over forging skills are common, but all regard fellow citizens as friends and the rest of the world as unfriendly. Treachery is unthinkable to the shield dwarves of Mirabar, furthermore it’s hard to tempt even the poorest human in the city. The miners are on constant alert for plots, attempts to sway or mislead them, and attacks or surveillance by rival cities or clans. Rocs are a common sight in the skies above Mirabar and the surrounding mountains that add a certain splendor to the realm as well as a constant threat.

Three distinct districts comprise Mirabar: the River Keep, the inner mining community called the Anvil, and Upper Mirabar. The River Keep is a ground-level borough where all trade is conducted; large merchants establish shops to barter and trade raw ore, gems, or refined metal goods to trade costers that transport Mirabar products south. Master craftsmen can also be found in the River Keep; mostly unfriendly shield dwarves who secretly clamor for social status among other craftsmen. River barges are also commonplace on the River Mirabar taking goods and metal wares to Luskan.  

The Anvil is a dwarf community who also shelter miners that do not have a place of their own. Many humans stay here their whole lives and are warmly accepted as veritable equals. Several shrines to the Dwarf-gods are placed at the entrances to the major mines indicating rich cashes of gems or ore. Basic needs are met here as well as exclusive smiths that make their living by word of mouth. The most fascinating feature of the Anvil is the incredible lift that can transport small caravans and important cargo from the River Keep to Upper Mirabar.

Upper Mirabar is a marvel and pinnacle of highborn living in what is commonly seen as another grime—layered mining city. Temples, noble villas, and numerous feast halls are found in abundance high above the clouds in Upper Mirabar overlooking the North from the Spine of the World. Upper Mirabar is a jewel in the mountain with its beautiful architecture and stylish designs; a sharp contrast to the River Keep and its function. Also in contrast to the picturesque buildings and wide thoroughfares is the reverence paid to the gods of Fury. Nearly every street corner and structure has a ward or symbol to placate either Umberlee, Auril, or Talos.

Galvendo’s Lodge: Galvendo’s advertising schemes are highly effective, for he is considered one of the top hunters in the North and the best to be found in Mirabar. “I guarantee you a shot at the big boys, if you want the huge racks, you’ve got to come through me,”  “Galvendo: Big Game Hunter Extraordinaire,” and “Kill or be killed at Galvendo’s.” His advertising, hitting right to the heart of hunters, explains why he’s very busy. He’s guiding people to the best big-game hunting spots in the Frozenfar.

Balkin’s Weapons Outlet: One of three weapons shops owned by a triplet set of brothers, Balkin’s Weapons Outlet is a fairly stock weapon shop. The brothers make their money by purchasing weapons surpluses from armies or smiths that supply large groups. These purchases are split amongst the three brothers’ shops.

The Goblet and Gems: This is the only exciting and impressive-looking tavern in Upper Mirabar. Its magically lit golden goblet signboard beckons to passersby. Inside, visitors find a crowded room filled with live music, dancing, and side booths where folk drink and enjoy the company of the ‘Gems’ the place is named for.

Hall of Sparkling Stones: This massive stone fortress stands at the center of town on a raised eminence or knoll, looming over Upper Mirabar. Its soaring central hall reaches to the roof, where a magnificent, many-hued glass window depicts the double axe of Mirabar encircled by flying dragons of various hues. The window casts its polychromatic light onto the ring-shaped council table below. The polished, black marble table is pierced by four passages to permit access to the podium at its center.

This is the Marchion’s palace and courtroom; the state chamber of Mirabar, where important visitors are received; and the meeting place of the council. The architects set out to impress the visitor, and they succeeded with awesome ease.

The House of the Bright Blade: This establishment is the most popular shop in River Keep among human tourists. It’s widely known as the place to get specially made swords and masterwork weapons. It’s the smithy and shop of the noted wordsmith Zespara Alather where she toils here with six female apprentices. Blades can be custom-made in two days for triple the usual cost, or in seven days for double the usual cost.

The Sign of the Forgehammer: Visitors who aren’t staying in the homes of Mirabarran hosts or the guest houses of merchant companies are directed by the Axe (Mirabar militia) to this inn. The Forgehammer stands with stables, a strong house, and kitchen garden in its own walled compound just inside the River Gate.

The walls of the compound are adorned with the symbol of the inn: a vertical hammer, handle down. The symbol appears on the stout, copper-plated, double doors of the inn. Beyond them is a dimly lit network of stone chambers, interlaced with chimneys, fireplaces, and dark stairs winding between the rooms. The inn is cool in summer and warm in winter, and guests’ rooms have bear pelt rugs and canopied beds for warmth and comfort.

Friday, September 7, 2012

High Captain Taerl of Luskan

High Captain Taerl of Luskan studied the reports again hoping to see what wasn’t there. The Warlord sighed resignedly and reminded himself once again that war was expensive. Finances on hand were limited and while there were certainly spoils in war, items recovered in battle are usually dispersed among the victorious troops.
The High Captain rang the servant bell resting on his desk which brought the warlord’s manservant knocking on his study door within seconds. “Romney I need you to quietly find my brother Gavail , please do it quietly. Bring him through the servant’s entrance; I don’t want anyone to know. Tell him it’s in regards to his plan, he’ll understand what I’m referring to.” Taerl only looked up from his reports at Romney when he had finished speaking. Truth be told the warlord disliked looking at his manservant, his face had been horribly scarred, one eye always looking in one direction. If Romney felt any emotion the warlord had yet to see it but the manservant was excelled at his post, always quickly responding and resolving any chore given to him quickly and efficiently.


An hour later a ruffled, tired looking Gavail sat in front of his brother’s desk in the warlord’s private den. Taerl handed over his humidor of cigars and waited for his brother to gather his wits as Romney quietly exited. Gavail was already starting to smile, realizing his brother had chosen to go along with his plan to recover enough wealth to support the war, the cigar was the symbol of victory.
“You are certain on the veracity of these locations?” Taerl inquired, “You understand this will have to be unofficial, it’s the only way we can secure our positions after the war.” Exhaling the rich smoke Gavail sarcastically replied “Do you expect me to answer you differently today than I have before brother? You are certainly prudent and becoming skilled at the politics of your position! There is risk brother, but not for you, I’ll just have lost my six finest men.”




Taerl's smile slowly appeared as he replied, “Actually brother I have some changes and your risk is closer to twenty men! We have a greater need than I previously realized.” Ignoring his brother’s sudden blustering shocked response the warlord continued, “You will send a team each to the three lairs your research has uncovered and in return for their loyalty in returning the treasures to us, these adventurers will be made land owners with taxation authority.
********************************************************************************


All of Romney’s attention was currently focused on listening to the conversation inside the Warlord’s den. To all appearances the manservant stood near his master’s door waiting for the bell to sound and jump to the leader’s call. The assassin couldn’t hear everything the brothers were discussing but clearly heard Gavail say Azurem the Blue. Romney was so focused on the conversation he almost didn’t hear the bell that was suddenly rung from inside. Shaken from his focus, Romney quickly resumed character and entered the warlord’s chamber in his guise as manservant.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tales from the Temple of the Moon


Randron sat astride his Darkenbeast, a docile animal he magically transformed into a savage beast under his complete control. While it flew through the many tunnels and passages to Waterdeep and the Temple of the Moon, his thoughts drifted as they often do to his plans for power and the various ways to that end.

His home city of Ched Nasad was in ruin thanks to an aspiring house looking to better themselves beyond their current status; it was an overreaching act that in their failure brought the wrath of every other noble drow house down in swift harsh judgment. House Ta’alen was no more and woe to any survivors lest they would be hunted persona non grata. 

Unfortunate really, Ireisal will be missed- she was an excellent lover after all, but her idiot brother will not. He was good with the blades but clueless in regards to drow subterfuge and intrigue.

Randron would quickly see his alliances change to a suitable drow house that was on the rise and one that held some meaningful power to usurp, because in Port of Shadows those who controlled one of the seven portals held the greatest influence in Skullport. It was all very new to the sorcerer, but Randron was nothing if not adaptable.

…………………………………………….

The moon penetrated the stylized glass overlooking the vestibule, a fractured portrayal of its celestial place in the night sky. The city outside was unmoving; seemingly frozen solid from the cold temperatures and the only sound to be heard was a seductress voice who delighted in in passing along unfortunate news to her advantage.

 “House Ta’alen is the aggressor house that started the civil conflict that resulted in the eventual collapse of Ched Nasad.” The pale drow said she had a tendency to purr between breaths, it was a trait the sorcerer and her white lion companion shared. “That makes you three renegades by my estimation.” Daren said knowingly to the trio of drow, she intended to convert these men to the cause and she intended to use every means at her disposal.

Skullport serves as the new home to Ched Nasad’s survivingnoble houses; clans that would know the truth of their situation or lest they be shadowed from the facts. One thing is for certain, little is known about their disposition toward each other or to us and what our group offers you.” Darien motioned proudly to the Moonstone that sat upon a tall stone pedestal; its radiance had a tangible effect on drow magic. 

It was no accident Darien chose this moment to air her orations. Behind Darien, Princess Moria and the Valsharess Mara Darkheart conveyed a noble demeanor to Darien’s claim and pursuit for reestablishment in drow culture.

 “I would know details of these houses in due course; in addition there is the matter of others to consider in our ultimate goal: the Melairkin and the Thayans.” Darien said at length disgust flashed across her features at the mention of the dirt-eating dwarves. “Valsharess Mara …”

“What makes you believe we are agreeable to this?” Randron asked stepping forward speaking over Darien’s words in disrespect to the woman, he was not Ta’alen but decided not to reveal this fact. Above, Randron’s eyewing familiar fluttered bat-like at the sound of his master’s commanding voice while Randron’s brother-in-law Gort, standing in the middle, was thankfully silent.

“I offer you the advantages of this temple,” Darien said motioning to their obvious surroundings. “and the gemstone… I am sure you have felt its rejuvenating essentia ever since the moon’s light kissed its faceted surface,” she indicated the hovering gem and the moon light that shown through the temple’s colored glass panes.

 “What makes you sure we would not just take the gemstone Jallil Darien?” Baloreik, the third drow said with a wink obviously taken with the power, confidence, and sexuality the exotic drow woman exuded. It excited him to the core; he wanted deeply to appease this woman.

Darien rose off her feet, levitating in a gesture of dominance over the men. The women, Moria and Mara each produced weapons and disappeared silently into the darkness. “Because I know you are of the marked House Ta’alen and would betray that fact to ANY surviving House or drow with a grudge to settle-- without a moment’s thought. We will exile you from this ground.” Darien replied coldly her tone agitating the lion padding along the inner perimeter of the temple.

Baloreik and Randron exchanged looks. Baloreik was eager as a cavalier, however Randron had his reservations. Seeing the doubt in Randron’s eyes Darien called out for all the drow in attendance to palaver. From behind dark pews, ashen braziers, and hidden alcoves several drow elves: men and women alike stepped into the moonlight at Darien’s beckoning. Within mere moments Randron, Gort, and Baloreik were in the company of dozens of renegade drow.  

“I would see us all adopted into the ranks of a worthy house," Darien said. "One that will recognize us for our sorcerous power and most of all… not to hinder us but sanction our search for the Aspects of Magic.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Light in the Dark

The Tower of Luck stood like a beacon against the dreary wintery night; golden motes of light drifted like snowflakes from the peak of the tower to float silently along with most any passersby joining them on their walk through the dark cold city streets. It was not the warmth or protection of daylight, but the companion motes did well to improve the demeanor of the Sea Ward.

Inside the Tower golden banners hung from between the fourteen columns that circled the outer skirts of the inner rectory creating a lose ring around the worship proper where several people sat in silent prayer. Each golden hanging bore the heraldry of each registered noble family: Amcathra, Cragsmere, Ilvastarr, Roaringhorn, and a newly installed Cassalanter tabard. Upon the U-shaped altar another golden cloth, this bearing several universally recognized symbols of luck and protection, was unfolded for tonight’s sacred but dower prayer-vigil.

From a well-worn leather case Martin Luckjoy, High cleric of Tymora, carefully removed and arranged the deadly tools he would need for tonight’s gruesome work. With careful reverence he placed several silver pickets upon the golden cloth, each stake engraved with runes of both life and death.

Whispering the words of greater blessings Sai Luckjoy produced two wooden mallets; hammers made from the limbs of the great Grandfather Tree and a pure silver dentol seven inches long. Next came vials of water to be consecrated, measures of tamaie, as well as many unknowable alchemical components, garlic, holy soil, and of course his holy symbol and prayer book.
 
Martin looked up meeting the gaze of the Avatar who held Tymora’s power, like a bookmark in a celestial tome of the heavens, and bade her to consider the items so placed before her.

Vampires have come to Waterdeep Lady, the undead cannot be allowed quarter regardless of risk. The light of too many lives have been forever extinguished- death is a truth yes, but undeath is lie and an abomination.” Martin said resolutely. From the gathered folk, someone fainted at the mere notion of vampires.

“Give me leave I beg so I may cleanse the city of any and all undead poised to visit their atrocities on the goodly folk. Time is precious to us and with each passing night I fear their numbers will grow beyond even my abilities to control.”

Heilean Eather, Avatar of Tymora, smiled a lovingly at Martin and to his genie compatriot who also shared Luckjoy’s far-reaching loathing for the undead. The gesture was sisterly in nature but the act made his heart soar with renewed faith and devotion in his tenants; both he would surely need in the coming nights.

“You have been a trustworthy cleric Sai Luckjoy; devoted to your faith and calling. I would not stand by and watch vampires inaugurate themselves while we struggle and toil at other war-fronts.” Her tone was impassioned and laced with divine power. Cries of ‘hear her’ and ‘you say true’ resonated from the praying folk.  
 
“Go Sai Luckjoy and with thanks, but before you go I would see your devices sanctified with the divine aspects of our Lady Luck,” she said picking up each tool and weapon from the golden cloth. “In these devices I place the Goodness needed to overcome evil as well as my Protection in your sacred hunt.”