Posted by: Wilz | August 24, 2007

Airborne Artillery

I had prepared the proper identification spell, but there will be no time for divination today it appears. Early in the morning, a messenger rode in, almost out of breath informing Prince Elwynn of a wounded dwarf rider approaching the city. We quickly set out to meet with this rider. Apparently my friends know this dwarf. Umber was his name, and from the hammer and anvil holy symbol hanging from his neck, he appears to be a cleric of Moradin. I channeled healing and closed his wounds, however the man is completely exhausted, something which my magic does not heal. We quickly brought him back to the manor.

Lieutenant Umber serves Prince Jaster at Oldkeep, and he brought tales of a drow and ogre attack. A warband have apparently attacked the keep, and he had rode out to Ulthalamel for aid when he saw that they were being overwhelmed. Telemnar wanted the party to attack Oldkeep immediately. Perhaps, due to his height, his head had gotten lost in the clouds. Five of us versus a warband of drow and ogres? Perhaps he was expecting to fight them in bite-sized chunks? (OOC: DM scripted encounters lol) I agree with the barbarian on this one – even the battle-loving dwarf did not think it prudent to march to our deaths.

Despite this thought, I supported the tall elf, even if just to spite my father. Telemyn was immediately in his usual commanding mode, ordering everyone to stay put and follow his orders. “You will do no such thing!” Bah. Who does he think he is. Just because we’re in an elven city. We are not enlisted in neither the Imperial army, nor the city guard! We are free agents! I could barely contain my anger. In the exchange, he called me an unfaithful son, and I called him some unflattering name. I saw a look of understanding dawning over my companions’ faces.

Daquj and Prince Elwynn however, spoke to our better judgement, reminding us that we are but six. When Prince Elwynn finally said that he would not commit his forces without the support of the Greenblade, it was settled once and for all. We cannot move on a keep without at least a small force. I was ready to let it go at that point, but Telemyn began to demand that Oldkeep and the surrounding lands be transferred from the Kingdom of Dorn to the Eloran Empire, for his assistance in retaking the keep and ensuring the safety of Prince Norrick. Before I could retort however, Prince Jaster agreed. It was not difficult to see the hard position he was being put in. His brother’s life was at stake! As I was to understand it later, he himself owned that land. I am ashamed to be related to an elven nobility that displays such greed!

Telemyn being the control freak that he is, refused to allow us to even scout the location on everyone’s behalf. We were to end up sitting around fidgeting while we wait for his scouts to return. Thankfully, the scouts returned by nightfall, bringing excellent information on the situation at Oldkeep. Apparently Oldkeep have been completely taken over and has been reinforced by the enemy. One can only hope that they have only taken the local residents captive and not done something more drastic, but the tales of the drow and their prisoners… They described several magical catapults enhanced by drow spellcasters, confirmed the presence of ogres, and the positioning of the watchtowers and their lookouts.

I kept generally quiet in the initial discussion, growing more and more puzzled at my father’s suggested tactics. Attacking the drow at night? That alone came as a shock to me. Sneaking into the keep from a secret side door is fine, but expecting us to have enough time to make our way through the battlements to destroy four catapults and the gate mechanism, without alerting the entire keep and having them pour out on us… Is he trying to send us to our deaths! But even he must know that his Greenblades will fare better in the day time against the drow, which appears to be the main foe we are fighting. I may not be sophisticated in the ways of military tactics, but even I can see how this will not work. (OOC: High Int ftw)

I spoke up then. Pointing out that it is obviously better to attack the drow in the day, I proceeded to suggest that myself and Pazzik cast fly, followed by invisibility, and to throw fireballs onto the artillery from the sky. My old man appeared to be stunned. He had completely disregarded the availability of magic to aid in the situation! As everyone else begin to resoundingly agree with my plan, he had no choice but to agree as well. He seemed to avoid my eyes for a few moments. Is he beginning to see that the path I now walk isn’t as weak as he made it out to be? Perhaps… I caught myself – I have given up on seeking his approval, years ago!

=====

Marching through the night have left many of us somewhat tired, but the promise of battle soon to be joined seems to perk up the barbarian. It did not take long to refresh ourselves. We had left late afternoon from Ulthalamel, and marched through the night so that we would arrive when the sun is well in the sky. We would not be caught in the dark near Oldkeep.

My party and I are in position, and we know that the Ulthalamel city forces and the Greenblades must be ready as well. I neglected to mention to everyone that this would be the first time I would be casting the fly spell. I have only experimented with it in the past, once almost falling disastrously from one of the great trees of the Emerald Citadel. I quickly learned that unlike birds who may learn to flap better under pressure of falling, mages don’t learn to cast better. I remembered how the resident eagle of the citadel, the Brown Watcher – as the Speaker liked to call him, watched, almost amused, as Aramus had to rescue me.

I closed my eyes, grasping the feather that the Brown Watcher had gifted me for when I will one day master this spell again. Despite the fact that this is an arcane spell, I placed my hands on the ground. “Don’t mess this up.” I told myself. I chanted the final words of the spell quietly to myself. “Do not let yourself go until the spell has lifted every part of you, or the rest of you will hang from the few limbs which have been lifted,” Aramus’ reminder comes into my mind. I let the uplifting feeling around me drift into the ground, into the old leaves on the forest floor. I could feel them lift up around me. I formed a mental image into my mind, allowing the leaves to take the shape of wings upon my back. A completely unnecessary display of course, but they didn’t know that. Heh – my High Tower masters who never believed in overly complimenting their students weren’t lying when they whispered behind my back that I had a true talent for the arcane. I felt the spell complete, and let go of the ground, and I was floating. As the leaves gently flapped once at my coaxing and fell back to the ground, I felt a suddenly urge to take off into the sky and zip around. This liberating feeling!

The gnome was also floating by now. We bid our group a temporary farewell, and disappeared into thin air as we cast our invisibility spell. I soared into the sky, flying towards the keep silently, carefully measuring a safe distance from which to let loose with my fireball. I waited. Oldkeep was too far below me for me to see if Pazzik had successfully placed that explosive charged we acquired from Ulthalamel on the gate mechanism. But soon enough, an explosion released the chains and the gates came crashing down. Pazzik then appeared in mid air, a bead of fire hurtling downwards towards the two northern catapults. I too cast my own spell at the southern pair.

Our enemies in the keep first rushed to the door, but started looking up as our fireballs set the catapults on fire. I flew in a long arc towards the north, slowly descending as I went, and making a circle amongst the trees back to my companions to hide the true direction of our attack. The elven army had engaged the dark forces of Oldkeep. We made our move.

The secret side door was there as Prince Jaster promised. We slipped in through the battlements, dispatched a small squad of drow, and entered the courtyard. The catapults were quite destroyed but the fires had been put out. Four spellcasters were working at each catapult weaving spells that could only be some means of repairing them. Four ogres stood guard over them, even as the majority of drow forces did battle at the open gates.

We joined the battle, felling most of the drow in our way, three of the ogres and three of the spellcasters. Then an elite force of drow appeared from within the barracks, flanking a female drow wearing ornate armor. I have heard of the matriarchal society of the drow. This must be the leader of the warband. Before they could act however, the wily gnome at my side summoned a stinking cloud over them, nauseating most of her guards. A vastly useful spell. I must check out Pazzik’s arsenal when the opportunity presents itself. As they ran from it retching, we managed to get nearly uninterrupted attacks at the female drow.

I watched as Ashyra gathered power around herself and brought forth a fire elemental that bowled through our enemies. Alas, I have not mastered druidic spells as quickly, and cannot yet do the same. However, I have other tricks available to me. I ensorcelled Hawkin’s arrows to burn our enemies as he fired them, and he proceeded to hit his targets right on the mark with nearly every arrow. The usually frowning archer started smiling quite… humanly. (OOC: The ranged fighter got happier with his class choices suddenly heh.) We quickly downed the female drow, and finished off the rest of her guards.

As swords are sheathed and panting breaths steady, we suddenly realized that we had seen no sign of the prisoners, and our eyes turn to the severed heads impaled against the battlements…

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Posted by: Wilz | August 24, 2007

Assassins and Reunions

The day of celebration has arrived. Although the locals of Ulthalamel largely disapprove of Princess Elisstyagaren’s union with a human prince, no one in the city dared draw the emperor’s wrath by not properly celebrating a visit by his daughter, and throwing a suitably large celebration in her honor. I can barely contain my disgust at the silly pretenses being put up. Not that I dislike the princess. If nothing else, I pity her – to always be subjected to insincere adorations…

I remember Princess E. She was familiarly called ‘Princess Eliss’ in the courts of Caernbrennau, but I never liked referring to her as that. I remember declaring to her at some point in my childhood when we were introduced that I thought Eliss was too slithery a name for her, and that I would call her Princess E. She laughed at that. I wonder if she would remember. I can definitely still remember the hard smack I received on the head from my father for that.

As I lose myself in my thoughts, a roar sprung up in the crowd, and hands raise up in a great cheer. “I can see the barge now,” says Telemnar. With his abnormal height, he easily rises to almost the height of the highest hand raised in the crowd. In situations like this his height is simply freaky. I wonder if he notices the stares he is getting.

It seem as though it took forever for the barge to float the rest of the way downriver. It eventually reaches the dock with great fanfare. The noise is deafening and the crowd swirls around me nauseatingly, but the green hilted longswords, cloaks and adorned leather armor is unmistakable. The Greenblades are here. I am mildly amused that I found myself surprised. Princess E is royalty – why wouldn’t her escort be the Greenblades themselves.

“And the Commander himself…” I curse under my breath, my voice drowned out by a new wave of cheering as Princess E stepped out into full view, flanked by the elite guards led by none other than my father. I had not seen him for over forty years. His face has not changed much – unreadable as always, now alertly studying the crowd for any signs of threat. Even his armor showed little change, polished to a shine with any marks of battle carefully removed. The man who lied to me all my life… But as my eyes shifted to the now full-grown elven woman standing next to her, my mood took a considerable turn for the better. She is… beautiful…

My thoughts were rudely interrupted. The walking tower next to me suddenly shouted, “Watch out!” and ran through the crowd towards the barge. His shout is drowned out, but my companions heard him. My eyes followed where he was pointing. An assassin! On one of the tree-homes. Everyone began doing everything at once, as the crowd and my oblivious father continue to ignore Telemnar’s cries. I reached for my longbow, but I quickly realized that nothing would quite point out the assassin as… I quickly chanted and summoned four bright blades of leaves into my palm, and fired them towards the assassin. The eyes of the crowd unmistakably followed the magic missiles even as dull colored arrows and bolts from my companions streak towards the same target. To my horror, despite our assault, the darkly clad man released his arrow that streaked dead on towards the Princess!

The warning display was just in time it seems. Prince Jaster saw the oncoming arrow and quickly threw himself in front of Princess E. A good man, that one. The arrow exploded, and that was when the crowd finally reacted, mostly by panicking. The assassin stepped back out of view, and I rushed towards the barge.

Prince Jaster was down. There was time. How is it done again? I channel, but not cast, just enough of the power from my healing spell into my hands and placed them upon the prince. The blue glow flowed into his body, and slowly but surely began to heal the less severe of his wounds. (OOC: Touch of Healing Reserve Feat for NPC healing ftw). And for this service, I receive a glare from the Commander. He quickly rallied his Greenblades and took the Princess back down into the lower deck. My companions and I scour the tree-homes seeking signs of the assassin. Flexing my fingers, I called on the warmth of the summer sun to grant me the power of flame. (OOC: Produce flame has got to be to be visually the coolest low level spell there is.)

Another assassin! Or is it the same one. We returned fire, but not before he hit Prince Elwynn with an explosive arrow. Prince Elwynn appears to hold up well against the pain however, and heads down to clear a path through the crowd. The Duchess herself too appeared briefly, offering to guide us through the crowd. Unfortunately we were not the ones in charge. We cannot keep standing here being shot at like ducks! (Why ducks?) But I see that Telemnar is already on it, descending the staircase to the lower deck. I would’ve loved to see him, standing a head and a shoulder taller than the Commander, attempting to give him orders. Alas, I must watch these suddenly menacing trees. I snatch a glance longingly down the stairway, and to my dread, I see an assassin in the water at the side of the barge, attempting to do something.

Thankfully the Greenblades started emerging from the lower decks looking rather peculiar. It took me a moment to realize what was wrong – their offhand short swords are sheathed! Instead, they were holding up their shields. Among the formation I thought I heard Karasin’s voice giving orders. It would have to wait.

Must not lose sight of the assassin! I had thrown a burst of flame towards him before I realized that he was wet. “Bloody water.” However, several projectiles from my companions was enough to faze him. He dropped some contraption he was carrying into the water, and it exploded, throwing him and a good amount of water onto the docks. The Greenblades reach the streets and form up a defensive column around the Princess. “Be safe,” I muttered under my breath as the shields obstruct my view of Princess E. They would not be able to move quickly through the crowd. We have time to deal with the assassin. Daquj, Hawkins and I jump off the other side of the barge to the assassin and lose sight of the column completely.

There are a lot to be said about these assassins from Risen being multi-talented. However this one was ridiculously resilient. Despite the liberal beating we gave him, he refused to go down. He bit the tip of his own tongue off, attempting to choke on his own blood, but a healing spell removed any chance of that succeeding. We’re not about to let him die before questioning him. However, overpowering him took many more hits even after that. Daquj hit him with the flat of his blade at least five times, and he even stabbed himself, but he refused to go under. It was the most ridiculous half a minute of my life. What do they feed these assassins? But there’s surely no escape for him now.

I ran to the front of the ship – the column is still moving, albeit slowly. Daquj and Hawkins followed shortly after, the human carrying the limp assassin across his shoulder. It’s a wonder the spiked chains wrapped around his body doesn’t pierce the assassin to death. “Let’s rejoin them!” I shouted, and we moved towards the Greenblades. Ashyra and Telemnar was already with them. “Another two!” someone shouted.

“Is there no end to these assassins?” I heard one of my companions mutter. I could not agree more. I suddenly felt a very real fear. What if there was an entire army of them. Even the Greenblades… I suddenly heard Pazzik’s voice casting a spell next to me. What on earth… these gnomes need to wear a bell so that we don’t step on them and accidentally interrupt their spells! But the spell produced the effect we desired. Glittering dust floated over one of the assassins and he started twinkling in the sunlight. He jumped off the other side of the tree at that. We wounded the other and he too retreated.

The journey back to the manor appears to be uneventful. The Greenblades quickly took over Prince Elwynn’s manor and set up defensive positions. Telemyn was fuming around the place, and several times fired scathing remarks at Prince Elwynn about the lack of security and how he “allowed all this to happen.” Quite typical of the old man.

There was nothing for us to do at the moment, so we checked in on Prince Jaster. He appears to have sustained fresh wounds – there had been some fighting at the head of the column too. I healed him as best I can. “I wonder if Prince Norrick was also similarly attacked at Oldkeep,” he wondered. “I will send out a messenger bird, Jaster,” Prince Elwynn replied. That was when he realized that it was the first time he had met me face to face. The prince was as friendly in person as he is in his communications. Having seen the way my father and I behaved around each other, he obviously realized the truth, if not from our last names. “Did you know? Your mother, I mean your second mother has also passed away. My condolences,” he informs.

It came somewhat as a surprise, which I tried to hide. Is there some kind of foul play in place here? I had wondered about my mother’s wedding ring for some time now, but I had thought that even my father is above harming his own spouse. Perhaps it is time to put some serious research into the curse behind that ring. “Join me at the Princess’ room – we must discuss the situation,” Prince Elwynn interrupted my thoughts.

I returned to my bedroom briefly to find the ring before the meeting only to discover that the Greenblades have commandeered that room too. Someone’s very green equipment was already in the room. How careless – a Greenblade who had left his longsword behind. Something about that sword though… – the burn mark on the upper part of the sheath. It could only be Karasin. I remember the flame blade I conjured over the sword I was gripping during our training. Karasin was shocked and under the magical assault he barely deflected my blow with this very sheath. That was the only wound I ever managed to give him in all our practice duels. I wonder what kind of person he is now, having been under the tutelage of my father for so many years.

I walked quickly down the hallways towards Princess E’s room. Another reunion, though I doubt that the Princess will still remember me. Even during my time at the High Tower of Magic I had not seen her much. Princesses are brought to watch the physical contests between young elven boys like those in the Greenblades. The Wizardry Guild puts up no shows of magical duels between apprentices – only the highest mages produce displays of power entertaining enough for the nobility. I had hoped to slip into the room behind everyone else, but at the bedchamber doors, my companions had been stopped by the Greenblade guards. Only with some convincing by Prince Elwynn were we allowed to enter. Still in the ensuing discussion, the Princess did not seem to recognize me, even after I spoke briefly to her.

It turns out, there wasn’t much of a discussion. Although we were worried about a possible attack at Oldkeep and wanted to set out right away, Telemyn was adamant that we stay, and that was that. By order of the emperor my ass. I doubt he wanted us around for our skills so much as for use as body shields should a large enough force attack. He gave me a liberal dose of thinly disguised snarls, and I gave him a proportionate amount of sarcasm in return. My companions are beginning to wonder what is going on. It is also disgusting how he bullies Prince Elwynn into submission. The man who have been all over the place, pulling all kinds of strings to secure peace between these two nations, now treated like a mere puppet.

We left the pointless discussion to interrogate the assassin prisoner to see if we could get anything out of him. Prince Elwynn summoned in his wizard friend to obtain some assistance in scrying the area for any further assassins, and to aid us in our interrogation. On the way to the cell, we finally ran across Karasin giving orders.

“A lieutenant now!” I greeted him, noting the decorations that he was wearing on his armor. He also had a brand new, more ornate longsword strapped to his side. He didn’t forget his weapon after all.

“Rioden! What are you doing here!” he asked, and I noted in relief, with warmth in his voice. We had parted ways uncertainly. Although I had tried to remain in contact with him during my years at the High Tower, my father had been an annoying ass who kept coming up with ‘training’ and ‘drills’ to keep him busy whenever he knows I am free. The man is just full of spite for my having embarrassed him.

We greeted each other warmly and quickly caught up on each other’s story. He knew of course that I had left to join the druids, but he was surprised that I had maintained my magical training in spite of it. I introduced Daquj to him, and studied his reaction to my new non-elven friends. He quickly warmed to them, something which I had to smile at. My friend had chosen not to learn the lesser ways of my father, and apparently had met his own share of dwarves. We promised to catch up more later, and my companions and I headed to the interrogation room.

The prisoner could not speak obviously, having bitten off the better part of his tongue. We tried to force him to express himself on a piece of paper with ink, however he appears completely un-intimidated. We asked for the wizard’s assistance then. I begin to wonder if the Wizard was truly racist or just generally insane. He asked if he could cut off Telemnor’s legs so that he could ‘borrow’ them to grow taller. He weaved some form of suggestion spell. I’ve seen it used before – many a lazy student at the academy had been coerced by their masters to perform all kinds of chores for them. A spell I tell myself I must pick up at some point.

We learned little though. This organization of assassins are as insidious as they are stealthy – each assassin is given a specific task in a vacuum of information, and do not have the faintest idea of the big picture. The Commander came into the room with his longsword drawn. As he raised it, I reminded him of the law. “Even criminals are afforded a trial under the laws of Caernbrennau. Would you go against your Emperor’s own laws with your fellow Greenblades as witnesses?” He lowered his weapon, but a nod at the guard standing next to the prisoner was enough. The guard drew his sword and lopped off the assassin’s head before any of us could react.

The Greenblades have not changed much over the years – still a bunch of automatons at their Commander’s absolute command, and there is little sign that they are ruled by their own conscience.

With nothing left to do, we retire to await what the next day brings. That night, as I lie on my bed with Karasin sitting and in a trance on the makeshift bed in a corner of my room, I found my hand fingering the old ring tucked safely away in one of my pockets. Yes, there is definitely a reason to study the ring again. Perhaps I have grown sufficiently to crack the magic behind it.

Posted by: Wilz | August 21, 2007

The Mad Druid

We have decided to investigate after Anthronin who have set out into the forest in search of his friend. He has been gone overlong on his trip. In the forest, we came across several needlefolk, shambling mounds and a tendriculos, all behaving in ways quite unlike plants – they were attacking us as though egged on by an unseen force. The fact that any creature was anywhere near a tendriculos alone is a surprise – the giant creatures are shunned by all manners of animals and plants.

We were forced to do battle. Our little gnome wizard, completely ignoring the surroundings he is in, threw a fireball at the needlefolk in an area completely covered with undergrowth. How typical of these city dwelling folk! Needless to say, he set the forest on fire. In a fit of rage, I believe I almost attacked him before I came to my senses. Magic used to ravage nature! The very thought is against everything I have been taught! The fire began to spread, and we had to dig a trench around it to prevent it from spreading. Our efforts were interrupted by other plant creatures, but we finally managed to contain the blaze. He did not offer an apology, however it did not appear as though he intended it either. I chose not to pursue the matter.

We later came face to face with a druid we can only guess is Anthronin’s brother druid in a small clearing. At first I held out hope that this fellow servant of nature could be made to see the error of his ways. After hearing his ongoing rambling about how even allowing a human to step foot in the forest is an affront to nature, I realize that he is too far gone. He has allowed his own personal grudges and opinions on obviously elven issues to mix up with his loyalties to the forest. As he proudly declared the ‘thing’ he called forth next as Elore herself rising up against intrusion, I knew he was no longer in touch with the serenity that surrounds him.

The tendriculos that shambled forth at his command was unnatural. It appeared to be some kind of cross between the repellent creature, and a shambling mound, with some other plants mixed in for good measure. We fought both aberration and master and the dwarf got swallowed for the second time to his chagrin. I must say however that it was rather amusing watching the dwarf fume over the indignity of sliding out of a wound in the creature’s stomach, especially under the threat of being swallowed yet again. The druid went down first under the assault of our blades and spells, and the aberration picked him up and swallowed him – an ironic but just act of nature.

Anthronin arrived after we dispatched of the tendriculos, with two treants in tow. He had been searching the forest for signs of his brother’s acts, and finally came upon us after the battle was done. Although saddened, he agreed there was likely no other option. Maple and Oak, the two ancient forest spirits spoke of uncommon creatures moving through the forests – trolls among other things.

After we parted ways with Anthronin and the treants, we tracked the mutated tendriculos’ brief path through the forest to a small lean-to constructed from druid-guided plants. Searching the small hut revealed nothing. We were shortly after accosted by two armored trolls quite intent on slaughtering elves. It proved to be a tough battle, but we prevailed. Ashyra’s dire wolverine was beaten senseless by the trolls. Healing the animal proved to earn its gratitude. It seems likes ferocious around me now.

The trolls interestingly, were carrying a letter from Risen. Apparently these creatures had been freed from the dungeons of Risen in exchange for their service. For what cause though?

Posted by: Wilz | July 30, 2007

Peace?

Dear Aramus,

In the past month since my last letter, much has happened. My party was basically told to stay put in Ulthalamel while the greater peace process works itself out. Apparently we are still considered important players in the big scheme of things, although I’m not entirely sure why. Prince Elwynn contacts us periodically to keep us abreast of what is going on, and his local agents keep us well fed, but we’re not actually doing anything! Which can be infuriating. I feel like a noble receiving reports about the ongoings of the kingdom, rather than an adventurer running errands for a noble.

(OOC: Read: DM Feedback :p DnD ain’t novel-writer local affairs storytelling with the occasional encounter, but a living story told through six perspectives!)

We did get invited on a scouting expedition with an Ulthalamel scouting party though, although nothing much happened. We ran across a drow giving orders to several ghasts. Although the prospect of the drow and undead crawling through our forests gives me the creeps as you humans put it, it was not new information – the scouts have mentioned to us that they have encountered drow and undead in the forests. We couldn’t even track the drow we encountered – the trail goes on and on and on… (OOC: Meant to be a random encounter, not a real adventure hook heh.)

One interesting thing did happen though – as we were sleeping in Pazzik’s magically constructed hut, a human who walked along the keyline approached our hut and addressed Telemnar, the ranger in our party. Apparently the ranger’s father owes them something, and the whole affair has to do with a pendant that Telemnor is wearing. I have not noticed it before – it has a half griffon, half chimera design on it. I could not tell if the human is a male or a female. I may not be an expert on humans, but I am honestly surprised that I cannot identify the creature’s gender. It babbled on and on about the future and destiny – the exact kind of drivel I hate listening to. I wish that the powers that be (OOC: the DM) would learn to speak plain English. What’s with all these powerful people making all the effort sending messengers that purposely only babble vague nonsense. It’s as though the lot of them have their noses constant stuck in fantasy storybooks (OOC: our DM has his stuck in Harry Potter atm. Very. Firmly. Stuck.).

Soon we receive news that peace talks with the emperor have begun, and that an army from Risen have stopped advancing, and is building fortifications on the mainland. (I forgot to mention this army in my last letter.) There is still nothing for us to do however. I spend my days practicing our craft, and scribing several scrolls that may prove useful in time.

Fast forward another couple of weeks, and we receive news yet again, that the Elorean Empire have formed a treaty with the Dornish Nation. Part of the reason it was necessary apparently, is the possible threat from Risen. The human Prince Norrick is to marry the elven Princess Elisstyagaren. Prince Elwynn’s chamberlain wryly commented that it may have been done in the name of peace, but what both nations are actually doing is taking part of the other’s royalty hostage. I could not agree more.

In the meantime, I have grown a little closer to the barbarian. The dwarf loves battle and simply could not keep still during the weeks of sitting around, so I brought him to the forests to hunt. He could’ve seen so much more of the wonders of nature if he would only stay his sword. However, the bigger the creature I showed him, the more excited he is to swing it. Thankfully, barbarians know how to live with nature or there would have been a bloodbath in these forests. Actually, if you think of him as one of the creatures of the forest, he fits right into the balance and is not too different from a very ferocious bear that tears stuff up whenever it’s hungry. Wait he’s too short to be a bear. A wolverine perhaps.

Yep, looks like that bit of mess sorted itself out, to a certain extent. It appears the mission the Speaker sent me out on is resolved, however I would like to stay on for a while more. I am not sure that everything has taken a turn for the better. The announced marriage have created quite a stir among the local populace, and the repugnant racism so often displayed by my race is rearing it’s ugly head again. Many here are as disgusted at the notion of marriage between human and elf of noble blood, as I am disgusted at their … well … disgust.

In fact, we’re hearing from a druid my party knows named Athronin that perhaps some druids from his Rohndawin Circle may be riled up enough to do something about it. Considering that the royal families are on their way to begin the marriage celebrations, it does not bode well.

I will keep vigil here my friend. May the trees shelter your path.

– Rioden

Posted by: Wilz | July 28, 2007

Local Intrigue

My mentor and friend,

I have found a group to travel with as you wisely counseled. I am unsure yet of the competence of this group, but we have thus far survived several battles and their motives appear to be pure enough. It is quite by lucky chance that they are also working to unravel the mystery behind the rising tensions between the elven and human nations. They are apparently working with an elven noble called Prince Elwynn – one who shares our concerns. This concern have already resulted in an attempt on his life. I think we’re definitely on the same side.

Much is transpiring in the fair city of Ulthalamel. The city’s thief guild is currently split between two factions. Whereas it was originally united as a single organisation under one widely referred to as the Blindking, it has now splintered with the ‘death’ of said king. Two splinter organizations have formed, one naming itself ‘The Club’ and the other under the leadership of a Duchess, who turned out to be the daughter of the Blindking.

While intercepting a meeting held underground in secret tunnels, we have discovered that the thief king have now returned as an undead, who keeps much of the skills he had when he was alive. What manner of undead he is however, is beyond my knowledge. He is immune to lightning, and a normal weapon does not cause as much of a wound on him as one would expect. I am firmly against the existence of this unnatural undead king, which would place my allegiance quite firmly with the Duchess. I believe the Circle would agree. We failed to defeat him, although we managed to recover one Downey character – the person my party is attempting to track down for the Prince.

As I eventually found out, Gavin, the man who attempted to assassinate the Prince, was working with my party escorting a Prince Jaster from the human lands when he suddenly betrayed them all. He was once Downey’s apprentice in an assassin’s guild originating from Risen. Downey on the other hand, was escorting Prince Elwynn from the elven lands. The two princes were attempting to forge a peace accord when the assassination attempt occurred. Considering Gavin and Downey’s connection, Downey quickly became a fugitive in everyone’s eyes.

Most surprisingly however, is that Hawkins, one of my party mates (a human archer) was in turn Gavin’s apprentice. At this point the details became rather puzzling. Throughout my several days traveling with Hawkins, he have not spoken much, nor have he offered the party any information about this guild of assassins. (OOC: DM knowledge, player knowledge. Heh.)

Anyways, moving on. Downey turned out to be a druid. Or at least, he is capable of wild shaping. This assassin’s guild he belongs to appears to be quite diverse in their skill set. Downey spoke of a honor in his assassin’s guild and his disbelief at Gavin’s actions. Unfortunately, the only way to find out who commissioned Gavin’s last mission is to travel to Risen. Before we could make solid plans however, Downey was brutally murdered.

The mystery killer appears to be none other than Hawkins, our very own party mate. The evidence was clear – a bloody longsword that matched the slashes on Downey’s body was found on Hawkins. Hawkins however claims to have no memory of that event. He has been wearing a ring looted off Gavin’s dead body, and considering that two wearers of the ring have acted in ways quite unlike their character, something is likely wrong with the item. I questioned him carefully and found no reason to doubt him – he even offered to be tied up as we figure out the predicament.

Prince Elwynn later sent a wizard to assist us, and he confirmed our suspicions – the ring is capable of mind control. I wonder if you have met this wizard from the Snakeward Tower. You have mentioned this mage community before, but I cannot say that I like this wizard. He actually believes that humans are capable of regrowing limbs and wanted to severe Hawkins’ finger simply to secure the ring for study! He successfully removed the curse on Hawkins, however the ring was destroyed in the process. Considering his expertise on such matters, I was tempted for a moment to request his assistance with my mother’s ring, but I cannot abide by his complete lack of respect for other races. He also carries around a bottle of pearl dust and drinks from it to study magical enchantments…

So there you have it. Quite a mix up of events here. Prince Elwynn is currently working to stabilize the affairs of the region and requested that we stay here. Perhaps the more senior members of the Circle should seek out this Prince and offer him assistance. I will continue to monitor the situation here as requested.

As for my personal growth, I have been practicing casting with the hide armor on as you have instructed me among other things. Despite my distaste for it, my confidence and success is growing. Very soon, I shall be able to fully embrace your lessons. Be proud my friend. (OOC: One more level to become an Arcane Hierophant wooot!)

– Rioden

Posted by: Wilz | July 22, 2007

The Search

These past two days proved to be a rather interesting. Apparently, we are trying to get in touch with the thief network, who recently lost a thief king, in order to reach the Duchess, who is the daughter of the late thief king, who is apparently, a good person. All this local trivia hurts my brain. I’m just going to tag along until I get a better grasp of what’s going on. Best way to get this contact apparently, is to rob without a license. Some innocent looking innkeeper (who apparently my new friends have not made a good impression on) told us that.

So we… uh… ‘robbed’ a human lady in the city rather clumsily – I knew nothing about stealing of course, but it worked. I guess we acted so weirdly we must’ve seen like a bunch of really intimidating and insane thieves. We were handed a money pouch. Telemnar then performed spectacularly – asking for the address of the person you just robbed… which idiot would do that? Might as well say, “I want to rob your house too, lead the way!” Indeed, we were horrible thieves.

We stumbled around for the rest of the day attempting to put ourselves in alleys and dark corners of the city so that we are easily ambushed and therefore contacted by the local thieves. When that failed to work, we decided to focus on the other task at hand – returning the money that we stole. As we approached the human embassy though, we were met by a strange character who led us to … an alley in order to talk it seems. It was an ambush – payback for robbing without a license inside the city. We managed to convince them that we were stealing only to get the chance to speak to them, considering that we were horrible thieves and that we were already on our way to return the money. The thief promised to put us in contact with the Duchess.

Which happened sooner than we expected. The Duchess turned up in the library at the prince’s manor (yep another important character. Apparently he is someone that the merry band I’m with helped in the past) and sent us on an espionage mission to retrieve information about an upcoming meeting of the Club leadership. Apparently the arch-nemesis of new companions is working with them. (Gah too many sub-plots in this story.)

We approached the home the Duchess described from the back door. Telemnar and Pazzik sneaked into the house, bypassing several guards, and taking out one, searching for some information about could point at where this meeting is taking place. I was later called in to check out a statue which turned out to be non-magical after all. I can’t stop wondering why Pazzik didn’t just cast detect magic himself. Are those spellbooks only for show? We later found a suspicious looking piece of parchment with a cryptic message which seemed to be what we were looking for.

Looking around at the rather tall home, Telemnar have apparently been careful to hide the fact that we ever entered the home. Which is dumb… since they’ve already set off a trap downstairs, and killed a guard. Before I could say anything, they set off an explosion on one of the chests upstairs, and robbed it clean. I rolled my eyes and started messing up the place, conveniently crumpling up the mystery parchment and tossing it to the side to give the impression that we were not looking for information, but just robbing.

The Duchess apparently understood the cryptic message we discovered, and we were soon sent to a warehouse where the meeting is to take place. We were told that the arch-nemesis of my party would be present too. If only I could remember his name…

EDIT: (OOC) Lord Downey is the villian’s name. Lol.

Posted by: Wilz | July 21, 2007

Companions

“Ulthalamel can’t be too much further south,” he thought. The north-south forest trail is a mile or so towards the west. Over the past few days Rioden have been keeping close to the road, sometimes following it, sometimes merely watching. So far, he has not met any interesting traveling companions yet, although there are plenty of travelers.

“I guess I am in no hurry,” he thought to himself. Chirping from a nearby nest caught his attention. The cries of the hatchlings within sound more distressed than normal. Bending down to give Greymane a reassuring pat and to request that he stay for a while, he climbed the tree and studied the nest from another branch. There were no signs that the parents have abandoned the nest. There were signs of a predator though, but he was too late to observe the circle of life at work.

A tall petrified tree stood some distance aways from his own tree. He was shocked to see several humanoid figures fall from the top of the tree downwards into the forest at an unnaturally slow speed. Magic, no doubt. Adventurers perhaps?

The group traveled through the forest clumsily, encountering several creatures along the way. It appears however that they were headed towards Ulthalamel as well. When they were nearing the town, Rioden decided to approach them. An impossibly tall elf greeted him, and demanded reasons for his presence. “Clearly an adventuring party,” he thought. “Only one recently harassed by hostile attacks would possibly be so paranoid, especially when approached by the average person.”

For a moment, he did not know what to say as he stared at the elf. Rioden himself was one of the tallest elves he knew at 5 feet 5 inches. This elf, or Telemnar as he later introduced himself, was 6 feet tall! The only time he has come across elves the height of humans was in fantasy storybooks, especially those written by humans – a race which is a lot more prone to fantasizing about that which is not real. “There must be a reason for his height,” Rioden mused to himself. “A freak accident? A magical background? Dragon blood? Definitely a subject worth of further study.” His interest is peaked.

The initial paranoia died down as Rioden assured the party that he was a harmless traveler, and that he was only looking for companions to travel with as he learnt more about the rising tensions between the Elven nation and the Dornish states. Apparently the party is also involved in a similar adventure. He could have met no better traveling companions. They agreed to allow him to join quite quickly, thanks to his healing wand which he promised to use liberally.

As they moved towards Ulthalamel, Rioden studied his new companions. The elven druid Ashyra, a quiet one, immediately caught his eye. She isn’t much for words, and her motivations are clearly her own. Her wolverine friend scuttles along beside her. Greymane has been staring at the small but ferocious looking rodent with quiet amusement as it shuffled its short legs to keep up with the druid. The dwarf warrior is also hard to miss, despite his height. Gruff, straightforward, and constantly speaking (more like grunting) of battle, Daquj announces his presence everywhere he goes with the clanking of his full plate. Considering his rather savage demeanor, he looks more like a barbarian than a fighter.

The human called Hawkins is another silent figure, walking quietly, fingering his bow as his eyes searched the forest in front of him. However he lacks the relaxed comfort with which the ranger walks the forest. And his final companion was one he nearly missed. A gnome, almost completely hidden in the underbrush. From the books and spell component pouch he was carrying, Rioden could only assume that Pazzik was a wizard. But the strange fondness with which he touched the dagger by his side…

Their entry into the city did not go well. Apparently, one of the districts is facing some kind of internal struggle between some group calling themselves the Club, and another who are loyal to some Duchess. Having spent the last several years in the forest, with little contact with ‘civilized’ world outside of visits to the elven capital, Rioden was not very well versed with current affairs of the land. He did not expect to be attacked so early on his travels. His companions however, appear to be sure of what they are doing. He will follow for now and see where their path will lead him.

Posted by: Wilz | July 21, 2007

Setting Out

Aramus was quiet as we walked down the spiraling staircase around the great central tree of the citadel. His face bore a silent, supportive smile. His thoughts were his own however. Despite my prodding he had refused to tell me his thoughts on my latest request, only that he supported my decision, and that I should do as I believe is best for me.

“Although it isn’t common practice in the circle, we agree with your idea of making the last leg of your training an actual mission for the circle. It is quite amusing that you would seek to serve a circle to which you are still an initiate. It is also pleasing,” the venerable Speaker of the Emerald Circle had said. “You have also demonstrated the qualities of a wanderer and explorer and it is not our interest to hold you in one place against your will. As you have clearly indicated that you are not interested in, and I quote, ‘a silly errand’ we have decided to send you to Ulthalamel. As you know, tensions are rising between the Eloran nation and the Dorn states to the south. You are to seek out information about the situation, and play whatever role you see fit in defusing any explosive circumstances. You are also to advise us if you feel that conflict is to soon arise as a result of the situation, and that our intervention is required.”

Indeed, it is no silly errand. Perhaps they have overestimated my capabilities, but Aramus had remained silent. He would have spoken out if he felt that I was being put in harms way. True, it was I who requested to be sent on a mission. I have learned much in my few years among the circle and have participated in no few expeditions and missions, but I wanted something real. Something a full member of the circle would undertake. But the prospect of dealing with the nobility of Caernbrennau… I was not sure I was ready to see him again…

As we reached the base of the tree, Aramus spoke, “Remember to seek out companions to travel with. I would come along with you, but Speaker Thaedras have need of me at the citadel, and the other members are out as usual.” I nodded at the human I have come to think of as a good friend and mentor

As we walked away from the trees and approach the edge of the clearing, I looked back at my home. The five great trees stood magnificently, nestled in a deep ravine, flanked by rock solid mountains on either side. A river flowed past their trunks, from the edge of the northern forest to the southern cliff, spewing water off its edge in a beautiful waterfall that drops for miles into a lake below. The northern forest towards which we were walking now is the only approach to the citadel.

Aramus raised his hands in a gentle motion, and the undergrowth parted before him, forming a path out of the dense forest. He placed a hand on my shoulder, “Good luck friend.” I smiled and walked through the magical path he had created. The noise of the waterfall receded behind me as I walked. When I could no longer hear the torrential downpour of water upon rock, I knew I was alone in the wilderness of the Eloran forests.

It is time to set out once again.

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