Blood on the Stones Act 2
by, 05-22-2010 at 04:26 AM (652 Views)
It is the year 1425 in the Kingdom of Acamea. The Crusade of King Braden I is embroiled in violent battles all over the kingdom. Recently, Castle Bedros has fallen to the Drow Menace.
Kom Stone is a bastard-born battle-sorcerer of the Bedros family. Recently, he has rescued his cousin Alicia from the Drow. Together they are traveling to Realmadon to inform his uncle about the tragedy at home. http://www.obsidianportal.com/campai...aracters/85023
Kai-Mei An assassin by trade, the Shadow-genasi has never known a normal life. His pain is deep, and his hate for others is all he lives for.
Rurik Dankil A proud member of the warrior caste of clan Firesmith in the Ironhorn Mts. He quests to avenge the death of his brother by the infamous, "Clanless," dwarven bandits. http://www.obsidianportal.com/campai...s/rurik-dankil
Rylira Jael're A chosen heiress of the now dead-matron of her house... Rylira is plotting to avenge her and take her place.
Bayberry A halfling rogue from the infamous Dark Nest region of the Low Wood. An herbalist by trade, she has recently started buying land. http://www.obsidianportal.com/campai...cters/bayberry
Weather and Season
It is early Spring in the Bedros province. Strong winds and icy rains quickly wear at lingering snows. White-capped mountains gleam in the sun but the blooms of spring are yet to come.
The terrain is hilly, hard and rocky. Stunted evergreens and hardy brush lay their roots wherever they can reach soil that is still in a state of permafrost. Farmers in this land usually must wait till late spring to lay hardy crops of barley, potato’s and sweet roots.
Act 2: Part 1 "Into the Shadows" First Session
So...I guess this is the end... But, I feel no hatred...no pain...no sadness? I thought...death was
supposed to be sadder... I guess my fellow genasi were correct...I was never supposed to exist...I
was waste...trash..But, if I was supposed to die...why am I not happy?...I do not know... Alicia......thank you...I guess I have to say that...at least to myself...while I will never repay you...thank you...for showing kindness...I guess...this was always meant to be my fate...to die... Kai-Mei starts to radiate light...Why am I...glowing?...I feel...warmth......I guess I will never know... Kai-Mei vanishes into the ether. Gone. His possesions remain, but nothing is left of Kai-Mei as he dissappears...
As Kom and Alicia are camped two men approach the fire. One is short, bald and very strong. The other is taller with a huge greatsword on his back. The shorter one speaks first. "My name is Braxon Claithorn," He gestures to the big guy..."And he is Marcus Sutherland."
"Sirs, I am Kom Stone, son of Hage Bedros. She is Alicia Bedros, my cousin. We are refugees from Castle Bedros where the Drow attacked last night."
Braxon nods, starts to remove his armor to tend to a wound. "I did not know the Drow were so widespread already... We left the Cromwell peninsula a week ago at the behest of the King. He fought a great battle there I'm sure
"I heard." Kom Answers. "We are currently on my way to Realmadon to try to alert our forces there that they are needed at home, though I am not sure what good that will do. I shot one of the drow several times and it didn't seem to phase him. Even my sorcery was ineffective. Combined with slime like Kai-Mei running around..." he sighs. "I don't know what to do. Now, I've explained myself, what are you doing here?"
The two men look at eachother. "We are also headed to Realmadon. The King wants us to deliver something to his champion, Sir. Romulus Reinhardt... who is the governor of Realmadon for the time being. Apparently, the usual channels through the royal mages are no longer secure... so we have to rely on hand-delivered messages for important matters."
Kom nods at their mention of the security problem. "When the Drow attacked us, they had some sort of secret weapon. Huge crystals rose from the ground, and even my father's magic faltered, while theirs
"Hmm... the dark crystals. Yes, we believe Skellos is behind that somehow. He did crush the entire Oak family castle with a flying dark-crystal palace some months ago... perhaps he is sharing that power with the Drow? We have no doubt they are allies."
Kom nods slowly, like an individual who sees no hope in the world. Braxon cringes as he stitches himself, coating the wound with hot
wax, then he frowns and pulls a small dart from his neck. When the dart is pulled out, a black hexagon forms where the dart once
was...it burns...it burnssssss like hell...
"Whats that?" Marcus asks... "A parting
gift from that assassin Kae Mei. He muttered something like his life has been a curse, and he wanted to share it with me... I think he meant it literally."
Kom sighs. "Kai Mei was my last hope for saving the soul of the man who more or less raised me. That's why I permitted him to travel with us. But there is no excuse for his behavior I apologize. He is dead then?"
Braxon shrugs. "I do not know. He fell, then he melted into shadows. He is gone."
Alicia frowns. "I am happy both of you are here. We would be grateful to have your company on our trip. I will try my best not to be a burden and slow you down."
Marcus shakes his head. "It would be my honor to escort you my lady. How do you think you should travel to Realmadon exactly? As the crow flies heading overland due east would be the
shortest route. Remember Spelltember is overrun with Drow, so that road would not be safe. There
is no word yet that the town of Freewell has been sacked however."
Kom disagrees. " I would travel by foot to Crownstone with hopes of acquiring
horses. If it isn't full of Drow too, that is. We could take the north road to Saddleburg, then cut east across country, and then take the south road once there, bypassing Spelltember entirely. Or, if the country is too dangerous, we could continue on the road north to Angevan, then turn south.
Braxon shrugs. "We could also go south to Holstein for horses. Odds are it would be
less risky than Crownstone if you are worried about Drow and the same distance away besides.."
Kom shakes his head. "True, but that means either crossing mountains, travelling all
the way through Pillan, or doubling back. We have seen no sign of Crownstone being ransacked. Yet."
Alicia chimes in. "That does make sense... your sister is in Crownstone as well at the Bedros Academy of Sorcery."
Marcus Grunts. "Very well Crownstone it is then."
By the light of a new morning, they walk westward to the road north to Crownstone. Along the way Marcus keeps talking about the perils they have already witnessed. Kom listens intently, trying to make sense of why and how everything in his life went wrong, and what he can do about it.
Marcus speaks of a huge naval battle off the western coast, between the kings navy and the pirates of the burnhardt family, in league with the exiled Rudhard Burnhardt and the cult of Skellos.... he speaks of massive camps of refugee's flooding out of Spell Haven fleeing the Drow. He witnessed Drow attacking theses camps outside of Ascalon, and he also mentions having to hide from minions and spies of Skellos.
"Kai Mei was a pawn of Skellos," Kom says, at the
mention of the dark one.
"Heh, I got that impression as well..." Braxon says scratching at the black mark on his neck.
"I am sorry. I have been a fool. I should not have brought him with us." Kom apologizes.
As they move north along the road to Crownstone, you see a crowd of people moving south. Most of them are commoners, dusty and tired from hasty travel.
"Uh oh..." Marcus says."Looks like more refugee's." He frowns.
Alicia bites her lip. "Then Crownstone..."
"We'll have to ask them." Marcus says. "Perhaps its just the fearful ones fleeing before they are attacked. The Drow have that effect on people seems like. As soon as they hear about a drow attack nearby, they pack up their things and flee. It's as if they have lost faith in their own leaders to defend them..."
"I pray that is the case." Kom says.
"Can we do anything to help them??" Alicia asks looking pitifully at the frightened children.
"The only way I can imagine we could help them is to get to Realmadon quickly." Kom answers.
By the afternoon, thy expect to see smoke or some sign of castle Bedros to the east. However, all they see is darkness on that horizon. It's as if those hills have been painted black. The sun recoils from the shadows of their former home. Ahead, the throngs of refugee's thicken, blocking the road somewhat.
Kom stops a citizen and asks him what has happened to Crownstone.
"It's them daaark elves!" He says wide-eyed. "They came in the night... killing indiscriminantly. They must've come up from the very ground! The great walls of the city did us little good I tell ye'!"
Kom shrugs helplessly to the others in the group.
The man goes on. "But tis' true they did not sack the city... not yet. But there are these big crystals see... they came up like giant spears... up through the streets and buildings. They keep popping up kinda regular-like... and each time a different part of the city goes black. It's like hell on earth! God help us! I left while I still could... no doubt there will be more of em comming... and I don't wanna be nearby when they do! I wanna put as much distance between me and those evil obelisks as I can before nightfalls again! Turn around I tell ya... there's nothing but death behind me!" He says and hurries off again.
Kom frowns. "Some of these refugee's
have horses... I suggest we buy what we need from these poor people and avoid Crownstone."
...end of first session
Act 2: Part 1 "Into the Shadows" Second Session
Jordan Bailey had aspirations that his son jason might one day become a knight and trained him accordingly. Sadly Jordan died when Jason was still young and the lad put aside that proud ambition for several years.
The Bailey family hailed from Whitby, an independent town with a perilous reputation close
to the Lightning Plains. Only the brave and enduring chose to live there. News of events in the Kingdom was slow to reach the frontier. For example It wasn't for weeks after the new king was crowned that Jason heard of it. Before then, all he knew of King Braden was he had a quarellsome reputation. He was the heir to the Cromwell Barony fighting with the Burnhardts, Duke Leontine and his own uncle to claim his right. However the queen pardoned him, and it was rumored he was in her favor. Then the queen was killed at the end of last year, and now it seemed Baron Braden was King Braden.
Than a couple months ago, Jason heard of a wicked cult seeding itself in the kingdom. Known as the Cult of Skellos, the Slayer. Soon afterward there were warnings of an outside menace invading the kingdom. A race of evil dark elves that have never been seen before. A few weeks ago, he heard that the King had called a crusade against the cult of Skellos and the dark elves, whom were believed to be allies.
Jason decided he must join this crusade and fullfill his fathers dream of becomming a knight.On his first stop In Westride rumors of invasion were rough on everyones tongue. The magnificent city of Spelltember, city of wizards was sacked by the dark elves. It was also in Westride that he heard about Romulus Reinhardt and his purpose in the city of Realmadon.
Jason knew that a knight had to be knighted by the king or another knight. He had to get noticed by the right people. After King Braden assumed power he created a personal order of knights, known as the Order of the Strutterrin. Unlike other knightly orders (such as the Order of the White Gauntlet), these knights were not only recruited from noble families. Strutterrin knights were expected to surrender any noble claims they might have when they took their oath. Thus, soldiers and adventurers had just as much right to accepted into the order without qualms or disfavor.
He heard that Sir Romulus Reinhardt was the head of the order, and the kings champion as well. By the kings bequest he has taken governance of the great city of Realmadon, to maintain the peace there since the king has recently declared that city a protectorate of the crown, where once it was independent.
Jason decided he wanted to offer his sword to the kings champion, but the road west to Realmadon was considered impassible to most travelers. Still he thought you should make haste, and last night you he camped near the city of Crownstone eager to make his journey. Then suddenly he saw smoke and fire rise from out of the city. For a glimpse he thought he saw some huge black crystal obelisk rising over the rim of the walls, when suddenly the city fell into gloom. Jason feared the worse.
He tried to approach the city to see what was happening. After hastily packing his things he started towards it under the stars. However each step he moved closer towards it seemed to bring him further into gloom. The stars dimmed above him and he could not avoid wandering off the road without a torch to guide him. Then the torch itself seemed to dim and he could not see much beyond its flickering flames.
Suddenly he heard hooves galloping towards him, and out of the darkness charged a horse eyes wide with fear. Blood was smeared over its hide lathered with sweat, and upon its back a boy gripped its reigns as if his life depended on it.
Jason managed to grab the horse though it nearly trampled him in the process. The boy fell from his saddle, and as he catched him he realized he was the source of the blood on the horse. The boy had two crossbow bolts in his back and one in his leg. He opens his mouth to speak, but he can only gurgle and wheeze. It was obvious he had a punctured lung and his skin was pale from bloodloss.
Whispers of the Drow
As a rogue in service to House Jael're she heard about a secret order known as the Darkmasks. These cleric/rogues were the elite of Vhaeruns clergy and they served the masked lord with complete devotion. It was known the Darkmasks were sworn enemies of Lolth.
Though she was now in Acamea she was not native to this world... She hailed from the forest of Cormanthor with the other surface drow of house Jael're. Life there was a challenge for her kind. They had no allies on the surface of Faerun. The only thing that came close were the Zhentarim, with whom they traded for information.
Being that her fellow drow were all of the same house it wasn't typical for them to steal from eachother. Those drow that served the nobles of course, were sometimes asked to kill their own kind to maintain order. Most drow rogues preyed on other surface races hoping to buy themselves favor and security within house Jael're.
She was very tallented in this regard. Her trophies and exploits earned her the respect of her peers and nobles alike. However, as a woman she was shunned from the religion of Vhaerun. Only the matron mother of her house, Ballebreeza, stood above the men. Other women merely served their lords and husbands. The society of Vhaerun was very different from that of Lolth.
Now on horseback Kom makes better time as he backtracks south through throngs of refugees... Away from the gloom spreading over Crownstone and Castle Bedros. Braxon and Marcus ride ahead of Alicia and Kom, while the pack mule follows on a rope tied to Koms saddle...
Among them the mood is grim. There was supposed to be safety in Crownstone, they looked forward to spending at least one night within its walls without fear. Now it seems there was no safe refuge. They may have to skirt civilization itself to reach Realmadon alive.
Braxon and Marcus talked in hushed debate. They were doing their best to keep their voices down if only out of deference to Alicia's fluttering heart. Before them weary travelers and their children moved aside with sad expressions. Alicia smiled at the children sometimes, but mostly she keeps her eyes downcast with her hands tightly gripped on the reins
Alicia had grown silent since this morning. She was brooding on the misfortune of her family and their people. As her old journal now sat with Kom she started on a new one, though she is remiss to try and explain her riddle-like thoughts.
"It's as if I don't know what I am going to write until I write it sometimes." She said. "A part of me feels... disconnected. I'm used to it but it is frustrating. I don't always know what to make of my visions and lately I feel very afraid. I feel cold, and my skin crawls as if something evil is watching me."
Kom has stayed solemn-faced and strong for Alicia's sake, though there is little truth to it. Torn between the knowledge that there was probably nothing he could have done and his old habit of blaming the misfortune of others on his own inaction, he has been downhearted all morning.
After a few hours in the saddle Braxon suggests they stop for lunch. "Better we eat our stores while we can. No telling if we'll have time to stop and enjoy a meal once we leave the road again."
"Braxon, if you weren't so ugly I might mistake you for a dwarf. You think with your stomach!" Marcus chides.
"Heh... I wish I were a dwarf, safe in some stone fortress in the mountains... Sounds better then keeping an ass like you company." Braxon retorts...
Soon enough they are sitting around a small cook fire while Braxon prepares a hardy meal of salted pork, strong cheese and black bread. There is even some ale to drink. On the roadway nearby, they are curious to see a pair of travelers headed north on horseback. These two are clearly not poor refugee's. The group seems to pique their interest as well. They ride up and politely asked for permission to join them.
The male was very tall and slender. His eyes and hair were golden, something else than human, but friendly-seeming. He carried a lute and a short bow. The girl is young, but not so much as Alicia. Her combination of Scarlett red hair and blue eyes made her quite striking. She carries a basket-hilt rapier with a red ribbon tied to the hilt. Around her neck is the red chess-piece of The Red Knight, Patron goddess of the Cromwell Family.
Kom greets them. "Hail, Cromwells. If your business is in Bedros, you may as well turn back. Drow have taken the Bedros province."
The golden-haired one nods solemly. "We heard as much from the refugee's. I am Elijah Mahdi, I am an aasimar if you hadn't noticed... and this lady calls herself Scarlett. We are bards, and we'd be happy to share stories with you. Also"... he adds a little more seriously. "We are being followed."
Kom would more than willingly listen to the tales had the events of the past few days not occurred. "Followed?"
"Well..." He looks at Scarlett. "It would be a strange coincidence if that wasn't the case. These men are very keen on keeping close to us. When we camp, they camp nearby... when we go into an Inn, they go into the Inn... etc."
"Besides shaking them, do you have any other reason to be
"Ahem..." Marcus interrupts. "That is a rude question to ask of a bardess of The Red Knight Kom. She may go wherever she pleases as far as I am concerned.... Hello my lady... I am Marcus Sutherland."
"Oh!, very pleased to meet you sir." Scarlett says bowing her
head to Marcus. "I have heard you are in the Barons favor, despite how recently you returned
home. It was interesting to know there are more Sutherlands about elsewhere in the kingdom."
Kom continues. "I'm not going to stop you. Just suggest that you seek a safer
Elijah responds to Kom... "At this point I think there is more safety in numbers... and you look to be more capable warriors then most we've seen on the road lately. We mean no offense, I would not ask to endanger you if you preferred we did not."
"That's fair." Kom replies.
Braxon crosses his arms still chewing on his pork. "We uh..."
chew-chew "...are happy to share your company for now. Though I do not think you would
want to travel with us where we are headed." Chew-chew.
"We thank you anyway for your hospitality, we mean no intrusion... as a matter of fact we are on a rather dangerous journey ourselves." Elijah replies.
Alicia leans in your ear Kom. "Whats an aasimar?"
"They're good guys. They have a celestial in their bloodline."
The pair of bards share in the meal and speak a Elijah speaks a bit of their travels. "We volunteered to aid the crusade as messengers and informants. Scarlett here is devoted to her goddess for life but she is of noble birth. I am her guardian."
Alicia looks at Kom and says. "As am I, and he is my guardian." Kom forces a smile for friendliness' sake, but it is short-lived.
The conversation eventually got around to everyones plans, and Marcus explained he is a messenger of the King. "I must deliver a message to Realmadon." He says. "Braxon also volunteered for this."
"Oh?" Elijah says looking at Scarlett. "We are trying to do the
same thing. What an odd coincidence."
"Odd indeed. Three different groups from three different places with three different reasons, headed to Realmadon all meeting along the way." Kom comments. Chuckles followed his observation.
"This must be providance." Elijah says.
Marcus muses. "I wonder if our messages are the same? If that's true, what should we do?"
Kom replies, deadpan, "Go to Realmadon?"
"Right... but should we all go? Why risk six lives when two can get the job done?"
"Because there is strength and safety in numbers."
Braxon claps Marcus on the shoulder. "Don't wuss out now. One would think you were looking for an excuse to abandon our mission."
"Oh no not I." Marcus says straightening up. "Quite the contrary I was just thinking we are putting the ladies needlessly in danger."
Scarlett laughs. "I volunteered for this same as you. I have just as
much right to do my duty."
Kom mutters. "I can't think of any place I would consider safe between here
"Well, should we at least share our information so the odds are
better that both messages will get through?" Marcus says.
"We can't break the seals. If we do, the
messages are invalid." Scarlett says.
"Well, I doubt anyone would question our loyalty. We are all loyal Acameans serving the same king for the same cause."
"I think it would be best if the letters remained in their seals. It would not be well if the messages were delivered and not believed." Kom says.
"And I would question your loyalty for even suggesting that Marcus." Scarlett
says deadpan. "We can still help eachother without breaking our mandate and trust
Marcus looks flushed. "I meant... nevermind. Forget I said anything."
Scarlett chews on her meal. "I won't forget." A moment of tenseness seems to pass between them... Alicia sneezes.
Braxon stands up and walks towards some bushes.
"How are you holding up, Alicia?" Kom says changing the subject.
"I'm ok." She answers. "I'm happy to meet Scarlett. It's nice to have
another girl to talk too... since all my friends are..." she can't seem to finish her sentance.
Braxon sighs as he takes a long piss. He seems to look around, when he's finished he picks up a rock and throws it into a tree. He snorts, picks up another one and tries again. "Bah!" he says and walks back to the group.
"What were you throwing rocks at?" Alicia asks.
"This big raven." Braxon says. "It just stared at me. Kinda creepy. Didn't flinch at all when my rocks wizzed past him." Kom wonders if this is an omen.
Out of nowhere, an arrow pierces through Marcus' right hand... the same hand that threw the rock. The arrow has ravens-feather fletchings on it. Kom stands up with a start and looks around for the attacker. He spots nothing but a flock of ravens landing in nearby tree's. Kom remembers something like this from Draven's divination and grabs his morningstar.
"What the hell!" Braxon says staring at his hand in disbelief.
"Let me help you with that" Elijah says.
"Ravens-feathers!" Scarlett hisses. "Its the dark one!" She clutches at her holy symbol on her neck.
Another arrow whizzes by the aasimars neck and hits the fire sending coals flying.
"It's an ambush!" Scarlett says. "We need cover!"
Scarlett bolts for a nearby fallen tree snagging her crossboy off her horse in the process. Elijah seems very calm, and casts a healing spell on Braxon's hand. He pulls the arrow out. Marcus grabs his bow and follows scarlett, Braxon and Elijah go after him and Kom are alicia are last to act. Kom catches a glimpse of something with a beak aiming at them with a bow. He grabs Alicia and runs with her to the tree. Arrows fly into the rotten wood just as they hoped over it
More black feathered shapes circle and land in trees all around them.
"This isn't good." Scarlett says acting calm beyond her years.
end of Part 1....
Act 2: Part 2 "Leaving the Bedros Province" First session
Heading north from Ascalon Rurik asks passerby's if they've seen someone that meets the description of Markis Sutherland. Recently one of the refugee's said he spotted him with some others just up the road.
As he walks along the road he spot a flock of unnaturally large ravens descending into a clearing just ahead. Rurik gets a creepy feeling about the birds. He's heard rumors that ravens are spies of Skellos. He quickens his pace.
Meanwhile the rest of the party is surrounded by Skells. They are beside the road south of Crownstone in a small clearing. Around the clearing are wild shrubs and groups of pine trees. They are about 20 yards from the road and the creatures are all around the clearing in trees about 60 ft away.
The Skells caw and screech at eachother as if they are communicating. The fact they have bows of course obviously makes them something more then mere birds.
Scarlett suggests that they might try and make a run for it, but as if they overheard her the creatures turn the horses into pin-cusions ...
Kom aims his heavy crossbow at a Skell and the creature screeches its last and drops from the tree in a cloud of black feathers. It was holding a bow, and seemed to have some other items as well...
"Good shot!" Scarlett says and also fires her crossbow but misses. She curses.
Just then, an armored Dwarf runs into the clearing from the roadway. He see's lots of ravens, and freakish raven-creatures holding bows. He spots the party huddled behind a fallen tree.
The Skells start screeching even louder now at this unnexpected new target. Rurik heads towards the group and provides cover with his shield.
"Hmm, seems that a noble Dwarf has chosen to aid us." Elijah comments.
"Moradin help us what did you do to attract these damnable things?!"
"I haven't the slightest idea." Kom shouts.
The majority of the Skells seem to find the Dwarf an irresistable target. However the metal plated dwarf deflects all their arrows easily...
From the shadows of the trees. An observer comments to herself...good dwarf, draw their fire...
Kom casts Melfs Acid Arrow at another Skell and misses. The Skells caw in alarm. Then suddenly, from the shadows of a nearby pine a dark elf emerges!
She fires an arrow that flies directly over your heads of the party. A near miss. A moment later, a Skell falls to the ground with an arrow through its eye.
Kom ducks lower, having not seen the birdthing get shot. "Oh great, now the Drow are here!"
Rurik turns towards the drow "Come get some, I'll take the lot of you!"
The drow mutters under her breath, Bloody fools, doesn't they understand I'm helping them? Speaking up she says, "Perhaps we should finish off these skells first before picking another fight? Would seem prudent wouldn't it? Unless of course you would like to play with my arrows, which I assure you are far more deadly!"
"By the Red Knight!" Scarlett scowels.
"How interesting" Elijah says, "She seems to also dislike these creatures."
Kom tries to keep the party focused "Alright, focus your attacks on the birds, but try not to give that Drow a clear shot at you either."
Markis stands up ignoring Kom. "I have sworn an oath to destroy your kind drow *****! Why don't you come a little closer."
Kom curses "Markis, get down, you fool!"
The drow Laughs. "Oh have you now? I think i like my tree just fine thank you, perhaps you would want to come over here to talk, I'm sure your friends in the trees would be happy to fill your rear with needles!"
As if to emphasis her point an arrow hits Markis in the shoulder. He ignores it like a mere scratch, but there is poison on the arrowhead.
The drow laughs louder. "Just like that, perhaps you should listen to your friend there?" She grins at the foolish lesser race.
Braxon laughs at the absurdity of the moment. he seems to be easily amused.
Meanwhile the Skells realize they don't have the party outnumbered by much anymore. It is obviously they are very angry at these change of odds. After a couple more volleys, they take to the air again with a thunderous beating of wings and angry caws.
Watching them take wing, and not wanting to waste her valuable arrows on their fleeing shapes she peaks around the tree at the party again. "So human, what say you? You want to dance to my arrows or shall you think for a moment. I know it may be hard but perhaps theres a reason I was helping you against your enemies?"
Rurik grunts. "The drow can not be trusted but there is something to what she says" Kom reloads his crossbow.
"I have also swore an oath to destroy you." Scarlett says. the firery-haired bardess stands beside Markis. "Why should we believe anything you say?"
"Perhaps you should hear what I have to say, because I may have knowledge about where the invasion may go? Or perhaps I have inside knowledge about the leaders of the invasion you seem so helpless to stop? Or, perhaps I do not approve of the invasion itself? And maybe I want to help you turn it back?"
Kom calls back. "Explain why you just happened to show up just now. Why here, why us?"
The drow answers. "Ah those are good questions..."
"Hah!" Markis spits. "the drow b***h speaks with a forked tongue. I say we let her speak after we have her in chains!"
The drow laughs loudly. "I dare say you spit fire, perhaps someone with brains should make the decisions here?"
Kom frowns. "A forked tongue may still reveal the truth with the lies. Let her speak, so we can sort out which is which."
The Drow continues. "Not all drow who came are from my house, these other drow may be useful to interrogate. You have to ask yourself, do you want your land to be lost to Skellos or would you perhaps like to fight back?"
Rurik takes a step towards the tree. "I'll get her, no drow backstabber will get through dwarvencraft plate!"
Kom counsels. "Patience. Let's at least hear her out." He calls out to the drow again. "Of course I would like to fight back against Skellos. What do you propose?"
The drow Comes out from behind the tree, arrow nocked to her bow but not drawn. In an even tone she says. "Perhaps you would do well to keep your distance there dwarf, else you may have to test your theory." Raising her voice to be clearly heard "I propose an ... alliance, with you, you fight the invasion, so do I. You are floundering in the mud while I posses information which you could use, now of course I am alone, lacking allies, you could be of help to me. Just so your simple minds understand what I am saying i will repeat, I will give you information, targets of who is important in the invasion, and you will provide the muscle... AND as a token of what information i can provide, Sigal Jael're is the name of an important man in the invasion. Kill him, and you would do well to destablize things."
Kom considers what she says but his crossbow, pointed at her torso, hasn't moved an inch.
"Well this is a nasty situation" Rurik observes.
Kom answers. "On the one hand, if what you are saying is true, then you could be a great boon to us. On the other, Drow are not known for their honesty. You could be a spy."
The drow answers. "You have not been very quiet in your run from castle bedros. I have watched you since you left there, now I could have killed you at any time since then and taken your friend Alicia back to them, if i WAS a spy wouldn't i have done that long before now?"
Kom turns to his cousin for an opinion. "What do you think, Alicia?"
Alicias eyes are colder then he imagined they could be. "I want to see her die. Have you already forgotten what has happened to our family cousin?! It might not make any difference... but I would like to see her blood on the stones... where it will noursih nothing."
The drow responds. "Actually, if you were to kill me, I dare say it would make a big difference, infact probably be under the thumb of Skellos within the year."
Rurik grunts. "I'd rather not have to clean her guts off Hurtag if I can go without" Rurik lowers his axe and starts walking over to inspect one of the fallen skell warriors, best not get involved with the human business he groans inwardly.
Alicia whispers to Kom. "I realize now that she's the reason i've felt like something evil has been watching us."
Kom speaks to Alicia. "I have not forgotten the murders. I have not forgotten the dark crystals. I have not forgotten seeing my home plunged into darkness. But if leaving this one, evil or not, alive means saving the rest of our people, so be it."
The drow watches the dwarf closely as he moves off. If things dont go well shes sure he will be ready and willing to bury that axe into her.
Kom observes. "She entered the battle in our favor, when she could have ambushed us while we were distracted by the birds."
"So then we are in agreement then?" The drow says in a tone of boredom, her body seemingly relaxing though her hand on the bow never wavers.
Elijah speaks up on Koms side. "Unlike you humans here, I have seen Drow before on other worlds. They are not to be trusted, but even so, an enemy of our enemy can be useful to us. Drow are very clear about who their enemies are, and they are more interested in backstabbing their own kind. In this at least, I believe her when she says she's working against those that are helping Skellos."
Kom nods. "Then I say we should give her the benefit of the doubt."
On the Skell Rurik finds a short bow and a short sword. (snall sized) The creature is quite foul up close. It would probably not do well to touch it.
Seeing at least some kind of consensus amoungst the group the drow slides her arrow quickly and smoothly into a quiver at her hip. Her black skin mades a striking contrast to her metalic silver hair and eyes, while her cloths are all dark colors, black and dark green covering her torso and legs while leaving her arms bare. Her dark leather boots are almost knee high and look sturdy in their making. Her bow looks well crafted with what appears to have screaming faces in various forms of pain engraved
Braxon speaks. "I'm sorry Markis but I swore no oath. She doesn't scare me." He hmphs and crosses his arms...
"Markis you say?!" Rurik shouts from where the Skell fell. "He wouldn't happen to be a nobleman would he?"
"Aye what of it?" Braxon calls back.
Rurik rejoins the group and approaches Markis. "I've been looking for you. I heard you have some dwarven contacts, I need to get in touch with them"
Rylira just shakes her head, perhaps regretting her choice in muscle already. "Perhaps this is something that should be talked about on the road? I doubt those skell will sit idle while you chitchat about finding some dwarves now will they?"
Markis looks at Rurik more closely as if trying to decide something about him. "I have many contacts, you'll have to be more specific."
Kom mutters. "Damn. We're back on foot-- we'll never get to our destination at this rate."
"Well if we are headed somewhere, where would you have us go Drow?" Braxon asks.
Meanwhile Rurik speaks to Markis. "Allow me to introduce myself first. I am Rurik Dankil of the Warrior Caste, descendant of Iral Dankil of the Warrior Caste. I come from Clan Firesmith. The dwarves I am looking for have been associated with recent terrorist activities against our great community."
The Drow answers Braxon. "Perhaps to the city of Tiberius, i hear they have good wine. Also happens to be the the location of a safe house for the leader of a group of drow, or have you forgotten his name already? I believe the province is called Sighelm?"
Markis responds to Rurik. "Err... pleased to meet you." Markis says carefully. "I know your Clan, very honorable. I think you are referring to the ones that call themselves the clanless?"
Ruriks face twitches ever so slightly "Yes, those are the ones"
"Well I can assure you I am no friend of theirs. I did meet a few of them at an Inn a few days ago. Very rude and rowdy bunch, a shame to their race!"
"If the ancestors will it, I shall have those responsible brought to justice before this drow invasion makes travel impossible"
Markis Answers. "Well, those dwarves I met told me they were looking for some other dwarf, named Tura... Blackaxe if memory serves."
Kom makes up his mind. "We should get moving. Every second we delay, my people suffer."
"And every second we delay means a greater chance that he may not be there. And i would sorely be disappointed if hes missed." Rylira says.
Kom nods. "You know where we're going, Rylira, and I don't completely trust you, so you'll lead the way. We can talk as we walk."
Rurik considers the information. "Blackaxe... sounds familiar, although the origin eludes me"
Rylira says. "Why of course, surely I wouldn't expect you to know the way." She jabs at him. She starts heading out south eastish from here.
Markis continues conversing with Rurik as they walk. "I did not know where this Tura was, and even if I did I wouldn't have told them."
Kom can't help but overhear their conversation. Tura... Blackaxe... "Oh! I remember where I've heard that name before. I talked to him the night before the invasion."
Rurik turns to Kom. "Tell me everything"
Kom answers. "He said he was being followed, and was sent to deliver something. I think I have what he was sent to deliver."
"Might I have it?" Rurik asks. Kom hands over the scrap of journal parchment.
Rylira watches the exchange carefuly, trying to figure out exactly how everything fits and who is truely the leader, for it seems Kom is at the moment anyway.
Rurik notices immediately the journal is written in Dwarven script. It appears to be a journal entry... of King Malkor! The last living king of the BlackAxe clan, before he and so many others were so tragically lost when some great evil sprang up inside Thrakral, their ancestral home in the dragonhorn mts. "This is a great piece of dwarven history, a page of king Malkor's journal." He says.
"There was an assassin after this, but he's dead now. I know beyond doubt that he was a minion of Skellos." Kom says.
Rurik starts to read the journal entry out loud... "For several month's now we have been trading goods with Mr. Hargus Twenty, a merchant of Realmadon. Until now I have had no reason to doubt our business relationship, however today I heard a rumor that must be investigated. According to one of our brothers in Realmadon Hargus has been passing off cheap knock-offs as our own fine crafts! I have instructed guild representatives to find proof..."
"next entry ...Today I hear that it has been confirmed that Hargus has been underhanded in his dealings with us. However I am shocked to hear that the merchant council in Realmadon have refused our request for justice. It seems Hargus has more influence then I thought. But no matter, I have organized a warrior party to pay Hargus a visit. If dares to deny his guilt and return our goods at no cost he should be glad that I don't do more then destroy his shop and his reputation!..."
"...next entry... The war party I sent to visit Realmadon has returned. It seems Hargus was rightfully intimidated and pleaded forgiveness for his wicked scheme. He has returned our goods and admitted his guilt to the merchant council of Realmadon. I doubt his punishment will be severe since the ruling family seems to be protecting him... Also, he offered a small treasure as a sign of good faith. It is fascinating but something about it unsettles me..."
"...last entry... (scrawled much more hurriedly then the others) We are doomed! I was right to be weary of this thing Hargus sent us. It seems to be a gateway to some hell I do not recognize. There were voices... the air is heavy with some stale odor of ancient death... I have ripped out this page of my journal and attached it to a messenger bird. I pray that someday this evil will abate us and someone can find the rest of my journal... perhaps it holds clues that escape me. Farewell... ...the end."
"Sounds like fun." Rylira says though her voice holds no sarcasm and she truely thinks it would be fun.
Rurik of course does not hear the meaning behind the words. "Show some respect you inbred forest mongrel! These are the last words of a great king faced with the demise of his people, to experience what he did would surely bring Moradins eye to you. We should visit Realmadon and seek out this merchant next an opportunity rises."
"I doubt he'll still be alive after all this time, unless he's an Elf." Kom says.
Rurik ponders this. "His trade company might hold records?"
Scarlett speaks up. "I know something of this. In my studies at the church of the red knight there was mention of a Hargus Twenty from Realmadon. It seems he was cast out of the city in disgrace before he used his fortune to start a small war. It was in that war that the last king of Acamea was slain. Afterwards the queen ruled for the last 30 years... and Hargus himself fled into the Wilds beyond Realmadon. He was never seen again."
Kom smirks. "Probably eaten by some wolf. Serves him right."
Rylira chuckles. "Among my people you are only great if you survive your schemes intact."
Scarlett continues... "I am also aware that some of Hargus' relatives still live. It seems he was found of brothel houses in small towns. He was so impressed by one he bought the whole town... which too this day is still called Twenty Town, and the mayor is a descendent named Dondarion Twenty. I've met him before. He says his mother was married to Hargus Twenty. She too, still lives and still runs the same brothel house. Though, I do not think being married to a kings-slayer did her business any good... but there are plenty of unsavory types that visit that place for that very reason."
Rurik smiles at Scarlett. "Moradin bless my meeting you for this would surely have taken many weeks for me to figure out alone."
Scarlett nods at the Dwarf. "As a follower of the red knight I study battles. I only know of Hargus because he was involved in the most infamous battle in Acamean history. That's why I spoke with Dondarion, but he didn't have much to say about that. He never met Hargus himself, he told me to speak with his mother, but... somehow it felt wrong to walk into that brothelhouse so I never got the chance."
...end of First session
Blood on the Stones: Act 2: Part 2 "Leaving the Bedros Province" Second session
The walk south is tiresome and not a little disheartening. They pass several groups of tired, hungry refugee's. Rylira has to be verrrry careful about keeping herself well hidden for obvious reasons.
As dusk settles, they find themselves nearing the foothills of the Ironhorn Mts.
"Ah, the Ironhorn Mountains, home of my clan. Can't imagine better scenery." Rurik says admiringly. "I am undoubtedly best suited to lead us through these mts. I am quite familiar with them."
He continues. "Of course, I don't think I'd want to visit any of my old stomping grounds with a drow in our midst... chances are that'd would be very hard to explain... Ahead of us by this road, through a pass, lies the human town of Holstein."
Rurik glances at Rylira. "However I'm sure its probably out of the question for her to walk around a human town, much less stay at an Inn."
Rylira Agrees. "I believe it owuld be much quicker to our goals to bypass this small town."
Rurik nods. "In that case it might be better to step off the road entirely at this point and skirt
the foothills to the south-east, through the borders of spell haven down into the sighelm province. I know some shortcuts."
Rylira shrugs. "Shortcuts are fine as long as they don't lead to .. dead ends." She says with a
Rurik hmphs. "Wouldn't really be a shortcut then would it?" Rurik says not following Rylira's sense of humor. "Follow me." He says slowly trod ding off the road into the foothills.
"So Elijah, everyone but you have shown their colours. What kind of surface dweller are you if you don't mine me asking? Any odd beliefs or wierd customs I should know about?" Rurik asks.
"I'm not surprised you haven't seen my kind before noble dwarf, I am an Aasimar, and a chosen of Magnus. I am a friend and teacher to Scarlett and I have the utmost respect
for Acameans and their neighbors. It is my goal to help restore peace to this land. The
loss of Spelltember troubles me deeply."
Rurik nods. "I reckon an Aasimar must be like our paragon firesmiths. They're the ancestors chosen ones." Rurik knows little of surface dieties and starts pondering this Magnus. "Does Magnus show himself to you?"
"Magnus has not spoken to me of late. I fear the death of so many of his followers have weakened him. Still I must do what I can." Elijah answers.
On the wind Rurik detects a shout comming from the hills nearby. He looks back towards the others as he pulls out Hurtag and dons his shield, telling then what he heard.
Rylina Says quietly, "I don't hear anything over your rattling dwarf ...." but she knocks an arrow none the less. Kom also readies his crossbow.
"Rylira, scout ahead, they'll hear me coming for sure." Rurik says this as he continues on in a slow and steady pace."
Rylira looks at him with a slight narrowing of her eyes. "You don't give me orders dwarf, but it is sound advice ... you could wake the dead." She move off towards the direction he points.
Though it is quickly getting dark the dwarf moves so slowly those with human eyes manage to follow without breaking their necks.
Meanwhile up ahead Rylira spots the cause of
the shouting. A man in very odd, and very fine, garb is being accosted by a group of brigands.
However, the brigands are themselves being accosted by a group of dwarves... with an ogre. They seem to be arguing about who gets to keep the rich man as a prisoner. It seems they are near to fighting over him. She estimates there are a dozen humans (including the leaders) and eight dwarves.
Rylira rests behind cover, waiting for the rest to come up, thinking quickly ... and wondering why dwaves would be standing with an ogre. She listens to what they say, wondering
who this man is, not really caring too much about both sides, but why do they want him?
As the rest of the group comes up behind her and witnesses the scene Rurik realizes right away that these must be clanless dwarves. The same sort that killed his brother. After all no self-respecting mountain dwarf would ever associate with an ogre. They were far enough out of the foothills that they were in clanless territory, or so they claimed.
Rurik almost snarles in a low voice "Clanless! ...despicable halfbeings that call themselves dwarves."
Kom recognizes the hate in Rurik's expression. "I think we should wait for the two bands of renegades to do battle amongst themselves. The survivors will be weakened and easier to deal with."
"We should confront them immediately." Rurik says nearly knocking Rylira aside in his eagerness to do battle. Kom winces. He was certain his idea was more tactically sound.
Rylira considers retaliation against the dwarf for almost walking over her but oddly is not so eager to spill blood as he is. Instead she reaches out to grab him by the shoulder. "What Kom says is right. If we attack now we unite them together. I would prefer you not rush to your death so hastily as long as you are of use to me."
"I do not think only for revenge! That prisoner may not have a chance for rescue once the fighting starts." Rurik says shrugging her off.
Rylira argues. "Think for a moment! ...If you have any brains inside that thick skull... The prisoner has the best chance of survival, and so will we once they start killing each other. Maybe you can't count but they outnumber us by more then two-to-one!"
Rurik grits his teeth. "Fine! Have it your way... ...forgive me ancestors, moradin bless you Jihan..." Rurik prays thinking of his brother, his honor, and his vow for vengeance.
Rylira chuckles. "Stop grumbling before i take your voice box out." She says cheerfully.
"You'll get your chance, Rurik," Kom says, noting the dwarf's agitation, "but the time is not yet right."
There are about a dozen humans, and nearly as many dwarves, but the ogre would count for at least 6 men so it would seem that the dwarves should have the humans intimidated but that isn't the case. The humans actually seem feverishly eager to do battle, and it is only their pair of leaders that hold them back.
Scarlett realizes something. "Hey! those are the two men that were following me and Elijah earlier!" she whispers.
Meanwhile the dwarves seem to be loosing patience and the ogre is grunting and stomping waving a massive club. The two human leaders seem to be at their wits end, but instead of sending in their men to attack something appears to swoop to their aid.
From the dark sky, a huge skeletal bird swoops down and slashes at the ogre with black talons. The Ogre is momentarily startled to be sure, but quickly throws up his club to block the lethal talons that might have torn his head off!
...end of second session
Blood on the Stones: Act 2, Part 2 "Leaving the Bedros Province Third session
"Bless us Moradin! It's... skeletal!" Rurik gasps.
"See, this sort of thing is why it's good to observe the situation before charging in." Kom observes.
Rylira nods. "I find myself agreeing with you."
The sudden appearence of such a frightening creature shocks the dwarves into a panic. The humans must be somehow partnered with the bird as they are not frightened of it. They immediately take advantage of the distraction and attack.
Rylira says "Lets move up, get in a better position to reach that prisoner."
"I agree." Kom says. "Alicia, please wait here. Elijah, please look after her until we call for your aid."
Rylira starts moving up, quickly and quietly as only one of her kind can be.
"Yes lets get closer." Rurik starts hustling towards the fight, assuming they are too preoccupied to notice him.
Among the brigands the leaders do not rush into battle themselves. One of them has the prisoner in hand with a short sword against their back, and the other notches an arrow to a bow. The rest of the brigands charge around them. There is a clash of steel and shield and flesh. Several of the dwarves are wounded by the initial onslaught!
Kom realizes it will take the party several minutes to move up while sneaking in this relatively open terrain. The six-foot-six Markis, in Banded mail, with a massive great sword
is even harder to hide then the dwarf!
Kom notices one of the leaders heads snap in your direction. He is short, and quick looking with the eyes of a hawk. The other one holding the bow is of more average height and build.
The freakish bird has to gain more altitude before he swoops down for another attack giving the Ogre a chance to do some harm to the humans... The brute has no trouble swinging his tree trunk over the heads of his dwarven compatriots.
One of the human warriors gets swatted out of the fight by the Ogres massive great club. He lands in a heap nearby. Meanwhile the dwarves counter-attack. They seem to be more disciplined but less ferverous then the brigands. They only manage to wound 3 of the humans.
The party is now a bit closer to the fight as the bird swoops in for another pass at the ogre. Black talons rake across its shoulder causing the Ogre to duck and shout.
Meanwhile Rylira curses at Markis. "Markis you blundering fool, keep moving forward but don't try and hide. The humans have spotted you so don't make yourself look like a threat."
"Shut up shadows whore!" he curses at Rylira... but he does seem to realize that he is spotted so he starts to walk forward without hiding any longer.
Rurik also merely jogs forward without any attempt at stealth determined to kill the Ogre as a great enemy of the firesmith clan.
Recovering hits wits the Ogre swings again at the humans pulverizing the earth, but narrowly misses hitting anyone. The dwarves press their counter attack but one of them creates an opening. One of the humans steps forward to try and attack the open-dwarf when his neck is cut open by one of his companions... he falls to the ground clutching at blood oozing between his fingers. Three other humans are wounded by the dwarves, bringing the total of wounded humans to 6 out of 9, and the total number of dwarves to 7 wounded out of 7.
The bird attacks again. Again the Orgre is wounded by the birds vicious talons. The humans attack and one of them dies... 4 dwarves are killed. now they are outnumber the dwarves 2 to
1 again. One of the dwarves goes for a horn. The human leader with the bow tries to hit him with an arrow before he can sound it. He narrowly misses. A deep throbbing HARROOOOO echoes
through the hills.
Rylira thinks to herself, Interesting .... more dwarves will be coming it seems. Best take the prisoner and leave then ... "I think we best be quick about this if we want to get the prisoner away alive, don't you agree?" The drow darts off into the shadows and is gone! only the dwarf
might spot her now with his darkvision.
*The Ogre, sensing that his allies are loosing swings even harder and wider with his club hoping to injure more then 1 human with his swing...he is not successful... his clumsy swing puts him off balance. The dwarves are fighting for their lives now. One more human is killed.
Rurik things to himself... I wonder where that damn bird went? Then suddenly, Rurik is clutched in its talons and carried aloft!
Rylira is the only one with a readied missile weapon. She fires an arrow at the birds wing hoping to cripple it. But misses! Damn...
The bird stubbornly clutches to Rurik as it starts to gain altitude. Rylira attempts a second shot, and hits! The bird starts to flutter out of the sky but Instead of dropping Rurik, its going to slam its full weight on him as it crashes into the ground!
Rurik shouts a mighty battle cry as he grapples with the giant bird. They are falling like a rock and the birds injured wing prevents it from landing at all gracefully. They impact the earth like a meteor! The ground shakes! Dust, Feathers, stones, and shattered bones go flying!
...end of third session.