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It's been a great 28 years, Daniel!

I can say with no exaggeration that your game and the friendships I've made through it has been one of the major highlights of my life. I will miss the game very much and will miss the opportunity to regularly see good friends even more.

Thank you for a wonderful 28 years.

Andrew

It's been a great 28 years by RankinRankin, 25 Jul 2015 19:12

The party diverted from the river heading West into the woods to avoid rifts ahead on the river. They soon discovered a trail of what looked like fleeing people being pursued by the creatures. The running battle went for miles through the woods leaving its spore in torn up, blood covered soil, partially eaten or transformed bodies and dead, possessed elves and other creatures. The party believe they were following along the path of what were once, approximately, 100 humanoids and even more of the creatures. Soon they came upon a hill where the survivors were besieged at its crest by scores of creatures.

The party attacked the flanks, while the survivors fought the van. Slowly, the creatures were defeated, but with significant losses from both the besieged and the party, when N'Tal was killed.

Slightly under a score of the defenders survived. Mostly human with a few half-orcs, a dwarf and a half-elf.

Trading stories, the party found out that these survivors were part of a disparate group imprisoned/interned by the elves in the capital, Ereth Cinlu. They were interned because they needed to be escorted out of Bern Woods, and there was only a short period of time. One of the survivors was told, "you will leave the woods or be underground." He took that to mean expelled or executed, but when pressed he couldn't swear to it. As they were being escorted out of the city, they heard their guards commenting on how they'd have to take the ferry to get the prisoners out of the woods within the two days remaining or 'other measures would be necessary.'

Ten miles outside the city, the sky turned red behind them, like a bruised sunset, and the sky fractured. Blue fountains of light projected from the top of the mage's guild, several temples and the royal palace, and dark shapes started weaving their way through the cracks. One thought he saw, in the far distance at the base of barrier cliffs north of Ereth Cinlu, a skeletal tower from which a similar disturbance rose. Simultaneously, their guards collapsed as small distortions of air turbined briefly above their heads.

The survivors free themselves, took weapons and equipment from their captures and fled, followed by a ravening hoard from the city.

2015 March 7 Meeting by MorduMordu, 14 Mar 2015 17:57

The centipedes were about 10 feet long and about 4 inches in diameter, so it's hard to say, from your perspective.

Thanks, Daniel. Quick question: did the gelatinous centipedes appear small enough that they appeared small enough to enter the elves or were they so much larger that some sort of magics must be occurring to allow them to wear the elves as meat suits?

Andrew

Re: 2015 January 3 Meeting by RankinRankin, 05 Jan 2015 19:00

In attendance: Paul H (Mage), Shelly (Cleric), David (Bard/thief), Jola (figher), Andrew (druid)
Absent: Paul V, Chris V

Meeting started with the party being captured by an Elvish patrol in Bern Woods after fleeing into the woods from a small army of orcs. The Party was part of a small caravan that was attacked by the orcs on its way from Tekel to Dirth Woods. The Party was forced to camp while the Elvish patrol determined their disposition.

The Party awoke in the early hours of the morning sneezing from saw dust filtering down like snow into the woods. This was followed by rapid, explosive sounds of tree branches toppling, as it appeared that tree tops of the great trees were raining down throughout the forest. The party escaped injury, and began to search out the source of the toppled tree tops and discover why their Elvin captives were absent. All trees had been sheared off at about 85 feet above ground, with the cut ends showing rapid, sudden, and near explosive dry rot. A barrier seemed to have cut through all trees at that height. Simultaneously, the party discovered that all their elvish guards had been felled. Their skin was pale and brittle like porcelain, and, in a few cases where they had been damaged by falling trees tops, cracked like porcelain dolls and leaking a viscous, black liquid the consistency of warm tar. Shelly's cleric (G'ranni) detected a faint, very slow (once every 30 seconds) pulse in each of the undamaged elves. The party was puzzled why these elves were felled (and how) but their elvish mage wasn't.

After helping themselves to some of the effects of the elves, with a Pathfinder song, the party went to head off to a nearby encampment. This turned out to be the staging point for the guards, about 2 miles off. The Party decided to return to their original encampment, move the elves into a protective canopy of lean-tos, and then set off to the Northwest, where another settlement was detected with Pathfinder. While they built the protective structures, their druid changed into a mountain lion and then went south to see if the barrier totally enclosed the woods or simply acted as a ceiling. Unfortunately, it turned out they were totally enclosed.

Heading to the other settlement, they found a famous potters village. A rent or rip in the air seemed to reveal another land beyond from which sifted black, greasy ashes and the air smelled of sulfur and rotting blood. From the hillside, the party saw many fallen elves and these meaty, gelatinous centipedes nosing about them. As they watched, three of these giant creates latched onto separate elves and with a humping peristaltic action flowed into the fallen reanimating them. At this point the party attached both the risen elves and the remaining centipedes. G'ranni managed to destroy the three reanimated elves with her holy powers - their skin crumbled like breaking eggshells and what looked like rotting porridge sluiced out of the disintegrating forms. In the ensuing combat, the party managed to defeat the remaining centipedes through hand to hand combat and judicious use of spells and songs.a

The party search the village, collecting useful items (and trade items - like pottery) before investigating the rent. Looking through it revealed a red litten, sear landscape, broken by fumerals belching black liquid smoke into a sullen sky. Centipede creates and a myriad of others could be seen moving across the landscape, including a elephantine-sized flying creature. Finding no way to block it, the party determined the best course of action was to head to the river a week SE to see if it would give egress from the barrier, and then head upstream along the river to the elven capital of Ereth Cinlu to alert authorities.

2015 January 3 Meeting by Daniel SaroffDaniel Saroff, 04 Jan 2015 22:18

Dramatis Personae:
Ayrkin (Andrew), Alexios (Jola), Erica (Shelly), Jayden (Paul H), Thufark (Paul V), Gusten (David), Rook (Chris)

July 28, 5775

We continued following the trail of the stolen chariot. Gusten cast a wind watch and detected the chariot at the far end of the range which meant that they were about 38 miles ahead of us.

At one point we came upon an area heaped with bones that had been stripped of their flesh and partially melted. Night was approaching and rather than camp nearby we decided to backtrack and camp a distance away.

Before leaving Gusten cast a find snares and yelled a warning 20 minutes later that a snare had suddenly appeared above. The snare proved to be a huge web. Gusten used flame finger to burn the webbing. Rook, Al'xios, Thufark and Jayden took up a defensive position back-to-back. Ayrkin out his back against a tree.

The party was attacked by four phase spiders. The tide of the battle swung back and forth with both Ayrkin and Rook being poisoned (Gusten used neutralize poison to counteract) but eventually we killed two and drove the other two away.

We continued our pursuit and found a large gorge with another invisible bridge. On the opposite side the trees grew to an immense height and girth and the trees were covered by hundreds of the blazes. Gusten used an animal tongues spell to question a squirrel about the beings that had taken the chariot but wasn't able to secure much useful information.

After some additional travel the sound of forest life abruptly went silent. Ayrkin flew into the air and a weighted net dropped onto him pinning him to a tree. Out of the woods came a group of 7' tall beings who had bark-like skin and carries the articulated bone spears with which we had been attacked previously. Their leader cast a tongues spell and accused us of being allied with their enemies from across the seas. They indicated that the chariot was theirs and had been given to them thousands of years ago in trust only to be given to those who could prove that they were those foretold by the "Wind Amongst the Trees". We claimed to be those fire tolled and told them the story of E'heral, D'Lum and our dreams.

The tree people provisionally agreed to allow us to prove our claim and room us back to their tree community. After cleaning up and breaking fast, they escorted us to a cleft in a cliff side (our travels had brought us to the edge of a huge mountain range).

Inside the cleft we found a tunnel made of mithral that leading a chamber with a crystal dome through which the sun shone. In the center if the chamber was a metal book that when the tree person opened it cause an image to appear above it. He asked for proof of our story and Al'xios presented him with Eheral's dagger, D'Lum's blood and Eheral's necklace. These were held up in turn to the light which projected similar images and seemed to match. The tree person indicated that we were indeed those who were fire tolled and told us that there were items that we needed in the cave of light far above us on the mountain.

He went in to explain that at one time travel to the cave would not have been difficult but that 500 years ago a meteor had devastated the area and brought with it a corrupting shadowy presence that had twisted the light and the creatures and that these shadowed creatures now prevented approach. He also went onto explain how they had comes to this place thousands of years ago brought here by Eheral who had rescued them, brought them here to a new homeland, and charged them with the task of safeguarding her treasures until they were needed.

Most of us decided to return to the tree community. Al'xios elected to stay camped on the edge of the corruption. The next day we met up with Al'xios and decided to fly our way to the cave to avoid the dangers associated with travel on foot. We arrived at the cave mouth successfully to witness pulsing darkness oozing forth and the cave mouth bubbling and budding off foul creatures that quickly grew and scuttled away.

Meeting ended.

Authors Apologia and Addendum:
There simply wasn't room to catalogue the sheer expanse of bad-assness that occurred last session, so I kept things to Rooks PoV. Similarly, this post is based off notes which got increasingly abbreviated as the session went on, so things might be jumbled out the other end. Also, this is a draft, there are likely spelling, syntax and tense errors galore. Enjoy it anyway :)

The arrow lurched free with a groaning, agonized shriek of steel on iron - the sound suddenly squelched by a pulpy splurch as the broadhead disengaged from the ruined helm and began the quicker recovery through the ruined brains and orbit of the soldier at his feet. A grunt and a twist later and the missile tore free, leaving him tired and panting as he kicked free of his brace upon the man's chest. Still glistening that deep, midnight red Rook let the arrow fall to the earth where it joining its piled kin with a whisper clatter, leaving Rook to turn and look at the seemingly endless array of corpses

One half dozen down, another half to go. And his count but a fraction of the whole.

Moving between the bodies and the slickening, bloodied mud that once was earth Rook found himself turning to count the score with an almost amused incredulity. He knew the reluctant disbelief in him to be borne of no real thing: combined in arms they had slain gods, demons, men in numbers and turns. He was not now the hapless lad he was all those years ago, tumbling between the towers, naught but a dagger in his grip. They were, each of them, formidable. Combined they were terrifying, enough that the even kings might fear. It had been proven, and proven again but still … to kill a wyrm, a lich, a thing was one matter. To put a mortal cost upon their skill quite another.

Two score and ten. And more. An entire company.

Rook hauled back with a grunt as another arrowed staggered free, the tines of the head carrying a gob of … something that resisted his first, tentative shake aimed at dislodging it. Seven. In Her name he wondered at it all; he was blessed of her, with as memory as certain as time but it had all transpired too quick, too hard for his attention to be paid upon all that transpired. Moving from fallen to fallen, retrieving their means of death, he found himself meditating on his recollections, trying to piece the slaughter (for there was no other name for it) together.

***

Klesst had tempered his folly: even as the horns alarum echoed and died, smothered by the verdant green of the volcanic hills and they heard the first tromping footfalls beneath the canopy he KNEW this. He had be discovered at precisely the right place and at precisely the right time: here amidst the cyclopean ruins the terrain was funneled into the waiting, eager arms of the Paladin and his cohort, the Ver'lite and the Scribner-Priest and would force the enemy to fight no more than three, four abreast. And above . . above the Daemon danced, flying, cackling, reveling in his borrowed omnipotence while the Gnomling flew, relaying warning from above. And upon the walls, suspended between heaven and earth? The Monk. The Thief-turned-Warrior Stringing bows and reading bolts to rain uncontested upon the approaching ranks. And all the while as they readied they had the time, the precious seconds to cloak themselves in temper their blades with dweomers.

And then they had waited.

The approach was rhythmic, methodical - the study, banging, clanging footfalls of armor in the underbrush as an ink-like blackness stirred up in churning columns from beneath the leaves, making the company's progress and blotting out the sun. Foot by mailed foot, slowly coming into view …

He hadn't seen it come into being, conjured from aether and the mages hand but from above he could hear the gnome cackle an order, the air itself seeming to compress and twist, shimmering in the heat as it descended, howling like a tornado and slamming bodily into the front ranks of Aeroline; a reaving wind that whirled and struck and stole the very breath from the lungs of the hapless soldiers. Twenty heartbeats, no more, and he could hear them dying. From within the ranks the roiling abyssal smoke pulsed, writhing, impossibly stalwart against the maelstrom air as the dark in it twisted, clawing at the smoke in a pantomime of limbs growing, slowly, ripping their way into reality as below the men, darkness behind them and wind between them, advanced into the open. And then, the arrows began to fall.

Thufark's crossbow sang, low and growling as bolts lanced into the massed arms below - catching officers and bannermen in throats and arms, pinning them to the ground to be trampled if they were not already dead. Rook's own glassen bow whispered a crystal note as the magic left it, arrows splitting, shimmering in the air as they fell, finding officers, soldiers of their own and striking them to earth. Death upon death upon death - Thufarks mechanism had fired four, five times? The quickness of his own bow perhaps nine? - and then the column raised shields, splintering into factions as the fight below was engaged.

Somewhere above there was a . . a howl? A summons that rippled through the wildlands calling nature to their aid as below Rook heard the hammering of hooves. The Paladin leveling a lance and spearing forward. Thufark launching upward into flight, vanishing into a spearing dive at the flanking column, the sounds of crunching bones, protesting metal and pain. Rooks own hands shifted, conjurations spent as he pulled a rune-engraved arrow from his quiver. One of three. A murmured command sent it aloft, changing, snarling into the air as it fell in flaming strands, a burning net upon the melee below to the sound of a choked off, curdling scream.

And after that, it is an utter, whirling blur.

Another howl, ripping through the jungle - the gnome again, sowing fear and chaos while the grunts died to arrow and fist and blade and lance below. A sergeant's head crushed, shattering like an overripe melon beneath Thufarks first, Alexios impaling a sergeant and his corporal both upon a single stroke, Erica, whirling blades in Ver'ls honor, heads, limbs, falling with each stroke. It is chaos. It is bedlam. And, so help them, is almost easy. Vines erupt, curling from the ground, snaring more soldiers, clogging avenues of advance and retreat as they fall. But still they come, swarming, iron covered ants mounting the stones as the arrows fall.

The shadows snap into tangible darkness, rippling sinews of planar cold and claw and talon, devoid of depth or shape but for the outline of an absence, a tear in the order of created things in the shape and parody of men. Abominations that launched themselves forward and up and out, shrieking hate. Two spiral upwards, churning darkness as they chase and are chased by the gnome and the monk - the monk kicking, punching, dancing with his apparition in mid air as the gnome simply rises, up and up and up until the small figure astride the broom is but a dot against the cloud-dark sky. The third … the third turns it's claws to the ground, slashing, biting, freezing, dancing between the buildings and rooftops, peppered by bolts and arrows and utterly uncaring for the injury. A figure, Arykin, begins to trade blows with it, stalling the advance even as his flesh begins to freeze, frosting over at the shadow dripping touch of the abomination. Rook's own attention follows, arrow after arrow launched into the things back as Arykin stumbles, falters, the old goat's strength hammered beneath the blows.

Elsewhere the sounds of the battle churn, Alexios slaying men beneath trampling hooves as the Cirinite swears to his god, writing Her testimony in blood upon the ground. But for Arykin the fight holds, though, a steady bleeding of the company, each swing of the arm, each wheeling charge reducing their numbers. But for Arykin. And the whirling shadows above.

Another arrow flies, parting shadow and eliciting a reverberating howl. He can barely track the thing before him - it threatens to slide away from beneath his gaze, the otherness revolting his very eyes and turning his brain to gibbering denial. And above? He catches the story in glimpses, half-heartbeat moments between the drawing of an arrow to the slap of the bow. He remembers light, a dazzling burst as something rips asunder the clouds, piercing the sky and sending sunlit lances burning to the ground. They catch the shadows, chasing them, turning the edges to ash where the sunlight grabs hold. It is no natural break within the sky and it takes another moment to recognize the Broom Rider wheeling, guiding the light to its target as the shadows break, fleeing downwards with a brittle shriek like searing metal plunged into water. And then, from the edge of his attention, Thufark, a flying missile piling into one of the chthonian horrors, pinning it within his arms and pulling it into the sunlight … He does not see the death, but narrowly avoid another. His name, a single shout in Erika's voice followed by the near, all too near, clatter of steel on stone as a squad mounts the wall, drawing iron even as he turns, bow falling to his feet as Dharakeen's blade leaps into his hand, bursting into flame mid swing.

The old skills still hold with him, but there are many. He can fight but not stand and the slow, labored retreat pushes his heels against the droppoff to the jungle floor, four stories below. The rest of the fight is forgotten as he lashes out, buying time, buying heartbeat seconds before the long fall.

But then the rest of the fight finds him.

He feels it, first, the sudden chill. A sudden chill as color, light seems to bleed from his eyes, from his hands, a word turned to grey, a living shadow lit only by the defiant flame of Dharakeen's sword. And then he turns, following the fearful but stalwart gaze of his attackers, to stare into the maw of the abyss.

The rest is startlingly, vividly clear, snapshots of terror. Reaching out, grabbing the soldier's arm. A start of surprise as the expected attack does not come and instead Rook turns, swinging the man into the onrushing blackness. Buying time with blood. It's a strange sound, the man's vocal chords icing over mid scream. Shattering. The inhuman snarl as the man is ripped away from the things flesh, discarded like a doll. And then the blackness. Infinite, Impossibly cold blackness as the abyss reaches out, swallows him whole.

And then he's falling. Alexios below him, crowing, triumphant as the thing bursts about him - ash and flame and maggoty flesh. It is odd. The paladin had no bow, could not have possibly reached -

The mystery is forgotten as the onrushing round takes precedence. Fingers reached out, nails scraping against the rubbled stone - almost, but not quite. And then he's tumbling and … Then there was the monk.

Set gingerly upon the ground from the Monk's arms, Rook could only look up in confusion, muttering thanks as the 'dactyls descended.

***

Twelve.

Rook tossed the arrow to the ground with a shake of his head. He had been able to reconstruct the rest. Alexio's impossible throw, his lanced turned into a javelin spearing the create some forty feet up and disgorging Rook into mid air as it disintegrated into meat and shadow and chill. Gusten's continued scouring of the shadows with the guided sun through the broken clouds.

And the dactyl's, of course. Hungry. Leather-winged wolves of the air. Gusten had crowed about that. They had certainly made short work of the survivors - snatching them up and then letting them fall, screaming to an abrupt ad-hoc grave. It had been ghastly but effective. Arykin had laughed at that. Not sure what the hell else he had done but, well . .

Shaking his head Rook returned to his work, wincing slightly at the tenderness of his fingers while he worked the last broadhead free. Perhaps it had not been quite so painless after all.

In-game start date: May 25th, '75

After the destruction of Ter'Nathra, and based on Eherom's dream, the party decides to head East in the hope of finding Ehrheral's tomb. There's a general belief in the party that it's approximately one hundred miles from the southern edge of the great wall, though none are fully certain on this point.

The party traveled for two days without incident, then began to notice a change in the color of the sky up ahead. There seemed to be a large, white wall ahead, leading to speculations of mist or smoke, though the wall did not appear to drift or grow with time.

Thufark, using Farsee, reported that the wall had uneven borders and thickness and stretched North and South as far as he could see, though it appeared to only be two to three miles wide. Undeterred, the party pressed on and soon began to notice the smell of the ocean in the air and a sound like that of roaring water. After another day, they reached the edge of the wall to discover it truly was mist and that a canyon had been carved into the land, filled with a torrent of running water, flowing away from the ocean, hundreds of feet deep. As the party watched, a poor, soon to be ex-whale was carried past them far below.

All agree to follow the canyon North for three days in the hope of finding either the cause or a place where the entire party could cross, Cuddles included.

After four days, driven on due to a change in the nature of the echo from the canyon, the party came upon a great waterfall, whereupon the river expanded outward and dove into a huge hole. Gusten scouted the change, reporting that at its widest the cavern was three to four miles across, as though the earth and simply split open, dropping to a depth of two thousand feet. There, the water continued to flow underneath the earth. Old ruins could be seen, revealed by whatever had caused the canyon.

The party agreed that the best course of action would be to circle around and continue going East, as they had been intending over a week ago. It was by then April 5th.

On his watch that night, Al'xios saw strange glows moving under the water. Informing Thufark, who was on watch with him, the two crept to the edge of the cliff to get a better look. They counted twelve lights, fifteen to twenty feet in diameter, disapearing under the cliff. They woke Ayrkin and Gusten, then Thufark leaped off the cliff, fly spell in tow, in order to get a closer look.

Due to some mistiming, Thufark's spell ran out and he fell, though he did manage to snag a bit of cliff before plunging into the water below. Faced with a long, slippery climb back up, he activated his glow stone and bedded down for the rest of the night on a ledge.

Up above, when the monk did not return after half an hour, concern grew and Ayrkin agreed to fly down to see if he could determine what had happened. Thanks to the glow stone, he found Thufark and the two soon returned. In Thufark's report, he characterized what he'd seen as a "swimming train."

By the next morning, the water level had risen considerably and there was no sign of the strange lights. As per usual, an argument erupted over what to do: stay and loot the caverns of the ancient civilization or proceed onwards and eastwards. Ayrkin (of course he was the one wanting to loot) lost the round and the party headed East, trading the cooling mist of the river for the heat of the wasted lands.

While distractedly trudging through the head and sand, the party was set upon by a boned, scissored, monster of a centipede, its tail that of a scorpion, its mouth spewing Aereolus fire.

And…fight!

When the black liquid it spewed hit Jayden and Rook, the two turned against their companions, nearly losing their own lives as their compatriots fought them off as well as the monster (though Rook lost his arm to Al'xios' blade). Erica, Ayrkin, and Thufark all concentrated on the centipede, who took some time to subdue. Jayden managed to gain enough control of himself to call down water to wash himself and Rook of the foul substance, freeing them from its grip.

After the battle, all notice that Rook's arm appeared to be regenerating, or at least healing over quickly — a sign that Klest was likely back.

While the party began to rest and heal, Thufark explored the hole out of which the centipede had emerged. It led into a hexagonal corridor. As it was much cooler in the tunnel and vaguely defensible, the party agreed to move down into it. This surety was quickly challenged as several smaller centipedes appear down one end of the corridor.

Fight!

These centipedes being adolescents, they were far easier to defeat and the party returned to healing, resting, and praying. Surely, the bickering won't be too far behind.

Chill cut in a razor wind across Rook's flesh as he dove, spinning in the featureless white expanse of sky - a false-blue woman diving beneath the blades of her sisters - as heat blossomed behind him, a sudden burst of light and heat and warmth as the Austere warrior died in a maelstrom of flame and rage and fury. The chittering, metallic swarm writhed, scattering like ash as those wing-bladed machines too slow or too direct tin their purpose fell from the sky in a scorching rain onto the frozen city below.

And frozen, placid in his - her? The god of order wore a face that was now mirror to Rook's own - recline beneath the mountain Perimal watched and waited.

***

The crystal walls of the Cavern of all Potentials had shattered the barrier between the worlds like glass, the mirrored facets of it deepening as reality fell away onto a frozen abyssal plane. The windless chill had cut through the door, a icy hand gripping the hart as the frost of their breath caught in their lungs. Even prepared and forewarned by Mort's future passing the charms and wards could not prevent the sudden chilling shake in the marrow of their bones, though their flesh stayed warm enough to serve the end before them. And so they had passed from one world to the next, staring seeing the ice-wrought world and sunless sky of Permial's domain.

Rigid. Frozen. Dead.

Having been forewarned of the ambush that had seen their mirror-kin slain they had snuck between the icy crags and fractal faces of their perfect linear geometry upon their way to the great plane of ice - avoiding the first trickling legions of biomechanical horrors that skittered and moaned their way across the ice. They had heard the faint far-off retort then, a thundercrack from between the worlds as somewhere, somewhen they died in defense of the orrery and the world they knew.

And as they died they stood, broken free of the crags and ravines to witness the limitless expanse of ice, a frozen mirror reflecting the same colored sky as the city turned citadel of Parimel sprung up from the far horizon, and beyond that mountains, erupting from the ice in odd and unnatural array.

For a creature, an disciple of memory such as Na'ran to forget is to blaspheme but the shock of the revelation left a gap in Rook's recollection; he did not know who first saw it, who pointed the frozen mountain of a limb jutting through the ice. The curve of a leg cradled by the world or the rise of the blue woman’s curves beyond the city. He did not remember who pointed the first shaking finger at the head half buried on the horizon, eyes open, lips half parted as if await her first breath.

And then the rest - the circling hordes of blue women, flocks of them in slow widening gyres over the towers of the city suddenly breaking off as another peal ripped across the plains, smoke rising from some far off corner at the edge of the world.

And as the silent horn sounded, marshalling the foe's forces to order they had snuck across the ice, cloaked in a frozen coat of snow and ice, gifted them by Jayden and a decanter of water turned to ice …

***

A glassen blade glittered in Rook's hand even as the keening wail of the remaining metalic devices pierced his senses, dulling his sight and slowing his arm as the dance began in earnest, the blue women diving as he and Alexios tried to fly through the hastily assembled squadron. Above the high pitched whine of mechanical things he could hear, could feel the reverberating tunderclaps as the Orrerys fell one by one.

He did not grieve, for as the world spanned below him Rook could see the expanse of Perimal's might, the recall and marching of his forces in blackened streams of mechanical horrors pouring from the gates of his citadel, crisscrossing the pure white frozen expanse in thin, black trails like some ceaselessly expanding spiderweb spun across the plane. Were it not for the deaths at the door those thoughtless thousands would now be below and even more blue women above.

Behind the receptacles of memory the lines of battle dissolve into twisting duels, lethal pirouettes through the air as death finds them. Mort falls, a bloodied blade in her jackal paws as she screams into the frozen earth with a sickening crunch and a thud. Thufark whirled, dancing, laughing at the air beneath his feet as he ripped a blue woman's blade away sending glass tumbling into the air - even the Daemon dances with his own blue faced devil, his sword cleaving neck and bone as the sky rains the blue woman's destruction.

But as the blue women fell so to did the metallic disks - insects, locusts - rise, their razor wings whining death and pain and blood as the swarm neared, coalesced, reforming from the losses of the fire.

Rook does not feel his victory as a blue woman falls, limb tumbling away - it is merely an opening as he wills himself forward on stolen wings.

One swallow, then he is gone, rendered invisible as the lines form once more bhind him, the bottle sailing through the air into Alexious’ hands, enough to turn him and his ward unseen for the final moments before the end.

He hears her voice as he turns, a familiar wind rushing past his ears, removing all other thought and reason.

It began this way.

Fractured, frozen plains reflecting an ink black sky.

The stars themselves dripping down from the beyond; coalescing, bleeding into human shaped horrors of ice and chill and pain.

A manling, but a boy, a half blooded thief carrying darkness upon stolen wings.

A rook flying to the edge of all things, carried upon the wind at the end of the world.

Behind the veil, unseen and invisible Rook smiles a smile that would stop Perimals heart - golden eye shining, burning bright as he dives downward towards a ice-kissed face of perfect order and beauty, carrying chaos with him into the half lidded eye of the storm as he remembers.

The final flight before the fall.

***

Across the worlds, across the realities voice trembled, hurried whispers of want and faith and promise. Thee score and ten lips moving in hurried time as they see the end coming: three score and ten hands holding trembling blades in blood soaked gauntlets - cradling heads of companions or reaching up for one last touch before night falls. Three score and ten score eyes gleam up, golden in the dark between the world as the nightmares come true. Three score and ten stand in blood and faith and love and hate, and the words tumble forth in invocation at the end of all things. The words fall from Rook's lips as Klesst rises and he falls once more over the edge of the world.

For all I ought to have thought, and have not thought;
All I ought to have said, and have not said;
All I ought to have done, and have not done;
I beg forgiveness.
All I ask,
All I pray,
All I beg for,
Is for the strength to live these next few moments well.
- Na'ran Kin'rai, Disciple of Klesst

Re: Humor
MorduMordu 06 May 2012 18:34
in discussion Banter / Chit Chat » Humor

Head of Vecna

From Steve Jackson Games website….

Many years ago (back when we all were still playing D & D), I ran a game where I pitted two groups against each other.

Several members of Group One came up with the idea of luring Group Two into a trap. You remember the Hand of Vecna and the Eye of Vecna that were artifacts in the old D&D world where if you cut off your hand (or your eye) and replaced it with the Hand of Vecna (or the Eye) you'd get new awesome powers? Well, Group One thought up The Head of Vecna.

Group One spread rumors all over the countryside (even paying Bards to spread the word about this artifact rumored to exist nearby). They even went so far as to get a real head and place it under some weak traps to help with the illusion. Unfortunately, they forgot to let ALL the members of their group in on the secret plan (I suspect it was because they didn't want the Druid to get caught and tell the enemy about this trap of theirs, or maybe because they didn't want him messing with things).

The Druid in group One heard about this new artifact and went off in search of it himself (I believe to help prove himself to the party members…) Well, after much trial and tribulation, he found it; deactivated (or set off) all the traps; and took his "prize" off into the woods for examination. He discovered that it did not radiate magic (a well known trait of artifacts) and smiled gleefully.

I wasn't really worried since he was alone and I knew that there was no way he could CUT HIS OWN HEAD OFF. Alas I was mistaken as the Druid promptly summoned some carnivorous apes and instructed them to use his own scimitar and cut his head off (and of course quickly replacing it with the Head of Vecna…)

Some time later, Group one decided to find the Druid and to check on the trap. They found the headless body (and the two heads) and realized that they had erred in their plan (besides laughing at the character who had played the Druid)…The Head of Vecna still had BOTH eyes! They corrected this mistake and reset their traps and the Head for it's real intended victims…

Group Two, by this time, had heard of the powerful artifact and decided that it bore investigating since, if true, they could use it to destroy Group One. After much trial and tribulation, they found the resting place of The Head of Vecna! The were particularly impressed with the cunning traps surrounding the site (one almost missed his save against the weakest poison known to man). They recovered the Head and made off to a safe area.

Group Two actually CAME TO BLOWS (several rounds of fighting) against each other argueing over WHO WOULD GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF! Several greedy players had to be hurt and restrained before it was decided who would be the recipient of the great powers bestowed by the Head… The magician was selected and one of them promptly cut his head off. As the player was lifting The Head of Vecna to emplace it on it's new body, another argument broke out and they spent several minutes shouting and yelling. Then, finally, they put the Head onto the character.

Well, of course, the Head simply fell off the lifeless body. All members of Group Two began yelling and screaming at each other (and at me) and then, on their own, decided that they had let too much time pass between cutting off the head of a hopeful recipient and put the Head of Vecna onto the body.

SO THEY DID IT AGAIN!… [killing another PC]

In closing, it should be said that I never even cracked a smile as all this was going on. After the second PC was slaughtered, I had to give in (my side was hurting)…

And Group Two blamed ME for all of that…

(source) (wikipedia entry)

Re: Humor by MorduMordu, 06 May 2012 18:34
Humor
MorduMordu 06 May 2012 18:27
in discussion Banter / Chit Chat » Humor

The Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo

by Richard Aronson

…In the early seventies, Ed Whitchurch ran "his game", and one of the participants was Eric Sorenson. Eric plays something like a computer. When he games he methodically considers each possibility before choosing his preferred option. If given time, he will invariably pick the optimal solution. It has been known to take weeks. He is otherwise, in all respects, a superior gamer.

Eric was playing a Neutral Paladin in Ed's game. He was on some lord's lands when the following exchange occurred:
ED: You see a well groomed garden. In the middle, on a small hill, you see a gazebo.
ERIC: A gazebo? What color is it?
ED: (Pause) It's white, Eric.
ERIC: How far away is it?
ED: About 50 yards.
ERIC: How big is it?
ED: (Pause) It's about 30 ft across, 15 ft high, with a pointed top.
ERIC: I use my sword to detect good on it.
ED: It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo.
ERIC: (Pause) I call out to it.
ED: It won't answer. It's a gazebo.
ERIC: (Pause) I sheathe my sword and draw my bow and arrows. Does it respond in any way?
ED: No, Eric, it's a gazebo!
ERIC: I shoot it with my bow (roll to hit). What happened?
ED: There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it.
ERIC: (Pause) Wasn't it wounded?
ED: OF COURSE NOT, ERIC! IT'S A GAZEBO!
ERIC: (Whimper) But that was a +3 arrow!
ED: It's a gazebo, Eric, a GAZEBO! If you really want to try to destroy it, you could try to chop it with an axe, I suppose, or you could try to burn it, but I don't know why anybody would even try. It's a @#$%!! gazebo!
ERIC: (Long pause. He has no axe or fire spells.) I run away.
ED: (Thoroughly frustrated) It's too late. You've awakened the gazebo. It catches you and eats you.
ERIC: (Reaching for his dice) Maybe I'll roll up a fire-using mage so I can avenge my Paladin.

At this point, the increasingly amused fellow party members restored a modicum of order by explaining to Eric what a gazebo is. Thus ends the tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo. It could have been worse; at least the gazebo wasn't on a grassy gnoll.

(source) (wikipedia page)

Humor by MorduMordu, 06 May 2012 18:27

Well done. We're all waiting for the second half with bated breath.

Only half done, really - need to actually got to the battle on the ice which I've got some ideas for the retelling of. Besides, we both know you're just applauding 'cuz it starts with "Arykin was right!"

Bravo! Wow. That was probably the most impressive meeting summary I've ever read.

"One of us must say it; the daemon possesses a point." thehalf-elf’s words were thick with bitterness and disgust at his own admission, but as the chorus of denials rose he stood his ground, meeting them each eye to golden eye.

"The hells he does; when e'er has the goats-eyed bastard argued but for his own skin and selfish interest?" another golden eye shook, narrowing angrily, an accusing finger pointing out from the clustered disciples at the innumerable copies of the fallen thing himself. Another voice, identical rose in agreement. "The disciple of Mordigian's memories are plain - he betrayed us, not even standing to defend the Orrery instead hieing back through the chambers above like frightened vermin." A last broke in, smoke tinged with gharsmoss curling upward from a hand rolled cig clutched between his teeth. "By the forgotten tower he looted his own corpse from greed! He would not even stand here but for a bargain struck upon Mort's blood! He speaks but to li-"

"ENOUGH!"

Rook's voice rose, the husked whisper turned to a graveled shout that shook the razor-edge mica, making the reflected worlds dance. It rose and caught the assembled company by surprise and a score upon score of golden eyes turned towards the speaker. Rook in turn looked out, seeing himself reflected in myriad disarray - golden eye'd all: singular disciples forced into sudden commonality; the forgotten and secret memories of a uncounted planes standing fast in union.

If Rook tried he could mark the differences; the shades in cloak and garb, the slipping accents speaking to his early days abroad. He spied a scar upon one reflected face; an angry gash that would have cost him the Eye Klesst had not yet given. He knew the scar, the moment of it's birth - he had avoided it, parried it from his face with but a knifes edge, the wound's twin marking instead his own shoulder. He saw the addicts still clutching to their vices, the smoke of the throng enough to make his senses heady and quick, and he saw those, lacking the glassen ring suspended about his neck. And to his pain he saw those who wore the ring proudly on ungloved hands, and one, one quiet and thoughtful and unscarred doppelganger who wore the marriage mark, the tattooed binding upon his wrist and curling across his neck and be-ringed ear. The mark of matrimony from the Bern Wood: and he knew the name engraved in fluid script upon his hand without looking.

A life not taken.

Rooks clustered in kind, a conclave of the foolish chosen while his comrades found their own doubles, meeting themselves across the worlds - a hundred realities collapsed down to a single shared point of being. The Thufarks tumbled and sparred and regaled each other with their travels, while Alexii stood in regimented array a company strong, guarding an entire generation of young: J'Nan held huddled conclaves in the shadows, a thieves guild in the making. The Jaydens scribed their stories, swapping texts and inks and worship while the magelings waited, debating the magical properties of the cavern they stood within. Even Mort stood in company, Jackal headed titans mingling with flaxen tress’d warriors, recalling and remembering the forgotten fanes within Zul Bai Zhar.

Only the shadows of Arykin did not seek solace and comfort of their own kind; some innate wariness driving them apart as they cut through the crowd - ever watching, every waiting, ever alone.

An army of the planes, charged to end a god.

But how? The planning, the votes had become contentious; each member forced to corral and speak the minds of scores of similar but yet un-identical lives. They were forced to convince themselves before they convinced each other and two hours in the stalemate continued. It had come down to the Rooks upon one side, Arykin upon the other, backed increasingly by the Alexii and a slow swelling support of the J'Nans as the defensive posture of the plan became clear. In the end it was Thufark who stood between the conflict, and who had pointed out rightly that both sides were right to their purpose but it was the purpose itself that was the question. And with that the Disciples of Klesst had retreated for one final discussion, to try and muster some final argument for what must be done.

Rook's throat went dry, and he swallowed as he stepped forward beneath his brethrens gaze.

"We stand here Sons of Kinrai all, scions and guardians of Rein Manu, the Waiting One - Klesst guides us all. So when I speak know that I acknowledge this freely, and that I claim no stewardship above the rest of you in this purpose."

"We have two tasks before us, both divinely commanded by She we Serve - we must risk, we must dare the fall 'ere we fly. We must strike to the heart of Perimal and end that which is begun: we must do this at the cost of our lives, of our hearts and of our worlds. It is what the Goddess has offered us, and when The Goddess extends you her hand, you take it, no matter that which is contained within!" there is a small chorus of agreement, a rising nod as their own words come back to them, remembered things made once more new.

Rook turned, striding as he met the gaze of each and every golden eye reflecting Klesst’s glory. He turned and he moved with the purpose of a man possessed.

"But so too must we remember; we stand at an ending of the worlds, at a precipice beyond which those that pass shall not return. We have stood upon other shores, faced other darknesses and were Remembered. So must we now. Past that astral curtain we take with us not merely ourselves but our memories; the memories of races gone and secrets vanished. With our passing so do they."

"We must at once bear witness and we must also dare, Klesst demands both." he breathes, deep, the words ash in his mouth however true they may be. "And so help me brothers Arykin has granted us that way."

"We who Witness, We who Remember shall remain to guard the passage and to seal the fissures between the worlds - this defense will as the Daemon says provide both distraction and at least some small measure of success - even should one fall, at least one shall succeed, and one world, one plane shall be safe from the Darkling's predations. And with them the memories of us, of Klesst entire."

"And then there shall be the One who Falls."

Rook turned, raising a hand to point to his mirror across the hall; the same as he in ever aspect save the Golden Eye. The perfect reflection; a golden right eye meeting a golden left eye, gaze steady and unbroken.

"You are the One who Falls, and you will be the One who Flies."

"T'was your memories that called us here; t'was your steps that first found the way through the leeching glow of the tunnels and the tainted haze of the air seeping between the worlds. You felt first the collapse of it all, your reality falling into the others; the other-worldly slick upon your skin as you lead them down to the shattered crevasse and Arykin’s remains amidst the Darkling's horde. And it was you that first delved the Cavern to find the ruined heart between these mica planes and mirrors."

"T'was your mind that first remembered the future; the Orrery ruined and smoking, and it was your remembrance that called your own death to your mind, showing what would soon be. And it was you who showed us the way across the worlds."

"You are the one Who shall Fall. You are the One who Flies. It is you and yours who shall venture into the lands of cursed ice and stasis, and it is you who shall kill Perimal."

"Go; we shall Remember you unto Her."

***

The conclave had broken, three score Rooks and ten scattering to five score parties, alternatively surrendering or convincing their fellows of the majority opinion. Easy enough as in truth Rook had been one of the primary holdouts. Still, a half-hundred voices choking upon the words "Arykin was right" and instead deferring in sense to Thufark or the Alexii made a particular din he would not wish to repeat. The plan had been set, the first party - party prime, as one of the lesser wags had called it - was to perform the assassination while the others closed the roads behind them. Or tried to - starting the Orrery and then holding the line as the Blue Women and the Machine Things came at them in waves …

Even the path back to the Crescent Lands the prime ones knew. There would be no return.

Rook stood, the glass ring of Larmia heavy in his hands, the memories of her and of Tsan and the girl, the first girl so many aching years before. He stood before the mirror, remembering the leagues travelled, the lonely days in the Fallen Lands and the bewildering chaos of the Edge of the World. Mort loomed, monstrous and silent in the reflection, jackal-headed jaws chewing absently on upon her own lips; the heavy paw lands upon his should, a human gesture from an inhuman friend that broke Rook's reverie. He tucked the glassen ring back beneath the cloak of the Corman first worn so many years ago and smiled wearily up at the creature. Servants, both of them, in their own way. Even Arykin, if it came to that - Rook smiled.

Mort, Arykin, Rook.

He speaks once, slow, smoking a stolen cigarette from one of his fellows - a final parting gift, far better than the magical wealth handed over to his companions. One last vice before the end.

"I'm glad it's us, old friend." the smoke curls, tracing half remembered lines in the air; mirrored masks and risen towers and silver headed ghouls …

"Forgive me for it, but I am glad, in the end, that it falls to us."

Great job with the meeting summary…and Cirin is spelled with two "i"'s.

Yours,
Jayden Wordwright
Cleric of Cirin

Al'xios let out a small grunt as Ayrkin's levitate deposited him just inside the cavern mouth, the opening of which sat a hundred feet down a cliff face. Too exhausted to do little more than watch as the others made their way down by rope, the paladin of Clovis reflected on the day's events. It was inevitable they'd meet again with the blue women—everyone had been waiting for it to happen, eyes on the sky and raking the enemy encampments in the distance for the first signs of their approach. In preparation, Al'Xios had even instructed Delom on how to use the bronze bell, should the women come with any reinforcements.

Al'Xios' memories skipped forward and he smiled at how well the bell had worked. Or perhaps it had to do with the mind controlling it? He would have to ask Delom, but not now. She had just scrambled inside the cavern and taken a seat next to him, his body between her and the opening and the long drop to the bottom of the cliff.

How had it begun? Al'xios' thoughts drifted back as he put a tired arm around the little girl. They'd been riding hard and fast to get to Tel'ura and had had luck avoiding the Minh troops.

Al'xios paused again in his recollections to consciously offer up to Clovis the appropriate invectives against the schismatics. It never hurt to be on the right side of your god, particularly when it was due to a deity that you were lucky to wipe your…nose…without assistance. Thufark nimbly, and so enthusiastically it made Al'xios even more tired, swung himself into the cavern. Was he posing? Well, Thufark was always one to make an entrance, and his acrobatics were always entertaining in a fight, if of dubious efficacy. Still, Al'xios would sooner see others fall than the strangely manic monk. After all, it was Thufark who first spotted what they'd all been dreading — and straining — to see since they'd left Monarch of the Mines: four blue women approaching at speed. The party had rested the previous night in the Hills and, when the streaks of blue in the sky heralded the fight to come, were perhaps two hours from Tel'ura. As though the women were not enought to handle, particularly when they had Delom to protect, off to the southwest a large cloud of dust was advancing with swiftly sinister intent. The sun pierced the dust here and there to shine off metal, portending more of those hideous monstrosities. Al'xios had seen enough death to know how bodies could bloat and rot, causing leather and armor to sink into putrid flesh, creating what seemed a diseased hybrid of man and metal. But these were worse. They were abominations in every way: man and beast, man and metal, metal and beast. Worse still, all alive. At least a decaying carcass did little other than threaten with the miasma of its fumes, but these…things…had some form of life, an animating spirit that skipped past threatening to terrorize instead.

And so the party faced a decision: blue women from one direction, glittering hoards from the other. There was nowhere to run to, no real defense to be had. And so, pausing only to review the sad state of the options, they had turned off the road and entered among the trees. There was no time to discuss tactics, but, Al'xios reflected with a hint of pride given how the battle had turned out, the party had gotten the hang of fighting these things.

The blue women were on them first, but there had been time enought to dismount and prepare. Delom was safely behind a tree with the bell. J'nan was up another with her black metal crossbow, black bolts at the ready. Indeed, anyone with a bow of one sort or another had it out, hoping, with the aid of Jayden's Prayer, to pick off the blue women before the metal beasties were upon them. And then they were in range and everyone fired, and Thufark flew at them, and the austere warrior leapt into the air astride his horse, lance leveled.

The first engagement was over quickly; too quickly. If he had known…

But it was a good fight. Rook took out a blue woman with a single hit and Al'xios caught sight of her spiraling to the ground and imagined he had felt the thud when her body hit. One of the remaining blue women set the trees on fire. Another retaliated at Rook, her beam crushing his arm, leaving it a bloodly, boney, useless mass until he could find time to heal it. The thrid woman disappeared into the trees as she and the austere warrior fell to the earth. Al'xios had not seen who hit whom, but he felt more than saw the explosion of black light, which staggered him backward a foot or two.

It was mid-day, but it could have been midnight and still the forest would have shone brightly from the burning of the trees. J'nan had scrambled otu of hers before it, too, lit up. Perhaps the light was too much for the women? Certainly they did not seem as formidable as before. One had turned her ire on himself and Mort, but clipped the top of a tree as she flew lower to aim and, momentarily entangled, fell to the ground, her beam whooshing above their heads. Mort wasted little time in taking advantage of her indisposition. Al'xios missed much of the rest of the combat as he ran off to find the fallen austere warriro and the blue woman, hoping that the falls had only broken one of them. But he heard Ayrkin's glee and triumph as his fist punched entrails out the backof one of the women, then emerged from her abdomen covered in gore. And he heard and saw over his shoulder as Jayden created water over another blue woman, only to have it instantly become a burst of scalding steam.

Soon, the final two blue women were done in—one by Ayrkin, the other by the austere warrior.

J'nan and Jayden had joined Ayrkin, Delom, Thufark, and Al'xios in the cavern by now. Outside, Al'xios could see the rope twisting and writing as another of the companions started their descent. They'd all made it through a fight with four blue women. Amazing. Of course, then there had been the creatures.

Luck had been their friend that day, Al'xios decided, for the moment choosing to forget Ayrkin dropping his bow, Gd'zang's cold arrow whizzing off through the trees, Rook's attempting to jump onto one of the creatures only to hit the side hard and slide slowly down to the ground, and of course Al'xios' own folly of summoning Divine Confidence only to not have needed it and now sitting on the cavern floor, too exhausted to even stand, as he would be for several more hours.

Still, they had defeated the blue women with time to spare before the final trees fell to the on-slaught of the creatures. Time enough to loot the bodies and discuss once again the possibility of running away. It was worth a try and so they mounted up and started off, but ere long the trees to their right crashed to the ground and five huge monsters could be made out in the cloud of dust and debris. Twenty feet high at the shoulder, some were riden as mounts by "men" another eight to ten feet in height. There was no escaping.

The battle was engaged, though unbeknownst to Al'xios until the very end, two battles truly raged. One was between the abominations and the party, and it was a bloody, brusing fight, with the beasts and their riders slamming into first J'nan, then Rook, then Mort, knocking each aside or fully off their feet. Thufark was struck in the leg. The party hit back just as hard, with the austere warrior carving hunks of rotting flesh off the beasts, Thufark ripping out pieces of putrescence, and all the others hitting, slicing, and striking. But even with the toll of the bronze bell squeezing the metal into the flesh, forcing out a foul ooze of bodily fluids and pulped flesh, the creatures would not stop until they were absolutely pulverized.

That was the fight all saw.

And then there was the battle that seethed inside Jayden as he tried but was not fast enough to prevent Gd'zang from casting an ice storm at the outset of the fight, destroying a precious scroll in the process. As the party panted, recovering from what should have been the easier of the two attacks, Jayden marched over to the mage and tried to buy her remaining magical scrolls, so such a sacrilege to Cyrin would not happen again. The conversaton grew heated quickly, however. Gd'zang dismissed Jayden's concerns, claiming she didn't need scrolls and could cast directly, making Jayden's request moot. Other words must have passed, Al'xios thought, for why else would the cleric retort that Erea was dead and it was time for Gd'zang to move on? That struck the paladin as a little uncalled for. Everyone could get touchy about their god, but wasn't respect for the dead a fundemental component of civilization? Surely Jayden could read about that somewhere in one of the many books he collected. Thankfully, Gd'zang did not take the bait and walked away, inspiring the party to turn to the more pressing matter of what to do next.

Al'xios shut his eyes. He knew he couldn't afford to sleep, but the thought was so inviting. The party had decided to press on in spite of his exhaustion, though it had meant lashing him to the mount. But, he know, there was little choice. Within an hour the ghouls Mort had summoned would be attacking the city and they needed to be on their way to this cavern when that happened. So here they were.

SMACK

Al'xios jerked awake, confused. A moment later, a bruised Gd'zang was lowered onto the lip of the cavern mouth. A few minutes later and Rook and Mort were there as well, the former's front still streaked with dirt and grass, the latter standing a bit sheepishly as she answered the questioning looks: "The rope slipped."

Meeting Summary from 3/31/12 by ferumbrasferumbras, 13 Apr 2012 20:10

And I managed to fumble three times in a freakin' row! Sheesh.

Personally, I thought all the fumbles was just hilarious. Don't know which was better: Thufark falling on D'lum and breaking her arm or Alexios hitting himself with his own sword. As Andrew would say, "good times. good times."

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