Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tales of the Whistling Stag, part one

-In Silverymoon it is joked that Quaervarr is valuable in the alliance just to preserve its fine inn, the Whistling Stag.

Cast of Characters:

  • Nyro – A mysterious swordsman in an Oni mask, not quite dead or alive ...

  • Alfonse Elric – A child transformed by the misuse of transmutation magic into a Gearforged.

  • Bahol Voarex – A pure-blood Dragonborn sorcerer with a Green lineage.

  • Coridella – An eclectic Dryad Witch of the Moonwoods.

  • Edward Elric – Brother to Alfonse and apprentice Transmutationalist.

  • Ikaris – A wild child of the forest with strong ties to the Feywild.

  • Wolf Winterwing – A Sprite representative of the Seelie Court and close friend of Ikaris.

  • Un-Jow – An Eastern transmutationalist and mentor to the Elric brothers.

1st of Mirtul, Year of the Ageless One; 447 North Reckoning

“There are dark, unnatural forces gathering in the forgotten places of the world. I have gathered you all here to stand up against these vile elements and perhaps save the world as you know it,” she said over the murmur of tall tales made by hunters and the gentle harping of the minstrel. Coridella had gathered these adventurers over the past two days, but this was their first group gathering.

“If there's a world ta be savin,' I'm the strongest there is,” exclaimed the young child with the rat's nest of hair, who boldly introduced himself as Ikaris. The Sprite, Wolf Winterwing pressed his tiny thumbs into his eyes and shook his head from his perch upon the boy's shoulder.

Edward spoke up next, “Will there be any kind of reward for this 'saving the world?' It's our lives on the line ...”

Coridella smiled at Edward. “Yes, there will be rewards twofold … the coffers of the evil ones, to be sure and the obvious benefits of doing good in this world.”

“In my world, there is only vengeance,” a hollow voice came from behind the Oni mask of Nyro.

“And vengeance you shall have against the powers of darkness,” Coridella nodded.

There was a pause until a middle aged dwarf approached the table with a look of recognition in his eyes.

“Allow me to introduce a Dwarf from here in Quaervarr that is need of our help, Silvera Brighthelm.”

Brighthelm nodded curtly and permitted the lovely Nymph to continue. “Silvera owns and and forges at the smithy here in town and his assistant, Polla Everforge has come up missing. He searched her home and found obvious evidence of foul play. He suspects she may have been taken to her ancestral home of Everforge, not but a day's travel into the Nether Mountains.”

“I'd go myself, but my labors call to me and I cannot leave the smithing undone. I have a detailed map to the Halls of Everforge, as I recall it … it's been almost one hundred winters since I'd been there.”

The party studied the map and finished their tankards and were soon off to the nearly forgotten Dwarvish Hall. Toward early evening the falling snow had become heavier making the trek difficult into the foothills of The Nethers. Coridella closed her eyes and gave herself over to the spirit of nature, which did indeed help the party find the ancient stairway carved in solid rock, and also foretold of a gathering storm. Of the two ravens that followed her, she sent one, her familiar, to scout ahead up the frost covered stairway. It seemed that we were quite unexpected.

By the time the top of the icy stone stairs had been reached, the wind gusted greatly at the backs of the party, chilling all to the bone; except for perhaps Nyro, who made no suggestion that the cold bothered him at all. Great sone double door awaited them as they reached the summit of their climb. Elaborate carvings of Dwarves adorned the great door, so lifelike as if they could step off the stone and invite us in. There were Dethek runes upon the door as well, but only the nature of the hands that printed them could be deciphered. Nyro pulled open one of the great doors and the group hurried inside, out of the ever howling wind.

The interior was well lit, sconces that held evenly burning torches adorned the walls of the great hall. Frescoes and relief carvings depicted Dwarves entertaining guests with food, song, and other hospitable comforts. Despite the lit torches, no other sign of recent habitation could be found, though curious barricades of rubble and stone were found in two chambers …

A great oven that was activated by a emblazoned command word was activated in what was once a great kitchen; it's heat was too great to bear for non Dwarven skins.

It was upon entering an unlit chamber that the first fleeting sign of life was spotted … a movement in the shadows down an adjoining hallway. Nyro gave chase immediately. Al, Ed, and Bahol took off after Nyro, who was quickly slipping into the shadows that hid his prey from the rest of the party. Crossbow bolts slammed into Nyro's chest as he rounded the corner ahead, but he did not falter in his charge toward the shadowy archers. Over the makeshift barricade he leaped, bringing his No-Dachi down in a lethal stroke. He continued his stoke laterally with skill and grace, cleaving a small body in twain.

Ed jumped over the barricade as well and gave chase to the scurrying creatures. They rounded a corner, and Ed followed, his rapier at the ready. More crossbow bolts filled the air and Ed was pelted twice by the shadowy rain of death. Hooting and barking could be heard coming from the direction the bolts had been fired, and a mob of scurrying creatures darted past Ed, who had decided to play possum, in the darkened gloom.

The rest of the party engaged the swarm of Kobolds in the dark, with only the shadowy wetness of blades to tell the tale of individual strikes. Edward got up and flanked the group of little monsters, only to realize too late that there were no archers among them …

Again, the darkness was alive with biting teeth, as crossbow bolts found their marks in the shadows. Wolf Winterwing fired arrow after arrow as the old wizard Un-jow launched spells at the archers that had circled around the halls to come up from behind the party, catching us in a cross fire situation.

It was sweaty, bloody and frighteningly still when the last Kobold was slain. Edward had spotted two Kobolds escape the slaughter by ducking through a secret door … it exited into the kitchen beside the great oven with it's blistering heat. Ed decided not to pursue those Kobolds into the heat, and we returned to the main Hall where, at it's end, stood two great stone doors carved much like those at the entrance of the complex.

Several crude pressure plate traps lay in front of the great double doors – surely these were not of Dwarven make. Ikaris fell prey to one of these crudely concealed trap, taking a Kobold made dart to the arm. As the trap was triggered, so was a mechanism that opened the double doors before us revealing a nightmarish sight beyond.

Four great anvils were evenly spaced in the great chamber, centered around a steep stairway leading to a dais which held a master forge. The forge was emitting an unnatural hue … Before the forge stood an elderly man in black robes conducting some manner of ritual; opposite him was a bound and gagged Dwarvish woman … surely it was Polla. Between them squatted a charcoal scaled beast glowing from within with the light of raw heated steel … A Flame Dragon. A crowd of Kobolds drew their blades and began moving toward us to attack.

The Elric brothers charged in to meet the Kobold attack, but fell victim to a 20' across pit trap. The Kobolds gathered around the opening and cruelly taunted the boys. Nyro ran around the pit and began wading his way through Kobolds with Bahol in tow.

Coridella set forth a Witch Bolt, aimed at the Dragon, and the echo of lightening crackling and snapping filled the spacious chamber. Sprite arrows fell upon the accursed Kobolds as Un-Jow readied his staff for close combat.

The old ritual caster revealed a new trick, as he cast healing magics upon the Dragon – nonetheless, Coridella continued to concentrate on her spell as to further harm the beast. Nyro had broken free of Kobold assailants and charged up the steps to the dais, where the Dragon withstood the arcane lightning of the witch. Face to face he came with the Dragon as Spritely arrows feld the robed spellcaster …

The Dragon smiled …

“Presumptuous whelp … You choose to face me, one on one?”

“Give me your name, Dragon, so I might etch it in the Book of the Dead,” replied the blank expression from the masked swordsman.

The Dragon Laughed. “I am Igbalneum and I am Elemental Flame incarnate!”

A flash of fire from the Dragon's maw, the eerie thudding of a body rolling down the steps, and the clattering of an Oni mask upon the stone floor – Nyro was smoldering and lifeless.

Igbalneum took flight,the gleam of death in his glowing red eyes. As he passed overhead, Bahol summoned a spray of poisonous gas at the Flame Dragon, who seemed unaffected by it. He landed practically on top of Coridella and mawed her within an inch of her life. Blood sizzling on his reptilian lips, he took flight again.

The Great Anvils began to glow and hum ominously ...

He strafed the Dragonborn sorcerer Bahol and left him a burned out husk of his former self. The Dragon then resumed his place on the dais and eyed the Dwarvish woman mockingly.

In the meanwhile, Ed had made his way from the pit trap and with Un-Jow's assistance, dispatched the Kobolds. Edwardran straight for the Dragon, Un-Jow right on his heals

Ikaris did what he could to revive the Nymphish Witch …

Edward took one side of the Dragon, while Un-Jow took the other …

The Dragon, apparently waiting on some effect from the great Forge behind him, had no choice but to strike …

He turned on Un-Jow …

Edward plunged his rapier deep into the Wyrmlings body, and with a final arch of it's neck, the beast shuddered and relinquished it's hold on life.

Nyro, sat up, still smoldering and dead, refastened his mask to his revenant face and took his place with the others.

Polla was freed, and cast a ritual of her own that kept the doorway to elemental fire from opening and decimating her ancestral home.

They had stopped a threat of elemental evil … it would not be the last.