[Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:30 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Zadamar’s last breath was a blood-tinged, frosty sigh. He sagged towards Jaleel, and she pushed him away, sending him toppling from the dais. There was no splash, when his body hit the inky blackness. He was simply swallowed, the surface closing over his passing without even so much as a ripple. The flames shrieked, leaping, twisting, gyrating madly.

“Hear me, Lord of the Frozen Night! I am Jaleel, she who has taken the power of your humblest of servants. He is my gift to you. I summon you! Come now to my side! Come forth, and make eternal this winter we have prepared in your honor!”



Thunder roared. Such was the force of it, we were driven to our knees, the floor quaking to meet us. I was not alone in clutching my ears, shaking my head back and forth to try to clear it from the colossal ringing.

WIth the bulk of the mountain atop us, I could not imagine what that sound was like in the open confines of the Valley outside.

Varis did not let the shock of the noise stop him for long. I saw him give Gilliam a shove, gesturing with his sword to the dais across the room, and then he was by my side, hauling me to my feet, waving his sword upwards the ceiling. I knew he was shouting at me, could clearly read the instructions from his lip movements.

“Get her down! We need all the swords we can get!”

Varis and Ana charged after Gilliam, and I scrambled towards the cogwork mechanism that kept Aurora suspended above the yawning darkness.


There was the small problem of the two pale walkers. They had been the huge, dark-furred gnoll brutes similar to those raiding in Verge, in life. Even in this semblance of life, they hulked a head and shoulders taller than I. Black eyes gone gray and cloudy in death, the fur matted, sloughing off in places, they reeked of spoiled meat.

Decrepit as they appeared, their claws were still sharp, as were their teeth. The corruption that allowed them to walk lent already powerful muscles even more strength, and the air whistled with the passing of those great clawed hands mere handsbreaths from my face.

It felt as though I rained blows upon soft dough, and I could have been, for all that my jabs and hits affected the creatures. They were slow, their movements stilted, spastic, nothing at all like the fluidic dance of death those Silva had animated were capable of. For which I was eternally grateful. I used their clumsiness to my advantage, dodging the heavy blows, knocking them aside and letting the momentum of the great swings carry them off balance.

Aas soon as I’d maneuvered them far enough away, I aimed my blows at their feet and knees. They did not change tactics, just kept swinging, and I ducked, hitting the same spots, over and over until I heard a wet ‘pop’ and the knee joints finally gave way.

I leapt away from the brutes, and turned my attention to the two great cogwheels. Whatever the mechanism was, it must have run under the temple’s floor, the chain sheathed in the great stone pillar before me.

Two levers, two cogs. With a shrug, I gripped one of the levers and hauled back on it. I felt the mechanism catch, and the wheels began to turn, slowly.

“Nieah! Nieah!”

I glanced up, at the high voice that pierced the ringing in my ears.

Aurora’s cage was rising, slowly. I leaned back into the lever, and felt the jolt as the chain stopped. Aurora voiced a squawk at the sudden stop. I gripped the other lever, leaned into it. There was a shudder through the metal bar as the wheels began to turn, slowly in the other direction. Aurora’s cage inched lower.

I kept my weight against the lever. What more could I do but wait?
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Jaleel flicked her blood-drenched fingers. Droplets of blood hit the flames surrounding the pit, and gave off angry, rattling hisses. Rather than be consumed by the flames, though, the droplets carried through the ring of flames, spattering on the floor before the steps leading to the altar.

The splash of flames didn’t gutter and go out, though. They curled, turning back on themselves, weaving into legs, flickering red-orange torsos, writing, whiplike lashes of flame licking out where arms would have been, had the shapes been humanoid. Two, and then a third took shape, rattling and hissing. Hunched, they stumped forward on bowed legs, forming into a line. Headless though they were, twisting, gaps opened in the flame-wrought torsos. The maws opened not to the steps behind them, though, but to darkness as deep and impenetrable as that of the pit in the center of the chamber.

The largest of the flameborn horrors lashed at Varis. He’d seen it wind up for the strike and intercepted it, knocking it aside. His eyes widened in shock at the contact, though, and his charge dissolved as his steps faltered. He pulled his arm inward, towards his body, cradling it as he spun, lashing out with a backhanded swing of his sword.

I saw his free hand spasm against his chest, the mail along his lower arm rimed with a fine dusting of ice, the armor blackened beneath it.

Gilliam dropped at the last second, the backswing of Varis’ sword missing his hood by a finger’s-breadth. The smaller warrior slid between the bowed, flickering legs of the smaller of the demons, and Gilliam braced his free hand against the pommel of his short sword as it tore through the junction where creature’s leg met its body.

What would have been a devastating blow to a mortal foe merely caused the creature to voice an icy scream, whiplike arms lashing at Gilliam’s head. They scored the ground in the warrior’s passing, but he’d turned his slide into a roll, and had already tumbled out of the thing’s reach.

Two steps behind the warriors, Ana fared much better, her scythe flaring, the blade sending fiery appendages tumbling away. They’d dissolved into so much greasy smoke before they even hit the ground, but the girl paid them no mind, bringing her weapon up and around, carrying the momentum of her first attack into a second vicious overhead slash. The creature’s icy wail crackled, fading into a a hiss of steam as its body lost consistency, guttering and falling away from either side of Ana’s silver blade.

Gilliam’s swords were a blur as he barely fended off the fiery lashing of the shorter of the two creatures.

Varis wasn’t managing much better, ducking and weaving to avoid the attacks of his own opponent. He was being driven back, a half-step at a time, giving ground as he parried and dodged aside. His movements seemed… off somehow. I saw him lunge as the fiery creature feinted to one side. Ana and I both shouted warnings to him, too late as a writhing tentacle slashed upwards, lashing across his side and dragging up and over his already-injured arm.

The warrior spun with the blow, and went down hard, luckily landing on his other side. His sword cut a swirling trail of sparks across the stone floor as it spun from his grip. The creature reared back, great black maw opening in a grating roar of triumph, a sound much like the avalanche we’d barely managed to escape days ago. It swung one of its whiplike arms back, raising it for a final strike.

And the roar rose in pitch, changing to a brittle wail as Ana’s scythe cut through the swirling fire, sending the thing’s arm flopping and writing to the floor, where it whipped itself out into wisps of acrid greenish-black smoke.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:25 pm

Thorn's Chroncile continues...


“The Augment!” Ana cried. “Your weapons are useless against them without it!”

“I’ve figured that out already!” Gilliam shouted back, as his sword passed harmlessly through the creature. He gave a snarl. “I can’t get it to spark!”

“Skagragh interferes,” Aurora said, and her voice sounded as if it were whispering directly in my ear. “No, do not look up. Keep her attention on the battle below.”

I pulled my glance back down to the ground, but had seen a flutter of white and gold against the sides of the cage. Aurora was throwing what little weight she had against the bars, and the cage was beginning to swing.

My staff would be of no use in the fight. So I jammed it down, lodging it against the lever, keeping the mechanism open. There was the slightest of creaks from the great chainwork above me. Every second, the cage dropped lower, and the arc of Aurora’s swing grew longer.

I hurried to Varis’ side. He was breathing, coughing, but his whole body was wracked with violent shivering. There was not enough true fire or heat within the room to be of any use to me.

I closed my eyes, placing one hand on the warrior’s forehead, the other over his heart. I nearly lost the concentration for the spell at the stinging, unnatural cold that radiated from the metal in his armor.

His own’ body’s inner fire has been weakened, diminished at the cold-yet-burning touch of the demon. I reached for that flame with my own magic, coaxed it brighter. Beneath my hands, Varis’ shivering stopped, and his breathing grew steadier.

I felt a cold leather glove close over my hand.

“Thorn, enough. I am well. I am back.”

It was an effort to open my eyes, and I found Varis was crouched before me.

“Cold…” I mumbled. “Protected you from…” The spell had taken more away from me than I'd calculated.

“I can feel it, my friend.”

It felt as though my hand were miles away, and I could barely feel its tightening against Varis’ arm. “Magic. Needed to strike them. Aurora’s Augment—“

“No time. My sword is too far away,” the man said, and he rose. I felt a tugging at my shoulder, and there was a jarring rattle along my back. “Halav’s balls, but this thing is heavier than it looks!”

Varis hefted Aurora’s blade, turned the weapon through a short series of forms. Satisfied, he tightened his grip on the white leather hilt and leapt to Gilliam’s aid, his voice raised in a wordless shout.


The demon voiced an icy shriek, and Aurora’s sword left traceries of greenish-gold flame along the length of Varis’ stroke. The thing turned, whiplike arms lashing out, but the warrior batted them aside with the flat of the blade, ripples of green fire dancing in the wake of the impacts.

Atop the dais, Jaleel gave a cry of frustration. Again, she lifted a blood-drenched hand, but instead of flinging droplets through the chattering, hissing flames, she stretched her arm outward, over the circle, and a steady trickle of dark blood began to seep from between her fingers, to fall into the yawning pit of darkness.
The flames leapt, the hissing crackle climbing to a chilling, gurgling bubbling sound, like the sound ice makes as it breaks up atop a rushing stream.

Within the pit, it seemed as if the direction of the blood’s fall reversed. Something round and smooth broke the surface of the blackness, pulsing and shivering as it slithered and ebbed upward along the thin stream of blood.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Gecko » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:48 am

just a quick note to let you know I'm still enjoying this. :)

Nice take and description on the feel of druidic magic there Rob.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Azaghal » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:08 am

Wow Rob, I`m enthralled.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:40 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


I could only watch, regaining my strength. What little magic I had left was all but useless here, for there was only stone and metal and ice to be used. Gilliam, too, was not having much luck. The demons’ lashing tentacles kept him from simply charging up the steps towards the druidess, and he was forced to play interference while Varis and Ana chipped away at their foes.

The creeping thing in the pit slithered its bulk to roughly the height of a man, oozing and rippling as though undecided as to its final form. Folds appeared, writhing, lifting tentatively away from the main body, only to flop back, reabsorbed into the churning mass as if the thing had changed its mind.

Despite the freezing temperature within the chamber, sweat beaded Jaleel’s forehead, trickled down one side of her face. With each thrash and wriggling of the… thing tethered to her by the blood, her jaw clenched, lip curling in a snarl. Her free hand tightened, and I saw blood seeping from between her fingers, slithering over white knuckles, a single drop drop beading and falling to the blood-slicked stone beneath her feet.

With a final, violent jerk, the thing wrenched itself free, the thin stream of dark blood snapping like a seamstress’ thread. Jaleel staggered back, pale, panting, her eyes wide, feverish.

Fearful.

The thing surged towards the battle, heaving and lurching to the edge of the pit with a speed I did not think it capable of, given its awkward bulk.

I croaked out a warning.

Varis and Ana turned, the flaming demons erupting in bursts of greenish and silver flames, blackish smoke boiling away with an icy hiss. With a glance and a nod, Varis took several long steps back and away, and Gilliam kept to the chamber wall, such that the thing would be caught in a deadly triangle of silver and steel when it broke through the flames surrounding the pit.

It didn’t even pause, showed no sign that it even sensed the presence of the reddish flames that licked even higher than the roundish protrusion that might have been some sort of head. It pressed through the fire.

A withering rush of cold swept through the room as the flames leapt, engulfing the thing. It thrashed, lurching this way, then that, its mass roiling beneath the cocoon of flames.

It gave off a tremendous stench, a thick, cloying odor like that of something rotten, buried in ice for an age, now thawing. The surface of its… could it have been a skin?.. rippled, bubbling and blistering, though the flames burned with an impossible cold.

The thing gave one final, quivering lunge, and then sank, falling from perhaps a bit more than Varis’ height to that of his knees.

“That’s it?” Gilliam asked, looking away from the rapidly dying flames, up to where Jaleel sagged against the altar. “That’s the best you could do?” He pointed one of his swords at the mass of blackened ooze, its surface crusted, steaming where the flames had died, still burning in some patches. He opened his mouth to say more, then his gaze darted upwards.

Aurora’s cage whistled over the tips of flames surrounding the pit, missed the altar by no more than the length of — as my grandda would say — a cat’s stretch.

The cage slammed into the legs of a great statue, carved the breadth of the wall behind the altar. A screech of tearing metal was nearly lost beneath the thunderous boom, and the dais was engulfed in billow of rock dust.

Gilliam winced. “He’s going to be the patron immortal of limps after that.”

“Keep watching that!” Ana shouted to me as she and the others rushed towards the wreckage up the short flight of stairs along the rear of the temple.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:37 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


There was quite a bit of shouting, interrupted by coughing and choking. Then the hard clang of metal being dropped upon stone.

“Where did she go?” GIilliam asked, the question trailing off into a choking cough.

“Never mind the druidess,” Varis said. “Halav’s balls, look what the girl’s done to it! Help me untangle her.”

“Is she breathing? Wait, don’t move her!”

I heard Varis give a strangled groan, and there was another shriek of metal. “Quickly!” he gasped. There were sounds of shuffling scuffling, more coughing, and then a count to three.

Varis and Gilliam emerged from the heavy dust cloud, carrying a bundle of red and gold and white suspended in a cloak between them.

Aurora coughed, as they set her down. It was a thick, heavy sound, not the dry wrack that the dust cloud inspired.

“Don’t try to sit up,” Ana said.

“This fight--- is not over,” the girl wheezed.

“We just pulled you from a pile of slagged metal and nearly liquified rock,” Gilliam said. “Take a moment to collect your breath, at least.”

Aurora frowned, the mask of blood and dust caking the right side of her face crinkling. She reached out with her left hand. Her right was covered in a web of blood and dust. By the curl of her fingers, it was clear that the arm was broken, probably in more than one place.

“I need… my sword,” she gasped between shallow breaths.

Varis presented it to her, and she clenched it tightly, her eyes fluttering closed. The dark stone on the pommel flickered, and then burst to steady, sickly purple light. It was answered by a cool, pale glimmering from the clear stones adorning the girl’s bracers, though the one on the right shone reddish, through the sheen of blood over the stone. Some of the lines of pain eased from her features, and her breathing grew slow, steady, bubbling less and less with each breath.

Varis knelt, and wound two corners of the cloak in his hands. Gilliam did the same, taking the corners near the girl’s head. With a nod, the two men rose to their feet.

“What are you doing?” Ana asked.

“We’re leaving,” Varis said.

“But you heard her. She said—“

“We heard what she said,” Varis interrupted. “And she is in no condition to fight. Nor are you or Thorn. We’re all exhausted. We need rest.”

“But this—“ Ana gestured towards the steaming, stinking blob.

“It doesn’t look to be going anywhere,” Gilliam said.

“And where do you suppose to go to get this rest, then?”

“There is a place,” the blonde weaver said, peeking out from where she and her sister had taken shelter behind a broken column. “To the west, not even half a mile.” She stared down, as color rose in her cheeks. “My bughael… we would go there when he tired of the cold.”

“A circle of stones, surrounding a larger, pale stone slab?” Ana asked.

The girl blinked, then shook her head. “No, no, this looked to be a proper shrine. With a small worship hall, and a fire pit, and cells for the keeper and priests.”

“Show us the way,” Varis said.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:49 pm

Just a note to let ya'll know that the main site has been brought up to date with what's posted up till now on the thread. Also, stats for the creatures Thorn is calling "firelings."

And don't forget to check the work-in-progress first level of module TC1: "The Baron's Favor," which is one possible retelling of the events in and beneath Castle Mistamere. It's available as a PDF download from the Chronicle's main page.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Azaghal » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:43 am

RobJN wrote:Just a note to let ya'll know that the main site has been brought up to date with what's posted up till now on the thread. Also, stats for the creatures Thorn is calling "firelings."

And don't forget to check the work-in-progress first level of module TC1: "The Baron's Favor," which is one possible retelling of the events in and beneath Castle Mistamere. It's available as a PDF download from the Chronicle's main page.

Have to go get that, thanks Rob!
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:16 am

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Waning half moon of the Deep Snows (on or about Kaldmont 18, 997AC)

We rode as quickly as the snows and Aurora’s condition would allow. Gilliam and Ana had bundled the girl in two of the saddle blankets, and Gilliam hoisted the girl up after Varis mounted.

The blonde weaver led, Varis and Ana behind her. I rode double with the darker-haired weaver, and Gilliam watched behind our little column. Though we were both bundled against the cold, the girl still shivered against me. She whispered to herself, or wept. She slept for a while, and only then did the prickling sense of her power against my skin cease — only to return in an searing rush of burning pins and needles as she sputtered awake, breath short, eyes wide and wild.

I held her — more to keep her from falling from the saddle then to comfort her — and murmured a wordless, meandering tune. Her breathing gradually slowed, and she relaxed enough that the presence of her magic banked to merely a tingling itch. She sighed, then wept again, and I almost felt sorry that her shepherd had been killed.

Except that she would never have chosen to be here, were it not for the Glantrian’s barbaric practice.

There was no ring of stones marking the boundary of the small temple compound, but the snow fell with less weight after a point, the cold not biting quite so deeply.

The roadside shrine was a long, rounded stone structure. A wall extended behind the building. Someone had lashed crudely-hewn beams in place across a couple of stone pillars that stood evenly spaced along the rear of the length of the shrine — while not running the entire length, about a quarter of what had been a stable had been restored to its prior function; a makeshift covering of pine boughs keeping the worst of the snow from any mounts stabled beneath. Relatively fresh hay had even been spread across the ground and was still partially baled here and there. We found sacks of oats and a small bag of barley. It was a tight fit, but the mounts were content to huddle close for warmth.

“Let us hope to find some sort of supplies inside,” Varis said.

“It would be our luck to find the horses better cared for than ourselves,” Gilliam quipped.

By the time I’d curried the horses and seen that they each had a measure of the oats and barley, I found the interior of the shrine warming. A fire blazed in a central fire pit, and a kettle and pot hung over the flames, each bubbling. The tea smelled of clove and cinnamon, and a mix of onion and sage and a peppery venison wafted from the stew pot.

Two doorways stood to one side of the main room, both hung with blankets. Another wider arch opposite those two doors opened into the true shrine. I saw telltale flickerings of candles therein, as well as behind one of the curtained-off rooms.

Our supper continued to cook, Varis stirring the pot. The two weavers sat shoulder to shoulder, dozing.

“Ana has Gilliam confined to the shrine,” Varis said, noticing my glance. “She is with Aurora, doing what she can for the girl’s wounds. Are you well?”

I nodded. “Something warm to eat and a night’s sleep should be all the tending I need,” I told him.

I worked knots, catching up on the past days’ skeins. The dim gray light outside was sliding closer to darkness by the time Ana finally emerged. She’d tied back her hair, two long, thick silver pins holding the coiled mass at the base of her neck. She’d also shed her chainmail jack and tied back the sleeves of her overtunic. It was the first time I think I’d ever seen her arms bare. Pale, well muscled from her combat exercises, I was shocked to see a rippled, pale patch of scar tissue just below her left elbow. She caught my glance, and quickly slipped the bindings keeping her sleeves bound. She knelt and spoke quietly with the two other girls, then rose, peering into the shrine. She glanced down, at a sparkling line of silver dust running the length of the floor beneath the arch. She checked it, nodded, then finally came to sit by the fire. Varis handed her a steaming bowl, and then one to me. The blonde girl took the bowl Varis offered her, and began the slow work of coaxing the other weaver to eat. Ana watched, then set her own bowl down without having taken a bite. She rose and strode out into the deepening night. With her hair still kept back, the tears on her cheeks shone bright in the firelight.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:41 pm

In case you haven't seen it, please take a look at the newest [Thorn's Chronicle Crunch] poll/post.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:15 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Varis shrugged at my questioning glance. “If she wished us to know, she’d tell us,” he said. “We have more important matters to discuss.”

At my gesture, he continued, stirring slowly at his bowl of stew. “We need to find a way out of here, to get word of this back to the Grand Duke. Lord Retameron at the very least.”

“That could be a problem,” I said. “We certainly can’t go out the way we came.”

“Not directly. Perhaps, if we had enough rope…”

“They would never make it across,” I said, nodding towards the two weavers.

“Well…”

“We cannot leave them here,” I said.

Varis blinked, slowly. “They have a plentiful store here. They could hole up, wait for—“

“Wait for what?” Ana asked, from the doorway. “The passes are blocked. You heard Thorn’s hierarch. The roads are frozen over and the rivers aren’t far behind. We are cut off here. There will be no escape, let alone rescue.”

“So you want to just wait here to die, then?” Varis asked. “We’ve cut the head off this snake. Let it thrash about, but I do not wish to be crushed by it.”

“Even cut off, the snake’s head is still dangerous,” Ana countered. “We cannot account for the druidess.”

“She is gone,” Varis said. “Fled, injured or not, surely her power here is broken.”

“Do you see any clearing of those skies? Any fewer stokes of lightning?”

Varis glanced over to me. I raised my hands. “A ceremony of this magnitude, which has been going for this long….” I could only shrug. “It isn’t going to bring itself to a halt all at once.” A sudden thought struck me.

“With no guiding hand, with this sort of momentum… it could run out of control, rather than just blow itself out.”

Varis smacked a fist against his knee. “All the more reason to bring warning to the duchy!”

“All the more reason to return to the temple,” Ana said.

“Madness,” Varis grumbled. “What possible good could that do?”

“It must be resanctified, for one thing. It acts like a lodestone, a beacon drawing darkness towards it. And if what Thorn says is right…. If this ceremony is running out of control…”

They turned to look at me. I nearly choked on the mouthful of stew.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:56 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


“Ana is right,” Gilliam said. He leaned, almost casually against the doorway. His breathing, though, was anything but relaxed. Dark smudges stood out beneath his eyes. “We have the advantage here, probably for the first time since this madness began. We should go back.”

“So that your demon can feed on the flames there?” Aurora’s voice was sharp, cold, like the edge of a knife left too long in the snow. She stepped from behind the curtain, belting the heavy rattling sword about her slender waist.

Save streaks of dried blood caked into the fine links of her dress, she bore no signs of the terrible injuries from earlier. The pale stones adorning her circlet and bracers were dark, the gold veins flickering as they caught the firelight.

“Aurora, are you all right?” Ana asked, and took a step inside.

The girl stepped back, hand going to the white-wrapped hilt of her sword. “Do not come any closer,” she said, her golden eyes narrowing as they regarded the cleric. “You have worked magic upon me against my will.” The word ‘magic’ carried other whispers with it through the translating stone: sorcery, witchery, life-craft.

“I worked healing magic on you! I am no witch. I am a servant of the Silver Flame.” Ana said, her back straightening.

“I did not ask it. I would not ask for the touch of that…” Her nose wrinkled. “It is not so pure.”

“You are a fine one to talk, using a demon’s life force to support your own.”

Aurora’s grip tightened on the hilt of her sword. “That is—“

“Different? How so?”

“Necessary,” Aurora finished. She relaxed her grip, and slid from her fighting stance, lowering her eyes. “We are still at war. Allowances must be made.” She flexed her left hand about the hilt. “The sooner I am able to return to service, the better. In the future, save your life-crafting for others. I am made to endure.”

“You’re welcome,” Ana said. Her voice was nearly as warm as the night outside.

* * * * *

“I still don’t like it!” Gilliam shouted, as we departed the next morning.

“Now I’m questioning whether or not we can trust you,” Varis called back, as our mounts slogged back along the trail towards the mountainside temple. “I’ve never known you to turn down a chance to be alone with a girl before.”

Gilliam stooped, and half-heartedly threw a snowball after us. “I can’t guarantee she’ll remain pure if you’re not all back by sundown.”

“That’s disgusting!” Ana growled.

Varis laughed, nodding. “That’s the Gilliam I know,” he said. “I still wish she’d let us bring him along. He’s a good, capable fighter.”

“His demon has sealed his Augment. He is of no used to us,” Aurora said, over her shoulder from the front of the column.

Apparently, Varis, Ana, myself and the blonde weaver were of use to the girl, whatever her plan was. And whatever the plan, it involved only begrudging acceptance of the weaver.

“I do not like putting my trust in… outsiders.” The word echoed strangers, foreigners, invaders.

“It has been nearly two thousand years since my people made landfall,” Ana said. “Very nearly that for the Flaemish exiles. This place is just as much our home as it is yours.”

“May as well track down a couple beastmen and enlist their help in this, as well,” Aurora muttered.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Azaghal » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:48 am

Just awesome Rob!
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Chimpman » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:29 pm

Yay! I really like the direction you're taking this Rob!

RobJN wrote:“May as well track down a couple beastmen and enlist their help in this, as well,” Aurora muttered.

Ohhh.... this makes me wonder just why (in your campaign world) Blackmoor was crusading against the beastmen? Could the beastmen have trafficked with demons in ancient times?
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Havard » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:44 pm

Chimpman wrote:Yay! I really like the direction you're taking this Rob!

RobJN wrote:“May as well track down a couple beastmen and enlist their help in this, as well,” Aurora muttered.

Ohhh.... this makes me wonder just why (in your campaign world) Blackmoor was crusading against the beastmen? Could the beastmen have trafficked with demons in ancient times?


Sounds likely. :)

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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Chimpman » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:08 pm

Havard wrote:
Chimpman wrote:Yay! I really like the direction you're taking this Rob!

RobJN wrote:“May as well track down a couple beastmen and enlist their help in this, as well,” Aurora muttered.

Ohhh.... this makes me wonder just why (in your campaign world) Blackmoor was crusading against the beastmen? Could the beastmen have trafficked with demons in ancient times?


Sounds likely. :)

I know. :D And it raises all kinds of possibilities for BC 2300 as well. Those beastmen living up north in the frozen lands around Urzud sound like they could be just the types of folk to have dealings with these winter loving demons of Thorn's Chronicle.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:39 pm

Havard wrote:
Chimpman wrote:Yay! I really like the direction you're taking this Rob!

RobJN wrote:“May as well track down a couple beastmen and enlist their help in this, as well,” Aurora muttered.

Ohhh.... this makes me wonder just why (in your campaign world) Blackmoor was crusading against the beastmen? Could the beastmen have trafficked with demons in ancient times?


Sounds likely. :)

-Havard


In interesting question, and one I probably need to develop. Going off initial readings of the beastmen from the Hollow World set, as well as looking through pre- and post- cataclysmic maps of Mystara, I'm getting some interesting ideas.

Being inherently chaotic, the beastmen were likely the first to turn to the worship of demons on Mystara. It was through the beastmen that demons learned of the world and the other races thereupon. While the chaos of the beastman tribes was as wine to their lips, the demons sought to dine on corruption and twisting of the more lawful races. By the time the beastmen began breeding true, the demons had little use for them, and had gained a sufficient foothold in the mortal realm to begin spreading their influence to men (most notably the corruption of the Afridhi), elves (the Sundering and rise of the Black Queen*), dwarves (Mordiswerg), and halflings (those who think the Blackflame is a force for good are mistaken....).

*borrowing this idea, Havard, hope you don't mind!
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Azaghal » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:54 pm

Brilliant idea Rob, I`m sure Havard will approve.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Chimpman » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:07 pm

I don't mind either ;) :P
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:08 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues....

It was easier returning to the temple than it had been in fleeing. The road was piled with snows, but it was light, and the horses broke through it with ease. Wind still tugged at our hoods and cloaks, but it came in gusts, rather than the constant keening knives of cold that had slashed at us the night before.

We picked our way up the rubble-strewn steps as quickly and quietly as we could. Aurora’s hand tightened on the hilt of her sword the moment her feet hit the ground. The stones adorning her wrists and those along the circlet winked to life after two steps. Though she voiced no complaint, her breathing came quicker, and the dark gem on the pommel of her sword kindled to a slow, pulsing purplish light.

Ana and I were both panting when we reached the plaza atop the steps.

“Are you going to make it?” Varis asked.

Ana nodded, then staggered, her grip tightening on her scythe.

“If you are ill, perhaps it would be best to turn back,” the weaver said, glancing over her shoulder, towards the trees in the distance that hid the shrine.

“No,” Ana said, straightening. “This must be stopped. We must—“

A great brassy note poured through the temple opening, so loud we were forced to cover our ears, leaning into the sound to keep from being knocked flat.

Three figures in dark brown robes and deep gray cloaks rushed from the doorway, skidding to a halt as they caught sight of us.

“Go!” shouted the last one through, giving the figure on his left a hard shove. He drew forth a stone-headed mallet from the folds of his cloak.

The other figure stumbled, then dashed for the far side of the plaza, where the steps led down towards the road to Ronkan.

Varis reached for a knife at his belt.

“No, take the leader!” Aurora snapped. “Leave the runner to me.” She leapt atop a squat pile of rubble, the sword ratcheting as she drew it in one swift horizontal stroke. She snapped her wrist, and hissed “Kashaa’karah!” The blade broke apart with a burst of pale smoke and a snapping that sounded like a miniature thunderbolt. The tip lashed forward, joined to other hand-width sections of the sword by long, thin lengths of some sort of cord. The blades slashed through the runner’s cloak, the cord hitting and twining fast about the man’s boot.

Aurora gave a sharp tug, yanking the man’s feet out from under him, sending him sprawling hard to the uneven surface of the plaza.

“Varis, eyes front!” Ana shouted.

A shower of silver-blue sparks drew my attention back to the other girl, who’d just barely managed to send the stone-headed hammer skittering along the length of her scythe, rather than slamming into Varis’ head.

The other figure lunged, a gleaming knife in hand as he struck at Ana’s unprotected side.

Anger seized me — perhaps it was the glee that I saw in the man’s wide eyes, the short bark of laughter as he made to strike. It surged, and I felt it rush from my hands in two spheres of orange-yellow flame.

His laughter dissolved into a scream of pain as what I thought was a knife in his hand burst into a cloud of sizzling steam at the touch of one of the blasts of fire. He fell back as the other ignited his cloak. He lashed about, blistering fingers fumbling for the cloak’s clasp at his neck.

There came the sound of stone-on-metal again, and I looked over to see the remaining cloaked figure batting aside sword and scythe with the head and butt of his hammer. Ana and Varis pressed forward, forcing the man back towards the temple doorway, step by step, blow by blow.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:17 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...



Blue-white splashes of sparks flared within the dim antechamber, washing Ana and Varis in cascades of light and shadow as the burly druid turned their attacks away again and again. Still, he continued his steady retreat, feet sure even though his attention was focused on the flashing blades of sword and scythe before him.

A surge and whisper of power against my skin, and the room brightened. The blonde girl held a hand aloft, and a wavering, watery ball of light bobbed a dozen feet overhead.

Revealing a handful of raggedly-clad figures clambering slowly, silently over the rubble along the collapsed side of the chamber.

I shouted a warning, and charged the one closest to Varis, bringing my staff down hard across outstretched hands.

The wood shivered in my grip — it felt as though I’d brought it down on columns of ice rather than flesh and bone. The thing wrenched its arm to one side, forcing me to catch my balance, and I glanced up to see those hands stretching towards me now, its mouth opened, a cold, hissing rasp rattling from a long-dead throat.

Jagged rows of ice had grown in where its teeth should have been, and wisps of frost trailed from its jaws like some kind of supernatural spittle. The hands that clutched towards me were caked in ice, the fingers broken apart, barbs and spurs of ice too conveniently shaped or placed at the tips to be natural.

Most frightening though, were the eyes. They burned an unholy icy blue — a cold, dead, hungry light. It was that light, more than the weather or the closeness to the teeth and talons of ice that had me shivering — and not from the temperature, but from the depth of the… I can only think to call it equal parts hunger and rage.

Unlike flame or fire, it did not beat against me, but instead sank through me.


We were in trouble if those claws or teeth found flesh.

A flare of silver light rippled through the room, from behind me, and Ana’s voice rang in the rapidly cooling air:

Argyro Fyiro, mehi lux!

The ice-rimed horror that was reaching for me stalled for the space of a frosty breath, but it was enough time for me to fix my balance, and catch its claws with my staff rather than my arm.

“These things are more powerful than the last batch,” Ana called.

“Why should they fear the pitiful flicker of your Silver Flame?” the burly man asked with a laugh. “I told you, it was as a candle before a conflagration!”

I saw the figure lift a hand, from the corner of my eye, saw a long tumble of wavy black hair. A long, rich black beard fell from where it had been wrapped up and out of the way as the figure swept the hood back.

Zadamar stretched to his full height, knocking Varis’ strike aside with a laugh nearly as cold as the frost that poured from his mouth.

The druid’s skin was the grayish-blue of solidly-frozen flesh. Muscles bulged and flexed beneath what looked like a sheen of dirty ice. He flung the cloak aside, and a hazy nimbus took its place, shrouding him in what looked to be a mantle of finely-blowing snow.

“What in the name of Halav—“

Zadamar chuckled. “Oh, no, not in Halav’s name at all, but the name of—“

“Cryonax,” Ana whispered. Her lips seemed barely able to form the name, so blue were they.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:44 am

Thorn's Chronicle continues...

Zadamar flinched as if struck. Varis leapt, taking another great swing at the opening, but the druid — if he could even still be considered such a thing — again swatted aside the warrior’s sword with an almost absent-minded contempt.

“I will freeze your tongue and snap it from your mouth, for speaking the name of the Lord of the Frozen Night,” Zadamar hissed. He strode towards Ana, hand outstretched. There was a flash of silver light, and it was difficult to tell if it was the druid or the shimmering silvery barrier that let out the sputtering hiss. The druid snatched back his hand, but not before we could see the burns, fingers cracked and oozing blood so pale it looked nearly pink.

“Pitiful though it is, the Silver Flame still burns,” Ana said with a smirk.


An icy snarl, like a rattle of chips of ice in a deep well, drew my attention back to the frozen walkers. Ana was right, they were stronger than any we’d fought before. Faster, too. Fortunately, they could not grasp with their icy claws, and I used that to my advantage, sliding their blows away down one side or the other of my staff. But they regained their balance faster than the last of the shamblers I’d fought the day before. Though I was managing to keep the creature from landing any hits, each block and parry jarred at my arms and shoulders. I could not keep it at bay much longer.

“Step away next parry!” Varis shouted from behind me, and I did just that.

His sword cut a flaming arc right into the path to which I’d deflected the icy walker. It’s rattling snarl climbed in pitch to a bubbling wail, as the sword’s green fire sliced through the ice-crusted hide as if it were normal flesh. Steam and something blacker boiled away from the wounds, and a second downward swing finished the thing off.

“Magic, Thorn,” Varis said. “Like those other creatures, that or maybe your fire are the only things that can harm them.”

The blonde weaver gave a shriek, dodging back away from one of the creatures as it took a swipe at her. She raised her hands, as if to ward the creature off, and it found itself embracing sheets of flame. Like the druid outside, the creature wailed and staggered away, wrenching this way and that, fanning the flames all the higher.

The remaining walkers halted, hunkering out of reach, their eyes flickering with the hungry blue flame, burning brighter with their hatred of the fire on Varis’ sword.



Another frozen walker fell in a steaming, stinking heap, the demonic power boiling away under the wash of flame I hurled. I wasn’t sure how much more I could summon. The blonde weaver was in worse condition than I: Ana finally had to drag the girl behind the shelter of another sliver barrier.

Varis bore the brunt of the attacks, though. Patches of his armor were rimed with frost, scored and scorched where the things’ claws had found purchase, the wounds crusted with black ice. He was nearly as pale as Ana, his sword rattled with the shivering spasms that wracked his body. Still, he somehow managed to keep a whisper of the greenish fire licking at the edge of his blade.

Ana had tried using her bursts of silver light, calling out to the Flame with some limited success. At the very least, the creatures were stunned long enough that Varis or I could dispatch them.

But more took their place, pulling themselves from beneath the ruins of the far side of the chamber, pushing up from their cold graves amidst the rubble.

And Aurora had the audacity to ask us how it was that we’d allowed the druid to slip past us.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby Chimpman » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:24 pm

Hey Rob, this is getting really good! I'm really liking the fact that the party are on the offensive (I just hope they can pull through ;) ).

I noticed that you've reduced the party size down to 4 + some NPCs (I'm counting Aurora as an official party member - even if she is an NPC, she'd be of sufficiently high level to match the party's - possibly even higher). When I thought back on this, I realized that you've done it in the past as well. First by effectively removing the dwarf brothers, and then by removing Silva, and finally with Gilliam. Has this been a conscious effort to keep the party size manageable? I tried doing something similar with my own story - even though there are 6 adventurers, I've always tried to focus each section on 3 or 4 of them - switching them up every once in a while). I really like the technique... just wondering what your thoughts were.

And, I'll throw out a Yay! for the return of Zadamar - I knew that wouldn't be the last of him. Wonder what happened to Jaleel though :twisted:
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Postby RobJN » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:45 pm

Chimpman wrote:Hey Rob, this is getting really good! I'm really liking the fact that the party are on the offensive (I just hope they can pull through ;) ).

I noticed that you've reduced the party size down to 4 + some NPCs (I'm counting Aurora as an official party member - even if she is an NPC, she'd be of sufficiently high level to match the party's - possibly even higher). When I thought back on this, I realized that you've done it in the past as well. First by effectively removing the dwarf brothers, and then by removing Silva, and finally with Gilliam. Has this been a conscious effort to keep the party size manageable? I tried doing something similar with my own story - even though there are 6 adventurers, I've always tried to focus each section on 3 or 4 of them - switching them up every once in a while). I really like the technique... just wondering what your thoughts were.


Yes and no. The first time, the removal of the dwarf brothers, it was partially plot-driven, but also a "too many characters to keep track of" issue. I hadn't sorted the brothers out in my head too cleanly, so I took them off stage while I worked out their personalities and backstories.

The further removal of Silva was more of what I call a "bacon issue." As in she was always saving that of the party. It was getting too easy to rely on her, so I had her taken off stage in a suitably cliffhanger-esque manner (also, the dwarves because they would be too useful in the mountains, and we can't have things going easy on the PCs. :twisted: ) This would have effectively trimmed the cast down to just the players, and giving them a chance to shine throughout most of B10, without relying too heavily on NPCs.

(Silva's fate will be dealt with in the next arc, "Wake of the White Witch's Wrath". You know, if you guys are still at all interested..... :roll: :P )

Gilliam's removal was more of a tactical choice on the part of Aurora and Ana -- going into the demon's den, they didn't want to risk Gilliam's swords turning against them at a critical moment. And the brown-haired weaver is nearly catatonic after losing her shepherd. Again, no use in a fight, and as you can see, the PCs are in it up to their necks. :twisted:

In the DragonLance Chronicles, Weis and Hickman found they just had too many characters to keep them all together, and had the party split up about midway through the series -- there were simply too many heads to keep track of, and I'm finding the same is true even though this tale is pretty narrowly focused through Thorn's point of view. I've found having more than six cast members tends to make for messy scenes -- pronouns get mushy, if the characters' voices aren't distinct enough (which is a problem I'm STILL dealing with even after nearly two years of work!), it gets hard to tell who it is that's speaking in long stretches of dialogue. Also, mind you, that's six "main" characters, plus anyone else in the scenes to take care of as well, be it monster, villain, supporting cast members, or even the scenery itself....
And, I'll throw out a Yay! for the return of Zadamar - I knew that wouldn't be the last of him. Wonder what happened to Jaleel though :twisted:

Faster, better, stronger, colder.....
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