Tales of the Companions Story Hour

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Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:25 pm

Rudwilla's Stew

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
Griffondale:
My friends and I were walking the streets of Griffondale in the Duchy of Minar when a noble gentleman named Jelmark, an emissary for the local duke, approached us about a quest. While hesitant, we agreed to listen to his story in exchange for a meal at the local tavern. Once there, Jelmark told us of the quest.

A lair of bugbears in the Sunus Mountains warred with the peoples of Minar and the Barony of Wolffire six years ago. Duke Brookwater and Baron Hault's combined forces drove the bugbears back into their caves beneath the mountains.

Fearing another bugbear incursion, a senile old crone named Rudwilla Grumb concocted a stew for the bugbear king as a gift of homage from the bugbear King’s human neighbors. Her stew was so well received by the bugbear king, Brulok, that he decided not to renew his attack against the humans. Brulok demanded that the stew be brought to him every year as a tribute, just in time for the bugbear King's birthday.

The bugbear tribe hasn't attacked since.

The time has come again for the stew to be delivered. Jelmark contacted the old crone and found out that the stew wasn't ready yet as she required several ingredients. He needed our help to gather the ingredients for Rudwilla and then deliver the stew to the bugbear tribe. He offered 1,000 gold pieces for our help.

Dabuk, of course, tried to wrangle more gold out of Jelmark and supplies for the journey. Jelmark was unhappy but agreed to request the additional gold and supplies from the duke. He then gave us a scroll to present to Rudwilla that proved we were acting for the Duke's.

As Jelmark left the tavern, Dabuk decided to tail him just to make sure that the mission wasn’t a setup. (He's like that.) Jeddar, Dvalin, and I stayed behind to continue our feasting and Jeddar put on quite the show.

Dabuk and Mesik came back several hours later. Dabuk told us that he and Mesik tracked Jelmark to a local brothel. There, they trapped the duke's man insisting that our demands be met before we’d help with the quest. Dabuk encouraged Jelmark to be very forthcoming. It would be a shame if the duke found out about the man's extracurricular activities. Jelmark quickly agreed to pay whatever we wanted as long as the duke and his wife never find out.

We left Griffondale by morning, traveling to the old crone's isolated hovel across the Duke's River near the town of Severton. We arrived just in time to save Rudwilla and her apprentice, a human girl named Carrie, from two strange undead creatures wrapped in bands of cloth. They were covered with a sticky substance that could be best described a gray-white paste. Dabuk and Jeddar's weapons stuck to the things and the old crone had to dump boiling hot water on the weapons to free them.

Luckily, I didn't have to suffer the hot water.

The old woman thanked us for our help and invited us inside for a snack. We explained that we had been sent by Jelmark and presented the duke's scroll as proof. She gave it a once over then presented us with a list of three ingredients that she would need to complete the stew. She tells us that an old friend of hers, an alchemist named Nellus Alakart, has all sorts of things on hand in his home — an old stone fort called the Keep of Ewerwell. He should have what is needed but that we only have three days to find the correct ingredients.

Dabuk took the list as well as a sketched out map of the area, and we headed for the Keep of Ewerwell. Along the way we were ambushed by a small pack of gnolls. Dabuk outwitted them, easily, sending the gnolls on a wild goose chase through the woods without their breeches.

Several hours later we arrived at the Keep of Ewerwell, which looked abandoned at first. The drawbridge planks were rotted and after Dabuk surveys the Keep from the outside we soon discovered a broken wall and the body of a man in the moat; obviously, it was this Nellus Alakart person. He was quite dead and we worried that Rudwilla might blame us if we couldn’t locate the culprits who killed him.

Slowly and carefully, we entered the Keep with Dabuk and Dvalin in the lead. Jeddar and Mesik watched the rear as well as my back. Inside, we found the lower half of the Keep in ruins but not abandoned. An old hag named Hezra Blacktooth and her three half-orc sons had occupied the Keep. They retreated to the upper level, attempting to ambush us. We easily succeed in killing the half-orcs but had a little more trouble with the old witch. She kept blinking in and out of existence, harassing us while we explored the keep for the ingredients Rudwilla needed.

Eventually we got lucky. She took a wrong step and walked right into my Color Spray spell. After that, Dabuk and Jeddar made short work of her despite her pleads for mercy. Ha! Mercy after what she and her sons did to the old alchemist. I don't think so. The best part, for me, was gaining her spellbook and Wand of Fear.

Once the foul family was dealt with, we concentrated on finding the ingredients needed — troll warts, black gretchen moss, and witchroot. Luckily, the first item wasn’t to hard to find. We found the troll warts in two jars on an old wooden table in what was left of the kitchen.

The third ingredient we found in the dead alchemist's lab on the second level. Oh, what I could do with that lab!

The second ingredient had us stumped until we found a note addressed to Rudwilla telling her that getting the moss wasn't a problem for Nellus as it grew in his well in the kitchen of the Keep! I could have kicked myself. Moss... water... well. Damn... I should have known that!

We took the ingredients, and the note, back to Rudwilla so she can make the stew. Although why anyone would want to eat such foul things as troll warts, moss, and witchroot is beyond me.

Rudwilla put the awful concoction together then directed us to travel up the road past Chorlette to the bugbears' lair to deliver it. We entered the mountain and ran into two large bugbears, Kull and Garg, guarding the bridge over a chasm, which lead into the lair. The two guards ordered three bugbear skeletons to attack us to test our strength and courage. I think they were just trying to amuse themselves.

After defeating the undead trio, the bugbear guards allowed us to take the stew into the lair and present it to Brulok, the bugbear king. He was an awful smelling individual, but I kept my mouth shut as peace depended on our success.

The tribe’s shaman, a bugbear named Crud, poisoned the stew in hopes of breaking the agreement with the duke. Brulok's taster, Iggy, died from the poison and we were soon forced to explain ourselves. Luckily, Dabuk had been suspicious since we arrived, watching the stew like a hawk. He had seen Crud put something in the stew and didn't believe it was “seasoning.” We exposed Crud and the bugbear King declared him banished “forever and a day.”

The bugbear shaman attacked us in frustration. Jeddar and Dabuk made short work of the shaman dispatching him down the chasm for his crime. Surprisingly, the bugbears were pleased and let us go. I was sure we were going to end up in the stew.

We returned to Griffondale to receive our reward and were offered a chance to fix up the Keep of Ewerwell and become servants of Minar. We gladly accepted the Keep, but Dabuk soon became bored and we left it unoccupied to head south into the unknown…


Note: As a result of the PCs failing to stay and watch over the keep, the Duke grants it to another group of adventurers several weeks later.

* * *
Last edited by Knightfall on Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by Knightfall » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:31 pm

Journey South

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
The Keep of Ewerwell:
I still don't understand why we let Dabuk talk us into this. The Keep was given to us by the duke for our role in helping placate the bugbears of the Sunus Mountains. It would have been a great place to setup in. It had everything we could need including the alchemist's lab for me. Sure it needed some work but we didn't choose the adventuring life because it would be easy.

But then again, that had been Dabuk's point. He said and I quote "I am not going to become someone's servant. My only loyalty is to my family and myself. If the Keep is still ours when we come back then great. If the Duke wants to give it to someone else then so be it. Life on the road is harder, which is the way it should be."

I guess it made sense from his point of view. But I wish there had been a way I could have done both. I can't believe I walked away from a fully stocked, free alchemist's lab. I guess I'm more like Dabuk than I'd like to admit.

I did get to keep Hezra Blacktooth's spellbook and Wand of Fear, though. That plus the coins and gems we recovered were more than enough to restock our supplies and buy some better weapons. My new staff is a lot sturdier than my old one. It's shod with mithral heads and made out of strong foxwood that only grows north of the Greystone Mountains. It cost me quite a bit but it was worth it.


DM's Note: Bactra's weapon was originally a better than average staff (but not magical); now it is a masterwork staff for 3.5e.

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Last edited by Knightfall on Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Knightfall » Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:42 pm

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
South of Minar:
We traveled south past the edge of the Duchy of Minar and into the Hather Plains. I had heard rumors about this land when I was a child from my father. He told me that it was full of brigands and thieves riding across the plains stealing from travelers and each other alike. So far, all I've seen are rabbits and tumbleweeds...

The Hather Plains provided nothing but to parch my throat. I was glad to run into civilization again as we came across several towns and villages. I asked some fellow travelers where we were. They called the place Liran pointing towards the east...


"The capital city is that way but stay out of the Thunder Mountains. There is a huge city of orcs in the mountain range, and they'll eat your elven hide if they get a chance."

That hadn’t sounded like something I wanted to experience and we all agreed to keep going south. Dabuk was actually insistent that we kept going south until he said otherwise. Sometimes he can be a real pain in the―

Our decision brought us to the edge of a huge desert that stretched south in every direction. The leatherbound map Mesik bought in Minar of the southern lands hadn’t had any markings about a desert. Of course, it hadn't had any markings on it about Liran either. The rest of us agreed that he'd definitely been cheated.

I had hoped that Dabuk would turn us around return to the north or at least skirt the edge of the desert heading west. But he is determined to brave the desert. The heat is almost unbearable and we were forced to purchase loose tunics and breeches for everyone and stock up on water from a roadside peddler.

His prices were outrageous!

We pushed on into the desert, which the trader referred to as the Great Expanse. That didn’t sound promising. I'm beginning to wonder if Dabuk might be trying to distance himself from something.

Dvalin didn't like the idea of going through the desert period. He started sweating uncontrollably. We tried not to pay attention to his odor, but it was so bad. Jeddar has been closest to him during our time in the desert and hinted that Dvalin should try rubbing sand all over himself to hopefully mask the smell. So far, it hasn’t worked very well...

Soon after entering the Great Expanse a low mountain range becomes visible in the distance to the southwest. We all agree it might be better to travel near the mountains then in the open desert.

Image

They seemed to be fairly dry, as Dabuk noted that there aren't any visible snowcaps in the range. More than likely they would be barren without much life but all agree the mountains might provide some shelter from the heat.

The mountain range soon blocked the horizon to the west as we traveled along the edge of the range through dusty foothills. They’re very low mountains, indeed. Even the Sunus Mountains, which separate the Duchy of Minar from the Barony of Wolffire put them to shame.

However, they weren’t as lifeless as we originally thought. Scraggly trees and bushes could soon be seen growing on the mountainside but not much else. And while we hadn't come across any monsters or overtly dangerous terrain, Dabuk had refused to travel any closer to the mountains. He was sure that something lived in the deeper hills but didn’t know what. Everyone was becoming tired and tense at this point...

Dabuk's suspicions had been correct. Something did live in the mountain range and it soon began stalking us. My cousin had found several large tracks like a lion's, but nothing else. The beast always evaded us somehow. Dabuk had refused to go any farther until the creature's intentions were discovered...

Dabuk and Mesik soon became annoyed. They had no idea what was hunting us or how it seemed to be everywhere all at once. I suggested that maybe there were more than one, which Jeddar didn't like the sound of. I hadn’t liked suggesting it either. However, my cousin had become sure there was only one creature and he had become certain it was unnatural...

On the third night of being stalked by the beast, we discovered its secret. It could fly! The beast flew over us during the night and had roared at us. Fear had trickled down my spine, and it had felt like my strength of will was being drained from my body. The beast flew off while we stood side by side together in the darkness trying not to shake.

The next day we worried about rogue dragons and fell beasts of legend. Dabuk didn’t think it was a rogue dragon, but he isn’t 100 percent sure. We didn’t see or hear anything, however, now watching the sky as well as the horizon.

Then on the fourth night it attacked. The beast flew in low and roared at us. Even with my elven eyes, I had trouble spotting the beast in the night sky. Dabuk tried to knock it out of the air with his bow while Dvalin finally lost his cool howling at the beast waving his axe in the air. I tried to prepare a spell to bring it down but found myself unable to move. The beast's roar is obviously a magical attack of some kind.

It circled us several times staying well out of range of Dabuk's bow. I noticed Mesik on the ground shaking in fear at this point. Jeddar tried his bow as well but lost his nerve when the beast flew in low right at him roaring again. Mesik had curled up in a ball and wouldn't move.

The second time I hadn’t felt the fear casting Daylight into the night sky. Dabuk found his range putting an arrow into the beast's hide. The beast landed several feet behind me in the sand growling in rage. It was over 10 feet long with a cat-like face. Yet its body looked almost reptilian.

Dvalin charged into the beast his axe whipping through the air. Jeddar regained his composure putting an arrow into the creature's shoulder. I stepped back as Dabuk went charging by, his short sword cutting into the beast's hide, at the same time it pounced on Dvalin. Jeddar joined the fray, his twin blades flashing, while I tried to get Mesik to snap out of his fear induced stupor.

The beast tried to take to the air with Dvalin but Jeddar and Dabuk succeeded in pinning its wings down. The beast snapped and clawed at them, releasing Dvalin. He looked bad.

Eventually, Dabuk and Jeddar severely wounded the beast. It didn’t get up again. We all stood around the creature wondering whether it was intelligent or not. Dvalin hadn’t been hurt as bad as I originally thought and Mesik soon recovered.

Dabuk hadn’t felt it was right just to leave it there to be claimed by the vultures and desert sand. We dragged it deeper into the hills and piled stones around it. We felt a little guilty. It hadn't been evil; we were pretty sure of that. It had simply been hungry. Dabuk said a prayer to Rillifane for the beast and we left the mountains behind to continue south through the Great Expanse.

I still say there had been more than one...


Image
Last edited by Knightfall on Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:54 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
The Great Expanse:
The battle with the flying beast left me uncertain of whether or not the adventuring way of life is for me. Dabuk was also melancholy for a while, but he seemed to move on — standing firmly in the belief that we had no choice.

Our horses quickly died without water as we barely had enough for ourselves. Dvalin began struggling to keep up as his wounds started festering. I couldn’t believe we had decided to go off adventuring without a cleric to heal us. The arrogance...

Dabuk and Jeddar are soon half carrying the wounded dwarf as we reached the edge of the Great Expanse. It's amazing how quickly the terrain had gone from harsh desert to verdant plains. The warm plains were a lot less dry although not less warm.

Dabuk ordered us to stand guard over Dvalin while he tried to find some water to clean out our friend's wounds (and for our parched throats). Mesik insisted on going with him stating, “It isn't safe for you to go off alone.

If it had been anyone else but Mesik, Dabuk would have told him to “go kiss Hades.” They aren't gone for more than an hour — coming back with filled waterskins and huge smiles on their faces. They had found a small creek several miles to the south, and Mesik had been fairly certain he had seen a settlement in the distance.

First thing though, Dvalin had needed tending. Dabuk and I cleaned out his wounds the best we could while Mesik and Jeddar scouted ahead to see if Mesik had been right. I located some shoots of grass that looked like thistle-weed — a special herbal medicine that grows around Woodknot. Of course, we had tested it on one of Dabuk's minor cuts first before trying it on Dvalin. It seemed to be what I thought it was and prayed to Rillifane that I hadn't made a horrible mistake...

Dvalin soon got better, thank Rillifane. His breathing settled and he was soon awake and alert. Mesik and Jeddar returned to confirm that there was indeed a community ahead. From what they could tell, it appeared to be a village of halflings.

Mesik was very excited about going to meet them and learning if halflings are considered common in the south. His people had so few independent villages and homes in the north. Everyone agreed it was the best option and that Mesik should introduce everyone...

The halfling village is more like a hamlet. Mesik had trouble containing his excitement running ahead to introduce himself to the first halfling he saw. Luckily, it goes well and soon the entire community came out to greet us.

Th village is called Leverkan. They were a little less friendly towards the rest of us, however, thinking Dabuk and I were desert elves. Desert elves! I'd never heard of such a thing.

They we very concerned about Dvalin's health, however. Soon his wounds were thoroughly cleaned out and bound in clean cloth. They didn't have a local healer, but we couldn't have been happier. A young halfling lass even helped tend Dabuk's and Jeddar's minor wounds...

We introduced ourselves to the local sheriff, a middle-aged halfling named Cade Metalwater. He invited us all to his home for some much needed rest and some pipe weed for Mesik and anyone else who wanted a puff. We gladly accept.

His home is small compared what I remember of Mesik’s home, but we all managed to fit inside. We told him about our homes and our journey from the Duchy of Minar. Then we tell him of the flying beast that stalked and attacked us and of the battle that ensued...


Image

Cade listened intently to the story. After Dabuk had finished the halfling sighed, "It sounds like you had no choice but it's trouble all the same. The beast was an intelligent creature known as a dragonne and is revered by the desert elves of the Great Expanse. They will soon learn of its death. Dragonnes are sacred to their god, Chaeon. If they track you here, I cannot protect you. Desert elves may be honorable at the best of time, but they can be very bloodthirsty as well. It's best you leave as soon as possible.”

“We were protecting ourselves.” Bactra scoffed at the idea that these desert elves had any right to judge their actions.

Just then, a noise came from outside Cade's home. Several community members knocked on Cade’s door. They told him and the group that desert elves are at the edge of the village demanding the surrender of the Sacred One's murderers.

“You best leave right now.” Cade sighed.

"We are not going to run." Dabuk refused to leave. He felt responsible and wished to try to explain what happened.

They went with Cade to edge of the village. There were more than a hundred desert elves. All decked out in war paint with a look of vengeance in their eyes. The elves carried wicked looking spears and other weapons.

“This isn't a good idea, lad.” Dvalin fingered his axe, twitching with the anticipation of hostility.

“You might be right but we are not going to run away without telling our side of the story.”

The desert elves were surprised that the murderers included an elf and two half-elves. Dabuk did his best to explain what had happened and that it hadn't been done out of hate or evil intent. However, their shaman refused to even consider the adventurer's version of the encounter insisting they be brought back into the desert to face justice. He showed them a crystal globe that depicted them stalking and killing the creature in cold blood. They were shocked to say the least.

“It didn’t happen that way,” Dabuk insisted.

The shaman, Detyan Thundersand, wouldn't consider any version that didn't come from the crystal. Cade stood up for the group saying that they weren't the bloodthirsty sort. Several halflings stood next to them with pitchfork and clubs just in case the elves attacked.

Then, all of a sudden, Thundersand screamed a war cry to kill the murderers. The desert elves attacked the village and chaos quickly ensued. Cade helped the group escape through the village as the halflings tried to hold off the desert elves. It was a little more than Bactra had given the halflings credit for. Obviously, they'd faced the elves before.

They fled the village with the angry desert elves in pursuit. Several miles away from the village the group turned and saw several of the village's buildings on fire. Again, Bactra felt like he didn't have any right to be an adventurer.

“There wasn't anything we could do.” Dabuk stated grimly.

“Those elves are right behind us, lads.” Dvalin was nearly back to his old self. “No time for feeling sorry for yourselves.”

“Right,” Dabuk led the way as the sun began to set. “Let's get out of here.”

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:48 pm

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
South of Leverkan:
We ran for hours. The desert elves were relentless. A forest soon appeared in the distance and Dabuk decided he’d rather face the elves with some cover than out in the open. We reached the trees just minutes before the elves would have caught us. Dabuk yelled for everyone to keep going and look for cover. I found a cubbyhole in behind a large tree while doing my best not to let my heart jump out of my chest.

Dvalin ducked behind a fallen log, Mesik scampered up another tree hiding in the foliage, and Jeddar crouched down behind a large stone. I couldn’t see Dabuk anywhere. Then he was right beside me with one hand on my shoulder and the other over my mouth. He scared me so badly that I was sure I was on my way to Arvandor. (I wish he wouldn't do that.)

He had stared at me with cold eyes, which spoke volumes. Obviously, I had been breathing to loud or something. We sat there for what felt like hours. Dabuk kept scanning the forest for the desert elves while keeping me calm at the same time.

Then we saw them. The elves came to the edge of the forest. Thundersand just stood there staring into the treeline, not moving. None of the elves had looked like they wanted to come in after us. Soon they were setting up camp, but the whole time the shaman hadn’t moved an inch...

Twilight came and went. Dabuk refused to move and everyone followed his example. We stayed that way for hours. Then the shaman roared defiantly at the trees, spit on the ground, and went to his tent, which his devoted followers had ready for him.

I sighed in relief, but Dabuk still refused to move for another half-an-hour. Then he gave the signal to the others to come out of hiding. Everyone moved as quietly as possible moving deeper into the forest with Dabuk in the lead...

The forest was a nice change from the heat of the desert and plains. The moisture seemed to hang in the air and the canopy that hung overhead kept the lower regions somewhat cooler. It was like being home again...


Image

“Dabuk, where are we going?” Bactra kept his voice to just a whisper.

“With this much moisture there has to be some sort of lake or river here. That is where we are going.”

None of them doubted Dabuk's keen senses. To the half-elven ranger a forest was a forest no matter where it was. He could just as easily track something in the surrounding rainforest as he could back home in the Great Forest. It was his insight; it was his gift from Rillifane.

Several hours passed in silence as the companions concentrated on keeping up with Dabuk's brisk pace. Dvalin had removed his armor carrying it on his back. Years ago, Dabuk had shown him how to pack it so that it didn't clang together. He wasn't as silent a runner as the rest of them but it would have to do.

Mesik strode beside Dabuk, covering his back, while Jeddar ran in the rear to cover the rest of them. Bactra easily timed his footfalls with his cousins while keeping an eye on Dvalin — making sure he didn’t falter.

Then Dabuk stopped. “There is definitely a body of water up ahead. Bactra, you, Dvalin, and Jeddar stay here while Mesik and I scout ahead.”

Before anyone could object, he and Mesik disappeared into the forest.

“I hate it when he does that.” Dvalin heaved his pack off stretching his sore shoulders.

“Would you rather go back and face those desert elves?” Jeddar noted his friend's answer was silence. “That's what I thought.”

“Will you two be quiet. Those elves could be right behind us.” They had spoke out loud as if we were back home in the hall of the Tiger Guild.

“I don't think so.” Jeddar shook his head lowering his voice. “They seemed very reluctant to come into the forest.”

“And what does that tell you?” Dabuk dropped down out of tree behind Jeddar. The bard went for his blades, but Dabuk wrapped his arms around him before he could reach them. “Got you!”

“You bastard, don't do that.” Jeddar wiggled free, scowling.

“Well?” Dabuk let him go as Mesik came out of the trees beside me.

“All right, all right. More than likely something about the place scares them. And whatever can scare a whole tribe of bloodthirsty desert elves is something not to take lightly. Happy now?”

“Yes.” Dabuk usually doesn't say a lot. It's in his nature.

“There is a lake about a hundred paces to the southeast.” Mesik elbowed Dvalin’s knee. “We found a nice clearing in the trees up ahead. Perfect for a camp.”

“And an ambush.” Dabuk obviously didn't agree with Mesik's decision.

“It's better than the shoreline. We don't want to be trapped with our backs to the water.” Mesik crossed his arms tapping his boot. “Besides, we have an agreement. You are the tracker; I pick the camp sites.”

“I remember. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.”

“All this nonsense over a camp site.” Dvalin hefted his pack back onto his shoulders. “Now, which way is my bed.”

Everyone smiled.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:04 am

Forest clearing, just past midnight:
The clearing was fairly nondescript for such a beautiful forest. Several large stones sat near its center providing a natural campsite. Shoots of tall grass covered the entire clearing providing natural cover for the adventurers and anything else that tried to ambush them.

While comfortable, it was an odd choice. Normally, Bactra would have objected to such a spot, but Mesik had never been wrong before.

The cool night air was relaxing after the harsh heat of the last few days. They didn't even consider making a fire. They still had more than enough rations and easy access to a water source. Plus, Dabuk wouldn't have let them even if they had wanted to. A fire would have given their location away to every creature within miles.

Dvalin was soon fast asleep snoring loud enough to wake the dead. Dabuk rolled him over to silence him. Mesik leaned against a small, low boulder throwing his cloak over his head. Jeddar said he'd take the first watch. Dabuk insisted Jeddar sleep. Dabuk always had to take the first watch and would stay up for hours before waking Dvalin to relieve him.

Jeddar reluctantly agreed. He found a spot close to me and was soon fast asleep.

“You too.”

“You know I don't sleep.” It was the same every time they made camp.

“Well, then meditate or something.” Dabuk liked the first watch because it gave him time to himself.

“All right.” Bactra had learned a long time ago not to deny him his moments of peace.

He sat down on one of the larger stones — one with a fairly flat top. Crossing his legs, with his hands on his knees, he took himself into the Reverie.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:22 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus
The Reverie:
Forest elves don't dream, at least not the way other races do. We do see images but these are always events of our past, present, and sometimes even the future. However, that is rare for even the oldest of my kind.

That night I saw my father and my mother as when I was I was still just an infant. I saw my siblings being born and meeting my cousin for first time. I saw all of Woodknot then as if I saw it from highest point of my family’s treehome.

Soon I was on the streets of Fruen, Dabuk's second home. I could smell the people, hear the sounds of work being done, and taste the salt of the sea in the air. The Tiger Guild, the Baker's Dozen, the Middle Well Inn, the…

______________________________________________________________________________

The Waking World:
"Snap out of it lad." Dvalin shook Bactra out of the Reverie. "We have company."

"W-what?" Being forcefully pulled out of the Reverie was hard on him, and Bactra knew that if Dvalin needed to bring him out then it had to be important. It was like being torn away from life towards death — just for a moment.

His vision cleared, and he noticed he was lying on the ground behind the largest boulder in the clearing. Everyone else was already awake; their attention was fixed upon something behind Bactra. Dabuk had that look on his face, and his cousin instantly knew what it was.

“Ogres.”

“Quiet.” Dabuk fumed.

The elven wizard peered over the boulder; he saw them instantly. Two the large brutes were walking towards the group on the other side of the clearing. They hadn't seen the companions otherwise they'd be charging at them — howling the whole way.

They moved in silence. (Well, silent for an ogre that is.) Bactra thought for a moment that they would simply pass them by. However, he knew that even if they did, Dabuk wouldn't let them live. In fact, he was counting on them missing the group in the darkness so that he could surprise them from behind.

“Everyone remain completely still.” Dabuk's voice was barely a whisper.

The two ogres were close now. Bactra could smell them; he put a hand over his mouth and nose to keep from gagging. How could anything want to smell that bad?

They walked right through the camp passing mere inches by Dabuk, Dvalin, and Bactra. The elven wizard couldn't believe how much restraint his cousin was showing. He hated ogres more then anything else in the world.

Ogres had killed Dabuk’s mother. Killed his aunt. He had watched it happen as a child. He had never been the same after that. He was shaking uncontrollably; his hand was wrapped around the hilt of his sword so hard it was bleeding.

Yet, he waited until the ogres had passed out of the clearing towards the lake.

“Everyone else stay here!” Dabuk commanded.

“I don't think so.” Bactra stepped in front of his cousin.

Dabuk shot his cousin a look cold as the Heart of Ice. He didn't like to share his kills when it came to ogres.

“You can kill them both if you want, but I'm going to guard your back. There could be more of them.”

With the ogres beyond his sight, Dabuk had calmed down a little. He knew it was logical. He'd be so engrossed with the thought of the kill that he wouldn't have seen anything else until it was to late.

“All right, but be careful.”

“I'm coming with you too.” Jeddar grabbed his blades strapping his belt on.

“No.” Dabuk would not have everyone traipsing through the trees with him. “You, Dvalin, and Mesik stay here and guard the camp.”

“Sorry, you don't speak for me. Mesik and Dvalin can guard the camp just fine by themselves. But if there are more of them out there, who is going to protect Bactra while your busy slaughtering those things.”

“Killing ogres isn't slaughter. It's cleansing the world.”

Dabuk started to run and Bactra knew it was either keep up or be left behind. Soon Jeddar was beside the elven wizard with Dabuk a good ten paces ahead of them. Dabuk had already strung his bow and notched an arrow. The lake came into view just as Dabuk turned to the left in front of Bactra and Jeddar. They followed as Dabuk skimmed the treeline following the tracks of the ogres.

Then they saw the brutes. They were no more than thirty paces away when Dabuk shot the first arrow. The second arrow was aimed and fired before the first one thunked into the back of the first brute’s head. The ogre roared in pain clutching at his skull like it was on fire. It slumped over in a heap not moving.

The second ogre turned just in time for Dabuk's second shot to go whistling past its nose. Dabuk drew his sword as the brute raised its club. His sword flashed in the moonlight once, twice, and again and again. The ogre howled swinging its club down to try and crush Dabuk's skull. Bactra’s cousin deftly dodged the blow hamstringing the smelly giant with one fluid motion.

Bactra turned away as Dabuk drove his sword into its heart. The other ogre was still alive but the elven wizard knew Dabuk wouldn't show mercy. He hadn't made a sound since he'd started running. All he did was grit his teeth — his eyes wide with rage. It was always the same when it came to these ugly brutes. Bactra didn't even have to see his face.

“He's going to get himself killed one day because of his hate. I just hope he doesn't get the rest of us killed too.” Jeddar walked away shaking his head.

The brute's raspy breathing stopped with a gurgle behind Bactra. Dabuk had slit its throat.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Azaghal » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:33 am

Yay! More Storytime!
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:07 pm

The forest clearing at dawn:
“Well, this is quite a pickle.” Bactra thought to himself

After Dabuk had dealt with the ogres during the night, he had become distant and nervous. He’d refused to let anyone else take watch pacing back and forth at the edge of the camp. Bactra had pretended to meditate in order to keep an eye on him. His cousin could go for days without sleep after encountering ogres. Soon his pacing had become tiring to watch. Bactra forced himself back into the Reverie.

The next thing he knew it was dawn and the group were surrounded by little, furry humanoids with spears. Bactra’s hands had been bound together and an awful tasting piece of leather had been shoved deep into his mouth. The little humanoids were chattering to themselves excitedly. Dvalin was hog-tied like a pig. His arms were tied to his feet behind his back; his face was in the dirt. He and everyone else were gagged. The burly dwarf struggled in vain to get free trying to growl at the little creatures through his gag.

Dabuk was tied back to back with Jeddar. He looked more embarrassed than angry. Obviously, he had fallen asleep on duty, which wasn't like him at all. Mesik had been tied to the large stone the group had hidden behind when the ogres passed through the camp during the night. He looked mad. It was strange occurrence. Both Dabuk and Mesik were light sleepers. Even if Dabuk had exhausted himself, Mesik would have been alerted to any ambush.

Bactra seemed to be the only one who wasn't tied in a way to restrict his movement. He sat up looking at the humanoids more closely. They were definitely some sort of fey. Their language almost sounded like some sort of sylvan dialect. They had large bushy tails and looked like squirrels. Strange, he'd never heard of any fey creature like them during his studies in Woodknot. He'd have to tell the clan elders about them, if he lived long enough to get home, that is. The creatures had been chatting amongst themselves this whole time not noticing that Bactra had sat up.

“Well, how rude.” Bactra mused internally. He cleared his throat noisily, which caused the gag to pop out of his mouth.

One of them turned, mouth agape.

“Greetings little ones, my name is Bactra Redwind. And these are my friends. We were just passing through your wonderful forest, stopping for the night. I assure you we don't mean any harm.”

Now they were all staring. Several of the larger ones’ noses were twitching almost instinctively. They were in shock.

“Hello.” One of the little ones was soon bouncing up and down in front of Bactra. “You a elf?”

“Pakwa, don't speak at it.” One of the larger ones pulled the little one back away from me.

“But it friendly. It elf.”

“Hello little one. Yes, I am an elf. What are you?”

“Pakwa.”

“No, um, what is you?” Bactra tried hard to form his Sylvan words correctly so they could understand.

“Phan-“ The little humanoid was pulled further away by its elders.

“Don't speak at it. Evil spirit.”

The other companions started laughing and snorting through their gags. Dvalin was turning red with mirth.

“I most certainly am not!” Bactra felt very embarrassed. Obviously, these little creatures were a little more primitive than your average fey.

The large one that had pulled away little Pakwa put the gag back into Bactra’s mouth and tied a leather strap around the back of his head like they had done with the others. The leader had several of the larger creatures push Bactra down on his back. They poked him several times with their spears ordering the elven wizard to stay down.

“Evil spirit. How humiliating.” Bactra’s face was red as he mumbled the words through his gag.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Azaghal » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:58 am

I love it! Dirty stinking evil spirit elvses!
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:48 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Deep into the Merewood:
The fey creatures had refused to remove the gags from our mouths the entire way to their treetop community. They had allowed everyone but Dvalin to walk. Him they kept bound dragging him along on a makeshift wooden cart without wheels. Dvalin had not been happy to say the least.

Pakwa bounced up and down the entire time. He kept asking questions over an over again not caring that I had been gagged. Soon I had figured out enough of their language to find out what they had planned for us. Their chieftain would administer a test that would prove whether or not we were evil spirits.

This seemed logical at first. Then I realized that this test would likely be magical in nature. If it was a simple detect magic spell then I would be dead in the forest, so to speak. If it was the more advanced detect undead spell then they might let us go. Yes, it could go either way...

Fortunately, these phanatons, as they call themselves, were a little more primitive than that. Their chieftain was also their shaman, or more precisely, their “false” shaman. I have more magic in one fingernail than he has in his entire body. We tried not to look menacing or amused as the phanaton chieftain danced around us waving his “staff” in the air chortling and gurgling to himself.

In the end it was declared that we were not evil spirits although we had to restrain Dvalin after they cut the irate dwarf loose. The chieftain proclaimed that we would remain as honored guests “For while.”

We weren't sure how to take that.

The phanatons seemed very interested in learning about Jeddar, Dabuk, and me, in particular. We told them of the Great Forest in the north and our homes there. Dabuk didn't share anything personal about his life in the city. He thought it better to make them think he was as wild as they were. Not that he was trying to be rude. He just wanted them to accept him more for his knowledge of the forest.

The chieftain was taken aback by my obvious magical abilities. I had been entertaining the little ones with some minor cantrips when he spotted me casting spells. He looked more scared than angry, but I decided against using anymore “real” magic while visiting the community.

The day was a great change from the hardships of the previous week. The dragonne, the halflings of Leverkan, and the angry desert elves — it seemed so far away now. Soon twilight had come and gone. We watched a phanaton ritual under the moonlight by the lake, which they call Therse. It looked similar to a dance that I'd seen satyrs and fawns perform during the Fall Equinox festival in Woodknot. Now I'm positive they are some sort of relation to the fey of the Great Forest...

The next morning was, confusing. The phanatons had come for us before dawn. Their warriors escorted us by spear point to the chieftain. He was a little less than polite. He stated matter-of-factly that we were no longer welcome in the forest. (Roughly translated as Mere.) All of them seemed in agreement except the younger ones. Little Pakwa looked completely lost and very sad. Either “for while” doesn't mean very long in their language or the chieftain had been angrier than I thought about the use of my magic.


“Take them to edge of trees.” He was scowling right at Bactra. Yes, he was definitely flexing his power over his people.

“Oh, oh.” Dvalin was scowling.

“It's not that bad. It was fun while it lasted.” Bactra didn't see what the big deal was other than not being able to learn more about them. Yes, that was disappointing.

“Uh Bactra, remember the desert elves?” Mesik was making sure he had all his gear.

“Oh damn.” The elven wizard had totally forgot about them.

“This is not good.” Dabuk was fingering his short sword.

“No kidding.” Jeddar looked like he was ready to smack the chieftain.
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Azaghal » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:53 am

Oh no! What did they do now? Bad elves!
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:21 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Addendum to last entry:
The phanaton warriors lead us out of the community their spears poking us in tender places if we even looked like we were going to dawdle. I tried to reason with them. That the chieftain was making us leave because he was jealous of our magic. (No sense making the others mad at me, personally.)

“No talk! Move now!”

They didn't believe a word. The warriors took the companions all the way to the edge of the Merewood near the other side of the lake. Then they ordered the group out into the savanna beyond.

“Go! Leave!”

“Can't we talk about this?” Bactra’s answer was a barrage of spears coming at them. The phanatons had come well prepared and were readying to throw another barrage of spears.

“Leave! Please...” The warriors didn't look as angry as the chieftain.

“I don't think they have a choice in the matter, cousin.” Dabuk walked out into the savanna.

“Well that settles it.” Dvalin trots out after Dabuk. “After all, we can't hide in here forever.”

The rest of the party grudgingly followed their friends out into the harsh heat of the savanna. They had gone no more than 100 feet when the desert elves ambushed them, rising out of the high grass.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:38 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Elves in the Grass:
The elves appeared out of the grass all around us. Several of the nearest ones made loud animal noises while using their hands cupped over their mouths to amplify the sound. More elves started popping out of the grass down the entire edge of the Merewood. There were definitely more of them than we encountered in Leverkan.

Dabuk ordered everyone to form up and the five of us formed a tight circle facing the elves. We all had our hands on our weapons ready for anything. The elves closed in around us blocking off all thoughts of escape.

Soon there were dozens more of them as the rest of their tribe moved to surround us. We'd have had to fight through at least three rings of foes in order to get away. I had went through my spells, mentally, hoping there had been a low-level spell that could save our butts.

The only useful spells I had had available were burning hands, color spray, and sleep. I wouldn't have been very useful if they had attacked.

But for some reason they didn't. Oh sure, they snarled at us and dared us to fight to the death. Dabuk was starting to get annoyed growling back at the elves closest to him. Jeddar had both his blades ready and Mesik was ready to start tossing daggers. Dvalin held us all back trying to keep us calm. You could have cut the tension with a blade…


“Quiet, everyone be silent!” A large elf strode through the ranks of warriors.

The elven warriors instantly became silent upon hearing his words. The elf was armored from head to toe in beaded bark armor. He wore a headdress made from some sort of large wild cat. Its pelt was his cloak. He carried a large staff made out of something that looked like stone.

Beside him strode the shaman looking at the companions with disdain. He was decked out in full war paint like the warriors of the tribe. Only the large elf wasn't decorated for war. His face was grim but it also carefully assessed the group. He seemed to be the one in charge not the shaman.

“There will not be an execution without a trial first. Do I make myself clear on this matter, Detyan?”

“Yes, Lord Protector.” The shaman obviously didn't agree with his leader's decision. He glared at the group with hate in his eyes.

The desert elf leader stepped toward the adventurers waiving for his warriors back. He looked at Bactra raising an eyebrow. Then he looked carefully at Dabuk and Jeddar. He barely glanced at Mesik and Dvalin.

“I am Phyre Everstrong. Lord of the Kin. Protector of the Desert. I am the faithful servant of Chaeon, Lord of the Great Expanse. He is our God and favors the beasts known as the dragonnes. It is a great crime to kill one without reason or need. I have seen the images in the crystal globes. They show the death of one of Chaeon's true favorites in a most brutal fashion.”

“I swear in Rillifane's name it didn't happen that way.” Dabuk was obviously still beside himself with grief and anger over the creature's death. “The crystal is wrong.”

Several of the desert elves starting shouting and crying out to Chaeon for vengeance.

“Silence!” The Lord Protector turns to his warriors in rage. “I said silence!”

None of them wished to anger their leader. All fell silent. Some even fell to their knees.

Everstrong stepped up to Dabuk whispering to him (only Bactra overheard). “Please restrain yourself, half-child. I'm trying to save your necks.”

Dabuk turned red at the Lord Protector's words. He didn't like being called such. He showed surprising restraint as the desert elves glared at him.

“Now, where was I. Ah yes, the crystal. It is a sacred artifact blessed by Chaeon himself. The crystal doesn't lie.” That didn't sound like he was trying to help them. Bactra wondered what this Lord Protector’s true plan was.

“However,” Everstrong looked at his shaman. “The crystal can be influenced by one who knows how manipulate it. You must prove to me Detyan that you didn't manipulate the crystal because of your sorrow and anger.”

“Lord Protector, I would never do such a thing. The crystal shows the truth. I have not done what you accuse me of.” The shaman was in shock. He hadn't expected his leader to accuse him of a crime before the entire tribe.

“Prove it.” Everstrong demanded.

“I am the Shaman of Chaeon for our people, chosen by our God in a dream.” The shaman was irate. His rage was obvious. “You realize what you risk if you are wrong? And you are wrong. You will lose everything. You will be cast out of the tribe.”

“Prove it. Give me the crystal.” Everstrong held out his hand to the shaman.

“I will not!” The shaman spit out the words raising his staff into the air to attack the adventurers. “You are a coward Phyre. I will destroy them myself.”

The Lord Protector leaped at the shaman bringing his staff down breaking the shaman's staff in two.

“Get down!” Bactra yelled out the warning to all that would listen.

Dabuk and the others hit the ground. Several desert elves also fell to the earth covering their heads. The shaman's staff erupted in a thunderclap of magical energy. He screamed as he was pulled into the dimensional rift that opened above him. Then a wave of magical energy burst out in all directions knocking everyone off their feet.

Bactra’s ears wouldn't stop ringing for what seemed like hours. When he could hear and see again, Bactra heard someone calling his name.

"Bactra! Bactra, can you hear me?" It was Dvalin.

"Oh man. That hurt the eardrums."

"No kidding. My ears are still ringing."

"The Lord Protector?"

"It's unbelievable. He's fine, not a scratch on him. He just stood there and took it. I've never seen anyone that powerful before. Not even my father."

Dvalin pulled Bactra up to his feet. The elven wizard looked around at the damage caused by the shaman's sundered staff. Several of Everstrong's people were still lying on the ground. A few that had been closest to the blast would never get up again. It was such a shame. These people didn't deserve this. What is it with shamans? Why do they have to be so biased and power hungry?

Dabuk was already helping out those he could. He tended their wounds like an expert healer. Bactra went to help two elf warriors that were still moving. One of the warriors tried to stand.

"Don't try to move. You'll just hurt yourself."

"W-why do you help us? You could easily escape."

"I didn't choose to be an adventurer so that my life would be easy. No, don't talk." Bactra easily bound his wounds. The desert elf would live, but his fellow warrior had been to badly hurt. Bactra held his hand as he died.

He wept for him, for all of them.

“It isn't your fault.” The Lord Protector stood behind Bactra. “Detyan caused this. I only hope that Lord Chaeon can forgive him. He wasn't an evil man. He was just wrought with pain over the death of the dragonne. The beasts are considered to be brothers and sisters to us and the one that attacked you had been a long-time friend to Detyan.”

“So you believe us now?”

“I always did. But my word alone wasn't enough to overturn Detyan's edict. I needed proof that his heart was influencing the crystal. It is such a shame. He is lost and so is the crystal. Lord Chaeon will be saddened twice-fold now.”

“This god of yours, I've never heard of him. Is he one of the Elven Gods?”

“No and yes. He is our elven god, but he isn't part of the pantheon of elven gods. It is difficult to explain.”

“No need. I understand.” Chaeon was obviously one of the gods known as the Interlopers. A group of gods that came to Harqual after the North Gods defeated the Sword Gods. “So what will you do now?”

“I will take my people back into the Expanse. Those that can still walk, will walk. Those that cannot walk, will be carried by those who can walk. We are not like your kin. We must continue to wander the desert. It is Chaeon's will.”

Without another word the Lord Protector picked up the warrior Bactra had helped and carried him north towards the desert. Even without a word from their leader, the desert elves knew their purpose. The able bodied carried the wounded and dead; they all followed their Lord Protector without even a second thought.

It was over. They weren't coming back. Dabuk stood there watching them leave.

“Well, that didn't go the way I expected. Considering everything, it could have been a lot worse. For everyone.”

“Okay, now what?” Jeddar was dusting himself off.

Now what indeed.
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Azaghal » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:39 pm

Good question. Back to the halflings?
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Sun May 01, 2011 1:37 am

Travelers' Met

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

The Lione Savanna:
Our encounter with the desert elves left me uncertain of whether or not to challenge Dabuk's insistence regarding heading further south. The southern lands seem wrought with peril.

After the elves’ departure, we took stock of our supplies for several hours. Dabuk wanted to make sure we wouldn’t go thirsty or starve. I spent the time trying to convince Mesik that it would be arrogant to continue on.

Mesik agreed that we should have some sort of plan but stated matter-of-factly that he has promised my cousin that where the ranger went he would follow. Jeddar and Dvalin hadn’t agreed with me either…


"If you want to go home lad then go home." Dvalin wasn't known for being anything but blunt and overly loud.

"What's this?" Dabuk hadn't been paying attention while Bactra had tried to recruit the others to his way of thinking. The half-elven ranger was fairly abrupt himself but tended to restrain himself when it came to Bactra.

"Bactra, what's wrong?" He looked worried about his cousin. It was strange family dynamic. Bactra was over 100 years old but Dabuk always made the elf feel like he was the half-elf’s little brother. He's always looked out for the elven wizard.

"I- I don't like the idea of continuing south. I don't feel like we are accomplishing anything here. Where is this journey supposed to take us?"

What Dabuk said next was surprising. "Damn it Bactra! Here I thought something was really wrong. I thought you were injured or something. Dvalin's right, you need to work this out yourself."

He turned his back to his cousin going through the inventory of supplies again.

Needless to say, Bactra was really pissed. Dabuk didn't even care what he thought. Well it was time for him to learn something.

"Ok, Dabuk. Have it your way. You always have to have it your way don't you. Wandering off to who knows where seems to be all that your good at. I am sick and tired of you pushing everyone else around just so you can feel more self-important. And I'm not going to put up with it anymore. Now, if the rest of you want to follow him into Hade's Underrealm, go right ahead. At this rate, you'll all be dead within a week."

Bactra stalked off towards a small hill, fuming. Dabuk hadn't expected him to lash out. It wasn't something the elven wizard did to others without a really good reason. Bactra climbed the hill and sat down on the ground trying to calm his mind. It didn't do him any good to have his mind unfocused. Without concentration, his wizardry wouldn't function.

Of course, if Dabuk stuck to his mind, Bactra would have to go with him anyway. The elven wizard had made a promise to Dabuk’s father and grandfather that he wouldn't abandon him even if he became irrational. But if he didn't apologize, Bactra would turn him into a toad. At least, he would when he learned how to cast that spell.

Bactra was just coming out of his meditation when he sensed the boots clomping up behind him. Heavy, ponderous boots with all the grace of a wagon with a chipped wheel.

"Dvalin."

"Beard lad! How do you do that? On second thought, I don't want to know."

"Well?" Bactra had resolved himself not to move until his cousin came up the hill himself, suck up his pride, and apologized. "Where's Dabuk?"

"Oh, he's brooding over there where you left him. He's real upset. I think you hurt his feelings."

"Sometimes I don't think he has any feelings to hurt." Bactra was still angry but was outwardly calm.

"C'mon lad, don't make a bad situation worse. You are the older one, remember? He's barely out of his teens."

"If he's going to behave like a ungrateful boor, he deserves to be treated like one. I'm not going to apologize for speaking my mind. He need's to learn to listen more, dictate less."

"Agreed. But it's hard on him. You of all people know he doesn't forgive without difficulty. You have to make the first move."

"Not this time." Bactra refused.

"You know, you are the most stubborn elf I've ever met. Are you sure you're not part dwarf?"

Bactra kept his eyes closed, but he couldn't help but laugh. Dvalin sat down next to him slapping the elven wizard on the back.

"That's better. I was really beginning to worry about you. And don't worry about us having to keep heading south if you really don't want to go. Mesik isn't going to let Dabuk's pride split us up."

"It's always the same." Bactra couldn't believe it. He was going to make the first gesture of good faith. Again.

"I see something." The dwarf stood up pointing towards the south.

Instantly, Bactra was on his feet looking towards where Dvalin was pointing. A small figure was on the horizon walking towards them. It was impossible to see who or what it was.

"What do you think?" Bactra asked.

"Could just be a trader or a pilgrim. It's only one person." Dvalin was straining to see who or what it was.

"Yes, but looks are deceiving." Bactra couldn't help but remember the Lord Protector. He had seemed so ordinary at first. "Go tell the others but remain calm. If the person is dangerous, it will help our cause to seem confident."

"Agreed. I'll be right back."

Dvalin trotted down the hill towards the others while Bactra waited.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Azaghal » Thu May 05, 2011 8:42 am

What is it now? A titan, that would be fun!
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Mon May 09, 2011 10:42 pm

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Thessa:
I had continued to stare as the figure, in the distance, as the person came closer. The sun's glare had made it difficult to see her at first. She was wearing light, billowing clothes that covered her from head to toe. Only her face hadn’t been covered.

She was mature looking for her size, and I thought she was a halfling at first. But her features didn't look like a halfling. She was definitely to small to be human or elven.

Her nose seemed a little oversized, but it fit the features of her face perfectly. Then, as the others were walking up next to me, it hit me. A gnome! It had to be. It seemed like I had stepped through a portal into one of my history lessons…


"Is she a…" Jeddar stood there dumbfounded.

"Yes."

The little gnome stopped at the bottom of the hill looking up at them. It must have been quite a sight seeing the adventurers looking down at her.

"Incredible, I thought gnomes were extinct?" Dabuk studied her as carefully as he would a set of tracks on the ground. "Oh by the way, Bactra I'm sorry, okay?"

"It's okay. It's not your fault you’re a jerk." Bactra patted him on the back grinning like a cat.

"Ha! He got you there." Mesik stepped forward. He was still the best choice as ambassador for the group.

"Mesik, better hope she likes halflings with big egos." Dabuk gave as good as he got.

"I certainly hope so." Mesik cantered down the hill.

The gnome was cautious but seemed friendly. Mesik put out his hand and she shook it. He turned point up the hill at the others. Of course, she had seen Bactra before the others had come up the other side of the hill. The elven wizard hoped that she didn't think he was a bloodthirsty desert elf.

Mesik offered his arm like a courtly gentleman. She shook her head saying something that makes him stare at her with his mouth agape. Then he nodded his head laughing. They were soon standing next to each other, for a second, looking up the hill. Then they did something none of the others had expected. They start racing up the hill.

The companions all started cheering Mesik on. It was a short race. She immediately left him behind. Bactra hadn’t seen anyone out race Mesik, except for Dabuk. It was amazing. She reached the top of the hill laughing. She turned around just in time to see Mesik trip on a hidden hole and fall flat on his face. Soon they were all laughing. Mesik laid there in the dirt with his face red.

"C'mon Mesik, don't stop now." Jeddar was loving every minute of it.

"Ah, bugger you!" Mesik picked himself up dusting himself off.

"Now, now. You promised to be a good sport if I beat you." The gnome's voice was like water running though a forest.

"I know, I know." Mesik limped up the hill in a great deal of pain. He had hurt his ankle.

"Oh dear," The gnome scampered down the hill towards Mesik. "You're hurt."

"I'll live." Mesik beamed at her through a grimace.

"Nonsense, now sit down. I can help."

The rest of us all gathered around the two smaller humanoids. She slipped Mesik's boot off. His ankle was bruised and swollen. It would take days to heal properly.

"Ow," Mesik grit his teeth. "Okay, I admit it hurts a little more than I thought it did."

"I think it's broken." Dabuk pointed to where the bone seemed to be out of alignment. "He's going to have to stay off it for some time."

"Don't count him out yet." The small gnome woman placed her hands on Mesik's ankle mumbling in a language Bactra had never heard before. Her hands began glowing with a bluish radiance.

"You’re a cleric." Dvalin meant it as a statement not a question.

"A pretty good one too." Mesik wiggled his toes. "The pain's gone."

"Yes, but you're going to have to give a day for the healing to take full effect. After that, it will be as good as new."

"Thanks." Mesik was grinning from ear to ear. "Guys, this is Thessa Simmial from Mount Rockwood."

The little gnome priestess stood up putting her hand out. They each shook her hand ending with Dvalin. She seemed a little taken aback by him.

"You're a dwarf, right?"

"Of course, what else would I be?" Dvalin harrumphed.

"I-it's just. You're not like any other dwarf I've ever seen. You have so much hair... and that beard."

"Is there something wrong with my beard?" Dvalin didn't have very many things he worried about but his beard was definitely one of them.

"No, it's very nice. It' just the Torin don't have beards or very much hair at all."

"Torin? Is that what you call dwarves in the south?" Jeddar noticed that Dvalin was fussing over his beard. He hoped to keep the burly dwarf from embarrassing himself.

"Actually, Torin is what they call themselves. I believe it was originally their clan name. Now they all call themselves Torin dwarves. Most other races call them dwarves, except the rakasta."

The adventurers helped Mesik up to the top of the hill. There they all sat in a circle listening as Thessa told them more about the Far South.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Mon May 09, 2011 10:51 pm

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

The Hill:
Thessa turned out to be quite charming. She entertained us for hours with stories about the south. Mesik's ankle was still quite tender by the end of the evening and we all decided it was better to spend the night camped out on the hill than go traipsing around in the dark.

Both Dvalin and Mesik seemed quite smitten with the gnome priestess. She obviously liked the attention, flirting with both of them.

Thessa had been on her way to learn more about the north. She hadn't expected the north to come to her. She listened to us intently as each one of us described our people and families. Dabuk had come to trust her rather quickly telling her more than he normally would to a stranger.

She turns out to be a cleric of a god she calls Baervan. He is a God of Travelers and Wanderers. She felt blessed by Him to meet such interesting fellow travelers. I had never considered myself that interesting before. Yes, she was charming all of us, if by magic.

The eventual debate came up again as to whether or not we were going to continue going south. They all look to me…


"Don't let me stop you." Bactra leaned back on one elbow losing him self in the beautiful sky above. The air has cooled quickly over the last couple hours. "As long as we've got a plan, I'm up for it."

"Bactra's right. We need a plan, Dabuk. No more wandering around without a clue." Mesik was watching a centipede crawl across the ground.

"Ok," Dabuk turns to Thessa. "Can you guide us through this Far South, as you call it? I know you wanted to go north but who better to learn about Northern Harqual from than us."

"I'd love to." Thessa was combing her long golden hair.

"Great." Dvalin was actually glowing.

"Uh, guys," Mesik had turned around to watch the centipede crawl down the north side of the hill.

"And lady." Thessa shook her comb at Mesik.

"Yes, and lady," Mesik stood up looking out towards the north. "We have more company."

"What?" Dabuk turned his head to see what or who Mesik was looking at.

"Damn, this savanna is crowded all of a sudden." Jeddar started searching the grass for his weapons just as Dvalin recognized who it is.

"I don't believe it. It can't be." Dvalin was staring at shock at the newcomer. "Rikin!"

The burly dwarf waves his hands in the air in greeting. The other dwarf waves back while keeping up his pace. He was wearing full armor, which had to be really uncomfortable. Not to mention he was running like his life depended on it.

Fate is a strange thing and it seems to have a plan for them. The dwarf gets halfway up the hill then stumbles. Dvalin goes to help his old friend. Jeddar also lends a hand.

"D-Dvalin… I-I found you at last…" The exhausted dwarf then passed out from the heat.

Dvalin quickly stripped the plate mail off his friend. Rikin had heatstroke as well as several burns where the armor had rubbed against his skin. He looked awful. Thessa did what she could for him.

Rikin Stonefossil was Dvalin's brother — his adopted brother. Rikin's clan had been wiped out during the Second Ogre War leaving Rikin clanless — a fate worse than death. Dvalin's father had taken the clanless dwarf into his own and Rikin and Dvalin had grown up together.

"Dvalin, do you have any idea what he's doing out here?" Dabuk was worried about the overheated dwarf. They all were.

"No. I don't understand. This isn't like him at all. Thessa, is there any way for you to wake him up?" Dvalin was trying to get his friend to swallow some water.

"I don't know, he's hurt pretty bad. I could try but it could kill him."

"It has to be important. Rikin wouldn't come all this way if it wasn't life and death." Jeddar knew Dvalin the best having traveled to the dwarf's homeland several times. He knew Rikin too, while the rest of them only knew of him.

"All right, but if he dies there isn't anything I can do for him." Thessa sighs.

"Understood." Dvalin's face was grim but determined.

Thessa bent down over Rikin putting her hands on his chest. She chanted a spell in her native language. Healing energy flowed from her fingertips into the burned dwarf. His breathing cleared as he opened his eyes.

"D-Dvalin..."

"I'm here brother." Dvalin clasped his hands over Rikin's.

"Praise Moradin, I found you at last." Thessa's spell seemed to be working. "I tracked you as far as Minar before learning that you had left for the south. I am glad to see you, my brother."

"I am glad to see you too, brother. But tell me why you have come all this way?"

"I have grave news. Several tribes of evil ogres are on the move in the north. They began attacking Stonedale and Treestead several weeks ago and are now laying siege to Milo."

"It's that bad?" Mesik was kneeling next to Rikin's head.

"Worse," Rikin breathing was becoming horse. "High Thane Blackforge has been killed."

"No," Dvalin's clan was close to the High Thane's clan. So close that Dvalin was promised to his daughter. "Does this mean?"

"Yes, brother. Sannl has become the new High Thane with only your father's guidance to protect the Kingdom."

"Ogres," Dabuk spat on the ground in disgust. "Turn my back for one minute. I'll gut them all myself."

"You'll get your chance, Dabuk Tigerstorm." Rikin knew them almost as well as they did him from Dvalin's stories. "The Kingdom of the Silver Leaves was also attacked and is barely holding on. The ogres were marching down the banks of the Wind River the last I heard. The lands of the Eastern Shores are in danger of being overrun."

"Damn," Jeddar was gathering his gear. "I knew I shouldn't have left."

"You're only one man, Jeddar." Bactra understood his frustration. If Silverleaf was under siege then Woodknot could be in danger as well. "You can't fight an army of ogres. None of us can."

"That may be true but I could be helping them right now." Jeddar sat down crossing his legs his face buries in his hands. "My father is all the family I truly have."

Bactra tried to console him. "I know. But if anyone can hold them off it is Menkhar Silversun."

"And besides, Mesik and Rikin can't go anywhere yet." Dabuk was pacing back and forth fuming. "We all want a piece of those bastards but we can't leave them behind. Thessa, how quickly can you get Rikin moving, within reason of course?"

"Give me a couple days, and he should be strong enough to walk. But someone else is going to have to carry that god-awful armor of his."

"It will slow us down." Now Jeddar was being the impatient one. "We could leave it behind."

"Absolutely not!" Dvalin was ready to smack his friend for even suggesting it. "You of all people should realize its importance to him. You were there."

"Yes, I remember." Jeddar pulled Dvalin aside speaking to him in private.

The conversation was heated but in the end Dvalin seemed to win. They walked down the hill continuing to talk in private. They had secrets, those two.

"I wonder what that's all about." Mesik was lying on the ground straining to hear.

"Someday," Rikin was gasping for air. "Dvalin and I will tell you. If I live that long."

"Don't say that." Thessa became all motherly on him. "Now, no more talking. You rest."

She placed her hand on his chest humming a peaceful tune. To Bactra it didn't look like magic, but he wasn’t well versed in the Healer's Art. It seemed to calm Rikin down, regardless.

Dvalin and Jeddar returned to the top of the hill just as twilight came upon them. They all prayed with Thessa to her God to watch over them and their loved ones in peril.
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Mon May 09, 2011 11:02 pm

Interlude #1

The Tiger Guild in Fruen:
Carl Tigerstorm went through the dispatches on his desk one by one until he had read them all. It didn't look good. The ogres were coming down the banks of Wind River in the thousands. They had sacked Ciros and were now laying siege to Wynyard. But even the promise of those cities’ riches wouldn't keep them from the gates of Fruen for long. No, it didn't look good at all.

"Guildmaster," Tallos knew better than to interrupt him when he was going over strategy for the King. "There is someone who insists on seeing you immediately."

"Tallos, I don't have time for diplomats or jealous nobles right now."

Carl looked up at his seneschal with a hint of aggravation. Then he noticed that Tallos looked nervous. Carl put the reports on the desk out of his mind for a moment to find out what was wrong with his friend. Tallos has never been the nervous type.

"Tallos, what's wrong? Who is this person that makes you quiver in your boots?"

"Sir," Tallos cleared his throat with a swallow. "A young woman in the foyer insists that she is your granddaughter."

"I haven't a granddaughter, Tallos. You know that. We've dealt with her kind before. Someone comes here claiming to be a long lost relative of mine. In reality, they are a spy for one of Thallin's backbiting noble families trying to gain power and influence in the guild."

"Yes sir, I know. But this woman is different. Confident. Sure of herself. But the scary part is that she looks like she could be of Tigerstorm blood."

"Really?" Carl sat back in his chair stroking his long goatee. If she was intriguing enough to make Tallos think twice then he should at least meet with her. More than likely she is simply a beautiful woman with a keen wit and an ulterior motive.

"Yes," Tallos swallowed hard on his fear. "A-and she wears the trappings of a necromancer."

"Interesting." Now that was definitely not like his enemies. "A necromancer who claims to be a Tigerstorm. That's someone I have to meet. Show her in Tallos but be mindful of what she sees along the way."

"Understood." Tallos slipped out the secret side door of Carl's private quarters.

The guards outside the main door hadn't even been aware that Tallos had been there. They were assigned to the guildhall by the king. Not to keep an eye on Carl but to keep anyone else from seeing the reports that now sat on the guildmaster's desk. Travathian trusted Carl with his life but not anyone else in the guild. It was a point of contention between the two old friends.

Carl gathered the reports together bundling them into the leather folder that the King had sent to him sealed with the Royal Mark of the House of Dragonguard. Carl tied the folder closed with the attached string and slid the folder into the bottom drawer of the desk.

He knew his king wouldn't understand if Carl risked letting a possible spy even get a glimpse of the Royal documents. It might have been his men sending the reports to the King but they were the King's reports, not his.

Carl laid his sword on his desk unsheathed. He made sure it was placed just at the right angle to indicate it was meant to intimidate his guest. Carl's interest might have been piqued but he wasn't about to take any chances with a necromancer.

Tallos soon reappeared through the secret door with the young woman in tow. Her hands were bound and a hood thrown over her head. Tallos sat the woman down in front of the desk. Carl had known that Tallos wouldn't be diplomatic with the young woman but saw no reason for the hood. A gag and blindfold maybe but not a hood.

"Take that thing off her Tallos. I'm more than capable of protecting myself. Besides, if she wanted to kill me, she would have simply cast some sort of death spell from afar."

"Guildmaster, I must strongly disagree. She's a witch and could try to take over your mind with a mere look."

"Tallos, who is the guild?" Carl didn't like being second-guessed in front of others, especially if that person might view it as a weakness.

"You are, Guildmaster." Tallos had realized his mistake to late but recovered well enough. "I am sorry, Guildmaster."

"Yes, you better be. Now take that hood off her."

Tallos untied the cord keeping the hood snug around her neck. He pulled it off unceremoniously jerking the woman's head back. Tallos quickly left the room through the secret door.

Carl took a careful look at the woman studying her features. She was a beauty. Of that there was no doubt. Her hair was golden, her eyes as blue as the sky above, and her features fair. Her face seemed a perfect oval of loveliness and Carl wondered if she had been blessed by Ramara at birth. Only the stern glare she shot at him gave away her dark personality. She was dressed in black from head to toe with a skull pendant around her neck. Her fingernails were painted silver along with her lips. She showed no fear that Carl could detect.

"Your name?" Carl sat back keeping an eye on his sword. She hadn't even acknowledged that it was there. Her wouldn't be able to intimidate her. He already admired her.

"Crystal." Her voice would have been as lovely as her face if it hadn't been dripping with poison. "I am Crystal of Massalia."

"You actually admit being from the City of Vipers. You are either very brave or very stupid."

"I assure you, grandfather. I am not stupid."

"A smart person would know better than calling me grandfather without proof. You do have proof?"

"Mundane documents, no. My magical scryings, yes. My mother was Dawn Almondsky, cleric of Jalivier, traveling companion and lover of your son, Garth Tigerstorm."

"Interesting," Carl leaned forward studying the necromancer closer. She did look a little like Margretta, his wife, may Hade's protect her soul from Xuar. "It is an interesting claim that you have made. If it were anyone else who sat in front of me, I would toss them out on their ear. But I believe that you deserve to know the truth. And so do I."

"A-are you saying that you believe me?" She hadn't expected him to say that. A look of innocence entered her eyes as she failed to remain completely composed under Carl's unrelenting gaze.

"I didn't say that, child." Her eyes became cold an instant after he spoke the words. "But I assure you that if you are indeed my granddaughter then you will be welcomed into this family with open arms. We take care of our children and out children’s children."

Her gaze warmed a little but she remained confident and composed.

"I will send for my son. Garth will know if you are his daughter or not. And he will not deny you if he is sure in his heart."

"Thank you-," Crystal stopped herself from saying grandfather. "How should I address you if you don't mind me asking?"

"Carl will be fine or Guildmaster. Just don't ever call me Lord Tigerstorm. I hate that horrible honorific."

"Carl." A small smile escaped her lips. Carl was sure the room lit up in that instant.

"I will have Tallos assign you quarters. I hope you understand that I must insist that you not leave your room without a guard present."

"That sounds reasonable." She was very calm, which Carl liked. It made her easier for him to read emotionally. It was his gift.

"Now, let's get you out of those bonds." Carl motioned for her to put her hands on the desk.

"No need," Crystal bent her left wrist slightly slipping her hand out without any difficulty. She calmly put the rope on the desk in front of the Guildmaster of the Tiger Guild.

"Impressive," Carl couldn't help but grin. "Are you sure you're a necromancer and not a rogue."

"Massalia is a dangerous place. You learn how to survive or die quickly."

"Indeed."

Carl stood up walking over the secret doorway. He knocked on the wall twice. The door opened without a sound and Tallos stepped out.

"Yes Guildmaster?" Tallos eyed Crystal nervously. He didn't like that her hands were loose. "I-is everything all right?"

"Just fine, Tallos. Crystal will be staying with us for a while."

Tallos stood there speechless his mouth agape.

"Please assign her quarters in the upper wing with an armed escort for everyone’s mutual protection. I don't want any of the guild members to think her being here is some sort of test of skill."

"U-understood Guildmaster." Tallos shot Crystal a look of total disdain.

"Oh, and Tallos," Carl was starting to wonder if his seneschal needed a vacation.

"Y-yes," Tallos was still eyeballing Crystal.

"Stop stammering. You sound like a bloody idiot."

Tallos closed his eyes taking a deep breath. "Yes Guildmaster."

"And bring us some lunch."

"Yes Guildmaster." Tallos was calm and cold as a frozen lake. "Do you want anything in particular?"

"No," Carl walked back over to his desk. "Whatever the cook has planned is fine."

"As you wish." Tallos bowed as Carl sat down. Then the seneschal left in silence.

"He doesn't like me."

"Tallos isn't paid to like anyone. He is my friend and my only real confidant. He is also a highly trained bodyguard. I assure you he is more dangerous than he looks. If you had threatened me at all he would have been through that door and cut your head off before you could have even moved."

"R-really?" Crystal watched the door with concern.

"Yes."
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Mon May 09, 2011 11:13 pm

Travelers' Met (cont.)

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Towards the East Coast:
Two nights have past since Rikin staggered up the hill. In those two nights we've rested in relative peace. Nothing came out of the night to stalk us. We all agreed that Thessa's god was with us those nights and we named the small mound of earth and grass Baervan's Hill in honor of the God of Wanderers. Thessa was touched by our gesture and marked the hill as holy to her God.

We left the hill and traveled non-stop towards the eastern coast of the continent. Thessa told us that while the desert does stretch nearly to the coast, the conditions wouldn't be as hostile in that direction...

We reached the shore just before twilight making camp near the water but far enough away not to be caught between the land and the sea — just in case.

The sea air has done wonders for Mesik's recovery. He limped for a while but steadily got better. Rikin, however, hasn’t been doing as well, but he hasn’t complained. He's definitely different than Dvalin. More reserved. More calm.

Thessa called the waters off the coast the Karmine Sea. My tutor in Woodknot always referred to the great sea beyond the Sunus and Thunder Mountains as the Sea of Deep Waters. Thessa hadn’t ever heard the Karmine Sea being referred to with a different name. Something else that I'll have to discuss with the elders once we're home again.

We watched as the sun set over the water. It was an amazing mixture of colors over the water...

The next morning brought the dawn over the Great Expanse. We continued north along the coast with Dabuk in the lead. He is becoming more distant as we traveled farther north. I was expecting it. Thessa hadn’t understood why. I explained it to her later that night as the others slept during my watch…


"Dabuk's mother was killed by ogres when he was very young. He watched it happen. He was never the same after that. The news of ogres being on the move is obviously upsetting him."

"Poor dear, I wish I could do something to ease his pain." Thessa sighed.

"Thessa," Bactra put a hand up shaking his head. "Don't even mention it to him."

"But surely you realize such hate is going to be the death of him." Thessa mused.

"Yes, I know." Bactra pulled his cloak around himself more tightly. Dabuk had insisted that they not light a fire in order to hide their position.

"Well then, don't you and his family owe it to him to try and help him."

Bactra sighed shaking his head. He'd heard the argument time and time again. Bactra watched his cousin as he slept. Dabuk’s breathing was steady but his twitching body gave away his pain to those that knew what to look for.

"He is dreaming about it right now." Bactra grimaced.

Thessa stared at Dabuk with heart-felt concern in her eyes. "It's that bad."

"Yes," Bactra leaned back staring at the stars. "He shared his dream with me once. He's been having it almost every night since that day."

"Tell me."

I looked at her unable to hold back the tears. "It will get into your soul. You'll never be able to get it out."

"Tell me."

"All right," Bactra studied his cousin carefully making sure he was still dreaming. He beckoned the gnome priestess closer to him. She sat next to him and the elven wizard took her hand.

"What you are about to experience isn't for the weak of heart. I am not a storyteller. I am a wizard. How I know these events is through Dabuk's eyes. Through what he saw that day and his dream, his nightmare."

"You mean you're going to actually share his dream with me. How is that even possible?" Thessa seemed shocked by such a notion.

"It is an elven ritual that allowed me to feel what he felt, see what he saw."

She seemed frightened by that and with good reason. Bactra had begged Dabuk to share his pain with him to understand his cousin better. Dabuk had tried in vain to warn Bactra against it but the elven wizard had persisted.

Bactra and Dabuk had agreed that if anyone else wanted to know the truth they would have to learn it from Bactra through the power of magic. Every person who had asked to know this pain had backed down when they learned what it truly meant to 'feel his pain.'

"If you don't want to do it, I understand. Sometimes I wish I had never asked him." Bactra sighed.

"No, I want to do this. It is the way of my God to know those with who you travel. 'Know them like you know yourself.' I must do this."

Bactra was shocked. Thessa squeezed his hands nodding for him to continue.

"I-I really hadn't believed you'd go through with this. Now might not be the best time. It is my watch. The ritual puts me deeper than even the Reverie. I won't be able to break it once we've started."

"Well then, wake up Dvalin. He's supposed to be on watch next."

"That really isn't fair to him." Bactra grimaced at the thought of disturbing his friend.

"You're afraid." Thessa smiled.

"Damn right, I'm afraid." Even though the air was cool Bactra was starting to sweat.

"I thought you said I could if I wanted to." Thessa pressed the point.

Great, now she was making a liar out of me. "Fine. I'll wake Dvalin."

Bactra found his legs with difficulty. His knees were trembling. He couldn't believe it. He stepped around the others to where Dvalin was snoring softly and poked him in the ribs.

"Huh...<snort>... what, who?" Dvalin grabbed the elven wizard by the arm. "Is it 3 o'clock already?"

"No," Bactra knew he was going to be pissed. He whispered to the dwarf what Thessa was determined to do.

His eyes bugged out. "Did you explain it to her?"

"Yes."

"She's either very brave or completely nuts." Dvalin shivered and not from the cold. "How anyone could want to experience another person's nightmare is beyond me."

"I agree. But she is insistent. I need you to watch the camp."

"Oh beard," Dvalin rubbed the drool out of his beard. "I knew you were going to say that! Go on lad. Just take the ritual away from the camp. Down by the sea. I make sure I watch out for both of you as well as the camp."

"All right." Bactra looked back at Thessa.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Mon May 09, 2011 11:29 pm

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Sharing the Memories:
Thessa and I had walked down to the shore together. I tried several times to talk her out of it. She wouldn't give, not an inch. I had to admire her courage.

The ritual could be dangerous to the weak-minded. Not that I thought her mind couldn't take the strain. But it was still dangerous. She was a gnome not an elf. I had been pretty sure that it wouldn't work with someone without elven blood. I was wrong.

We sat in front of each other her hands in mind. I guided her into the deepest parts of my mind. Soon there wasn't any difference between Dabuk's thoughts and our own. What is written below is as how he remembers that day…


"Momma," Dabuk pulled on his mother's skirt. "When is papa coming home?"

"Soon dear," He and your uncle have work to do."

Dabuk wished his papa wouldn't go away so much. He missed him. But his work always seemed to come first.

"Bad nasties?"

"Yes Dabuk," She looked towards the north with a frown. "Bad orcs and ogres."

Dabuk knew that meant his papa wouldn't be home soon. He sat on the ground next to his house. Well, it wasn't his house really. His papa built it. He just lived there. His auntie was there too. She always stayed with him and his momma when papa and uncle went to fight bad nasties.

His mother looked at him shaking her head. "If you're going to mope around. Can you please do it inside? You're going to depress the forest."

"Aw momma," Dabuk rolled his eyes. His momma was one of the elven folk. She had a thing about trees that he really didn't understand. "Trees don't get sad."

"You wouldn't say that if you knew them."

Dabuk gave up and went inside. The house was a small log cabin near the southern edge of the Great Forest. Dabuk's father, Garth, chose the spot because it was away from the constant skirmishes that continued to flare up after the end of the Second Ogre War.

It was clean, neat, and spartan. Real boring for a boy barely old enough to tie his own boots.

"Dabuk," The boy's aunt was sitting next to the hearth. "Pestering you're mother again are you?"

"Aw auntie," Dabuk sat down on the floor in a grumpy lump. "It ain't fair. Papa's never home."

"Isn't, dear, it isn't fair."

Dabuk couldn't help but roll his eyes again. "Fine. It isn't fair."

Dabuk laid down his arms and legs flailed out. He hated it when his Auntie Lisa corrected his words. Like it mattered out in the wilderness. He wished he was in Fruen visiting grandpa. At least there was always something to do there.

"Lisa-Anne!" Dabuk's mother cried out from outside.

"Momma?" Dabuk knew that tone. She used it when he wandered off once. His momma had been really worried.

"Eiithinia, what is it?" Dabuk's aunt turned towards the door just as his mother came rushing inside.

Dabuk sat up looking out the door. He didn't see anything out there to be so worried about.

"We have company." Eiithinia scooped up her son closing the door of the cabin.

"Who?"

"Not who, what!"

A guttural cry came from outside to the west.

"May the North Gods protect us." Dabuk saw fear in both their eyes.

"Ogres."

"B-baddies?"

"Yes my son. Baddies."

Dabuk was scared.

"We have to flee into the forest." Dabuk's aunt was becoming hysterical.

"That won't do any good. I know the forest but you don't sister. Besides, I can't leave. This is my home.

"Dabuk, I need you to go down into the cellar, all right?"

"No! Momma, I want to stay with you!" Dabuk tried not to cry. His papa told him it wasn't good to cry.

"Dabuk! I can't protect you and your aunt. You'll be safe in the cellar. The baddies aren't smart enough to look for you there if you are completely quiet. I need you to be brave."

Dabuk was blubbering. He wanted to be brave for his momma. But he didn't want to be away from her either.

"But momma... baddies!"

"I know son," She hugged him then handed him to his aunt. "Lisa Anne, I'm counting on you."

"I-I understand."

"Momma!"

Eiithinia grabbed her sword, bow, and quiver and headed back outside. She slammed the door shut while her sister locked it from the inside.

A guttural roar shook the cabin.

"Momma! Momma! Momma!"

"Dabuk! You have to be quiet!"

Dabuk's aunt shook him until he stopped yelling. She threw open the cellar door and forced Dabuk down into the darkness. She slammed the trap door shut and pulled the cabin's small table directly over it.

Dabuk watched through the cracks in the floorboards, not making a sound. He couldn't have even if he had wanted to.

He heard another guttural roar and then his auntie screamed. He couldn't tell what was real anymore. The thing roared again and again. Then another roar joined the unholy chorus. He heard the wooden logs crack and watched as his auntie screamed once again while trying to climb out the back window.

She shrieked as a huge hand grabbed her through the window; it pulled her outside. Then Dabuk heard something he'd never forget the rest of his days. His mother screamed. Then he heard a loud cracking, tearing sound, and the ogres howled in triumph.

He felt the cabin shudder as they ripped away the logs. Then he saw them. They stood higher than the cabin was tall, much higher. They were ugly, inhuman beasts. They ripped the top half of the cabin completely off. They threw out all the furnishings scouring the small dwelling for anything of value.

Dabuk felt Hades beside him that day. He was sure they'd find him. They howled again in unison and Dabuk clamped his mouth shut and covered his head with his arms. Fear ran up his spine and into his heart.

He sat there for hours not moving. Night was coming but the ogres hadn't left yet. He couldn't hear them but he could smell the burning flesh. He forced himself not to cry. He had promised his papa he'd not cry. He had promised his momma to be brave.

The beasts grunted at each other for hours making sounds like horrible laughter. He gritted his teeth balling his hands into fists. He shook with rage; tears streamed from his eyes. His hands began to bleed where his nails cut into his own flesh.

Then the beasts were gone. He knew it because he couldn't smell them any more. Yet, he didn't move. He sat there in the darkness all night — hating.

Morning came. The dawn pierced through the cracks of the cabin floor unhindered by the shattered roof. Dabuk felt the heat of the sun but felt no comfort or relief. He pushed open the trapdoor with all his strength.

What he found no boy should ever have to see. The burnt logs. the blacked earth. The bones — flesh eaten away. He fell to his knees crying not knowing which was his mother and which was his aunt. He threw up; the stench burned his lungs and eyes.

He was cold, and alone, for the first time in the world.

"Momma..." He whimpered. Then he felt it again. The rage burned in him and he screamed at the sky.

"I will kill them all! I will wipe them from the land wherever I go until none are left anywhere! I pledge my life and my soul to this! I will carry my hate as a banner and my rage as my sword! This I swear to my dying day!"

Then all is black...


Thessa cried out in pain. She shook in fear. Bactra grabbed a hold of her; he shook her to wake her. She fought him; she tried to pull away and screamed, “Momma, Momma, no!”

“Thessa! Thessa! It's over. The ritual is over. You're safe. Please...”

She blinked. “B-Bactra?”

“Yes, it's over.”

“No,” Thessa shook her head sobbing uncontrollably. “It will never be over.”

“He warned you,” Bactra knew his voice even with the waves crashing against the shore. “But you just couldn't let it be.”

“Dabuk,” Thessa was panting for air. “I'm so sorry-“

“Save it!” Dabuk rose his voice his rage coming to the surface. “I don't want your pity or your sympathy! What I want is for you to kill as many of them as you can when the time comes!”

“I-I don't know if I can.” Thessa sobbed.

“Oh you will. There's no avoiding it now. It's like my cousin said. It's in you now. You'll never get it out.”

“I'm not you!” Thessa screamed at him.

Dabuk laughed; his voice echoed with wrought madness across the water.

* * *
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Azaghal » Mon May 16, 2011 2:02 pm

*The nightmare is in you* Cool twist!
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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Sun May 22, 2011 6:01 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

Salisan Marg:
After going through the ritual, Thessa wouldn’t speak to Dabuk again for several days. Besides Dvalin, she remained aloof to the rest of us as well. Rikin didn't like the fact that Dvalin was spending so much time with Thessa. He didn't think it was proper for the future consort of the High Thane to be so friendly towards another female.

Dabuk had been upset at me about the ritual. He didn't really have a right. I'd tried to talk her out of it. And he'd agreed that if someone was insistent that it wasn't right to forbid them. Mesik had had the chance once to go through the ritual and had backed off immediately. Jeddar didn't want to have anything to do with the ritual as it was banned in the Kingdom of the Silver Leaves…

The third day of traveling brought us up a long rise that had seemed to stretch on forever. We soon peaked the top of the rise. Then I saw what I thought would be the strangest thing I'd ever see in my life. And it was pretty close.

A large giant was wading through the water off the coast. He was using a large trident to spear large fish nearly as big as Mesik. He was obviously enjoying himself laughing and singing in the tongue of giants. We just stood there dumbfounded for several minutes. The giant hadn’t spotted us. He had continued to spear fish, flinging his catch onto the shoreline. He was really good at it too. That had been what scared me…


Dabuk motioned everyone back over the rise to decide what to do.

"Ok," Dabuk was running his fingers over the hilt of his sword. "What does everyone think?"

It was the first time he didn't seem sure of what to do. Of course, none of them had ever encountered a “true” giant before. Ogres were sort of like giants but not really. Ogres were dumb and cruel. Giants were, well, giants. Not something to take lightly.

Mesik was hunched down as far as he could go. Really big creatures made him nervous. "Um, I think we better take the long way around. Backtrack a ways and then cut across the desert away from it."

"Please don't refer to him as an it. Giants are known for being overly sensitive about such things." Dvalin was whispering.

"How do you know that?" Bactra shook his head in disbelief.

"Trust me," Dvalin had his axe out. "My father has told me things that would curl your toes."

"Aye." Rikin was readying his axe. "Besides, giants are always evil and we have the advantage. I say we take him!"

"Oh sure," Bactra couldn't believe the dwarven bluster being thrown around. "We'll just convince him to come out of the water so we can hack at his knees and ankles. He's at least fifteen feet tall, maybe twenty. And not all giants are evil, that's a dwarven myth!"

"Not so loud." Thessa was peering over the rise carefully. "He will hear you."

"Thessa’s right," Dabuk kept his voice down. "Everyone stay calm and lower your voices."

Everyone stood there quietly for several minutes while Dabuk paced back and forth. He was thinking. Jeddar was twirling his blades back and forth impatiently. Bactra sometimes wondered if Jeddar’s elven blood was so thin that he hadn't learned how to be calm.

"Well?" Jeddar couldn’t contain himself any longer.

Dabuk stopped and looked at half-elven bard. "While Rikin makes good points about giants usually being evil, Bactra is right. Not all giants are evil. This giant isn't an ogre or even one of the foul hill giants my father has fought in the past. This giant is different. He seems intelligent and jovial. I don't think he's evil, but I do suggest caution."

"Then we should go around, lad." Dvalin shook his head. "Any giant is dangerous when angered."

Dabuk shook his head. "We don't have time to go around. It will take too much time. We have to risk it."

"So we're going to try to sneak by." Rikin slapped his forehead in disbelief. "He'll spot us for sure."

"I didn't say that. We're going to introduce ourselves and be really friendly. If anyone has a problem with that, I suggest you stay well back and let me do the talking."

Everyone was stunned to silence. Dvalin moaned in frustration and Jeddar dropped his swords mid-twirl while the rest of them stared at Dabuk in shock. It was just crazy enough to work. Still, the plan could get them all killed in a heartbeat. Before anyone could stop him, Dabuk climbed over the rise and yelled out a greeting to the giant.

"Oh, by Hade's Underrealm." Mesik scrambled up over the rise after Dabuk.

"He is nuts!" Thessa just stood there.

The rest of them followed one by one. Bactra had convince Thessa to come over the rise.

"Hello there!" Dabuk was yelling at the top of his lungs. "I would like to speak to you if you don't mind!"

After hearing that introduction, Bactra was beginning to wonder if Thessa was right. This wasn't a good idea.

Dabuk turned his back to everyone. "Damn it, everyone put your weapons away. How are we supposed to look friendly when we're all armed to the teeth."

"All right," Dvalin strapped his axe to his back. "But you better be right about him not being evil."

Everyone but Rikin put away his or her weapons.

"Rikin," Dvalin patted his adopted brother on the back. "Put you axe away, my brother."

"With all due respect, brother." Rikin tightened his gripe on the weapon. "Not a chance. He's evil I tell you."

"Fine. But stay back a bit. If he isn't evil, you might just make him mad enough to attack if you go waving that at him."

"Dvalin, don't-" Rikin couldn't hide his anger and fear.

"I have to. They're my friends."

Dabuk was still yelling but was failing to get the giant's attention. He was flailing his arms around like a wounded gull; he looked hilarious.

"Oh come on," Dabuk was panting. "He must be deaf."

"I don't think he's deaf." Bactra stepped up to his cousin getting a good look at the giant for the first time. The giant seemed almost at peace in the water. He stood at least fifteen to sixteen feet tall. His hair was stark white; his skin was the color of squeezed olives.

"I think he's so tall and so far out there that he can't hear you. I can barely hear you over his singing. Let me try."

"Okay," Dabuk was still breathing heavily his hands on his knees. "Good luck!"

"I don't need luck. I have my magic." Bactra smiled.

He stepped part way into the surf and reached out with his mind and magic. Bactra could feel the water and the shore. He mumbled the arcane words taught to him by his tutor and forced his thoughts through the water towards the giant. He could hear the giant laughing in his head as he made the connection through the sending.

"I hope this works." Bactra called out to the giant through his mind with the same greeting his cousin had used before.

The giant stopped singing and stood up with his back to us. He scratched his head in confusion.

"Over here!" Bactra yelled.

The giant spun around looking cautiously at us. Then he started laughing again. Yes, he wasn't evil; Bactra was sure of that now.

"AH, THERE YOU ARE." The giant strode towards the beach using his trident as a makeshift walking stick. "I DIDN'T SEE YOU, LITTLE ONE."

The others backed away, unsure of the giants intentions. Only Dabuk stayed by Bactra’s side. He was sure of his cousin’s magic and judgment.

"We are pleased to meet you," Bactra kept his voice raised slightly. "I am Bactra Redwind, this is my cousin Dabuk Tigerstorm. And these are our friends."

"NICE TO MEET YOU, LITTLE ONE. WHAT BRINGS YOU TO THE SHORES OF THE GREAT EXPANSE? YOU"RE QUITE FAR FROM THE GREAT FOREST."

Bactra just stood there dumbfounded. The giant knew his people.

"YES, YES. YOU'RE A FOREST ELF, NOT UNLIKE THE NOBLE DESERT ELVES OF THE EXPANSE."

Mesik came up beside Bactra tugging on his shirt. "Uh, can you get him to lower his voice a little. My eardrums feel like they're going to pop."

"WHAT WAS THAT, TINY ONE?" The giant bent down speaking right at Mesik. "I COULDN'T HEAR YOU."

"Can you not be so loud!" Mesik yelled while covering his ears.

"OH, oh... <harrumph>... sorry about that. Is this better?"

"Much. Ow." Mesik was shaking his head; his eyes were all blurry.

"Thank you," Thessa had been holding her hands over her ears as well.

"You're welcome, tiny miss." The giant stuck his trident into the sand, prongs down, leaving it to go and gather his catch of fish. "My, there's more here than I thought."

"You're pretty good with that thing." Dvalin eyed the trident nervously.

"HA," The giant sat down on the sand hard enough to shake Mesik off his feet. "Don't worry, friend dwarf. I only use it against fish and impolite visitors. HA, HA!"

"Ha, funny," Dvalin didn't seem relieved.

"I thought so, HA!" The giant held up one of the fish. "But where are my manners. Would anyone care for some fish? I have plenty to go around."

Thessa sat down near the huge giant. "We would be glad to, um, what was your name again."

"Oh yes," The giant put the fish down on the sand taking out a huge knife. He began gutting the large fish right in front of Thessa. "My name is Salisan. Salisan Marg."

Fish bits landed near Thessa, and she quickly turned green.

"Oh, sorry about that." Salisan buried the fish guts of the first one and began slicing open the next one. "I hope you like your fish raw. I always eat them raw. It's the best way."

Slowly, everyone but Rikin sat in a huge arc with Salisan at the center. Dabuk and Bactra sat closest to him opposite of Thessa. Dvalin sidled up next to the gnome priestess keeping an eye on the giant's large knife. Jeddar sat next to Dvalin while Mesik sat next to Bactra.

"Doesn't your other friend want any?" Salisan didn't seem to notice that Rikin was glaring at him.

"He doesn't trust you." Dabuk was already eating the raw fish. Bactra still wasn't sure if he wanted too.

"Really?" Salisan seemed to be hurt by Rikin's coldness. "I assure you, friend dwarf, I am not the violent sort."

"You're a giant." Rikin growled.

"Yes, so I've noticed." Salisan beamed at the dwarf.

"Giants are evil."

"HA, HA, HA! Yes, many giants are evil. Even some of my kin have been known to turn towards the darkness. But don't believe everything your dwarven legends say about giants."

"What type of giant are you?" Rikin demanded.

"Rikin, stop being rude." Thessa was glaring at the dwarf.

"It's quite all right, tiny miss." Salisan sat up straight with pride. "I am a reef giant. One of the great children of the waves and favored race of Lord Aegir."

Rikin was speechless.

"I thought reef giants were a myth." Dvalin looked at Salisan with less fear and more respect.

"Obviously you were wrong." Thessa nudged Dvalin in the ribs. "Besides, didn't you think gnomes were just a legend until you met me?"

"She's got you there, Dvalin." Mesik couldn't help himself sometimes.

Rikin had strapped his axe to his back and come into the arc towards Salisan.

"Neif mert alnal hish maiy nall." Bactra had never heard that language before. It didn't sound dwarven. Rikin held up his hand his palm facing Salisan.

"Nias mert ananl murt hish cain, Aegir maiy." Salisan returned the gesture his words sounding more fluid than even the dwarf's had been.

Rikin bowed to Salisan, which took everyone by surprise. "I am sorry, Great One. I mistook you for one of the Neith-shaleiz. My dishonor is great."

"Nonsense. You couldn't have known." Salisan bowed his head in return. "Please sit."

"It will be my honor." Rikin sat next to Jeddar taking a piece of raw fish when it was passed down to him.

"Okay," Dabuk raised an eyebrow. "What was that all about?"

"It was private, Dabuk. That's all I can tell you for now." Rikin held up his hand to deflect the question.

Salisan nodded in agreement. "Yes, I will honor the dwarf’s choice. If he wishes to tell you someday then so be it. But I cannot."

"That's fine," Bactra put his hand on Dabuk's arm as he was about to object. "I'm sure Rikin will tell us, someday."

They continued to eat the fish while talking with Salisan relating their travels and adventures. He listened attentively laughing when Dabuk told him about our encounter with the phanatons. He seemed saddened by the death of the dragonne, but he understood.

"I know the desert elves. They are savage but honorable. I've tried to get them to help me get rid of an old shipwreck near here. It's quite an eyesore half-submerged as it is near the beach."

"Shipwreck?" Mesik had been dozing, tired from the long day of traveling. But he perked up upon hearing of the wrecked ship. "What shipwreck?"

"Ah, I see I've got your attention now, tiny sir."

"Uh, sorry, I'm a little tired." Mesik stood up looking at Salisan. "But I promise. You've got my full attention, now."

"HA! So I see." Salisan looked at the rest of us. Even Dabuk was eager to hear about the wreck. "All right, I'll tell you what I know about it."

Salisan drew a sigil in the sand and then another. Then he drew an oval around the two symbols with a line on either side.

"This is the mark of an infamous pirate that sailed the Karmine Sea. He was infamous for his cruelty and his ability to summon great magic against his foes. For nearly a hundred years he sailed up and down this coast and was the bane of seaports as far south as the City-state of Zafira. I do not know if he was as infamous in the north as I've never been there myself.

Anyway, his name wasn't feared because no one knew it, not even his own men. But all knew of him due to the flag he flew with his mark upon it. It is said he worshiped one of the Interloper Gods, one known for great malevolence. I don't know which one, unfortunately. It was his mark that brought fear to others for it signaled the coming of a servant of the vile Interloper.

But with all tyrants and evil souls, time ran out for the Pirate of the Mark. A great fleet was organized in the port of Selquin. This fleet took to the seas refusing to go home until the pirate and his ship was destroyed.

The rest, I'm not familiar with. But my people and the desert elves believe the shipwreck was his ship. The elves won't go near it. They think it's haunted by his ghost. I don't believe it's anything but an old wreck that has become an eyesore."

"Interesting," Dabuk was gulping down another big piece of fish. "So where exactly is this wreck?"

"Not more than a day's walk north of here. The ship might still contain some of the pirate's treasure and magic. Are you thinking about taking a look?"

"Definitely," Dvalin eyes were lit up. "Treasure!"

"Forget the treasure," I went through my spell components and opened my spellbook. "I'm more interested in the magic."

Rikin shook his head. "It's probably been looted already. We should keep going north."

C'mon, brother," Dvalin looked at Rikin pleading. "It won't take long and there could be something useful that could help in the fight against the ogres."

"I don't know." Rikin was nervous. "What if it is haunted. Ghosts are said to be able to steal a man's soul."

"I'm sure there aren't any ghosts. Maybe a few ghouls or skeletons. Ghosts are very rare, and I doubt one could exist so close to Salisan's home without it effecting the environment in horrible ways. A ghost would radiate death and fear for hundreds of miles. It would cause the fish to die or become something even worse."

Bactra had extensive tutoring about the undead. It was something his father had insisted on. His father had faced undead before but hadn't explained anything more about it. Bactra missed him and his family horribly and thoughts of them made him more melancholy.

"I-I guess your right." Rikin was fingering his axe nervously. "There would have been signs by now. What do you say, Mesik?"

"Sounds like fun to me." Mesik was grinning.

"While I don't share Mesik's enthusiasm, I think it's worth checking out." Dabuk looked at Salisan. "You want to come with us?"

"I would be honored."

"All right," Dabuk smiled. He didn't do that unless he was looking forward to something that could be dangerous. "Tomorrow morning, we head for the wreck."

"Agreed." Dvalin nodded.

Everyone else nodded in agreement. Even Bactra was looking forward to a little adventure again.

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Re: [Kulan] Tales of the Companions Story Hour

Post by Knightfall » Tue May 24, 2011 12:59 am

From the Journal of Bactra Redwind, son of Minonus

The Shipwreck:
The next morning came early enough as Dabuk got everyone up just after dawn. He wanted to see the shipwreck almost as much as Mesik did. All of the fish had been eaten the previous night and everyone was still full. Even I had my fair share. It hadn't been as horrible as I thought it would have been. Kind of tasty actually…

Salisan led the way as we traveled further north along the coast. He kept to the water as much as possible but didn't stray out to far. Everyone followed the reef giant eagerly and I couldn't help but think what I would have said two days ago if someone told me I would come to know a reef giant.

Near midday we stopped for a bite to eat. My cousin broke out the rations while Salisan caught a few large crabs for himself. He was hungry again while everyone else only nibbled on some hard biscuits and dried beef. Wanting to reach the wreck before nightfall we had continued on…

We reached the wreck just as the sun was turning the sky red. Twilight wouldn't come for many more hours. Like Salisan had told us, it was only partially submerged tilting towards the stern slightly. The ship had been attacked by fire and was barely holding together. It didn't look safe to explore but we had already guessed it would be somewhat treacherous.

Bits of rope hung from everywhere and surprisingly parts of the ship's sail were still visible. It was definitely an eyesore…


"What a mess." Jeddar picked up a piece of wood that had broken off from the ship. Dozens of similar pieces covered the sandy beach for dozens of feet north and south of the ship.

"I don't think there's going to be any treasure in there." Mesik had been bouncing up and down the whole way to the ship. Now, after seeing it, he was dragging his heels looking very sullen.

"Aye." Dvalin looked just as disappointed.

"Not so fast," Dabuk walked towards the ship, which was a good fifty feet from shore. "Sure it's been here a while. But ask yourself, who else besides us, the desert elves, and Salisan knows about it? The desert elves won't go near it and Salisan hasn't explored it."

"True enough." Salisan nodded in agreement keeping his voice level with the rest of us. The large reef giant was sitting on the shore letting the water wash over his feet.

"Ok then," Bactra stepped up to where Dabuk was standing. "Time to get wet."

Dabuk and Salisan led the way out to the ship, while Dvalin and Rikin took up the rear. Salisan carried Thessa on one shoulder while Mesik, Jeddar, and Bactra stuck to the middle of the group. The water wasn't very deep but soon Mesik was up to his torso.

"Well, here goes." Mesik dove into the water swimming out past Dabuk and Salisan.

"Mesik, wait!" Dabuk shook his head in frustration. He hadn't taken off his leather before going into the water and was waterlogged from the waist down. "Stupid."

"You should have taken that off." Bactra reminded.

"It's to late now. Besides, if the deck is still solid enough to hold us then I'm going to want my armor, just in case."

Mesik had swum all the way to the edge of the ship. He pulled himself up looking in a huge hole in the ship’s hull. He let go splashing back into the water bobbing up and down like a cork.

"Belch, it stinks in there!" Mesik didn't see the arm reaching for him through a large crack in the hull.

"Mesik, look out!" Bactra watched as a second arm reached out from behind the rotting wood grabbing Mesik's tunic from behind.

"Yikes!" Mesik struggled out of his shirt leaving it to whatever had tried to grab him.

Salisan left Thessa behind helping her down off his shoulder. Just as she splashed down into the water and Mesik started swimming back towards them, something burst out of the rotting hull.

"Ghoul!" Bactra knew it once it cleared the ship. "Swim faster, Mesik!"

"Oh damn," Mesik stroked through the water while trying to pull his dagger from his belt. "There's more than one!"

Dabuk was trying to strip off his armor but it would take time. He was cursing out loud for not thinking of taking it off earlier. Thessa wrapped her fingers around her holy symbol preparing to call down the power of her God upon them.

Bactra moved past Dabuk holding his staff up above the water. There were at least two of them. They moved through the water quicker than undead should. Then Bactra realized they weren't just ghouls; they were lacedons. He immediately started preparing his mind to cast Burning Hands.

"Faster Mesik," Bactra yelled out again looking back towards Dabuk and the others. Dvalin and Rikin had moved up near Thessa. Dabuk had most of his upper armor off but was having some difficulty with the rest of it. "They're lacedons, aquatic ghouls. They can swim, fast."

"So I see," Mesik had his dagger out stabbing one of the undead creatures as it swam towards to him. "And there's more than two of them. I count four."

"Don't let them touch you." Bactra was nearly up to his armpits in the water but needed to get closer. "Their touch can paralyze you."

The lacedons moved through the water as fluid as fish. The one Mesik stabbed hissed at him ready to sink his claws and teeth into the halfling's flesh.

"OH NO YOU DO NOT, FOUL THING!" Salisan brought his trident down on the lacedon, skewering it. He lifted his trident with the undead monster still embedded on it flinging it into another one closing in on Bactra.

The elven wizard was floating on his back on the surface keeping his hands above the water. Arcane words echoed through his mind and out his mouth as he concentrated on completing the spell before the lacedons could attack. He could smell them coming just as he finished his incantation twisting in the water towards them; his outspread hands flashed with magical fire. The lacedons howled as the magical fire consumes their upper torsos. The water steams where the magical fire touches it. Then it in a blink of an eye the fiery burst ends.

Exhausted, Bactra tries to keep his head above water; he hopes the other lacedons are attacking someone else.

"Bactra," Mesik's voice rings out but the elf can't see him through the magically induced steam. "Are you all right?"

"Fine. What happened to the other lacedons?" Mesik was somewhere to the left of him, wherever that was.

"Dabuk and Jeddar are fighting them off from what I can tell." He appeared out of the steam grabbing a hold of Bactra’s arm. "Let's get back to shore."

"Sounds like a good idea."

They swam back towards what they thought the shore was. Soon the ship was looming over them.

"Oh, oh." Mesik spun around looking for more lacedons. "Damn, I got turned around in that spell effect of yours. What did you do?"

"Burning Hands. It’s very effective against water-based creatures and the undead. Though I'll have to remember not to cast it while standing in water. I think my skin is peeling off."

The steam was lifting and they could see shapes appearing through the haze.

"Please let that be Salisan." Bactra was floating on his back again. He could barely move. "Mesik, I think one of them s-scratched me. I'm having trouble moving."

"Bactra! Mesik!" It was Dabuk's voice Bactra heard just before he blacked out.

* * *
Robert Blezard | Knightfall's Almagra and Otherworlds | Knightfall Press | Kulan World Journal | Spelljammer Gone Wild
"I write; therefore, I am!"
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