Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chapter 19: A Battle Soon Finished

As the group of stalwart adventures stared at the snarling beast, Aurelious jumped into action. Rushing forward and drawing one of the swords on his back he surprised the snarling beast with a gash on the cheek. Quickly recovering from the blow the creature jumped back only to meet the blade of Richard in the side. Startled the beast recovered again.

Suddenly a call from behind of “No time for this! Agenmem!” Calenon finished his spell, Two steaks of light streaked into the room and swooped through the air. The bolts of light took the form of two hawks of grey light. They screeched toward their target and exploded in a blast of light. When the light subsided the critter’s tail could be seen squirming into it’s burro. Before anyone could react it was gone.

"Was wondering when we'd find these," Thomas mutters as he drew his weapons. Thomas walked to the hole and looked into the inky blackness “Well it’s gone…”


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chapter 18: A Door with Teeth

The ceiling disappeared into the darkness above them. Some times a crevice or edge of the stonework being caught in the flickering light. The marble walls were of exquisite workmanship as was the floor, albeit covered in rubble from the collapsed ceiling and columns. Their they stood admiring the workman ship of the door, feeling a bit small and exposed in this cavernous space. Especially after the confines of the catacombs.

“We should wait for everyone before we do anything with it." Aurelious remarked as he arrived. He studied the reliefs of the door, but could gather nothing of the symbols. Being in a strange land was starting to be taxing. Very thing was strange and unfamiliar. Even the gods them selves seemed to be different here. Aurelious grimaced

Finally, as Thomas filtered to their chosen spot before the door, he remarked. "Perhaps we're getting somewhere now...well at least if we get through here. Well this symbol seems to be Moradin, of course, and this one I bet Lorem can tell us…"

“Dolor’daHan, the anvil, know for some of the greatest blacksmiths in the Dwarven empire.” Lorem said as he turned to look about the room.

“Yes, of course, but this last one seems familiar some how though I can’t put my finger on it…”

Calenon smiled, for he had just spent the last four months pouring over that symbol, studying its intricacies and meanings. The black Iron rod and the Crystal Ball. “It should Thomas, that’s the Symbol of Koral Lierman himself. It looks like we have finally found traces of him.”

“Well good!” exclaimed Thomas, “we’re finally getting some where.”

He stepped forward and examined the hole, "Well I certainly don't want to stick my hand in there. Instruments to play and all that...what about the odd wall sconce over there? But before we do anything, perhaps Richard should check for traps."

"Here's hoping nothing tries to decapitate me this time..." Grumbled Richard as he stepped toward the door.

“Don’t bother it’s not trapped.” Lorem’s voice came from behind them as he was searching trough the rubble, as if searching for something. “That is a door from the forges of Rom Mor. It is expertly crafted by the finest Dwarven engineers. Made out of adamantine the door cannot be broken nor can the face place be removed. The door is locked by twenty separate locks kept under the faceplate and placed intermediately around the outside of the door. The locks can only be unlocked by the activation of the central mechanism, which can only be activated by the key, which is also a necessary and central component too the mechanism. You can open the door by magic, but each individual lock needs a separate spell. You can pick the door too, but without removing the faceplate, which can’t be done in this case, the process is almost impossible. And even if you did remove the plate, each lock has to be picked separately. The mechanism in the center of the door can be made to go off too, but without the key… it won’t work. It’s a pinnacle of Dwarven engineering. Completely mundane, but effective against magic and thieves alike. Although, as a draw back, the door is almost never trapped because the traps get in the way of the complex machinery. The dwarves must have really liked this Koral fellow.”

Lorem approached the glowing rod on the ground which had been ripped from the wall some how. A bit of the Marble was still attached to it. Suddenly Richard called from behind him.

“Lorem Look out!”

“Lorem looked up into a bit of a hole in the rubble. A creature that looked like a mix between a boar and a rat had crawled out of the depths within. It snarled at Lorem as it dropped it’s meal, which looked to be the remains of a human foot. The creature looked as surprised as everyone else. It snarled.

Richard grimaced. “A Biter”

The party readied itself

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chapter 17: Into the pit

The companions stand on the edge of the abyss looking at the thirty foot drop to the stone below them. The eerie blue light ekes through the hole illuminating their stark faces. The drop seems almost ominous as a small stone breaks loose from the ruble and falls, clattering on the stone bellow. The sound echoes hollowly around the room, making it sound ancient and hollow. Suddenly Calenon dulls slightly as a blue shimmer seems to fade from him and his light goes out.
“damn.” Calenon frowned

Richard looked to Calenon

"Calenon seems most anxious to get down there." Richard extended his hand over the precipice and looked at Calenon. "After you"

Calenon grimaced as he lamented the loss of his spells. “While I am anxious to get down the hole, if, Thomas, you still think it a good idea for someone to wait here, I think I may be the best choice. Whether to run to your aid or from danger up here, my spells provide the quickest and safest ways in the group, I think.”

Lorem quickly assessed the situation. “As I don’t see how any of you will manage to climb down whilst holding a lantern, and that if their is something down their they will surely see us descend; I will volunteer myself to lead as my dark vision is surely as good as if not better than any of yours."

Lorem turned and started checking his gear. "I think the more important question at this point is do we leave the rope hanging for us to later ascend or do we take it with us? It is quite possible that we will need it later and with self-closing doors backtracking my not be an option later; however I do feel uneasy about removing our only way back... If we do decide to take it with us perhaps we should have whoever can fall the most gracefully come down last.”

Thomas paused for a moment and turned to Calenon. "As for the rope situation, what spell did you plan to use to get down there? Spider climb perhaps? If it is something where you can climb or float up as well, then I've the perfect solution."

“I have several options; Spider Climb is one of them.” Calenon responded as Thomas searched his bags for a small rod. He pulled it out showing the surface of the rod which was quite plain to look at and unadorned except for a carving of a dragons head at one end. Thomas pressed a button hidden in the carving’s open jaws and released the rod. On instinct Calenon reached to grab it when surprised it did not fall to the ground.

Thomas Smiled. "We can retie the rope to this, and I can use a mage hand to release and drop it back down. That way we could take the rope with us and still get back up. If you don't have such a spell though, I suppose we can always cut it in half. It's about a fifty foot length, so a chop in half would only leave us a slight drop down."

“If you would explain to me the way this wonderful.... rod, I suppose you would call it, works, if I have to flee I can take the rod, and thus the rope if we attach the rope to it, easily if I must flee down the hole.“ Calenon frowned. “If, however, we do not think anyone should be left here, I would prefer not to use any of my spells, at least to descend."

"It's simple really," replied Thomas as he reached forward and pulled the rod from the air, "you just press a button in the carving to activate or deactivate it.” Thomas turned to the others. “After the events in the previous room I don't know if we should leave one behind or not. While being blocked off is possible again, leaving that person stranded, having him separate from the rest might be the only hope of anyone making it back out..."

“Leaving a lookout behind seems like the best option to me.” Calenon marveled at the rod as he put forth his incite. “And, while not the best option for a solo flight, my magic gives me, I think, a better chance than anyone else for escape.” Calenon looked up from the rod. “But, if we do leave a lookout, we need a way to mark the path taken, a way to mark any traps not disarmed, and a decision on how long the person should wait."

Aurelious glanced up from the hole. "We have no idea if we're triggering something to close these doors or... It could be anything else. In our current situation I would suggest we not leave anyone behind, even as a lookout. As far as who goes first, Lorem I believe is the most suited. As for the rope situation... I believe the use of a spell is better than cutting our rope in two. Perhaps this rod and mage hand is the answer we seek"

"If you are up for it, than I would agree you go first Lorem." Thomas agreed
Lorem finished his preparations and stepped toward the hole. "I am not sure I like the idea of leaving someone behind. I was simply trying to find a way down that didn’t require loosing the rope."

"It seems the consensus is that we all go together. I can go second, but someone will probably need to catch my staff; I would prefer to use the rope if possible. Also, I believe my spell has just expired. And Thomas, just a thought for if and when we have to come back this way, would we be able to throw the rod in the air and engage it with a Mage Hand so that we need not use any spells in ascending either?"

"We will have to see on that one. With the weight of the rope attached it would probably be too much for it to lift and I don't know how well I would be able to time it trying to press the button if someone were to throw it."Thomas untied the rope from the rock and retied it to the rod before he activated it over the hole."Looks like you're up Lorem..."

"If their is something hostile hurry down otherwise take your time. And lets make sure not to undo the rope until we are sure their is an exit in this room that we want to take."

As Lorem dropped into the hole the fist thing his dwarven eyes noticed was the change in stone. The black stone which had choked the light of the catacombs above him had now given way to a fine polished marble. This room looked mostly destroyed by the gigantic stone that had crashed between the floors. From where he sat, still perched atop the gigantic dwarven hewn stone a good 20 ft from the floor bottom, it looked like great cools had held on the great vaulted ceiling. The light originated from an interesting wall sconce which looked merely like an iron rod that jutted from the wall and was writhed in a blue flame. Another rod had been knocked loose from the wall and now lay among the rubble on the floor. The room seamed unadorned, or at least what was left was unadorned. In fact the only thing that was worth mentioning was the door.

It was a magnificent door of the finest Dwarven work. Perfectly round it stood nearly ten feet across and made of a dark black metal. Three reliefs were carved into the door. One Lorem recognized as that of Dolor’daHan, the anvil, know for some of the greatest blacksmiths in the Dwarven empire and another was that of Moradin, hammer and anvil, who’s symbol is fastened to all great works, at least it was in the old days, but the third symbol gave him pause. It was of a great circle that held within it a storm and a black rod. Lorem did not know it. From where he stood he could see a hole in the center of the door possibly large enough to stick his fist.

The rest of the room was destroyed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chapter 16 (con): A Suprise

The door stood hard against thier minds as the puzled and talked amongst themselves. Little did they notice that one of thier number had slipped back out the way they had came. When they finaly decided to go, leaving the puzzle of the door for a latter date, the party found that Richard is long gone.

“where’d he go…” Calenon stated as he pulled his staff around.

"I believe Richard may be in the room with the hole." Aurelious stated as the party rushed after the dark and silent man down the tiny winding passage. After a short while they burst forth into the same blue light as before. Before them stood Richard standing on the edge of the precipice snuffing out his candle.

“so glad of you to join me.” He said with a smirk

Aurelious came down the steps into the room and stood with Richard at the edge of the hole. He looked into the pit of blue light and spoke "Care should be taken to not wander off. In order to complete our goal, we may not be able to backtrack to find anyone. We will most definitely not split our reduced numbers up, to find someone."

Richard shrugged his shoulders.

“Well now that were back in the creepy blue room it’s time to decide who gets to go first.” Thomas said as he tied one end of the rope to a protruding bit of rubble and checked it for weight. He then threw the other end down the hole.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Chapter 16: A Surprise

With more than a few grumbles the party turned around and head back thought the winding tunnel. They noticed traveling back a slight upward grade that had been unnoticeable before. The new lantern cast flickering shadows upon the walls of the tunnel, silhouetting the travelers as they ascended. Leaving the blue light behind them found their way back into the mural room.

The mural room was just as large as they remembered and although the light of the lantern helped them see the adventurers still saw fit to cling to the wall so as not to loose their way. Traveling left they relived the tale of Aym's reign on the throne, all the way too the end when she was kept from entering through the gates, all without meeting another entrance. There was now only two exits out of the room, including the path they had just come back through which left only the path back too the guards burial chamber which was now some where over the pile of rubble that littered the floor.

"But I thought..." Muttered Richard.

"Aye..." agreed Lorem. "Something is amiss. The Murals show no sign of another entrance either and this pile of rubble seems bigger than before..."

"What the hell is going on?" Calenon exclaimed.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chapter 15: Colapsed Stone

"So I take it she lead the winning side, or helped to reunite the clans after the bloodshed, only to rule with an iron and too demanding fist?" Thomas inquired

Thomas reached out to touch a piece of the mosaic, but pulled away just before his fingers brush the stones."An over simplification I'm sure, if I am near correct. No wonder you hesitate to tell the tale. Not only could it take the whole night, but how restless the spirits involve may still be." After lingering sometime at the final scene of the mosaic, Thomas kneeled and began to rummage through his pack. "Oh good, I didn't leave this on Oleander," lighting his lantern he continued, "The small amount of light we've had is starting to bother my eyes. This should do it though." Thomas stood and glanced around to see if anyone had come to a decision yet.

“If any one has any pressing suggestions, or "creepy feelings," let's hear them. Otherwise, unless someone discovers something, it seems logical to use the same formula here: first path to the left of the entrance." Calenon suggested.

"I agree with Calenon... I don't have any specific ideas here, but, sticking to reason, will, eventually, yield a result." Aurelious said as he clutched the bastard sword in his hand, eyes sweeping the area illuminated by the crystal on his chest.

"At least we now know something of the story behind this place. But I was afraid it would be something like this..."

"That sounds like a fine plan" Lorem muttered as he turned his back on the Mosaic.

Eyeing the lantern, Lorem questioned it. "A lantern will help for 30 stones but we will have no vision beyond it, while it will serve as a beckon to any other nasty creatures that we are here."

"If there are creatures we've yet to find, we will encounter them whether or not we've the extra light," he taped the side of the lantern as he talked, "I would feel safer fighting in brighter conditions, not only for my eyes but I'm sure these creatures would not enjoy it themselves. Let alone making it easier for Richard to check for traps along the way. Wouldn't the rest of you agree?"

"You make a good point, the creatures may dislike the light, however their is much to be said for having the jump on your opponent in a fight, and with the lantern I fear we will always be on the receiving end of that surprise. Not to mention we don’t know if the light will deter them or draw them like moths"

"In a narrow passageway situation such as these... It is impossible to avoid an encounter. If the beast is there, we have no way around it, save another path. Putting the light out will NOT allow us to avoid confrontation. I do not know whether the beings here will be irritated by it or not, however, we have to bear in mind that they are accustomed to hunting in the darkness, and we are now in the darkness. They can find us, if they want to, with or without the light. I personally would prefer to stay in the light." Aurelious interjected.

“Oh come on! Lets go!” Calenon called from the door

“shhhhh!” the others said in unison.

“Do you wish to alert the prying ears of this place?” Richard asked Calenon roughly.

“no but I do wish to find the crystal ball before I die of old age.” Calenon said turning, leading the companions further into the Catacombs.

The Path continued on a level grade twisting haphazardly through the stone, indistinguishable from any where else. Richard reminisced on what he had just seen as they made their way through the black corridors. "Clan wars... not unlike the conflict in my own homeland. I wonder how many dwarves gave their lives simply because they were ordered to, or because of some ill-conceived sense of duty. To thrive in these times you cannot leave your fate in the hands of others, you must cut your own path."

Lorem grumbled incoherently.

“what was tha…” Richard was cut short as the corridor was bathed in a eerie blue light. They entered into what used to be a large cavern, but it seems the cavern roof has collapsed leaving only a section of a once grand stairway down into the room and a large hole in the floor on the far side of the chamber. All the exits of this room must have been closed in the collapse, for the only way out looks to be the way in and the hole in the floor. The blue light seems to be emanating from that very hole, wafting up from a lower level. Whatever use this room once had seems to be undistinguishable now, but an old pew sticking out of a pile of stone, seems to suggest a religious room of some kind. Oddly there seemed to be the smell of blood around the place.

The hole seemed to be roughly ten feet in diameter, but bears no other significance other than the light emanating from below. The rubble seemed to be of that same black stone of the walls and floors, but also were traces of other stone. Granite, marble, and other stones native to the region litter the floor and make it hard to walk.

“Look. a Support stone fell from the ceiling punching the hole in the floor. I bet the corridors above us faired much worse.” Lorem surmised.

“Great Lorem, but now where too?” Calenon asked.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Chapter 14: A story wrought in stone.

As Lorem marked the door they had come out of with an "X-1" so as to tell where they had been. The rest of the party moved toward their next hall way. Suddenly Richard stopped and looked into the inky blackness of the last hall on the right.

"What is it Richard?" Asked Thomas, following Richard's gaze with his eyes.

"That path. I don't like it." He said simply, but, coming from him sounded menacing.

Thomas looked into the black maws that lead away from the burial chamber. For a split second he thought he felt a presence there and shrank back.

"Your right. I think we should avoid that particular path if at all possible." He shivered.

Richard nodded.

Their light slowly traveled forward in the dark as the party treaded along the black stone floors. Only the soft plodding of their feet could be heard in the stifling darkness. Suddenly the walls and roof melted away into darkness as they entered a large cavernous space. Blocks of black stone and other rubble littered the floor as an apparent cave in must have shook them loose from the ceiling.

"Well bless my soul." Lorem's voice pierced the blackness.

"What?" Calenon asked as he turned around only to find Lorem not there. "Where'd you go?" asked Calenon alarmed. Aurelious drew his sword.

"I'm over here. Don't worry Dwarves can see just fine in darkness such as this." Came Lorem's voice in the dark. "You have to see this."

Following the sound of his voice the party stumbled upon a wall of the room in front of which Lorem was standing.

"What? What is it?" Asked Calenon annoyed.

"Take a look" answered Lorem as he stared up the wall.

The rest of their eyes traveled up the wall and set upon a work of art unlike what they had seen before. Glittering in a hundred gems and semi-precious stones was a massive mosaic that stretched up into darkness. as they followed it around the semi ovalish room. They found it depicted a story of a dwarven woman. In the first panel were a Dwarven king and queen sitting atop a mountain holding a baby, and behind, a massive dwarven figure holding a gigantic hammer. It{s head is cut off by the darkness.

"Look! The king wares upon his breast the symbol of the MorHan clan." Lorem cried out. "I wouldn't be surprised if that's Morhan himself. And behind must be Moradin."

The next panel is that of a great war. Dwarves killing dwarves; as a great river of blood flows into through two great gates. "The clan wars..." muttered Lorem. "There's my clan symbol. Ispem: the scale." The scene depicted Praying dwarves cut down by sword and ax. "The river runs through Admander's gate... many must have died." The Next scene bore a baby bathed in blood and emerging grown, holding a scepter. In the next mosaic it showed the woman dressed in fine robes, standing atop slain dwarves and wearing a crown. Around her all of the clan symbols were represented, hammered into the wall in cold iron. All the clans seemed to be bowing to her. Behind Admander's gate remained open.

Traveling around the room they came too a doorway that led into darkness. Ignoring it they continued on.

The Mosaic then grew bright as gold was hammered between the stones, outlining the actions represented by the pictures. The queen now sat on a throne of gold. sitting atop gems. Dwarves were mining and hauling vast riches, represented by diamonds, to lie at her feet. The mines continued to weave and intermix along the wall as the gold slowly faded into red-gold and blood stone. They now looked down and could see that the floor too had changed and now red veins ran through it. The dwarves in the mines looked sickly and kneeled before the now diamond throne. But the queen in this picture bore a lash in her hand and gold robes. The next scene bore many dead bodies that lined the depictions of the mines. The blood river returned and flowed once more thought the gates. The next panel showed many dwarves with pick axes and shovels around a walled fortress in flames. The next panel was by far the most gruesome. It vividly showed the queen burning sitting atop a pile of melting gold, holding on to it even as it took her hands and fingers.

Once again a doorway interrupted the mosaic story, only to pick up again on the other side.

The last scene left, for apparently a wall had collapsed taking out the rest of the mosaic, showed the queen depicted in white marble standing in front of the Gates as the flow of blood stopped and the gates closed. The figure looked incredibly sad and angry some how, even though it was just marble.

"Impressive." remarked Thomas. Wrought

"Yes, but it doesn't help us reach our goal. Which way should we go now?" answered Calenon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Chapter 13: Leaving the Dead Lie

Calenon is the first to break ranks as he approached the altar. Leaning forward he inspected the pile carefully, but without touching it, making sure the crystal ball is not there. "I don't see it..."

"Don't be foolish. I was told that Sionaas believed the Crystal Ball of Koral Lierman to be below the catacombs and I can assure you that we are no where near the bottom. Besides if the orb were in the tribute then there it must stay." Lorem spoke trying to usher them out of the room. "Quick thinking with the trap Richard; however I fear that it may not last or that we may not be so lucky with others in this room. It is best we clear out," Lorem spoke to the group, however, his words are as hollow as the compliment he paid Richard. Eyes fixated on the wall and seal he thinks to himself "Why must they have hurried to finish it... what could be behind it."

Finally he pulled his eyes away.

Richard headed for the door as well. "I am inclined to agree with Lorem. With the amount of effort taken in trapping the door, whatever force is guarding the treasure itself is likely that much worse. It seems folly for so much of value to lie here unseen... I suppose that is how it works with royalty to any kind, though."

Aurelious drew his sword as he looked at the seal, it looked like a magic circle, but one he did not like the looks of. "Explain the meaning of this seal. There is more to this Queen Aym, and perhaps we should know anything of importance."

Thomas muttered to himself, agreeing with Aurelious. "This message, your comment on those who would despise the telling," As he turned to Lorem as his words gained volume, "and your other comment of the guards being the last who were loyal...what happened? I fear we are at a loss for not knowing the story behind her tomb Lorem. Is there nothing you can tell us while we remain in this place?"

"I shall consider it... but for now let us return to the burial chamber." Lorem said as he hurried them out of the room.

Thomas looked again at the seal and said to himself. "Is it truly magiced or just a scare tactic? It scares me more that it was done so hastily than if it were to have been impregnable. Wait... What if others searched for the ball, and unleashed something? Only managing to wall it in instead of defeating it...hmm probably not."

"Just assure me that the relic we seek does not lay within this treasure, and I will turn back now... we can have time for such tales later, as long as they are not of immediate importance." Aurelious finally agreed.

Calenon sighed in disappointment. "It's not here." he scowled at the magic symbol. "What a waste of a spell. Oh well; I suppose we had better head back and hope we don't have to punch through any floors." He turned as he headed out the door.

Aurelious grinned. "Well if he's willing to leave. I guess it really isn't here."

"Yea" Thomas grinned as the left the room closing the door behind them.

They traveled back into the narrow hallway. The only light coming from the end of Calenon's staff and Aurelious's chest, the eerie silence of the place enveloped them once again. Climbing what felt like three stories they finally made it back to the low roofed burial chamber, the silent faces of the dead giving them the cold welcome of silence. There were three exits left to them, one which led off to the right and two more across the room both next to each other.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chapter 12: Door and Tribute

Richard went to work. The door was sealed all the way around with a mortar. Taking out a small hammer a chisel he started chipping away at the mortar under the door.

Thomas looked hard at the door, but in his deepest memories could find no stories that mentioned a three headed dwarves woman. "Do you have any idea what this imagery is meant to tell Lorem? By the looks of it, I'd almost prefer we try the other paths first."

“I know nothing of this door.” Lorem stated flatly, almost with a hint of annoyance.

"well, I can only hope this door is meant to protect what is inside... and not to protect US from what is inside." Aurelious grimaced has he inspected the door. “This is an effigy, or more likely, an Icon… what kind of gods do you dwarves worship?”

Lorem frowned at the paladin.

Calenon piped in. "So I can Knock the door, right? If this group is going to let one little door discourage our efforts, I don't much like our chances of success. But, if that is.... unacceptable..." he glares at the dwarf quickly, "I suppose we may have to turn back."

"Have at it if you must, this temple already requires a stone working team to do repairs, as well as an extermination team to catch what we don’t, so one more door wont be that much more for them to repair. I just don’t want us going out of our way to break things if their is another way."

"One should never mistake, Master Calenon, careful consideration for inaction or discouragement. If you were prepared to gain entrance as such…” Aurelious paused and rethought his words. “but never mind. It is not my place to speak on your actions. I may suggest, however, that if the key is melted inside the lock,…” Aurelious turned to Richard, who by this time had opened a small hole under the door and was inserting two long wires into it. “would it be possible to melt the key to remove it from the lock completely? It might then be possible to open the lock via... alternative methods."

Richard did not hear him. He was looking into the small mirror he had inserted under the door. Which now lay facing the other side of the door. He could see a stone made mechanism built into the wall that attached to the other side of the door. This mechanism would obviously be pressed should the door be opened. It was a complex trap to be sure, and of excellent make, but…

"Wait! Nobody do anything! The door is trapped... a very old trap from the looks of it... quite intricate... I don't know what it's supposed to do or how not to make it do what it's supposed to do. I can try disarming it, but it would require studying it for some time."

Lorem backed from the door. "Yeah you study it, I am going to wait over here.“ He backed up some more. “better yet you study it and a couple of us can look down another hallway to see if there appears to be any more openings... Any takers?... I am not suggesting that we 'split up' but maybe we could speed things up a bit."

Aurelious held stead fast. "After our previous encounter, I would strongly advise we stay as a single group."

Calenon looked annoyed with the retreating Dwarf and the amount of time they had spent with a simple door. "It's simple. Richard, look at the trap. If you think you can disarm it, do it, and I will Knock the door. Otherwise, we will move on to somewhere else. This is getting quite ridiculous."

"Ok, Here goes nothing." Richard stood up and with his hammer and chisel and started to take out the brick where he felt the plunger would intersect with whatever that mechanism.

"Calenon, I suggest you take a moment to collect yourself. Your ire at the discussion of our course, given a door decorated as this is, serves only to harm our cause. I will not have us be rushed through here at risk to our lives because of your impatience." Thomas runs a free hand through his hair while giving another glance at his companions and the door. "Lorem I ask again, do you have any cause to believe something is sealed behind this door that we will likely wish to avoid if possible given this image? If not, then by all means Richard, disable the trap. I'll go whatever path the majority rules on. If you believe it may take some time though, Aurelious or Lorem and I could take a glance down the next hallway. I'd much prefer fighting in the open space of the room above than a space such as this and who knows if something else came to investigate the scene of our fight. I do not relish the idea of being pinned in."

“I know nothing of this door, as I've said before. But I agree that...” answered Lorem

“What did you say to m…” Calenon stepped forward interupting Lorem, when he was interrupted by a swear from the end of the room.

“Shit!” Richard exclaimed as he removed a brick from the wall. Attached to this brick there apparently a spring attached. The method Richard used to disarm the trap was apparently already thought of by the dwarves and had booby trapped the brick. A winding could be heard from in the wall.

Richard could only watch as, within the small space hollowed out for the trap, a huge stone fell puling a black chain. This chain was attached to the apex stone of the room they were going into.
He watched in horror as the chain snapped to a taught line which threatened to rip the apex stone from the wall thus causing the room to collapse in on itself. Richard’s mind raced as he watched the chain start to heave the stone out of position. Apparently a thousand years ago the stone was polished smooth so that it would pull right out, but the years had been heavy and the stones now pushed upon the apex with several tons of weight. He had only a second, he could jump to safety or… Richard reached out and discharged an open/close charge from his fore arm. The pin that held the counter weight to the chain flew out of the hole, just missed Richards head, and plated itself 1 inch into the solid stone across the hallway. The counted weight fell out of sight, followed seconds latter by a deafening crash. Richard opened his eyes and looked in the hole.

“Traps disarmed.”

Calenon smiled as he rolled up his sleeves. “Then let me do my part.” Calenon stared at the door, then spoke one word. “expositus” they heard crinkling metal as the seal unsealed itself and the mortar cracked as the door swung open.

The room was 40 feet in diamiter and dome shaped. The walls and floor were of that same black stone. The only part of the room that seemed out of place was the far wall which was flat and looked hastily built, although by dwarven hand. Upon the wall a massive seal was scribed; a mess of lines contained within a circle. Along with the seal are ancient dwarven characters. But this is not what drew the perty's attention. Sitting in the center of the room upon a black stone altar is a pile of gold and other treasures.

“Beyond this seal certain death awaits” Lorem read aloud from the wall, his voice echoing in the domed room. “This is what I feared. This is a tribute chamber to queen Aym. We should not be here and we should not, on penalty of our lives, touch the tribute. I’m sorry we spent so much time to get in here, but now we should leave.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chapter 11: Sealed Door

Richard inspected the three hallways that left the burial chamber . To him each path looked the same except for small differences. The last path across the room on the right however was a different matter entirely. This path gave him pause. His normally stoic demeanor seems to give way to a sense of foreboding. He quickly backed up a few steps from the path's entrance, trying to gather himself.

"Richard," Thomas said as he stepped toward him, "are you alright? Perhaps you should rest a bit more to recover from the ghasts? At the very least take a drink of water, you still look as if you've seen hell itself."

Richard shook him off and turned too Lorem. “Is it likely that we would encounter traps?” He asked the dwarf.

"yes, best be on the lookout for them from now on."

“Then I’ll take point.”

“Yes, that’s fine, but which way do we go?” bit Calenon

"I propose we take the nearest pathway first," said Thomas, "but it is based on naught but whim. If anyone has a reason for choosing another direction first I would love to hear it."

Lorem stepped forward and checked the construction and build of each opening. He made note of subtle things such as the count of stones in each arch, weather the path is inclined or declined, if their is wind or odor carried through each path. The path closest to the corridor that they had entered from sloped down at a rate of five inches per ten feet. The path on the left across the room stays level and the path on the right across the room slopes down at a rate of two inches per ten feet. The construction of the paths were of the finest dwarves construction, but the height of the tunnels and the lack of ornamentation seemed to express quick construction. Unfortunately the same black stone that made up the walls seemed to continue.

“No clues, unfortunately. I agree with Thomas.” Lorem concluded.

"I would imagine the orb would have buried itself deep, and so whichever path takes us down fastest seems logical." Calenon chimed in as he leaned against one of the sarcophaguses. Eyeing Richard he added. “... And the first person who retches on me will have the rest of him splattered on the wall.”

"Logical...perhaps. But sometimes that which goes harder does not make the end, or to speak plainly in this case, the steeper slope not necessarily make it as deep. In some places, one may even have to go up to go down good elf. This closer pathway does appear to run steeper though so we shall find what there is to see." Thomas then turned his attention back to Richard. "If you are well enough, lead on Richard. If not, I cannot check for traps but I would be willing to take point."

“Don’t be stupid.” Richard said as he headed down their chosen path. Aurelious turned into stride behind him followed by Calenon, Thomas, and Finally, Lorem. The decent was indeed deep and black as night and silent of death. The only sound was that of their own feet as they marched downward.

Thomas decided to break the silence. “Loyal to the end you say? That whispers of an old tale to my ears Lorem. Would you mind sharing if you can recall it?"

His words were sharp and startled the travelers. Calenon shot him a look.

“I’m afraid I’m not sure what…” stumbled Lorem

“before… you said ‘This is the burial chamber of the first guard of Queen Aym. They were of the few that remained loyal to her to the bitter end. It feels like a story and I love stories."

Lorem frowned. "Ah, it is a tale worth hearing, but not here with their corpses amongst us. The dead can be upset by such tales. Especially told by one who despises the telling."
Silence once again filled the tunnel.

After ninety five feet they suddenly came to another black iron door. Carved into the door is a horrible relief, that of a creature with serpents for legs, coiled among themselves. The heavily muscled torso is draped in the finery of an empress, but where its head should be there are three. One is a lion, one is a bulls, and one is that of a dwarves woman. One of her hands carries a long metal rod and the other holds shut the lions mouth. The carving is so intricate that you can see the rings that adorn it’s fingers. above the door is a small bust of a screaming head wearing a melting crown.

“Creepy.” mutters Calenon

Richard tried the door and found it was locked. When he searched it for entrance he saw that the key had been snapped off in the key hole and heat had been applied melting the key effectively sealing the door. The only way they could get through this door was by forcing it or with magic.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chapter 10: The Guard Room

Aurelious took a knee and began to give a prayer of thanks to his paytron god,Sol. As Thomas, haveing deemed that callenon was ok, just paralised, he began to pet and thank the wolf, giving it a bit of dried meat as a reward. The wolf took the meat without much pomp and circumstance, and he didn"t seem to mind being pet, but didn't seem to like it either. In fact the wolf did nothing except stare forward as if awaiting instruction. Thomas sighed and moved to the first coffin ad tried his best to right it.

"How long has it been since these catacombs were sealed Lorem? I wonder how many ways these creatures have to get in here or how many more there could be. I'd hope not many as they're still finding corpses to feed upon." He asked as he straigned at the sacophagus.

"These catacombs have not been unsealed sence the first age. I do not know how or why these creatures were here." replied Lorem as he aproched Lyn and Tordem who stood patiently awaiting instruction.

"The first age..." Thought Thomas. Thats thousands upon thousands of years ago. There must be great works of art kept in here from aichent times. Not to menttion stories. He had never heard of this place before, not in all his travels or stories heard. The bard noticed Aurelios rise from his prayer and aproch Calenon. He looked pale, but otherwise fine.

"I had wondered about the choice to carry four such blades at once, yet I hadn't imagined you've the strength and skill to use two at once. That's quite a feat Aurelious, have you always trained in such a manner? Perhaps training to carry the third in your mouth as well?" Thomas chuckled to himself, likely more amused than anyone else was at the comment.

Aurelious stood up from helping Calenon "Only one such blade as The Alexander exists, and there can be such times as I would wish not to wield it. Or, on occasion I would use my blades in a manner which may preclude their loss, or damage, such carelessness can never be applied to The Alexander. In certain rare cases a weapon may require... cleansing, before it would be right to draw upon it again. It is for such a circumstance, that I carry alternatives. As for why I would wield two, as opposed to focusing on one..."

He sheathed his sword and displayed his left hand. A fine silver chain wrapped around his left palm and fingers. The chain bears the symbol of Sol. It slightly obscures a strange mark on his palm.

"With two able arms, I could not let one only ASSIST in the service of Sol, and my own goal. They both serve, as do I."

"Two swords... what a waste of time." Richard chimed in. "Defeating your enemy with one stroke, before he even knows you're there... that is the mark of a fighter of TRUE prowess. On an unrelated note, does anyone know what those things did to me to make me feel as though I've been stricken with some illness and how to reverse it? Ugh... gonna lie down for a while..."

Richard ploped himself onto one of the unturned sarcophogi, much to Lorem's dismay.

"If you think true prowess comes from one well placed shot in stealth my gloomy friend, then I would call you mistaken. While you lose it all if stealth is unavailable or lost, those who train otherwise always have a chance. Not only is it common sense, but the stories that are passed around...they display the thoughts that ring true in mens' hearts about such things." Thomas replied. Then he paused momentarily."Don't think I look down upon you for such thoughts though Richard. For sometimes such advantage is truly the only way." Thomas then returned to trying to push the Sacophagus back into place.

"Lyn, Torden I thank you deeply for your service, but i fear i can not keep you. Return to where you came and rest well, for i may have to call on you again." Lorem spoke to his dogs.

"Aye, and don't hesitate to call either. We'll come too." barked Tordem

"after we've rested a bit" grumbled Lyn.

"Bah weakling, I haven't a scratch on me!"

"Because I took the hit for you."

"We'll discuss this latter. Now I hear the halls of Valhalla. Farewell Dwarf of the cloth may we meet again." and With a flash of lightning and a boom of thunder Tordem and Lyn dysapeared. Lorem then turned to Calenon and saw what he could do to help him.

Calenon had been poisoned, but he didn't seem to need healing, for the poison was just about to run it's course and unlike the others Calenon had managed to not let that foul smell affect him. He was bleeding profusely from a wound on his throat, but before Aurelious or Lorem could heal it, Calenon finally rose, with Lorem and Aurelious helping him to his feet.

"At least you didn't let me die from the bleeding throat wound," he said with only the smallest bit of sarcasm as he took out a potion and drank it. His would glowed with a soft blue light as the bleeding stoped and started to close, but failed to close completely before the blue light fadded.

"Ah, that's better." Calenon then looked around and seeeing the green in most everyone's faces quiped. "What's wrong with all of you? You look like you're going to retch all of you internal organs."

Aurelious and Lorem droped him and his shaky knees gave out. He landed with a plop on the floor. "very funny."

they went about the room placing everything right. The dwarves in the wals werte nothing but scelitons now and one could count over fifty lining the walls of the room. They all bore an aichent dwarven crest and a shield that laid attop of them. Every one caried a weapon of some kind with them into the grave, axes, short swords, longswords, hammers, all of exquisit make and quality. The Dwarves lying in the sarcophaguses all bore a warrios mantle and carried with them jewels neclases and rings. Four of the sarcophagi had been overturned, which, working together, managed to right. the bodies were still fleshy, despite the amount of time that had passed.

"The clerics must have blessed thier bodies to give them gentle repose." Lorem explained.

The four bodies had now been devoured by the two ghasts, but the remains were placed into the sacophagi anyway and resealed. Aichent Dwarven runes covered tyhe walls, out lining the alcoves. The runes on the sarcophogi were painstakingly etched and carvings of each dwarf were carved into the cover stone of each one.

"This is the bural chamber of the first guard of Queen Aym." Lorem explained. "They were of the few that remained loyal to her to the bitter end."

Thomas turned to Lorem. "Do you know the way, or must we test a path here?"

"I have never been here and plans to this place have long sence been lost. we must forge our own path. From what I can tell there are four exits from this room, one is the way we came, the others hold the unknown."

The companians stood tring to decide thier path.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Chapter 9 (fin): Dust to Dust

Munda wretched, as the grave mist receded. The creature once again took control and it rolled out of harms way and then crawled to its feet. But the creature could not run, It could not fight, it could only stand in awe of the god of death that had visited it. Oblivious to it’s surroundings the creature stared at the dwarf.

Still not entirely aware of what had happened. Richard saw a wide opening just open in the creature in front of him. He pulled his dagger and pulled back to strike. Then he stopped. Not only had the creature opened it self up, but it was no longer fighting. Richard shook it off and pulled back again. This thing is evil, it should be destroyed.

But… He thought to himself. Evil horrible monsters usually don’t stop fighting in the middle of a battle. And What the hell is that Dwarf doing! And what the hell is with this mist!
Richard switched to a defensive stance. He was no fool. He knew that if you acted without knowing the situation, the consequences could be dire. A lesson he had learned all to well. If that thing attacks though, he would be ready for it.

Across the room Kung had felt the presence of the death god too. In life he had learned from a traveling wise man. That gods took many forms and sometimes when the Gront sent there spirit messengers for your soul it came in the form of animals. The mountain elves believed that the wolf was a messenger of death. Kung was tired. He could feel the disease rotting his very soul start to take control again and he didn’t want that. He wanted to go and finally shed his mortal coil. That’s when he turned his head and saw the messenger of death sent by the Gront. It loomed great before him it‘s black paws reaching and it‘s long snout filled with razor sharp teeth come to rend his soul from his body. It hung in mid air as it lunged mid strike. “so the ancestors have called me finally” he said allowed “then I shall go.” Kung closed his weary eyes.

Thomas’s wolf leaped at the creature and pulled him to the ground. With a swift jerk to the right it’s neck was broken and it’s head was ripped from the body. The wolf spat and whined as it withdrew leaving the skeletal creature lie there. Then with a ghostly howl the creature melted away into dust.

Thomas stepped forward drawing Alase and inspected the remains. “ well I guess that’s one down.” He turned to his wolf. "Figure's I'd pull something out with a strong sense of smell," Thomas thought to himself, "Poor thing, but I'd best see to Calenon first." He looked at Calenon’s limp body as it lay paralyzed at his feet.

Meanwhile Lyn took his chance and jumped at the creature, but to his surprise it moved out of the way and parried his blow. “He can still protect himself I see.” Lyn whined. Lorem readied his sling and a rock. Raising it above his head and started swinging it as he pointed at the last remaining Brother and said in a dark and commanding tone.

"finish him"

A response came from behind him.

"Radiance." Shining upon Aurelious’s breast bore a pendant that shone with light. Aurelious charged the last creature. With his nostrils accustomed to the smell and the sickness thwarted by his own will, this time there was nothing to stop him. He reached back and put his right hand upon a second bastard sword and drew it as he leapt at his enemy.

Munda had felt the loss of his brother and struggled with the rotting illness to let him go. He felt lost without his brother. He had followed his brother in life and death he hadn’t crossed him since the day he died. He had to be free!

“You loved your brother?” The voice came from nowhere and yet everywhere.


“Than go to him.”

Alexander, with one swing, separated the soul from the corpse and let it slip into the Either. The body turned to dust before it hit the ground.

Aurelious sheathed his swords.

“well that’s done” Torden said and turned toward Lorem who lowered his sling. Lyn joined him still bleeding severely from the side. If that’s all we will go back to Valhalla now. Or do you request other service from us?”

“Please make it quick.” added Lyn.

Thomas sheathed his sword as he looked at Calenon. “Nice robes”

Richard put away his dagger as he sniffed the air. “the smell has all but diapered.” he remarked. The wolf sneezed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chapter 9 (con): A past revieled

"Not getting any better is it?"

Calenon moved over to Aurelious and pointed his staff at him. He slowly moved the end of the staff in a circle leaving a trail of light in the air. As the light completed the circle the face of a bear appeared.. “Calabrogh.” Calenon said softly and moved the end of the staff through the circle at the end of the staff and touched it upon Aurelious’s shoulder. As he did so Aurelious visibly straightened and became seemingly more … healthy.

"Looks like we'll be here a…."

The horrendous, overpowering smell was the only warning he had before teeth, which paused only a moment at the field surrounding his body, sank into his neck. (11hp dmg) Calenon could feel the poison spread and overwhelm his senses and he sank to the floor in a heap.

Howling with anger and pain from the burning acid, the horror sitting on the sarcophagus had jumped off and charged at Calenon. Both Thomas and Lorem were close enough now to smell the stench surrounding the creature, but they we prepared and kept their wits about them. Aurelious who sat on the floor smelled the creature again, and it sent his mind whirling. But he felt stronger, and his mind settled on what his father had said that fateful day he had given Aurelious Alexander. Aurelious was on his feet in a flash, he still felt sick, but He was a wolf bane… And there was foulness to purge. He drew Alexander and glew with a holy light.

Mean while across the room, Lyn striked again, but the second brother is ready and quickly steped to the side. He lunged to take out the wounded dog, but stumbled and instead lands face first on the ground. His head hitting stone with a sickening crack. Just a few feet away Richard was stirring, he shuttered and pulled, finally propping himself up upon the side of a sarcophagus. His eyes were met with a strange sight, two golden dogs were attacking some horrible monstrosity. Then his mind came back to him. He struggled to his feet as the last of the paralysis was removed by the natural processes of his body. He pulled his dagger and prepared to join the fray.

“Munglamu!” Thomas exclaimed in the Entmarkian tongue, cursing at the creature. “I had such witty banter prepared!” Unstrapping the rust colored bag from his side that he had picked up from one of the many Entmarkian spell weaver merchants back in Hedon, Thomas continued speaking. "I suppose I should let a friend come out to play as well." Pulling out a small fuzzy spherical object he tossed it towards the ghast hit by Calenon's spell. Upon impact it suddenly grew and shifted into a timber wolf, common on the Entmarkian hills. Ordering it to attack, Thomas again switched from his lute to his weapons expecting the worst.

The wolf had none of the pomp and circumstance as the dog brothers, for he was an ordinary wolf that lived in the bag. He had lived there, obeying whatever command was given to him by the master of the bag, since he had been caught in the hills on a hunting foray. He didn’t really know why he should obey, just that he should, which, for a wolf, was good enough. The wolf then attacked leaping as if upon bunny, or dear. But this was not a bunny. He got a whiff of the smell of that horrible thing and squealed in alarm and pain, missing his chance.

"go for the jugular" Lorem cried from across the room.

Torden needed no further prodding and seized his chance. He leapt upon his downed foe and ripped at his jugular, tearing it completely away from his body. He held his head high in triumph, holding up the bit of torn flesh as a dark sludge oozed from the wound he caused. But to his dismay and horror the creature ignored the attack rolling over to knock Torden off his back. Torden was stunned, things were supposed to die when you rip out their jugulars… It was about this time when he realized that the taste in his mouth was beyond the realms of horror and quickly spat the foul stuff out.


Lorem rose his voice above the din of battle. He dropped the weapon in his hand and drew his holy symbol from around neck. It was shaped like that of a sealed gate with a hammer in front sealing the doors.

"your time in this place has long since ended. You have been defeated either by steel or disease or old age before, but now you think you can cheat and have new life!" Then Lorem issued his decree: "You have cheated at the most holy of holy games and now you must be punished"

Channeling the power that welled within him into the holly symbol, the light on the end of Calenon’s staff flickered as a graveyard mist flowed out from under Lorem’s feet. It swirled and twisted until it found it’s way too the two brothers. They looked and saw the gates of hell forming behind Lorem as they had been called there before, but they had not gone. They could not go, for their life had been torn from them by the same horrible creatures that they had become.

Munda and Kung had been hiking in the mountains of the windswept wall. Brothers, they did everything together. They even had their eyes on the same woman; a young girl named Kita. “I tell you she wants me. Did you not see the way she looked at me?” Munda proclaimed.

“No, I didn‘t, and she was probably drunk, because she kissed me last night in the stables!”

“She what?! You lie!”

“Face it brother, you just can’t stand up to your magnificent older brother.”

“Like hell I can’t!” And with that Munda punched Kung in the face. Kung hit back and it wasn’t long before the two were wrestling on the ground, unable to see or hear the things that were crawling up out of the holes around them. Finally Kung won the upper hand and pinned Munda to the ground.

“see,” Kung said, panting, “told ya, you couldn’t beat me.” Exhausted, Munda looked up at his brother, his mind filled with anger and frustration. Then he saw his brothers heart get ripped from his chest.

Munda screamed and tried to pull away, but he was surrounded by horrible black skeletal hands. He felt claws pierce his side and a cold poison run through his veins. His brother was pulled from atop of him and disappeared from his view. He couldn’t move he realized as he struggled to run, he had been paralyzed. Suddenly something hit his face. He looked down and saw his brothers hand sitting on his chest. He tried to scream. To run. Anything! But all he could hear were the sounds of horrible munching and chewing as his brother was devoured.

He felt his head being propped up. He could see for the first time the empty shell of his brother as one of the creatures sucked his eye ball from his scull with a sickening pop. His eyes were full of tears, that he couldn’t blink away. Then the horrors, bent down … and opened him up. He felt it as they ate him, tearing at his insides, to better scrape out his meat. Finally he had passed out from the pain. He felt light as he floated in the darkness. In the distance he could see the gates of the underworld, where he wished to go. But something held him back. The creatures finally exacted their last monstrosity. His soul struggled for after life but he was pulled back; warped into the ghast he is now. Now he exists only to feed on the flesh of others, and he had been eating for a long time. Funny, he still followed his brother.

But this dwarf had reminded him of what he once was. Grief stricken and awed he shrunk away from this messenger of death. Both of the creatures shrunk away from Lorem as he finished his words. Both seem to have lost their will, unsure of what to do next.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Chapter 9(con): A Few Flashes of Light

“mor!” Calenon swore loudly as he saw Aurelious and Richard laid low. Faced with the situation at hand, Thomas quickly shuffled through his mental notes. Undead. Undead. Undead. Wait. There was that dwarf at the Wa-wa Greco, that bar on the far side of Hedon. What did he say again? Oh yes…

“Nær Moridan Skjegg! The undead are all over the northern mountains nowadays! It’s gitten how ya can’t even walk outside the main caves anymore without some Ghoul attacking you. Wha? Hell no Ghouls aint that tough, clever, but just tap em and they go down. Naw! Whatcha gotta watch out for are the Ghasts! Another Yams Piss over here, with extra lemon! Those bastards got the paralyzing touch, disease riden bite, and to top it off, they got the stench of hell hangen round em! Git within ten feet and you get all sick and pale like a son of Aym ‘er self!” He spat, “But see the trick is the stench acts like a poison, so a cleric can remove the sickness just quick as can be, not to mention turn the bastards and have Moradin shove em back into the cages of Adamander! Just don’t get near em, that’s all. Where’s my Yam Piss!”

“Huh. Wish I had remembered that earlier…” Thomas lamented as he pulled out his lute, given to him by his master and crafted by some of the finest craftsmen in Hedon. Jumping into action Thomas quickly rattled off: “ Lorem, If Ada…Mordin permits, you can remove their afflictions as you would a poison and the paralysis as you would remove … paralysis. Now here goes nothing!”

Lacking the time to prepare proper light Thomas chose a more available light source emanating from Calenon’s staff. His choice in mind he called up the ancient spirits of Entmark and began The Chant of the Noonday Sun:

A soft strum on the lute brought a strange hush over the room as time momentarily stood still. The shadows danced and crept toward the light as it seemed to fade, but if you looked at the small lighted crystal at the end of Calenon’s staff, you would say it was on fire. Thomas’s voice, deep and broken in the ancient Entmarkian tongue, sand out into the room in a rhythmic dance.

“Out of darkness solstice night,
Blessed Mother births the Light
As the burning noonday sun”

The lute strummed again, as Thomas added his patented flair to the traditional Entmarkian chant. The light which was now a bright flame danced and flickered to the music.“Lady weave your circle tight Spin a web of golden lightinto the burning noonday sun”The Lute twanged as the light finally could not be contained within it’s crystalline shell and broke free filling the room with a blinding flash of light. The skeletons of the ancient dwarves are caught in frame as the flash light the room. The horror sitting on the sarcophagus was caught off guard and his eyes glazed over. His head swam as if in a daze.

“From the night the Light reborn,
Out of darkness into morn
We are of the infinite sun.”

The bard finished with one final strum as the light in the cave returned to it’s normal gloomy condition.

“Just like a bard, all flash and no practicality!” Calenon exclaimed as he backed himself to the doorway just next to Thomas. He reached into a pouch at his side and pulled out a small black gooey blob which he placed in the palm of his hand while he began the magic mantra. This hand began to form signs, mashing the gooey something into a paste, which he mixed with a pinch of powder from his pouch. His mantra grew pore pronounced as the spell neared completion. Finally he drew a small dart from his bag and placed it upon the goo in his palm up hand. The mixture started to glow a phosphorescent green as Calenon finished the spell. “Addak Randan Aido!” and with that he flicked the dart toward the ghastly thing sitting burnt and dazed upon the sarcophagus. The dart seemed to melt in mid air forming a phosphorescent streak across the room, and for just a second, it seemed to form into a viper, right before it struck the creature in the chest. The creature screamed as it was broken from it’s haze. The liquid on it’s chest bubbled and fizzled cracking and breaking the skin where it touched, the creatures black blood oozing out from his chest.

Calenon Smirked.

“well mine didn’t require me to get krap on my hand…” Thomas remarked

Calenon scowled and wiped his hand on Thomas’s shoulder.

Meanwhile Aurelious drug himself to his feet and stumbled back to the door way next too Thomas and Calenon He pulled out Alexander and said “I now call upon your power.”
“then draw it forth. Or are you to weak?” asked the voice. He lowered Alexander in disgust as doubled over again. He had to calm down and keep his head. He could not let his emotions get to him as they had. Well at least he’d keep his eyes on one of them, at least.
Richard, on the other hand, tried to move his body but found he couldn’t. "Oh crap, I'm paralyzed!" Richard thought to himself.

Unbeknown to them Lorem was completing his own “spell” as he sat behind one of the sarcophagi. His small mutterings that mixed the celestial language and that of ancient Dwarfish crescendoed into a shout.

“Adamander få vite мой молитва. Send me strength for victory and valor and let me face my fate with courage, and should I not receive victory let me die with honor! Send me the formynder of Valhalla!”

Suddenly there is a bright flash of lightning, which again illuminated the bodies that line the room, casting eerie shadows upon the walls. Then, suddenly, the walls shook with a resounding boom. There, Sitting next to Richard, in a thinly veiled smoke, were two large dogs with colors of extremely fine Dwarvin make. They looked like large Bernese mountain dogs with a black coat with white stomach fur, but both seemed to have a golden holy glow about them. On there collars were tags. One had the picture of a lightning bolt and the other had the picture of a storm cloud. Lorem suddenly heard two voices in his head.

“it is I Torden!”

“and me Lyn”

“And together me are Lyn and Torden, the form…” A terrible howl filled the room as the two celestial dogs smelled the foul stench of the creatures. Lyn seemed to sneeze and be rid of the smell, but Torden stuck his tail between his legs and grew sickly looking.

“what would you have Lyn and Torden do?”

“guard the man laying next to you.”

“You need not worry about him any more! Come Torden! Too battle!”

“I don’t feel so good…”

“You shouldn’t have eaten before we left!”

Lorem stopped listening to the dogs and jumped to his feet. He wanted to see what this terrible smell was that had the power to down a grown man. Carefully he moved toward the creature still reeling from the acid splattered across his chest. He took a sniff and nearly was sick himself, but he pulled himself together and backed off. It would be best to deal with these things from afar as he could taste the poison in the air.
As Torden and Lyn took position by Richards body, the other ghastly brother, unaware of flashes of light and summoned dogs, only knew that there was fresh meat just on the other side of this sarcophagus. He got up and moved around, to find himself next to two prepared holy dogs.

“we smite thee!” The dogs barked and attacked the monster. Torden ripped at his left hand and Lyn tore into his calf. Not only were the dogs vicious, but their attacks carried with them the power of holy force. But the Horror does not stand there without a fight. He slashes a huge gash along Lyn’s right side, blood dripping from his black claw.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Chapter 9 (con): All is not well

Calennon is the first to spring into action. "Oh wonderful, walking corpses. MOVE!" Calenon yelled as he shoved Aurelious out of the way. Speaking in the ainchen Draconian toung, Calenon formed three strange sighns with his hands. Finnishing the spell with “Hruckts no Brisigger!” Calanon pointed a finger at the closest creature sitting utop a sarcophagus. From his finger a torrent of red fire is unleashed, briefly taking the form of an arrof before washing over the monster. The creature howled in rage as blisters formed on it’s rotting flesh where the flames licked him.

Thomas held back a shiver at the sight of the abominations. While the creatures are undeniably horrifying to gaze upon, it was currently a case of two versus five. Resisting the urge to hang back, Thomas withholds the use of spells or song. Instead, drawing Alasse in one hand and his silver broadblade short sword in the other he watched as the thing was washed in fire and seemed to show no signs of retreating. Being still in the small hallway at the back of the party Thomas took a step forward, redied, and resured himself. "Let's see what these creatures are capable of. I'd rather have more distance from what we've yet to see during a fight anyway."
Meanwhile the second ghastly brother threw away his heart and jumped off his sarcophagus lumbered forward and disappeared from sight behind the sarcophagus where his brother was standing.

Ipsom, Infuriated and anticipating a short battle, pushed past Thomas Richard and Aurelious inorder to attack the closest creature, but his legs being to short to carry him all the way in time he instead takes a position behind one of the closer sarcophagi for cover against whatever these creatures could dish out at range.

Richard pulls a long black dagger and rushes forward, but as he draws within ten feet of the creature the steach grows unbearable and he recoils from the reak. It’s smell is more terrible than imagination can serve. Like rotting flesh steaped in soured milk but ladden and heavy in the air so that one can tast it. Shruging it off he presses forward but when he encountered the smell of shit and fresh puke mixed with it, he dry heaved, a cold sweat breaking out over his body. He felt weak and sickly. Was this a power these things had? Sicked, Richard lashed out at the creature sitting on the sarcophagus, but in his current state was only able to hit air. The creature grinned, showing a row of pitchblack, rotting black teeth as it reached out with a burnt claw and grabbed Richards face. (6hp dmg) The creature yanked at Richards face, moving it closer to its mouth. But with one twist Richard escaped it’s grasp and faced it again afresh. Then Richard blinked. He couldn’t feel his legs. A cold was flowing through his veins as they permeated his body leaving him paralyzed. He tried to fight it, but it over whelmed him. The last thing he saw as his face hit the floor with a sickening crack, was the black eyes of grinning creature.

By this time Aurelious had moved forward and he too reeled as the smell hit him. He scowled and said "Sin against he who is above all... Your dust shall salt the earth!!" as he shook it off just as Richard did. Suddenly the second stench hit him. He was taken back to the sending ceremony of his father, the incense, the horrible smell of that room, and his fathers screaming as they tore at his soul… Aurelious doubled over splattering his wonderful breakfast over the black floor of the chamber. Tasting the bile, he unleashed a torrent of puke. He felt weak and asked Sol to help him. He threw up again to the laughter of the ghastly brothers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Chapter 9: The Ghastly brothers

The corridor continued for what seemed like an eternity. No devices were carved into the wall. No statues were found. One could tell that the Dwarves felt no love for this place, and their feelings were shown in the architecture. Now the party moved along nothing to keep their attention but the light from the end of Calenon’s staff, the horrible smell of rotting dwarf, and the ever growing sound of munching and tearing of flesh. Richard hung back and stuck a match against the wall, it flared and lit, but even the natural flame didn’t help to make the light carry farther in this awful blackness. Richard frowned and took his place after Calenon in the marching order. The corridor curved slightly as they traveled and after about another seventy feet, an opening could finally be seen within their radius of light.

"If there is chewing, however, I imagine it's likely to be a biter. Prepare yourselves." Calenon warned and started chanting the spider language of a spell. As it finished Calenon spoke a final word. “Drokkat!” And his body was covered in a blue sheen. At long last the party emerged into another chamber.

The chamber was quite large but the ceiling was low only, about six feet in height. The room stretched about fifty-five feet long ways and about forty-feet at it’s widest most point. The room was shaped like a lima bean, oval shaped but bent in the middle. Their were four exits to the room, the door way they were standing in which lied at one end of the room, a passage fifteen feet to their left, another passage about forty feet away across the room, and a fourth passage way at the far end of the room a good sixty feet away. The room mass made of the same polished black stone. The chamber was apparently the burial chamber for a dwarfish guard of some kind. Six Dwarfish sarcophagi were spread evenly across the room, providing about five feet of movement space between them, and the remains of honored dwarves lined the walls each occupying it’s own alcove. The sarcophagi were intricately carved with the death shrouds of each dwarf and the ancient dwarven language was written among the alcoves in the walls and upon the floor itself.

But the specifics of the room were not what interested the party as they entered the catacomb. No. What interested the party where the two horrors that had overturned a few of the sarcophagi and were now gnawing upon the decade flesh of the dwarves. They looked like they once were human, but that vestige had been shed long ago. Their flesh, which was purple and rotten, hung off them exposing their skeletal frame and the stench of death and corruption that hung around them was overwhelming. They looked up from their ghastly meal as the light entered the room and reflected off their pale black eyes. Tearing meat off the leg in his hand opened his mouth wider than a human mouth would allow, exposing tears in his cheeks, and spoke in the Entmarkian tongue with a voice that seemed like it hadn‘t spoken in years.

“I … see… fresh meat.”

The other looked up holding what was left of a decayed heart and let out an unearthly howl which echoed in the stifling silence of the place.

“Well least we see where the smell comes from.” Remarked Thomas

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Chapter 8: Sounds in the Dark

Aurelious climbed out of the water, and dried himself off and checked his equipment. "I suggest we chose a marching order as the passage ways here seem only wide enough to allow travel one at a time." He looked at the iron door in which was carved a dwarf, engulfed in flames, sitting upon a pile of melting gold. "I do not like the looks of this place..." He drew Alexander from his sheath which seemed to glow with a holy light. Any suggest…?

Before Aurelious could finish Calenon pushed past him and headed for the door. When he got there he inspected it briefly, then turned abruptly and started tapping his foot. "Would someone just go through the door please? I will follow with the light. And whoever is it front of me needs to be ready to stay out of my way if we run into something! I won't be responsible."

Richard silently moved to one side as Lorem started toward the hole they just came through. He then climbed the rope and while water poured over him quickly went to work at the hole where they just climbed through.

Thomas frowned. He doesn't follow Moradin, but he had no qualms with the faith, so it was a shame to see the chamber in such poor shape. He watched as the dwarf climbed the rope and working so feverishly. Taking his attention from the dwarf to the door Thomas asked, "Is there a problem Lore....Well isn't that interesting." And much to Aurelious’s chagrin, pushes past him as well, to inspect the door.

The door seemed to depict the person entombed here. Must be an interesting story thought Thomas as he pushed Calenon out of the way.

After quite awhile Lorem had managed to dam the flow of water into the roof using the ruble from the cave in and the rest of his pitons to brace the bricks. He then lashed the stones to the pitons using the rest of his rope, hoping the others had brought enough. With the makeshift dam in place and holding the water seemed to divert to it’s old escape path, thus the flow of water was reduced to a trickle. He climbed down and admired his work. It wouldn’t last long, but maybe it will last until he could get a masonry crew down here to patch the hole.

The others grew restless as they watched Lorem turn his attention to the altar and begin some rituals they had never seen before. The only sound in the room was the rhythmic taping of Calenon’s foot on the ground and his occasional yank at the door, which held fast. Lorem finished his prayers and righted a few relics placing them higher upon the alter next to the hammer and pick symbol of Moradin. It was a small breach of etiquette, but considering the circumstances Lorem didn’t think Moradin would mind. Then he laid one hand on the alter and casts the other towards the group. With a few dwarfish prayers he asked Moradin to bless this group and forgive the non dwarves for their intrusion. Silently he asked forgiveness for providing them admittances. And with that he left the pool of water soaking wet and climbed the stair approached the door, asking the others to get out of his way. He took out the large black iron key. It’s head was shaped like that of a woman screaming with such detail it would put any Entmarkian forger to shame. He placed the key into the mouth of the screaming woman on the door and turned the key completely around. A loud clunk can be heard deep in the door, signifying it is unlocked, but Then Lorem hesitated. He looks to the party, "I will go last, so that I may lock it behind us."

Aurelious nods as Thomas confirms. "That is fine Lorem, I will exit just before you."Lorem nods and then heaves on the door. A loud screech fills the room as the door that hasn’t been opened for centuries, grinds on it’s hinges. Apparently they rusted a little due to the water. The door opens inward revealing a dwarf sized corridor leading off into darkness. The walls are made of a polished black stone, as is the floor. The ceiling is rough hewn, but of the same stone. A gust blows through the door bringing with it an awful stench of decay that hits the party like a ton of bricks.

“It shouldn’t smell like this in here.” says Lorem aloud, plugging his nose.

“It shouldn’t smell like this anywhere.” replied Thomas, brushing the tears from his eyes.

Aurelious, apparently unaffected, scowls. “Keep your eyes and ears open.” He said in a dark tone.

Richard exits first, followed abruptly by Calenon and then Aurelious. Thomas came next, followed abruptly, by Lorem who shuts the door quickly behind them and locks it.
Thomas thought to himself. “Is it to keep others from following...or something from leaving?” But the question went unanswered as they headed through the corridor. Calenon’s light spell failed and shone in the darkness. This place seemed to swallow light up. After about fifty feet of travel, Richard suddenly stopped them. “I hear something. It sounds like … chewing.”

“I don’t hear anything,” said Calenon.

“Let me in front.” Aurelious moved forward before Calenon, and just behind Richard. “Keep quiet.” He whispered. “Lead on Richard.”

The party crept forward.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chapter 7: Bad Dreams and a Ruined Altar

The light of the fire died down around the camp as the newly formed party bedded down for the night. The howling of the wind was their lullaby as they lay under the stars. Thomas couldn't sleep, his journey was going better than expected, he was already learning more about dragons, and atop of that he was going to explore a Dwarven mausoleum, learn tales of old, and have a great adventure. He raised his hand toward the stars and traced the outline of Bahamut. Thomas yawned. "Best sleep" he thought, "who knows what tomorrow brings."

Aurelious stirred and then sat up strait. He thought he heard rustling among the mining grounds. The winds picked up and whistled thought the old overturned, mining carts and steal track left from the excavation. Aurelious looked at the sky. By the moon's position he could tell it was early morning, the others were all asleep. A bump. Aurelious looked, but saw nothing. He reached for his sword and grabbing the hilt...

"Hearing things oh brave paladin?" The thought hissed through his mind. "Or perhaps you prepare for my master's coming. He will kill you and use your corps to do his building. And he will liberate me from this cursed blade!"

Aurelious scowled, he had forgotten that at night the souls grew stronger. Bad dreams, voices in the night, such was the curse of Alexander.

"Is that so, wretch. I tell you now, when your master comes I will do the same to him as I did to you, Sol help me. Now leave me be and stop your haunting. I will use your strength before long." Alexander let go of the Blade. He closed his eyes and prepared himself for what dreams await. Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough.

And come it did.
"Wake my hearty's I've prepared a breakfast fit for an elf, though we may like it too!" Ipsum laughed long and loudly. Calenon scowled.
Ipsum had prepared eggs, bacon and steaks made from the meat that was left from last night. He had even boiled a pot of coffee, which now sat over the fire bubbling and frothing. "Eat up"

The group ate in relative silence, despite Thomas's attempts at starting conversation. "I guess we have no morning people." his laughter was weak and petered out.

After breakfast they headed into the mine. The dripping of water could be heard as they walked the cart tracks. The walls were comprised of soil and clay, which soon gave way to rough stone which was mostly a grey granite, with veins of black and speckled white. Their descent into the mine was punctuated by the tutting of Lorem who was vocally displeased with the quality of the mine.

The tuting became so frequent that at long last Calenon turned and said, "I understand, Master Dwarf, which your distaste for the workmanship is so vast it rivals the size of the seven seas, but if I have to hear that "tut" sound again I shall send you straight into another plain of existence! One where they have no stone at all! Understand?"

"My apologies, Master Elf, but look they dug right through a dwarven depth marker." Lorem pointed to a round spot of collared stone all of them had missed. "No wonder the mine collapsed, there are dwarven corridors all around us that they have dug too close to. This whole mine is unstable. Any self respecting dwarf would never have built a mine like this." Lorem tuted. Calenon leapt for him, but Richard stopped him, shaking his head. "Come, we waist time." called Aurelious from down the mine. So the matter was dropped and they continued on.

The mine continued down till the entrance was out of sight. Calenon lit a stone on the end of his staff giving off light. Lorem grumbled, as the light hurt his dark vision, and took point. They came to a place where the mine branched and Lorem lead them down the right passage. The sound of rushing and splashing watter could be heard far down the tunnel. The tunnel grew smaller as they travled untill they could only travel one at a time. After a while the passageway opened, seemingly accidentally, into an old spring pool. The remains of old buckets, rope, and water gathering tools showed that the pool had been used as a water source for the miners, but now there was a hole where, apparently, the mine had collapsed, letting the water run into another chamber. Lorem pointed across the spring to the hole.

"there's our goal. The water now runs into a small anti-chamber adjacent to the Mausoleum. I have the key to the door."

One at a time the group waided cross the pool to the hole. A rope, witch Lorem hammered into the wall with a piton, was lowered down the hole. and one by one the party decended. They were now standing in a pool of water that was waist deep. The stone here has different, it was black and polished. the water seemed to be rushing awway through a few small holes in the floor. Then they heard Lorem Swear loudly in the Dwarvin tonge. They were in a small praying chamber, and on the wall was a shrine to Moradin, now water logged. Across from the ruined altar was a stone stair which headed up to a black iron door.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chapter 6: Edge of the Abyss

Sionaas stood and brushed of his robes. “Oh don’t worry, it’s not far now, just up this sheer rock face, over a couple peeks and crags, then up the narrow mountain trail over looking Dead man’s cliff.” Sionaas said with a smile, but then he frowned. “Maybe we should have taken the service road up… well this ways faster.” He said brightening again. “If we don’t die of course.”

Turning and looking forward at the mountain tops he had a bit of a twinkle in his eye. “You know I need to thank you. You see, your fulfilling a life long dream today. I`ll never be able to thank you enough.” Sionaas smiled. “well off we go!”

And with that strange unimaginable speed, unbecoming of an old man, he practically leapt up the mountain face with the others hard pressed to keep up.

Meanwhile, in the fading light of twilight, high on the mountain tops, a tiny flash of light could be seen. This flash of light was quickly followed by another, and then another, and then another. After this one however a flicker stayed, which, with time, grew to a light. If one were to be on this mountain and next to this light, one would see it belonged to a campfire, which in turn belonged to a dwarf. The dwarf as it turns out, was sent to this particular mountain top to accompany a group of people he had never met into a place where they did not belong. Needless to say he wasn’t very happy about it and the fact he had been waiting three days for this particular party did not help the matter in the least. This Dwarf went by the name of Lorem Ipsum.

Lorem looked at the man made cave and scoffed. Even he could see it was shoddily made and he wasn’t even one of the stoneworkers of his people. They should have paid the extra money and gotten dwarves to do it. The dwarves have a good relationship with the Entmarkians, who import all their stonework for hefty sums of gold. Humans knew nothing of stone, how it breaths and moves. He on the other hand was a part of it. But he did not work the stone as his brothers and sisters. He worked with the soul. He was a cleric of Ademander, the dwarven god of death, though he told his friends he worshiped Moradin like everyone else. Admander was the defender of the halls of Moradin and expected glory and honor in death, but the real reason Lorem chose Ademander as his god is because not many do and as a result it is a quick way to respect and wealth. And the more respect and wealth you have, the closer you are to winning.

Lorem pulled out a hunk of meat that he had marinated in the special dwarven mushroom glaze and put it on the spit over the fire. He had foreseen that today was the day Sionaas and his troop would arrive and decided he would try to build a bond with the wizard and maybe with a few of the stronger gentlemen as well. After all, it would be good to have a few powerful allies for leverage latter he thought as he pulled out his last keg of Dwarven Ale. Lorem smiled as he thought of the way he had negotiated and clawed his way up the political ranks of the highly structured and hierarchical dwarven society. For a dwarf of his prowess he was at a much higher status that others at his level and as for having leverage there was no one better. Lorem knew everybody and how to get what he wanted from any of those people. If life was a game, than Lorem was a winner, or at least he was going to be, one way or another.

Lorem turned the spit slowly as he rested his feet by the fire.

That’s why this mission was annoying him. There were few rewards for doing this, but if he were to fail the punishment would be extreme. He was to take these “Frotars” or others, into the mausoleum of Aym, Queen of the Dwarves.

Lorem spit. For some dwarves still spit at her name. Aym was a woman who's greed nearly destroyed the Dwarven empire. The only reason that the mausoleum was built (and then sealed to never be spoken of again) was so that the soul of Aym would rest in peace and no longer haunt the dwarven empire. So when the magician Sionaas accidentally uncovered an entrance in his excavation, he asked to explore the dungeon and Thodrim Dwarf King agreed.

That one still had Lorem scratching his head.

However Thodrim would not allow anyone in unless a cleric of Admander accompanied them and made sure NOTHING is disturbed within the tomb. And guess who was at the proper rank and level for this particular mission…

The sun had set and the wind had died down to a low roar. This side of the mountain was shielded from the harsh easterly winds that prevailed here, bringing cool air in from the ocean. Lorem was starting to get annoyed.

“They should have been here by now” he grumbled

“Right you are” shouted an Entmarkian voice from across the man made plateau.

“Who goes, friend or foe.” responded Lorem

“Friend, if ye be the same.” Came back Sionaas’s voice. For Sionaas it was, accompanied by four
extremely tired looking individuals.

“Aie, I be.” Lorem said giving the proper response. “Come I’ve built a fire, warmed the ale and cooked the meat which waits for ya if ye be hungry.” Lorem looked at the individuals. A dark haired man wearing black, a peasant, the elf (as that is what he referred to Sionaas‘s assistant), and a paladin from a god he had never seen before. Well, it looked like he would have to carry them through this.

“Yes, please eat.” exclaimed Sionaas. “and tomorrow start on your adventure. I will be here when you return. Lorem will answer any questions if you have them, but for now I have pressing business elsewhere, but my mind is with you.” and with a few powerful magic words Sionaas disappeared in a flash and puff of purple smoke.

“Now,” said Lorem, “I believe a few introductions are in order and then a good nights rest, for tomorrow we enter the abyss.” He looked at the deep and foreboding cave that, in the dark, did look like the door to the abyss itself.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chapter 5: A Ball of Crystal

The odd collection of adventurers would have looked almost comical from afar as they desperately tried to keep up with the extremely excited wizard who seemed to scurry over rocks like a spider. However the tone of this group was much more somber when one got in close. Aurelious grabbed on to the ledge and hauled himself up the rock face, praising Sol that he was not required to wear the armor that many in his profession choose. Suddenly the ledge gave way and Aurelious almost fell back down a good twenty feet, but luckily he was caught by Richard, who managed to haul him up the face.

They all now sit on a cliff that overlooked the valley, in which Mubam’we lay. They had been climbing most of the day. First along the green hills that lined the valley, where the heads of goats grazed. Next were the foot hills for the Windswept wall which were full of crags and crannys which held all manner of dark things. Yet after much tribulation they had finally reached the face of the mountains themselves and they were living up to their name. A wind howled along the mountain face that sent chills down the spine, but here, on this cliff, they were sheltered from the wind. A good thing as Sionaas had chosen this spot to finally tell them what they would be doing.

“Ok good, we are all here. Whether you know it or not, I have gathered you here so that you may complete a little task for me. After extensive research and searching I have come across the find of a century. Deep within this mountain lies a great treasure: The Crystal Ball of Koral Lierman. It has the ability to scry across planar barriers, magical fields, and into areas you have never been. However Lierman was a tricky fellow. He teleported the crystal ball into a special room, or so the tome of Harin Brock leads me to believe, but if magic is used to move the ball or room in anyway, or if you try to magically travel into the room, or if you try to locate the ball magically, the ball will teleport again and be lost forever. So I hired an excavation crew to search for this artifact manually. And entirely by accident …”

“And at the cost of those men’s lives.” Richard said coldly. Silence spread over them as Sionaas looked down in shame. Finally Calenon, realizing Sionaas was at a loss for words, stepped foreword.

“Unfortunately some were lost in an accident, but they were aware of the risks, as are we. Please continue Sionaas.”

“Yes … well … we happened to open up and old spring well which lead into an old Dwarfish Catacomb. I’ve been over the texts and I have reason to believe that in or under the catacombs the crystal room lays. This is where you come in. I want you to proceed in and bring me back the Crystal ball. Anything else you find is yours and I will fulfill any request of me you wish, including handsome payment”

“Wait,” questioned Thomas, “Wont the Dwarves be less than pleased that we’re looting their catacombs? Not to mention the dead.”

“That is why a Dwarven Cleric by the name of Lorem Ipsum will be accompanying you . He waits by the cave as we speak.”

“And what do you plan to do with the Artifact?” Aurelious fixed his piercing gaze on Sionaas while asking his question.

Sionaas smiled, “Don’t worry Paladin, your friends will get their prize after I do a comprehensive study of the orb. With my notes I will write a report that may finally allow me to enter the arcane order.”

That hadn’t exactly been what Aurelious had meant, but his question had been answered anyway.

“Why don’t you go get this thing your self?” Thomas chimed in again.

“Ahhh… I am worried that my magical aura alone may be strong enough to make the ball jump. So I am sending my apprentice Calenon Handir in my stead.” Calenon bowed deeply, using the polite form Elvish phrase of greeting.

“And.” Richards voice cut through he howling of the wind lie a knife through butter. “watch out for Biters.”

“Yes…” Sionaas agreed. “These mountains seem to be the home of some unexpected creatures yet undiscovered. They burrow, first off, and seem to look and behave like violent rats. Be on the look out." He looked around at the men gathered here. "So… what do you think. Do we have a deal?”

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chaper 4: Waiting for Smoke

Calenon taped his foot repeatedly upon the stone he was standing on. Sionaas was late, as usual, but not his regular late. This was late of profound proportions that bordered on just plain insulting.

Calenon brushed back his silver hair from his amber eyes as he watched Richard come towards him from his mountain perch. A Obviously that meant that the Caravan was coming into town. Good thing too because he had been waiting all day for it’s arrival. However Calenon was under the impression that he was to be waiting all day with Sionaas. Obviously this was not the case as Sionaas had failed to show up “yet,” which very soon was to become “at all.”

Calenon swore in elvin to himself and wondered if apprenticing Sionaas was really worth all this. It had been a long two years of cleaning up after him when he made his countless mistakes, Helping him do his pointless and obsessive research, and, of course, waiting for him. Every day. Sometimes for hours at a time. And all Calenon had to show for it was a mediocre spell book and an exhaustive knowledge of “The Windswept Wall.”

But then he looked back to the day he had escaped from that prison, he used to call “Home.” He remembered how he had mislead his brothers and escaped into the wood. And he remembered the horrible grey beast with tremendous claws that could cleave trees in twain that had found him half starved in those woods and had tried to rend him limb from limb. And finally he remembered how Sionaas had appeared from no where, dispatched the creature with the wave of his hand, and took him on as an apprentice.

Such enormous power he had shone then, power that Handir wanted. Power that the Elven Elite wouldn’t give him. Power that his family’s patriarch denied him. Power that he so desperately wanted he left his home to find it. And so Calenon of the Handir clan would stay another day with Sionaas. Becides he did owe him his life.

Richard arrived at the little outcropping of rock where Calenon waited. “It’s coming” he said simply. Calenon wasn’t sure he liked Richard. He naturally disliked all other races due to his upbringing, but had learned to control such impulses. With Richard, however, the impulse had been harder. The man always wore black, had Long, pitch black, grody looking hair that partially obscured his face, a very unpleasant looking demeanor, and a scar across one cheek. And, quite honestly, always looked like he was up to something. He had questioned Sionaas’s judgment when choosing him as the town’s liaison, to which Sionaas had replied, “Why? He’s right here! Why go looking for someone else?” Well at least he didn’t talk much and had done his job well

They stood in Silence as they watched the caravan slowly work it’s way up the last hill before they reached Mubam’we. The whole town came out to see the caravan roll into town and set up their camp in a clearing just outside of town. People started unpacking their wares immediately and setting up their little camps. It wasn’t long before the area was turned into a mini market, but that wasn’t what the men on the hill were concerned with. They were much more concerned with the two men coming toward them.

“I thought there would be more.” Muttered Calenon

Silence was his response.

“At least the paladin on the left seams formidable, though I wish you could have done better
than that peasant on the right.

Silence seemed to be the trend.

Calenon looked at Richard. “I do love our conversations.”

Thomas was the first to arrive at the spot. “You must be Sionaas” he said extending his hand in the entmarkian gesture of greeting.

Calenon had always been aware of how much he stood out among the people of entmark. An elf was almost unheard of here. So between the pointed ears, hollow features, silver hair, and amber eyes people just seemed to assume the rumors of the great and powerful wizard in town belonged to him. Not to mention the constant prejudice and ignorance of the townfolk. Therefore this was something that Calenon had encountered before. He did not return the gesture.

“No I must not be.” Calenon said as Thomas dropped his hand. “ I’m afraid that the great and mighty Sionaas is late, or, is simply going to fail to ariv..”

Suddenly a great puff of purple smoke writhed in red fire burst forth from the ground right in the middle of the gathering. Visages of dragons and snakes danced and fought among the clouds as it slowly swirled. Aurelious jumped back and drew Alexander sending a spray of sparks through the air as the magical sword left it’s sheath. Thomas stood dumbfounded by the sudden appearance of the smoke and the dancing dragons, unable to take his eyes off the person that, with a loud yep, fell forward ontop of himself dissipating smoke. Calenon stood and watched the wizard proceed to get wrapped up in his robes in his attempt to get up, wondering exactly what he could learn from this man. Richard, used to this, did nothing at all.

“well, don’t just stand there Calenon! Help me to my feet.”

Calenon rolled his eyes and proceeded to help Sionaas to his feet. For Sionaas it was. He stood about 5’ 4” off the ground. He was covered in dust and was dressed in an elaborate cloak, in which he was horribly tangled. He had a short white beard and white hair which he kept covered with a wide brimmed, tall pointed hat made of a yellow fabric and carries an ordinary quarterstaff of no particular distinction.

Finnaly, after much tribulation, Calenon managed to right Sionaas’s wronged cloak and get him on his feet.

“Oh that flee bitten spell! I can never get the landing right. Always two feet above the ground… mabey if I…No. Hmmmm” Sionaas sputtered.

Aurelious sheathed Alexander, this man didn’t seem to be much of a threat. He had his back turned to a man with a drawn sword.

Thomas stepped forward. “excuse me, but are you…”

“Sionaas, yes. But no time for introductions. We must be off for the cave immediately. I will explain on the way. Lorem Ipsum already waits!” The elderly man scurried off up the mountain side. The strangers just looked at each other, until all eyes turned to Calenon.

“Well don’t look at me, I always thought he was crazy.” Calenon sighed and hurried after him.

The others, given no other choice, followed