Quarzis' Gambit Campaign

A New Hop.... err... Friend
Sometimes a vampire in need is a friend indeed

When we last left our stalwart band of adventurers, they were hot on the heals of the mysterious Chaos cult searching for the parts of the machine that could potentially lead to a horde of undead roaming the land. The party had decided that Richard’s tomb was the place to start their epic quest and headed post haste there. Except, by post haste, the party actually meant “lets stop at every town or interesting rock formation we come across.” Queue their entrance to the town of Cedarskil.

The party is confronted by a town on the brink of madness and horror. Their precious sheep have been turning up dead, the blood drained from their lifeless corpses. A ghostly woman has been seen late at night. Strangely enough, Ana is mistaken, at first, for this ghostly apparition. The party does some digging and finally arrives at the town’s graveyard. There they find an old crypt named for the Mollies, it appears Ana’s family has a history in this town.

They venture into the crypt only to find a group of Ogres camping out. Their poor orc body guard, Glig, falls to the ogres merciless onslaught. However, the party is able to defeat the rest of the ogres and venture forth. They find a lone rust monster in a room. Not wishing their equipment to become the monstrosity’s next snack, they side step this particular room. However, as they continue further they stumble upon a group of trolls.

After a fierce battle, the party dispatches the trolls. Ana uses a new spell and one of the trolls rips its own skin off and becomes a skeleton under her control. The party has replaced poor Glig rather quickly. The party finds themselves in an old tomb with sarcophagis all around. One of the sarcophagus has Ana’s grandmother’s name etched in it, Serea Mollie. Teolis and Crow also found a map to the fabled city of Nazo’dran, which was said to have been overrun by demon horde. A mark of R was found both on the map over the city and on an altar in the tomb.

Crow read the infernal inscriptions on the altar and summoned an imp. When the imp asked him what he wanted, he responded the way Crow would be expected to respond… he said “I want everything.” The imp looked at him in disbelief and shrugged. He noted he had to talk to the boss, and with a poof – was gone. When he blinked back into the room, he informed Crow that it would be waiting for him at the tomb and handed him a gold key. He noticed Fahad and was like “What up, dog?” Fahad just nodded and said “Yo Carl. How’s it going?” Carl the imp just shrugged, “you know… another day, another soul for the boss. Catch ya on the flip side Fahad.” With that, the imp disappeared.

After searching around, the party’s attention was drawn to a corner coffin, which had just opened. Out of it stepped a lithe young woman, that looked sort of like Ana with red hair and pale, pale skin.

The party found out she was a young woman that had run off to Kaalstaad, but along the way had fallen for a vampire that turned her into a fledgling vampire. She had been the one killing the sheep, as she some how had retained her humanity and didn’t want to kill and drink the blood of her friends left in the town. She introduced herself as Klaretha. Crow was particularly taken with her, and the party decided to bring her along with them.

Before the party left the tomb, Ana had her new skeleton servant open her grandmother’s sarcophagus. It was completely empty…

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The story... so far
Recap time, because the DM stopped taking blow-by-blow notes

To catch everyone up on the story so far, the DM is going to take a little liberties with details. This is primarily due to the fact that the DM stopped doing post-game recaps, and so needs to fudge things here and there.

Remembering the last time the party went adventuring nearly cost him his life, Teolis stopped by the local Wizard Enclave (conveniently located close to the Black Academy) to learn some magic for the next adventure. Being a bit of a wanderer without much coin, he agreed to owe the wizards a quest rather than provide up-front payment.

The party returned to the Tomb of King Harold. They went through the secret passageway that Teolis had found in their previous foray. There they met and defeated several gnoll warriors. Anvak went mad with blood lust and took off down a hallway trying to slaughter as many gnolls as possible. He ended up far from the other party members, surrounded by gnoll warriors, which proved to be his doom. By the time the others arrived and dispatched the gnolls, he lay bloodied and broken of body on the cold dungeon ground. The party surmised that the gnoll warriors had been making a last stand to buy time for the gnoll women and children to flee the tomb through and alternative entrance. The gnolls destroyed the entrance behind them, and the party must move on down the tomb. However, before they go, they look to recover the body of their fallen comrade. It seems to have gone missing. Chalking it up to probably rotting into the ground, the party moves on.

When they finally reached the true resting place of King Harold, they found a scroll that detailed the machinations and the creation of the Undead Pirates. The most important thing they learned was that there was a dreadful machine, created by some weird alchemist/sage/wizard guy from the future. It was split into three pieces and those pieces hidden in tombs across the lands of Zenthia to safeguard them and ensure the terrible undead creating machine never resurfaced. In addition, they met Fahad – a former counselor to King Zenth. He had been turned into a sentient undead by the machine. He had continued to “counsel” (although under their breath, they might rather call it annoy) the kings and queens of Zenthia, until King Harold’s death. After which, the new queen, Jelia, asks Fahad to guard the scroll, because he is the only one she can trust. Two birds… one stone.

Fahad agrees to go with the party. It turns out, he knew Ana’s patron, Richard. He has lots of stories to tell… and he tells them… ad nauseam. The party also manages to grab three treasure chests guarded by many of the stone statues that they had encountered in their first adventure to the tomb. They then head back to Kahlstaad and update Lady Vargas at the Black Academy.

Back in town, the party meets up with a renowned writer of books and lore seeker, Marek. Figuring he may be useful, the party asks him to tag along. Marek begins writing it all down in his notebook – trappings for an epic quest.

Speaking with Lady Vargas, she indicates several areas where the tombs that the pieces of the machine might be. She asks them to seek them out and grab the pieces to safeguard them from other forces in the kingdom that seek to use the machine for their own purposes. The party decides to head out to the orc town of Kargoll, where one of the tombs is rumored to be located.

On the way, the party stumbles across orcs doing some strange ritual. The orcs attack and are soundly defeated by the heroooo… party. They notice that the orcs wear the symbol of the chaos gods.

Eventually, the party gets to Kargoll, where they are hailed by the half-orc leader, and learn the town used to be a human town. It was given to the orcs after the war, and they agreed to guard this area. After dusk, the town is besieged by zombies. The party defeats the zombie horde, and learn that zombies and other undead abominations have been pouring out of a local tomb, the Tomb of Eldred. The party realize that this is probably the tomb they were looking for and go investigate.

Inside the tomb, they meet many abominations. They notice that the zombies are flowing through the hallways, and heading out of the tomb to go on their brain-eating sprees. While exploring, the party runs into two ghosts, Binky and Sam. The ghosts were awakened recently, and are very unhappy about it. They ask the party to find what is disturbing the dead, and put an end to it.

And that… is the recap in a nutshell.

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The Tomb (Part II) and Some Research
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing... for your enemies!

The stalwart band returns to the Black Academy at Kahlstaad, where Teolis is unceremoniously dumped into a bed and healers attend him. The scroll is presented to Lady Vargas, who quickly skims it and frowns. It seems the scroll contains a halfling riddle, which is redacted for purposes of this update (but, when solved means “time”). She mutters under her breath and hands it to an acolyte – “check this for hidden messages.” She commands tersely. The acolyte scurries off. Lady Vargas bid you rest and recuperate.

After two days, the Academy researchers using powerful divinity magic (it is said they may have farmed the task out to a wizard far to the north that they often have consulted with a matters of celestial bodies, as he is rumored to be great at finding treasure too) found secret writing on the back – it lists a particular call number, which is instantly recognizable to Teolis as call numbers to the great library at Denthia, the former capital city of Zenthia. The Matron asks the party to go retrieve whatever is there.

The party heads out of Kahlstaad. Teolis is left behind, still recovering from his wounds. The party journeys along the well maintained Zenthian main road between Kahlstaad and Denthia. A few hours into their journey, Anvak and Crow stop short. They sense something in the bushes and trees ahead of them. Ana, while not sensing anything specific, does stand at the ready – picking up on Anvak’s and Crow’s sudden tension. Out of the woods spring five bugbears and a huge bugbear chieftain. A fireball sizzles from Ana’s ready hands and incinerates four of the bugbears. The fifth bugbear is flung to the ground, badly burned, while the chieftain suffers severe burns, but charges forward. Anvak attempts to hold the chieftain in his tracks, but his power fails to dissuade the enraged humanoid. It charges at him bringing its morning-star crashing down into Anvak’s shoulder. An arrow from Crow makes short work of the fifth bugbear soldier, exploding inside its skull sending bugbear brain and gore spattering up against the nearby trees.

Ana quickly looses off two bolts of eldritch might, which pummel the bugbear chieftain, it is followed up by another arrow from Crow piercing the chieftain’s shoulder and a scythe attack from Anvak slicing out its stomach. Barely able to stand, the chieftain swings, in a frenzied state, at Anvak, but the ball of its morning-star crashes harmlessly on the ground next to him. Ana shoots forth two spectral hands that grab hold of the bugbear chieftain’s throat, pick him up, crushing his windpipe, and tossing him like a rag doll into the forest. His bloodied and battered corpse lies flung up against a nearby tree. Rifling through his body, and that of the other bugbears, Crow quickly pockets some treasure he finds. At that moment, a familiar voice calls out.

“Ahhh ho… there,” it exclaims in a bit of a wheezy voice. huf, huf, “I caught up with you.” Teolis, not wanting to miss anything for his epic tale and quite concerned about the lack of paint he was receiving from the northern lands, had run after the party once the clerics at the Black Academy had finished with him.

The group, being all together again, continued their journey. A few leagues from the city, the stalwart crew met with some of the Zenthian royal army patrolling the roads. After some, interesting banter, they informed the soldiers of the bugbear attack. The soldiers likewise informed them to be careful, as incursions by dangerous humanoids was growing – and the forces of Zenthia were split, patrolling for undead pirates and keeping the mainland safe. As the soldiers were heading out to find the slain bugbears and scout to see if any more ambush parties of bugbears were around, Crow yawned, and casting mage hand, used it to slap the lieutenant’s horse’s arse. The horse took off… with the lieutenant haplessly bouncing up and down trying to maintain control. The other four soldiers took off after.

Anvak, not having paid attention to this exchange, was already about a quarter of a mile up the road walking steadily towards the city of Denthia. The others hurriedly caught up, and the group entered the city without further incident.

Ana informed her compatriots that she must go visit the nun that raised her as a baby, as she had been informed the nun was in ill health. She told them of a tavern that she had often frequented after she began rising to power, and that she would meet them there. She then headed for the monastery, while Crow and Teolis headed for the Tavern of the Stary-eyed Yuanti. Anvak headed to the great library.

Upon reaching the library, Anvak walked purposefully past the reception desk and into its stacks and stacks of books and scrolls. He started studying the leading medicinal text books. One book in particular caught his eye – the Healthy You – The Sorcerer of Oz’s guide to staying young and healthy. Anvak continued to research long into the night.

Meanwhile, Teolis was playing a lively ditty at the Tavern of the Stary-eyed Yuanti. After he was finished and a few gold were tossed into his hat, a brawl broke out. Teolis and Crow managed to escape with no damage to themselves, and Crow even walked out with a nice new hat. They headed down to another Inn, the Inn of the Prancing Pony. The City Guard reports for the night were mixed on what happened. Based on what they could gather, the brawl was started when one of two opposing guild’s, the dock-hands guild, members accused one of the other guild’s members, the stone mason guild, of grabbing his arse. Needless to say, they didn’t take too kindly to this type of behavior. The stone mason guild member was appalled that he would be accused of such a thing. What was interesting is that numerous witnesses saw the dock-hands guild member jump up out of his seat and a hand mark firmly implanted on his butt. However, nobody actually saw the stone mason guild member move. One witness described a handsome young man with a neatly kept ponytail and trimmed and neat goatee mumbling some words and waving his hands before the incident. The city guard chalked it up to a spellcaster prank, and sent a sternly worded letter to the local mage’s colleges asking them to instruct their students to please refrain from starting barroom brawls.

Teolis and Crow entered the Prancing Pony, and Teolis once again began to play. This time it was an epic ballad about the undead pirate wars. The ballad was so moving that the patrons were actually brought to tears. Even Crow, seemed a bit phased by this extremely beautiful and sad tale. However, he soon drowned out what little humanity he had in stiff drink. The rest of the night was a blur for Crow. However, when he woke the next morning, he was in a bed surrounded by tons of hats.

Teolis found one patron that was not affected. A dwarf, who introduced himself as Arren Axe-blade. Teolis asked Arren if he knew anything about why shipments from the north were not arriving in Zenthia. He had been waiting on paints for his portrait painting business for weeks now. Arren told him that the trade routes had gotten tricky and that the northern lands were a mess. It seems some cult had been running rampant up north, although a mighty warrior with a tongue of gold was said leading a charge against these dastards and all hoped he would succeed in restoring normal trade to the continent. Arren also told him that he had heard tales of an island to the north, called Antuba, where a race of beings that were said to be immortal resided. He thought that was where the undead pirate scourge originated from. Teolis thanked him and headed to his room, which because of his super moving ballad, the inn keeper comped for him and his friends. As he was heading up the stairs, he saw Crow dancing on the tables grabbing people’s hats from their heads, trading with other people for their hats, and then falling crashing to the floor in a drunken stupor. “Ayyye… don’t worry yourself with yer friend.” said the barkeep. “We’ll set him up in a small room here to sleep it off.”

On the other side of town, Ana stepped up to the gate of the monastery and rang the bell. It had been a long time since she had been here. A sweet young voice answer. Ana asked to see Sister Theresa. "Oh, you must be Ana-Mollie. " exclaimed the young nun. “By the circles of Thodin’s footsteps. It is good to meet you. Come this way.”

Ana is taken aback. She did not exactly leave on good terms – or of her own will even. The sisters hated her. Something was wrong. She carefully followed the young nun through the monastery and up to see the elderly sister Theresa. As she passed by the small monastery cemetery, she saw a strange glow come from within. Strange thing were happening here. Ana had never felt so alone as she did walking up to see her old guardian. Somehow, she could not feel the presence of Richard at all.

When she reached Sister Theresa, the old nun was in bed. It was obvious that she did not have long. “Oh Ana” she quietly whispered. “Thank goodness you have come. I.. I.. don’t have long. But, I need to tell…” and with that, the old nun passed away into the next life. However, clutched in her hand was a small scrap of parchment. On it was written solely “visit me.”

Ana raced down to the cemetery. A blueish glow came from a simple tombstone. The inscription on it read simply “Kara-Mollie. Mother.” The curtain descends, so endeth act I Scene II.

Act II, Scene I

Ana heads to the Tavern of the Stary-eyed Yuanti. When she arrives she sees it is in disarray. She inquires of a city guardsman what happened, and he explains a strange fight broke out. She assumes that the others would likely have gone to the nearest inn, and so heads off to the Inn of the Prancing Pony, where she rendezvous with Teolis and Crow. In the morning they all head out to the library.

As they head to the area where the secret scroll inscription told them to go, they pass by Anvak still researching. He decides to join them, and together the valiant four pull down the ancient book indicated by the call numbers. There is a book mark in it, and opening to the page the group finds a passage regarding the building of an elaborate library-vault far to the south where the most prized possessions of Zenthia could be kept from the orcs of Kazshtaz. A rough layout of the vault is provided. The characters realize after several minutes that this looks like the tomb they had come from. They head back to the Black Academy to report their findings.

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A Delicate Matter
Raid of King Harold's Tomb Part 1

rpgdice.jpgIt has seemed like months, but only a few days had actually past since Gorin, Baden, Ana-Mollie and Anvak the Blessed returned from the demi-lich’s dungeon, after their resounding victory against the Sahuagin. Wearied, they stopped first at the Master of the Pier Tavern to refresh themselves. The tavern keeper, the memory of the party’s victory against the orcs and the saving of his tavern still fresh in his mind, hurriedly rushed to serve them. A lone human, a drum strapped to his back and a lute (although if one was quick enough to see his deft movements – might say loot) in his hand, stared a bit dumbfounded as the tavern keeper, who had just been talking to him, rushed to serve these bedraggled strangers.

Baden knew he should check on his foster father, and after bidding his farewells to the rest, loped off in a large barbarian gait. Gorin, bloodied and wearied from the fights, decided to take refuge at the inn. Demi-lichs had been too much for the stout fighter of simple disposition. This band seemed like they had a high purpose – but, it wasn’t his. He too bade his farewells.

No sooner had Ana sat down to sip the wine brought forth for her enjoyment, she received a message from her “Dark lord”, Richard. Richard, Chief Warlock of the Brothers of Darkness, Lord of the Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of the Black, Lord of the Undead,and mayor of a little village up the coast, was a busy… entity. He did not give messages lightly, and Ana knew that she must obey with all due haste. Richard commanded her to the Black Academy to speak with the matron, Lady Vargas. Ana abruptly stood up and walked out the door.

Anvak was still not quite used to these fellow travelers on the road of this mortal plane. However, he knew from the voices in his head that his destiny was linked to theirs. He inquired as to what he should do… “follow… follow the dark, flaming one” returned the voices. Anvak shrugged, a bit of putrid green puss oozed from his ear. Nurgle (sp?) had told him to venture forth, venture forth he shall. He followed Ana out.

The man siting eating his rabbit and drinking his [insert drink of choice] waved to the tavern keeper. Good sir, I wonder if you would extend me credit for I must be going, but I will be back. The tavern keeper looked at him blankly. “I’m sorry, sir, but ye be new to these parts. Ye haven’t established credit yet.”

The man nodded, “perhaps I shall make myself more part of your establishment soon.” He threw what he owed on the table, and with a flourish… he also departed trying to see to what the other two strange persons were up. He smelled a ballad in the making – and perhaps a silver or two.

Ana reached the door of the Black Academy, which opened automatically for her. She entered. Anvak soon followed. The young human man wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. But, he thought… can’t hurt to knock. So he did. The door opened, and the brave lad stepped forth.

He was greeted by the sight of Ana talking with an older woman, a stunningly beautiful woman with jet black hair with stripes of white running through it. She had the most pale of skin he had ever seen – almost a grayish-blue tint. Anvak stood watching the two – waiting for someone to address him, or his gods to make their wishes known.

The woman, later identified to the young man as Lady Vargas, matron of the Black Academy, addressed Ana. “You have done a great service. Many have attempted the feat you undertook… they did not succeed. And you know how the dark lord feels about failure.”

Ana nodded – she knew exactly what Richard felt about failure. She stood there… whispers came into her ear. It seemed Richard was pleased. Lady Vargas asked if Ana and her friends, addressing the young human and Anvak, would aid the Black Academy with a delicate task. Ana answered right away that she would, and vouched for Anvak. However, turning to the young human, she said “I do not know him.”

Lady Vargas did not look pleased. However, the young human introduced himself as a painter of portraits and offered to paint the beautiful lady. Lady Vargas smiled. Ana quickly added she felt this one could be of use, and he was free to join them. Having vouched for him, Lady Vargas continued to speak about the task. “Long ago, King Harold ‘the Vicar’, the one that soundly defeated and routed the undead pirates, had come across a scroll that was said to lead to the origin of the undead pirates, and would provide information needed to destroy them for good. However, it was said that the information could tear the kingdom apart, and would implicate numerous noble houses. He had the scroll sealed away. However, through the efforts of the Black Academy, they came to find that it was hidden in King Harold’s tomb.” Lady Vargas introduced a student of the Black Academy, Crowe, who had been instrumental in finding this information out. He would lead them to King Harold’s tomb and help retrieve the scroll.

Before they left for the tomb, the young human left to go back to the tavern and inquire as to the undead pirates. As he left, Lady Vargas wished him well. “Teolis,” she said, “You are welcome to partake of the Black Academy’s food and services. I wish you all well.” With that she departed. Teolis, for that was indeed his name, left to inquire about the undead pirates, interviewing several old sailors. Ana headed to the archives where she too researched the undead pirates, and the scroll they were seeking. They had all agreed to meet back at the Black Academy at noon the next day to head to the tomb. Crowe went about his business, kicking the ground a bit. He really just wanted to be playing joust… not off gallivanting looking for some dumb scroll.

Anvak studied the foyer in the Black Academy. While there were numerous paintings, murals and tapestries, one especially caught his attention. The painting was entitled “In the Beginning” and contained the ancient original symbol of Zenth, founder of the Kingdom of Zenthia. As he was studying it closer, he noticed it also contained a tattered cloak figure with symbol of Nurgle emblazoned on its right front breast pocket. There were several other figures with symbols he didn’t recognize, nor really care about. He noted the information as interesting, and headed to bed.

The next day, the party set forth. They arrived without incident at the tomb. It was a giant structure with nice columns and two giant stone eagle statues out front. There was an inscription in elvish on the statues, which Teolis translated as “we could have flown you to Moredoor.” The doors to the tomb were locked, but Crowe, cracking a sly grin, winking to Ana, and snapping his fingers, made quick work of. The party entered the tomb. Anvak lit a torch and handed it to Teolis to light the way. Unwittingly, the poor bard had just become the point person… something that would cause him great regret later on.

The party passed into a finely decorated foyer with two hardened statues of warriors holding long swords and wearing the armor of the Zenthian army, with the crest of King Harold proudly emblazoned on the front. A fountain, in which an underground stream had been shaped to continuously refresh stood in the middle against the east wall, flanked by the statues. Anvak looked around. Then he looked at the floor. Then he looked at the ceiling. Suddenly, he walked over to the fountain and stuck his scythe in it. The water bubbled and green ichor flowed from his scythe into the water. He could almost imagine the screams on the other end as he smiled a disease filled smile. Withdrawing the scythe, he walked back to the party, which at this point had come to a door.

[Crowe once again flicked his fingers and the door opened.]/[Anvak walked up to the door and threw it open.] [Don’t remember who opened it.]

Inside was an ornate burial chamber. The walls were decorated with frescoes of King Harold’s battles with the undead pirates. Along the south wall, a sarcophagus lay. Along the east wall was a burial chest flanked by two statues similar to the previous two. Anvak cocked his head and looked at the statues. Without another word he took his scythe and tried to cut the sword hand off of one of the statues.

He cut deeply into it, but the material it was made from was stronger than he expected. All of a sudden both statues became animated, shaking off the dust and grime that had built on them over the ages. Their eyes burned with a fire. They attacked.

The battle waged fierce as spells were slung and rapiers danced. Crowe shot his bow, arrows of magic tearing into the golems’ hardened clay flesh. One golem landed numerous blows on Teolis, one of which crushed his rib cage, reducing him to a quivering mass of pain. Another blow put him bleeding and falling unconscious on the ground. In the middle of the fight, the other party members looked around – Crowe had vanished. In the fight of their lives, the party couldn’t stop – bolts and blasts of dark necrotic energy, fueled by each of Ana and Anvak’s dark power sources, blasted into the golems. One was reduced to rubble, the other still stood looming over them – its face ever twisted into the solemn grin-less look of a tomb sentinel. While it loomed large over Anvak, who took a mighty blow, but managed to stay his ground, an arrow whizzed by Ana’s head striking the golem and shattering him. Crowe appeared behind Ana. Winking at her, he said nonchalantly as he leaned back and blew on his well filed nails, “Well, the chest is safe.” With the golems dispatched, Crowe, Ana and Anvak were able to revive Teolis. Anvak reached deep into his tattered cloaks and produced some putrid rags and some sort of acidic wound cauterizer. The party could almost hear Teolis howling in pain through his unconscious state as his wounds stabilized, and his blood stopped spilling out of his body.

The party then searched the chest and sarcophagus and found much treasure. Most spectacular was the sarcophagus, which contained a skeletal body resplendent in the robes of King Harold, a slightly glowing longsword, and a gold and jewel encrusted crown. By his side was a scroll. Crowe instantly put on the robes, crown and waved the long sword about. “Oh look at me! I’m King Harold… laddd-ee daa..” Anvak grabbed the scroll, but it was written in a tongue he could not understand. It seemed almost… halflingish. The party thought it best to get the scroll back to the Black Academy as soon as possible for analysis. As they were gathering their loot, and reviving Teolis enough that he could shuffle off with them, Anvak cocked his head to the side, thought a bit, and then raised his hands to the ceiling. Dark energy flowed through him into the skeleton, and it sat up, its awkward skeletal grin staring at the party. It climbed out of the sarcophagus and followed behind the party – now a servant to Anvak the Blessed.

As the party was leaving the tomb to head back to the Black Academy to translate the scroll, Teolis stopped to rest his weary body on a section of the wall. It crumbled before him revealing a passage to the south. The party noted it, vowing to return and plumb its depths another day. After a grueling journey back to Kahlstaad, while Teolis was whimpering the entire way, they arrived back to the Black Academy.

To be continued…

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Update

I plan on updating to the best of my recollection the adventures that have happened to date and then weave them into a “reboot.” I have to do that, because I somehow lost my notes. I apologize profusely – I think it was during my PC upgrade (damn upgrades). I have saved my new note taking app data files to the “cloud” so it won’t happen again,

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Interlude - Baden's Story
What the heck is a giant barbarian doing in town anyway?

While the tavern keeper calls for a healer, it may interest our dear readers as to why a seven and a half foot tall barbarian is in this particular bar at this time. He does not have the appears of one of the dock workers or bargemen. One might might mistake him for part of the fire brigade judging by the soot on his face. However, that wouldn’t be quite right either. You see, Baden’s story started much like any other story – with a father and a mother, and another mother and another father…

Baden was born to Bradien and Brielle leaders of the Mighty clan. When Baden was a baby the clan decided to move North. This was a dangerous journey so close to Winter. Orc and other green skinned villains were on the hunt for food to last them through the tough winter ahead. Bradien was a strong and fierce warrior, but not even him and his men could fight off the massive swarm of green skinned enemies. Brielle took Baden and placed him in a sack and dropped him safely under a bunch of nearby bushes. She turned to fight off the legion of Orcs and Goblins only to be run through by a nasty dirty blade. She fell to the ground dying and crawled her way over to the bush where her baby was kept hidden. As she laid there dying she pulled Baden close to her. The warmth from her body kept him warm through the night.

The next morning a pack of wild wolves came across the remains of the slaughter. A mother wolf started rooting through the brush and bramble where Brille had died and came across Baden. She picked up the sack and brought it back to the wolf den. She opened the sack and let Baden out. Baden looked at the mother wolf and grabbed on to her. The mother wolf cleaned and fed the baby and kept him for her own. Other wolves from the pack tried to attack Baden but the mother wolf was very protective of the boy and she attacked them back. Other mother wolves in the pack joined in the protection of Baden. The wolves back off and eventually accepted the child into the pack.

The boy grew up and boy did he ever grow. At the age of 8 he was the size of teenage boy. He was strong and quick for his size. Right before he reached the age of 12 another tragedy struck Baden. His adopted wolf mother passed away as she was old and it was her time to go. His brother and sister wolves left to form other packs and spread out through the forests. Baden was sad. He was all alone. When he found her dead he ran away. He ran and ran. Tears filled his eyes. A great rage filled his heart. Another one he loved was gone again. He came to a clearing and sat down on a fallen tree. He sat there crying for his dead wolf mother. As he sat there with grief and rage in his heart three goblins approached him. Now as I tell you this story of young Baden, I should also say at this time just like always goblins are not known for their brains and these three were no exception. As they approached Baden they attacked him with hurtful words and sayings. Calling him a “Cry Baby Bitch!” and “Dumb Ass Mama’s Boy!” while poking Baden with their swords. Baden quietly asked the goblins to stop and leave him alone. The goblins continued to provoke Baden. Baden stood up his heart and mind filled with rage. “STOP IT NOW!!!” When Baden stood up the 12 year old boy looked like a full grown man. He was muscular and strong…and he didn’t even exercise. They attacked Baden in full force. One goblin took a giant swipe at Baden. The attack connected right across Baden’s stomach. Baden picked the goblin up by his head. As he had him held by the head he grabbed the goblin at this legs as well and pulled the goblin apart like cheesy bread. the other goblins attack and Baden took the both of them by the heads and smashed them together. The goblin heads crushed like two grapes. It was his first senseless kill. He was always taught the it was okay to kill for food but not just to kill. It left a black spot on his heart.

He never returned to the wolf den again. He traveled to the nearest city where he was taken in by the local blacksmith Remus Blackenblade. He trained Baden in the art of blacksmithing and also sent him to school to learn how to speak, read and write. His marks were not great but he sure tried. He also learned how to control his temper and rage. It has been years since he has had an outburst. That was until tonight, the night of his 22nd birthday. It was this particular night that Baden walked to the bar for a drink…

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All's Well That Ends Well
An axe in the back is worth ... not sure but it hurts a lot

The Orc Chief takes a mighty swing at Gorin and slashes into him with his great-axe.
Gorin is bloody and steadies himself wobbly against continued onslaught.

Baden stumbles back and gets up one more time. Still in his rage, he attacks the Orc
Chief. His slash decimates the Orc chief, and it is the Orc Chief’s turn to stumble back wobbling against the continuing onslaught. This amuses Baden, and he chuckles to himself as he slashes again. Unfortunately, he is distracted and his swing bounces harmlessly off the orc’s armor.

Ana decides to light up the room with Eldritch blast.

She concentrates carefully, ready to send an Eldritch blast at the hapless orc warrior. Her spell fizzles. Frowning, she calls upon her dark lord, Richard, for the might to smite. Richard must have truly smiled upon her for her bolt is true to its mark. The orc disintegrates – with only a smoking heap of ash remaining. If one looks carefully, one can almost make out the face of a maniacal lich laughing hysterically in the smoke.

Gorin steps back into the fight and takes a mighty swing at the orc. Blood and gore splash across the room. The Orc chieftain takes a mighty swing at Baden, but it bounces harmlessly off his armor.

Baden calls for some help…his health failing and he looks to see if a healer is around to help him. He thinks to himself “Okay, there is no healer so **** it.” He swings his massive axe one more time.His first swing goes wide and misses, but his second swing connects true. He decapitates his foe with a flourish and grabbing the head holds it high above his head roaring to the stars! That is when another bolt of eldritch might goes crackling from behind him – zapping the head into dust.

The mighty adventurers gaze around; the tavern is a bit disheveled. The barkeep cowers behind the bar. The other patrons have long cleared out. Perhaps now is the time for introductions, and a round a drinks couldn’t hurt either. Oh, and possibly removing the axe that is sticking out of Baden’s back. Yes, that might also be a good idea.

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Tavern Fights
or... an orc, a barbarian and a warlock step into a tavern

Three orcs crash into the tavern. They look around surveying the scene. A large orc, obviously their chieftain demands “Vat happened to Grujor?”rather pointedly… at the group. The barkeep cowers in the corner.

A deft young human steps out from the bar. His silken hair flows in the breeze that appears to be created just so his hair can flow. He tosses it back and glares at the orcs intruding on his carousing. “I have seen enough, foul beasts.” he states in a voice that could melt butter, were there butter in the room.

The large orc chieftain glares at him and shouts “Nobody kills my kin!” He is glaring at Baden; and appears to be avoiding the eyes of this handsome young man that just challenged him. The other two orcs kind of look at each other and shrug. One mouths “Totally jealous of the hair.” The other nods knowingly.

The Orc war chief rushes up to Baden and attacks with its great-axe and slashes down on Baden drawing another geyser of blood.

Baden isn’t having any of this nonsense. Shouting “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!” He takes his great-axe and hits the Orc Chief. The Orc chief grunts in pain as the axe slices through his armor drawing a squirt of blood. The other two orcs sort of shrug (they know the drill).

Orc number 2 runs up and slashes at Gorin, but his swing goes wide as Gorin deftly sidesteps it. The orc’s great-axe gets lodged in the floor, and he grunts trying to pull it out.

Gorin is stunned by the ineptitude of the orc. He is laughing so hard his swing goes wild and sails past the orc who is desperately trying to dislodge his axe.

Ana glares at Orc # 2 “How dare you disrupt the peace of a disciple of The Dark Lord Richard” and fires off another Eldritch blast. Two beams of pure hatred in energy form shoot from her eyes engulfing the poor hapless orc as it tries to dislodge its great-axe. It yelps in pain. In the back of its mind, it thinks “Damn it Glug. You had a choice between this and latrine duty. Bad choice! Bad choice!”

the other orc warrior runs up to Baden and slashes him with his great-axe drawing another deep gash through his armor. Baden stagger back, blood gushing from another deep cut.

A busty young woman steps out from the bar with a large wooden placard. It reads…

“Round 2”

The Orc chief won’t give up easy and presses the attack. His great-axe cleaves into Baden driving him farther back. Bleeding profusely from his wounds he hefts up his weapon and slices into the orc chief, blood spurts from the wound. After the orc chief bellows in pain, a bit woozy, Baden backs up looking for support from his new found compatriot, Gorin.

The Orc (Number 2) manages to dislodge his great-axe from the floor, but is flustered and loses this turn. Thinking to himself, he really wonders why he got up this morning. It wasn’t even a Monday.

Gorin takes advantage of the orc’s confusion to run past without provoking an opportunity attack and slash at the Orc chief. He slashes him with a mighty blow showering all around with blood and gore. The other orcs would normally revel in being showered with blood and gore. However, taking stock of their odds… their thoughts are far from their usual fantasies of swimming in blood and entrails.

Anna glares at the orcs and mumbles a quick set of words casting poison spray at orc number 2. It gasps as the poison envelopes it… writhing in pain… it sprawls out on the ground quite dead – and also turning quite purple, and a little pink too. It is thoroughly disgusting. Anyone left in the tavern eating a meal, quickly finds their appetite fading.

The remaining orc warrior swings at Gorin and misses wildly. Obviously, he was quite fearful of what just happened to his compatriot.

However, the poisoned wreckage of the orc warrior body just enrages the orc chief who heaves his great-axe over his head and cleaves into Gorin with a mighty blow causing Gorin to stagger back!

Baden is still stunned and staggers back even further. He doesn’t feel too good.

Gorin is shaken, but still manages to counterstrike with a quick stab to the orc chief’s ribs. The orc chief does not look happy.

Anna decides that the orc chief is well in hand and concentrates two beams of eldritch blast on the remaining orc warrior, hoping to slow his progress. The beams sizzle on the orc’s hair, causing it to curse and scowl in pain. Ana curses under her breath at her feeble attacks.

The orc warrior howling in pain runs up to Anna and cleaves her with his great-axe. Anna dodges but takes a large gash in her arm as she whirls around.

The orc chief attempts to slash at Gorin again with his great-axe, but misses. Sparks fly as the axe dings off Gorin’s armor.

Gorin in turn spins around and lands a mighty blow. It is the orc chief’s turn to stagger back.

Anna, meanwhile, notices that Baden is bleeding profusely and appears pale and shaken, having staggered back towards the bar area. “This isn’t going to end well ….for the orcs” She thinks to herself.

Orc chief looks battered, but still alive and kicking. The other orc warrior’s hair is a bit singed, but otherwise looks angry and ready to cleave. Thoughts? Actions? The legend is yours for the making.

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A Chance Encounter
or... why nothing ever goes as planned

Anna steps into the tavern. A hulking seven foot six inch young man sits at one of the tavern tables having a drink. The other patrons seem to be barge-men from the river water ways, making their way down to the ocean. Ana steps up to the bar ready to order a drink.

At that moment… An orc warrior bursts into the tavern … the drink will have to wait.

The hulking young man, as Ana will learn later is named Baden, jumps to his feat. His razor-sharp reflexes take over and he runs up to the orc and punches him in the face drawing first blood. Not to be outdone, Ana’s eyes flash angrily and bolts of eldritch blast shoot out singing the top of the orc’s head.

The orc takes a mighty swing at Ana, but misses. Baden whips out his great axe and takes the orc’s arm off. It drops limply to the floor, but, unfortunately, was not its sword arm. Ana attempts to zap the orc again, but misses.

The orc is howling in pain and stabs at Baden cutting a deep gash in his arm. Baden steps back, deciding to ready his weapon in a defensive posture and regroup, blood pouring out of the gash in his arm. He winces in pain.

For some unknown reason, Ana looks visibly shaken. She glares at the barkeep and mutters under her breath “i will deal with you later.” Something has definitely upset her, for she mistakes the orc with his arm cut off for a second orc. Springing in front of him, she shouts “Oh no you don’t!” and casts eldritch blast using the invocation Agonizing Blast.

Two beams of energy shoot from her eyes and incinerate the orc. Its jaw (the only part left) drops to the ground before Baden’s feet. The hour is won – but, as soon as the “dust settles,” three other orcs barge into the tavern. One is much larger than the other, obviously their commander – and he doesn’t look happy.

“Vat happened to Grujor?” he demands, rather pointedly… at the group. The barkeep cowers in the corner.

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Every Story Has a Beginning

It is said that every story has a beginning. But what many don’t reflect upon is that one person’s beginning may very well be another’s end. And so it is that our story begins with the end of another – the end of the Arch-Lich Acererak. The events that unfolded at this end are not important to focus on at this moment. They shall be revealed in due course. As is often the case, some stories return to their beginnings more often than others.

What is important to focus on is how the Lord of the Undead and Master of the Dance came upon a wee-half-elven girl named Anna-Mollie. While often secretive about this first meeting, her close companions have gathered bits and pieces of what happened that fateful day. You see…

Ana-Mollie was a young girl when she was abandoned on the streets of the city of Jalpa in the United Kingdom of the Aerdy. She survived by sneaking scraps from the vendors and cleaning up after the patrons in the local shops for a few coins. That all changed the day a strange dark figure approached her and promised the impressionable youngster a new life (off the streets); the only condition was her soul was his. The stranger showed her how her life could be and Ana fell for the ploy little realizing her patron was the the Chief Warlock of the Brothers of Darkness, Lord of the Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of the Black, Lord of the Undead, Master of the Dance, and the mayor of a tiny village not so far removed from Jalpa, otherwise known as… Richard – forevermore her will would be tested to do his bidding. But as promised Ana grew and as she did she discovered she had powers dark and mysterious that led her to adventuring and a good life though at the expense of her free will.

And so, as Anna’s powers grew, her dark patron called on her to do more dangerous tasks to suit his twisted purposes. Often times it would involve setting fire to random villagers. Anna never really understood why he didn’t just burn the entire village down – but she supposed the dark one had his reasons. Finally, and this is where our story truly begins – Richard whispered over the telepathic channels that link him to her, and instructed her to head for the City of Kalstrand in the very south of the kingdom. There she was to seek out a very important book that Richard had been looking for many centuries. It was said buried in a cache of treasure that a rival of Richard’s had created to hide some of his precious treasure. Ana was to get the book and return it to him. She headed out, and upon finding herself in the city, went immediately to the local inn and tavern, the Master of the Pier Tavern, to get refreshment and information. She got more than she bargained for.

To be continued…

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