Thursday, October 22, 2009


As Gruff wrestles with Thonos, dark shadows fill the room. From the swirling darkness created by the figure in the mirror, several dark, insubstantial spirits emerge. Each seems to be the ghost of an armored warrior whose form drifts in and out of view. The clank of chain armor and creaking of leather can be heard, but the sounds are muted and distant, echoing strangely.

Ewald throws the mirror face down onto Thonos’ bed as two of the shadow slain ghosts rush him. In the undead creatures’ hands gleaming weapons of ice coalesce. Their eyes glow with the same icy light. After the first couple attacks Ewald realizes that these creatures are expert warriors. Moreover, he quickly learns that mundane weapons can’t hurt them. Hard pressed by two of them, he hears Gruff cry out in pain and sees Telg ineffectually attempting to battle another of the shadows.

Outside, Tristan and Rory are quickly approaching the scene. Their first inkling that the plan isn’t going perfectly is the sounds of fighting from within Thonos’ house. Their second and more solid clue are the two Shadow Slain that appear on Thonos’ roof. An icy spear from one of them nearly guts Tristan who barely manages to turn aside the spear with his shield. Instead he takes a shallow wound in the hip and readies his sword.

Inside, Ewald is managing to hold his own with the aid of a Magic Weapon prayer, but can’t seem to land a telling blow. Gruff is eerily silent. When Council Woman Geeza’s head lands near Ewald’s feet he flinches and grits his teeth. When Telg cries out in pain he begins to worry. When he sees Thonos break for the door he yells out in anger but can’t follow.

On the path outside, Tristan and Rory engage the two enemies, one with an enchanted sword and the other with flaming spheres. Tristan has more luck. Through expert sword work and good shield defense he manages to cleave the Shadow Warrior in two, sending it hissing back into whatever void it came from. They both see Thonos burst from his doorway. As the traitorous Apprentice sees Rory he cries out, “STOP THE WIZARD! HE AND HIS FRIENDS ARE ATTACKING THE KING!!!!” before sprinting off across the bridges and deeper into the deserted village.

The other Shadow Slain neatly dodges Rory’s flaming attacks. When it sees it’s undead brethren destroyed it seems to make a decision. With supernatural speed it streaks away toward Billy’s house. Hearing the battle still raging within Thonos’ house Rory comes to a decision. He once more pulls out the Dragon’s rod and activates it.

Time once again stops.

Unlike his first attempt, this time Rory seems to have more control over the strange magic. He doesn’t collapse with pain. His hair stays the same length. As before, everything hangs motionless and frozen in time. He notices with some alarm that the spinning bit on the rod seems to be moving faster.

After unfreezing Tristan they both move into Thonos house and unfreeze Ewald, Telg and Gruff. Their Trulla friend appears unconscious but otherwise unhurt. Rory guesses that it might be something like the Enfeebling necromantic effect at the Grotto, only stronger.

After they calm down Telg and explain the Rod’s power they all run quickly to Billy’s. Inside they find the frozen tableau of the Shadow Slain attacking several Trulla warriors who are desperately guarding their King. Unfreezing Billy and his warriors, they move the Trulla King into the back room along with the warriors and position themselves for killing blows. Ewald enchants his and Rory’s weapons. With a thought and the command word, Rory restarts the flow of time.

A great axe, a Bastard Sword and a magical broadsword all slice through the enemy at the same time. Unfortunately, the starting and stopping of time seems to end all spells so Ewald and Rory’s blades pass through the Shadow with no effect. Fortunately Tristan’s sword functions perfectly and he marks another imaginary mark on his blade as the second Shadow falls.

Heading to the door, Tristan and Ewald await the coming of the other Shadows. Rory waits inside and watches carefully, but almost not warily enough. Only a cold breeze on his neck warns him in time as a Shadow Slain appears behind him. Even the cold wind isn’t enough to keep the enemies frozen spear from tearing a deep gash down his back as the Kirith Syvani rolls aside.

Tristan steps inside at his friend’s cry and pushes the creature back with a flurry of blows. Another of the creatures attacks Ewald outside, whose Shield of Faith and new magic weapon prayer combine to hamper the Shadow. Other Trulla warriors are now joining in. Although they can’t do much to hurt the enemy, they do manage to knock it’s weapon and hamper it’s attack.

The Shadow facing Tristan and Rory seems to sense Billy’s presence and turns to race toward the back room. Rory scrambles for his belt and pulls a scroll out, quickly sending a pronged bolt of lightning into and through the creature. Though it’s effects on the incorporeal undead aren’t as spectacular as he hoped, it does momentarily pin the creature to the wall and shatter it’s icy spear. Biting back the pain from his wound, Rory has a moment to doubt his decision as the creature turns, a new spear forming, and charges him once more.

Ewald fights a desperate battle with his own opponent. Some blows are only kept back by his enchanted armor, which he has opportunity to be thankful for more than once. He is damaged by the enemy nonetheless. But eventually he gains the upper hand and takes his axe to the shadow, destroying it.

A momentary peace settles on the scene. Rory, Tristan and Ewald regroup in Billy’s house.

Tristan refuses to let his guard down. Looking to the others he asks, “Where’s the other one?”

They share a look, and do the math, realizing with some amount of dread that there is indeed one more undead Shadow yet to go.

Minutes pass. When nearly a quarter candle has passed without sign of the enemy, Billy sends a group of his warriors to search for Thonos and signs of the Shadow. They return with word that Thonos was found dead in the village. Rory and Ewald go to see.

As Billy and Tristan await their return, the fifth Shadow attacks. Tristan, weary and injured, meets it. The two exchange blows and each takes wounds in turn. More of Tristan’s blood is shed as the thing’s icy blade sinks into his leg. Tristan’s blade bites into the Shadow. Sensing perhaps that it might not complete it’s mission if it continues the fight with Tristan, the Shadow breaks off and slips into the back room.

As Tristan limps after it, Billy’s valiant warriors create a living wall of flesh around their King, sacrificing themselves in an attempt to keep it’s icy spear away from Billy’s hide.

Rory and Ewald race back through the village at the sounds of warning. Trulla warriors fall. Tristan enters the room. The Shadow plants it’s spear through one of Billy’s warriors and into Billy’s chest. Tristan cuts it from behind. Ewald jumps in and with a well placed swing, his axe parts the thing’s shadowy head from it’s shadowy body.

Checking on Billy, everyone is relieved to find that the tough old goat’s injury is far from fatal. Tristan and Rory are badly injured, but not beyond Ewald’s ability to heal.

Guards are set as one of the clan healers is sent for. Rory and Ewald describe how Thonos was killed. Apparently disemboweled and eviscerated by the Shadow. Gruff has yet to awaken from his stupor, Rory begins to doubt his earlier prognosis and looks into Gruff’s condition more closely.

After a few hours rest, Ewald performs some healing rituals and mends the worst of Rory and Tristan’s injuries. Although there seems to be some strange resistance, he also heals Billy’s wounds and Telg, who suffered a deep wound to the arm.

While attending to Gruff, the Trulla healer finds a pouch of dark jewels which she hands to the others. Rory remembers the jewels from the Altar statue in the Daagar stronghold. Seeing that they glow with a bit of magic he hands them to Ewald. Knowing of their friends greedy nature, and fearing for his well being, Ewald checks for the taint of evil on the gems, and finds a slight aura of it on the stones. Tucking them back into Gruff’s bag they make a note to warn the Trulla when he awakes.

On the subject of Gruff, Rory begins to piece together a possible reason for his continued coma-like state. On Thonos corpse they found an ivory bracelet that detected as evil necromantic magic. Though he’s not sure, Rory thinks he can sense a link between the bracelet and Gruff’s condition.

It is here that we leave our heroes, far from free of danger, but at least momentarily resting.

Monday, October 12, 2009

SESSION SEVENTEEN “Of Time outs and Traitors”

Trapped beneath the waterfall, with two unconscious and severely injured companions, the group listens to the bellowing of the enraged Kuldan Death warrior outside.


A man-sized boulder then crashes through the falls, smacking the granite above them and nearly crushing Ewald as it falls. Another boulder falls in front of the entrance to the recess, blocking the party’s easy exit. It’s when the third massive boulder smacks through the falls that Ewald recognizes an even greater danger. A large fissure in the wall is growing wider, and water is seeping through it.

It’s at this point that the first undead Trulla (formerly known as Cheg), reaches up through the falls and tries to tear into Rory. Rory does a good job of cleaving his opponent when another Trulla zombie staggers through the falls and jumps Ewald. Ewald beats the creature off but more are coming.

As Ewald’s Durin-trained mind works through the ramifications of the crack in the stone, Rory comes to a realization. Moments later, as Ewald cries out, “EVERYBODY OUT… NOW!!!” and the whole rock face of the waterfall begins to fall on top of them Rory instead pulls out the Dragon’s rod and hastily intones the command word.

Instantly, everything is still. All sounds stop. All movement stops. In fact, time itself stops. Perhaps due to his haste, perhaps because of his nervousness about using the rod, Rory is wracked by horrible pain that courses through his bones and turns his skin into one giant fiery surface.

When he’s able to think clearly Rory opens his eyes. Everyone and everything around him his frozen in time. The large shelf of stone hangs frozen in midair, just above their heads. Tristan has Gruff hoisted over his shoulder and is frozen in mid-leap. Ewald has a boulder the size of a wagon poised motionless, inches from his back and the Trulla zombies are frozen in mid-attack. In amazement, Rory turns and looks at the water itself. The falls are likewise frozen in time, a giant watery curtain.

In the next several non-moments in time Rory realizes several things. First, his hair and fingernails have grown out quite a bit. He now has hair to his back and a full beard and his bones still ache. Next he realizes that the drops of water hanging in the air seem to resist his movement for a moment and then turn liquid upon his body. Lastly he sees that the rod has heretofore unseen moving parts.

A small ring pulses with an inner light and slowly spins its way down the rod. Rory guesses it to be some kind of arcane timer. From his quick estimates, he also guesses that he has slightly more than a quarter candle before the ring reaches the base of the rod.

Now he sets about deciding what to do. After a panicked moment where he believes he won’t be able to save his still frozen friends, he finds that he can free them from their stasis by grabbing hold of them and concentrating. One by one he brings them around, including Gruff and Billy, who remain unconscious. Next he and the others set about “digging” a hole through the waterfall by liquefying small scoops of time-frozen water.

They walk across the surface of the water as if it were rippled glass. In the water they see the Undead Kuldan frozen in mid-throw, another massive boulder stuck in mid-arc. In the creature’s other hand is the necromantic wand raised high. Unable to resist the opportunity, Ewald steps up and takes a swing at the Kuldan’s exposed neck. The Durin’s axe bounces off with a loud thud, leaving the flesh of their enemy unharmed and Ewald’s axe badly blunted.

While Rory contemplates stealing the wand, Tristan is busy making his way up the trail and away from the grotto, laboriously carrying Gruff. Ewald gives in and hoists Billy, following Tristan, and Rory takes another look at the rod before moving off as well.

Halfway up the trail toward the old mine the rod’s spinning timer reaches the base. Instead of time resuming it’s course, Rory feels his energies sag and the timer begins it’s way back up the rod.

Once they reach the safety of the mine, Rory speaks the command word again and the world resumes its course. Exhausted from hauling the two huge Trulla, Ewald and Tristan collapse. As they see to each others wounds, they discuss their situation. It seems reasonable to assume that they have escaped peril for the time being. With the imminent collapse of the waterfall, their enemies are likely to believe them all crushed and buried. Since no tracks were left upon the time-frozen path, there is no easy way the Kuldan could spot their passage, even if he were looking for it.

Ewald says healing prayers over Gruff and Tristan before giving in to sleep. Rory also passes out. Hours later Gruff wakes and with Seer Gavin’s aid is able to heal Billy of his chest wound. Seer Gavin seems slightly perplexed, perhaps by the missing span of time. They fill Billy in on what transpired at the grotto.

It’s decided that they all must travel back to Selghaven as quickly as possible to see if the village still stands. With the aid of Rory’s Levitation spells they all grab hold of Ewald as he Airwalks back to the village.

Arriving in the night to find the village unharmed, Billy quickly calls an emergency council. Tristan’s suspicions flare when he notices a bit of surprise in Thonos response to their arrival. It’s nothing any of the others notice though. The council members discuss what the attack at the grotto means for them. It is abundantly clear now that the Daagar are still involved, and that a necromancer of some kind is also involved. Little Teega whispers to Ewald that Old Belza’s body had indeed moved since it had fallen off the cliff.

Again, between talk of necromancy and mention of old Belza’s body, Tristan sees things in Thono’s mannerisms that make him even more suspicious. As they discuss plans, Thonos tries once more to dissuade Billy from trusting outsiders. Before the council he accuses Rory of being a practitioner of Arcane magic and therefore untrustworthy. This doesn’t sway Billy, who was just saved by that same arcane magic, but it’s clear that it does sway several of the council. They also talk about the Greater Daemon Thloch the Bone Lord, and how arcane necromancers often are his followers. The conversation is steered toward the dark statue they discovered in the Daagar stronghold, which makes both Gruff and Seer Gavin very uncomfortable. Several times Ewald has to physically hold back Gruff from attacking the Seer’s apprentice. His obvious anger and hatred of Thonos doesn’t help their cause.

Several options are discussed to keep the clan safe. Moving to the last Trulla redoubt, Carak Cavern, is tossed out, since it is far too small to house the whole village through the winter. Travelling southwest in search of the southern Trulla clans is also ruled out, since the trip would take months, and have to be made through dangerous terrain and Durin and Hodra territory. It is finally suggested that they move into the old Durin mine, which while not perfect, would at least be easily defendable and is close by.

Billy sends everyone out to make a thorough search of the village and surrounding area, making sure there are no spies about. On request from Tristan, Rory follows Thonos to watch for further signs of treachery.

Rory follows Thonos as the Seer does some half-hearted searching. Soon Thonos returns to his quarters. Rory spots one of the Trulla warriors shadowing Thonos as well. Not sure if the man is in league with the Seer, Rory stays hidden from him too. His spying pays off when a short while later he sneaks close and overhears a conversation Thonos is having with someone else inside his dwelling. Though he can’t hear everything he does hear enough to confirm their suspicions.

“... told me it would be settled at the Grove!”

“ still very much alive... Kadagar you promised they wouldn’t be...”

The name Kadagar strikes a chord in Rory’s memory. He remembers specifically one of the Daagar warriors at the grove calling the Kuldan undead by that name.

Meanwhile, Gruff finds a moment to speak with his spirit advisor, Gavin. Gavin has been mulling over the lost time at the grove. He plants a seed of doubt in Gruff’s mind about Rory and the others. Reminding Gruff that Tristan, Ewald and Rory have secrets. Secrets concerning the magic rod and some master they serve. Gavin warns Gruff that he shouldn’t put all his trust in them.

Once Thonos leaves his chambers, Rory can’t resist the opportunity to have a look around. After a careful search, he finds a polished brass mirror under Thonos’ bed. The mirror looks to be of Syvani make, but doesn’t appear to be magical.

Leaving the mirror there, Rory returns and informs everyone what he learned about Thonos. They take the information to Billy, who is upset by the news. Billy informs them that he had one of his warriors following Thonos as well. He points out that Rory’s word will not suffice as evidence against Thonos. Together the group comes up with a plan. They call Thonos in and inform him that they have changed their plan and that they will be traveling south to find the other Trulla clans at first light, hoping that such a change will require another "call" with the mirror.

After the village has been thoroughly searched, and no evidence of spies has been found. The people of the village are gathered in the great hall for easy defense. In the early morning hours, Rory, who has been watching Thonos’ house very carefully, notices that several blankets have placed over his shuttered windows. He barely has time to veil himself in an invisibility spell when Thonos steps quietly out of his house. With methodical care, the Seer checks all the likely hiding places around his house. There’s a moment of worry when he Detects for magic and nearly spots Rory’s spell, but he doesn’t, and goes back into his house.

When a candle is lit inside, Rory sends a signal to Gruff, who has been waiting patiently outside Billy’s chambers. Gruff and the others than quickly grab two of the council members and rush to Thonos’ house. Busting down his door is a simple matter for Gruff. As the group stumbles inside, they are just as surprised as Thonos is. The traitorous Seer has the mirror propped against the wall. A white faced, cruel looking Neran looks out of the mirror. It’s obvious the two were interrupted in the middle of conversing.

As Gruff slaps Thonos to the ground, the Necromancer inside the mirror begins to cast a spell. Ewald has no idea what the enemy might be trying, but he’s not about to stand around and find out. He lunges at the mirror and turns it aside just as a bolt of dark energy shoots out of it and hits the floor in the corner of the room.

As Gruff and Telg wrestle Thonos, the floor in the corner begins to sink away, revealing a dark vortex of necromantic energy from which several shadowy forms emerge. From the mirror the necromancer screams, “KILL THEM! AND KILL THEIR CRIPPLED KING!” before the mirror goes dark.