Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blood Moon - Illustration

Fathak's feathery friends


Friday, December 3, 2010

Blood Moon - 06 "One for Silver, Two for Gold, but Feck Gorecrows!"

Journal of Fathak

Treasure! Shiny, heavy, awesome treasure!

Have I mentioned that I love treasure? It could be a bunch of useless junk, but if it's shiny and comes packed in a rickety trunk, it really makes my day.

Also, I have decided that i am not a fan of Gorecrows. You can tell them from regular crows in several ways:

One - They're twice as big as a crow, bigger than most ravens. So far, not so bad.
Two - Gorecrows have a reddish undercoat, as opposed to jet black. Creepy.
Three - Size of flock, which unlike a murder of Crows or an unkindness of Ravens, Ive decided to call large groups of gorecrows a "pain." It's apt, trust me.
Four - They're fecking Carnivores. Think dirty, stinky, flying piranhas. Shudder.

We left our cave shortly after one of our guides tried to kill Kobsha. Beta, cute lil thing that she is, is evidently some kind of up & coming prodigal sorcerer, (turns out she's more of a specialist hired by the gaijen clan-less than their leader) and is seriously kind of disturbed. After beating the guy who tried to knife Kobsha so badly that his mother'd never be able to recognize him, she then proceeded to raise him as a freakin zombie. Not my cup of tea.

So anyways, we were headin out, having decided to help her find some lost bandit treasure, and around the corner comes a badger clan patrol. I dont normally like to brag, ( yes, yes I do...) but they were all dead in under half a minute, and we suddenly had plenty of horses again. Score one for the good guys! Also, the scout group's leader was wearing some nice armor, so Beta raised him as a zombie, too. I.. think we're still the good guys... It didn't seem to bother any of the other swans, not even Rowen, who seems to be pretty easily bothered.

walk walk walk, yada yada yada, ( which is an ancient art of sizing someone up by their reaction to inane chatter) and Rowen says we're headin the way we needed to go. Apparently the little creepy indian spirit kid gave her a map in her head. After we take out this Orbius fella, I'm gonna tell everyone that some huge dragon aspect gave me a map in my head, and start headin for a freakin city. There's a distinct lack of civilized services out here in the forever plains, and I could use a Concordian hot bath&rub, if ya catch my drift.

We come to a cliff-to-cliff chasm, spanned by the oldest, most frazzled rope bridge I've ever seen, and I've seen more old frazzled rope bridges than most. wanting to prove my daring, I immediately head over, on the assumption that, a) I am most likely nimble enough to swing & climb to the far side should it fall, and b) skipping across would look really badass.

So I get to the other side, and Beta starts across. ( I think she might have lost a coin toss or something.) I'm in the process off getting my bearings when everyone on the other side of the chasm start royally freaking out, and winging arrows my way. Remember how I was talkin about gorcrows? Yeah. hideous flying piranhas heading our way.

What to do? Set a bush on fire, thinking "They're wild animals, they'll be afraid of fire." Not.
So here I am waving a burning bush, shouting at this freakin huge Pain of Gorecrows, and Beta starts to slip. Being pecked at by at least a dozen birds at once, she'd lost her grip on the rope bridge. ( She was also in the process of stringing a safety rope, which turns out was a Very Good Thing. Flailing and shouting doesn't seem to dipurse the Pain, and now there's hundred of them, thousands maybe, welling up from a cave-mouth on the far side of the chasm. What's a dashing swashbuckler to do?

So I drop the bush, wrap my ankle in the near end of rope, and leap out into open air to grab her hand. Luck's on this chick's side, she was about to fall, but jumped & grabbed on at the last second, and we got off the bridge. Solid ground never felt so nice.

This is the point at which I came up with the name for a flock of Gorecrows.

I had figured my leathers, scarves, big floppy pirate~y hat & all would protect me from a bunch a freakin birds. Turns out, they have teeth. I took hit on the arm, the shoulder, the back of the leg. I thought my scarf was in my eyes, but it turns out I was being completely swarmed by the damn birds. Waylan told me later that he could almost see me through the swarm, but not quite. I guess somewhere at this point he started across the bridge. I didn't know it at the time, but I was In Big Trouble.

Finally put my back to a wall & started waving my cutlass Matilda. They were everywhere, and I was getting bitten in places I would never ever have thought to have been vulnerable. I realized I was In Big Trouble, when I parted company with most of my left ear. Not sure how many of them I killed or stunned, but the next thing I know, Beta's yelling at me & dragging me into a cave. Good thing too, because I was getting dizzy from blood loss, and nothing seemed to affect the damn birds. Must have passed out a bit at this point, cause next thing I remember is Waylan standing in the cave entrance, sun shining off various bits of weaponry, looking like one of the Gods themselves come down the mountain to rescue me.

Between Beta's magic & Waylan's bandages, I was feelin right proper, though my clothes we a shredded shamble, and my hat probably can't be saved. Oh, and they put my ear back, good as new. And right about then is when we spotted the treasure.

Mmmm treasure.

Unfortunately, there was some kind of magical circle drawn out around it. Standard thieving practice: If you see a circle, break it. From a distance, of course.
So I did, even though both Beta and Waylan looked like I'd stepped on their mother's graves. Beta waved her hands in the air & pronounced the site as "clean." She was about to make a very foolish amateur mistake & open the chest, so I grabbed hand before she got herself poisoned or heavy rocked to death. Checked the thing over thoroughly, and though I didn't find anything, made a good show of it, maybe those two'll be a tad more careful about trappity traps in the future.

Long story short, there was some decent silverware in the chest, along with some spiffy bracers & a big bag of jewels. beta said the gauntlets were tingly, so I offered to wear 'em & test em out. ( free loots!) Waylan carried the chest, & we got back to the rest of the group with pretty much no problem. Well, the bridge did collapse, but I'm sure nobody would have wanted to use it; it's practically a dinner plate for those damn gorecrows.


camped out last night, uneventful evening. more canyons, more maze. less bickering than usual, but I aint complaining. came to the town of outcasts & clanless, redtown or something like that. No bars, taverns, or wenches. I doubt we'll find help here, but the others seem certain. Beta keeps going on & on about being the clanless leader. Not sure she understands the Oroka. Not that I do, either. Kobsha just shakes her head. ( Kobsha is an Orokan priestess, something of a mid-high station in life around here.)

Of course there were badger clan out-runners in the town. ( not really a town, more a bunch of tents thrown up around a spring.) Beta & her crew went down to scope it out. I'm starting to think she might be a tad on the evil side. We'll see. Gods know I'm no saint. spent the afternoon & evening playing "hide & seek & nick" with the swans, turns out they get real touchy about their stuff. Once you've had every single wordly possession taken away, you realize that stuff is just stuff. I think. I dunno. I miss my hat. But these bracers sure are nifty. ( they DO tingle a little, sometimes.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blood Moon - 05 "Up a Box Canyon without a Clue"

I am recording this hastily, as I am unsure of how much time remains for us. My name is Fathak BurDjinn, of House Brdjin. I am currently using the moniker " Famous Jim," as my pirating ways were attracting too much of the wrong sort of attention. Not that it matters here, on this gods-forsaken plain, or in this waterless canyon.
I have been thrown into some sort of narrative I fear, as I awoke last week in a cave with four other people whom I have never met. We are, apparently - and according to a dead Orok - some sort of chosen warriors called, "The Order of the Swan." Sounds cool right? Yeah, not so much. Since then I've been shot at, stabbed at, chased, stabbed at some more, framed for the assassination of a clan chieftain, chased some more, and now forced to hide in another damn, dirty, stinky ass cave with a bunch of humorless sociopaths who seem to seriously dislike me, and not a damn treasure chest nor booty cache to be had.
So there we were, on our way to save the world, or at least this little corner of it, and some poor bastard with a sick wife and screaming kids stabs us in the back. Figuratively; he actually stabbed the Orokan Badger Clan's Chief in the back, which means they think we did the stabbing, and while I totally have no problem with backstabbing, it sucks that I'm actually innocent on this one. So. One more part of the world where I'm a wanted criminal.
Now we are hiding out in a little cavern in the ass end of a freaking maze, and one of our new "guides" tries to slit Kobsha's throat. Now maybe it would have helped her looks, or maybe not, but I'm really tired of not being the guy killing people! On top of that, we came across these clanless bastards, hoping to get them to join us in our "quest" to kill this evil demon guy, and they pull this shit? Yeah, he's really feckin dead now.
But his boss is this little slip of a girl who *beat a dead guy into a bloody pulp because she didn't get her way.* Unstable much? Sure, I like to crack a joke in the face of adversity but Glieve the feckin Traveler, what is up with that? Anyways, we've got less than a fortnight to travel 600 fecking miles and nip this demon sorcerer in the bud. Oh, and his army of evil orokan warriors. And who knows what kind of nasty, demon-y, undead and otherwise unnatural obstacles he puts in our way.
If only we could fly... It can be done, all we need an airship ( like the one that blew my dear old schooner out of the water), or a few trained riding drakes, ( they have them in the tintagels) or some enchanted cloaks. ( which can be purchased at any bazaar in Concordia)

Oh yeah, no problem, except that we're hiding in a fecking cave!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blood Moon - 04 "The Badger's Den"

After collecting ponies and weapons from the dead, and seeing to their wounds, the group heads out once more toward the Badger Clan. Garut is indeed severely wounded, and their progress is somewhat slow due to his Travois.

Not far from the Badger village, the group finds an ancient ring of standing stones. Although they are at first leery of investigating them, Fathak eventually convinces Khabsha to check it out with him. Fathak has no luck, but khabsha is able to feel some kind of response, though nothing specific. The ring seems to be attuned to Divination magics.

Later, the group encounters a patrol of Badger clan warriors and is led under guard to the village. They are brought before King Jourl. On the way to the king's tent, they spot an elderly Neran warrior whom Weylin recognizes as a famous warrior adept named Red Spear. Red Spear seems to be training Badger clan warriors.

King Jourl is very hesitant to offer the group any aid. His shaman (Sidri), speaks up in defense of the group after hearing that Orbeus has killed Graymantle and thus probably angered The Huntress. Between the King's opinion that the Badgers should stay uninvolved, and Sidri's opinion that Orbeus needs to be stopped, the group is housed under guard while the King decides their fate.

Garut is taken to a separate healers tent along with his family.

Sidri visits the party and explains that Orbeus and his shaman, Ahnfal killed Sidri's brother, Shogi, and took his scrolls of the Red Moon Ritual. Together with the Clogad na Allta, they now have everything they need to perform the ritual, and must only wait for the rising of the red moon, which will happen at the end of the month. Thus is a deadline introduced.

Later that night, there's a loud hew and cry in the camp with warriors running back and forth. Soon, Red Spear arrives at their tent. He hurriedly explains that Garut has slain Sidri and the group must escape before the King orders their deaths. He distracts the guards long enough for the party to run away, but pursuit can't be far behind.

Why did Garut kill the old shaman?
Where can the party hide from the angered badger clan?
Do they run away from the Forever plains and leave the clans to thier war, or try to prevent Orbeus from enacting the ritual?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blood Moon - 03 "Blood Wolf Attack!"

Khabsha's Journal:

There was a fast and furious battle that thundered over the plains for miles.

A dozen Blood Wolf Oroka warriors came over a rise firing arrows. They split into two flanking columns.

Rowan took a nasty wound that upon later inspection was more painful than serious, & then another one a bit later. Firing dismounted, her archery dropped some enemies until the galloping columns left her behind.

"Jim" (Fathakk) was a horse thief, an airborne jumping horse thief. "Boiing!" Daggers & Matilda in a blur of motion. Baffled Blood Wolves found themselves hitting the grass at high speeds.

Weylan felled some with his bastard sword, including one spectacular brain cleave.

Khabsha felled some with her warhammer, including a facial crunch & a windpipe smash. Later, her archery finished the last fleeing enemy, including one lucky long shot.

Cinder felled at least one enemy with magic.

How the Oroka friends fared will be told later. The lanky one was dropped. Could be serious.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blood Moon - 02 "Dead Bears and Big Feckin little people!"

Khabsha's journal entry.

Hmm...Weylan carefully and quietly climbed downslope & buried his sword in an unaware Blood Wolf who was watching the horses.
Montouk stated that his first plan had been to take Kelibri westward into maze country. He mentioned the Badger Clan to the south as neutral, guarded, & willing only to trade. His princely status couldn't hurt, and they should be given warning. Hopefully they have a few warriors extra eager for a fight.

Riding southward, Rowan had repeated visions of a headless spirit "chesting" westward. Diverting the group led to the finding of Swift Deer massacre survivors Garut, his wife Cadi, and their child Huron.

Soon after, flock of vultures led group to a Great Oak, where they found the body of GreyMantle, an enormous bear. Two days dead & without head. Many hoofprints (12-20?) lead northward. The Usual Suspects.

Then Scrim came charging out in a hungover huff. "Who the Fuck are Yeuww?!!" He was huge and strangely bony. Fathak nimbly avoided the fist that churned the earth. Weylan held halberd defensively & stated that we did not do this.

Rowan's quick and quickwitted use of Wical Command made the biggun "Stop and Listen." After stating the basic facts, group was invited in for a talk and a "drink". There were a couple of chambers under the tree. One was the chamber that held the Glogad na Allta. GreyMantle was the guardian of the magical helm that in the right ritual could transform one into something wild & scary.

Scrim's wine was superb in flavor but had a punch like his big version. The group did not merely loosen up, they left themselves wide open for anything the Biggun might have desired. Fortunately, Scrim not rapist like the Blood Wolves. Khabsha may acquire a Booze Lightweight Drawback.

Through a half drunk haze, group decided that two day mounted lead too much to close. Scrim, like Dennis Hopper (dying of prostate cancer), said we need a plan. Part One of the Plan looks like continuing on to Badger Clan.

Blood Moon - 01 " A New Adventure Begins!"

Well, despite a TPK the last time around, we're all back for another try at Aeranos. This time we have our good friend Brady at the keyboard, telling the tale from his character's point of view...

Erstwhile, our plucky band of mis-adventurers had found themselves thrown through space (and perhaps time) into the inky black heart of an eldritch cavern, wherein, under the illumination of a single torch, they observed a murder.

Or perhaps an accidental death, but either way, there were a dead Orokan shaman bleedin on the floor.
( yes, this sentence, and perhaps a score more to follow, use irregular grammar, end-jambed rhyme, and the occasional lovecraftian adjective.
This is working as intended.)

There in the tenebrous halls, the ichorous contents of the shaman's organs warbled and oozed their way to the edges of a circle delved into the rough cavern floor.

"Bloody feckin christ!" exclaimed Famous Jim, our pirate incognito.

He noted in his immediate vicinity a fairly hot Syvani woman, an Orokan goth girl, a hugely muscled reject from the Argosian fighting pits, and a man who had very obviously been made as his mirror image.

Quite disturbed by this prospect, our plucky hero immediately shifted his mighty mind into his biceps, and thus strengthened, snubbed out the blood-filled circle – lest its eldritch magics further discombobulate his new-found crew.

"Waky-wakey, eggs & bakey!" Said Jim, ( who our readers may remember is actually the dread pirate Fathakk Burjinn, of the house Burjinn; and a more rascally, vicious scurve the Nine Seas have never since known!)

The new-found crew, however, were already awake, and seemingly unaware of their new employer-employee relationships.

Most took up a defensive position, some fiddling with magics, some with weapons, one with a very obviously dead (ish) Orokkan. Through the guttural, klingonian speech, Fath (Jim) was able to make out:
"Not....Swans? .......Feck."

Retreating to the shadows, Jim attempted to go through the pockets of the bleeding shaman, but was met with consternation and disapproving scowls. Thus is the result of lootery during an emergency first-aid attempt. Noting screams and sounds of battle from further down the grobbulous cavern's depths, Jim and his crew left the Orokkan goth girl to play with her new shaman doll's dead spirit. Needing light, and not wanting to create a steady target should there be foes ahead, Jim gifted one of the Syvanni's arrows with a mage glimmer, which produced yet another look a consternation, this one a bit stronger than the last.

Rounding the corner, the crew met with a cavern opening into the night air, and a hail of arrows. A lone Orokkan perched behind the rocky cliff-edge and returned fire to unseen foes below. The Syvanni woman ( Whose name turned out to be Rowan... go figure, bloody elves.) ran to the ledge & plopped down next to the Orokkan & began to open fire into the unidentified brigands below.
Being of a somewhat inquisitive nature, our hero gifted himself with an uncanny ability to leap vast distances, and launched over the cliff-face; nimbly dodging down through arrow fire and hurled ire, to land behind whatever villains might be found there.
"Halloo!" he quipped, while relieving a villain of his need for hat, helmet, or haircut. Bloody hot ichor splashed across Fathakk's visage as he lunged towards his next victim.
Said victim turned out to be a freakin huge Orrokan warrior, who was angry both at having his friend's blood all over him, and that a measly little twerp in a very tattered cloak seemed to be the culprit.
With a parry and a thrust and an acrobatic kick to the brave's mid-section, Fath was on his way down the hill when he realized there was a spear hurtling through the air towards his face. Plucking said spear from the air, he found himself engaged with two Orokkan braves, both of which outweighed him by a good fifty-stone.

Lucky for our hapless hero, the newly acquired pirate crew was also in the process of descending the cliff-face, and handily routed the Orok horse lords. Handily, at the same time, a princess was saved via a long bow-shot and a prayer, and a prince reunited with her via some rope and an unconscious abductor. The day roundly was saved.

/To be continued.../

SESSION TWENTY FOUR "The End of the Line"

Perhaps someday I'll feel like detailing the demise of our heroes, but for now, all I can manage is a brief overview of those last few precious moments....

Unable to lift the massive portcullis, Ewald spell-tunneled a small passage. Ewald, Rory and Tristan closed the front drawbridge before a band of more skeletons and Daagar could enter, but not before a big Bone Demon got in. As Gruff fought and killed the demon alone, the other three fought their way upstairs, looking for the portcullis mechanism. They found it along with another group of Daagar and shamblers.

Despite some impressive killing by Rory, the fates turned against our heroes. One after the other was cut down in a gruesome display of what bad luck and overwhelming numbers can do to an adventuring party. Left alone to face Kadagar and his many remaining minions, Gruff sold his life at as high of a price as possible, but alas died too, bringing the quest to an abrupt, and dismal end.

But we had fun!

Monday, January 18, 2010

SESSION TWENTY THREE "Have fun Stormin' the Castle"

Rory jumps clear of the grasping hands of the shamblers. At the top of the ladder, Tristan prepares to jump by unsheathing sword and prepping his shield. As Rory swings his sword in defensive patterns, Tristan jumps down, hitting the floor with enough force to fall partially through, finding himself now at a distinct disadvantage as the shamblers find a new target. And to top it all off, the candle Tristan was holding goes out in the fall.

Thankfully, Rory and the others are ready. From his bandolier Rory pulls a dagger, which soon springs forth with magical light, before being thrown into the ceiling. Tristan pulls himself free of the flooring and lashes out at the nearest shambler as gruff sends shadowy tendrils toward one of the other undead.

Ewald chooses to forego the ladder altogether, using instead his lighter than air tread to simply move into position above the shamblers and start swinging away. By the light of Rory's dagger everyone can see that this tower level is made up of one giant storage area. As Tristan already found out, the floor is in poor shape. Besides the hole he made, a wide swath of floor has fallen away in the center of the room.

Even though a new shambler joins the fray from the far side of the room, and Tristan nearly gets hugged more than he wishes by unclean, dead things, between Gruff's shadows, Tristan’s magic sword and Durin that float like butterflies, the shamblers are soon taken care of. Wiping bits of goo off of their swords and clothes, they thoroughly explore the level, discovering a trapdoor on the far side of the room that apparently leads to the rough basement of the tower. Seeing that there are a couple more shamblers below, they decide they've seen enough and head back up.

The others notice with some curiosity, that Gruff has acquired a new shadowy sword by somehow enchanting one of the Daggar's own weapons with his new shadowy magic.

Faced with the certainty of having to use the parapet door, Rory decides to see what he can see and carefully peeks out. While no enemies are currently visible, mornings light is not far off. Shortly thereafter, a new set of Daggar appear at the far tower and start making their way towards the group. Even though Gruff rushes the ambush, soon two more Daggar join the pile of dead. Torn between proceeding at once, even though the spell casters are weakened, or resting and chancing discovery, the party decides that resting is the better option.

After disposing of the bodies down the shambler hole, Tristan keeps watch on the main door, while the others take a rest. Though Tristan hopes for the best, he's not really surprised when he sees the latch on the door begin to move. Quickly nudging his sleeping companions he pulls the side door mostly closed as weapons are silently drawn. They watch first one, then another skeleton warrior begin searching the halls. When the skeletons open their door, they are quickly brought down by Tristan and Gruff. Gruff is in turn, nearly brought down by the heavy crossbow bolts fired by the Daggar at the tower door.

As return fire, Rory lets loose with a fireball that while not subtle, takes all but one of the five Daggar out of the battle. As Gruff and Ewald engage the remaining enemy, a horn resounds from the main keep, signaling the end of the stealth portion of the mission. Tristan and Rory race down the outer tower stairs, taking fire from more Daggar on the main keep roof, until another fireball from Rory puts an end to that nonsense.

Not wanting to be left behind, Ewald takes the quick way down off the wall, jumping onto, and through the rotting roof of one of the inner courtyard buildings. Perhaps it's luck, or divine grace that keeps him from injuring himself, but whatever the cause. It means that he gets to the main keep stairs at the same time as everyone else. As they all scramble up the steep stairs, they are urged on by the sound of the drawbridge chains raising.

The main keeps drawbridge is more than a quarter of the way up when they reach it. Gruff Tristan and Rory make hurdling the obstacle seem easy. Ewald makes it look heroic. Still, results are all that matter at this point and time is of the utmost importance. As three heavily armored skeletons move forward to intercept the heroes, gruff once more calls on his shadow Magic to ensnare them.

Taking the initiative, Tristan moves past the entangled skeletons and straight into the keep. More crossbow bolts lodge themselves in his shield (which is of course better than his flesh). Rory sends a third fireball past Tristan to help clear the way, then Tristan is facing a well armored Daagar captain that appears to be Ewald’s dark opposite, with field plate and a greataxe.

While Gruff deals with the skeletons and Tristan dances with the Daagar captain, Rory and Ewald rush to help. With an acrobatic leap, Rory comes over the defensive platform and spits the heavily armored captain on the length of his bastard sword – a move that doesn’t fail to impress. The soul remaining Daagar warrior puts up a valiant fight, but soon falls to the combined might of the four heroes.

The next obstacle appears to be an inner portcullis that blocks their way. While there are no enemies present for the moment, sounds can be heard in the keep above. From his small store of dark energy, Gruff summons extra strength and moves toward the portcullis. The others move to help.

With the element of surprise now gone, speed becomes of paramount importance. Will the heroes find and defeat Kadagar? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A bit of the comic side

All in good fun my peeps

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An illustration inspired by our last session...

I call this one "An Evil Wind"

Completely designed in photoshop.

SESSION TWENTY TWO "Ice to meet you"

It takes precious moments for any of the others to even SEE the elementals, much less effectively react beyond brandishing weapons. Somewhat in the way of a helpful pointer, Rory sends a fireball toward one of the icy apparitions. Ewald makes good use of his time casting an enchantment upon his axe. Then the enemy is upon them.

Two of the elementals swarm Ewald, while the other two harass Rory and Gruff. As luck would have it, those with magic weapons seem to be able to hurt the creatures, though how much damage they actually do is questionable. Rory continues aiming fireballs at them, though it appears the fiery blasts do more to stun then actually kill. Gruff calls forth that old dark magic he does so well... only he doesn't.. exactly... do so well with it. A situation that quickly annoys the angered goat-man.

For their part, the elementals begin inflicting damage by enveloping the heroes in swirling frost and freezing winds. In moments, most everyone is suffering from frostburn on some exposed part of their body, Ewald taking the worst. They continue to swat at the insubstantial opponents while their curses are pulled away into the depths of the chasm below.

Though things at first look grim, eventually the tide turns as fireballs and magic weapons begin to take their toll. Much to his relief, Tristan finds that the punching dagger recently given to him by Goric the gimp is very effective against the elementals. As the first of the creatures is destroyed by a well placed thrust with said dagger, Tristan screams out a warning to Rory, "The ropes! They're freezing! They might break!" Rory however is too busy yanking on said ropes, using them to perform miraculous dodges and narrow escapes, to hear his friend.

The first rope to give is the one between Gruff and Rory. With a snap that is quickly swallowed by howling winds, the rope breaks. Rory and Tristan, weighing only somewhat more than a feather, immediately swing wide away from the Trulla and go trailing out in an arc behind Ewald.

Gruff, who at this very moment is silently cursing Seer Gavin and his worthless shadow magic, briefly considers making for the far side of the chasm without his friends. But it's only a brief thought, really.

Ewald wounds one of his opponents enough to send the creature fleeing into the depths of the canyon. He turns from his victory in time to see the weakened rope holding his two levitating companions snap. With a cry of despair, Tristan and Rory go sailing off into the dark at the speed of the rushing wind... or at least they would have, if not for the quick, furry hands of Gruff, who neatly reaches out and grasps the flailing rope.

Another creature is scared off by Ewald's deadly axe and the last remaining elemental is stunned by a quickly tiring Rory, allowing the group to grab hold of each other by whatever belts and harnesses they can find and make air-walking tracks toward the relative safety of the mountainside.

The last remaining elemental makes another go at stopping the heroes, but is put down and sent fleeing by the combined might of Ewald's and Tristan's magic weapons.

Perched on the exposed rock of Kadagar's mountainside, the group huddles and rests, attempting to gain back a little strength and stamina before making the last climb to the keep itself. Though the others show concern, Gruff's summoned wolf (which everyone can't help but notice looks much different than Finn, his old celestial companion) moves up the mountainside to scout the approach.

With several candles of darkness remaining, they set off once more. In hopes of saving their magical strength for later, when it might be more needed, they elect to make the last ascent without the aid of Ewald or Rory's spells. Drawing nearer to the keep, they notice for the first time, a small gatehouse below the castle itself. Opting to swing wide around that nest of possible traps and enemies, they approach the keep from the south side, making some difficult and perilous climbs to get there.

About a hundred feet below the south wall of the keep, they are stopped by a near sheer cliff. Looking up at the old walls, they can see the ruins of some sort of structure built off the wall. Possibly a pulley-house or some sort of lift, with broken chains dangling from the windows.

As they consider the best way up, a face appears briefly from one of the windows, Stillness and darkness keep them from being spotted, but also keep them from verifying the identity of the guard. Resigned to the fact that one more round of airwalk spells will be required, Ewald casts his now familiar magic and the group quickly climbs toward the southeast tower, aiming for one of the deep-set windows higher up.

There's another close call when a second guard is spotted on the Northeast, main keep tower, but the group quickly moves out of sight and behind the bulk of the south tower. Finding the narrow window shuttered and barred, Rory has to spend several minutes jimmying the catch before the group can step into the blackness of the tower itself.

They find themselves in a narrow hall that seems to bisect the tower. In each wall are two shut doors and at the far end is a steep staircase that apparently leads down only. No sound can be heard behind any of the doors, and once the shutter is re-latched, the hallway grows almost completely dark. Needing to try at least one of the rooms, Gruff steps into a dusty barracks room. If the dust is any indication, the room hasn't been visited in years.

One by one, they descend the stairs, with their designated scout, Rory, in the lead. At the base of the stairs the passage turns left. Rory's excellent vision is enough to spot a sentry standing thirty feet away at the four-way junction of intersecting halls. A quick inspection by Gruff notes the guard to be of the bloodless, skeleton variety.

A prodigious Trullik leap puts Gruff in easy sword swing of the sentry, where he absolutely destroys the creature with one solid, if-not-quiet-at-least-quick blow. A moment later, drawn by the noise, a Daagar head pops out of the newly exposed west hall, and then quickly pops back in when he sees a charging Trulla warrior. Before the white-skinned daagar can shut the door, Gruff is on him and he is desperately defending himself. Rory and Ewald are quick on Gruff's heals and the first daagar takes a nasty wound and tries to dive under a table to avoid the swinging great weapons.

Rory spots the other two daagar in this room, just rising and reaching for weapons. Moments later they are helplessly entangled in a mass of sticky, magical webbing. As Tristan makes his blind-Neran-in-a-dark-hall way toward the candlelight this room helpfully provides, Gruff ends the first Daagar by cracking his skull with a Trulla headbutt and the two remaining enemies begin screaming "HELP! INTRUDERS!" in Daagar. Hoping to shut these two up quickly, Tristan and Rory begin poking at the figures through the webs. Though several shouts are raised before the two are skewered, there appears to be no general alarm.

Not wanting to chance staying in the same place for too long, the group quickly checks the room across from them, opting for the moment to stay away from the large door at the end the hall, which Ewald believes will bring them to the well guarded front wall and gate area. The room they do enter appears to be a storage room of some sort. A quick search reveals a trap door in the floor that leads down by means of a rickety ladder. Again Rory takes the lead, climbing carefully down and using what little light trickles down from Tristan's candle to peer into the gloomy room.

There are many shapes in the shadows. While Rory's kirith-syvani eyes are good, it's the squeaking floorboards and rotting smell that give him his only split-second clues. From all sides out of the darkness lunge more bloodless undead, this time in the form of four shambling corpses that may have have been hodran at one-time. Springing backwards, Rory deftly avoids the putrid arms of each and every one of his attackers, slipping through the rungs of the ladder, kicking off the tower wall and somersaulting over the grasping undead. Coming to his feet with sword in hand, he faces off against this newest threat with hope that his friends above will quickly join in...