Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Adventures of Golgen and Nim - 01

My son (age 11) and daughter (age 9) had their first adventure in Aeranos today. Since they both had lots of fun, I'd call it a success. Though I tried for a straight up dungeon delve, they were having none of it, Between diplomacy with the enemy and caring for their henchmen, they managed to blow most of the hack and slash stereotypes I expected. It was really cool to see.

The Characters
Golgen Zeron Beclonzy: Oroka Warrior. Third son of the Chieftain of the Horselords of the Oras-fel plains. Strong, loyal, not incredibly intelligent, but excellent with the warhammer and shield.

Nimphzahla Mizma Salzim: Faelinarie Druidess. Young forest sprite of the Greenwood. Carefree, loyal, out to experience life while protecting the natural realms.

The Adventure
I borrowed this little gem of an adventure from Dyson's Adventure Blog, pretty much as written. (warning to my regular players: leave this site alone! I might be using Dyson's maps a lot. Great stuff!)

Anyway it has to do with a band of Kudra Raiders and a hidden horror at the bottom of an old ruin in a forest gully. Golg and Nim scouted out the gully with two of Golg's henchmen, Bangel and Regul, twin Oroka warriors. They made their way through the ruins, fighting Kudra along the way, but then Regul took a serious wound beyond Nim's ability to heal.

Finishing the battle, they managed to capture the last Kudra combatant. It turned out there was no question of continuing the mission. Regul was badly injured. They left the gully and took their injured, and their prisoner back to the village.

When interrogated, the Kudra promised to take them back to the gully in the morning and treat with his leader, Moluk, for the release of their prisoners, who were taken in the latest raid.

That night, an assassin entered the village and put a poison dart in the Kudra's neck. Nim was summoned and used her magic to neutralize the poison and save the Kudra's life. In gratitude, the enemy, who gave his name as Grayfeather, told Golg and Nim what was really going on.

Apparently the Kudra brigands were really being led by a mysterious, dark robed wizard who was keeping some kind of a horrible creature in the ruins. The prisoners were to feed the creature, and the Kudra were all serving the Master out of fear. In exchange for this information, they let Grayfeather go, and made a friend from an enemy.

Returning in the morning with a dozen warriors, they made their way deeper into the ruins. Nim was briefly captured, but managed to free herself with a clever use of the Levitation spell (proving that spell useful to even winged creatures in a bind). They routed the Kudra and rescued the prisoners.

The evil wizard waited for the unsuspecting heroes to release his creature, which they did. Unfortunately for him, the heroes than proceeded to run away. The evil creature, a horrible demonic ooze then stuck around the ruins long enough to eat the wizard and the remaining hidden Kudra, before making its way outside.

They valiantly tried to put some arrows into it, but when that proved unsuccessful, they showed great wisdom in running back to the village to warn everyone of the horror they unwittingly released.

And so ended the not-so-typical dungeon delve.

Congratulations to Liam and Rowen on achieving a great, ambiguously happy ending to their first adventure, with plenty of oozy reasons to continue adventuring next time.

The Ooze on the Loose

Thursday, November 14, 2013

You can check out the rough, first draft, in progress story here.

Grayforge Isle

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grayforge Isle

The ongoing adventures of the Order of the Swan are taking a slightly different Bloggish form. My newest Aeranos project is a illustrated, journal-style novella of the adventure. As such, it's a heck of a lot throw into a blog.

The illustrations are a work in progress, and I will throw in some samples as the adventure proceeds. I have the first part of the story written (first draft) and here is a link.

Part 1 (Rough) 

These are the short-hand notes of the second and third parts, which will probably only make any sense to my players, but until I get the rest written, is all I have to show.

Part 2
Discussed sneaking in. Causing a distraction. How to escape with 17 weak and wounded Dinari.
Discussed another recon by Taen.
Discussed finding and talking to the Silverbelly Golem. How do we find him?
Yank! anchor chain. He has found the ship. Pulling it down... one armed!
Cloudwalk. Taen investigates.
Conversation. Stirred the nest. Kudra angry. Wants to make a deal. Meet on the shore.
Hokbeuli's story. Crab God senses all. Took my arm. Help retrieve friends in exchange for help retrieving hammer. "The story" Can't harm kudra. Taen: Drag ship. Khabsha: Cloudwalk to avoid detection. Blood magic prevents detection. Disturb treasure bring CrabGod and Kudra. Hokbeuli strikes, retrieves Dinari. Exchange.
Kudra coming. Hide in water behind rock.
Back on ship. Discuss plan. Make deal. Will MacGowen give up the hammer? Gail doesn't know. Not his call. Look over notes on Angvar's barrow. Discuss poem. Red Witch? Blood sorcery? Too bad Cinder's not here. Send Taen to agree and retrieve a piece of Silverbelly unknown for scrying purposes. How will we get the anchor chain to him? Should work, as long as the weather is good...
Cut to morning. Raging storm. hail, sleet, winds. DO WE PROCEED? We must.
Engineering scene. lower the ship. reel the anchor chain. apply shorter chain. Khabsha nearly slips.
Silverbelly takes chain. Disappears into water. Can he hold the ship? Yes. At least no kudra patrols.
2 candles later. Close call. Get to northern tip of Island.
Cloudpack. Cloudwalk. Silverbelly leaves anchored. Heads to village to wait.
Slog through mist. In danger of being pushed off of island. Tired.
Reach dolmen. All growth ceases. Khabsha senses. Blood drenched stones. Test. no damage.
Move on to huge, perfect structure. massive dome.
Lightning strike. shaken. Deaf. Split up. Khabsha and Taen find "entrance" Slab. Dolmens.
More blood and old runes. Others find nothing til they meet up from other side.
Check slab. Huge. Immovable. Engraving. Understanding spell. "Ye who disturb the dead, suffer the curse of living death"
more blood and ethereal ice. The cold of death seen with spell. Taen sees Athelbran in lightning on barrow. Bone white skin. Fearful. Spells waver.
spread out around door. No way in. Khabsha "climbs" Graham touches earth... no crabgod. must be within boundary.
Khabsha finds small hole. Taen might fit. Taen won't go. work at hole with hammer. "someone watching" feeling. Enough breaks to possibly get Rowen through. Go to top. Feeling stronger. pulled off? by Red Witch.
Graham and Rowen check out hole. Do we go back?
Must go on. Rowen strips out of armor. throws in light stone. Hawkwing silent. ties rope. Enters head first. Scary moment. not stuck. drops into pillared chamber. reeks of death.
exits: hole in floor. narrow arch to north and south. puddle.
Thru arch: chain diagonal. more pillars. another archway to south, another hole in floor. Taen stays right on Rowen. ancient warrior corpses. falling apart.
Outside, rain intensifies.
Part 3
explore pits.
find Blood Chamber door. symbol. Maybe later.
Back the other way. Explore beginning of Gloomrot Hall. Light extinguished. see blades. hmm.
Go back to hole. explain choices.
Taen attacked by Bone Golem. minor wound.
Rowen joins attack. Golem flees down gloomrot hall.
Back to Blood Chamber door. Open.
A few steps in. Taen realizes poison herbs. Step back.
Too late. Rowen sneezes. Poisoned. Eyes, nose throat. Regeneration helps. Pureblood spell.
This place sucks. Discuss leaving. Why would someone create a deathtrap grave?
There were arcane symbols on the wall of blood chamber. Taen can search it without stirring up. Mask.
Capstone. arcane symbols. sketched by Taen. Shown to Rowen. Astrological symbols.
Pull chain. reveal starlight window. Hidden on outside by glamour.
Coordinate outside. Khabsha breaks it with hammer. Lower down inside. Gang's all together.
Graham finds some old scrolls. too brittle. dangerous herbs. get out of room.
Gloomrot hall.... discuss options. Spend a candle searching for hidden passages. fine tooth comb. no luck.
Khabsha: Stoneskin. Greater Radiance. eats magic. careful walk through maze.
This place sucks.
Robed dead. more pits. What are these for? Paintings on walls. Beornian daily life. hunting hounds. ships.
Downstairs. Warrior Room. shields, spears. Cold Iron door, much like front door. Reverse passage. lets check that out.
Warrior barracks. storage rooms. Paintings. Warriors "valhalla". Searching.
Graham sees Rowen out of corner of eye. Asks question. Not Rowen, actually Athelbran. Scares Graham into pit. Quick thinking. Jam halberd into walls. Slow descent. oomph.
Bone Golems attack. 4 in pit. 5 in room. Blades not as effective. minor wounds Taen and Rowen not as effective. Graham smashing left and right. Khabsha's hammer good.
Destroyed. Nicks in halberd.
Search storage area. unopened barrels. No exit. Search pit for secret passage. no luck. Have to try cold door.
This place sucks.
Cold door. Pushed open. Extravagant hall. Death magic. Rowen peeks. Sees bodies to left, statue of king to right. Sloping passage. Strange eyes. Paralyzed. Pulled back into room by Graham.
eyes moving, body cold and lifeless. Worry. Discuss. no pulse. Slowly revived. Dangerous statue. what to do? tie rope. send someone else out. hmmm.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Well of Dunbolten - An Aeranos Encounter

Rowen, Khabsha and Taen

Graham is away with Gowen and Trenton on a trip into the fringes of the Winter Wood. Cinder is on semi-permanent sabbatical in Heljin's Tower and Fathak is likewise permanently engaged on the high seas.

While attending a small political dinner with the King and several Chieftains and Trade leaders, a messenger arrives from the small village of Dunbolten, one days ride to the west of the city.

The Message and the Story:
The people of the Fomish village of Dunbolten have lost three children over the last several months. The first they thought simply wandered too far into the woods, but when a second and third disappeared, the last from his own bed and with signs of a struggle, they knew a predator stalked them.

Being the good, tax paying Fommish that they are, they sent for the king's soldiers to help them in their time of need. A Knight of Culan arrived with a hand of soldiers. They searched the woods and the moors, and questioned the villagers. Just when they seemed to be at a loss, one of the villagers made a gruesome discovery while bringing water from the village well.

The bloody finger was that of the last child gone missing. Horrified by the find, and anxious to find the thing responsible, the Culanian Knight took his men into the dark hole after the unknown terror. That was four days ago. No sound nor sign has been heard from the well.

Fearing the worst, the village elder had the well covered and chained, and now leaves a villager on guard for signs of the Knight's return or the creature itself.

The three agree to ride with the messenger back to Dunbolten and investigate the well. At a stop along the way, the messenger introduces himself as Marduk. He tells them that he is the Uncle to the little boy who was last taken, Jenner. He asks about their past experiences, and pleads with them to get his nephew back.

Once in the village, they are led to the village elder, Headman Monmont, who explains what has transpired. Rowen asks for something personal of Jenner's. Marduk hurries to get the boy's mother Arelina, who brings a locket of hair. With everyone looking on, Rowen employs a bit of her new magic, a scrying spell.

The spell goes well, and Rowen sees a strange sight. Her perspective appears to be from the eyes of the child. She can see a hazy view of a cavern, but dark spots mar the view. These abnormalities of sight seem to come from the child, not the scrying. There are liquid-like gurglings and when the child's hand briefly comes into view, Rowen can see trails of tiny bubbles. Though she watches for a few minutes, nothing else becomes apparent.

After explaining her vision the mother and villagers present are greatly relieved. Without further delay, the three adventurers prepare for their trip down the well.

Armor bundled separately, and with plenty of rope ready, they pull the stones from atop the planks boarding the well. Taen does some initial recon, flying down into the well to the water level and finding no signs. Taking the plunge, she goes below, and with the help of one of Rowen's light stones, soon finds a hole in the wall of the well that appears to lead away into further submerged caverns.

With Taen continuing to lead the way, and Rowen and Khabsha following her rope tied form, they make their way through a short but harrowing tunnel. They surface in a large, natural looking cavern. Investigation reveals the only further exits being through another submerged section. In this cavern they find many footprints in the mud, showing signs that Sir Beregrd and his men at least came this way, and made it this far.

It's at this point that Rowen's sword, Hawkwing, gives it by now familiar warning of demonic presence, but unlike in the past, this warning is fleeting and inconsistent. The blade sets to vibrating and then suddenly cuts out, only to start up again a few moments later.

With little else to go on, they once again send Taen at the end her rope, into the water. The first underwater passage she checks ends in a muddy, rocky dead end, almost in more ways than one. A huge, demonic fish with a mouthful of razor teeth snaps at Taen as she desperately evades. Her tugging on the rope causes Khabsha and Rowen to pull her backwards with great force. Banged and beaten, but at least not eaten, Taen is pulled from the water. All three see the large, twelve foot pike lunge briefly from the water before disappearing back into the depths.

When calmed once more, the three decide there's nothing much for it but to wade in and take care of the menace. Tossing some light stones into the water to give them warning, they go waist deep in the water as Taen hovers just below the low ceiling. Soon enough they are attacked by the wily devil fish. Through teamwork, some close calls and Hawkwing's warnings they manage to smash and stab the fish until the water is stained black and three of the beasts are destroyed.

Cutting open the largest of the beasts, a fish fifteen feet in length, they find the gruesome remains of a man, along with a small light gem. With no further sign of fish, they explore the other passages and soon find a deeper tunnel where the ripped remains of chain mail, along with a broken sword and discarded helmet bear proof of at least one of the knight's end.

Like before the passage rises back into an air filled cavern, but the this time the craggy room has occupants. As the three pull themselves up from the water, they are faced with three undead soldiers, one of which is headless. As the creature's attack, one of the ones with a head speaks in a croaking voice, "Turn back or the children DIE Now..."

Needless to say, the heroes do not heed the warning, knowing that any chance the children have rests in a quick dispatching of these things. With sword, hammer and bow, Rowen, Khabsha and Taen finish off the walking remains of the last rescue party.

There is only one exit from the chamber. Just a short way through the passage they find a crumbled set of large, rune engraved stones leaning against each other. The only way to proceed is to step through them. A test of the magic, reveals the way to be some sort of planar passage, not unlike the pond before the Shadow Tower. Like that way, this seems to lead to Cairn Nan Arq, the Shadow realm.

With a weary sigh, they choose to proceed, having learned through experience that demons seem to prefer the Shadow realm to their own. Unfortunately, they are not long in this new tunnel before they come to another portal much like the first.

Two such planar shifts so close to one another is a new thing. Carefully, they probe the new gateway, wary of a trap. Through investigation, they learn that anything placed through the gate loses its magical properties. Knowing something nasty waits beyond, the two Wicala's are loath to lose the magical advantage, but again, they aren't spoiled for choice.

The fact that the undead minions spoke of the children, leads them to believe that whatever holds the children knows of their coming. There is no going back for reinforcements, even if there were reinforcements to be had. Even now, the creature responsible could be killing his victims, if indeed they weren't already long dead.

So, wasting no time, they prepared what offense and defense was left to them, armor and sword, bow and hammer, lit fitful torches and stepped through this second portal into who knew what realm to face who knew what challenge.

Stepping through and to the side, to make room for the others, they were faced with a jagged, bone filled cavern. More importantly to the two priestess's, they were not only cut off from their magic, but were totally and utterly cut off from their Gods, so isolated from their identity, that each could only just keep themselves from falling to the ground, leaving only Taen to face the ten foot, reptilian monstrosity's opening attack.

And face it she did. While her arrow found it's mark, the beast was barely distracted. It's counter strike came in the form of a pair of clawed hands powered by long, strong arms. The beasts tail lashed out and Rowen jumped clear, crashing through the dry bones on the floor. As she circled it, testing it's speed with Hawkwings still keen edge, Khabsha brandished her hammer and took the creature in its side, caving ribs and bursting armored skin.

Even this powerful blow barely seemed to hamper the creature. Indeed, Taen's arrow wound and Rowen's cuts disappeared only moments after they were given, and the creature's ribs seem to crackle and reform as the three heroes watched and circled. Then Khabsha took a glancing blow from one of its claws and felt the acidic burn of demonic poison.

As Rowen dashed in to save her friend, and Taen circled above it's head, Khabsha fought off the poison. When it turned again, she let loose a terrible Oroka cry and rushed in, hammer raised high. The weapon crashed once into the creature's high head. She spun and brought it down again, this time finding the beasts knee and bringing it crashing low. Once more her hammer found its mark, this time it's hook smashing through the creature's chest and finding the vital organs within. With a jerk of her corded arms there came a popping and grinding, and with it, a dwindling struggle from the demon. The three fighters surrounded the downed demon and hacked and slew until little remained of the giant beast.

In the aftermath, the heroes found the remains of Sir Beregrd and three pale sacks of liquid suspended from the ceiling. Within the sacks were the three missing children. All had some form of cord attached to their necks, and two appeared to still be moving, if sluggishly.

Rowen experimentally put a small hole in one of the sacks. The liquid that squirted out hissed and spit as it hit the floor. With a gloved finger she plugged it. From this the three deduced that whatever demonic acid was within, only burned when it touched air. Together they devised a plan to roll the sacks carefully through the passage and into the water.

It was difficult and grueling work, but they managed it, and a candle later, they had rescued and revived two of the three children. After bringing them back to the surface, along with Sir Beregrd's shield and the creature's head, they were greeted with a hero's welcome, cheers from the villagers and hugs from grateful families.

Beregrd's shield and the head of the demon were sent to his Chieftain with a letter explaining the deed. Rowen, Khabsha and Taen rested in Dunbolten, after staying for a celebratory feast. They then returned to Kaergot to report their deeds.

Between Adventures

Time has passed in the Kingdom of Fom. The heroes of the Order of the Swan, having saved the princess and earned the respect of King Ironcrown and his court, have stayed on a while in the Kingdom. As the season changes, each has spent their time in differing ways, enjoying a well earned rest after the trials of the Shadow Tower.

Lady Rowen, with the help of the Queen and the Tuath of Birchwood Hall, has continued to firm up the new found good feelings between the Syvani and the people of the Kingdom. She has divided her time between diplomatic duties and study and prayer, learning new spells and practicing old ones, and attending feasts and telling bardic tales of the Swan's exploits.

Graham has found himself elevated from "ex" criminal to titled knight of the Kingdom. Sir Graham has wasted little time in wooing the prettiest of the eligible ladies of Kaergot while also spending time with Tristan and Redknife, honing his fighting skills. As reward for his part in saving Princess Iala, the king gifted him with a very fine Halberd, of the finest Durin make. He has yet to name the blade but is already learning it has more properties than simply to cut.

Lord Cinder, having already made good connections with the Mage Tower in the North, and fearing that an extended stay would sorely test his lackluster diplomatic skills, left Kaergot while the wishes were still warm. He continues his magical studies in Heljin's tower under the tutelage of the arch-mages there.

Fathak D'Burjinn crafted his fame and renown into a commission in the Fommish navy, finally finding his way back into a captaincy on a fine vessel, running protection for merchant ships while acting under a letter of marquee and hunting down pirates. It's anyone's guess how long the rogue can stay on the fair side of the law, but for now, life is good.

The Faelinarie, Taen, contributed greatly in cleaning out the city of the spies and cultists of the Web Mistress. In partial conjunction with the city guard and the less reputable guilds, she used her considerable roguish talents to ferret out the worst of the demonic influence. While she knows better than most that such a chore is never finished, that doesn't stop her from trying. Besides, having tasted the life of adventure, she's just not ready to return to her tranquil forest home.

Khabsha has been content to follow Rowen and the other Swans. Like Rowen, she has attended the feasts and banquets, and like her Wicalic sister, she has taken the time to study her shamanic abilities. Perhaps more than the others, Khabsha feels that her time with the Swans is a calling. She does what is necessary to prepare for the trials ahead, including practicing her martial skills.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shadowed Tower 14 - "Best Party Ever!" THE FINALE!

An interlude to "catchup" an old friend into the adventure:

Fathak's Story

After defeating the Blood Wolves, Fathak stayed around the other Orokan tribes just long enough to collect a reward, standing in for the rest of the Swans. After parsing out Beta's share, he took a ride from one of the swans, the real ones, who stayed around long enough to drop him off near Kaergot, where they sensed the other members of the order roughly were.

Once in Kaergot, he did a little searching, but couldn't find them. He did meet a lovely, Fommish ship captain's wife however, who distracted him for nearly a week. Turning dalliance to profit, he managed to meet several lesser Kaergot nobles during the week of festivities leading to the princess's birthday, and get a lead on buying a captaincy on a swift Fommish patrol ship.

Now he has spent a bit of his gold on noble costuming and has been invited to the grand birthday celebration at Frostwyrm Keep, where he hopes to talk up Lord Durmhelm MacBran, High Admiral of the King's navy.

His contacts in the underworld, along with a fine nose for trouble, leads him to believe that all isn't right in the city. There are rumors that murderers on both sides of the law or looking for a group of Syvani and their henchmen. The description of a female Syvani forester leading them has been mentioned and Fathak has his suspicions that this may be Rowen.

Knowing the danger his friends are in, he decides to spend money hiring a shady sorcerer named Halfhand to do a finding spell on the swan pendant. The spell points the way to an actors guildhall in the rich quarter of the city.

With only a few hours before the grand feast at the castle is set to begin, the spell led Fathak and Halfhand to the gates of the Guildhall of Master Redwine. Parting ways with the sorcerer, Fathak knocks upon the doors…

Back to our session…

After having been smuggled into the city of Kaergot by Gowen and Trenton, the group is introduced to Master Redwine, an aged, flamboyant theater owner and consummate actor. The guildhall is in a state of hyper activity, with actors and stagehands getting the last bits ready to take up to the castle for a royal presentation of the grand play, The Saga of the Northmen.

While Master Redwine is somewhat sympathetic to their cause, he is hesitant to put his troupe and career in danger. As the group tries to persuade the old man to take a chance, Fathak's presence at the door is announced. After the surprise wears off, Rowen and the others ask Redwine to let him in.

Fathak offers up the reward poster and his story. To Redwine, he offers up the money from the Orokan tribes as payment. Moments after the transaction is finalized, a patrol of city guards show up at the door. Redwine has the group led to a secret room where they wait, hoping the man can be trusted, and taking the opportunity to fill Fathak in on the current adventure.

After seeing the guards off, who he feels sure were tipped off by Fathak's hired sorcerer, Redwine tells them of his plan to sneak them into the castle…

Two candles later, two Actor's guild wagons rumble up the road toward Frostwyrm Keep. Rowen is expertly disguised as one of Master Redwine's Neran servants. Khabsha, also disguised, has taken the place of Redwine's Orokan stableman, Morka. Taen is simply well hidden inside a trunk, Graham has donned the garb of a stagehand and Cinder is a Syvani most cleverly disguised as a Neran actor, dressed as a Syvani, complete with fake pointed ears over real pointed ears. Fathak plans to meet the group inside the castle.

A bit later, the group has successfully made it into the keep. Much to their chagrin, the rumors concerning the anti-magic field appear to be completely true. Once within a spears throw of the outer castle wall no magics function. Thanks to some previous planning, Cinder did call his elemental, Digger and sent the creature into the keep through subterranean means. Though he loses his magical connection to the creature, it does remain.

The entire inner courtyard is full with party goers and feasters. The Great feast hall as well, though they soon learn that many of the greater nobles have yet to arrive. No one sees Laird Talis, nor the Princess Iyala or King Ironcrown. While Rowen and Graham quickly mingle with the plethora of servants, Khabsha stays close to Master Redwine, and Taen flits among the rafters, staying hidden but listening and watching for clues.

Cinder plays his part to the hilt, brandishing a fake Syvani blade and barking promotions for the coming play. He uses the role to get closer to the nobility. Fathak hob knobs with the rich and influential. He spies Digger in a nearby drain grate and sends him off to see about finding a means of breaking the anti-magic runes

Through conversations had and overheard they learn the following bits:

- Nobles of higher rank will not appear for a an hour or two.

- The Lady Brightwing is kindness incarnate. All of Kaergot loves her.

- Such hatred of an entire race is never to be born, but of all, the King would have his right to it. His lady murdered by the Elfane slavers and his daughter taken slave when but a child. It is good that he has found a measure of peace with the Lady Brightwing.

- Laird Talis? I hear he recently fell foul of a plot to ransom him. It is said that he was rescued by none other than the King's High Bard, Dags MacRowd.

- A nest of Syvani assassins was found hiding in the city just two days ago. The Kings guard put them to death, but their female leader is still on the loose.

- The Princess must finish her Crossing Over ceremony before attending the feast. It is a women's ritual held in the Castle Chapel.

The Crossing Ceremony
Old Beornian custom symbolizing the daughters crossing into womanhood by crossing water in a specially prepared boat and then being blessed by the priestesses of Nedra. A male protector is chosen when the child is born that acts as the young womans guardian and escort - her Iron Guardian that protects her during her symbolic crossing.

Cinder spies Master Embraster, Archmage and head wizard of the Heldjin Tower of Wizardry, whom he briefly met when visiting the guild tower. Having not found Talis, he decides to take a risk, revealing his presence and mission to the man.

While Master Embraster chooses not to reveal them, he also remains wary, knowing that such plans could backlash horribly. He does tell Cinder that Jory Talis is the Princess Iyala's ceremonial protector in her crossing over ceremony. Before distancing himself, he suggests that the King may not be the target.

With what Cinder learned from Archmage Embraster, the group convenes backstage. They decide that the Princess is more likely the target, along with Lady Brightwing, with her political ambitions toward mending fences with the Syvani.

The King and greater nobles finally arrive. Lady Brightwing then departs to attend the Princess's ceremony.

Fathak and Cinder work on informing the King and his friend, Sir Angus Mur of the plot, while Rowen, Taen and Graham make haste toward the Castle chapel and the Crossing Ceremony

Khabsha stays near Cinder and Fathak, ready to provide aid if needed.…

Many things happen quickly now.

Taen flies over the chapel pond, where the ceremony is set to take place. Dozens of noblemen's daughters line the edges of the pond. The Princess stands next to a boat bedecked with flowers. Jory Talis waits on the far side, with several Wicalas of the Mistress and his two squires flanking him.

In Rowen's role as serving girl, she gives the guards at the chapel gate a written message for Jory, claiming urgency. The guard calls an acolyte to pass the message.

The Lady Brightwing approaches the chapel.

Having finally convinced Sir Angus and the King, a bevy of royal guards led by the Captain of the guards and followed by Sir Angus and the King himself rush toward the Chapel.

Taen, seeing disaster near at hand, decides to approach Jory to tell him of the danger. Unfortunately, the sudden appearance of a Faelinarie in the chapel grounds sends people into a storm of fear and excitement.

In the chaos that ensues, a fight breaks out between Jory's two squires. Guards rush into the chapel grounds and bustle off the Princess and Lady Brightwing. Jory screams for calm as guards scramble to capture Taen.

Jory's squire, Orin informs his lord that the other squire pulled his dagger and was attempting to stab Laird Talis. In the struggle that followed he was forced to kill the man.

The acolyte with Rowen's message manages to deliver it belatedly.

In the aftermath, Jory is whisked off to a safe room in the castle and away from anyone of import. The princess and Lady Brightwing are likewise protected. The Swans are brought together before Sir Angus and the Guard Captain, where they reveal the entirety of their story. They are informed that in the morning, they will be brought before the king.

In the candle after, they are summoned to Laird Talis's rooms by Jory himself. They are met at the door by Squire Orin, who thanks them for protecting his lord before excusing himself to tend to other matters. Inside, Jory thanks them, and informs them that the King's surgeons are making plans to attempt to remove the Nightfire from his belly.

When they ask him if he had any suspicions about Squire Cedric, he claims that Cedric had been his friend and squire for years. "If anything, he would have thought that Squire Orin would be the danger." Eyebrows raised, they ask why. Jory replies that Squire Orin was a recent replacement to his retinue after his original choice, Squire Donovan became sick. Orin, it turns out, was suggested by Master Olifson, a nephew to the castle Steward.

With sinking hearts they realize the danger. They rush after the squire, led by castle guards. Across the castle, in the Princess's rooms they find three guards dead and Orin on the balcony, the princess unconscious and draped over his shoulder. Taen is first to the balcony, but unable to fire her bow for fear of hitting the Princess.

Squire Orin disappears over the edge, apparently having jumped to his death, but moments later he is seen flying off on a Forest Wyvern. Khabsha wastes little time in blowing the Swan Horn as Taen takes off in pursuit of the quickly dwindling wyvern.

Running to the parapets the others meet Vaesh and Cyrilla along with a small party of Windrider reinforcements mounted on Hippogryphs. Only Jory's cries keep the castle guards from attacking them. In a hurried conversation with the Windriders, Vaesh orders four of the Syvani to give over their mounts and the Swans and remaining Windriders take to the sky in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Taen has managed to tail the Wyvern from a safe distance. She follows it to an old, abandoned rock quarry several miles from the castle. Once she's certain Orin is staying put, she hurries back to find the others. Thus forewarned, the rescuers approach the quarry shortly thereafter, landing and planning a safe distance away.

The quarry is a Durin industrial site, and is both wide and deep, filled with a murky lake. The building in which Orin has holed up is a sturdy, two story, granite one, with slate roofs and iron shutters and doors. It sits on a pillar of quarried stone, surrounded by scaffolds and cranes, and only accessed by two rusting iron suspension bridges. The wyvern rests atop the roof and no light can be seen from within.

Making their plan quickly, for fear of what might befall the princess, the group decides to split into two elements. Cinder, Graham, Khabsha and Taen will fly their hippogryphs in low, landing on the sliver of stone on the buildings edge, Taen's daggers, and their cloud of silence, being used to hopefully remain undetected by the resting wyvern on the building's roof. Rowen and the Windriders will remain outside and at a distance, waiting for Digger to make an entrance that everyone can use.

The first part of the plan goes well. Cinder's party makes it to the foot of the structure undetected. He sends a Whispered Message back to the others to follow in three minutes. Digger is able to excavate a hole through the unworked stone beneath the side wall of the building. Once through, Taen pops her head up from beneath a tattered rug. She spies two crouched and resting Spider Fiends, Dessicated and spindly Nerans with black, multi-faceted eyes and wickedly sharp, poison stained daggers. Taking them by surprise, they are quickly taken down. Together the group explores the first level. Between Khabsha and Graham, two more fiends are ended before they are able to open the front doors, and motion from within that Rowen should follow.

As carefully as the first batch, Rowen flies her mount right through the wide doors and dismounts. With spell silenced daggers still active, they make their way to the second story. There Cinder incinerates another fiend before they step through the main door of a large room. Unnatural darkness covers the room, and only the vaguest outline of a figure near the floor can be seen.

Fearing the unnatural darkness and what might lurk within it, Khabsha calls bright holy light to the entire room. Revealed there is the Princess, unconscious and chained by cruel iron manacles inside a quick but effective circle of magic. Squire Orin is caught staring into a crude, full-sized mirror, magically conversing with a dark robed figure looking much like the figure that attacked the party in the dockyards of Neued. Two more spider fiends lurch to attack as Orin cloaks himself in some form of shadow armor, and reveals a glaive made of shadowy substance.

Rowen, Graham and Khabsha rush to protect the princess as Taen and Fathak occupy the spider fiends. Orin lets fly with some form of shadowy barb of energy that Graham avoids with a deft spin. He is then hit with Cinder's burning blast of eldritch fire that tears away his shadow armor and chars the flesh of his shoulder and side. Fathak pins a fiend with two daggers before slashing the beast with his trusty blade, Matilda. Taen's arrow finds the other beast, and Khabsha's hammer. As Orin tries to right himself Graham skips in with a heavy sword blow made with such precision that it's several moments before anyone realizes the fight is over.

As the upper diagonal half of Squire Orin's torso slides wetly from the lower portion to the floor, and the last fiend is destroyed, an oppressive weight is lifted from the area. The wyvern screams it's freedom from the rooftop before disappearing into the night and the Swans free the princess and return to the castle.

Wrap Up

The events of the day, having been both heroic and memorable, go a long way toward re-establishing diplomatic ties between the Kingdom of Fom and the Syvani Tuaths of the region. In the immediate aftermath, Cinder convinces Master Embraster to Fargate the Swans and a contingent of the King's soldiers to Castle Talis, in hopes of having a word with the estimable Steward Margos Olifson. Alas, they appear to be too late, and Olifson's body is discovered in his bed, minus his head and having suffered multiple stab wounds. While the Swans remain suspicious, there's no proof to be had that the old steward was indeed the Shadow Master behind everything. If he was, he covered his tracks expertly. Following Swan custom, the cremation of Olifson's body is thorough.

Leaving the company of king's soldiers under the command of a recovering Dags, the group returns to the capitol with the help of the Windriders of Birchwood Hall. They are greeted by King Ironcrown with a heroes welcome. Vaesh introduces you to the Syvani Lord of Birchwood Hall, who has been invited to the feast by the matronly yet beautiful Lady Brightwing.

Finally, the Swans are able to rest and relax as honored guests of the King himself. They are rewarded with gold and jewels enough to make even Fathak happy. Taen eats enough fine food to actually sate her... briefly. The gifted in the party are afforded actual time to study and reflect upon their crafts, Graham is rewarded with a fine suit of armor and beautiful new sword and Fathak gets a fine, fast ship to captain, Gods save the sailors of the north sea!

In their hearts, each knows that the clarion call of the hero will sound again, but for now, life is good.


Remember when I claimed "The Shadowed Tower" was going to be a one-shot? heh.

Thanks to all my players for a great adventure. All in all, I'm pleased with where the Aeranos RPG is headed. Anyone out there not in our gaming group, who is interested in trying out Aeranos Roleplaying, send me a note. I'm more than happy to pass on a copy of the rules in exchange for feedback. With the exception of the damn spell list, it's mostly complete.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Shadowed Tower - 13 "Wyverns over Kaergot"

Flying on the Griffon near Kaergot, Dinari lookouts spy two figures on Hippogryphs. The Syvani riders hail the Griffon and are allowed to land. They introduce themselves as Vaesh and Cyrilla, Windriders of Lord Bragesh of Birchwood Hall, a nearby syvani tuath. Vaesh explains that their seers foretold of the Griffon's coming, and that aboard would be those important to the Syvani of Kaergot. They offer their aid.

Before further discussion can happen, the lookouts spy more airborn company, this time of the unfriendly kind. With a cry and shout the ship is attacked by three screaming forest wyverns. The Syvani take to their mounts and arrows fly as the Wyverns attack.

It quickly becomes apparent that the wyverns are overly interested in Rowen, their target of choice. On top of that, their hides deflect all but the most powerful attacks, and their acidic spit and ripping claws and fangs prove difficult to avoid, AND they appear unaffected by Cinder's magical flame. Thanks to the Syvani windriders, and Graham's accuracy with a harpoon the beasts are eventually killed or driven off.
In the aftermath, Cinder informs the group he could sense the beasts were summoned through magic, and likely commanded to find and attack Rowen, a bit of complicated magic that would likely require a intimate link to Rowen. After seeing to injuries and minor repairs, Vaesh and Cyrilla offer to take the group to a man near Kaergot who can help them get into Frostwyrm Keep.

In a rough logging town inland of the capitol they Graham finds Gowen Vinifod, a Neran woodsman, and Trenton Redknife, his Duran companion. The two rugged adventurers hear their tale. Gowen informs them that the Princess's birthday is set to happen this very evening. After some discussion, they offer to sneak the group into town, where they will meet with a man who may be able to sneak them in to the keep, who can prepare them for a infiltration of the princess's party.

Thus we find them hidden in a supply wagon on their way into Kaergot, with nothing but the word of two adventurers they hardly know. They have given over several of their more powerful magical items into the keeping of the Windriders, who have promised to come to their aid if they hear the horn call of the Silverswan.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shadowed Tower - 12 "The Flight of the Griffon"

As mules bray and Dinari trade bolts for arrows with the possessed guardsmen, the dark robed sorcerer drops a handful of small, chitonous balls on the dirt before the gate. Whatever they are, the mules want nothing to do with them. Panicked, they pull free of their traces and strike out with hooves at anyone too near. The armored spheres break open and sprout legs, growing into monstrous spiders that quickly attack. Graham brandishes his blade and rushes to meet them.

Another fireball from Cinder eliminates what few possessed soldiers still trouble their flanks. As Khabsha and Rowen help Graham with the spiders, Taen harries the sorcerer. Several Dinari are wounded by arrows and one is brought down by a spider before arrows and Khabsha's hammer end it.

Red Gail, the Dinari illusionist appears long enough to send a dazzling mote of rainbow colors into the face of the sorcerer, who falls back out of view as he slaps at the disorienting colors and disappears from view. Taen flies up to track him, but quickly finds that he has disappeared.

The last of the spiders are dispatched, and the wounded are quickly tended to as Red Gail, swooning from an arrow wound and large uses of magic, finishes a mass veiling over the group. As  quietly as possible, they move out of the city, making for a rendevous in the woods to the north.

Graham does what he can to hide the tracks, but with such a large group, everyone knows it is only a matter of time before they are pursued.

On a small cleared hill in the midst of tall oaks they wait for darkness, ever watchful for signs that their unknown enemy has found them. Master Wayfinders mules are taken to a safe spot and released. Taen flies into town to warn the merchant.

As night approaches, a bell can be heard from somewhere above. With its sound, Gimblius's Dinari begin scrambling about. From behind a well made veil of magic a huge airship appears and ropes are thrown down. As the hull sinks to within thirty paces of the hill, ropes are secured with enormous iron screws. The heroes watch in awe as a portal opens in the understern and a platform is lowered on oiled chains.

Captain Gimblius smiles with pride and motions toward the platorm where Dinari are already loading supplies. "Welcome aboard the Griffon ladies and gentlemen."

The party is lead through the hull of the ship, down small corridors in which they have to duck (except for Taen), and past a well locked and guarded room at the ship's center. The deck of the ship is crisscrossed by guide ropes, at thigh level to the Syvani and Nerans. Once the supplies are loaded, the anchor screws are hauled in and the incredible ship slowly rises skyward.

Once underway, the Captain explains that the ship was damaged in the violent storms more than three weeks ago, the same storms that caused the rivers to rise and trees to be blown down in the forest. They were forced to bring the ship down in the landsto the west of Neued while they made repairs, but during the crash landing, they lost some of their supplies to weather damage.

Needing supplies and equipment for repairs they began scouting the town and buying up what supplies they needed, but required mules to bring the supplies to their ship. They were preparing their plan B - to skyhook their supplies during the night, when the swans secured the mule train for them.

When asked about their mission, Rowen and the group share most of the story, relating what they know of Laird Jory and the servants of Minerest. They show the Dinari captain and his illusionist the alchemy book and the Kuranani fleshworking manual. Red Gail asks to examine them in his study.

When he returns he reveals that a tracking rune had been placed on the Kuranani book, which he took the initiative of removing. He also offers the group a trade of 5 Item veiling charms, 5 Dinari crossbows and 1 Ring of Veiling for the alchemist manual, which after a little haggling, the group accepts.

As we rejoin the Swans, they are swiftly approaching the city of Kaergot on the northern shores of Fom.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shadowed Tower - Illustration

Another Illustration from the sessions. Graham battles the shadow spiders in Neued.

Spider Slash photo spiderslashFINAL_zpsbe9336fd.jpg

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shadowed Tower - 11 "Suspicions"

In the aftermath of the battle with Captain Coll, Rowen and Khabsha help Murin with the wounded and deceased while Cinder continues to keep an eye on Dags, and Graham helps the Talis guards sweep the castle for any remaining possessed or signs of the master deception rune, finding neither.

Taen does one of the things she does best, following the Dinari, Belbi to see where he goes once freed from jail and torture. The tinker is very careful watching his backtrail, and it takes most of Taen's skill to remain unseen, but she manages it, and is eventually led to a unmarked warehouse near the Neued docks. Belbi meets with two other Dinari and the three discuss something in their native tongue, which Taen doesn't speak. She is only able to discern a few words which she think means hook and mule and she is sure the name Master Wayfinder is used.

When the three Dinari leave together, she follows. When the Dinari leader splits off from Belbi and the third one, Taen decides to follow the leader, noting the supply yard that the two step into. She follows the leader to the upscale Neued Inn where Ferg Wayfinder is staying. The Dinari takes up watch across the street from the inn. Taen sneaks into the Inn and warns Ferg of this before making a quick trip to the castle to relay info, then returning to a perch where she can continue to watch the

Meanwhile, back at the castle, the rest of the party decides to sleep in Dag's tower room to protect their friend.

In the morning, they all decide to accompany Graham into town for his meeting with the Dinari, with hopes to talk to the faux-tinker and perhaps learn if he indeed has transportation they can pay for a ride on.
Taen watches the Dinari leader enter the inn and order breakfast, and once she's sure he's not up to no good, she hurries off to join the others at their meeting with Belbi.

At the tinker fields to the south of the town, Graham meets with Belbi while the others wait at the far end of the field - and Taen hides. Belbi offers the 25 Rhis to Graham in payment for his rescue. Graham hints that they would much rather be taken to the capitol in a hurry. Belbi  feigns ignorance to his meaning and says his farewells. Rowen hails him and convinces him that she can get Ferg to rent his mules. This promised, Belbi promises a meeting with their leader, Master Gimblius, again at the Tinker Field, in two hours.

Off they go to talk with Ferg at the Inn. Once there, they convince Ferg to make the deal, promising to stay with the mules the whole way and protect them. It's then that they notice the large party of soldiers just entering the town square. A quick  inspection through the windows of the inn confirm their fears. It's a wagon and unit of warriors from Wheat Hill. The soldier in charge hands out parchments to his soldiers, who immediately start searching the town.

Devising a plan, they send Taen to the castle to warn Cinder and allow him the chance to explain to the Steward, Master Olfson. Meanwhile, they sneak to their meeting with Gimblius the Tinker. It takes some doing, but eventually they barter a deal. The Dinari can use Ferg's mules in exchange for quick passage to the capitol. While Gimblius won't tell them the exact nature of their transportation, he promises that all will be made clear upon departure, and exacts a promise from the group that they will keep the Dinari's secrets. The deal made, the group promises to meet the tinkers in the warehouse district after they make a stop at the castle.

Master Olfson sends some horses for the group and they arrive at Castle Talis before the Wheat Hill contingent. After discussing the true events that led the false accusations, Olfson seems willing to believe them. When the Wheat Hill soldiers arrive he speaks with the sergeant in charge. He chooses not to arrest the PCs, but insists that they remain at Castle Talis until Laird Jordie returns.

When Rowen explains that they have a chance to make it to the capitol quickly, but can't detail the means, Master Olfson's suspicions grow. When they tell him that it is through some magical means of the Dinari travellers, he is still hesitant, but decides to let them go, as long as he can send a trusted castle soldier with them to verify the Dinari's story.

They leave Dags in the care of Wicala Murin and make their way to the rendevous with Master Gimblius. In the supply yard they help to load the mules. When the loading is finished, they are introduced to Red Gail, a Dinari Illusionist who begins veiling the large group in camoflauging magic.

Unfortunately, before he can finish an ambush is sprung by Shadow  possessed Talis guards. Arrows fly from the left and right as everyone ducks for cover. The heroes engage the enemy alongside the Dinari's, who all pull small, deadly crossbows. A figure shrouded in dark robes appears and casts a giant cloud of rolling darkness. Khabsha counters with light. Cinder lobs fireballs. Mules are shot with enemy arrows. Chaos! Seeing the need to get out of the supply yard, they whip the mules forward through the gates.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Shadowed Tower - 10 "Shadows Gather in Castle Talis"

After determining proper protocol for attending a dinner with the steward of the castle, the group decides that manners means leaving your shields and bows in your room, They are led to the great hall by Master Olifson's assistant. Also attending are Captain Jarrod Coll, Master Olifson, Wicala Murin, her apprentice, Martris, the parties friend Ferg Wayfinder, and two lieutenants of the guard. Taen remains in the rooms just long enough to maintain her image as a child, before sneaking after the group, making her way through the kitchens and taking perch in the rafters above the dining party, bow ready and watching for the "inevitable betrayal."

Over dinner, Master Olifson gives official thanks for the parties rescue of Laird Talis. He also informs Rowan that he has decided to let the healing proceed, reasoning that Laird Talis would want them to try. Rowan tells the story of their adventure in the Shadow Tower. The Captain explains that Laird Talis was worried of assassination attempts, and ordered the castle guard to imprison anyone suspicious until his return. He tells of the capture of the false Dinari tinker and his suspicions that they were part of some criminal enterprise. All the while, Rowen and Cinder make sure that they are always within the radiance of at least one light spell.

Despite worries to the contrary, no one is poisoned or possessed during the meal. When it's over, Rowen, Khabsha and Murin go to Dags' room, reasoning that they should proceed with the healing despite the late hour. Cinder, Graham and Taen decide to investigate the mysterious black chest and secret passage. Ferg Wayfinder decides to call it a night, reminding the group that they can call on him if they need anything.

As Rowen, Khabsha and Murin are preparing Dags for the spells they notice strange, tiny claw and bite marks on his stomach that weren't there after their most recent healing attempt. After considering the wounds, Murin asks that they wait before casting their spells. She says the wounds look like they were caused by a rat, and that combined with Dags resistance to healing magic leads her to believe his illness might be something called Hag's Plague. Taking Rowen with her, they check on the ill servants, and find that they all have similar marks.

Meanwhile, Cinder, Graham and Taen go to the small storage room looking for the chest, only to find that it has been removed. Checking the secret passage finds that it travels a short way before ending in an unused bedchamber. No sign of recent visitation can be found. Taen takes her search outside while Graham and Cinder go in search of Rowen and Khabsha.

Once everyone is together, with the exception of Taen, they hurry to Murins room to look for a scroll that she remembers telling of the plague, though she can't recall if it speaks of a cure. The scroll is missing, and with this revelation, Rowen and Khabsha finally tell her of the shadows and her earlier possession. Also pointing out the warding runes that prevent divination magic, which Murin insists are new. Thus warned, she says that they must go to Master Olifson and warn him too, and also Captain Coll.

While this group heads to Master Olifson's chambers, Taen comes in from the roof, where she found no evidence of the mysterious master rune. Thinking to look for the group in Dags room, she heads there, only to find a possessed guardsman attempting to smother Dags with a pillow. Two arrows put an end to the guard. Taen then locks the room from the inside and heads out the tower window heading off in search of the others.

The others meanwhile come upon a confused Master Olifson, standing outside of his bedchambers and wiping dust from his nightrobes and hands. When the business with shadows, runes and possessions is relayed, he is understandably upset. Wanting to know where the possessed steward came from requires that Rowen take wolf form and follow his recent scent trail.

Together the group follows Rowen-wolf down the castle halls and to a storage cellar door.

Meanwhile, Taen runs into a group of guards. When she asks them if they have seen the others, they answer with crossbows. She zips away unscathed, but the guards pursue.

In the cellars, Rowen-wolf follows Master Olifson's trail to the black chest, tucked away behind a bunch of crates. Together they lug the thing out and bring it to the great hall, where they find Taen dodging bolts. As soon as they enter and the light of Cinder's spell falls on them, the shadows that possessed them flee and the guards are left dazed and confused.

Taen tells them of Dags' attempted murder and the possessed guards, and also warns them of the powder on the lock of the chest. Master Olifson sends three of the guards to get Captain Coll. After a muttered "And they were never seen again" from Graham, the other three decide to go with their friends, bringing a magicked torch for good measure.

What to do with the chest is discussed. Khabsha's all for burning it unopened, by throwing the whole thing into the hearth, but others are afraid that the missing scroll might be inside. From Rowens sniffing it's obvious that there at least a couple creatures in the chest too, probably Hag Rats.

After pushing together some overturned tables, into a crude rat corral, they decide to open the chest. Unfortunately this proves to be a lot more difficult then they first thought. The chest is of sturdy Durin construction, as is the lock. Taen is unable to pick it, and it takes several powerful blows from Khabsha and Graham before the thing tips and pops open, spilling angry Hag Rats the size of small cats that scatter.

A lively game of Whack-a-Rat ensues, but eventually the plague ridden beasts are dispatched, just as two guards stagger into the hall yelling, "Captain Coll has gone mad in the barracks! He's killing them!"

Fearing for Dags, Rowen sends the rest of the group to his tower, while she a distressed Murin follow the guards. In the courtyard, she finds a bloodbath, with the possessed Captain Coll in the middle. He turns and spots her and the guards, yelling and charging with broadsword raised and shield held firmly. Murin screams, "Don't kill Jarrod!" as Rowen engages the enemy.

In the tower, Taen flies through the window and unlocks the room, finding the scene unchanged and Dags to be, if not fine, not any worse. From the open windows, the sounds of battle can be heard from the courtyard below, and the group curses, before leaving Cinder as guard and racing to Rowen's aid.

Rowen holds her own, exchanging several blows with the expert Captain Coll, but victory seems far from sure. At one point Murin rushes in to restrain her love, allowing Rowen to deliver a nonlethal, but crippling strike to Coll's leg. The Captain throws her aside and attacks again. While Rowen's magical light seems to hinder him somewhat, it doesn't stop him, and with a battle cry, she watches several shadows race across the ground and into his own, right before he envelopes Rowens light and much of the courtyard in inky blackness.

Taen comes to the courtyard first, having flown straight from the tower. What she finds is a rolling cloud of darkness with the sounds of combat from within. Rowen desperately backpedals, rightly fearing that the light isn't hindering her opponent. She takes a glancing blow from Coll before Graham arrives and plunges into the darkness as well. When Khabsha arrives, she summons a stronger magical light onto a guard's shield, which eats away at the demonic darkness and exposes the battle to everyone again. A concerted attack from Rowen, Graham and Khabsha drives Coll back and wounds him again and again, until finally, Khabsha's hammer glances off his unprotected head and knocks him to the ground and into unconsciousness.

Under Khabsha's powerful magical light, Coll's shadows can be seen to writhe beneath him, as if cowering under the protection of his body. Approaching and placing her blade against his forehead, Rowen and the others see the body shake and shutter before Hawkwing forcibly expels the demonic presence, disintegrating each of the shadows and clearing his black eyes back to a normal shade of green.

In the aftermath of events, the wounded and dead are seen to and those remaining fan out across the castle, all armed with magical light provided by Cinder and Rowen. Graham and Taen come upon the Dinari prisoner, who introduces himself as Belbi O'Sham, and who bargains with Graham for his freedom, offering the sum of 25 Rhis if he will but unchain him. Seeing this as an opportunity, Graham accepts the offer and the Dinari thanks him and departs, instructing Graham to meet him outside of town in the morning for his reward. Taen opts to tail O'Sham unseen.

In Dags room, Murin, Khabsha and Rowen discuss what is to be done. They attempt another healing but with little success beyond healing the cuts. Without the missing scroll, Murin is of little more help. Looking to Rowen, she explains that their only option now, is to summon help from a much more knowledgeable healer in a Wicalic Tower of healing to the south... in a village called Wheat Hill......

To Be Continued... as usual...