Monthly Archives: November 2010

SOW Chapter8: Doctor Ratinstein

Doctor Ratinstein

 

 
 

Doctor Ratinstein

Doctor Ratinstein

"Mistresss, mistresss, you musst leave, they are coming! The masster’s creations have failed! Look … the calculations do not lie, we musst leave!" … Socrates (aka: Dr. Ratinstein)

As the Brigade cautiously explores the remaining floors of the tower they arrive at the second floor which is devoted to living space that up until recently had been Falrinth’s private chamber but more recently had housed Sarshan. There a curtained-off section holds a four-poster bed, now ruined and slashed by the mangler, while a large banquet table dominates the rest of the chamber. There the heroes find nothing of value, nor do they notice the spying rats.

Access to the first floor is again provided by a narrow staircase made of wooden spiral in the center of the floor. On the first floor of the tower, the ground floor, they find had been used mainly for storage, with two smaller chambers set up as a kitchen and pantry. Large sliding doors of iron in the east wall formerly provided access to the tower for crates, barrels, and so forth. The floor is interrupted by a jagged hole that splits the stone floor forming a hazard in the pantry’s entrance. Below flickering light wells up from a cavern below. Shadows move within that light, a sign of something lurking deep beneath the tower.

As Bhenedict descends the winding stairs he sees rats scurrying into the hole in the floor, large rats, the size of dogs. "You better get! I’m gonna part yer hair wi’ this hammer ye worm-livered vermin!"

Cautiously the party spreads out upon the first floor careful to avoid the hole in the floor. Looking across the hole into the pantry they see the shelves that had once been crammed with foodstuffs lining the walls were now ravaged the boxes and crates they once housed had now joined the dirt and refuses on the floor along with dried dung filling much of the available floor space like a horrid smelling nest.

Searching the kitchen they find a large fireplace dominating the chamber. Cooking paraphernalia has fallen from cupboards and sideboards lay scattered about floor with a portly human male huddled within the devastation of this kitchen. His straggly brown hair is disheveled, mud staining his robes and face where the only clean stripes being the paths washed by the elder’s tears.

Having been distracted by the tomes housed within the library on the third floor, Bingus trailed behind the others. As he arrives he pauses by the hole in the floor cautiously approaching as he hears a woman’s voice speaking softly below. Bingus struggles to make out that the words noting that they are not normal conversation but rather the words of a ritual, one that he was very familiar with … a linked portal. Portals of this type were Bingus’s expertise and based on the tone and measure of the chant, Bingus guessed that the caster was close to the ritual’s completion.

Bingus whispers "Vani …" and gestures to the halfling to come near and listen. Not nearly so quietly as Bingus had hoped, Vani approaches peering into the hole. The chamber below glows red but remains mostly dark and shadowed. The floor of the chamber lies twenty feet below. Vani notes the quick movement of some rats and begins gesturing wildly with his hands drawing raw arcane power into his hands and announces, "Let’s light them up." releasing a shower of radiance into the lower chamber that bursts out, creating a circle of burning embers dispersing the rats in the chamber below.

Frowning Bingus causes a bright light to appear with a wave of his hand which he then casts like a rock into the lower chamber lighting it up giving the pair of spell-casters a glimpse of the chamber.

Ratinstein floorplan

For a second they see others in the chamber below and they hear a plea … "Hideee Me." then some force below swallows the light, the chamber falls into darkness once more. Then suddenly a burning bolt of sheer radiance unerringly strikes from the depths burning into Vani leaving a perfectly circular hole in his clothing and burning scar on his chest. This is followed by an invisible burst of psychic energy exploding upon the pair of casters causing a crushing pain within their heads and stunning both of the magic-manipulating heroes.

Unaware of the battle outside, Eoffram questions the man found within the kitchen but finds the man too distraught to speak, just beyond Eoffram’s reach. The man’s eyes stare towards Eoffram with a far-away glare, not so much at Eoffram as through him … his eyes cloudy, moist and extremely weary. Try as might, Eoffram can’t seem to get him focused enough to hear him. The Councilor grabs the man face turning it towards him … "What happened here."

In answer all the disheveled man is a fearful gaze at the gaping hole in the floor and a trembling voiced word, "rats…"

As the party becomes aware of the plight of Bingus and Vani they start rushing to their assistance. Eoffram is the last to arrive as he struggles with Falrinth in the kitchen.

Theren quickly goes to work on Vani and Bingus’s injuries. Bhenedict lowers a rope into the chamber while Bairdyn ties it off as Ian and Ssarina leap into the hole.

Shadar-kai Witch

As Ssarina lands she opens her mouth with a roar, and a deadly blast of power as her breath blasts forth to engulfing her foes within the chamber. Simultaneously Ian surrounds himself Crimson Crystals of Cytorrak (letting one crystal fly off and strike the ratman knocking him prone) then cloaking himself in the dark light of moon, Nutari, a bolt of primal energy flies from his sword and strikes one of the githyanki warriors and then renders Ian invisible to the villians.

The cavern features rough cut walls. A shadar-kai witch has inscribed a circle on the floor of the cavern in chalk and powdered gemstone. She is guarded by githyanki warriors. Behind her, using the witch as a shield huddles a hunched humanoid rat wearing a white lab coat and glasses, his body covered in dirty gray fur, his long tail twitching nervously behind him.

Three floodgates pierce the north wall near the ceiling. The left gates are open and spewing blood chaos toward the village. It is obvious that this is the flow that has blasted the tunnel through the hill. The flow from the open right-hand gates has burned another tunnel through the hill to the tower’s moat. The middle gates remain closed. Large gear wheels are fixed to the piping apparently used to either open or close the floodgates. And everywhere the chamber is filled with rats; small rats, giant rats, huge piles of swarming rat and even strangely altered, evil-looking, verminous creatures distinguishable from their normal cousins by the pulsating brains that protrude from the tops of their skulls.

A furious battle engulfs the chamber as Bhenedict slides down the rope followed by Bairdyn while Vani and Bingus attack from above. Theren staying back standing guard and looking to aid whenever necessary.

The githyanki reach outward with telekinetic force locking Ssarina and Bairdyn in place as huge feral rats weighing over a stone each surround Bhenedict attacking the dwarf from all sides.

"Have a face full o’ boot! I’m gonna kill all yer pets, then I’m coming for yer bowlegged whore, Doctor Ratinstein!." yells Bhenedict.

Socrates, the rat-man in the lab coat, aims his Mark I laser pistol and fires emitting a beam of focused blue energy burning into Bairdyn. "Stop them!" he squeals. Most of the rats respond immediately swarming the heroes massed at their feat dragging away from Socrates but the most frightening among them, those with the exposed pulsing brains fall back. Their psychic whispers … foreign, intelligence in an alien indistinctly rodent-like way flooding the consciousness of the heroes within the chamber, painfully distracting them. Then enmass the rats launch a psychic barrage, a mental storm of such power that it overwhelms the heroes’ minds causing ears to bleed as their brains are overwhelmed, wanting to explode from the heroes’ overworked skulls.Cranium Rat Swarm

Vani and Bingus answer driving the rats off with arcane explosions of fire and lightning forcing the rats to withdraw or die, often catching their friends within the blasts but always Theren is there aiding the heroes healing from the floor above beyond the reach of the fray below.

As Benny and Ian recover they take the fight to the githyanki killing each of the extra-planer warriors in one-on-one combat. Vani enters the chamber sliding down the rope while focusing an attack upon Socrates and the witch such that he buys Bairdyn a much needed respite from the Ratinstein’s assault.

Non-plussed the witch charges forward releasing a bolt of pure blackness at the sorcerous halfling. As the bolt strikes it is absorbed into Vani’s mind blinding him to the outside world. Amid the defenders, Bhenedict and Ian, the witch reaches out, her hands coated in blackfire … her body shielded within a web of writhing shadow, her approach radiating a burst of ebon blackness that attaches itself like a living thing to the heroes slowing their movements and reactions.

Calling upon his ability to alter probabilities Ian imagines himself to be other than where he is and upon observation discovers that it is so and thus is not where the witch expected him to be. Quickly lashing out at the witch’s remaining defenders with a blast of force he sends them and the rat swarms flying into the surrounding blood chaos leaving her flanked by Ian and Bhenedict with none of her defenders remaining and only the rat-man crouching in the far shadows.

Bingus enters the cavern riding upon the wings of the magic ebony fly. Seeing Socrates finally exposed behind the portal circle drawn on floor he blasts the rat-man filling his mind with visions of ruin. Socrates screams in terror as in his mind the chamber explodes in a great cataclysm causes him to back away as the wave of destruction engulfs him; in reality backing himself within the flow of blood chaos were he dies screaming as the flow carries him away.

The shadar-kai witch suddenly bolts moving wraith-like toward the portal, walking directly through her opponents, rematerializing slowly only after she has vanished in the portal.

Their enemies defeated the party of heroes address their wounds and search the chamber finding a small chest and a crate. Within the chest they find twenty, small but valuable gems within a velvet pouch. The items in the crate are far stranger and more unique, there are five items:

1) Four sticky red stones, secured within a small vial

2) A shiny metal rod, constructed with a grip attached to a hollowed metal pipe … near the grip there is a small catch opening chamber filled with what might be a metal stone or projectile.

3) A large smooth fleshy colored material, folded into a box-like shape and fixed with ties; somewhat heavy, with a thick cord clearly attached to be pulled possibly releasing the tying binds.

4) An strange looking rod, about two and a half feet long, with paired grips and a targeted lens, well-forged of metal and a hard smooth material, not unlike polished stone.

5) An expertly forged suit of white and silver colored plate armor, form fit and of a type never seen by any of the heroes before

Having explored the chamber they turn their attention back to Falrinth. It is not until they physically drag the man into the sunken chamber demonstrating that the enemies have been dispatched that the sage finally speaks confirming what Bingus already knows, that the circle was evidence of a linked portal ritual, but he also provides other details.

"The runes marking the circle are indicative the portal’s target … unless I am mistaken I would place it as the Ever-tree … the first great marker of Klarn, the source. A giant ash tree that is our only true link to the other planes of existence. I heard Sarshan speak of this and of two tree serpents, pets he named Dawn and Dusk. This is dark magic and most dangerous. Whatever reason attracts these villains there bodes evil-tidings to us all."


Cast: Bairdyn (PC/TomAZ), Bhenedict (PC/Rob), Eoffram (PC/Mart), Vani (PC/Van), Ian (PC/Andy), Ssarina (PC/Heather), Theren (PC/TomSac), Bingus (PC/Josh)

Summary/Goals: Find out what happened to the Seers of Ishtar and rescue Megan Switfblade.


SOW Chapter8: Unbound

Unbound

 

 
 

Unbound

Having destroyed the noisy black box, Bhenedict takes advantage of the silence quickly introducing the newcomers to the feisty leader of the Freeriders. The balding man, Serten, huddles quietly behind Megan obviously fearful. Megan Swiftblade, beautiful, badly injured and still sneering is covered head-to-toe with dust; her slender form is crippled by a broken leg which she drags, her long vicious scar is slighgly obscured by her short-cropped, blond hair. The original members of Brigade recognize Megan at once but she is still unknown to the others.

"Friends, allow me to introduce you to Megan Swiftblade, the prettiest daughter of a poor farmer from Talar, one-time leader of the Freeloaders sometimes called Freeriders … "

"If you can put your usual pompousness aside Bhenedict, maybe you’ve notice we’ve been sinking." she points out.

"Well, than we don’t you just tell us what’s going on?" he asks.

"Beyond the obvious?" adds Bairdyn

"Yes!" adds Vani.

"Then listen … the rest of the Freeriders are in hiding elsewhere in the Vale due to all the assassination attempts against us. We had to split-up so we would be harder to find. I’ve been staying her with the sage Falrinth. But, the tower was attacked and we were captured. When the tower started sinking I escaped, but my leg had been broken. Serten here, Falrinth’s assistant, dragged me up to the roof but creatures … monsters, had been released within the tower. I had to fight my way through them just to get to the roof and we didn’t see Falrinth. Serten is now too terrified to move. The escaped monsters have Falrinth trapped somewhere within the tower. They are foul, inhuman things … things twist by ‘Blood Chaos’ that’s what he called it. And there are demonic guards, and a rat-man too … lots of rats."

"You mentioned ‘he’ … who is behind this?" asks Ian.Mottled Tower Floor Plan

"His name is Sarshan, but I know next to nothing about him. I believe he was the arms-dealer who had worked with the orcs … the one who was hiding his operation in Overlook." Turning Megan looks at Serten …"Serten had more access to him than I … he wasn’t jailed but he was forced into service."

Serten, clearly terrified, nods but remains quiet.

Approaching softly Bairdyn says, "Well, Grandpa Barleycorn always said … if you can’t beat the bully yourself best to find yourself a tough friend and my friend Bhenedict’s about as tough as they come. We’ve beat this Sarshan before … we beat him in his own house. Tell us what you know and we’ll see what we can do."

Serten"I was in my quarters when the ground started shaking, but they were working down below where they originally broke into the tower. That is where the rat with glasses stays … the one they call Socrates." adds Serten, the portly human who wears an ink-stained robe that is tattered and torn. Groggy and still bleeding from a head wound, he falls quiet.

Vani gives both a healing potion but their injuries are clearly too severe for the potion.

"Well then, lets go!" announces Bhenedict … "Where’s Eoffram?"

"He’s not back yet." answers Bairdyn.

The tower rooftop features battlements and chimney stack and a single egress in the center of the roof, a wooden spiral staircase descending into the tower.

At the entrance to the stair Ssarina stares into the darkness. In the deep shadows she believes she sees something large is moving beyond the bottom of the stair. "We shouldn’t wait, but we’ll have to go one at a time. I’ll lead the way." she says.

"Okay everyone get lined up behind the lizard" adds Bhenedict … "On the count of three then … One … Two" and at two Bhenedict races down the stairs grumbling … "Like I’m going to let a woman go first…even a lizard woman… ."

Following close behind Ssarina exclaims, "IF YOU HAD A TAIL I WOULD STEP ON IT!"

The noise alerts the creatures waiting below. Foul creatures twisted and mutated by Sarshan’s evil experiments with the blood chaos. He had found that on rare occasions, creatures who were exposed to blood chaos would not die but instead underwent horrid physical changes. This foul substance imbuing their physical nature with chaotic energy, disfiguring them but granting them powerful abilities. Of course, most simply died horribly but that didn’t matter to Sarshan. Neither did the fact that the process shattered the minds of the victims realigning them in some dark psychotic fashion such that they needed to be locked-up and kept under heavy guard at all times.

 

The Fourth FloorGrue Daemons

Falrinth’s apprentice Serten had been forced to sleep here suffering the howls and constant threats from the monsters Sarshan kept caged in this area as part of his questionable research. Now having escaped, the enraged spawn waited anxiously to attack anyone that might cross their path. As the heroes approach three of the monsters remained in this first chamber. One of them, a ‘skin-taker’ wearing the skin of the sage, Falrinth, the monster quickly sealing itself within the only cell that remained whole. Through the door, in Serten’s chamber, a daemonic guard, of a type known to sages as a ‘mezzodaemon’ worked to corral one of the more violent spawnlings but hearing the chatter upon the stairs it quickly releases the beastly monster which rushes through the door towards the approaching sounds. As the creature nears Bhenedict the skin-taker in the cell screams; the newcomer arrives projecting an invisible sphere of pure hate a wide sphere, powerfully, over and over like a cadence.

Anger force that never dies
Anger force that never lies
Anger force that can end life
Anger force forged knife

It howls in response, feasting on the terror its continence generates while it slices viciously at the dwarf, Bhenedict relies on his battle-hardened training to pin the monster in place, pushing back enough to allow Ssarina to enter the chamber behind him but without warning the spawn’s violent aura overcomes Bhenedict who turns without thinking bashing the dragonborn paladin with his hammer as he backs between the cells. Ssarina suddenly finds herself flanked between the dwarf and foul berserker. Looking cross-eyed she asks, "Bhenedict?"

MezzodaemonBenny stares back wide-eyed himself … questioning his own motives as spouts out, "Bat spit, I didn’t mean that!" as he bends and parries another heavy blow from the monster and the mezzodaemon stabs at Ssarina with a heavy trident forcing her to give way.

The daemon clicks out orders that are more telepathic than audible yet easily understood by the spawnling which needs little encouragement to press its attack.

While Ssarina turns her attention to the two monsters that are clearly foes. The disguised skin-taker reaches outward through the bars lightly touching Bhenedict causing a rippling pain throughout his body and taking on the dwarf’s form. Shaking the bars it screams "Let me out, they’ve trapped me in the cell!"

Feeling violated still outside the cell Benny protests, "No, I’m still out here, I’m me!"

Bairdyn enters the fray but he is quickly pinned down by the trident as the berserk spawn levels another heavy sword blow upon Ssarina.

Having been through this kind of thing before Bairdyn asks, "Benny, how did we beat the Ogre back in Brindol?"

After some cojouling Benny says, "That’s no good, everyone know you went beneath the wagon. Your grandpa told you to chop a tree from the ground up.”

"That’s right!" pointing to the Bhenedict outside the cell Bairdyn points … "That’s the real Benny!"

Ssarina screens Bairdyn freeing him from the mezzodaemon’s trident. Bairdyn melts taking on a liquid-like form using the elemental magic of his armor dancing through the foes to a more advantageous position beyond the melee beside the cell stabbing the monstrous doppelganger in the cell.

"Yo-aw, you goblin-spawn, you cut to the quick … almost made a she-dwarf of me!" yells the Bhenedict in the cell.  

At the same time the Bhenedict in the hall reaches out touching Ssarina in unkind fashion violating her living animus with a touch so disruptive, painful and disturbing that she finds it impossible to recover much less aid anyone else. "I thought you ssaid he wass in the sssell?" protests Ssarina.

Her knees growing weak Ssarina stumbles forward ducking and colliding up against the berserk, sword-welding monster. Pushing hard she creates some space and as Vani enters the room he blasts both the berserk monster and the guardian daemon with arcane power.

Bairdyn backs up yells, "What was the most annoying foe in the Mountainroot Temple?" staring at the Bhenedicts to get their attention.

"The hag!" hollars the Bhenedict in the cell.

"Wrong!" answers Bairdyn, "Haggity old bitch … That’s Benny in the cell!"

dire ratThe others stand confused for only a second, then Ian is in the chamber and Vani somehow vanishes reappearing deeper in the chamber. Bairdyn uses his magic lock picks to unlock the cell from the farside of the floor. Bingus joins the battle summoning swarms of insects which dart about attacking the monsters and keeping them distracted until Bhenedict is freed and joins the fight. The suddenly surrounded monsters are overwhelmed and soon defeated.

Unseen in the shadows, rats watch their every move reporting back to their master in a pitch no human ear can hear.

The Third Floor

A library, laboratory, and guest room make up this level. Falrinth had done most of his work and research here. The library features high wooden bookshelves which dominate the chamber, their volumes now spread across the floor. An overturned table lies in the middle of the room. The laboratory is a large chamber, now in shambles, with much of the floor covered in shattered laboratory equipment. Prior to the attack upon the tower Megan’s had been quartered here. Falrinth’s guest room saw only infrequently use because the antisocial sage seldom welcomed visitors. The guest chamber is plainly furnished and the room shows signs of recent occupation as this is where Megan had been staying. Now the guest chamber contained nothing of value. Within the chamber four creatures waited, three escapees and the second guardian daemon.

OracleThe oracle, the grue, and the rager waited. Of course the oracle knew the heroes were coming, his precognition making that clear. The spider-like grue could hardly contain its anxious chittering as it hid in eager anticipation of their arrival. The rager didn’t care, its nature so violent that it was a danger to anything in its path; so much so the mezzodaemon attention was fully focused on capturing the giant.

The heroes, Bhenedict, Ssarina, Bairdyn, Vani, Ian, and Theren approached using the external staircase, covered walkway that spiraled around the tower, providing access between the second, third, and fourth floors. The outer walls of the tower were magically defended to the extent that the shuttered windows remained sealed against the blood chaos outside the tower within which it had sunk. Theren had healed the party after their battle on the fourth floor of the chamber and the wider steps of these stairs allowed Bhenedict and Ssarina to travel side-by-side as they approached the third floor. Behind them followed Bairdyn and Vani, then Ian and Bingus, and finally Theren.

The first room they see is the destroyed laboratory. Within the the mezzodaemon guard struggles with the rager barely keeping it at bay with its trident. The rager had already torn the room apart, hurling a large table at the guard. The oracle watched from the relative safety of the library and the grue hid behind the overturned table. A fourth monster, the mangler and used its unearthly speed to escape to the second floor where it was slashing furnishings as it chased rats of which their were plenty.

Rager Daemon

As Bhenedict and Ssarina opened the door at the base of the stair the rager turns away from the daemon attacking them without pause. The ten foot monster is a mass of coiled muscle, veins jutting and rippling beneath its thick rage-red skin. With one hand it backhands the dwarf lifting him off his feet and knocking him backwards up against the wall where the mezzodaemon pins him. Ssarina strikes hard leveling a mighty blow with her greatsword but it barely scratches the rager that answers with its own crushing counterstrike.

Spying out the chamber from a shuttered window in the stairway, Bingus targets the mezzodaemon once again summoning a extra-dimensional vortex which sequesters the guardian causing it to vanish from the chamber; the vortex temporarily sealing … leave a small glowing sphere hovering in the air marking the location of the magical gateway.

GrueTaking advantage of the daemon’s departure and his own small size Vani slips into the chamber but he is immediately stalked by the unseen grue. The small grue attacks the halfling with its mind, worming its way into Vani’s thoughts causing horrific visions to appear in his mind, visions foretelling his own death and corruption. Vani vanishes teleporting himself across the chamber, but the attack leaves the halfling even more vulnerable for the attacks to follow and the grue teleports following Vani still staying concealed behind shattered furnishings. The grue’s psychic whispers drowning Vani in waves of despair clouding his mind and slowing his reflexes. The grue chitters gleefully giving up its position.

In the absence of the mezzodaemon the oracle takes charge overseeing the battle from within the library. Lifting its rod high it fires an uncanny bolt of energy at Bhenedict dazing the dwarf deftly freeing up the rager to attack Ssarina. Towering over the dragonborn, the rager raises it meaty fists, an angry fire in it eyes, intent on beating Ssarina to a bloody pulp. As the first blow streaks downward to smash into the paladin, Ian’s mind estimates the probability that the raging hulk is not actually standing next to the paladin but is actually standing next to the oracle and though it is small the probability exists and since it does he wills it so.the hulking rager vanishes as Ian alters probability causing the beast to travel through space to the library where its crushing blow falls upon the oracle felling it but then oracle teleports itself away from the inconsolable rager reappearing back within the labratory. For a moment it appeared to Ian as if the Oracle were trying to adjust the odds away from the creature being likely to randomly appear next to him, but Ian reached into his mental reserves and by altering the local psi field made the probability travel a sure thing. Rising to its feet after the teleport the oracle slams its rod upon the ground sending out a wave of crippling force in a blast stunning Bhenedict, Ssarina, and Ian but again Vani teleports saving himself from the worse effects of the blast and escaping the grue’s attack.

ManglerBoth Vani and Bingus blast the rager with spells, and suddenly Eoffram appears finishing the monster off with a devastating curse of his own. Then in a blur the mangler appears, leaping in from the library armed a blade in each of its four arms, it dances from hero-to-hero leaving a wake of pain and bloody wounds.

Unnoticed Bairdyn slips into the room sneaking up behind the distracted grue he puts a sudden end to the menace’s chittering with one thrust of his dagger. The oracle reacts blasting Bairdyn hurling him across the chamber. Theren takes action from the window in the stairway healing his allies and blessing their attacks. As the stunned heroes recover Bairdyn and the mangler begin trading blows but when Bhenedict’s thoughts clear and he sees Bairdyn pinned with his back to the wall, Benny’s fury rises and he falls on the mangler like a short avalanche leaving the monster broken and lifeless. "What’s this I hear about you breathin’ my air ? ye weasel hearted, halfling poking ass-wipe! That’il teach-ya."

Surrounded the oracle falls as the heroes attack from all sides and unseen the rats withdraw to the second floor.


SOW Chapter8: Flowing Death

Flowing Death

 

 
 

Flowing Death

Flowing Death map

The molten flow, is too dark to be lava; it is somehow fouler, with a taint … a malaise that hit the senses like rotting flesh and hot anger, coated in madness, chaos and evil intent all registering as fear and dread on the faces of the fleeing villagers. And upon the crest of the wave rides a furious mass of primordial monstrosities, creatures of chaos undulating, melting, molding and reforming … paper-thin creatures resembling headless, flattened orange and purple people dripping a viscous ichor in their wake from a number of small pores on their bodies.

The heroes rush to attack the monsters which hurl and spray them with viscous blobs of the burning blood-chaos that had evidently spawned them. The creatures, when struck by the heroes, melt into the substance of the flow only to reform to fight again but they take long enough to reform that Bhenedict and Ian are able to workout a rescue plan for the trapped woman. Bhenedict runs and attempts to leap the flow, falling short. The purplish flow slows the dwarf as he sinks down all the way to his shoulders. The material smolders and burns but for most part Bhenedict is protected by the magic of his primordial ring. Pulling free of the flow he climbs the wagon ripping the door open and carefully lift the terrified woman, then as the flow overtakes the wagon Benny passes the woman down to Ian who bends space with the power of his mind transporting the woman safely beyond the flow. The fiery monsters, again renewed surround Bhenedict.

Then both the spell casters Bingus and Vani struggle against the flow but they can do nothing for Talar, the oozing destruction of the flow continues unabated making the village’s doom clear. Then unexpectedly Ssarina bursts from the ruin of the Green Dragon shaking off a shower of debris carrying a choking but still living farmer from the rubble.

Megan Swiftblade

Abruptly a cacophony of sound explodes from atop the tower that continues to sink into the earth. By the time Bingus reaches the crest of the hill, only the top-most floor, the roof and its battlements remain above ground. The sound almost like music, but twisted beyond recognition is magically loud and abrasive. The sound is impossible to ignore. Bingus rises still higher to get a look at the sound’s source. He sees two figures clinging to the slate roof-top — one a balding human male dressed in a sage’s garb; the other a human female clad in armor, sword in hand. Bingus doesn’t recognize the male who seems utterly terrified, but the woman who is defiant despite what appears to be a badly broken leg is clearly Megan Swiftblade, leader of the Freeriders. Megan has one arm wrapped around the man for support and with her other arm she lifts a chest-sized black box high as she can, the box being the source of the torrent of sound.

Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if it’s day or night
You’ve got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind
Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?

Blood Chaos Elemental

The sinking tower has been surrounded by a broad blood chaos filled ditch forming a moat about the sinking tower. Within the moat, fire monsters larger and more oppressive skulk, hulking creatures seemingly composed of the congealed purple-orange liquid. Their head having no eyes or other features, their bodies periodically projecting thick arm-like tentacles which grow and spread from their core substance. In the center of the moat between the tower and the burning village an ominous flame burns dancing as if aware of the destruction below.

I was born long ago
I am the chosen, I’m the one
I have come to save the day
And I won’t leave until I’m done

The others race ahead, climbing the hill along the edge of the flow. The chaos hurlers giving chase, push the heroes forward and giving the escaping village some small respite. Finally Eoffram appears running south away from the tower meeting the others as they head north. "Just like an elf, to run from a fight!" yells Bhenedict.

"Bhenedict, I am neither an elf, nor am I running … I would rather our horses and gear not be consumed with the rest of Talar. I will move them to safety and catch-up with you at the tower." shouts back Eoffram.

Bairdyn turns to Benny and says, "Splitting-up has always worked so well for us in the past."

Benny answers, breathing hard, "If Eoffram were running towards the battle it would be the first time."

Fiery SerpentAs the party approaches the tower the dancing flame grows taking on the shape of a towering fiery serpent. One of the other creatures rockets into the air upon a column of fire slamming into Bingus forcing him to land.

I wish that I could fly
Into the sky
So very high
Just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees
Over the seas
In all degrees
To anywhere I please

Oh, I want to get away

Soon fights breakout on either side of the flow as heroes arrive at both side of the moat. Tentacles of fire swirl about the great scion of flame dragging at Bhenedict who stands near the east side of the moat where Bingus had fallen. Behind him Ssarina, Bairdyn and further back Theren assists the gnome.

Phoenix SpiritAt the other side of the moat Ian battles the remnants of the chaos hurlers having developed a strategy to finally destroy then when he saved the pregnant woman. Reaching outward across impossible distances extend outward his very soul in a way he’d mastered while tooling in mind as weapon, the young aristocrat calls out to his companion spirit, the spirit taking the form of a phoenix follows Ian in close proximity. As Ian draws the fiendish hurlers from the moat, attacking them causing them to melt into their base substance the wrathful spirit destroys the chaos fiends before they flee back to the safety of the flow.

I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines;
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves.

The battle rages against the creatures of chaos, the largest undulating monster taking on an orange and purple hue writhes toward the largest group of heroes projecting a smoldering coil of the flow which circles Bhenedict, Bairdyn and Ssarina hardening and trapping them within a net of burning ruin.

S-so now you better stop and rebuild all your ruins
for peace and trust can win the day despite of all you’re losin’
Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh

Ian is force to retreat backwards as the large skulking terrors react moving on his position. As they approach him they project a lethargic countenance that dulls Ian’s senses and slows his reaction time such that he cannot effectively flee. The hulking mass slam into Ian striking with heavy club-like projections. Then Vani appears behind Ian blasting the monsters with bristling waves of cold driving them back towards the flow. They flee erupting in a blast of fire as they are hurled high through the air singeing Ian in their wake and dispelling his companion spirit.

Buddy you’re a young man, hard man
Shoutin’ in the street gonna take on the world some day
You got blood on your face
You big disgrace
Wavin’ your banner all over the place

The scion of chaos advances on the trapped heroes intent on their consumption but as it glides from the flow Bingus intercedes summoning a vortex that takes shape behind the elemental; the monster reaches forward to engulf its victims but it is stretched by the powerful pull of the gnome’s sequestering spell. The scion of chaos fights, but the pull of the magic is irresistible and suddenly the monster is gone … trapped within a timeless dimensions where it can cause no further harm.

The earth starts to rumble
World powers fall
A’warring for the heavens,
A peaceful man stands tall

With the chaos scion vanished the other creatures lose focus and they begin wandering aimlessly through the flow. Theren takes advantage healing the group of trapped heroes as they free themselves from the hardened coils. Vani takes to air riding on the wave of a wind storm created by his magic landing on the slanted tower rooftop.

Dead is what he is, he does what he please
The things he has you’ll never want to see
What you’re never gonna be

As soon as they’re freed the scion of chaos abruptly reappears surrounded by the heroes whereupon it is struck on all sides from a variety of enchanted weapon and spells. Quickly destroyed, the huge elemental vanishs for good. And with the help of Vani, Megan and Serten (the balding man on the rooftop with Megan) they ferry everyone to the rooftop.

If you were me could you defend
The given rights to all the men
Screw the world and this trend
They say its about to end …

"Can’t you make that thing stop?" asks Ssarina, yelling to be heard.

Bhenedict grabs the black box from Megan and tosses it over the side into the swirling chaos.

Aaahoo, werewolves of London …

And then finally silence descends upon them.


SOW Chapter8: The Green Dragon Tavern

The Green Dragon Tavern

 

 
 

The Green Dragon

Green Dragon TavernThe Green Dragon is a typical two-story village tavern and traveler’s inn. Its outer walls are dressed stone, while internal walls and the floor are stout oak boards laid over thick joists. The roof is slate, and a small beer cellar is found under the common room. Inside and outside shutters keep the evening chill at bay. The common room takes up the majority of the first floor, with a large fireplace opposite the bar filling the area with warmth and light. The walls are covered in faded tapestries showing hunting and woodland scenes. The second floor houses the inn’s guests.

Rooms are available for 5 silvers a night. Bernath the innkeeper can also provide hearty meals (2 silvers for stew, thick-cut bread, and boiled vegetables) and ale (2 silvers a pitcher). The wine in his cellar is carefully kept for wealthy patrons. Before opening a bottle, however, he demands payment up front (5 gold).

Most of the folk in the tavern are villagers relaxing after a hard day’s work. A few travelers round out the

patronage. Bernath, a widower owns the Inn and keeps it running with the help of his twelve-year old son Niall who keeps to the common room to help his father.

As Bingus of the Brigade enter the Green Dragon with some of the Brigade new friends, Theren, Ssarina, and Vani,  other members of the Brigade, Bairdyn and Bhenedict, travel the villager working to restock travel supplies. Nearby Eoffram and his new friend Ian try (against the advise of Vani) to gain entry into the tower.

Within the Green Dragon the heavily armed party is greeted with suspicious glances. Looking about the common room they see a frail looking merchant already deep in his cups as they arrive, about a dozen local, farmers by their appearance and an unexpectedly, a recent acquaintance, Alys, the courier the Brigade had rescued a few weeks back from the gnolls at Fortress Graystone. The slim woman carrying the weapons and armor of a warrior sat on her own, humming a tuneless song while nursing her ale.

Surprised Bingus approaches removing his hat while bowing low in greeting to the beautiful young woman.

"Master Bingus, what a pleasant surprise," calls out the lass.

"Miss you have me at disadvantage, I remember your rescue if not your name," replies the gnome.

"Ah, no matter,  … I never forget a name, especially of such a cute gnome … a part of my duties I suppose. What brings you to Talar?" she asks.

"Well that is a bit convoluted, but the short answer is we are searching for answers ourselves. I am sure you are aware of the terrible siege of Overlook … we have come to question the Seer regarding these matters."

"I am afraid that is beyond my expertise, but speaking of cuties where is Bairdyn … We didn’t get much of a chance to catch-up last time we met. We are old friends and certainly would like to buy him a drink."

"Bairdyn should be here shortly."

"Ha! You are a tease … and tall order for the enemies of the Vale, I cannot thank you and your friends enough for your timely assistance when I was a guest of Fangren."

A the party filters into the common room, Bernath grins uncomfortably opening up enough to ask if he could serve them some stew and ale. Vani agrees immediately and Bernath nods telling his son Niall to see to the party’s comfort by opening up private chamber off the common room for the group repast.

Green Dragon Floor Plan

The crowd takes note a the heroes pass through the common room, Ssarina’s appearance especially, eyebrows rise, as the farmers sink deep into their seats seeking what settle they can in their drink.

As the food arrives Vani addresses the group, "Eoffram and Ian will be back soon."

"Are you a seer?" asks Ssarina.

"No, but I know a few … I am not much of a name dropper but my master is the Lord Ishtar," the others stare in disbelief, "… I am not kidding. It was his suggestion that I travel here … And these towers are will defended, you might say invulnerable. Well, the point is the seers welcome you, not the other way around. If Eoffram and Ian were expected they would have been welcomed immediately, there would …"

Just then Bhenedict arrives with Bingus at his heels interrupting Vani’s dialog. "Hmm, something smells tasty, but someone needs to tell the innkeeper that turnips aren’t a meat," suggests Benny.

"Where’s Bairdyn?" asks Vani.

"Coming, he’s a dawdler though. He’ll be here soon, save him a plate."

 Vani stands up, "He can sit here; I want go greet the folks. We seem to have created a stir; I will see if I can put them at ease."

Walking back into the common room Vani surveys the crowd quickly noticing Niall making a move to pilfer several silver coins that have fallen unnoticed under the sodden merchant’s chair. Casually the young sorcerer wanders over and places his hand lightly on the boy’s shoulder raising his eyebrow knowingly when
the tavern suddenly shudders violently as if in the grip of a powerful storm. Tipped tankards slosh ale to the floor as several patrons are knocked back in their chairs. Window shutters bang wildly as the shaking increases, the floor and walls begin bucking as if they were alive. In panic, the a few patrons stagger to their feet and attempt to flee the chaos but to a man they are tossed hard to the floor.

In the private room, Bingus, Bhenedict and Ssarina head for the rear door. Bingus dances through the shaking door easily while Benny struggles catching hold of the doorway to avoid falling but blocking Ssarina’s path. Back in the common room Vani makes his way to the entry into the private room but glancing back he notices when the merchant Leucis is struck by a roof beam and falls unconscious to the floor. Vani races back to the merchant withdrawing a healing potion which he forces into Leucis’s mouth.

Outside of the inn Bingus uses his ebony fly to take to air. Bhenedict makes his way out and immediate hollers out for Bairdyn but the halfling was already running in Bhenedict’s direction. Hearing the terrified shouts from the common room, Ssarina turns back rushing to help. As the dragonborn enters, the floor groans ominously as its planks and timbers begin to twist and splinter. In the center of the mess a farmer struggles to escape the crumbling floor, but too late and the floor breaks away dropping the man ten feet into a cellar abruptly revealed below.

As Bingus climbs into the air he catches sight of a looming disaster.

Flow Diagram

Having rescued Leucis, Vani calls out to one villager after another guiding each in turn to the relative safety outside. A particularly violent tremor shakes the inn, hurling a shower of burning hot embers from the fireplace into the common room. A tapestry torn from the wall by one of the fleeing patrons quickly begins to smolder. Theren enters from the private room healing the injured and guiding others towards Vani.

Burning Tavern

Counting heads Vani notices Alys must have already slipped out unnoticed and the flames have spread from the tapestry on the floor to those still hanging on the wall. Ssarina leaps down into the cellar and heals the injured man then lifts him and starts climbing stairs back towards the common room. Theren works on one of the terrified locals he finds crouched beneath a table, whimpering as the tavern is torn apart around him. "It’s giants I tell ya, Waldheim told me he’s seen em two nights ago eyeballing just beyond the tower … ah hideous man-eating one wit purple-gray skin!"

Outside Bingus is a horrified witness as flames leap high in the air, silhouetting huddled survivors against the heaped mounds of rubble that were once their homes. Many of the buildings in the immediate vicinity have at least partially collapsed, and fires are spreading through the ruins. A terrified screaming rises in the distance along the main track. Villagers are running below him as a dark shape oozes down the street behind them.

Coaxing the terrified villager in the common room out Theren and Vani flee the burning building just as Ssarina reaches the top of the stairs and the tavern convulses as more violent tremors strike. The great beams holding the upper floor aloft begin to buckle ominously. Still carrying the last villager, Ssarina races for the door as above her head an aged timber snaps like kindling. A shower of floorboards and furniture heralds the upper floor’s collapse. Ssarina places the man down hunching her broad scale-covered shoulders, massive muscles flexing, bracing for the collapse making a shield of her body.

A viscous purple-red tide flows into Talar, pouring out from the low, craggy hill at the edge of the village. Ishtar’s tower of mottled stone stands atop the hill, the ooze flowing out through a hole blasted out beneath it. At the edge of the narrow road Bingus blasts a wave of magically frozen air, spliting the flow at the point of a collapsed house, fire suddenly flares in revolt, as the molten tide splits into twin arms and traps a wagon on the road, upon the wagan a terrified and obvious pregnant woman screams. Running just ahead of the flow Ian arrives at the scene meeting-up with Bhenedict, Bairdyn, Vani and Theren. Flying above them Bingus circles. Ssarina is no where to be seen.


SOW Chapter8: To See the Seers

To See the Seers

 

 
 

To See the Seers of Ishtar

Leaders in need of aid...

The Brigade along with the emissaries from Mendelland are heroes of the city, but nobody has the time to celebrate yet. Everyone still in the city is hard at work rebuilding and the siege has presented a new mystery.

Why wasn’t the city warned? What happened to the Seers of Ishtar? Have they joined with the enemies of the Elsir Vale? The answer to these questions are to be found in Talar where Ishtar’s Tower can be found.


Once more, the heroes are summoned to Caer Overlook, where they are greeted by Overlook’s elders and some of the new city leaders; unfortunately two of the Elders, Counselors Bakkus Greathorn and Itrika Mountainhome, were slain during the siege, along with other city leaders High Priest Durkik, Priestess Lavinya and Captain of the Watch, Jerra Dauralis. Still they are all grateful and your welcome is far less brusque this time.

“Greetings, friends,” intones Elder Cadrick as you approach the dais upon which he and the city’s other remaining leaders stand. "We have received a desperate message from Megan Swiftblade, leader of the Freeriders, who you might remember. You may have noticed she was missing during the siege. In the face of repeated assassination attempts; Megan has already survived three attempts on her life and we feared that more would follow, so we had secretly smuggled Megan out of the city, to the village of Talar where she was born. Always vigilant, even there, we have received word that Megan has uncovered the identity of a powerful ally to General Zithiruun—an ally who helped in the preparation the recent attack. Although she did not identify this ally in her coded message."

Great Elder Morgoff interrupts, "We need to know what happened to the Seers of Ishtar, if they were involved … if they conspired with the attackers we are all still at risk! The answers wait in Talar, we request that you travel to Talar with all haste and meet with Megan and bring her back to us. We need to find who is ultimately behind the attack, and hopefully in time to prevent another.”

Calmly Elder Cadrick interjects, "Again, we find ourselves in need of aid, and again we call upon you. Travel to the village of Talar and find out what Megan knows. Keep her safe, neutralize any immediate threat to her, and then return her to us. Megan’s message makes no mention of where she is staying, saying only that she can be contacted through the village’s Green Dragon tavern."