Monthly Archives: April 2011

SOW Chapter9: Zed’s Demise

Odos is safe now
Zed is dead, githzerai too

A high price to pay

Zed Is Dead

Map: Witchwood

Odos directs his attention
back to the surviving githzerai including Zed and Chen, “Gather only necessities,
We will leave immediately and we will not be traveling together. I will travel
through the hill and the mountains. Where I go it will not be safe; I must
travel quickly, with a limited elite guard.  The rest of you would not keep up. For your own safety, the rest of you travel around the hills and the mountains
with a select guard. You all know Chen and Zed; they will be with you.”

Zed … a strangely dressed,
large, powerfully built man, his features chiseled deep by time and experience,
battle and hardship, his countenance dark and brooding, approaches the old
hunched githzerai towering over him, a overwhelming figure of a man, “I was hired to bring you
to the gathering, and my mission is incomplete. My place is with you. I am a
slayer, not a guard … or a babysitter. I have spent a decade exiled within the
mountains of the north, these hills here are of no concern to me. Release me
now or accept my assistance, it matters not to me … I will travel with you.”

“Bah, do what you will, I
will not tell you how to live or die; but, we will move quickly and I will not
be delayed,” answers Odos..

Throughout the night, the
dead are gathered, githzerai and githyanki alike. In the dark, other than their
attire, they look the same, the githzerai dressed in monk’s robes, the
githyanki in ornate, exotic armors. Many of the dead are unreachable buried
beneath the rubble of the landfall, but the rest are gathered, piled and burned
in a massive pyre, then at first light, with the fire still burning they leave.
Odos and his guards moving south and the other survivors moving north.

Map: Wyrmsmoke Mountains

Through the first day’s
travel, the heroes of the vale find that Odos is not an inspiring leader; he is
dour, pessimistic, and suspicious. Nevertheless, he isn’t a bad person and he
is greatly respected by his people for keeping them alive. Tokk’it explains
that the leader’s knowledge of history and tradition is legendary and that any
of the githzerai would all die to protect Master Odos.

Tokk’it seeks out the female
monk Gallia to introduce her to Ian. In the process, remarking how many feared
she was dead when she was trapped on the upper roof and surrounded by githyanki;
but, she shrugs off her own accomplishments in a polite but formal way. She
appears entirely focused on the task at hand, interested only in making sure
Odos makes his way safely to the coalition meeting in Sayre.

Early into the march Odos
sets an impossible pace, the other githzerai struggle to keep pace failing
behind but not nearly as much so as Zed, Bairdyn and especially Bhenedict none
of whom can even keep up with the other githzerai. Among the heroes only Ian
and Vani can keep up with the githzerai, Ian traveling lightly, unarmored and utilizing mental disciplines to increase his speed,
and Vani thanks to his magical boots of speed. Having made his point the old,
blind githzerai stops and waits for the others to catch-up, as the other
githzerai approach the old master Odos turns his attention to Ian.

“Your short, bearded warrior
is pathetically slow. I will wait for the others, but you may need to carry him.”

The githzerai cenobites
offer, “We will see to it master.”

As the others finally
catch-up the cenobites approach the dwarf and explain the master’s suggestion.
Benny looks to them more amused than upset chuckling as the cenobites try to
left him, with his armor and the gear he carries the short warrior weights in
at over 21 stone (300 lbs +). It is immediately obvious that they will not succeed.
Benny suggests, “You could build a litter
and drag me up and through these hills and mountains. I could use a vacation.” 

Disgruntled Odos digresses, “Bah!” And he starts out again, this time at a slower pace and they travel throughout the
day without issue.

On the other side of the
vale. Eoffram had already left Brindol with Ian’s phantom heading west on The
Dawn Way traveling quickly on horseback past Talar, which had been completely
destroyed by Sarshan’s attack, to Nimon Gap on their first day of travel where
they take rest while Odos‘s party sets camp. On the following morning Eoffram
wakes early to the bright light of morning streaming into his eyes, as the
night’s cobwebs clear, he finds that Ian’s phantom is already within his still
locked room at the inn. Dressed in a heavy robe to mask his dark, alien
features, the phantom looks down upon Eoffram and says, “They are already on
the move, we should be too. Ready yourself; eat, you will need your strength. I
will see that the horses are prepared.”

Cinder Hill

Githyanki ArmyEarly on into the following
morning’s travel Odos’s group follows the Dawn Way as it crests a rugged ridge
sparsely covered with wind-twisted pine tress. From the ridge they find
themselves looking across a broad valley, within which sits a rugged knob-like
hill that has been set aflame. It looks like a small burning mountain on the
opposite side of the valley. The Dawn Way continues cutting through the valley,
a ribbon of pale stone, leading past the towering heights of the burning hill
where a great encampment fills the valley. Hundreds of crude tents dot the
valley floor, interspersed with bulky siege engines, groups of wagons, and pens
for draft beasts. Hearing the sounds of battle Odos asks Tokk’it to describe
what they are seeing.

 

Tokk’it speaks softly, “There
is a camp with hundreds of warriors, bands of githyanki. They are alert, and
patrolling the camp’s outskirts. The sounds are fierce mock battles between
githyanki warriors … they are shouting, as they fight, it is their steel you hear, 
githyanki silver clashing. There are giants plodding among them from place to
place, they seem restless.” Then suddenly a scarlet-colored dragon lazily rises
from the encampment, to a great height before beginning a slow circle overhead.

“… and a dragon!” adds Tokk’it.

“Quickly, we must find cover,"
announces Odos.

Master Odos attacksWorking together the party
sneaks past the encampment without garnering unwanted attention. As they put
some distance between themselves and the githyanki they rejoin the Dawn Way and
they continue their journey. A mile past the camp at a waypoint, as Zed and one
of the githzerai cenobites scout ahead they notice movement on either side of
the road as githyanki emerge from behind the cover provided by stumpy tilted
stone posts and broken stone. They rise drawing silvered rapiers artistically
with a master’s touch, their blades flashing as they spin in the light. The
githyanki maneuvering lithely but with an abandon born of true confidence
dispelling any hope that this might be an easy battle, but then Odos strikes!

Lightning fires from the
ancient githzerai’s hands leaping to the three closest approaching githyanki.
Smoke bursts from their bodies and the githyanki vanish as the lightning plays
over them only to reappear as the githzerai master directs. The first flanked
by the cenobite and Zed is quickly dispatched, three others appearing together
are blasted by Vani who also accidentally catches Zed in his arcane spell.
Enraged Zed, turns on Vani furiously even as the githyanki fall away behind
him. The hard northern warrior moves towards the halfling sorcerer but his path
blocked by the nearest cenobite.

Working together Ian,
Bhenedict, Bairdyn and the other githzeria make short work of the remaining
githyanki who neither offer or expect mercy. None of the githyanki survive the
battle. The cenobite manages to calm Zed, but not before he makes it clear that
if there are any more accidents, what he does to halfling will be completely on
purpose. 

Eoffram and the Phantom:

Across the Witchwood approximately forty miles from Cinder
Hill Eoffram and Ian’s phantom were nearing the wood from the south through the
a low-lying area of flooded forest known as the Blackwater causeway, a wide
expanse of dark, mostly still water floods the woodland in this far southern
end of the low woods. Trees protrude from the calm, dark waters here and there,
but many large reaches seem to be little more than open pools of algae-chocked
water. The trill of frogs and the whine of insects fills the air as the pair
approaches and the frogs cautiously grow silent. The forest road leads right
down to the edge of the flooded section, up to the rickety-looking causeway
which is made of thick planks of wood lashed together with mossy rope. Eoffram
and the phantom dismount and Eoffram leads the horses on to the wooden causeway
which extends several hundred feet through the boggy patch, only a foot or so
above the water. As he does he spies a wreckage of a wagon, lying on its side
and half-sunk in the flooded forest, about thirty feet from the causeway, and a
reptilian head, possibly a large snake is coiled in the moss by the wagon.

Eoffram points out the
serpent and Ian ties his horse on to Eoffram’s stepping out on the causeway ahead
of the warlock. Immediately a heavy wake begins to make its way from the
wrecked and sunken wagon to the causeways and several heads emerge from the
muck cutting off the phantom bard’s progress when the hydra bursts from the
bog.

Bog Hydra

The monster snaps at the bard
but fails to score of hit as Ian’s phantom dodges and then rushes forward
causing the hydra to give ground retreating far enough to allow Eoffram to slip
past behind the phantom. As Eoffram races by the bard floats into the air
beyond the hydra’s reach, then glides through the air eventually joining
Eoffram on the far side of the bog. Eoffram waits firing spells and curses at
the hydra blocking any pursuit from the monstrous hydra.

A Race with Death:

Back in the north where the
others, Ian, Bhenedict, Bairdyn, the githzerai and Odos bodyguard, Zed are
marching east and south perhaps six mile past the point of their last
encounter. The ground had been descending as they passed from mountains to
hills but now once more the road was rising as the pass crossed once more back
into the mountains. At the same time the forest had begun to fully spread
around them when without warning a huge shadow passes over as the red dragon 
from the fortress, passes overhead. As it passes Odos shouts out a warning, “We must flee before we
are undone; there are giants within the wood!”

Proving Odos right, a half
dozen giants appear, on the road behind the party closing rapidly upon the
party. The towering, powerful giants move very fast, unhindered by the wood,
the ground begins to shake as they break into a trot howling as they start
pursuing the party.

Forest Giants

The party breaks into a run,
with Ian and Vani hanging back. Benny takes off at a full run pausing only long
enough to scoop up Bairdyn as the dwarf finally shows off his racing form
surprising even Odos by the pace he sets. The other githzerai fall back to
cover their master’s escape. It is immediately obvious that they won’t be able
to out-race the giants. On the road head they spy a stone bridge in the
distance maybe a quarter-mile ahead.

Ian summons a second
duplicate and his true form backs away from the giants. Vani thinks over his
options and turns to run. Zed hangs back with one of the cenobites and a melee
breaks out. The cenobite sidesteps, dodging a giant’s swing, almost
effortlessly. The distracted giant is slashed deeply by Zed. Another giant pounds the bard’s duplicate causing it to vanish. Three
other giants race past. Zed strikes again forcing the first giant to retreat
but a third giant swings at Zed’s back. The concussion of the giant’s blow
hurls the warrior through the air where another giant pounds him into the
ground. Heroically Zed rises thrusting his blade into the giant with all his
strength. The giant staggers and falls, as two others close upon the warrior.
The cenobite intercepts one of the giants blocking its path. The giant knocks
the monk aside. The third giant lands a double slam smashing Zed between its
two meaty fists like twin boulders. As the giant’s fists separate Zed crumbles
like a marionette, bones crushed, body broken. Behind the giants githyanki
warriors approach in mass. The party flees as the lone cenobite fights on.

Further down the road Odos
runs gaining on Bhenedict and Bairdyn as the dwarf remove the halfling from his
shoulder placing him back on the ground. The two friend’s look at one another
and as one they yell, “Run!”

Right behind Odos, Gallia
stares at the Exalted Master and swings hard trying to remove his head from his
shoulders. The master deftly dodges the blow and backhands her viciously,
causing her to stumble and misstep, while he proceeds without missing a step
leaving Gallia in his wake.

Ian catches up to Gallia
visualizing a red glare to her eyes – FLASHBACKKKKKKKK,

Something very uncomfortable
about the High Priest’s stance and the certain fury of his eyeHigh Priest Durkiks … the unnatural seething during
the siege of Overlook. The city’s fate in the balance.

An idle remark from the
githzerai saying they thought Gallia was dead when she was trapped alone,
surrounded by githyanki on the upper roof of Akma’ad.

The githyanki’s penchant for
possessing individuals to use them as spies. Whether Gallia’s eyes were really
red or not to the bard didn’t matter, with certainly suddenly he realized she was
possessed. Quickly Ian strikes, Gallia, still off balance due to Odos’s attack,
gets knocked to the ground and Ian proceeds past her as giants approach. Gallia
never makes to her feet.

At the rear of the melee one
of the heroic cenobites falls as the rear trailing giants finally crush him and
rejoin the chase and one the three lead giants slows his chase just long enough
to stomp the life out of Gallia as the two other giants in the front pack
continue their pursuit of Ian almost catching him but Tokk’it pushes the bard
who had befriended him aside blocking the giants, absorbing the brunt of their
attack just enough to give Ian a little space.  Vani pauses but Ian tells the
halfling sorcerer to keep running. The stone bridge of Skull’s gorge now tantalizingly
near. Vani looks back once asking, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, don’t worry, I have a
plan … and I’m not ready to die just yet,” answers Ian.

Turning towards the bridge
Vani’s stomach drops away as he sees the dragon racing through the air, then closing
its wings and diving at breakneck speed arcing through the sky. Making matters
worse, he feels the ground shake with the giants fast approach, behind him a
cacophony of shouts and excited howls, the sounds of the giants mixing now with
those of githyanki raiders on their heels in numbers uncounted. The dragon
completes its diving arc hovering in front of the entrance to the bridge
blocking any passage!

Suddenly Vani finds himself surrounded by a different set of giants, hill giants! Again his companions are dying as the giants are smashing them with their huge clubs. Their healer has just been laid low. With a cry of fear and anger and frustration the halfling lets loose a blast of power that causes the lead giant to turn on his companions and go on a killing rampage. Tokk’it ducks as the forest giant are suddently engulfed in a huge ball of flame. Vani screams something that sounds vaguely elven and then arcane energy comes pouring from Vani’s hands and blasts the giants.

Ian watches as Tokk’it fights
bravely in a hopeless battle. Having watched Gallia die Tokk’it determines to
join her in the great beyond. He seeks no escape fighting until the giants crush
the life from body. Ian uses the time to enchant the air creating a cloud of
shadow in front of the giants. As the giants attempt to rush through the
shadowed cloud its substance congeals upon them slowing them like an inky web.
From the rear Vani hears Ian yell, “VANI NOW!”

Vani refocuses his thoughts, sees the giants again as forest giants, and releases the spell he had originally prepared …
‘BOOM!’ a second giant dies; then a loud ‘WHOOSH’ near the
bridge, and at the front of the party Bairdyn and Odos are suddenly engulfed in
flames as the huge red dragon breaths fire upon them.

Stone Bridge

The gorge is roughly a
hundred feet wide at its narrowest point, the gorge drops away precipitously to
a fast-rushing stream far below. The ancient Dawn Way crosses the cleft on the
a bridge of stone, anchored at both ends to large stone towers with pentagonal
roofs. The bridge seems sturdy despite its obvious age. It is, clearly, the
only easy way to cross, since the gorge continues as far as the eye can see to
the east and west. The four stone towers that anchor the bridge are each forty
feet high. A narrow wooden stairway winds, around each, landing up to an
open-air watch post at the top.

A small encampment of a half-dozen tents clusters near the far side of the
bridge. Curls of smoke from a small campfire attest to some sort of activity. A
single humanoid figure, a Tiri Kitor, a savage elf, steps out taking a position
between the towers, as he does Bairdyn notices two more elves one atop either
of the southern watchtowers all three having longbows in hand. Together they
draw their bows as the world turns to fire around him.

The Tiri Kitor:

Savage Elf

Unseen by the dragon, a great
owl emerges from the right-most southern tower… it’s wings flap, soundlessly as
it rises high above the dragon. Githyanki warnings go unheeded as the dragon
breathes out its gout of fiery breath upon the halfling and the githzerai elder
as the owl dives at the dragons hind-side raking the dragon’s back deeply with
razor-sharp talons. Surprised and infuriated the dragon reverses course
flipping wing-over-wing but then the dwarf leaps upon him slamming the dragon
hard enough to force it to the ground. Suddenly a score of elves emerge from
the landscape on the far side of the bridge. Immediately dozens of arrows are
launched, many finding their mark sinking deep into the dragon. Startled
and bloody the dragon crashes hard. Adding insult one of the arrows hit’s the
dragon’s face exploding in a starburst blinding the scarlet wyrm as it breaths
fire again and throws itself upon the dwarf ripping at his armor fanatically
with its claw. Bhenedict crushes one of the dragon arms with a hammer strike as
the giant owl renews its attack spilling the dragon’s hot blood in a torrent. The
dragon struggles vainly as its life bleeds out.

Caliandra

As the dragon dies a second
elf joins the huntsman between the towers. Her countenance doesn’t betray her
age but Odos can tell she is indeed ancient, far older than himself. Her
presence is unmistakable as is the respect she garners from the elf at her
side. She wears her golden hair short, and her eyes are bright. She appears
fierce and wild, but even amid the chaos of the moment she is calm and
controlled. She wears silver-blue mithral chain armor, and she wears a bow
fixed on her back, and in hand she welds a beautiful yet unadorned longsword
while in her off-hand she holds an odd wand of twisted gold. Unlike the
huntsman next to her who remains fixed on the enemies, she is entirely focused
upon Bairdyn and Bhenedict when she speaks, “Welcome, I am Caliandra of the Stagrunners, if you would live then move
past us now. Do not turn back or stop until you reach Vraath Keep, there you
will use this key (presenting the gold wand) and the Lord’s Gate to travel to
Sayre where you are needed; and not only you, but also these githzeria, guard
them and see that they reach the coalition."

She continues, “We will pin the githyanki down here, but we can not hold them indefinitely, so
make haste.”

The survivors, Bairdyn,
Bhenedict, Odos, and two of the cenobites, cross the bridge first. Ian needs to
drag Vani across as fury mixes with tears in his eyes as he unleashes one blast
after another killing a third giant and forcing the others back.

“Vani we need to leave now
the githyanki have arrived; we must flee while we can,” argues the bard.

Vani answers, “I’m not
finished yet, there are three giants left!”

… Then a thought comes over
Vani, a premonition … or maybe déjà vu … something about giants, death and
survival and a profound sense anger and loss … ultimate frustration …

As Vani returns to his
senses, he see confusion in Ian’s eyes and he answers softly, “You’re right; this
is hopeless we need to move on. I am not sure what came over me. Let’s go.”

Man’s Best Friend:

Jorr

As Eoffram and Ian’s phantom
move along the trail it leads up to and past a small cabin in a deep forest
glade. The cabin features a ramshackle front porch which is littered with
fishing baskets and skinning frames, and it overlooks a dark bayou or a small
lake that has old gray moss-draped cedar trees rising out of the dark water. An
old skiff is tied up at the edge of the bayou nearby, and a little smoke curls
from the cabin’s fieldstone chimney.

The two traveler dismount and
slowly, cautiously approach the cabin ‘hailing’ the cabin in respectful
fashion. They are greeted with  growls and loud baying, and then a number of
dogs emerge from beneath the cabin‘s poJorr's Dogsrch. They stop about 10 feet short of the strangers
and growl, snapping ferociously but they stop short of attacking.

The strange dogs snarl, their
jaws huge and unnaturally wide, but they hold their ground as the cabin’s door
opens, and a lean woodsman of indeterminate age steps out onto the porch. He
has a seamed, leathery look to his face and arms, and he wears a huge curved
knife strapped to his thigh.

“Don’t get many visitors
out here,” he rasps. “Who’re you,
and what d’ya want wit me?”

Eoffram introduces himself
apologizing for any trespass, “I am Eoffram Troyas of
Brindol, and this is … Ian, sort of.”

“Would ye be Alicante Troyas’s
son?” ask the woodsman.

“Yes, yes I am. I am a
councilor in Brindol; here I am just a visitor,” answers Eoffram.

“I knew yer father, ye
favor him. What brings ye out here, no one comes here wit out reason.”

“I’m sure you’re right; we are
passing through. We are on or way to meet some friends approaching from the
north. And, I’m sorry but we are in a rush, may we pass.”

“Oh, sure …,” the man whistles and the dogs retreat. “I would
take care, Vraath Keep is not far ahead, it’s a ruin, and a maty-core lairs
there. The damn thing tried to ate my dogs once.”

Speaking up Ian says, “Vraath
Keep?”

“Yeah, Vraath Keep, home a
Amery Vraath, may the lords keep-em,” responds
the woodman, “And if you can keep o’secret
… Amery son, Arryk the black has been livin thar fer years, but I’m a bit
worried bout em, aven’t seen em in awhile now. Bout to go take a look-see iffin
you don’t mind company. I know these woods near better than any one else. Oh,
and my names Jorr.”

“We would welcome your
company,” offers Eoffram, “but you should know Ian isn’t normal, not in a bad
way, or anyway I can explain … he’s summoned and well, a phantom. Is that how
you would explain it Ian?”

“It will do, I am real … not
a ghost or anything, I am normal just out of phase … or out of sync … and of
course, friendly. I am pleased to meet you, Jorr. Surely you know something of
the history of Vraath Keep. I do and it’s fascinating but all I know is from
books. I am sure you can bring it all to life.”

Vraath Keep

The Story of the Keep

Vraath Keep has a tragic
history, as the ruin and the skeletal remains there attest. For centuries,
trade through the Witchwood used the Dawn Way, and the soldiers stationed at
Vraath Keep were the primary defenders of the region. Their presence kept the
road safe for merchants to travel.

A few years before Rhest fell
to the Cult of Grithstane, an ambitious young man named Amery Vraath inherited
control of the keep. After the Rhestilor  kingdom dissolved, Amery laid claim
to the entire Witchwood and sought to rid his new domain of its evil reputation
by burning the local witches so the witches cursed the young man with an
uncontrollable ego and an inflated self-confidence which grew to the point that he
felt himself unstoppable. Soon the witches went into hiding and needing a new
target the young man turned his wrath toward a tribe of forest giants that
dwelt deep within these woods, the Twistusks, peaceful forest giants that
generally kept to themselves but they still occasionally frightened the
merchants that relied on the Dawn Way.

The brash young lord gathered
together an impressive group of mercenaries and adventurers, and then early one
summer morning he led his men against the Twistusks is a surprise attack. The
battle was furious, but in the end Amery’s men won the day and they forced the
Twistusks to flee into the Wyrmsmoke mountains. In the aftermath of the battle
the soldiers burned the giant‘s steading to the ground and returned to Vraath,
victorious.

Yet their victory was
short-lived, one year later, the surviving Twistusks returned from the
mountains and attacked Vraath Keep during a tremendous thunderstorm. The giants
bombarded the keep all night long with hurled boulders and massive poisoned
arrows. When the sun rose, four of the Twistusks lay dead amid the ruined keep,
but all of the keep’s soldiers had been killed. Only a few non-combatants
survived the battle and they were all taken away to be eaten by the giants in
their own victory feast, that is all of them except Amery Vraath and his new
wife who was with child in her belly. The young lordling had secured his wife
within the keep’s vault  but the giants, led by their leader Warklegnaw demanded
their vengeance … and convinced Amery to surrender himself so that his woman
might be spared. Amery’s options were limited, either he slow starved to death
with his wife, or he had to give himself up to the giant’s vengeance with the
hope that the giant would spare his family. He surrendered.

Warklegnaw shattered both of
Amery’s legs and poisoned him with an arrow before casting him into his own
vault to die a slow painful death never knowing whether the giants had freed or
eaten his wife. 

At this point Jorr adds to
the known history:

Eventually Warklegnaw did put
the woman on a spit and slow cooked her over a low fire but only after she had
delivered Amery’s son, Arryk Vraath. Arryk was raised by the woodsman Jorr
after Warklegnaw brought the crying baby to his doorstep. Eventually, Jorr told
Arryk about his family; something which Arryk kept mostly to himself. He took
to calling himself Arryk the Black and he went about trying to make amends for
his family’s history, eventually joining the ‘Diamond League’ the group of
adventurers that were instrumental in the defeat of the Red Hand. Having
succeeded in that defense of the Elsir Vale, Arryk slipped into quiet
retirement back at Vraath Keep having never revealed his family’s history to
anyone outside of the League.

“Arryk lives up in Vraath
Keep, with a maty-core fer company and. I’ah haven’t seen Arryk for a couple o
weeks. Things been restless, more reatless than us’yal. Even the elves been
worried. And Koth, he is a bugber … he’s gone bigheaded later … ohh, all hi’ n’
mighty. I mean it could be trouble.”

TIMELINE               IAN                             Phantom
IAN                 

Day 1                          To Akma’ad                To
Brindol

Day 2                          Akma’ad Battle          Nimon
Gap

Day 3                          Shunned Hills             Drellin’s
Ferry

Day 4                          Vraath Keep                Vraath’s
Keep

SOW Chapter9: An Unexpected Visitation

An Unexpected Visitation

Phantom Ian here
Zefram and Eoffram bicker

Eoffram’s mind heavy

An Unexpected Visitation

Troyas Estate

Eoffram brooded alone within the Troyas estate, still trying to come to terms with exactly how Lord Jarmann had met his end. Something in Zefram’s dialog about the event didn’t make sense … not that his stories ever did. Apparently Lord Jarmath had been having dinner with Zefram privately and he had somehow he had choked on his food and collapsed. Zefram ran out to get assistance, but by the time he returned Lord Jarmann’s body had somehow gone missing.

Days afterward, in the aftermath of the Lord’s fall his body still hadn’t been found. He had been the victim of foul-play and an apparent abduction, Eoffram, had been nominated by Lady Ariane Sanja to take over the provisional leadership of Brindol’s Council, and her nomination was immediately seconded by Lord Noel Prasad of the halfling bargemen. Now with the strong support of the Lord Warden, it seemed the post might be made permanent; Eoffram’s election was already all but a lock, and Eoffram couldn’t shake the feeling that Zef had manipulated his election for some purpose of his own, whether nefarious or not, he couldn’t be sure. Then while Eoffram was distracted, wrestling with his thoughts on the matter, and caught-up in the depths of his own wonderings something unexpected happened, a dark figure stepped through the wall.

Phantom Ian

A Meeting with Zefram

Eoffram Troyas“Look, I have to leave in the morning. Please go over it one more time.Zefram Troyas

“I never realized my stories fascinated so, I may have missed my calling. What do think Eoffram, should have become a bard? Do you really think I have what it takes?

Eoffram replies, “Truly brother, I am sorry if my departure is upsetting your plans for my political future, but it appears I am needed elsewhere. I would prefer that upon my return I will find you still in one piece rather than drawn and quartered.”

Zefram responds, “Oh so it concern that is on your mind. Funny that you would mention being quarter given the quadratic nature of my personage. If fact, you touch upon something that crossed my mind. I was thinking we should rename Brindol. Brindol just sounds ‘townie’ to me … we could do better, something more metropolitan.”

“What are you talking about?” asks Eoffram.

“Consider this, Brindol isn’t the original name of the city. First there was Dwarf-town, and Haven … then Dwarfhaven; and when the dwarves left they started calling it Brindol, so named by the Jarmann’s. Brindol is just ‘cute’ and it will never be more than that, now that Aaron Jarmann has bit it and the Troyas family is the heir apparent, ‘in ascension as they say’ we should make a bold statement. I like the sound of ‘Four Winds‘, don’t you?" asks Zefram.

“Have you gone completely mad?” asks Eoffram flabbergasted.

“Think about it, it is the fourth incarnation of the city. The name Brindol is tainted by war and general uselessness. Yet here we are positioned in the center of the golden Elsir Vale, in the middle of the known world. We could rise to greatness here. Overlook is hopeless, a mess and the dwarves there far too headstrong to make the changes that are necessary. I probably shouldn’t be asking you anyhow. You are always far too busy running around playing at being just another hero, too busy to truly lead. Now that this phantom has shown-up you’re set to leave again like a dog upon a leash,” argues Zefram.

“I am not discussing this with you,” declares Eoffram.

With a broad grin Zef replies, “Oh, so now you ’don’t’ want to talk, you’re pathetic … that’s your problem. You could learn something from Lady Sanja, she happens to think my ideas are brilliant.”

“I will deal with this upon my return. Just stay out of trouble until I return. You can do that much can‘t you brother?” asks the Councilor as he leaves.

The Return of the Dark Guardian 

Frustrated Eoffram retires to his chambers worried that the phantom Ian might again step through his wall at any second … a disconcerting thought in is mind. The warlock within Eoffram was fascinated by this man abilities, but despite his curiosity Eoffram didn’t understand them, and not understanding it was hard not to have some trepidation. Who knew what else he might be capable of? Eoffram had only had one brief previous encounter with the Sayre-born, noble-bastard and that was during the siege of Overlook, but he really didn’t know the man. Yet here Ian was, in some measure … a ghost or phantom apparently able to split himself in multiple ghostly copies, and now he welcomed himself into the Councilor’s estate requesting Eoffram’s assistance, or to be more precise, acting as a messenger on behalf of Eoffram’s friends from the Brigade and for that reason alone Eoffram had to consider Ian’s request.

Sitting in the dark, Eoffram lights a single candle and closes his eyes briefly in deep thought as the  Voice fills his thought within the dark room.

A Voice In The Dark

"Son of Troyas, tis time for ye to ride. Dost not tarry in thine mortal realm too long. Toil within such be folly for such as thee, nary be there any importance there. I bequeath thou to be bold. Cometh hither, I await thee in the fullsome of thine preparation. Ye are yet a youngling and I dost not think thy properly prepared to receive me. Durst henceforth to take measures that might prepare thee. Wilt thou labor for naught? I trow not! And know this, whither thou goest, I too shall go, never shall thou be alone.”

Sleep came over Eoffram,  unexpectedly, fitful sleep at best, Eoffram awakes, the candle burnt down to the quick. Roughly Eoffram rises to find the phantom waiting within the parlor of the estate in quiet discussion with his brother Zefram.

“… a gathering of sorts, I’ve no details, far to northwest and now southbound I believe,” says Ian.

“That seems entirely vague, and just a trifle convenient … Ah, look who has decided to grace us with his august presence,” replies his brother.

“Can it, Zef, sarcasm is a poor dressing. Have you seen to our guest’s needs?” suggests Eoffram joining the conversation.

“It appears he has none; he does not eat, drink, nor does he even sleep …all that and an abundance of patience, but he is a man of a mission after all. I will leave you to your own preparation. Concern yourself naught of Brindol and the Council, I will attend to both,” answers Zefram.

Four Winds Tavern

As the estate staff sees to Eoffram’s road provisions and the preparation of swift horses, he leaves the estate alone wanting to avoid any distress that the phantom Ian’s appearance might cause. Eoffram heads straight for Brindol’s newest tavern, The Four Winds, a place formerly known as the Blue Parrot, this tavern had apparently been purchased by his brother Zefram during Eoffram’s last trip to Talar, and it had recently become a favorite haunt of his friend, Bingus, the Brigade’s wizard.

When he arrives, as he’d hoped, he finds Bingus present and breaking his fast with Immerstal the Red, argumentatively the most powerful wizard in the area. Immerstal had lived in Brindol for decades, even before the formation of Brindol Council. He was powerful when Eoffram had been a child.

Calling out, Eoffram says, “Good Morn, Bingus, it is well that I have found you, I am off it seems the Brigade is called. Already Bhenedict and Bairdyn have departed Overlook. I will be leaving within the hour. Are you with me?”

“Would that I could, but the needs of my family yet await me within my home in The Feywild. Would that you could come with me, I would love to introduce you, and we might yet catch-up … I do travel quickly if only I knew where to find them,” answers the gnome.

Eoffram responds, “Alas, I can not tell you, I do not know myself. Only last night, the bard Ian appeared in the strangest of ways, I’ve not time to go into now, but he says he can lead us to them.”

Speaking up, Immerstal suggests, “Mayhap I can assist you? Eoffram if you have some unique trinket you carry and we could but examine it I could offer Bingus a ritual scroll that would enable him to locate the object wherever it might lie, but I must warn you this is not without cost.”

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View Object:

Whether it’s a magic sword, a map of the catacombs, or the jeweled cup that used to be on your mantelpiece, you can observe the location where a specific item is.

Level: 18 Category: Scrying Time: 1 hour Duration: Special Component Cost: 7,000 gp, plus a focus (orb) worth 5,000 gp Market Price: 17,000 gp Key Skill: Arcana Category: Scrying

************************************************************************

“Hmm, I will have to give this some consideration,” answers Bingus, “Maybe I will look-up Finellior while I am in The Feywild, he may wish to join us.”

“Then I am off, travel well Bingus.”

“And may you travel with cheer as well, I will join you when I am able … and I will offer-up a dusting of gold on your behalf. And remember, nothing cuts the miles like laughter.”

Keeping to his plans, Eoffram leaves Brindol with Ian, both on horseback, and well provisioned considering Ian’s phantom was essentially weightless and needed none of the provisions the staff had packed for him.

They leave by the city gates and head west on The Dawn Way, traveling past destroyed Talar where Eoffram kept a company of his Vale Militia. They travel by days from Brindol through the orchards of Nimon Gap on the first day where they take rest, and then traveling through Terrelton, to Drellin’s Ferry on their second full day of travel. Arriving in Drellin’s Ferry they are welcomed by none other then the infamous, Basil Barleycorn and Minerva Firestorm. Throughout their trip, Ian lets Eoffram know that those they sought, Ian, Bhenedict, Bairdyn, Vani and Zardoz where still heading south and east so the pair set themselves on meeting up with the others somewhere within the Witchwood.

To Eoffram’s thinking they spend too much time, enjoying repast over several courses while grandpa Basil fills both Eoffram’s stomach, and his time with favorite stories about both Minerva and Bairdyn.

http://www.striemer.org/drupal/node/24

http://www.striemer.org/scales-of-war/chapter1/bairdyn.shtml

Before Eoffram excuses them letting them know they must be on their way amid Minerva’s offers an ominous warning that not all was will within The Witchwood.