Monthly Archives: July 2011

SOW Chapter10: The Alliance: To IceHome

The Alliance: To IceHome

Warning“What’s wrong with you? You haven’t been listening. Run Away!”

Our pristine world is born into mourn;
We rise to find night’s black eye pon the sun,
Wanting of love to find lover gone.

The conclusion of all of the words is grief.
In our homesteads joy is now naive
Look to the sky, the signs don’t deceive.

Our towns and homes massed security
But we are out-witted by outsiders proclivities,
Funeral dirges ring out mocking stupidity.

To feel the ache of crushed walls when the raid’s over.
Within our castles built to last forever:
Two-timed fools wander thinking only of weather.

When danger is looming and Armageddon’s upon us!

 

The Alliance – The Journey to IceHome

Lucian and the Doctor“I am familiar with the devices,” starts the Doctor.

“Of course they were made by a gnome, Kwalish, book wormy, some say paranoid, Lobster-obsessed gnome with a knack for invention. Personally I think he was brilliant. He lived over 400 years ago. He was employed within a sultanate and worked out of a fortified workshop he had built for himself there. I hear it can still to be found high on an inaccessible rocky pillar located off the coast several hundred yards from the mainland. Legend says, a narrow arch once spanned the gap between the cliffs and the pillar, but even if that was true it crumbled into the ocean centuries ago. I’m sure the upper works would also be much weathered … locals call the place ‘The Arm of Kwalish’. And of course they say it is filled with traps and guardians designed by the inventor who stored any number of his other intriguing but generally less known works … Given what I’ve heard of these devices, I would suggest dividing ourselves based on our talents and relative intelligence. Certainly, I can pilot one vessel and I will bring Lucian in my apparatus, my assistant should pilot a second and he will need to bring the construct L.O.G.A.N.,” suggests Doctor Manne.

“I could pilot one too," suggests Finellior, “Bennie would you like to come with me?”

The Doctor's Assistant“Naw, I can take care of myself, dwarves are natural born pilots … and I don’t like Dell’s chances, he can come with me, he’s not Bairdyn but he is a halfling,” answers Bhenedict.

“Are we going to be able to talk to each other while we are underwater?” asks Finellior.

“I will be able to speak to the Doctor,” responds the assistant while snickering to himself and tinkering with the controls of one of the vessels.

Within their mechanical lobsters they exit the chamber submerging and traveling through a lit tunnel crawling until the floor falls away and they suddenly begin sinking into the darkness of the deeper sea. One of the submersibles, the assistant’s, quickly sprouts bright glowing eyes. The others flay about in their apparatuses, growing and losing legs, snapping pincers, and zigzagging about in jerky backward jolts … the lobster carrying Bhenedict and Dell settles upside down on the ocean floor where it pathetically wiggles. Within Dr. Manne’s vessel a voice jolts the Doctor and Lucian … the sound of the assistant’s voice explaining the controls. Somehow he had rigged the two vessels so they could communicate with each other.

“I will go assist the others,” offers the assistant.

After the assistant helps Bhenedict right his vessel they organize in a line on the bottom of the ocean and they begin the long march to the iceberg. True to Bejam’s words each of the vessels are equipped with a homing arrow that automatically points to the iceberg. So it didn’t appear that finding the iceberg would be a problem; the challenge was going to be mastering the controls of mechanized lobsters and avoiding detection.

Sahuagin PatrolLeaving the safety of Nefelus behind, they begin their journey under the sea, navigating slowly on the ocean floor. After the mast the vessels lights, they dim them and proceed with the Doctor’s assistant leading the way.

Almost innately the assistant understood the controls, he fully grasped most mechanisms, it was a talent. He was already playing with his vehicle’s pinchers and joyfully sharing his discoveries with the Doctor via a simple communications device he had put in place. For his own part, the Doctor didn’t really need much encouragement, he found the controls simple enough … He was a gnome afterall. Alone in his apparatus, Finellior found that he was easily able to manage, only feeling slightly disgruntled that he didn’t have anyone to share his successes with. At one point, once he’d gotten a feel for the controls and found them overly simplistic to use, he started getting overconfident and began dozing off and started to veer off course but was brought back to alertness by a slight tapping on his hull by the arm of the doctor’s assistant’s machine. Bhenedict and Dell, however, were having more serious problems. Dell was calling out suggestions that almost inevitably went wrong. From outside staring through portholes, Fin did his best to keep them on course, he had never seen the dwarf look more worried. Taking advantage of there slowness, the assistant shut-off his lobster’s lights entirely and told the Doctor he would be right back, then the assistant’s lobster ship disappeared with a sudden jolt. The assistant began to swim his lobster quickly backward while rising toward the surface, much faster than the others knew how to follow. He spun the unit’s eye stalks backward, which made the navigation easy and free flowing. Rising quickly his vehicle’s eye stalks broke the surface. Spying a sahuagin patrol, the assistant freezes as thoughts of escape fill his mind.

SharksSetting his unit into a slow descent, the lobster ship begins slowly sinking back into the depths until the assistant finds himself surrounded by giant artic sharks scanning the ocean. The sharks look as dangerous as can be, and each was easily much larger than the apparatus itself. Thinking quickly the assistant retracts the legs, eyes stalks and pinchers, sealing the portholes, running blind, praying that the sharks will ignore a sinking box. Tense moment pass slowly as the pressure increases until after an intermittable amount of time the apparatus settles surprisingly gently and sideways. Cautiously the assistant opens the portholes, outside things are dark, save for some dim lights in the distance. Estactically, the assistant engages the legs and returns to the party of crawling lobster ships. As he approaches the other vehicles he utilizes his ship’s tail to dance about the line of vessels while he excitedly tells the Doctor about the patrols above.

Learning from the assistant’s new mastery of the apparatus the Doctor quickly matches his assistant’s success, the Doctor begins swimming his ship too, and his thoughts drift back to the tales he had heard regarding Kwalish’s devices … The gnome designer Kwalish had been fixated on mimicking living things mechanically, that being the common quirk that was present in all his creations; therefore, it seemed obvious that these ‘lobsters’ would be built to travel backwards, and doing so made them easier to operate. Having figured that out, the Doctor found everything about the apparatus coming easier; joining Fin he began helping to guide Bhenedict correctly. Inside the craft, Benedict knew his every failure threatened the mission, and he understood the gavity of the situation, so he struggled mightily with the controls … A task as difficult as any battle he had ever engaged in. Bennie decided to stop listening to Dell, his constant suggestions weren’t helping, instead he focused upon his own instincts and goal at hand. He might not be able to swim around backwards, but he could manage crawling and he was determined to do so in the right direction.

With the assistant scouting their way and keeping a sharp eye out for sahuagin patrols, the group avoids detection and in just less than 3 hours they spot the iceberg known as Icehome in the water above.

ICEHOME

Below IceHomeAs the emissaries propel their ships through the depths, the massive shadow of the iceberg called Icehome takes form in the water ahead. As they see the underbelly of the massive iceberg—they know immediately they’ve just reached their destination. Within the nearing iceberg, they spy a hole in the bottom of the iceberg, an underwater tunnel. They maneuver their craft towards the narrow passage in a single file, as they do the tunnel starts to climb until eventually, a pale blue light surrounds them. For safety’s sake, they allow Bhenedict to lead the way. The dwarf crawls his ship forward slowly until he realizes that he is about to break the surface. Ahead large chunks of ice bob at the surface at the point where the passage emerges in open air. Bhenedict navigates past the ice floes bringing the craft to the surface.

He finds that they are entering an icy cavern dotted with stalactites and snow. Within the cavern, a number of blue-skinned sahuagin appear more than happy to greet him in the traditional customs of their people as they threaten with their weapons. Some of the sahuagin throw icy tridents at the ship. Struggling with the controls, Bhenedict rushes to move his apparatus into the cavern so the other will have room to enter; all the while, Dell yells in the back of the lobster insisting that Bennie opens the lid to allow the halfling an opportunity to attack and Dell gets his way. As Bennie proceeds making room the second vessel, the Doctor’s assistant enters the cavern opening the shell even before he fully grounds the vessel. With the shell of the first ship open, Dell again surrounds his body with arcane lightning and charges after the sahuagin within the cavern. Dell is followed by L.O.G.A.N. the construct launching from that vessel, flying through the air while simultaneously emitting blasts of energy from shoulder mounted cannons. Benedict parks his craft and joins the fray to taunt the sahuagin to draw combatants to him shouting insult laced threats.

Ice Sahuagin Attack“Drop yer rusted garbage and die ye fish-faced, lard brained, toad lickin’ snot rags!”

The battle is almost over before the others can disembark from their lobsters. The Doctor doesn’t even have time to exit, but he does take the opportunity to practice with the apparatuses pincher grabbing one of the surviving sahuagin and snipping its head off. While the Doctor practices, Dell chases down the final retreating sahuagin, their priest as he tries the escape to a second chamber. As Dell gains ground, the priest stops fast allowing the halfling to slide past as his feet slip upon the ice. As Dell slides past the priest, he blasts the halfling with a freezing blast slowing Dell’s recovery further and turns back towards the other summoning the image of an icy jawed shark in the air and sending it to attack L.O.G.A.N. The priest’s actions delay the priest’s escape long enough that Bhenedict catches-up and plows into the blood-thristy sahuagin shield first toppling him, and then the dwarf brings his warhammer down hard enough to insure the priest never rises.

When the priest defeated, Bhenedict pauses to take stock of their situation and offers, “We have but 24 hours to deal with this place, we’ve got no good footing, were freezing and I guarantee things will get worse before better. I’d like to get there afore I freeze to death, I’m sure you agree? Dell will carry this elemental prismatic thing; he tells me he can use it. That Bejam fellow said its suppose to turn one elemental power to another protecting he who carries it. Well so far, Dell’s been leading off most fights anyhow. We’ve also got this solace bole ritual thing, I’m guessing the Doctor can put this to use iffin we need it and we will. It’s supposed to bring us to the hollow of some big tree trunk, like the Ever-tree. While were there, time suppose to pass really slow given us a chance to rest. Any arguments so far? … No, good, then let’s get to it, times-a-wasting and I’m not getting any younger or warmer standing here.”

Map: IceHome - The BeginningTogether they move forward slowly, minding their footing as they make their way through the dimly lit chamber, the thinner members of their crew already shivering from the bitter cold. Exiting the entrance chamber they come to a choice of two rough natural stairs. At the rear of the party the Doctor proceeds forward, he alone staying within one of the apparatuses while the others travel on foot.

Once again Dell takes lead opting to take the stairway on the left, Bhenedict follows close behind. The natural stair ascends up into a expansive cavern. Like the entry cavern, the floor there dotted with stalagmites. Across the new cavern, Dell spots a ledge rising about 10 feet off the ground directly ahead of him. While Dell considers the climb, thinking it looks slick, he notices something moving behind one of the stalagmites near him . . . something big.

The remorhaz strikes with little warning skittering across the ice at great speed snapping with vicious mandibles while clawing at the halfling. Dell retreats so quickly he stumbles and topples backward down the stair, the monster giving pursuit, trampling over the dwarf in its rush … The monster’s body filling the stairway. Finellior races up the second stairway, hoping to flank the monster, as he enters the upper cavern he notices to the extreme right side of the cavern, another ledge offers a similar climb as the near ledge next to a tunnel that heads out of the new cavern in that direction of the far ledge. At the other end of the beast the dwarf becomes aware of heat emanating from the monster but with both his armor and the elemental ring protecting him; Bhenedict is unconcerned. .

RemorhazAs the monster advances the heat is so great that even sealed within his apparatus the Doctor can fill the metal warming at the monsters approach, fearing for his vessel the Doctor throws the lobster into reverse backing off. Bhenedict responds attacking the monster successfully halting the remorhaz at the base of the stairs. L.O.G.A.N.’s armor lights the monster with tight twin beams of red light that focus on the monster’s head in warning. The monster pays no heed, perhaps not fully recognizing the nature of the aiming mechanism.

From the rear of the party, Lucian launches an acid orb to distract the monster, the orb explodes on the remorhaz causing little real damage. At the rear of the monster Finellior attacks, but the monster ignores his attack. Having regained his footing, Dell retraces Fin’s path up the second stairway, looking to join Fin’s attack. Back at the base of the stairs, the monster strikes at Bhenedict getting only a mouthful full of shield for its trouble, it rips the shield away with one savage jerk leaving the dwarf exposed, immediately it pulls back in preparation of another attack. ‘VHOOM ‘ … L.O.G.A.N. attacks, blasting fire from twin shoulder mounted cannons, exploding at the monster’s head … Head smoking, the remorhaz retreats backward several steps almost trampling Dell again, the halfling teleports to escape appearing on the raised section of the chamber, but Fin finds himself pinned between the monster and the wall. Fin begins to burn due to the proximity of the monster, the creature heat overcoming him.

Angry and too stupid to run the monster follows through on it’s original attack, it head whipping forward like a snake and snapping up Bhenedict within its mandibles raising him high like an obscene snack. The monster shallows the dwarf in one gulp. Fin tries to help but finds there is nothing he can do trapped as he was. Then the Doctor acts, fixing the monster in place with a spell, summoning the spirits of the remorhaz victims. The spirits reach up through the ice grasping at the monster’s many legs. With the monster trapped, the Doctor blasts the monster with a wave of pure necromantic force. The monster convulses once mightily and as a second great convulsion begins it spews the dwarf forcefully outward projecting Bhenedict through the air, down the stairs until the dwarf slams into the Doctor sprawling both of them on the ice. The dwarf is damaged but alive, and choking. Both them coated with foul-smelling stomach acids and half digested offerings. The remorhaz collapses, dead.

Alone upon the ledge, Dell discovers that the remorhaz had apparently been kept happy by a steady diet of would be heroes. Upon the ledge the halfling finds the remains of sailors and their remaining gear, including several sets of spiked ice shoes. Digging through the debris, Dell also finds a set of fine leather boots that seem out of place and a small wooden box.

 


SOW Chapter10: The Alliance: Nefelus

The Alliance: Nefelus

Warning“What’s wrong with you? You haven’t been listening. Run Away!”

Our pristine world is born into mourn;
We rise to find night’s black eye pon the sun,
Wanting of love to find lover gone.

The conclusion of all of the words is grief.
In our homesteads joy is now naive
Look to the sky, the signs don’t deceive.

Our towns and homes massed security
But we are out-witted by outsiders proclivities,
Funeral dirges ring out mocking stupidity.

To feel the ache of crushed walls when the raid’s over.
Within our castles built to last forever:
Two-timed fools wander thinking only of weather.

When danger is looming and Armageddon’s upon us!

 

The Alliance – Nefelus

The ship sails on through the cold and fog for another mile or so. Abruptly, the fog lifts, the sun shines, and the crew finds themselves awash in the steamy heat of a tropical paradise. As the ice rapidly melts off the ship’s bow, the travelers can see a city rise before them, clinging to the massive cliffs of an inlet. All around them in the bay, fishing boats and naval vessels meander about, clinging close to the shores. Many more waterborne vessels are docked along the cliff shores. Switchback stairs, walkways, and small wooden buildings dot the lush cliff-sides. At the far top of the cliffs, hundreds of feet in the air, larger wooden structures are packed tightly together, huddled close to the cliff’s edge and away from the dense rainforest that surrounds the city. At the horizon, a great domed structure rises above all to dominate the skyline; from this distance, it looks like a temple or perhaps a university.

Nefelus

Once the ship is docked, they leave the mundane tasks to the crew while the emissaries from Sayre depart with Amyria into the wondrous city of Nefelus. Scaling up the sides of a verdant cliff dotted with buildings that smell like fish and the salty spray of the sea, they reach the top and are nearly lost in the crowded, busied masses of people moving about. Even in the midday sun, the crowds move rapidly this way and that, but they always appear to be aware of the visitors presence and never bump or brush up against them. They continue to make their way through the wooded streets, rife with the sounds of conversation, the chatter of tropical birds, and the constant whispering of the breeze through the exotic trees. After navigating through this urban maze for well over two hours, unitl the entrance to the Great Library stands before them. The last remain barrier is a climb up the hundreds of stairs to the domed complex’s yawning gate.

Amyria looks to the party and says, “Here we are. We’re to meet one of their council in the entry hall. His name’s Bejam. Let’s go upstairs and see if we can ask around for him.”

As they complete the climb up the stairs and go inside the Great Library a great entry hall stretches on for what seems like hundreds of feet. Each direction is dotted with multiple hallways and doors leading farther into the complex. Above, they can see the beautiful blue sky streaming through the glass dome. This is both beautiful and strange in that from the outside, the dome looked like it was crafted out of wood that was clearly not transparent at all. In the center of the hall, a hundred-foot-high orrery depicting the planes and the world gleams in the sun. The surfaces in the orrery’s universe shift and move, as though alive with activity.

Just as they come to the realization that the stifling, humid air has abated, a male deva dressed in a shimmering blue-violet robe with small violet wings adorning his back approaches. He smiles at the retinue and says, “Welcome to Nefelus, our most honored guests. I am Bejam, Sixth Thraxus and Keeper of the Mirrors. It is good to see that you arrived without much delay. Amyria, I will take you before the Thraxinium to discuss the specifics of our situation. As for your retinue, I will have an attendant escort them to a waiting room where they can rest. I am certain we will have need of their expertise soon enough.”

After a long wait and numerous inquiries as to their food and beverage preferences by the attendant, Amyria and Bejam return to the sitting room. Amyria speaks, “After long discourse and debate, I have talked on behalf of the Coalition and we’ve entered an arrangement with the Thraxinium. If you assist Nefelus in shedding its current problem, they have agreed to at least support the Seven Shields with material and knowledge. Bhenedict, I must ask you to once again to imperil yourself for the good of our cause, and to lead our representatives into danger. I will let Bejam give you the details that have recently become known to me.”

Amyria nods at Bejam and exits the room as the Thraxus begins to brief the emissaries.

Bejam of the Thraxinium“Through the Thraxinium’s research, the heart of this problem appears to bear the mark of an artifact known as the Seed of Winter. When properly harnessed by a creature attuned to it, the artifact can cause drastic localized climate changes and can even alter creatures that come in contact with it or are near it. However, we think what’s happening to Nefelus goes beyond the normal power of the artifact; someone or something must be augmenting it in some way. The Seed of Winter was thought lost to the Feywild centuries ago, but it has apparently made its way back into the world.”

“We of the Thraxinium know through divinations and other more mundane observations that an iceberg that appeared out in the sea is the source of the emanations. Just before the ice ring completely blockaded our ships, we sent out three ships to investigate the iceberg and attempt to deal with the problem. We monitored their progress, and two of the three ships were attacked and destroyed by sahuagin with ice-blue skin. They appeared tougher than normal sahuagin and had an affinity for the cold. The last ship limped to the shore of the iceberg and there it was assaulted by frost giants; we saw only a small group of survivors make it away from the vessel—a traveler called the Northman and his party. We have not heard from him since. The Northman had been with us for several weeks; he was Lord Fariex’s representative, and he and his men have proved their worth to Nefelus time and time again through their mastery of the powers both arcane and martial."

"The Northman’s brother in particular soaked up knowledge like a sponge, he was probably the most accomplished, natural, non-deva ritualist we of Nefelus had ever encountered. It would be a shame if his brilliance was lost to the power of the Seed.”

After having finished the briefing, Bejam concludes his talk and says, “We need your assistance to stop the climate change from overwhelming our island and to break the blockade. From the estimates made by the Thraxinium, we have about a day before our ritualists can no longer sustain the magic holding back the freezing weather. Once the ritual gives way, the island’s climate will be forever altered and many creatures here will die. Nefelus will suffer a corruption the likes of which we have not been threatened with for hundreds of years. I implore you to journey to the iceberg and end this assault on our way of life. If you can bring back the Seed of Winter for study and find out the fate of Northman, all the better. Amyria has made it clear that she has not met any more accomplished at dangerous tasks than you. Will you assist us?”

Apparatus of KiwalishFilling a bit overblown, Bhenedict agrees without hesitation. Finellior is quick to ask Amyria to accompany them, complementing her input during the battle with the frost giants. Regretablly she whispers that may not be possible and says that she was counting on Fin to help Bennie during the trials to come, "I have ambassadorial duties to attend within Nefelus, the very reason for my journey to the island."

With Amyria in tow, Bejam escorts them down one of those mysterious hallways that leads farther into the Great Library. At the end of the hall, a spiral staircase leads down into the darkness. As they descend down, orbs affixed to the walls softly glow lighting their way. The stairs continue for hundreds of feet. Eventually, they come to a door with a strange series of sigils on its face. Bejam softly intones some words and the sigils flash. He opens the door, revealing a workshop with all sorts of tools and arcane objects lying about on various tables. Beyond the workshop, the cavernous room is what looks to be a dock, but no tunnel leads out into a waterway at least from the surface. Floating in the pool are four curious objects; they look like giant silvery lobsters with glass windows where their eyes should be. They can see seats and a number of levers through the windows; the devices appear to be a sort of vehicle. Bejam explains that those four vehicles are known as Apparatuses of Kwalish, named after the gnome that invented them.

“When we realized that the first ships were attacked and the ice ring blockaded us, we prepared these vehicles for use. They are submersible craft. Each apparatus can carry two people. One of the two needs to be piloting at all times; the other should keep lookout and can operate the claws if needed. The vehicles are equipped with a homing arrow set upon the lever console, the arrows have been attuned to the iceberg such that the arrows will always point toward the iceberg. It should take you approximately 3 hours to reach the iceberg from here. The vehicles are easy enough to pilot. You need to surface the vessels after you arrive so that the air can be replenished; there’s only enough air in one of these to take you there.”

After your piloting instructions, Bejam assembles everyone at the dock, “I have two more items for you to take with you. I am certain that they will be of aid to you on the mission.”

He produces a small flickering prism and a scroll tube from his robe, “This object is called an elemental prism. We know that the Seed of Winter grants creatures under its influence resistance to cold attacks, and the prism allows the user to circumvent such defenses while providing the user with protection. The ritual inked on this scroll is called Solace Bole. It will transport you to a small secluded place in a pocket plane where you can rest and regroup. Time will pass normally there, but when you return, only an hour will have gone by. With the short amount of time we have before our defenses are shattered, you might find this necessary.”

Amyria asks Bennie to reopen the hatch. She leans in and says quietly, “One last thing before you leave. I think that it might be possible to convince Bejam to join the Seven Shields as a representative of Nefelus. I am sorry but I must stay here and attempt to work toward that goal, but ultimately it will depend on the success of your mission. May the platinum dragon bring justice to our enemies.”

Looking over the situation the Doctor considers and starts dividing the party based on their talents. His strange assistant had already begun examining and tinkering with the devices.

“What is he doing?” asked Finellior.

“Modifying, improving … that is what he does,” answers the Doctor.

“Oh, well he was certainly quite capable during the fight with the giants,.” comments Fin.

“Very nice, very nissse …” is all the assistant offers as one of the devices the pincers snap in response to his manipulations.


SOW Chapter10: The Alliance: Blockade

The Alliance: Blockade

Warning“What’s wrong with you? You haven’t been listening. Run Away!”

Our pristine world is born into mourn;
We rise to find night’s black eye pon the sun,
Wanting of love to find lover gone.

The conclusion of all of the words is grief.
In our homesteads joy is now naive
Look to the sky, the signs don’t deceive.

Our towns and homes massed security
But we are out-witted by outsiders proclivities,
Funeral dirges ring out mocking stupidity.

To feel the ache of crushed walls when the raid’s over.
Within our castles built to last forever:
Two-timed fools wander thinking only of weather.

When danger is looming and Armageddon’s upon us!

 

The Alliance – Blockade

Frost GiantThe giants waste no time declaring their intentions as they move to attack immediately. The crew finds their ship, Brindol‘s Pride, blockaded from Nefelus by a massive ice ring and surrounded by the giants. As of yet there was no telling how their antagonists, had conjured the massive freeze around the island. Obviously this was the siege hinted at in the missive from Nefelus, the tropical land was surrounded with the bitter cold of a northern winter wasteland. Clearly the first task ahead of the emissaries was to defend their ship and to breakthrough to Nefelus. Their ship was equipped with a specially designed ramming bow and a reinforced hull so the Captain believed it would be capable of breaking through the ice. A thick fog was coming off the ice ring as the bitter cold mixed with the tropical moisture in the air making it particularly difficult to see the ice ring and their opponents until the ship was right upon it. The frost giant contingent patrolling the ice charge to attack meaning to prevent any access to the island.

The giants appeared to be organized in several squads. A chieftain stood back with his shield-bearing guardsman, while two berserkers approached securing a chained frost titan between them, but the first to strike was a warchief who commanded a group of three yeti to charge Brindol‘s Pride. As the first yeti leaps to the deck it begins assaulting the crew. Reacting Amyria bravely races to the top of the forecastle shouting, “To me, let’s show these villains we are not to be trifled with. Stay close I will aid thee!”

YetiThe yeti move with terrible grace and power, leaping from the ice ring to bobbing icy floes, to the ship in great bounds. The first yeti launches upon the deck of the ship sweeping with its powerfully muscled arms, its claws ripping through crewmen’s bodies, the monster’s great strength hurling them effortlessly through the air. Several of the crew are lost over the railing. Finellior rushes toward the beast but finds himself halted and thrown back when the monster unleashes a fearsome blood retching howl. Then a second yeti joins the fray racing forward trampling over several more of the crew with its approach. As a sailor dies. Amyria reaches the yeti, severing it’s head with the sword the Brigade had rescued at Rivenroar and Doctor Manne grins in anticipation.

Dr. ManneDoctor Manne reacts channeling necromantic power into the dead sailor’s body; the power causes the corpse to explode beneath the second yeti killing the beast and blowing it off the ship. The third yeti still on the nearest ice floe below is immediately targeted by Lucian who quickly uses his own arcane abilities to conjure an orb of acid which he hurls at the third destroying it before it can mount the ship. Brindol’s Pride suddenly shutters dramatically as the ship slams into the ice transmitting a wave of force through the vessel’s hull that sends crewman and hero alike tumbling to the deck. The ship slows to a crawl, but then as the ramming bow bites deeply into the ice, it splinters and begins cracking and the ship slowing moves forward, slow relentless, like an ocean bound juggernaut.

Finellior is the first to rise and shout out encouragement to the rest of the crew and his allies, the others answer his call and the bard helps those in need; then looking towards the forecastle, Fin finds inspiration, as he sees Amyria standing alone, staring down their foes bravely from her vantage at the forecastle; she alone had kept her footing, and in the face of fearsome giants, she had not retreated even one step. As the crew regains their footing they begin fixing the sails as per the Captains orders, insuring the ship’s progress through the ice. The emissaries from Sayre each assess the battle in their own way determine how they might best confront the giants.

Logan in a boxDell leaps over the railing racing towards the giant warchief and chieftain calling on them to battle him. Bhenedict jumps from the railing onto the slick ice seeking to meet the frost titan before it can halt the progress of the ship. And below the deck of the ship, a yet unseen stowaway, a small, gnome-sized figure wearing a mask similar yet different from the Doctor Manne’s mask, wrestles with a large crate the Doctor had carefully stored below, a large beastly wooden crate of very heavy construction. When the Doctor had brought this particular box aboard the ship Bennie had privately worried over it, thinking the nefarious looking box might contain a coffin, considering Lucian’s striking, vampiric appearance.

Feverishly, the mysterious unseen minion fusses over the box, plying at the boards with a pry bar. While he works he is surrounded by a cacophony of anxious squeals and gnawing noises.

“Quiet my petss, fill your cheeks, more chewing and less back talk pleeesse, we must remove the ties quickly … quickly.”

Frost GiantAs the binding fall away, he adds “Ah, so pretty, that‘s better. Yess…”

Dell drops to the ground steadying himself with one of the ships lines. Then drawing from his own innate sorceries, he covers his body with raw energy, lightning-like power, that sparkles and dances across his skin, then Dell darts forward traveling at and through one of the giant berserkers causing it to drop the chain it used to bind the titan, then moving through the giant’s body, Dell next collides with the frost giant warchief, crippling him and he again moves through and past the giant, but before Dell can reach the chieftain, the chieftain’s guard interposes himself slamming Dell full-on with his shield bringing a halt the halfling rogue’s progress.  

Frost TitanBhenedict leaps from the ship placing himself between the forty foot titan and Brindol’s Pride. The towering titan blows, a gusty breath of pure winter, freezing the dwarf and covering ship’s bow in a thick layer of frost, then raising it’s icy axe high it swings down mightily meaning to vivisect the dwarf. With his feet frozen to the ground, Bennie raises his heavy shield high at an angle deflecting the titan’s attack and saving his life further infuriating the titan who reacts by kicking the dwarf hard enough to break him free of the ice and hurl him backward into the sea. Seeing the dwarf’s fall, the warlock Lucian pulls a small silvered charm from his neck in fluid motion casts the charm into the water near Bhenedict. The sea boils giving way for a large majestic sea horse which rises beneath the dwarf carrying him safely back to the shore. Silver Sea Horse 

Behind Lucian the stowaway scampers from the lower decks, while aiming a small metal wand. Without warning the wand emits a beam of pure energy striking the second frost giant berserker, the giant that still had a handle on the chain the bound the titan. Seeing the stowaway, Lucian was not surprised, Lucian had helped the Doctor smuggle the stowaway aboard so Lucian wasn’t concerned with the assistant’s sudden appearance, but the warlock knew enough to duck as the assistant fired. As the beam hits the giant’s fist it burns a hole through the hand causing the giant to drop the chain. Suddenly freed the titan lurches forward awkwardly toward the Bennie who had only just dismounted. Bennie digs in deep and swings low relishing his sweet revenge. The dwarf’s hammer catches the titan in the ankle skewing his balance and knocking the titan to the ground. Looking at the titan, eye-to-eye, he yells, “Now I won’t be lettin ye surrender till I knot yer knees together, kill ye, and toss ye sorry ass heeed-first into the sea ye king-size ass-wipe!”

L.O.G.A.N. ArrivesAll around the ship the battle rages. Dell fighting the Chieftain’s guard and the Warchief, Bhenedict fighting the titan supported by the ranged attacks of the Doctor, the Doctor’s assistant, and Lucian’s arcane powers. Fin keeps an eye on everything, keeping everyone’s morale high, aiding whenever opportunity presents. Then something large rises from the bowels of the ship, bursting out of the cargo hold, a mechanized construct, the creation of some mad genius … L.O.G.A.N., a metal construct explodes from the hold. The Doctor’s yells, “Destroy the giants!”

“AFFIRMATIVE TARGETS ACQUIRED,” responds the construct as it begins firing blasts of energy at the giants.

AmyriaFrom the forecastle, seeing that Finellior had both the crew and their allies well protected, Amyria begins to search out a way down when suddenly she is forced to retreat when the frost giant’s Chieftain freezes the front of the ship encasing it in a block of ice. Thankfully he is soon distracted when he is forced to turn his attention back the Dell Corrin after the halfling kills both the guard and the Warchief leaving a path open to the Chieftain.

With the addition of L.O.G.A.N. the giants are forced to fall back, among them only the titan refuses to retreat. Time and again he topples and nearly kills the dwarf trying vainly to stomp Bennie into the ice, then suddenly Amyria it there, and with one final blow she slays the titan as all around the giants fall to Sayre’s emissaries leaving the ship free to proceed to Nefelus as the ship breaks through the ice.


SOW Chapter10: The Alliance: Departure

The Alliance: Departure

Warning“What’s wrong with you? You haven’t been listening. Run Away!”

Our pristine world is born into mourn;
We rise to find night’s black eye pon the sun,
Wanting of love to find lover gone.

The conclusion of all of the words is grief.
In our homesteads joy is now naive
Look to the sky, the signs don’t deceive.

Our towns and homes massed security
But we are out-witted by outsiders proclivities,
Funeral dirges ring out mocking stupidity.

To feel the ache of crushed walls when the raid’s over.
Within our castles built to last forever:
Two-timed fools wander thinking only of weather.

When danger is looming and Armageddon’s upon us!

 

The Alliance – Departure

Bejam of Nefelus“Long have we stiven to remain detached from the affairs of the mainland. But this threat taxes us to the limits of our power, and so we have to reach out beyond Nefelus, beyond even the Sea of Eternity to those who have faced these same perils and proven themselves time and time again. Aid us now and we will consider assisting your cause bringing an end to our isolation.”

—Bejam, member of the Thraxinium of Nefelus

Several weeks have past since the discovery of the Bitter Glass. Amyria, the deva scion of Bahamut who was responsible for spearheading that effort has now succeeded in bringing the Seven Platinum Shields together to stand united against the githyanki incursion. Now, weeks later she is tasked with becoming the Shields’ special envoy to the Mystic Isles and specifically an ambassador to the isolationist island nation of Nefelus. She has been chosen in part due to her heritage (the rulers of Nefelus are all devas like Amyria herself) but also she has been chosen because she had proven herself time and again to be a capable diplomat, her passion, her caring, and her undeniable charisma serves her well in this regard as all of the Seven Shields have witnessed.

Nefelus is believed by most of the members of the coalition to be of strategic importance. The island nation is ruled by a council of deva mages called the Thraxinium and the island supports the largest known contingents of devas in the world; some say the entire island is sacred ground for the devas and that the devas themselves reincarnate there. All citizens of prominence in Nefelus are believed to be devas so Amyria was clearly the best choice to represent the Shields’ interests there. The Nefelese had remained isolationist for at least the last two centuries and during that time they had shown little desire for contact with the mainland. The word, among the sages on the mainland, is that the Nefelese pursuit of knowledge and magical prowess is legendary and unsurpassed. It is said their ancient and massive Great Library is the greatest storehouse of ancient knowledge within Klarn having been filled with the plunder taken by Magus’s followers as they sacked the great city-states during the Age of Undying. In the years since those dark days the Nefelese have lived on their island avoiding the mainland for as long as any human could remember, but among the elves it is said that in times past, they used to trade and communicate with the other nations of the world. In the current era few are allowed entry into their ports, but among the Shields, Fariex was one of those.

It was Fariex who first presented his concerns regarding Nefelus to the other Shields of the Coalition. The merchant lord advised that he had lost contact with the island just as he was notified of some sort of siege several weeks ago, just before the Coalition‘s first meeting, an event which had come to be known as ‘The Gathering of the Shields.’

FariexAddressing the Shields Fariex explained, “A few weeks ago, several members of the Thraxinium reported that they were enacting a ritual to protect their island, they didn’t go into detail but the implication was that they had come under some sort of attack. I dispatched a ship immediately from Casablanca. It hasn’t returned and I haven’t heard from them. This was no ordinary ship, nor were the occupants. These were steely experienced heroes. I would suggest that we should commission a rescue. If we were to assist the Thraxinium in this the hour of their need we might yet forge another important alliance. To this end I have commissioned a crew and a ship. The Captain has plied the Sea of Eternity for many years, he knows its currents as well as any man and I have supplied him with a remarkable ship that we have named ’Brindol’s Pride’. I had thought to repair the githyanki altered ship captured by Brindol’s Brigade for this purpose. When I examined the wreckage at Akma’ad I realized there was little left for salvage, whatever magic powered that vessel had been destroyed by the fire but I recovered the ships hull reinforcements and its sharpened steel bow, and I am having outfitted to a fine caravel from my fleet much in the way the githyanki had altered the original ship. It is a fine, sea worthy vessel, we have but to man it with heroes up to the task before us.”

With this thought in mind Amyria scrambles to gather together her allies from Brindol’s Brigade only to find that in recent days most of them had already left Sayre. Only Bhenedict was still on the island and he was spending time with Kalad who had recently been appointed the as one of the Seven Platinum Shields Generals. Amyria finds the pair in the kitchen at the humble new estate of Arryk the Black.

“Looks like you’re in the mix of things again,” Kalad said as he placed his hand on Bennie’s shoulder as he peered into a boiling pot of broth.

“Aye, me and trouble seem not to be separated or are you talking about my stew?” replied the stocky dwarf.

“Bennie, I have been meaning to ask you–that is, I feel that you have been called to be a part of our order of the Hospitaler. You have the heart, the strength, and the courage. Then again you make a fine stew. Let’s face it no one aids travelers in distress like you have.”

“I am honored,” replied Bennie, “and you know I will do what every it takes to support the order.”

Amyria arrives with Finellior, they are introduced by the veteran’s manservant, Gokublin the goblin.

“I am sorry to interrupt; but, with urgent matters upon us we must see to the recruitment of some heroes to accompany me on my mission to Nefelus. It is my hope Bhenedict that you might reconsider and join me.”

“And if you will allow me to introduce myself, Master Bhenedict, or should I say re-introduce myself, for we have at the very least met in passing. I am Finellior Marnin, a Bard by profession, and a student at the University of Mendelland. You might recall that I spoke at length, with some success, during the formation of the Coalition. While I have traveled and fought only occasionally with the Brigade, and even then with only some of its members, your deeds and character are well known, even to those without an ear closely attuned to such heroic feats and the news of the day. In fact, as I recall, our first meeting occurred as you so steadfastly contested the eladrin Sidgevin in the gladiatorial games of the Stone-skinned king, in the Feywild. Speaking of which, I hope that you and your friend Bairdyn are enjoying the horns I managed to have enchanted in Shinaelestra. I hope that they are suitable reminders of a singularly noteworthy victory. In any case, the hobbit certainly seemed convinced that the fight was nothing less than epic. But I am rambling. More to the point that is not why I am here. Amyria, the deva who emerged from the platinum sword and who I need not tell you was responsible for the genesis of our Coalition, holds all of you Brigadiers in the highest regard, as you well know. While she seems to be particularly pleased with the genesis of the Coalition, and the arrangement of its members in their various positions, she is still concerned for its future.”

Pausing briefly for a breath, Fin continues, “This initial mission that the coalition is sponsoring, in which I myself am also participating, concerns her greatly, for its success can no doubt serve as a cornerstone in the coalition’s foundation. Amyria herself is still a bit leery of the Coalition’s contending factions, and given your presence at her emergence from the sword and your tireless efforts on behalf of the people of the Elsir Vale, she is simply insistent that some of you stalwarts of Brindol’s Brigade must sign on to ensure our venture’s success. It is my understanding that both Vani and Bairdyn will be busy tracking down and perhaps even rescuing the halflings who have been missing since they escaped the onslaught of the githyanki at Drellin’s Ferry. I have also sought to convince Councilman Troyas to join the mission, but it remains to be seen if he will join us on our venture and he has already returned to Brindol. That being the case, Amyria specifically requested that I implore YOU in particular to join us on this voyage.”

“Well seeing as you’ve put it that way, I could hardly say no and I never would have if I’d known Amyria was coming.”

“That’s a good man, Bennie, that’s the spirit I was talking about,” adds Kalad.

Back at the docks, Fariex meets with his man, Dell Corrin

Dell Corrin“We have four now including you, Dell,” explains Fariex, “But at least our ship is ready.”

“Four is more than enough, I am here after all; I sincerely doubt that we will encounter anything that I can’t handle … I don’t want the others to be bored,” answers Dell.

“One of these days, your luck will run out and you will be thankful for those of us who have always watched your back, even if you weren’t aware of it,” points out Fariex, “Not to mention paying good gold to keep you out of trouble.”

“It’s not like you haven’t got yours … You always do,” responds Dell, “I would go after githyanki for free. You know what happened the last time I ran into them.”

“The good Governor says he has some men too but I don’t know anything about them,” adds Fariex, “Have you found out anything about Spade’s crew of ‘Restorationists’? They were suppose to recover the ‘Seed of Winter’ themselves.”

“No, Lightfinger is keeping those cards close to his vest.”

“He always does.”

“Of course he does, he wouldn’t be Lightfinger if he didn’t, but no, he didn’t tell me a thing about them. Only that they were good men and that if they’d failed we’d best take care,” concludes Dell.

The Governor’s Hall:

Present: Governor Divian Torrance of Sayre, Dr. Manne-crocre, Lucian and L.O.G.A.N.

Dr. Manne in Plague Doctor mask“It truth, Doctor, I agreed to meet with you only on the good reputation of your brother, Bingus; and I warn you I have heard about the debacle at Overlook.”

“No worries, your Lordship … That was only a misunderstanding, simply fixed, fully resolved. L.O.G.A.N. has been repaired and he’s fully functional to any extent you might hope for your magnificence. And he is to be only the first of many fine creations I might prepare for you. With this kind of power at your disposal you will soon be the talk of the Shields, dare I say, they might even make you their king.” responds the Doctor.

Going on, the Doctor says, “There will be no need for soldiers when I am done, no need at all, and no unnecessary deaths … At least on our side of the equation, if you understand my meaning, Sir.”

“Well it just so happens I have a sort of ‘test’ mission for your creation. If you succeed then I will see that your debts are paid … And then we can talk more about the future … Agreed?” asks the Governor.

“As you say, my Lord,” answers the Doctor.

“There is one more thing,” adds the Governor, “The mission involves a sea voyage and you will be accompanying your puppet.”

“I won’t do well at sea,” complains the Doctor.

“The matter is non-negotiable,” points out the Governor.

“May I bring my friend Lucian?” inquires the Doctor.

“As you will,” answers the Governor.

“Very well then,” agrees the Doctor.

Captain Moorcock on the Sea of EternityAbout a week later, the emissaries of the Seven Shields leave the city of Sayre accompanying the newly appointed envoy to Nefelus, Amyria, a deva scion absolutely devoted to Bahamut’s cause and the opposition of evil within the world of Klarn. She asks her personal friend and confidant Bhenedict to accompany her on the mission to the isolationist island nation of Nefelus. When the party leaves one member, Dell Corrin, suggests that they would do well to dress for cold weather, strange because Nefelus was known to be a tropical island. Soon questions started flying. Dell simply pointed out that their ship, Brindol’s Pride, was an odd-looking caravel having for some reason outfitted with a reinforced hull and a sharpened steel bow.

Outside of several mudane bouts of sea-sickness among the non-seafaring passengers on the ship, the trip begins as well as can be expected. Within a day they lose sight of the shore amidst a crashing of waves and heavy seas which signal the transformation of the normal sea to that which the sailors called, ‘The Sea of Eternity’–sages termed it ‘The Astral Sea’ believing it not to be a sea at all but more akin to fantastic space, filled with clouds of luminescent, something that glowed a silver-gray, but was not quite mist or liquid. Whatever others believed, the adventurers find themselves upon an ocean of silvery liquid with stars somehow visible beneath the waves of the apparently shallow sea. Sheets of shimmering starlight shown like gossamer veils parting to reveal the dominions, said by the Captain and crew to be the homes of the gods themselves reflected within the water. At various times they could see an island floating, some surround by abysmal maelstroms and others more inviting, but in every case the crew warned of the danger inherent in approaching these foreign shores uninvited. Only a Captain as skilled and knowledgeable as Captain Moorcock could safely pilot a course through this sea. As they travel the sailors ply their trade with a mix of awe, fear and revelry.

Raise me now above the tide
I do not surrender
I hold to secret passage,
Held to course by my obsession
Fear reflecting within my eyes,

As The Sea of Eternity passes
Release me, free me, let me be

Free me of the tangled storms of your ascent
You long to sacrifice my life for fell intent
Maliciousness of callous promises
You hold on to man’s destinies, the fate upon us!

Release me from your burning eyes and tired thoughts
Release me from the cruelties of your heart

Before the cold longing of your stars drags me under
Reflecting my fear to tear me asunder
Release me, free me, let me be

Oh, Capricious Sea, Eternity

Tying me to the pits of your world
Chasing away the hope you’ll never know

The cold longing stare of your eyes drags me under
Rising above the tide
You never surrender
Holding onto your secrets
You overwhelm obsession
I fear it’s my soul,

The Sea Eternal’s taken possession

Release me, free me, let me be,

Oh Great Sea Eternity

—A Sailor’s Rhyme

As their journey to Nefelus nears completion a massive bank of fog looms directly ahead, and the air becomes chilly. A cry comes out of the crow’s nest from the lookout, “Iceberg to starboard!”

Looking to the right, those on the deck can see a gigantic, shadowed mass far off in the fog, and it standing suddenly at least 100 feet tall. The Captain orders the crew to continue on, the waves licking at the hull of the ship. The sudden furious chill set the passengers scuttling to find extra clothing to warm themselves as shivering begins to overcome even the heartiest members of the crew. Finally, after a few more cold hours, the fog begins to lift and the tense crew begins to gain a view through the mist laden sky seeing a thick ring of ice floating up ahead curtained by smaller chunks of ice, growlers, the crew calls them, some the size of large wagons, bobbing up and down in the water near the ship. Just as a clear picture of the ice ring breaks through, the captain yells, “Prepare to ram!”

Blockade Frost Giants

The emissaries from Sayre rush to the deck taking positions at the ship’s rails, from there they can see several large forms becoming visible through the mist–frost giants take form out of the freezing fog. Some wielding enormous frozen great-axes and others bearing thick chains barely managing to hold back a titanic brute dead-set on charging the ship. These monstrous foes positioned on the ice ring, preparing to attack, while the ship races toward ice at ramming speed!