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A meeting was convened just after dusk to discuss the problem of the graveyard. Sue Cudac, a priestess of Agrela and proprietress of the only temple in Hiddendale, said that she had a ritual that should make the graveyard safe - no more undead would rise from it if she consecrated it to Agrela. Ralkyn, wizard extraordinaire, studied the layout and the magical residues thereon, and declared, "Well there's your problem. Someone has been consecrating this place to Krypta, the goddess of death and the undead, every day after you're done." Sue then revealed that she had tried consecrating the graveyard at midnight, but was interrupted about halfway through by undead, making completing it impossible. "Perhaps if you were there to help me," she said...

The heroes set about making the graveyard as safe as possible. Sue taught Ralkyn and Auric the ritual Gentle Repose, which they used to put some of the town's most powerful dead people into a sleep from which they could not be roused. Meanwhile, Fiona, Tama, and Gurdis gathered logs and stones to form a barricade which would keep Sue safe while she performed the ritual. They also spiked shut the doors of the mausolea, to slow emerging undead. Lastly, Fiona commandeered two of the local dogs to act as early warning systems for when the undead should begin to arise. Fiona, Auric, and Ralkyn positioned themselves on the roof of the church, and Tama and Gurdis found spots in the graveyard to await the coming of the undead.

At last, on the stroke of midnight, Sue began chanting the ritual. At first, things were quiet. Our heroes spent their time helping Sue by rearranging ritual components to ensure a more efficient ritual. After about three minutes, the howling of the two dogs heralded the emergence of a skeletal hand from one of the graves. It was easily dispatched by Fiona, but slowly, more and more undead began rising. First it was one undead every few seconds, and they were the kind that took a single shot to kill. Then it was three at a time, though they were still easy targets. Then it was three, but one of them was stronger than the others. Still our heroes prevailed, but some of them were taking more than just a few seconds to kill. Then it was six at a time, and two were of the stronger kind, and our heroes began to feel a little overwhelmed.

At last, Sue chanted the last phrases of the ritual. A magical pulse went out over the graveyard, but all was not as peaceful as it should have been. From the mist at the edge of their vision, the heroes heard a voice say "Enough of your meddling! It is time to end this." The voice came from a skeletal figure dressed in blackened chainmail and wielding a scythe that glowed ghostly white. He had three ghastly companions - a corpse crusted in ice, another surrounded by a greenish fog, and the third with wings like those of a decaying raven. The skeletal figure raised a hand, intoned "Krypta, protect us!" and he and his companions were surrounded by swirling fragments of bone that formed magical breastplates around them.

Gurdis, already surrounded by lesser undead, now became the prime target for the skeletal one's companions, and fell quickly to their combined blows. The lich, for so Ralkyn declared him to be, cast spell after spell, first dealing a meaty magical blow to Gurdis, and then attacking Ralkyn with a scythe of glowing magical force, the mirror of the one held in his own skeletal hands. The winged corpse flew towards Auric's perch on the church roof. Auric felled it with a magical blow that struck the air from beneath it, and fired again upon it while it struggled, immobilized at the base of the wall. Tama, too, was surrounded by lesser undead, and found himself bloodied and battered and calling for help. The priestess, at last freed from her chanting, emerged from behind the barricade to aid Tama and Gurdis with some well-timed healing, while Ralkyn, brave even in the face of magical scythes, sent a barrage of magic at the lich and his two companions, slowing all of them and immobilizing both the lich and his ice-encrusted soldier. Gurdis, waking up at the feet of the icy zombie, was saved, not by its immobilization, but by its inability to see through her bluff, until she stood up and slammed her warhammer into its face. One by one, the zombies fell to our heroes' onslaught. More blood was spilled, more magic fired, but Sue kept our heroes going until at last, a final blow upon the lich was struck, his robes and mail and scythe fell to the ground, and his glowing green spirit screamed into the sky to return from whence it came.
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Having fended off the wererats, and snuck a hunk or two of silver ore for themselves, our heroes continued down the road toward Hiddendale, the last safe place in Ardania. On the way, they met up with Fiona, their half-elven ranger friend, who, on hearing the story of Gurdis being the heir to the throne, happily joined the cause, if only because it would give her something interesting to do.

They rounded the last bend towards town, thinking longingly of soft beds, warm meals, and cold beer, but as the town came into view, it was clear all was not well. Smoke from several burning houses poured into air already filled with the screams of frightened people. The wind brought yells of 'the dead! the dead!' And as if all that were not enough, right in front of our heroes a family was being chased from their house by an enormous bear with eyes like lit lanterns.

Fiona immediately let loose an arrow that buried itself deep in the bear's shoulder, eliciting a roar of rage and, importantly, distracting the bear from its current helpless quarry. Gurdis and Tama moved in to flank it, and were greeted by a furious whirlwind of claws. Auric fired blast after blast at it, and Ralkyn surrounded its face with swirling blades, but both found its hide frustratingly impervious to their magic. They bruised and battered it, but it hung on and unleashed another whirlwind of death. Tama, finding himself nearly beaten, retreated to a safe distance to 'scout out the rest of the town,' while his friends finished the deed, but not before Gurdis too was nearly dead.

Luckily, the town priestess of Agrela, the goddess of growth and healing, happened by. With healing magic, she thanked the heroes for saving the family, and then begged them to clear out the undead that had risen in the graveyard while she searched the town for others needing her magical assistance.

To the graveyard, then, our heroes went, and found it swarming with zombies and skeletons. These they defeated handily; Ralkyn in particular found these far less resistant to his fire than the bear was to his blades. Once the graveyard was clear, it was time to tackle the burning houses.

These they doused with water from the town fountain, and quenched with icy magic. The fires were nearly out, when Fiona, who had climbed an as-yet-unburned building to check out the lay of the land, was seen firing arrows into the darkness. As the smoke cleared, the heroes found the culprits who had set the blaze: four more wererats, snarling and laughing in the dirt road behind the houses.

Ralkyn and Auric, both gifted with the ability to step briefly into the Ether and back out again somewhere else, sequestered themselves on the roofs of untouched houses and began raining magical blows upon their enemies. Gurdis and Tama moved to engage the wererats on foot, while Fiona fired arrows from above.

With Fiona and Ralkyn doing most of the damage from the roof of one building, one wererat decided that climbing is what he needed to do. Sadly, he was not particularly good at it, especially after Ralkyn put him to sleep with a spell. Tama got himself badly hurt by one wererat, but then had the presence of mind to remove from his pocket the hunk of silver ore he had sequestered earlier that evening, and strike the wererat with it. The wererat's constant regeneration ability seemed to wane briefly, and the heroes were able to bring the rest of the wererats down.

So the 'safe' town of Hiddendale was neither very safe nor very hidden. The heroes asked around, and learned that everything had been safe and happy until about two weeks ago. At that point the local bears, which normally just ate berries and fish and hardly ever bothered anybody, seemed to go crazy, greatly upsetting the local woodsman Jack Mungstem. The graveyard had been spawning undead every night at dusk, starting about a week ago, despite the efforts of Sue Cudac, the priestess. And rats from the sewers had always been a problem, but recently they had become far more aggressive, and two weeks ago wererats, which had not been seen in decades, joined them. The wererats liked to burn houses down and steal everything of value from them, and had been causing havoc with the local trades.

Pacos, the trader, promised the heroes that more useful items would be available if the wererats could be taken care of. The heroes spent some time trying to convince Jack to help them with the bears, but he was simply too distraught, and urged the heroes to go on without him, even agreeing to pass his magical bow on to Fiona if the heroes could end the bear problem. Sue promised the two magic users that she would teach them all the rituals she knew, if they could help her get rid of the undead once and for all.

Which task will the heroes take on first? Tune in next week to find out!
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Ardania is a kingdom with a long proud history. The portraits of a long line of monarchs hangs in the halls of the palace, each one associated with great deeds: the defeat of a great dragon, the routing of an aggressive family of ogres, the elimination and taming of a horde of wolves, the retrieval of a great artifact, and on and on. They made possible decades of peace and prosperity under the last king but one, King Richard.

When young James took the throne upon the death of his elderly father, he looked over a land without werewolves, dragons, ogres, or, in fact, major threats of any kind. He was assured by his knights and wizards that there were no monsters left anywhere in the land, and that the people were safe and at peace. The King looked forlornly at the portraits of the great kings, and realized that he would never be remembered for anything, unless some monster appeared, but no monsters had been seen for decades, and the situation seemed hopeless.

The King wisely called upon his wizards and told them, “Summon me a demon that will terrorize the citizenry, and then I shall smite it and be remembered as the demon-killer!” The wizards said, “What a brilliant plan, Your Majesty!” and began researching an appropriate summoning ritual.

The ritual worked; the wizards opened a portal to hell, and in walked a king among demons. He was well-suited to terrorizing the citizenry, and started by killing the young King, his wizards, his knights, all his guards, and all but one of his advisers, and setting himself up in the palace. For the last 2 years, the demon has been fulfilling King James’ wildest dreams, returning ogres to the hills, werewolves to the forest, and dragons to the mountains, opening up all kinds of opportunities for heroism.


In a cabin deep in the forest, four friends sit, drinking mead and bickering. Gurdis, a typical stout dwarf with scale mail and a luxurious red beard, complains that Auric, her gold-horned tiefling companion does not respect the need for a righteous life. He laughs, replying that a righteous life is a joke and a sham. Ralkyn, the eladrin, reads in a corner, shaking his head at the renewal of the age-old argument, while the human Tama slumps in a corner, spinning a dagger in his hands to fend off ennui.

Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. Tama opens it to reveal an elderly bearded human man, wearing a ragged cloak over travelworn clothes that once must have been very fine. "Greetings...uh..." says the man, his tired eyes passing over the party and settling on the dwarf, "are you Gurdis?" Gurdis responds affirmatively.

"Oh thank the gods! I have been searching for you for nearly two years! Let me introduce myself; my name is McGuffin – Theodore McGuffin. I was an advisor to the late King James. Yes, yes, the Demon-Caller, I know. Sadly, His Majesty did not listen to me when I told him that summoning a demon was a bad idea, and that if he really wanted to be known as great he’d be better off fighting actors in a dragon suit. Regardless, we must now set forth, for there is much to do! What? Well, before we go after the demon himself and reclaim the throne, of course! My goodness – did I not explain? You are the heir to the throne! You’re the King’s second cousin’s child by his second wife, his closest living relative. You are the only one who can bring peace back to the kingdom! You must come with me to Hiddendale; it is the last safe village on the continent, and will be our base of operations. Come, gather your things; glory awaits!"


After five hours of travel through the woods, the heroes come across a narrow dirt path through the thick woods. "According to my map, this should lead us to Hiddendale if we follow it THAT way." The heroes thusly followed the road THAT way for about another hour, when they come upon a slow donkey-drawn wagon, going their way, heavily laden with grey rocks. The driver is an overweight brown-haired human man with a broad-brimmed hat. After asking the man to make sure that the road they are on does indeed lead to Hiddendale, they push past him, eager to get to town quickly.

Hardly have the heroes gotten out of sight of the wagon but they hear the driver screaming and the donkey braying. Auric makes the halfhearted suggestion that they move on and leave the driver to his fate, but Gurdis is off before Auric can finish his first sentence.

Rounding the corner of the road, the heroes find the wagon beset by rats. Some are enormous, as big as a human, and walking on two feet and wielding short swords. Others are merely large, about the size of small dogs, but their eyes glow like torches. Our heroes charge to the rescue! The smaller rats seem to die quickly enough - when our heroes can get a hit in - but the taller things, the were-rats, seem to have incredible healing powers and their wounds heal right before the heroes' eyes!

The wagon-driver leaps from his seat and flees into the woods as soon as he can, yelling behind him "Save my donkey!" and "Some of the ore is silver!" Meanwhile, the scrum becomes intense; the were-rats manage to separate the wagon from the donkey and cause our heroes no end of trouble. The donkey flees after his master. At last, by dint of concerted effort and a few thrown pieces of silver ore, the were-rats are defeated and the driver, the donkey, and the cart are reunited.


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April 2016

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