Between my weekly sessions of D&D I will be updating this page with a week by week reading of the adventure my players are on. You get to see what they get up to throughout the session, the decisions they make and trouble they get into. This will also give you an insight into the world that I am building so you can create your own adventures to play. So do please feel free to share, use and contribute as we build this world together!
Big Thank you to Elle who edits and proofs all the writing here.
I hope you all enjoy the story and get in contact if you want to know anything or alternatively have any input for the world!
‘We were in the Great Storm Breaker Woods far to the North. The humans had been sent from Lookout Point to chase down a band of Goblins that had stolen provisions from the fort. The mechanical creature that referred to itself as Bonesaw was awoken when I intervened on a Goblin ambush. The cat-like humanoid came across me while it was looking for its lost family.’
‘The Woods were cold that night and a cool breeze swept through and in between the massively tall trees. I of course had a camp already made within my portable Hut. Being a Wizard had its advantages.’ The old man smiled with a proud grin, and some of the more sceptic patrons rolled their eyes.
‘What was I doing there you say? Well I was looking for my brother. He had been lost for 50 seasons. Most presumed him dead. But I found a note you see, saying that he had spoken to the Lady of Hope who lived on a island in the middle of Sea Lake.’
‘So old man I guess me ’n’ me brother could help yas out. Not due back t’ fort till day after ‘morra. Me names Skip and ‘tis my little brother Opius from the Greenroot family in Storms End.’ One of the humans said.
‘Good, good. What say you agile one?’ The old man questioned?
‘I must find my family but helping you may help me. I will travel wid you ‘till a find a trail I can follow. The name’s Yarn’ The cat-like humanoid answered in its exotic tongue.
The mechanical giant stood ‘Bonesaw help old one.’ And then sat back down remaining eerily motionless.
The next morning as the sun rays pierced the high tree tops, the group awoke and started to travel east to Sea Lake, named as such for it massive size. ‘When we got to Sea Lake, and’ Torren, the old man coughed on his pipe as he was interrupted
‘What you say, its a few days Journey from Lookout point to Sea Lake nothing happened in between, supposed to be all kinds of besties in that there woods?’ A Patron shouted over the old man.
Torren raised an eyebrow.
‘Well we made good time with Yarn leading the way and my camp was closer to Sea Lake then Look out point. Yarn seemed to be quite adept at navigating through woodland. Apart from the time he saw a shiny looking bag hanging from a hollowed out tree. He was instantly intrigued and went rushing over only to find the bag attach itself to his arm. There was a bit of a fight but then we carried on and made it to Sea Lake.’
The Patron sat down looking a bit disappointed but kept listening.
‘Now where was I? ahh yes, SO we arrived at east side of sea lake. A lonely island laid motionless in the middle of the great body water. It was cold. Unusually so for the time of year. Night was drawing in and we got to making camp. Yarn disappeared for an hour and returned with a bounty of fruits and Critters for us to eat. It was a feast. The next morning we started to work out how to get across the lake.’
‘Ok then old man, how we t` get over t’ that island. I’m not much a swimmer and I don’t think that there thing would be much better’ Skip nodded over towards Bonesaw ‘It must weigh 400 pounds at least.
‘446’ the creature said in a deep mechanical voice ‘Bone Saw will walk’ and started to move towards the island.
‘Now don’t be hasty Bonesaw, well we are in a wood are we not. Let’s make a raft’ Torren suggested. Opius agreed and started looking at the trees suggesting and pointing some out to Bonesaw. The Mechanical giants arm sprung into a Great Axe and he went to work cutting down the smaller trees. Yarn starting pulling rope out his bad and binding the logs together, Skip did the same after a few hours something was made and it floated. Now just for the heavy one…’ Torrent pondered the options ‘I guess I could…’ Torren Start Drawing out magical symbols in the sand and dropped a liquid metal in the middle. And a disk of the same substance appeared and started to float. ‘Yes that should do it, Jump on Bonesaw’
Everyone jumped on the raft and disk.
‘Ok Hold on everybody’ Torren started making hand symbols and waves began to push the raft towards the island.
“It’s cold, it shouldn’t be this cold” Torren muttered.
“I do not mean to alarm you old man, but dis lake be frozen” Yarn pointed out.
Torren stopped casting his spells and looked around. The lake was frozen about 50 feet from the island.
“Hmm wrap up people, we are in for a cold walk.”
Yewn jumped of the raft his claws keeping him sure footed. Skip and Opius helped each other off, Torren carefully stepped onto the ice, just time to watch the raft fall apart. He looked at the party, raised an eyebrow “Did a good job with that one” Bonesaw carried on hovering on the Floating disk.
The Ice was not slippery and we made it to the island without issue. The Island was eerily quiet, no sound could be heard in a place normally buzzing with life.
‘I, I will take a look around’ Yarn scurried off.
‘I will Help’ Opius started to form a magical circle on the floor, conjured a bowl and burnt some incense, 10 minutes later after some words and whispers, a Owl append and immediate started to fly above.
After spending a few hours walking a noise peaked the attention of the party. Yarn immediately sprung to action and disappeared into the frozen undergrowth. Opius sent his Owl to investigate and fell into a trance. He was sharply snapped out of it when a large hulking hand grasped at the bird.
‘You missed it!” a load deep voice echoed,
“No I didn’t!” a second voice said
You dids” the Fist repeated.
Yarn slowly soaked a look from the undergrowth to see two huge trolls fighting over the lack of food. Deciding he was no match for the monsters Yarn returned to the party to report what was found.
They carried on for the rest of the day before making camp not far from the centre of the island. It was Dark and cold but Torren had his hut and made a fire.
‘Well we should be close, hopefully we will find the Lady soon and find out what’s going on here” Torren Explained.
‘’t’ seem very strange t’ time year, to have everythin’ frozen like tis’. I mean, I seen some strange things in my time but nothing t’ this scale. Ts’ like there no warmth at all’ skip said, looking around and investigated the ground and plants.
The morning Sun sneaked up over to the east but no warmth could be felt on its rays.
‘Best getting going the’ Torren said with a Yarn. ‘We should be close now’
‘Close to where?’ Opuis questions.
The lady’s alter, they teach you nothing in that collage anymore? It lays in the centre of this small island. People would regularly travel here to ask for her blessing.’
Skip, rolling up his bed and shoving it in his pack asks ‘Why would I need a blessing from tis’ lady then?’
‘He provides the warmth of hope it times there is none’ Torren explained with a smile. ‘You’ll see’
‘We kept traveling through the morning in till we got to the alter and to a shocking sight”
‘My Lady!’ Torren ran to the alter embracing the slender woman in his arms. Her cold exhausted arm slowly rose to point at two bears walking towards the alter. Torren jumped into action rising a protective barrier around him and the Lady. ‘Help! Stop them!’
Yarn was the First to jump to action reading his hand cross bow and taking an advantages position. The Bears Slowly moved forwards the warm meal ahead staring with their glowing blue cold eyes.
‘Arrrrrggh’ Opius as brave or as stupid as ever charged in firing a bolt of fire towards on of the un natural looking bears. Not letting the Wizard be the tank of the party Bonesaw sprang into action, producing a large battle-axe and shield from his arms. Skip talk position with a smile on his face and a tune building in his heart.
The battle began, Bonesaw holding of the bears gave Yarn and Opius prime shots to take one of the out quickly. Skip inspired the battle with Songs of Valour and Swords. But Bonesaw could not hold the second bear for long. It shoved past and bit at Opius causing a gaping wound. The colour from his face dropped and he fell to the cold floor. In a fit of rage Skip leaped at the bear piercing it through his head with his rapier and it fell.
‘What’s happened to you my lady, where is all the warmth and hope” Torren asked whiles skip sung songs of healing to the group.
A soft whisper filled the air ‘A creature came a terrible thing. A fiend. It brought an object, one of great power. Its what’s take the life from me, the warmth, the hope’
Torren looked at the group. A look of dread on his face.
‘It dwells within an underground cave here on the island’ her arm raised again to point at a stone circle on the ground. ‘That is the quickest route’ the lady fade into unconsciousness with a final phrase ‘help me’
Opius go’s over after waking up to find a Stone circle with symbols carved into it.
‘Take these’ Torren hands skip two crystals. ‘the red one can be used to activate the teleportation circle. Once the fiend is dead, hold the Green one and call my name. I will be able to bring you back. Go now! I do not know how much time is left’
Skip looks at his brother.
‘I’ve read about these, never seen one’ Opius said
‘tis it safe?’ Yarn Questioned as he over curiosity gets the better of him again.
‘No Idea, one way to find out’
Skip placed the stone in a cut out that looked to be the perfect shape and a magic clean energy started to shimmer within the circle.
‘hear go’s’ Skip walked onto the stone and dispersed.
A painless sensation washed over him, a feeling of being stretched and twisted. A few moments later he found himself in a dark room, the floor cold to the touch. Small dim lights glowing blue protruded along the tall walls.
Opius followed next almost landing on Skip, then Yarn the Bonesaw. All four looked around the dimly lit room.
“Where be dis cold place?” Yarn asked.
‘T’looks to be some sorta cave system under t’island.’ Skip replied. ‘We should be cautious. Stay here I will take a look around.’
But before Yarn could move, Opius strode on head strong and foolish. He marched down the corridor, swinging the first door open. He was greeted with a grunt and a roar of a large hulking creature. A Troll, flesh falling from its bones and piercing blue eyes.
‘Hmm, guys! GUYS!’ Opius slowly backed away. Bonesaw rushed into the room to meet the beast head on. Towing shield on one arm a great mighty battle-axe in hand. He struck a mighty blow, at the same time a bolt of flames struck the Troll, Yarn included a bolt from his hand crossbow and Skip started his Bardic Influence. The Troll struck back but could not penetrate the thick Armor plated Warforaged juggernaut. It didn’t take long for the Troll to fall.
‘Opius!’ Skip snapped ‘You need to be more careful; this place is dangerous and Mam and Paps would never forgive me if anything happened.’
‘Yes. Allow me to explore the area, I be quiet and unseen. I return shortly.’ Yarn Disappeared down the corridor.
‘This thing looks like its already had a beating.’ Opius said investigating the frozen corpse.
‘Bonesaw smashed Troll!’
Skips eyebrow raised ignoring the Iron Giant.
‘I agree Opius, but what has caused this Troll to rise again? That’s what concerns me.’
Moments later Yarn appeared back in the room.
‘I’ve found two dead-ends and a passage blocked by a Dire Wolf and a barred door.’
‘I don’t believe in dead ends.’ Opius announced as he stood up. ‘Show me.’
Yarn lead them down the cold narrow paths following the dimly lit lights.
‘See ‘tis nothing but dead ends.’
Opius inspected the walls carefully. Click! A switch hidden behind a groove in the wall revealed a stone door. Bonesaw with his mighty strength pushed the door aside to reveal a large open room with a pedestal in the centre and atop it a perfect sphere hovering, motionless.
‘Think that’s it?’ Skip questioned.
‘One way to find out.’ Opius walked up to the sphere and reached out to touch it. A freezing pain shot down his arm. Followed by a sharp snap to his shoulder. Skip jumped to the side and looked into the eyes of Yarn to see them glowing a blue colour.
‘Yarn! YARN! What’s wrong?’ Skip jumped to the side.
‘Good my furry friend, good.’
Skip tried to restrain Yarn but only succeeded in falling to the ground.
‘Now my beautiful, shoot him again would you’
Yarn drew back his Crossbow and loaded a bolt. With a twang it shot towards Opius just piercing his chest. Opius holding his chest slumps to the floor.
Yarn is met by a large metal fist to the face and his eyes returned to normal.
‘What is dis! You fool, do not strike me.’ Yarn muttered holding his jaw.
‘Now that was not very nice. He was only doing as asked.’ A laughing voiced echoed though the room.
A tall, slender horned figure appeared in the room. ‘Now now. I cannot have you taking what belongs to me. I see you found my hidden door… impressive. But now you must die and join my ever-growing army. The figure smiled and his nails grew into claws and wings stretched out of his back. ‘Come, Fac..’ a bolt flew past his head.
Yarn ran over to Opius and started to pour a potion down the wizard’s throat.
Bonesaw charged at the fiend, Opius creating a rhythm with his swords set himself into a defensive stance and moved forward. The huge axe of Bonesaw crashed down to the side of the alluring figure as it stepped back smiling, raising a claw and swiping at the Armor of the tank.
‘Oh, now now, why so angry?’
Two more swipes of the claws and the fiend jumps backwards.
Yarn lets off another bolt and it hits its mark, sinking into the arm of the figure. His eyes now turn angry and he sets is gaze upon the feline-like creature.
‘How dare you?’
Bonesaw replied with another swing of his axe followed by a two dancing strikes from Skip. Now back to his feet, Opius lets of a firebolt hitting the demon in the chest.
‘Enough!’ the Fiend shouted with an intense anger in his voice. ‘I will not allow this.’
Skip, Opius and Yarn regrouped. Bonesaw stood waiting, looking around for the Fiend to reappear.
The voice echoed in the minds of the group. But it was shook off.
‘Stay strong boys.’ Skip encouraged. Just as the alluring figure append behind them.
Two sharp claws ripped down his back and Skip let out a scream of pain. Yarn and Opius jumped to the sides ready to strike as Yarn let out a bolt from his crossbow and a swing from his sword wounding the Fiend deeply. Opius started rubbing his hands together and creating a sticky web. He threw it at the Fiend. Bonesaw charged in and struck a mighty blow and in revenge Skip turned and cut the creature down. It fell.
‘You have no idea.’ the last word hissed from its mouth.
The group inspected the orb.
‘How we going to get this up then? We clearly can’t carry it.’ Skip questioned.
‘Hmm, I haven’t an idea.’ Yarn replied.
‘Bonesaw cover it.’ The hulking metal man walked over to the orb, covered it with a cloth and successfully picked it up.
‘Huh. Well, should we explore the rest of this place?’ Skip asked.
‘Maybe we should take a little look around?’ Opius, already on the move to the south eastern door, pushed it open with a click. Stopping sharply and looking down to find that behind the entrance was an open trapdoor with spikes below.
‘Hmm, don’t think we should look round…’ Opius turned back to the group, but something caught his eye. There were bones and degraded cloth, rusty chain and weapons in the pit. But something else stood out. Like it had never been used and was new. ‘Bonesaw! Help me would ya?’ with Bonesaws help Opius pulled out a small bag. He slung it around his shoulder for the time being and they both returned to Yarn and Skip.
‘Well den?’ Yarn said looking at Skip.
‘Ah yeah.’ He reached into his pocket and pulled out the small green crystal. ‘Well, hold on all.’ Each took the hand of the next. All grasped the crystal. ‘Torren!’ Within seconds they where back feeling stretched and twisted in front of Torren and the lady who still looked extremely weak.
‘Well then? Did you stop it? What’s going on?’ Torren questioned rushing towards the group.
‘We killed the Fiend and found this.’ Skip nodded at Bonesaw and he raised his hand and uncovered the sphere. ‘Opius tried to pick it up but it almost killed him!’
‘Give it to here and stand back!’ Torren started drawing symbols on the floor and waving his arm like a crazed old hermit, and then vanished from sight. Moments later he returned. His clothes, rags to begin with were now in tatters, his faced red and burned. Instantly the area began to warm, the sounds of birds and critters sprung into song, the ice melted, and colour poured back into the Lady lying on the alter.
The slender Lady rose into the air, her long blond hair floated side to side and with warmth in her face, the feeling of happiness surrounded her. A gentle voice spoke. ‘Garran, is that you? No. Your eyes are too young.’
This confused the group as Torren looked ancient.
‘Torren, thank you for saving me.’ The gentle whispers continued.
‘My Lady, it was not just myself. These brave souls delved into the caves below and defeated the Fiend that did this.’ Torren turned to the group.
‘Then you also have my thanks and are always welcome here.’ The Lady turned back to Torren. ‘You have a question for me?’
‘My Lady, I am here looking for my Brother. His notes say he travelled this way before going South. He is lost and I am looking for him. Its been fifty years and I need to find him.’
‘Garran was here, he came seeking advice and knowledge, but Torren, you should not seek him, but remember who he was. For he is no longer who you remember. But I cannot say more.’
A look of dread came over Torrens face and then it turned to anger.
‘I must find my brother!’ His voice was now raised.
The Lady swayed gracefully in the air.
‘All I can say is Yry forbade him to go South and he went anyway. I am sorry I cannot help anymore.’
Torren turned and stormed of.
‘No matter. I will find my brother myself!’
The lady turned to Skip and the gang.
‘Thank you for what you have done for me and my land. You will always be welcome here. I see a bond growing between you all. If Torren is to pursue his brother, then he will need help. Please help him as you have helped me.’ Lady raised her arm and a warm feeling fell over the group and they felt healthy again. ‘Go. Help Torren.’ the gentle voice whispered as she evaporated into nothing and disappeared.
A larger collection of patrons had gathered around Torren now and were listening to him intently.
‘So, you go all that way and the mystical lady lass don’t tell you nuffin?’ a sceptical patron stands and waves off Torren as he is telling his story.
‘That’s right and I was furious, what a load of poppy cock it was.’ Torren replied holding up his empty tankard ‘But, like this story, I carried on and I was lucky to have the brave adventurers come with me. But not before we went to see the Humans superiors. I still had a bit of sway I reckoned I could get them discharged from their duty’
The patron returned with two full tankards.
But as always trouble seems to always follow me. The fickle hand of fate seemed to be trying to stop me as well. But never the less I soldiered on. Nothing would stop me finding my brother.’
‘Hey, Torren, wait up!’ Skip shouted.
A few hours had passed but the group managed to catch up with Torren with the aid of Yarn, his ability to travel woodland came in rather handy. Torren turned to the group.
‘Sorry I dragged you here for nothing. But I must find my brother, I was hoping I could get more information here but apparently not.’ Torren let out a sigh. ‘I must go to Storms End City to the south, it’s on the way, and the College of Magics has a vast library. I may find some more information there. One thing I learned here is, Yry was involved, so to me; that means Dragon business.’
‘Well I agree… Who’s Yry?’ The exotic voice questioned.
‘Is nothing taught to the young people of today? Yry the Powerful is an Ancient Golden Dragon. And is the Current King of all Dragons of Plestoria.
‘Hmm Dragon you say? Interesting.’ Yarns ears twitch at the word ‘dragon’ and he falls into deep thought.
‘Well me ‘n me bro Skip’s from Storms End city, and we will help any way we can. But we are part of the Blues from lookout point. I still have ten years left of service and my brother five.’ Opius explained.
‘Don’t worry about that.’ Torren replied. ‘Come on let’s push on, we can make camp when we reach the water.’
The Group led by Yarn walked long into the night and found themselves under a full moon that lit up the calm waters of Sea Lake. Critters and beasts could now be heard through the woods, but all seemed to stay clear of the adventurers. Torren started making his shapes in the sand and within minutes the familiar weight of the invisible dome surrounded them.
‘Come here Opius, sit with me.’ Opius did as he was summoned and moved over to Torren. ‘I see you recently graduated from the school of Conjuration, yes?’
‘That’s right, top of me class.’ Opius responded proudly.
‘And you volunteered to be a Blue at look out point?’
‘Yes, all me family do. My Pa says “Join the Blues and serve your time, only good luck will come to you after.” Which is fine and all but only if you go back…’
Torren laughed. ‘Superstitious man your father? Never the less you will not get much practice in the Arcane here. Let me show you some things.’ Torren winks as he pulls out an old tarred book. You recognise this?’
‘Yes, well I know what it is.’ Opius rubs his hands together and as he pulls them apart a book appears glowing a faint blue.
Torren raises an eyebrow and pulls out a pipe. ‘Must have a keen mind to keep your grimoire like that.’
‘I do. I have always been able to remember anything I see or hear.’ Opius explained.
‘Well take this.’ Torren handed Opius a small round crystal. ‘See those Symbols on the floor? When ever you need a place to camp, draw out them symbols and hold the crystal. Say the words Lee O Mun Huts and this dome will appear. It stays whiles ever you remain inside.’
Opius nodded at Torren, ‘Thank you! I will go and practice. Torren do you know what this is? We found it in the cave?’
‘Well, well.’ Torren took the bag from Opius and inspected it. ‘Yes, I know what this is. This is a bag of holding. Rather a handy object. Just don’t put top much in it’ Torren handed the bag back to Opius. ‘Well are you not you going to write it down in that posh book of yours.’ Torren asked as Opius gets up to leave the hut.
‘No need. Its already in the book.’ Opius replied.
Torren raised his eyebrows again and takes three puffs on his pipe. As the night reached it’s peak the group fell to sleep and had a full rest.
Next morning it was over cast and raining. Flashes of light could be seen over to the north but no sound. Storm Breaker woods was living up to its name. Torren summon his floating disk again for the Warforged and the group got to building a raft. With the same trick as before Torren pushed them to the northern shore of Sea Lake.
‘Well, lets get back to it then. Onwards to look out point! If we follow the coast we should be back in a few days. Might even be able to flag down a fishing boat as we get closer.’
Four days pass. The rain had finally subsided about two days into the journey but the group still made good time as they reached the high wooden walls of Lookout Point. As usual, two Guards stand at the western gate.
‘Skip! Good to see you lad! I was wondering where you were, thought them gobos got ya. Old Captain Pike sent a search party out two days ago. Not heard from them either yet.’ One of the Guards explained.
Got tied up along the way Tom. Good to be back though. Where’s Spiky old lad?’ Skip answered.
‘Ha, Pike is in the office as per. Who or what are these three then Skip?’ Tom asked.
‘Torren, Yarn, Bonesaw. Ran into them out in the woods. Don’t worry, they’re all good.’ All nodded on the mention of their name. Apart from Bonesaw who remained motionless.
‘Well, welcome to Lookout Point.’ Tom raised his arm signalling for the gate to be opened. The large wooden door creaked as it rose just enough for the group to get under.
Back in the tavern, the old man stretches his hands. ‘I was busy. Lookout Point had seen no action for so long it had turned into quite a large town. With merchants and craftsmen travelling from the west and south to trade their goods to the people. Kids ran around playfully in the streets and new recruits lazily drilled in weapons and manoeuvring. The was always one hundred guards on duty with another fifty in reserves on a rolling rota. The new batch arrived not long ago, Opius with them.’
‘Well welcome home.’ Skip announced to the group. Yarn was intrigued but jumped at the slightest thing. Bonesaw was Bonesaw and Torren look unimpressed.
‘I’ve been here many times and it never changes. The Northern orcs haven’t attacked for what… seven years now? So, the guards get lazy and are unprepared when they must deal with more the goblin thieves.’ Torren explained. ‘Come on let’s go see the Captain and get you out of this place. Its enough to make you brain fall out your head.’
Yarn split from the group ‘I wish to look around, dis place is big and noisy, I will meet you tonight in there.’ He points it claw to the tavern looking building with a sign overhead the door. “Bolt and Clap.”
‘Very well.’ Skip agreed. And the group split up.
Skip led the rest of the group to the captain’s office. It was getting late and the captain was just locking up. He turned to see the group walking up.
‘Skip. Opius. Good grief old boys, I though the gobos had got you?’ Pike stood hands on hips gut overflowing from his uniform. A big handlebar moustache between to big rosy cheeks. He looked between Skip and Opius to see the hulking metal giant. ‘Where the green hell did you find that thing?’
Torren stepped forward. ‘Good day to you sir, I am Torren. I found your boys in a spot of bother in the woods and assisted them. In return they did the same for me.’
‘Spot of bother you say Skip, you?’
‘Aye Cap that’s right, the raid was a lure. We where ambushed by a boss and what seemed it entire gang.’ Skip explained. ‘Would have been spinning on the spit if it wasn’t for this old man.’
‘Huh these gobos are getting smarter… I will be aware in future. Now what do we say we finish this conversation in the old Bolt and Clap?’
Pike walked with the group back towards the tavern. It was busy, full of duty guards, tradesman and merchants all singing, drinking and dancing. The group found a table close to the bar and the barmaid plonked tankards of ale in front of them.
Pike not hastening grabbed his ale and start gulping ‘So where you chaps been?’ The words barely audible over the gulping.
‘Ahh, well see I had an errand I had to run, involving the Lady of Warmth and Hope out over the island in the middle of Sea Lake’ Torren explained.
‘Well Is that so old man? There’s nothing over there but bests and critters. Think we would know about a Lady.’ Spike gargled with a grin.
‘Well Captain…’ Skip was interrupted by a guard running into the tavern.
‘Captain flare to the north! Raiders have been spotted!’ The Guard shouted.
Pike spat his beer over the table. A look of shock covered his face. The whole tavern turned to him and went silent. He paused for a brief moment before the jumping up from his seat knocking the table with his rounded belly.
‘What are you waiting for? All soldiers report to their posts! MOVE IT!’ Pike shouted. The tavern emptied.
‘You haven’t been given a posting yet, just stay with me. Do what you’re told.’ Skip told Opius on his way out of the tavern. ‘Follow me.’
‘I’ll secure the civilians, don’t worry, they will be safe.’ Torren ran off to the south pulling all non-combat proficient residents with him.
Bonesaw walked off in a seemingly random direction. Skip and Opius ran to the northern wall just in time to see a guard come running through the gate.
‘Three! Three barges, each with a full warband, two broke off up the river and one is heading down and will be here soon.’ Tthe guarding said struggling to get his breath.
‘Good work soldier take your position.’ Pike patted him on the back as he ran to the wall.
‘Wait! Did you see a Tabxi?’ Pike asked. The guard looked back confused. ‘A cat person…’
‘Oh yes, it was he who warned us. He stayed behind.’ The guard got into position.
‘You can help him now. Take your position’ Pike commanded.
Skip and Opius joined the brothers in arms on the northern wall. Now they could see. A large barge with a shell of shields speeding down towards them.
‘That’s unlucky.’ A young lad said sitting close to Torren. Didn’t think they got much action up there since the war… if only they took a bit longer to get back.’
‘It’s a good thing they didn’t. Who know what would have happened if the heroes didn’t make it back in time.’ Torren explained taking another gulp on the beer handed to him before going back to his story.
The Shields Crashed into the Gates blocking the rivers entrance into the Fort. Arrows rained but were unable to pierce the Orcs Shields and heavy armour. The guards of Lookout Point unloaded volley after volley into the Orcs, but they remained strong and unyielding.
‘Opius! Can ya not do anything ‘bout t’shields!’ Skip shouted.
‘I’m trying! They’re not budging!’
Then a flicker from back of the barge quickly grew into a flame and then a fire. The Orcs had no choice but to break their formation. Cracks in the defence started to show. Arrows hit their mark. The Orcs slowly began to fall into the river at the panic and the shock of the fire.
Skip look at Opius.
‘Not me.’ He said with a look of puzzlement on his face.
It didn’t take long and the warband had been withered down to a last few. Large, smelly, tusked, humanoid-pig looking creatures… They tried to climb up the banks of the river but where shot for their efforts.
They men started to cheer but Pike stayed silent.
‘Hold it men!’ He shouted.
With that, a huge explosion from the south east. Moments later another from the west.
‘A distraction!’ Pike turned to the noise. Skip! You and your brother take your friends to the east! Take some of the new recruits. Torren and I will head west, protect our families.’
Pike started barking more orders to the guards and then ran of the west with Torren.
Skip, Bonesaw and Opius started heading to the east with a handful of guards to find Yarn already perched on a building firing bolts at the warband who where flooding through the hole they had made.
‘Yarn, where you been?’ Opius questioned.
‘This not the time. Help me!’
The group joined Yarn in a small Market area. There was a well in the middle of a small plaza with buildings all around. Luckily the Orcs had blown them selves into a narrow alley between buildings only allowing 2 orcs side by side.
‘Bonesaw kill.’ The iron giant ran to fill the gap between the orcs and the other guards easily. He crashed against them throwing all his strength into a mighty swing of the battle axe. The guards took advantage of the high ground and drew crossbows and rained bolts into the oncoming onslaught. Skip took position behind the metal mass and Opius stayed with the guards on the high ground. With Bonesaw in front and Skip supporting him from behind the managed to push the Orcs back. The guards and Opius, with the help of Yarn, then got the situation under control.
‘Dey breaking off. Trying to get in dis building!’ Yarn shouted from the roof top. Five orcs had broken off from the group and had started trying to break through the wooden walls.
‘Guards make ready at the building entrance.’ Skip ordered, and four of the eight guards made their way to the door a drew their spears and shields. Skip joined them.
‘Hmm, Der a big one just come in…’ Yarns exotic tong split with a nervous purr.
‘How big?’ Skip questioned.
An Orc Captain; Head to toe in hard plate armour with the trophies of fallen enemy’s strung around his body. A master crafted large Great Axe held over his shoulder and a look of war in his red eyes.
What sounded to just be a grunt and roar to group seemed to be the best shouting orders. The Orcs that broke off had now chopped their way into the building and were hacking at the door. Skip and the guards made ready either side of the door. The constant onslaught of orcs pushing at Bonesaw where taking their toll. He fell back and three orcs passed over him. Two guards where cut down. Opius rubbed his hands raising them above his head and smashed his hands together to make a high-pitched sound, shattering the orcs that pushed through. They went down, blood seeping from the ears and eyes. Bowsaw regained his footing and pushed back sealing the gap again.
The door of the building slammed open and the first Orc out was met by two rhythmic swings of Skips swords. The second met with stabs of spears from the guards. They fell but more were coming. Bonesaw struggling again to hold the Orcs back.
‘Fall back up the steps hold the high ground.’ Skip shouted before starting to climb onto the roof with Yarn. The Orc Captain was barking out more and more orders. The Beasts had broken the front line and where flooding into the plaza. Opius rubbed his hands, raised them and again sent the high-pitched sound through the Orcs. Some fell, some managed to shake it off. Two more guards fell. The last four sent their bolts into the wave of orcs and drew their spears and shields. Skip finally making it to the top, meets Yarn.
‘We need t’take out t’captain.’ Skip said.
‘I’ve been trying.’ Yarn snapped
‘Huh Let me tell it a joke’ Skip smiled ‘Hey! Orc face. What do you call a Pig Standing up?’
The Captain looked at Skip with a scowl.
And with that the Orc boss dropped to the floor with a hideous laughter. The Orcs confused with their Captains actions lost their nerve and Bonesaw with the guards managed to push them back. With them all packed together, Opius let out another Shatter felling a large number them.
The Orc Captain came around, a look of pure hatred on his face. He looked to see his warband in bits. He rallied the remaining few Orcs and pushed down the narrow lane to the plaza. Bonesaw swung with his large battle axe bearing it deep in the captain’s armour. The Orc shrugged it off and barged him with a large spike on his shoulder. Bonesaw stood without a flinch. Skip jumped off the roof and struck down at the orc Captain. Two cuts in an unarmoured area. Yarn jumped to the neighbouring building with a flip, firing a bolt downwards whilst mid-air. Twang! straight into the neck of the captain. Opius with a fling on his arm sends a Firebolt towards the beast of an Orc. But only succeeds on singeing some fur on its armour.
The Captain now in a full rage grabs Skip by the scruff and slams their foreheads together, knocking Skip into a daze. Then he spins with murderous intent, raises his battle-axe and slams it into Bonesaw. He follows through with a back kick to the metal giant, dropping him to the floor.
He lets out a growl and turns his attention to the Wizard, beginning to walk towards him. Bonesaw gasps a metallic groan and tries to stand. Skip in his daze slumps against the wall trying to regain his focus. Yarn, running over the roof tops loses his footing on a loose tile and falls. Still the Orc captain walks towards Opius, who in his panic walks backwards, tripping over a dead guard. Raising his arms in front his face in a desperate attempt at guarding against the uninventable. The Orc boss now standing over Opius lifts his battle axe over his head. Opius closes his eyes knowing this is the end. Twang! Opius waits for a blow that never comes. Slowly he opens his eyes to see the Orc boss with a bolt through the eye. He falls to his knees the life leaving his face. He coughs up some blood before Skip appears behind him and slips his sward down through the Orcs neck and into his cold dead heart. Opius turns. A young guardsman half dead himself kneeling. One hand on the trigger of a crossbow resting on a dead brother in arms.
‘That’s for all of…’ The guard fell, unconscious before he could finish his sentence.
What seemed like an entire night lasted all of twenty minutes. Skip, Yarn and Opius helped Bonesaw up and the serving guards. What was left of the Orcs fled into the night. Skip started singing a lament to the fallen; raising the spirits of the living and gathering their senses. They started heading to the west of Lookout Point to find Pike.
‘Captain! Torren!’ Skip shouted towards three figures walking towards the centre of Lookout Point.
‘Glad to see yas made lads. Handy having one of these wizard types around here.’ Pike nodded over towards Torren. ‘Managed to keep all the civilians save. Done a fine job.’
‘We dealt with the Orc Captain. What’s left of the Orcs have fled into the night.’ Skip explained.
‘Well nothing we can do about that now. We need to make safe the fort. Clear our dead.’ Pike started ordering all able, to start gathering the dead and disposing of the Orc bodies.
‘Captain Pike, a word?’ Torren walked away with Pike.
Next morning Skip and Opius had been discharged from service and all were getting ready to head out with Torren to go south towards Storms End City. Opius was Surprised at this since he had only been there a few weeks, but happy. After the conversation with Torren, he realized the Blues where not for him.
‘Are we ready then?’ Torren asked the group of adventurers. Skip and Yarn looked at each other and shrugged.
‘Guess so.’ They replied.
Torren had convinced a trader to loan them his chart for the journey to Storms End. They set off with Bonesaw walking by their side.
‘It’s a four-week journey by cart to Storms End. There’s a small village between here and there, we can stop off for supplies.’ Torren explained, pipe already lit for the long ride.
The party got a few hours south before they ran into the first spot of trouble.
‘Help! Help me!’ A young woman running from the trees not far off the path to the east screamed. Her clothes ripped and blood running down the side of her face. Yarn immediately ran to meet her taking off his cloak and wrapping it around her.
‘What happened?’ Yarn asked.
‘Foul beasts! They found me. I was hiding. They took me and beat me! I managed to escape as they argued amongst themselves.’ The woman gasped to Yarn before falling unconscious.
‘Go. Find them and put an end to their filth. I cannot abide Orcs. If they are left too long and they will dig themselves in and can be a nuisance for all around. I’ll stay with the woman.’ Torren took the woman and put her gently in the cart.
The group started walking to the edge of the small wood, Yarn stopped the group.
‘Wait here, I will have a quick look around.’ Yarn vanished into the wood re-emerging five minutes later. ‘Der is a small camp, da Orcs are trying to build a fortified area but seem to be fighting wid dem selves.’ He looked at the party, his face crumpled in bafflement.
The group made their plans and attacked. The dysfunctional Orcs fell quickly with the surprise attack and the party made it back to carry on the trip heading south. A traveling merchant on his way to Lookout Point took the woman home.
Two weeks pass before they arrive at Seedem. As they got closer, they started to hear something.
Witch! Witch! She’s a Witch!
A large gathering of towns people were dragging a bound woman towards what looked like a pyre. Stood next to it was a man in long red and white vestments. The red stripe had a gold trim with a symbol in the middle. Two circles, a smaller one overlapping a lower larger one, with eight golden lines protruding from the edge of the smaller circle, to the edge of the lower large one.
Behind him two men stand. Wearing large rimmed hats and chainmail covered by a leather jacket. Two blades by their sides, high boots and the same symbol showing on their chests.
Opius, concerned with what he is seeing heads up.
‘So, what’s going on here then…?’ Opius questions in a cocky tone.
‘Greeting traveller, I am Samuel current Speaker for Amino in the town of Seedem. As you can see, we have found the woman guilty of witchcraft and by the power granted to me by the Following of Amino are putting her to death by way of holy cleansing flame.’ The Man in the vestments explained.
‘Last I checked magics were not illegal.’ Opius raises his brow to the man.
‘Maybe not where you are from, traveller, but this village has accepted the wisdom of Amino and as such follows its rules.’
They start to tie the lady to the Pyre.
‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’ Torren walks up followed by the rest of the group.
‘These idiots are trying to burn a woman alive due to the use of magic.’ Opius says turning to Torren.
‘What! Take this poor woman down immediately!’ Torren orders.
‘I will do no such thing. You are not part of this village and I would ask for you to kindly move along.’ The two men stood behind Samuel step forward, placing their hands on their weapons.
Opius steps forward again.
‘Well we are not going to allow this so you should stop now.’ With a small frown on his face, he puts his hands together and starts muttering an incantation. Moments later the pyre shrinks freeing the woman.
The woman, now free from her captives, shouts with an un-natural booming voice.
‘You fool! After all I have done for you! You will face not just my fury, but the fury of my sister. The fury of the Night Queen!’ And disappears into a puff of smoke.
‘What? Seize him!’ The Speaker orders. The two Inquisitors step forward drawing their weapons. Tapping them together as they burst into the deep neon blue flame. Skip bolted forward to engage as Yarn jumped onto the cart to get a better vantage point. Bonesaw charged/ The large group of people jumped onto Opius and restrained him.
‘Enough of this!’ A frightening presence loomed over Torren. In a blink of an eye Opius was standing and the weapons of the inquisitors where on the ground.
‘What?’ Opius looked confused not knowing how he was standing.
The crowd began to run in fear of the dark cloud over Torren. Everyone settled.
‘Well what’s done it done. Stand down men.’ Samuel said holding up his hand. ‘If she is stupid enough to return then she will meet Amino’s wrath.’ The Inquisitors stand down, pick up their weapons and begin to walk back into the village alongside Samuel.
‘Well I don’t know how welcome we will be now, but we need rest and supplies so we are going to have to stay here. Let’s try not to get into too much more bother.’ Torren and the group got back on to the cart and headed into village.
Seedem is a small village centred around a large well. Plenty of living space. A small open market, a smithy hard at work making horseshoes, an all popular Farmers Perch, clearly this village’s main attraction. Torren almost instantly overcome with a thirst heads straight to the Tavern followed by Bonesaw, Opius and Skip. Yarn heads off to explore a bit more of the town.
Next to the well, there looks to have been a small alter set for worship. The same symbol over a red cloth and a gold dish on the side collecting tributes. A man and a small child are there. Yarn approached.
‘Hello der, I am Yarn, may I ask wha ’tis you are doin?’
‘Hello Yarn. My name is Henry and this is my Son, Timmy. He has hurt his leg and they say it will never heal. My poor boy. I am praying to Amino hoping he can cure my lad.’ Henry looks down at little Timmy.
‘So, dis religion, it heals people?’ Yarns inquisitive nature getting the best of him.
‘Aye that’s what they say.’ Henry replied. ‘I hope it is true.’
‘Ah, so you have not seen dis?’
‘No, I haven’t, but Speaker Samuel says to keep faith.’
‘Interesting… what of the magic woman from your town, did she not help with such things?’
‘Aye, she did. Until Speaker Samuel arrived. He told us her magic came from an un-natural place. And that using it caused more harm than good.’
‘But they worked, did they not?’
‘Yes.’ Henry started to look crestfallen. ‘They did work.’
‘I am sorry to pry. Dis religion is new to me and I wish to learn much. Where is dis Speaker Samuel? We had a run in with him and I would very much like to speak to him.’
‘He will be overseeing the construction of Amino’s Temple.’ Henry points in a direction to the south-west. ‘Come Timmy, lets go home now.’
‘Thank you very much.’ Yarn headed off in the direction pointed out by the weary man.
The tavern was rather empty. Torren, Bonesaw, Skip and Opius found a table towards one end of the bar. They caught the scowls of a few patrons as they sat down. The Barkeep waved over to them.
‘What will it be gents?’ He shouted.
‘Just Ale please.’ Torren replied.
‘Aye, coming up!’ The barkeep popped a cork on a barrel and filled four large mugs before he brought them over to the table.
‘Seems a quiet place?’ Torren asked the Barkeep.
‘Aye afraid so. Since this Speaker Samuel has been around I’ve been getting less and less punters. The merry place is bad for the soul apparently.’ The Barkeep complained.
‘Not a follower then?’
‘Well other than a few minor brawls there has been ever only merry times and laughs and song here. What they have done to poor Elizabeth is terrible. A few of us here tried to stop them but they were hearing none of it. I guess I’ll be next, ya’know brewing ale is witchcraft after all…’ The Barkeep rolled his eyes.
Torren raised his eyebrows and nodded.
‘Looks like this town is split.’ Skip said taking a swig of ale.
‘Well one half needs a good bit of education on the Arcane.’ Opius lifted his mug in mock salute.
‘Now, now, Opius, we can’t go off turning everyone who does not like magic into… Things. We don’t want to give them fuel for this fire.’ Torren replied. ‘Yes I think we will leave this religion quite alone, get our supplies and head on to Storms End.’ Torren banged his mug down in finality.
‘Well I think we should take a look around first, something fishy here.’ Skip decided. Opius and Bonesaw agreed and they finished their ale and got up to leave.
‘Ok, go look around. Nights drawing in anyway we will leave first thing. I’ll take care of the supplies.’ Torren said ordering another ale.
‘Hey Barkeep, where did that Elizabeth live?’ Skip shouted
‘About ten hundred passes out of town to the east, why?’
Skip didn’t answer and they all left the tavern.
‘Come on, lets find Yarn and check it out.’ The three of them walked around for a bit until they came across a construction site.
‘What the, what are they building here?’ Opius mouth opened wide. Almost all the town was here taking orders of inquisitors scattered around the place, a wooden frame of a building had gone up. It was huge, radically so. The three looked in bewilderment. Yarn approached.
‘Ah comrades, welcome to the temple of Amino.’ Yarn looked at the group with raised eyebrows.
‘Bonesaw smash temple?’ Bonesaw began to walk forward.
‘Woah Bonesaw! No trouble, remember?.’
‘Where is Skip?’ Yarn questioned.
They looked around.
‘He was here?’ Said Opius, a look of confusion on his face.
‘Well maybe we should have a walk around see what people think of dis.’ Yarn suggested, nodding to the structure.
They nodded and started walking around.
‘Keep an aye out for de inquisitors, four I count.’ Yarn mentioned as they split up.
Opius paid no attention to this and found three stood together and walked straight up to them.
‘Alright?’ Opius interrupted them
‘What do you want witch?’ One of the inquisitors snapped.
‘I’m a Wizard, not a witch you buffoon. And I Graduated top of my class in the school of conjuration, within the collage of magics at Storms End City, and as such, you should show me due respect.’
‘Look here you unnatural piece of…’
‘Now, now, Kain, step back from the poor boy, he is misguided and confused.’ Speaker Samuel approached from behind.
‘I am not misguided.’ Opius snapped back.
‘Please. You are just passing through and your head is full already. I don’t believe there is any room for faith. Do not disturb my men, get what you need and leave.’ At that moment one of the iniquitous breaks away from the group. ‘Go now please.’
Bonesaw taking Yarns advice manages to avoid an inquisitor but the people are too afraid of the metal giant to converse with him. Yarn also dodges a patrolling inquisitor and decides to head back to the group.
‘Fine, I’ll leave.’ Opius turned and walked back to the meeting point.
The inquisitors ran, pushing passed Opius and Yarn towards to workers shouting and pointing.
‘Where?’ Walking out from behind a cart Skip points in a direction and the inquisitors run off. Opius and Yarn arrive shortly after, followed by Bonesaw.
‘What was that about bro?’ Opius questioned.
‘No idea, sorry that ale went right through me.’ skipped answered. Yarn raised an eyebrow looking at Skip.
‘Should we check out that cottage then?’ Skip continued.
‘Cottage?’ Yarn looked puzzled
‘We found out where Elizabeth lived. The witch they were going to burn.’ Opius answered.
‘Ahh, yes, dis is good idea.’ Yarn’s attention immediately switching to the new task.
They travel east out of the village. It was dark now as the day had left them and a light flicker could be seen in the distance. They slowly approached the house lit by candlelight.
‘Hello!’ Skip shouted, but as he knocked on the door it slowly creaked open.
‘Looks like no one is in…‘ Opius mutters.
‘We should look around.’ Skip said, slowly stepping into the small cottage.
Seemingly one room of a medium size, a door on the right of the back wall. A fire and cauldron in the centre of the back wall and a worktable running along the left and back wall to the caldron. Shelves littered with herbs, ointments and poisonss. And in the centre of the worktable a book opened in a peculiar language.
‘Opius can you read this?’ Yarn asked.
He walked over taking the book.
‘I have no idea what this is, but I will keep it for study later.’ He put it into his bag of holding.
Bonesaw checked the door on the back of the room. Expecting to find a bedroom of types.
‘Bonesaw found room.’
They group walked over. An almost empty room lay before them. With symbols and drawings on the floor and candles lit on ten points. The centre of the room shimmered with an off colour, like looking through the heat of a burning fire.
‘I think this might be a teleportation circle?’ Opius said examining the drawings comparing them to the ones he had seen on the Island of Hope. ‘But a much shorter lived one.’
‘Well, shall we?’ Skip said with a smile on his face.
One by one they stepped through the portal. A familiar sensation of being stretched and pulled washed over them. It was longer than the last time they felt this, butfinally, with it coming to an end a feeling of horror came over them.They stepped out and got their bearings of where they were.
Dark, dead and cold. Naked trees without any green–just barren and dead. The ground – hard and unplantable. Winding barbs tangle beneath the forest of dead trees. Orange pumpkin like plants scattered about with beasts of the night feeding on the thick red substance inside. All blanketed by a burnt purple sky.
‘What be displace?Dis air like poison, each breath tightens my lungs.’ Yarn looked around curious but scared.
‘I don’t know, but we are not in heath anymore.’ Skip examined one of the orange plants growing in the dead soil. Kneeling and taking a finger scoop of the red substance and brining it to his mouth, he instantly spat it out. ‘Blood!’
‘Human?’ Opius walked over. Kneeling beside Skip.
‘Not sure, but what sort of plant bleeds?’ Skip asked in horror.
‘Interesting. I’m not sure but I feel that this thing may not be just a plant. We should make haste and leave.’ With that Opius and Skip got up and turned back to the portal just in time to watch it disappear. ‘It must have been activated for a limited time. If that’s the case, we won’t be far behind Elizabeth.’
‘Dis land is hard to track but I think I’d be able to pick up a trail.’ Yarn said kicking the floor. ‘We should stay close.’
The sounds of beasts and critters could be heard in the woods.Ahalf-starved hound turned and snarled at the party as it finished feeding one the red substance.
‘And we should be quiet.’ Yarn signalled to everyone to form up. ‘Der are human tracks heading dis way.’ He points.
The way ahead was hard going, Bonesaw took care of most over the brambles and barbs. Yarn raised his hand to indicate to the group to stop.
‘What is it Yarn?’ Skipped questioned.
‘Der is a pool, a pool with a foul smell and fumes rising from it. We should go around.’ Yarn stated.
‘Hmm, I think that’s a good idea.’ Opius whispered pointing up. Ten large bats hung motionless from the branches of dead trees: hundreds of smaller bats amongst them, occasionally spreading their massive wings. They hadn’t seemed to have noticed Yarn and the group. ‘I really don’t like this place.’ Opius made his thoughts known. ‘We shouldn’t have come here.’
‘Too late now bro.’ Skip whispered with a pat on the back.
They moved on, skirting around the pool of fuming substance.Crack! The Lumbering metal giant tripped on a root the protruded from the ground and fell into the pool of sicky smelly putrid faeces. A bat instantly reactedflapping all around and taking bites at the would-be heroes. The beating of their wings enough to blow up a gale.
Yarn, Skip, Opius and Bonesawtried to run to no avail.
‘Enough!’ Opius shouted with a clap of his hands followed by a huge clap of Thunder.
The bats scattered into the swirling purple sky.
‘Well, I guess stealth is out of the window…’ Opius said looking in his backpack for wound dressings.
‘Yes, it would seem. But I do believe we should be still careful where we tread.’
High-pitched hysterical giggling sounds started echoing through the dead forest. Brambles and barbs started moving as critters and beasts started to run. Unfamiliar sounds and smells filled Yarns senses as they reached a small opening. The laughter seemingly all around them got louder. ‘Hide’ Yarn whispered urgently.The party split to find cover any way they could. But it was to late for Bonesaw and Opius.
Coming out of the wooded area into the small opening where Bonesaw and Opius stood,a short snouted dog like creature standing on two legs nose in the air and a club in one pawlike hand and a shield in another. Loosely wrapped in leather. It chuckled and giggled its high-pitched laughter. Snarling and growing it pointed its club atOpius and Bonesaw.
‘Mistress will be happy, Mistress will reward.’ The creature mumbled between giggles, spittle dripping from the edges of its mouth. More laughter and giggles from behind and another beast walks out.
‘We found it. We founds them!’ It barks at the other.
‘Back off beasts.’ Fire erupts from the hand of Opius as he holds a firebolt ready to be slung. Bonesaw with a pump of his arms summons his mighty great axe and shield.
Another beast walks out of the undergrowth. This one’s laughter higher pitched and more hysteric. ‘Come, come, mistress will see you, mistress will keep you safe.’ It struggled to get the last few words out between its giggles, sending the other two and the surrounding forest into hysterics.
Yarn found himself up a tree and could now see; they were surround by what must have been twenty of the beasts. They would not stand a chance.
‘Stand down Bonesaw, I don’t think this is a fight we can win.’ Opius suggested. Bonesaw disarmed himself and stood waiting. ‘Ok beast, take us to your mistress.’
The beast nodded its head in a suggestion of direction for Opius and Bonesaw to follow.
Yarn looked around for Skip before leaving but could not see him anywhere and assumed he had hidden in time. He followed the band of beasts.
Yarn had a better view from the trees and as he got to a particularly high tree, he climbed higher to get a look of the area. This dead wood travelled as far as the eye could see, occasionally breaking with small open areas. Yarn could see smoke rising in places and far in the distance, a massive tree stood upon a hill.
Almost losing the trail, Yarn jumped down to keep following the band of dog-like creatures, they seemed to be heading to one of the areas with smoke rising. Not long later, a flicker of light could be seen through the dark trees. It was a house, small and cottage like. Very similar to Elizabeth’s.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The Beast banged at the door. ‘What is it, you filthy hound?’ The door swung open. A tall hunched back woman answered the door, a long nose with warts and wiry hair. Two horns protruded from her forehead curling over her head. Her nose instantly takes in the smell of Opius. ‘Ahh Greetings’ The had long tong likes its lips ‘come, come in.’ Opius and Bonesaw walked into the cottage and looked around. It was identical to Elizabeth’s and as at the table in the corner, Elizabeth sat. The blood from her face drained when she saw Opius and Bonesaw. ‘Please sit. I am just making some stew.’ The hag gestured to the table. Opius and Bonesaw sat.
‘What are you doing here?’ Elizabeth screeched.‘You shouldn’t have come.’ Elizabeth said the sound of sorrow in her voice. ‘She will kill you and collect your souls for the Night Queen.’
‘Don’t worry.’ Opius said, confidence in his voice. ‘My brother and friend are here too, they will get us out.’
‘I can’t go anywhere! I’ve pledged myself the Queen,and if your friends are here then they will be caught and killed too!’ Tears trailed down her face.
‘Now, what are you all muttering about? Sister are you being welcoming to our guests?’ The hags smile stretched from ear to ear. She placed bowls of stew infront of everyone. ‘Now you’re a big fellow.’ She exclaims looking at Bonesaw “eat up now” Opius takes a mouthful of stew, he tried to resist but seems compelled to, commanded to. He struggles against himself but is unable to stop the spoon full of stew ‘We can’t be having that, now can we?’ The hag started muttering in an arcane language and Bonesaw started to shrink. His head grew ears and a tail sprung from his behind. Opius tried to react but started to feel drowsy, seeing double, he fell into his bowl of stew.
Yarn remained perched in his tree, keeping an eye on the comings and goings. The beasts patrol the area asthe cottage door opens and the hag walks out with legs of meat.She throws it to the hound-like beasts.
‘Come on then you Gnoll scum eat up.’ She calls andfourGnolls instantly start fighting over the food.
‘Dis is my chance.’ Yarn whispers to himself and leaps to a tree whose branches are closer to the cottage. He stealthily climbs down onto the thatched roof and stars making himself a hole to look through with his claws. Peering through the hole, he sees Elizabeth sat in a corner, Opius asleep in a bowl and a mouse in a jar on the table. But no sign of Bonesaw. ‘Where is Skip? We needs to do something!’ Yarn pulls out his band crossbow and aims it through the hole. ‘I will do it me–self’
A bolt flies towards the hag hitting her in her left shoulder.She lets out a shrill scream of pain.
‘Who is there?’ The hag swings her head from side to side looking for the source of her pain. Yarn lets loose another bolt missing the who has now spotted the hole in her roof.
With her sister distracted, Elizabeth bends over and whispers in the ear of Opius causing him to regain consciousness.
‘What?’Opius, drowsy and disoriented looks around confused.
‘Your friends need help!’ Elizabeth told him.
Opius jumped up and sent a firebolt hurling towards the hag. Yarn, now confident in their strength, jumped down from the roof into the cottage and swung a strike with his sword.
‘Where is Bonesaw?’ Yarn shouted.
‘The jar, the mouse!’ Opius responded while holding up an investable shield which absorbed the magic projectiles shooting towards them.
Yarn tried to manoeuvre around to the jar but was not quick enough. The hag took it with her long, curled fingernails and held on tight. The door swung open again and this time a Gnoll stepping in and swiped at the jar.
‘You fool! Get out of here you filthy dog. How dear you?’ The hag scrapes her claws over the face of the Gnoll and it lets out a yelp. Another bolt finds its mark in the back of the hag, green putrid blood seeps from the wound. More missiles fly towards Opius, but another invisible shield of force absorbs them. A bolt of fire flings back towards her as she lets out another scream. The Gnoll, clearly upset with his mistress swipes at her again.
‘We need Bonesaw!’ Opius shouted ‘And Skip! Where is Skip?’ He demands of his party.
‘I don’t know, I lost him when the Gnoll’s appeared.’ Yarn explained as he took carful aim at the mouse in the jar.
The jar shatters as a bolt shot lands perfectly. The mouse falls to the fall and begins to change. Now the hulking Metal Giant stands. Normally emotionless, and unreadable, Bonesaw pumps his arms in a fit of rage and summons his weapon and shield.
The Gnoll takes another swipe, only this time at the hag herself. With anger she returns with two swipes of her crooked talons that land perfectly on the chest of the Gnoll. Another bolt lands. Knowing she is out matched,she widens her arms and mutters some words and the feeling of drowsiness fallsoverall. The Gnoll takes this opportunity to retreat.Bonesaw,unaffected,swings down at the hag and buries his axe in her back. With that, she finally disappears. Opius falls the ground unconscious but Yarn manages to shake off the spell.
‘Quick take this, you have to leave!’ Elizabeth rushed to Yarn in a panic. ‘She will be back soon!’
‘What about you lady?Will you come wid us?’ Yarn asked Elizabeth as he kneels to help Opius.
Bonesaw lifted Opius and leaves just as Skip arrives, battered and bruised.
‘Where have you been?We need to leave!’ Yarn snaps at Skip.
‘Well since I got left, I’ve been trying to find my way here and fighting of the dog things!’ Skip answered. ‘They look to have ran off for now, so are we getting out of here?’
‘We are!’ Yarn rushed past skip.
Before turning the join them, Skip decided to grab something from the cottage.He manages to pull a long object, but before stopping to examine it he runs to catch up with Yarn and Bonesaw. Stealth has left their mind and they fumble through the barbs and brambles to get to the Portal. Yarn, now knowing the land, easily managed to guide them back. Putting the crystal in the stone the Portal reopened. The feeling of be being stretched and pulled came over them again as they reappeared in the room they left.
‘Well thank God for that.’ Skip let out a sigh of relief, before seeing Opius in Bonesaws arms. ‘Is he ok?’ Skip ran to his brother.
Bonesaw laid him on the ground outside the cottage. Ahigh-pitched cackle filled the air, Opius woke up instantly aware.
‘Lookout, She’s here!’ He Shouted.
Skip, Yarn and Bonesaw looked around confused. Then saw the hag materialize infront of the cottage.
‘Thank you, my dears, for the ride. Long have I been trying to return here, to this plane.’ The hag explained, ‘Long I have awaited stumbling fools to come. I will thank you by allowing you to live this once…’ Before she could finish her sentence a firebolt was flung her way, followed by a bolt from Yarns hand-crossbow. Bonesaw charged and Skip followed with a merry tune of inspiration.
The Hag reached out with her hand. ‘And thank you for brining my broom’ She cackled as the broom flew towards her. But it wasn’t enough for her to escape. The group had her in their sights. Opius slung sticky web towards her stopped her ability to escape while Bonesaw landed a mighty blow, knocking the hag to the floor. Opius buried his blades into the hag’s body and it fell limp. The broom dropped to the floor. And the hag disappeared.
‘Well let’s hope she is dead.’ Skip said retrieving his blades that are now in the ground ‘She seems pretty dead.’
‘What should we do wid the cottage.’Yarn asked.
‘Raze it.’ Skip suggested and immediately Opius set it alight.
‘Now, how about another ale?’ Torren, who had already polished off more than the man’s frame should allow, looked at the crowd gathered before him. One of the men at the back walked over to the bar.
‘So they just burnt the cottage down? And who is this Night Queen…?Never heard of her.’ One of the gents to the left of Torren asked, rolling his eyes.
‘Well, there is a lot that the good people have forgot about the world that they live on,young master. This world was almost torn a sunder three times over and its people over time forget.’ Torren explained.
‘How do you know then?’ The man asked, becoming fractious.
‘I read.’ Torren answered in a sarcastic tone. ‘But anyway, lets take a break from the adventures of Skip, Opius Yarn and Bonesaw. Let’s talk about another hero who joins the party, if only for a short time. He is one of the rare Loxodon people from the Frozen Plains in the South East’
‘Really?’ One of the punters interrupted Torren in a moment of excitement. Torren looked at him with a smile.
‘Yeslad andhe was a fine hero for sure.’ Torren went back to the story.
‘Floppyear, stay with the herd. We are hunting a giant!’ A large woolly mammoth bull, stood ahead of a group.Large round ears, cut and scarred from years of battle with the terrors that live on the ice and under it. He was Broken Tusk,head hunter of the Sharprock tribe. Their territory had been invaded by an Ice Giant, looking for new lands to settle. Next to him was a younger more unexperienced hunter. Floppyear. This was his second hunt after his first ended with a dramatic fail. Floppyear was compelled to be successful on this hunt to keep his place amongst the hunters.
The Frozen Plains were home to large dangerous beasts from the burrowing gargantuan worms to Ice giants and Yetis. But worst of all, was Droaxe the Unrelenting. A great white dragon and his spawn the Pale Scales who hunt and torment any they wish. Along with the wide range of predators the land was almost always engulfed in an unnatural blizzard, only ceasing a one quarter out of the full moon.
Broken Tusk raised his large hand that grasped his battle axe. An uneven vibration could be felt through the ground. The Giant is close but moving erratically. Not wanting to attract the attention of a worm. Broken Tusk turned his hand and raised his trunk. The ten Loxodon hunting party formed a single line. Carried on walking towards the noise of the Giant a snake like movement. Never the same step weaving through the Sliver Pain trees. It wasn’t enough. A huge rumble from below. And the ear-piercing screech that comes before the worm. A mighty crash next to the group sent them flying to the ground. The worm emerges only meters from their position. A cry from the Giant carried for miles around and it engages it’s enemy. More crashes, more grunts and cries.
‘Stay down! Don’t move’ Broken Tusk screams; but not listening to his lead,Floppyear runs into the fray. ‘Floppyear! No!’
He is met with an axe swing narrowly missing him and sinking into the frozen side of the worm. The sharp, jagged icy thorns that circle the worm’s body, cuts through the hard flesh of the ice giant. It does not hinder the giant for a moment. Dark sticky blue blood from the giant splatters over Floppyear, freezing to the touch. Both massive creatures wounded after multiple blows. The worm retreats, burrowing deep into the ice, the giant mortally wounded walks towards Floppyear who is paralyzed with fear, falls to his knees and finally dead. His head resting at the feet of Floppyear. He comes to his senses and climbs onto the dead giant and with his trunk in the air lets out a war cry. The rest of the hunters arrive moments later to the sight of Floppyear coved in the freezing blood of the giant standing victorious on his back. He reaches down to grasps the cold brittle hair of the giant and swings his axe removing the scalp.
The group of hunters raise their trunks and let out the war cry of victory. All but one, emerging from the wood behind, Broken Tusk looks at Floppyear.
‘The one who slayed the Giant. Stories with be sang about your victory for moons to come.’ Broken Tusk said walking through the crowd. ‘To claim the scalp of a fallen enemy is a hunters sacred reward for his deeds. The Sprits of our Ancestors will truly honour this kill.’ He finished with an unconvinced look on his face.
‘I, Floppyear do claim the scalp of my fallen enemy!’ His raised the giant clumps of hair and skin as the group cheered.
‘Very well then.From this day onwards you will be known as Floppyear Bane of the Giant.’ Another roar from the crowd. ‘Let us return to out tribe victorious in our task and feast. May the Ancestors guide us.’ Broken Tusk turns and gestures for the hunting party to move out.
Two days pass before the hunting party return. News was already known by the elders of the tribe who are able to see long distances with their Ancestor’s guidance.
The large tribe of Sharprock owe their success to the natural defence of the surrounding area. There is only one way into the camp which lies between large jagged mountains. The camp is enclosed with unpassable rocks and ice. Its elevated position allows for a wide view of the path on a rare clear day. The hunting group where greeted as heroes as they stepped into the centre of the tribe. The three elders waiting to welcome them back.
‘We have seen the great deed of the one Floppyear.’ One of the elders said, her waist decorated with scalps of her own many years.
‘We have seen the great deed of the hunter.’ Another one, long staff in hand and her left ear almost completely torn.
‘We have seen the great fall.’ The last said, wearing in the pelt of a yeti, its eye replaced with blue jewels.
‘Welcome, home hunters.’ The three said together.
Stepping forward through the crowd was Long Trunk. Chief of the tribe and lead hunter before Broken Tusk.
‘A great kill I have been told Floppyear, a great trophy you have claimed.’ The chief walks up to Floppyear and puts his hand on the shoulder of the hero and looks into his eyes.
‘Thank you, oh great chief I will honour my Ancestors with this trophy.’ Floppyear replied.
‘And the Ancestors will honour you.’ Long Trunk walked with Broken Tusk away from the crowd.
The night was filled with song and dance, food and drink. But that very night, Floppyear failed to sleep. His dreams haunted by what he had seen or by what he had done. It was a rare clear night. He left his bed and walked to the edge of the tribe, the moon was full and it lit the Ice from horizon to horizon. He could see all the way to lair of Droaxeat the warm fall, to the north where the cold lands end.
‘To claim the scalp of a fallen enemy is a hunters sacred reward for his deeds.’ Floppyear looked behind him to see Broken Tusk walking towards him. ‘It should not be done lightly or in dishonest means.’ He continued. ‘Did you slay the Giant,Floppyear?’ His eye meeting Floppyears as they fell to the ground. ‘I see, well the deed is done and cannot be reversed without destroying our tribe.’
‘But what if I tell the truth?’ Floppyear asked with a sad tone.
‘You had that chance. Now the elders have deemed you a hero to our people that is what you are.’ Broken Tusk explained.
‘What can I do?’ Floppyear asked.
‘What does the Moon tell you? Our ancestor glow all around it and it’s their brightness that tells us of our deeds in this life.’ Broken Tusk explained.
‘Then I know, I must leave and go North to the warm lands and seek a hero’s death.’ Floppyeardecided. He packed up his huntersgear and left in the light of the moon.
Broken Tusked watch him leave. ‘May the Ancestors watch over you Floppyear, Giants Bane.’
It was a week’s travel to the warm lands. Going North, the blizzard almost always on his back pushing out over the Frozen Plains. It was a rare thing for a Loxodon to leave these parts and rarer still for one to return. The journey was long and hard, but luckily without incident. Floppyear now stood atop of a hundred feet drop to the Warm Lands. A wall of ice separating the warm and cold. Below was water, a green splash of land and smoke coming from buildings. He climbed down and walked toward the oddly shaped huts and was greeted by small hairy thing, pale skin covered in dirt, but a muscular figure.
Its mouth moved but a mess of sound came out. ‘Greetings I am Floppyear.’ Floppyear tried to communicate.
The short figure stepped back in shock… more sound babbled from its mouth as it waved over another one of its kind.
‘I Floppyear!’ He got louder as he spoke. But the figure just put one hand up and the sound ‘How’ was all Floppyear heard.
‘How.’ Floppyear said holding up a hand. It was returned with another from the small person.
Moments later two more people arrived, one was taller than the other two.
‘How.’ Floppyear greeted the newcomers. Some mumbles came from the taller person and suddenly he could understand him.
‘Hello there, my name is Darrius I am a traveller on my way back to Storms End City.Who may you be?’
‘Hello, my name is Floppyear from the Sharprock Tribe.’ Floppyear replied.
‘Well you don’t say, I have never met one of your kind before, how interesting. Let me be the first to welcome you to Ironnail, it’s a small mining village ran by these fine dwarfs. So, what brings you all this way?’
‘I seek Honour for my Ancestors. I seek to Honour them with great deeds and the scalps of my enemies.’ Floppyear replied.
‘Oh, the man looked around a bit uncomfortable. ‘And who are your enemies?’
‘Ones who would do wrong.’
‘Good, good.’ Darrius sighed with relief. ‘Well like I said, I am heading towards Storms End City in the North with some companions. You are more then welcome to join us and I will teach you the common tongue as we travel?’
Floppyear nodded in agreement.
‘Good, well come with me then. Let me show you the finer part of Dwarven hospitality.’ Darrius escorts him to the tavern the Bent Pick.
The door swings open to a busy crowd fumbling to get to the bar. Darrius walks over to a table with four other people already sat around it.
‘Now let me introduce you!’ Darrius starts pointing to the people. ‘This is Karrock, a half-Orc monk from the Temple of the Hand east of the City of Dune, Belmore he is a Human, like myself from Storms End City.Trisher; a wood elf from these lands of Lumore and Dinkle a Very lost Forest Gnome from Storm Breaker woods. She can turn into animals.’ Darrius nodding with appreciation of the talent.
‘How, I am Floppyear.’ They all raise the hands and reply with confusion.
‘What is that god awful smell?’ A half-drunk dwarf come’s walking over towards Floppyear, who’s stench had not mixed well with the already potent smell of sweaty dwarf. ‘What sort of beast are you then?’ Karrock did not take the words well and immediately stood.
‘Who you are calling a beast dwarf?’ His deep voice echoed through the noise of the tavern. Floppyear looked confused.
‘Calm down Karrock he was not talking to you.’ Darrius looked at the dwarf. ‘Sorry to be a burden Master Dwarf this is Floppyear and he is not from around here.’
‘Well let me give him a dwarf greeting!’ The mug of ale slammed into the head of Floppyear.
Unfazed, Floppyear stood, his enormous stature towering over the dwarf. He turned and grabbed the drunk by the head, picking him up with ease and throwing him towards another table full of drunk dwarfs. They did not take this well. Karrock Stood with a grin on his more human than orc face and jumped to the side of Floppyear sinking into a solid fighting stance. Dinkle also jumped to the side, infront of Darrius, becoming a wolf in mid-air and growling aggressively. Trisher leaped onto the table mugs in both hands,and Darrius shook his head and sighed.
The Dwarves charged, mugs, chairs and tables flew crashing against Floppyear, who took the time to charge as well, knocking the Dwarves around. Karrock stood strong in his stance catching mugs and flinging them back at lighting speed. Dinkle bit at the legs and Trisher used the mugs in hand as if they were finely made weapons. The brawl didn’t last too long and ended with a merry laugh. A confusion came over Floppyear who was just about to draw his battle axe to finish the job in his rage but was stopped by Darrius before he could do so.
‘Now Dwarves take some getting used to but really… this is how they say hello. I know what you are thinking. I think the same.’ Darrius tried to explain while calming the raging Loxodon.
Karrock walked up to Floppyear and gave him a massive pat on the back.
‘If this is the welcome we are going to get with you, then I say come along!’ Karrock raised a mug that somehow still had ale inside.
‘Well we will be leaving in the morning, we are heading West to River cross, its about five weeks journey so you should get some rest.’
The group stood in the dark watching the cottage burn. It wasn’t long before the villagers came running over to see the building in flames, with them Speaker Samuel.
‘Ha, so I see you have seen sense. It’s for the best the witch needed to die.’ He said with a smile on his face. ‘See here go people, The Lord of all Amino has shown that no Witch will go uncleansed!’
‘Enough of that you fool!’ Opius snapped.
‘Hold off Opius, let’s just go get some sleep and get out of this place!’ Skip held his hand to Opius’ chest before he could get to the Speaker.
‘Yes, let’s go. Dis place is wrong.’ Yarn agreed.
They headed back to the Farmers Perch. To no one’s surprise Torren had not moved from where they had left him. He seemed happy enough drinking away the evening.
‘Ah, Skip. Yarn…’ hic! ‘Opius and Bonesaw it’s the Heroes that will help me save my brother!’ Torren shouted at them as they entered the inn. ‘Barkeep five more ales please!’ He winked at the group. ‘So, what has this evening got you into this time?’
They sat and discussed the nights events with Torren who, even in his seemingly drunken state, managed to take in everything that they were saying. ‘The Night Plane you say? With the old Night Queen. Dangerous one that one. I hope you didn’t make a deal with her?’ He raised he eyebrow in the ever so familiar disapproving look.
‘We didn’t see the Night Queen, only her large tree far to the South West.’ Skip explained.
‘Ahh yes. You know that Tree is in all the planes. Its roots are what holds the planes together. After the plane wars of course.’ Torren replied. ‘The one from this plane, the mortal plane is Lumon. And it is watched over by the Wood Elves of Lumera. We will no doubt meet them on our way to Bullvine.’ Torren sat back in his chair. ‘Well I’d say it was time to get some sleep. We will head out at first light.’ He stood up and walked to a staircase at the back of the inn. Not long later the others did the same.
At first light the group was up and packed. ‘Ahh to Storms End then!’ Torren had the trusted cart he had borrowed and they all set off south. They travelled without incident for a few days until Yarn Spotted something in the shade and undergrowth of a small wood.
‘What is dat?’ Yarn pointed towards a peculiar looking boulder sticking out from the ground. The party stopped to investigate. It was a warm day and the sound of crickets could be heard all around. The boulder was large and carved with writing along its four edges and sat on top was a small cricket.
‘What’s it say?’ Skip asked.
‘It’s Elvish,’ Opius answered, ‘it says – A thing must not be broken for a minute past the thing.’ Opius looked confused. ‘Well roughly something like that. Must be a riddle.’
‘What the hell does that mean?’ Skip, sat on the boulder almost crushing the little cricket that has now jumped onto his hand.
‘Hmm, dis is a riddle. I believe something must not be broken for one minute.’ Both Opius, Skip and even Bonesaw looked at Yarn all wearing incredulous expressions on their faces.
Torren walked up to the group ‘Well it is getting dark, should I make camp?’ The unrelenting noises around seemingly never stopping for more than a moment.
‘Yes, I cannot think in all dis noise.’ Yarn agreed. But with that Skip pops his head up.
‘Noise…’ He said
‘Yes, Noise.’ Yarn replied.
‘Silence.’ Skip continued.
‘That would be nice.’ Yarn nodded.
‘No. We need silence, for the riddle.’ Skip took the little cricket to Torren. ‘Your hut blocks out sound, right?’
‘Yes.’ Torren answered
‘Then get it going we need it!’
Moments later Torrens invisible hut was up.
‘Ok. Now what?’ Torren asked. Skip took the Cricket into the hut and waited a minute. But the beating of the cricket’s legs could be heard through the silence. Opius joined him.
‘Opius can you stop this thing from moving?’ Skip asked looking at Opius.
‘I could web it?’ Opius replied.
‘Well let’s try it.’ Skip placed the cricket on the floor and waited. Opius weaved an arcane web and flung it at the small critter. A minute passed with no sound and a blue smoke filled the Hut.
As it cleared, a beautiful Fey woman was visible, seemingly floating with large winds carrying her softly in the air.
Skip and Opius looked at each other and then back to the Fey woman.
‘Thank you for freeing me, long have I waited for someone to free me from my curse. I will grant you one wish.’
Skip poked his head out of the Hut.
‘Think you should come see this.’ He said still with the look of disbelief on his face.
Yarn and Bonesaw joined them in the hut. Yarn jumped on Bonesaw when he saw the winged woman floating in a sky-blue dress flowing naturally through the air.
‘She says we can have a wish, so what do you think?’ Skip told the group.
Yarn stood, mouth wide. Opius and skip discussed potential wishes and Bonesaw stepped forward.
‘As you wish.’ The lady nodded and smiled before floating backwards into the sky and evaporating.
They all looked at Bonesaw who turned holding something in his hand.
‘What the hell Bonesaw!’ Skipped shouted.
‘Well what did you wish for?’ Opius asked.
‘Bonesaw wished for wishes.’ The metal giant held out its hand to the group. Nestled in its palm was a small box. ‘Take card from the box and it give us wishes.’
Torren walks into the hut. ‘Well I’ll be. Not seen that in a while.’
‘What is it?’ Skip asks.
‘That my friend is the deck of many things. A powerful object that can cause great things and terrible things. It is a game of chance and the odds are not good.’ He Explained. ‘You can draw cards from the deck and each card can do things, powerful things, deadly things.’
‘Well I missed out on a wish… give it here, I want to take some cards.’ Opius reached out and pulled two cards from the deck. Everyone watched as he seemingly grew, his muscles becoming more defined.
‘Well? How do you feel? Skip asked.
‘Stronger but some weird sense of morality…’ he said looking at himself.
Bonesaw reached a drew three cards, but they instantly drop to the ground and Bonesaw disappears. The cards and the deck vanish.
The group jump back in shock.
‘Where’s he gone?’ Skip examined the now empty space.
‘Told you. It’s a game of chance and Bonesaw lost. Such shame.’ Torren look visibly saddened as did the rest of the group. ‘Did anyone see the Card?’
‘It was a cage. Within was a bleeding heart.’ Yarn answered taking of his hat and holding it to his chest.
‘Then he has been imprisoned by something somewhere. He will remain there until found.’ Torren explained.
‘How do we find him’ Opius now with his new sense of morality stepped forward.
‘No idea.’ Torren sat. ‘For now, he is gone.’
The party did not speak that night and nor did they sleep. They mourned their friend they met in the Woods. Their friend from another time. Another world.
The sun rose, but it could not be seen. A storm was brewing and the sky was dark. Cracks of thunder could be heard. The rain began to pour.
‘We need to get out of this rain. The cart won’t take it.’ Torren shouted over the loud winds and torrential rains. Another spark of lighting lit the sky and the crash of thunder echoed through the land.
‘Over der, the house with light.’ Yarn pointed out a small farmers house with flickering lights in the distance. Torren pulled on the rains and guided the horse to the farmhouse. They stopped outside it and got the cart and horse undercover. Skip knocked on the door.
‘Hello, who’s there?’ The door opened and a woman greeted the party. A short, curvy woman in an apron and checked dress. ‘Oh! Come in, come in! You will catch your death you poor souls.’ She hurried them in and sat them at the table. ‘I am just making up some nice warm lunch. My husband will be back soon.’
A young girl walked in. Pig tails and a button nose. ‘Mummy, mummy!’ She ran to the woman.
‘Now now Daisy, do not be rude to our guests.’ The woman looked at Torren and the group, ‘This is little Daisy she is a bit shy and where are my manners. My name is Clara.’ The woman smiled at little Daisy. ‘Go say hello.’
The little girl slowly walked up to Torren. Who clapped his hands together gently and started wiggling his fingers. All the water from the wet clothes started floating all around and formed a galloping unicorn that danced around the young girl before turning to ice and falling into her hands. She turned, mouth wide in wonder to her mum, then started jumping and giggling playing with her new toy.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
‘Well I’ll be, is that more visitors?’ The woman walked over to the door. ‘Oh my, please come in.’
Stepping into the farmhouse was a large hulking woolly figure. Large ears, long trunk and two curling tusks, a battle axe fixed to his back.
‘How.’ The Mammoth said.
‘How indeed, you are a long way from home.’ Torren stood to greet the hulking warrior.
‘I am Floppyear. I seek shelter from the wet fall.’
‘Well that would be the rain dear, please take a seat, my husband should be back any moment.’ A concerned look came over her face.
‘Where is your husband my I ask?’ Skip looked at Clara.
‘Oh, working the farm but he is normally back for his lunch by now. I hope he is ok in this weather.’
‘Well I’m more than happy to go look if you like. It’s the least we can do after you helping us.’ Skip looked at the group.
Torren pulled out his pipe, ‘that’s an idea Skip of you pop.’ He sat back and made himself comfortable.
Yarn agreed and Opius was dragged along too.
‘I will come, aid new people in finding other people.’ Floppyear still not dry turned and walked back out into the pouring rain.
‘He was working on the western farm before you get to the hills.’ Clara explained. ‘Thank you.’
They set out, the weather unrelenting, the heavy rain making everything a struggle. The wind pushing against them made it slow going. But they made it, even in this Yarn managed to pick up a trail and led them to a wheelbarrow that looked damaged. Signs of a struggle and drag marks leading into the hills.
‘Dis trail leads to the hill, who would attack a farmer here like dis?’ Yarn look around hoping to find some answers.
‘Should we tell the wife?’ Opius suggested
‘Maybe but I think we should find the farmer first.’ Skip looked at Yarn ‘you think you could find him Yarn?’
Yarn who had already followed up on the drag marks turns to Skip.
‘Dis way.’ He shouted threw the crash of thunder.
It was difficult moving through the muddy field but they reached the west wall and the edge of the rolling hills. A small valley snaked through the rocks and boulders and mounds of grass. Yarn raised his hand and looked behind to the others but could not see them. A fog had dropped, and visibility was limited. He was so distracted with his tracking he hadn’t noticed. The foulest of smells caught his attention coming from a clearing ahead. Stealthily he approached and could see a man unconscious. Hands and feet bound and then to a pointed rock sticking out from the ground. About twenty yards in front of the man was a cave opening and the source of the foul smell. Yarn slowly made his way around the edge to try and get a better view inside of the cave.
‘Oh no.’ Skip turned to Opius and Floppyear. ‘Oh no, oh no!’
‘What is it?’ Opius asks trying to peak over the hilltop.
‘Yarn is down there. He is going to the cave.’ Skip turned, wet and muddy from slipping over. ‘And if I know my smells, that there is a Troll den.’
‘We need to help him.’ Opius stood ready to charge.
‘Floppyear will cleave the Troll and take its scalp as trophy.’ He drew his battle axe.
Yarn had now reached the side of the cave entrance; he was about to look around the corner but before he had a chance, a large dirty hand reached around the side grasping a rock next to him. The hand was easily the size of Yarns head, with long sharp claws that could tear through the toughest of meals. The Trolls big head appeared from the cave. Its long-curved nose and pointed ears up in the air as it used its sense of smell to locate the farmer tied up. A long tongue licked the large thick lips moving around the two sharp tusks coming from its lower jaw. Its second unproportioned arm appears next followed by a foot as it pulled itself out the cave revealing its large size. It lumbers towards the farmer but stops suddenly. A flash of flame and a war cry,the sound of a familiar tunefills the surrounding area. Yarn takes this opportunity to fire his crossbow at the target, sinking a bolt into its back. Floppyear charges, knocking the troll off balance another bolt of flame flies towards the hulking beast who is now in a rage.
‘Wake up!’ Skip shaking the farmer manages to bring him around. ‘Wake up! We need to get out of here!’
‘What?’ The farmer still in a daze looks around confused. His eyes meet the trolls and he scurry’s back ‘What the!?’
‘Come on, get up we need to go!’ Skip now shouts in the farmers face.
Another bolt lands from Yarn and he runs forward ducking a wild backhand from the enraged Troll. A swing from Floppyears great axe brings the Troll down to one knee. Jets of sticky webbing start to cover it as Opius steps forward chanting with his figures tangled together.
‘Come on! Run!’ Skip commands. Yarn does not hesitate. Floppyear pulls away and Opius stops the chanting to leave. The farmer struggling to move gets chucked up onto Floppyears back and with Yarn leading the way they make it to the wall of the farm. Floppyear puts the farmer down.
‘Well thank you for saving me.’ The farmer, still a little confused, looks at the group.
‘Do you know what happened?’ Yarn questioned.
‘No, I was just working my normal rounds and I was hit over the head. Next thing I remember I wake up with laddo here shouting at me and a monster leering over me.’
Finally, the storm subsides, the sky is clear. The group head back to the farmhouse.
Clara rushed to embrace her husband as he walked through the door, bruised and bloody.
‘Oh, my dear Gregory, what have they done to you!’ She took a cloth from her apron and started to clean the farmers face. He smiled at her and called Daisy over.
Skip, Opius, Yarn and Floppyear watched as this family was united again, their hearts filled with joy in the knowledge that they had a part in this happiness. But too soon was it overpowered with the thought that they had lost a friend only a day past.
‘I want to go home.’ Opius says with a sad tone in his voice ‘I want to see Mamma and Paps.’
Skip looked at him and realized that he is still young, and his heart still needed to strengthen against the pain of life. Yarn looked at Foppyear.
‘You can hold da self in a fight.’ Yarn examined Floppyear up and down, ‘why not come wid us, we helpin’ Torren.’ He points to the wizard who’s just waking up after falling into a food coma. ‘He has lost ‘is brother, we are heading to Storms End City in the south to hopefully find some answers.’
‘You’re more than welcome to join us lad, you come in handy in a scrap.’ Skip continued.
‘I seek Honour and Adventure; I seek the scalps of my foe to honour my ancestors. I will join you on your quest.’ Floppyear agreed.
‘Please, you must stay awhile longer, regain your strength before heading out. I must repay you.’ Clara insisted, Gregory stood up too.
‘Aye its only right, you saved me and my family. How can we repay you?’ He asked.
‘No need.’ Opius replied ‘Just be careful of that Valley, that Troll should stay at its den, but you might want to look for someone to dispose of it.’
‘Well at least let me make you a basket for your travels, it’s still a long way to Storms End City, and there are no more villages on the main road down.’ She got to work filling a basket up with dried meats and bread and handed it over to Skip took it with a thanks and put it in the cart.
‘I fed you horsey when you were gone.’ Daisy said with a big smile.
Torren knelt to her ‘Well thank you little lady,’ he ruffled her hair and stood. ‘Shall we then?
They all left the Farmhouse and jumped into the cart; Floppyear insisted on walking along side. Opius and Skip looked back at the family as they waved farewell.
It was cold this time of year over the Plaines of Heath. The group occasionally passed travellers heading north, or farmers working their fileds, prepping for the coming of the warmth. But all in all, it was a quiet trip. The food given to them at the farmhouse was gone within a day and Yarn took the time each evening to go foraging for supplies, there were plenty of apple trees and wild critters to trap along the way.
‘So where do you come from Floppyear?’ Opius questioned. ‘I’m from Storms End city and I have never seen one of your kind before.’ Yarns ears shot up as his inquisitive nature resurfaced.
‘I am from the Frozen Plaines to the south east.’ Floppy replied shortly. Opius looked at him expecting him to continue, but nothing came.
They continued for a few more days, still mourning the loss of their friend. Three weeks passed by as the long journey was reaching its end. The cart struggled up the last hill reaching its peak.
‘Home sweet home.’ Opius said looking over the city. Yarns eyes widen and his jaw drops. Never had he seen such a thing.
The City of Storms End. Finally, the metropolis that is a spiralling hill with a Palace perched on a carved cliff top. The quality of homesteads decreasing with lesser nobility the further from the palace it is. Above the rocky hill sits colleges for those skilled in magic. Beneath those are homes for elegant music and plays performed by bards with exquisite culture. At the base of the hill, scattered with guards of varying levels of prestige, indicate the more… impoverished… cultures of this land. Weaponsmiths, armour smiths, bakers and whatever the artisanal trade may offer.
Torren leads the cart down towards the city. First through the shanty towns full of poor souls who are working the surrounding fields to put food in their family’s bellies. Beggars litter the side of the dirt road asking for whatever little scrap’s travellers can offer. Yarn jumps down from the cart and walks up to one of the souls asking for help.
‘Why is it you are here?’ Yarn askes the frail man.
‘I just seek help to feed the people, the city won’t help, the guards will just beat us. I am just hungry.’ He said with a hushed and submissive demeanour.
Yarn reaches into his pocket and pulls out a gold coin. ‘Will this help?’
The eyes of the man widened; he had never seen such a thing. His jaw dropped as Yarn handed it him like it was nothing.
‘Go buy food for you and your friends.’ Yarn smiled jumping back on the cart.
Not long later they reached the gates. Two guards stood outside in the traditional guard uniform. White shirt with chainmail, a blue tabard with a silver strip running diagonally along the body, and a sword pointing up.
‘Halt, no entry at this time to outsiders!’ One of the guards shouted with his palm raised to the group.
‘I live here!’ Opius replied with confusion of his face, ‘why are the gates closed? They have never been closed before.’
‘Your name?’ The guard demanded.
‘Opius Greenroot and this is my Brother Skip.’ Skip nods.
‘Greenroot you say? Hmm do you have your papers?’
‘Papers, what papers?’ Opius was losing his temper.
Skip pulled out some papers and handed them to the guards. ‘These are our discharge papers from lookout point. What’s going on here?’
The guard looked them up and down and waved to the gateman to open.
‘Nothing for you to worry about Mr Greenroot.’ The guard handed the papers back paying no attention to Opius.
‘Well that’s interesting.’ Torren said taking a puff on his pipe, ‘I wonder what’s going on.’
They stopped just inside of the Markets district. The scent of exotic spices overwhelms their senses, shouts from every direction advertising the best of the latest fasion of fabrics, trinkets and foods. Straw models equipped with weapons and armour made from materials some rare and some nod. Strange coloured gemstones encased in gold and silver scatters over tables. Merchants serve flocks of people, while their intrusive signs attracted more satchels filled with gold.
Yarn instantly hid behind Floppyear. Too much too quick for the Tabaxi who had never seen such things. Even coming from a merchant caravan himself, they stayed to the smaller villages on their travels.
‘Well I’ll be at the college, I’m sure they will put me up and I have some studying to be getting on with. Find me there if you need me.’ Torren walked off and disappeared into the crowd.
‘Well shall we head home Opius, ‘I’ma sure Mamma ‘n’ Paps would put us up?’ Skip looked at Opius, ‘lead the way lad.’
Yarn looks over at Skip with a sense of something not right.
They start to travel through the market district ducking and weaving their way through the hordes of shops and merchants, into Craftsman’s where they see artisans hard at work. carpenters, stone masons, blacksmiths, jewellers and tinkers pursuing perfection in their chosen field. They walk up the long steps to the upper living district, large homes and wide cobbled streets, they walked through as Opius led them to a large white house with a greenhouse attached to its side. Ivy has covered the whole eastern wall and a small red door on the front opened. Stepping out was an elderly man in long white and red vestments, grey hair and an all too familiar symbol on his front.
‘What the?!’ Opius’ face turned red with anger. ‘Why is there an Amino Speaker coming out of my house!’ He marched over to the man. Skip reached out and pulled him back before he had chance to say anything.
‘Opius, Skip, what are you doing here?’ A tall slender man walked out of the house, dark hair and features much like Skips.
‘Hello father.’ Skip walked over and wrapped his arms around the man.
‘Paps why was there a Follower of Amino here?’ Opius asked.
‘Come inside.’ Peter turned and walked back into the house. They went straight into the large open sitting room with a log burning in the fireplace.
‘Where’s mam?’ Opius asked, concerned that she had not greeted them as their father had.
‘Come sit down Opius, your mums upstairs. Let me answer your first question.’ Peter patted the seat next to him. Skip walked in and sat down.
‘Pa these are our friends, Yarn and Floppyear, they need to stay here for a few days.’ Skip waved Yarn and Floppyear through.
‘Yes, that’s fine,’ Peter agreed, ‘we will get the guest rooms made comfortable for them.’
Opius impatiently sat, ‘I want to see mam.’
‘Your mother is ill, Speaker Thomas was here blessing her and wishing her health returned.’ Peter explained
‘Ill, what do you mean ill? Those backwards thinking Amino followers won’t be able to do anything about it.’ Opius’ temper began to flare.
‘Paps, we have dealt with this religion up north, they tried to burn a woman alive.’ Skip tells his father of the events inSeedem.
‘I can’t believe that. While the teachings of Amino have spoken against the use of the Arcane arts, I would not say they openly kill users.’ Peter dismissed his son’s words.
Opius stood and walked upstairs but was greeted by his mother walking down.
‘Opius, how wonderful to see you. Ten years already, it goes so quick. I miss your brother.’ The lady walked down into the sitting room and sat next to Peter. ‘Darling our Opius has returned at last.’
‘I will take leave I have things I wish to see.’ Yarns exotic tongue announced.
‘I go with kitty.’ Floppyear nodded and turned to leave.
Neither of them had ever seen such a marvel. Tall buildings made from brilliant white stone, people of all shapes and sizes. Yarn approached a couple walking down a path in a beautifully kept grassed area.
‘Greetings.’ He pulled of his hat and bowed with a flourish to the couple. Floppyear just stood silent. ‘I’m looking for a person who could help with a project, I wish to have something made.’
‘Well my good friend, you will be needing to head to Crafters then, what is this thing you’re looking to have done?’ The gentleman replied.
‘I wish a strap and a trigger mechanism for my bow.’ Yarn pulls his hand cross bow to show the gentleman.
‘Ok, ok!’ The man ducks as Yarn swings it past him. ‘It’s Zip you will be looking for then, a crazy gnome who’s always tinkering with things, Zips Tinkers Shop is the name.’ The man gave Yarn and Floppyear some directions and left.
Yarn and Floppyear followed the directions given to them and headed into the Craftmans district. Whilst still clean, there was a different smell in the air, and a thick smoke filled their lungs. Walking through they observed several Blacksmiths hard at work smashing metal onto metal. Stone masons carving boulders, Cobblers making boots, Leatherworkers shaping hides and other stores and buildings showing Jewellers, alchemists and any other profession you could think of. Yarn cowered back at the sight of it all. So much to take in.
Asking a few workers and following some signs, they made it to the oddly shaped building described by the gentleman in the park. This building was larger on top than the bottom. It had pipes bellowing with smoke coming out of the sides and a large metal sign made from random junk spelling out Zips Tinkers. It looked to be almost falling over. Yarn and Floppyear approached carefully and found themselves at the door looking for a way in. Yarn stepped forward onto a mat on the floor. Click! Twang! Bop! The door opened on its own. Startled, Yarn jumped on to Floppyear with a screech. The mammoth Loxodon was amused and placed his large foot back on the plate. Click! Twang! Bop! It opened again. He repeated this several more time in till Yarn plunked up the courage to walk through.
‘Mam, I’m here.’ Skip looked at his mother as she sat down. ‘No need ‘t’ miss me no more mam.’
‘My Skip, how you have grown, you will be heading off soon. To do your part in the blues is such an honour! Look your brother has come from school to see you before you leave.’ Therasa sat holding Peters hand, a smile on her face but a blank expression in her eyes.
‘What’s happened to her?’ Opius mumbled with a tear in his eye.
‘Your mother and I didn’t have the chances you two did growing up. And I am afraid your mother’s latent affiliation with the arcane has caught up to her. Sir Charles has diagnosed your mother with an illness of the mind. It happens to Wizards and Sorcerers who have a gift for Divination, without training you mother has lost here perception of time. She sees both the future and the past simultaneously and cannot differentiate between the two. Sir Charles believes there to be no cure.’ An anger covers Peters face at mention of this. ‘But Speaker Thomas believes there to be a cure. He speaks of his faith in Amino’s ability to cure all illness in the world. He comes with a caring heart and the desire to help.’
‘No, No! Get it out, get it out. The darkness will consume all. I will not, I will not!’ Theresa screams and thrashes out.
‘Which is a lot more than the College has offered.’ Peter said through clenched teeth as he restrained his wife. ‘Now, now my love let’s get you back to bed.’
‘I will go talk to ‘t’ College; they’ll help. Amino is wrong pa, dead wrong.’ Opius stood.
‘He’s right pa, this new religion is not ‘t’answer’. Skip agreed and stood. ‘Let’s go to the collage and find some real answers.’
‘Come in come in.’ A high-pitched voice shouted towards the door. ‘I see, I see you like my door yes, yes?’ Crash! A pan fell to the floor knocking over some tools as a short, spiky
white-haired gnome climbed onto the table. ‘Come in, come in! What can Zip do for you?’ Skip and Floppyear walked into the cluttered shop. Shelves stocked full of half-finished inventions and rolled up scrolls. Two rounded seats shot up from the ground. ‘Sit down, sit down, Let Zip help you!’ A large grin on the Gnomes face emphasised large rosy cheeks and rounded nose. Yarn walked in and sat. Floppyear walked in and turned to try and sit, his tail spun and knocked a tin with nuts and bolts that had been balanced perfectly on a stack of other boxes. It fell knocking over another stack and then another. He froze in place lifting as much of himself into the air as possible, balancing on one foot. Zip popped his head around Yarn and looked at Floppyear, talking a quick look at the new mess in his workshop and staring for a moment at the now perfectly still and balanced Mammoth.
‘So what can Zip do for you?’ His attention went straight back to yarn.
‘Dis is wat I be looking for.’ Yarn pulled out a bit of paper with a crude drawing on it.
‘Yes, yes, this is Brilliant! Amazing, amazing!’ Zip looked the paper over with excitement. Yarns expression changed to one of pride and anticipation. ‘What is it?’ Zip continued. Looking at Yarn with a smile. Yarns expression changed.
‘Is a strap and trigger to hold my bow on my arm.’ Yarn pulled out his hand cross bow and held it to his arm and pointing it around to show what he meant. Zip nodded erratically with a smile.
‘Yes, yes. It is, it is, it is.’ Zip continued to nod, he reached out to take the crossbow, ‘come back in three hours! Plans will be made.’ The gnome stood and pushed his chest out holding the cross bow in the air. Yarn nodded and stood to leave, Floppyear moving for the first time walked backwards carefully trying to not knock anything else. Twang! Yarn looked back, Zip had accidently let loose the loaded bolt into a ceiling beam, causing some strange gadget to fall to the ground and knock into another pile. Zip immediately regained his heroic pose and pushed out his chest. Yarn and Floppyear left.
‘Let’s go find Yarn and Floppyear first, think they were going to Craftsman’s.’ Skip suggested.
He and Opius headed towards the Craftsmen’s district.
Floppyear and Yarn where heading back to the Greenroot residence when Yarn noticed something. Two shady looking characters down a narrow opening between two buildings. Yarn’s curiosity getting the better of him again, climbed onto the roof and sneaked to get within earshot. Peeking over the roof top he saw two hooded figures in long cloaks talking to some beggars.
‘Look ‘ere you filth, Paws wants it done. So you go running off to your sewer king and tell him to get it done.’ One of the thugs ordered.
‘Please sir don’t hurt me.’ The kneeling beggar replied.
‘Don’t give me tha.t’ A foot swung out and struck the beggar in the head knocking him prone.
The beggar gets back up. Now with more of a grit in his voice. ‘Please sir, do not hurt me.’
Another strike flew towards his head but this time it was caught effectively by the beggar and in moments the thug was on the floor.
‘Maybe you should not be so loud.’ The beggar nodded towards Yarns location. Yarn ducked back.
‘No matter the thug brushed himself off, just get it done.’ He flipped a gold coin to the beggar and he and the others disappear down a narrow ally.
The beggar now stood looking at Yarns position. ‘You there, be at Gutter Bottom as the sun sets.’
Yarn peaked his head over the side of the roof, but all the men were gone. He returned to Floppyear.
‘I think we need to see Opius and Skip.’ Yarn nodded and both creatures headed back towards the Greenroot home.
The group met up not long after and exchanged information. They had a good five hours before sun set so they decided to head to the College of Magic’s first. Opius showed his College badge to allow the group into Arcolff the district in which the Magic College stood. Instantly they could see a difference. This part of the city was immaculate, upper living district was nice, but this was clearly another league. Everything finer and more elegant, not as near as overpopulated as the rest of the city, it was open and fresh. Opius led them through the district, to the Wizards Green, a large and open park where most of the students would gather. At the north end of this park stood a single large white tower, four archways at the base.
‘Hmm, I was expecting more.’ Yarn jested with a cheeky grin.
Opius looked at him and smiled. ‘Come on.’
They walked over to an archway. They could see right through; The Tower was about twenty feet in diameter, and nothing was to be seen. Opius walked through the arch.
‘Welcome to the College.’ he said smiling as he looked back over his shoulder.
The group followed, yet again, what happened next made the fur on Yarn body leap off him. Somehow, they found themselves in a giant room, the tower had expanded to massive proportions, what was twenty feet in diameter was now more like two-hundred feet. A circular desk in the centre, sitting areas littered about, with dark brown leather armchairs, bookcases filled with books of all sizes and colour. Young Witches, Wizards, Warlocks and Sorcerers openly practicing and studying magic’s. Serval sets of spiralling staircases lead up to additional platforms and four more archways lead to the outside.
Opius had heard of this but seeing it was something else. Yarn and Floppyear had no words. They looked around in awe.
Opius walked up to the centre desk. ‘Hey Clare, good to see you.’
A young woman was busy shuffling papers around her desk. ‘Opius, what are you doing back here so soon? I thought you were heading north to do your bit.’ She smiled at the sight of Opius.
‘I was, but something else has come up now. So, you have decided to stay on here then? What happened to the dream of adventure?’
‘I still have the dream, but I have plenty of time to adventure, I didn’t feel quite ready after we graduated. Not all of us where as gifted as yourself Opius.’ She blushed. ‘What do you need?’
‘Need to see the gaffer about my mam.’ He replied. ‘Also, has an old man come in this way, beard, wide brimmed hat and probably smoking a pipe or drinking, or both. Torren his name.’
‘I’ll let Sir Charles know you are here and yes Torren went to see Charles a few hours ago. Head on up, he has not sent word down, so I assume he knows you are coming.’ She pointed up with a bit of copper wire and whispered a message.
Opius lead the group to a spiralling staircase.
‘How far up are we going bro?’ Skip asks looking up and not being able to see the top.
‘To the top,’ he smiled stepping onto the staircase and beginning his assent. The rest followed. As they stepped on, the staircase seemed to spiral up on its own, each step elevating them higher and higher. In the end it only took ten steps to reach the top. Opius seemed fine, but everyone else felt a bit sick.
‘Takes some getting used to.’ The smile on Opius growing with every second. They found themselves on the top floor in a large open plan room with a desk in the middle. Bookcases and shelves lined the wall around the group and interesting looking statues, gadgets and artefacts filled them.
‘Opius, what and unexpected pleasure, how are you.’ An old man with short white hair wearing a long red robe greeted them holding a pipe in one hand and an open book in the other.
‘Unexpected?’ Opius replied.
‘Well,’ the man smiled, ‘the future is never set. What can I do you for?’
‘I want to talk about my mother and her affliction. You are a master of Divination; surely you know how to fix her.’ Opius explained.
‘Come, sit down all of you.’ They group walked over to the desk and sat. ‘Your mother’s affliction is the result of untrained magic’s in her blood. It’s rare and incurable. I am sorry. I have offered aid that could make her more comfortable, but you father refused.’ Sir Charles explained. ‘What is more concerning is what your mother has been saying, she talks of a coming darkness and screams for them to take it out. Do you have any idea what they could be talking about?’
‘I heard her say that today.’ Skip replied.
‘I have no idea.’ Opius added. ‘Can you not see the same thing?’
‘I have tried but no nothing like that is in my future and therefore I cannot see it.’ A worried look on the headmaster’s face betrayed his emotions.
‘So, you are fearful of what my mother is seeing?’ Opius looks at the headmaster.
‘I think we all should be.’ He replied. ‘I am sorry I cannot help you mother, but if you can give her these she will not be in pain.’ He hands Opius a bag of white beans. ‘Torren is in the Library.’ He said before anyone could ask.
‘Thank you for your help, I’m sorry too.’ Saddened by the news from the headmaster. Opius and the group stood to leave. Trusting in his old teachers’ words.
They left the room and took three steps down and found themselves on the ground floor.
‘I don’t think I will ever get used to that.’ Skip held his stomach as he looked back up the wide spiralling stairs.
Opius smiled, ‘well remember we are in a wizard school.Follow me.’ Opius led the group to one of the archways that leads outside.
Again, Yarn and Floppyear stood, jaws hanging. ‘Welcome to the Globe.’ Opius lifted his arms wide.
‘How can dis be?’ Yarns stuttered.
‘It‘s a pocket dimension created by Arcolff.’ Opius started to explain, ‘it exists outside our plane but is tethered to it by that.’ He points to the top of the tower they have just left. ‘It’s really cool, it can change, normally depended on the weather in the real world. Strange when it rains… you don’t get wet… anyway, there are eight towers each representing a school of magic. This one in the middle represents the school of divination. I was at the tower of conjuration. Torren most likely will be in the great library of Evocation. That’s this way.’ He started walking to the North most tower. The rest followed, still not knowing what to say, where to look first, or if this was even real.
They reached the tower; it was almost identical to the one they came from. But this one had a different symbol above the archways. Almost like Fire, Water, Earth and Air. The inside was just as impressive as the middle tower, laid out slightly differently and had a much more energetic type of student. Groups of kids in here were loudly throwing spells at each other and being ageneral nuisance.
‘Cocky, arrogant lot this,’ Opius smirked, ‘fancy themselves as…’ He raised his hands to make quote marks in the air, ‘the most powerfully school.’ Opius rolled his eyes.
Opius led them to another spiralling staircase. Skip held his stomach against that feeling again before he even stepped on. A few steps and they were in the library, a tall room, walls seemingly made of books, various levitating platforms with tables and chairs moving around the grand library as students perused the books they needed. Torren could be seen in the middle we a pile of books as tall as him.
‘Torren!’ Opius shouted.
‘Ahh Opius. Good to see you.’ Torren waved, and the levitating platform descended to them.
‘What are you looking at?’ Skip tried to look over Torren shoulder before he managed to close the book.
‘Wizard things Mr Greenroot.’ He replied. Skip looked at him suspiciously but paid it no more thought.
‘Well you’ll never guess what?’ Opius looked at Torren ‘Amino is about… Apparently practicing here in the city… My dad’s joined them…’ He told Torren what has happened with his mother and about Speaker Thomas.
‘Hmm.Not good. If they are anything like those other fools in Seedem, it could be trouble.’ Torren rubbed his beard. ‘What do you need me for?’
‘We just thought we would let you know about Amino. Also…’ He looked at Yarn and Floppyear ‘We have been invited to meet some chap at sun set to see some sort of Sewer King, any ideas about that?’
‘A Sewer King you say?’ Torren continued to rub his beard ‘Well there are rumours of someone who goes by the name The Rat King. Could be the same person.’
‘Dis Rat King, what do you know?’ Yarn asked, his attention instantly switched onto the subject.
‘Not a lot I’m afraid just rumours of some person that runs the city from the shadows. If you decide to go, make sure you are careful. Now I must get back to my study.’ Torren turned back to the pile of books.
The group left, leaving the same way they came in. When they finally made it back to the real world it was getting dark.
‘Best get to Gutter Bottom then.’ Opius assumed.
‘We are going then?’ Skip questioned.
‘Why not, nothing else to do.’
‘I myself, am interested in seeing dis Rat King.’ Visions of a large walking rat appeared in Yarns head. ‘I think we should go and investigate.’
Floppyear nodded in agreement, and the four travelled to Gutter Bottom where they had been instructed to meet. The streets turned into sewers, gutters running alongside the cobbled roads, the poor and lost lived here. Gutter Bottom laid in the shadow of the massive white cliff, all the city’s sewage ran down to here before falling into the large sewerage system below.
Just as the sun set, the metal barred gate creaked open. A man dressed much like the rest of the beggars seen around the city appeared.
‘Put these on.’ A deep voice pushed some dirty sacks into the chest of Skip. Floppyear looked at the man, his head and trunk clearly too big for the sack. ‘Figure it out, you ain’tcomin’ in if not.’
‘Here.’ Opius clicked his fingers and a much larger sack popped into existence.
They were pulled through tunnels; they could not see where they were going and the smell seemed to get worse as they went. Eventually the constant sound a running water was swapped for the sound of playful laughter, chatter and deep breathing. The sacks were pulled from their heads. And a deep voice shouted to them.
‘Welcome friends!’ A man, tall and well-built with a large gut stood on a central platform connected to other platforms by thick wooden boards. The ragged clothes and scruffy hair made him look like the beggars seen around the city, but his belly and large build said otherwise. The group walked over the make-shift bridge made of a single wooden plank. He was standing overlooking a pit five-foot-deep and thirty-foot square. In the pit there was a man and a woman fighting. Now they could see, without the baggy rags the beggars wore, their bodies were like steel, ripped to the point of perfection. Living weapons. This explained the un-natural way the beggar defended himself in the ally.
‘Not bad huh, we can look after ourselves.’ He turned to face the group, a rat sat on his shoulder and was fed bits of cheese. ‘I am known as the Rat King, and I know everything.’ He smiled.
‘Glad you do, what are we ‘ere for?’ Skips local accent coming back out.
Yarn looked at the man, truly disappointed, his hopes shattered. The man walked up to him and gave him a firm pat on the back.
‘What’s wrong expecting a walking rat?’ He laughed and winked. Yarn looked terrified; he had only thought that. ‘Well, first let me tell you. I run an organisation that trades in secrets, every beggar you see on the street answers to me. You’ll be amazed what people say when they believe themselves better. And occasionally we have kind people like yourself,’ he looks at Yarn. ‘who proved some wealth, walk with me.’ The Rat King walks them around his lair, they see families laughing and joking. Large piles of coin and food stored securely and a warm community. It was safe to say these people where not the worst off, their wealth even rivalling some of the wealthiest.
‘This is all very nice, but why are we here?’ Opius demanded.
‘I will get to that, you there Loxodon.’ e pointed at Floppyear. ‘How about a fight?’ He waved up a man training alone. ‘You up for it?’
Floppyear let out a laugh and cheer ‘Yes!’ and jumped into a fighting pit. He started hitting himself in the head and shaking his legs and arms.
The man, also now in the pit, cracked his head left, then right. He looked at Floppyear. ‘You know you’re not supposed to beat yourself in a fight?’
Floppyear let out a roar and charged. Skip, Opius and Yarn took position overlooking the pit.
‘Oh this will be good.’ Skip Smiled.
The Monk effortlessly stepped his left foot back and around twisting his body to narrowly dodge the raging charge of the Loxodon. Floppyear hit the wall of the pit and turned to face him. Not wasting any time, he engaged the monk, swinging his fists and trunk. With a calm fluid movement, the monk dodged attack after attack ducking and weaving his way around the pit. Floppyears right fist swings a haymaker towards the Monk’s head, but it never connects. The Monk effortlessly takes a step forward and pushes his forehead into the base of Floppyears trunk, immediately ducking down and to the left under the haymaker. Floppyear staggers back and shakes his head. His breathing heavy, his rage busting.
‘Shall we then?’ The Monk lifts his fists for the first time.
Floppyear pays no attention, his rage blinding him for anything other than his target. The monk, calm and composed stands waiting to receive the next flurry from the giant mammoth. He didn’t wait long, Floppyear, leading with a front kick, missed. He tries catching the Monk of guard with a spinning back fist but hist nothing. Instead he feels the dull thuds, the first to the side of his body, Floppyear flinches. Never has he been hit so hard. Even in his rage the pain was incredible. Second hit, under the trunk immediately followed by the third to the chest.
Floppyear again staggers backwards. Looking now at the perfectly balanced Monk standing horizontal on one leg. The pain shot through Floppyear. The rage grew. Charging forward again, catching the monk of guard. He was not expecting the fight to go on. Floppyear grabbed him swinging him over his head and smashing him onto the floor before throwing his fist downwards into the heads of the monk. He landed three more blows before the Monk regained his composure. Still on the floor he rolled backwards lifting his legs into the air and wrapping them around Floppyears arm. The enged barbarian paid no mind and lifted the Monk slamming back to the ground releasing the grip on his arm. The Monk rolled away and stood back up. Now focused as if he was taking the fight seriously for the first time. Another charge from Floppyear.
Sometime later Floppyear awoke to five heads standing over him.
‘You think he’s dead?’ the Rat King asked.
‘Take more than that.’ Skip replied. ‘Come on, up you get big lad.’
It took all five of them to lift him back onto his feet.
‘Maybe you should sit down?’ Yarn suggested.
‘That was a good fight, you really pushed me. I learnt a lot.’ The Monk smiled helping Floppyear to a seat.
A groan came from Floppyear acknowledging his defeat. The Monk smiled and gave him a firm pat on the back. The Rat King looked at the group.
‘Word in the streets is, the young Prince Alister is plotting with the Thieves Guild to murder the King.’ The Rat King explained.
‘And why would the Prince want to kill his pops?’ Opiusasked with an unconvinced tone.
‘Well,’ The Rat King stepped closer, ‘the King is apparently announcing that his Daughter, the Princess, is going to be named heir to the throne, and the Prince is not too happy about that.’
‘What does it matter to use who’s King ‘n’ that?’ Skip asked the group.‘I’ve lived here all my life and never met the guy.’
‘We met him when you left for Lookout point.’ Opius looked confused at Skip, Yarns ears twitched his face dropped and began to stare a Skip.
‘Whether you like him or not, he’s a good King and the young Ashleigh with make a fine Queen, but her brother, the Prince will destroy this city and the whole region.’ The Rat King continued.
‘You, wid your way of life. Would not care who would be king no?’ Yarn questioned.
TheRat King smiled, ‘let me say, my way of life, as you put it, is very good. It could change with the Prince and I don’t like betting on things I can’t control.’ His smile stretched from ear to ear. Yarn looked at him, a chill ran down his spine.
‘So, who’s plotting to kill the king anyway?’ Skip asked, Opius looked at him with a raised eyebrow, no doubt something he picked up from Torren.
‘Well I believe the Thieves Guild are behind it, but who put them up to it is just speculation.’ The Rat King explained.
‘And?’ Opius turned his head to direct the raised eyebrow to the Rat King.
‘Well the Prince of course.’
‘Come on, let’s get out of here.’ Opius was wholly unconvinced by the situation. ‘Well it’s been a pleasure to find out you are realand all that.’
The Rat king smiled and nodded his head. ‘The pleasure is all mine.’
Opius walked over toFloppyear to help him up from the seat. ‘We have enough on with the bloody Amino Cult.’He grumbled.
‘Ah yes, the new Speaker.’ The Rat Kings knowing smile emphasised his large cheeks. Opiusstopped and looked him. ‘Yourfather, has he not told you? Well safe travels.My men will show you out’.
Four men approached them, sacks in hand. The Rat King reached out and took Skips arm as he left.
‘Here take this.’ He handed a small hexagonal black container to skip. ‘This belonged to the King, I acquired it in a game of chance with Paws, head of the Thieves Guild. I’m sure the King would want it back. A Hero like yourself could present it to him. Might help you with this Amino thing, you know, a bit of royal favour.’ Skips head perks up. ‘Keep it to yourself. But Paws runs a brothel up in Kingsway. Perring Palace’
Skip pulled his arm free and joined the others. They were blindfolded and walked through the tunnels to reach the gate they entered through in Gutter Bottom.
It was late into the night now. A chill had fallen over the city, normal for this time of year. The flicker of lanterns led the way through the streets of the Lower Livingdistrict.
‘Come on, there’s a cheap Inn this way that will be able to put us up for the night.’ Opiuspointed in a direction and they all followed. It didn’t take them long, they heard the place before they saw it. Walking around a dimly lit ally, a house of laughter and cheer stood before them.
‘We used to come here sometimes, sneak out of school and get up to no good.’ Opius explained. ‘Been a while so should be ok now.’
The Barren Tap, a bit largerthan the buildings around it, but not by much, seemed very popular with the locals. The building was squeezed between two other houses, part of a row. Almost like someone turned the home into a tavern. They approached politely pushing themselves past the crowd of people drinking outside.
‘Thought it would busier than this.’ Skip looked around the inside of the Tavern.
‘No, it’s late, I bet them outside are finishing up to go home.’ Skip replied.
Walking further into the building, there were still plenty of punters drinking away and being merry, but also plenty of empty tables. They walked up to one close to the bar and sat down.Opius walked upto the bar.
‘Hey, Mary!’ He shouted over the noise in the room. A young woman looked his way, long curly ginger hair and freckles on her face. A curvy plump figure emphasised by an apron tied tightly around her waist, into a large bow over her ample behind.
‘Opius!’ She walked hastily over to him, reached over the bar and wrapped her arms around his head, pulling him in. ‘It’s so good to see you. I thought you were heading north to do your time in the Blues?’
‘Hi Mary.’ He pulled himself back, ‘I did.We had a fight with some Orcs then me and my brother got discharged to help an old wizard. We are looking for some rooms if you have any free?’ he gesturedover to the group.
‘Didn’t know you had a brother,’ she smiled, ‘of course we have room for you.’ Mary reached under the counter and pulled out three keys with numbers burnt into a wooden tag. ‘Wow, so you fought some Orcs?That’s amazing!’ She started pouring some mugs of Ale. ‘You’ll have to tell me all about it when I finish.’ She smiled and blushed. Opius slid three silver coins over the bar to pay for the rooms and beer, another to keep the ale coming the rest of the night.
‘Yeah I will.’
‘Hey!’ A shout came from behind.Opius’ head sank into his shoulders. ‘You little twat, you owe me!’
‘Guess your dad remembers me.’ Opius threw a cheeky grin at Mary, she giggled.
‘That shiney coin you gave me disappeared, then Mary told me you went to the wizard school! You thieving little shit.’ He was an older man, a large handlebar moustache curving around his top lip made up for the lack of hair on his bald head. Short but stocky, he was a man who had put a good honest life’s work in.
A Strong grip pulled at Opius.
‘Oh Pa, leave him alone, he faught Orcs!’ Mary protested.
‘He will look like an Orc when I’m done with him!’ The man said as Skip,Floppyear and Yarn stood. Opius waved them down.
‘I’m sorry, please take this as an apology.’ Opius pulled a gold coin from his sack and handed it to the man. His tune changed instantly at the sight of gold. In awe he let Opius go.
‘Well I guess it was my fault really…’ He took the coin examining it closely to make sure it was real. ‘Just don’t pull anything like that again.’ He walked around the other side of the bar and gave Mary a kiss on the head. She smiled.
‘I’ll get back to it then, I’ll see you later.’ She reached over and gave Opius another hug and went back to serving some more punters. Opius took the mugs of ale over to the table and sat down.
‘Ok?’ Skip looked at him with a large grin. Yarn examined the mug. Floppyear drank it down in one go and reached for Yarns and was greeted with a slap on the hand.
‘Mary and I are friends from when I were at the collage, I conjured a coin and used it to pay for all our drinks for my mates and me. We managed to drink all night before old man Jimmy realized and chased use out.’ He laughed at the memory. ‘So, what did the Rat King hold you back for Skip?’ Opiuslooked over to his brother.
‘He gave me this.’ Skip pulled the small hexagonal container and placed it on the table. ‘He said it belong to the king and I should present it to him.’ Now having a bit more time to examine it there was a symbol on the top, a silver line making a crude image of wings. Looking closer, the he realised it was a switch.
‘Don’t press it!’ Opius reached his hand out to stop Skip.
‘Wat is dis?’ Yarn asked.
‘I don’t know but I get a strange feeling about it, pass it here.’Opius reached out his hand and Skip handed it over. Opius put it on the table and pulled out a small pearl, placing it next to it. Placing both hands on the table he muttered some words in an arcane language and a blue glowing sheet with magical symbols appeared. Now clearly speaking an incantation. Opius lifted both hands, one over the pearl, one over the container and the air around felt electrified. Yarns fur stood on end. Skip got a fuzzy feeling run over him and Floopyears fur begun to unwind then it was gone. ‘It holds some sort of divination magic, activated when the symbol is pressed. I don’t think we should press it.’
‘Ok, you’re the expert.’ Skip agreed, shaking of the strange feeling.
‘I will put it in the bag of holding.’ Opius said pulling the bag from his side.
‘So, wat should we do wid the king?’ Yarn asked. ‘Dis information is important’
‘Well I think we should at least go check out this ThievesGuild. Apparently, Paws runs the operation out of a brothel known as The Perring Palace. Opius looked down at the announcement. ‘Says it’s up in Kingsway.’
‘Guess we can head there tomorrow night then.’ Opius agreed.
The group carried on drinking into the morning before heading to their rooms. The sun was high in the sky when they awoke, Floppyear was the first to leave the room, or so he thought. Getting a glimpse of red hair walking down the stairs. He was followed by Opius, then Yarn. The three sat at the same table and Mary brought them food. She was glowing and had a spring in her step. She smiled at Opius as the plates were placed on the table. Skip joined the group little later.
‘So, what’s the plan for the day then?’ Skip asked.
Floppyear, a mug of ale in each hand nodded at the group.
‘Ale good here, I stay.’ One of the mugs contents poured into his mouth. The group laughed.
‘Well you can stay here if you like but I think I’m going to look around the city, see if there is anything nice to buy. They get some nice imports come from the far north here.’ Opius suggested.
‘Yes, dis is good I will accompany you.’
‘Well I’m staying with Floppyear, he has a good grasp on life.’ Skip laughed as he ordered another two mugs of ale.’
‘Very well, meet you on the wizards green, late noon.’ Opius and Yarn stood and left. Skip and Floppyear got to drinking, chatting about story’s passed.
Later that day, they met on the Wizards green. Much to Opius’ Surprisingly both Floppyear and Skip seemed fine.
‘This way.’ Opius led them through the rich streets of Kingsway, wider than those in the lower districts. And the houses bigger, all separate, each haver their own green outdoor area. ‘Yep, this is where the big wigs live. And at the top,’ Opius pointed up to a large wall, ‘the Palace’
Soon, as the sun began to set, they made the way to the Brothel, surprisingly clearly open in the middle of Kingsway. They walked in through the draped linens and elaborate fabrics into a large open room. Abar in the middle of the room reached over each wall and two curved staircases at the back wound up to a private viewing area. These were fashioned with red fabric over the button pressed seats, luxurious velvet cushions scattered around. Men and Women of all races, shapes and sizes served, with nothing but a loose red sash hung over their shoulders. They went and sat, ordered some drinks and looked around.
‘Funny how you knew exactly where this place was.’ Skip smiled and Opiusblushed.
‘Not funny, Floppyearknow too if lived here.’ The Mammoth looked around un-impressed with most of the men.
‘Interesting’ Yarn was fascinated with everything around, but mostly the exotic draped fabrics gently swaying as people brushed past.
A dwarf lady and human man approached the group.
‘Welcome to the Perring Palace, how may we serve you this evening?’ The almost fully exposed dwarf asked.
‘What is your pleasure?’ The human touched the arm of Floppyear smiling.
‘We are here to see Paws.’ Opiusanswered.
‘I’m afraid Paws no longer entertains guests.’ The dwarf replied, ‘but my name is Georgina and this is Malcolm, may we assist you? Or maybe one of the others you see around.’ She gestured to the room.
‘Not tonight, sorry, we just wanted to see Paws.’ Skip said, pulling their attention back to himself.
‘Do you have an appointment?’ Malcolm asked.
‘No, the Rat King sent us.’ Skips words provoked a minor, but noticeable reaction from the two of them. They smiled and left. Moments later they returned.
‘Would you please follow us.’ Georgiana and Malcolm lead them up the stairs to the private viewing area, a large semi-circularseat mirrored the semi-circular balcony, covered in a fine red silk and button pressed, the same as the rest of the furniture. Silks drapedobscuring their view.
The Grey Slaves
“Ay! Bard! Tell us all a tale we’re bored and we haven’t seen action in months”!
“Ok, ok I’ll tell you all a tale my father used to tell me. But let me say this, the story I’m about to tell you actually happened!
Nearly all stories you will hear have heroes and villains but there is always a divide. Dark versus light, white against black, well this story is more about the people in-between; this is a story about the people in the grey…”
It all starts on an old merchant ship. Deep in its bowels the sounds of waves crashing against its sides and the rain hits the deck so hard you would think they were missiles! The smell on the ship would make a troll vomit and run in fear. One of the guards shouts “RISE AND SHINE PIG!” while slapping a half-orc awake
“A half orc, a hero? You have got to be joking?” Oh no this is not just a hero; this is Karrock, a mighty monk, with fists that could shatter iron with one punch.
“Where am I? How did I get here?” Karrock screams whilst at the same time trying to break his chains at the sight before him. An ugly looking human guard in tattered leather armour, baring a strange emblem he had never seen before.
“You’re on your way to where you belong you filthy pig.” screamed the heinous mortal.
Karrock looked down at his hands and feet and found himself chained to two other slaves. To his left he sees a Halfling with yellowed tinted skin and eyes full of wonder and rage, to his right a goblin staring straight back at him with huge bug like eyes and one tiny tusk hanging outside his mouth.
“Hello” the goblin croaks. “I’m Gobshite, and that Halfling chained to your other side is smeg-mar. We are mighty Paladins!”
The orc smirks “Paladins ay?” Looking at the Halfling to his left; “pretty small for Paladin?”
Smeg-mar looking straight faced at Karrock and replies “You will either bend the knee to us like a dog or we will kill you like a dog!”
Karrock just laughed with admiration of the Halfling only serving to inflame his rage further.
“WILL YOU STOP LAUGHING AT US?” Screamed Gobshite in such a fury that he managed to shatter the chains around his wrist! Karrock looks in disbelief at this tiny creature had done something he could not.
“Laugh at us one more time orc… I dare y…” before he could finish his sentence a guard came and clubbed Gobshite and chained him back up. Karrock chuckled to himself. “You guys are crazy. I love it”
“Don’t you forget it pig” snickered smeg-mar. “So how did you get captured?” Gobshite asked Karrock. The half orc explained how he was walking the woods of Bullvine, minding his own business, when ten guards ambushed him and how it took all 10 of them to hold him down. “What about you great paladins?” Karrock askes while rolling his eyes.
“Well it’s a long story” smeg-mar explains “see we were waiting around for our leader; he doesn’t really do well in sunlight.”
“Yeah, when suddenly this massive two armed creature came and put us in to this eternal plane of darkness” piped up Gobshite.
“Well she wasn’t really a creature more like a guard, and that eternal plane of darkness was more like a bag” says smeg-mar.
Karrock replies trying to hold back the laughter “ So let me get this straight, the two mighty paladins were defeated by a single female guard and put into a bag?” and in unison smeg-mar and Gobshite reply with a disappointed look on their face “yes”!
“Will you girls stop reminiscing of your past tea parties and shut up? You lot are in for a whole lot of trouble, and frankly I can’t wait to watch” shouts the guard with a smirk on his face.
“What do you mean watch? Where are we even going?” smeg-mar screamed with a vicious tone.
“Well ladies you are going to join the games, where all your worse nightmare will come to life whilst everyone watches! I have a bet with Trick over here that you won’t last 5 minutes! Don’t let me down.” Smeg-mar looking angrier with every word that guard says and spits right in his face. “That’s what I think.”
The guard looked at him in disbelief; “I can believe you just did that.” He raised his club and swung with all his might, hitting the Halfling straight across his face! Smeg-mar without even breaking eye contact with his attacker didn’t flinch nor did he scream, it was like he didn’t even feel the blow! “Now who’s the lady?”
Before the guard could swing again a horn is heard from the top deck. “Lucky for you we are here, I can’t wait to watch you die.” The guard splutters through clenched teeth
All of the slaves are ushered onto the top deck and the first thing they see is a giant island billowing out smoke. “What is that?” Smeg-mar says with a concerning look on his face. A guard replies while smiling in admiration “That is the great Humtu, the island of fire and smoke. But unlucky for you guys you’re not going there.”
Karrock felt more worried with every foot they got closer “Stop playing these games and tell me what’s going on!” he cries.
“You’ll find out soon enough.” A guard sniggers at him. The ship starts to approach an island not far from Humtu, a huge island with a giant crack down the middle. As the ship gets closer and closer, the stench of stale blood and ocean start to combined to make a horrendous concoction. “Welcome ladies to the island of Jiminta, this will be your home for as long as you can survive, but it will be you grave for all eternity!” A guard screams with both happiness and excitement in his voice. The ship is docked up within the cavernous fracture that runs through the island and the slaves are pushed and beaten off the ship on to a make shift path way. The smell of stale blood and rotten flesh is now unbearable, making some slaves heave and hold there stomachs. Our three unlikely heroes are pushed down a corridor with three other slaves behind them. As they are walking down the dimly lit passageway, a very charismatic, cheerful voice can be heard in all of their heads: “WELECOME CONTESTENTS, you have been chosen to entertain the world!” The trio look around in confusion, trying to find who is talking to them. “You will but pitted against each other for your freedom. You will be tested on your strength, intellect and ability to survive. Some of you may want to work together, some may want to work alone, and some may just want to die even before they start! As you can all see, you have nothing but what the gods gave you at birth. But don’t be disheartened warriors, if you call upon the gnome we will provide you with weapons; only if you get enough kills that is. The more kills you get, the better weapons you can buy. So there’s nothing more to say other than Let the Games begin!”
“Did you guys just hear what I heard?” Gobshite says with a worried look on his face.
“I sure did little one,” korrock replies with a smile. Smeg-mar looks angrily at karrock “Stop calling us little! We will have no problem in killing you pig” one of the slaves behind karrock speaks up “yeah pig, how about we all just kill you?”
Karrock unfazed by the thug behind him stops in his tracks and swings his head backwards hitting the thug between the eyes.
“Just you wait till these chains are off, you’re having it pig” the thug cries. All the slaves are ushered into a round room with an iron gate opposite. A pedestal with two sets of keys on top of it sat right in the centre of the chamber and a small golden orb glowed brightly on the ceiling to one side. The voice booms back to life suddenly, “As you can all, see there are two sets of keys, one will unlock the gate, the other will unlock the chains. Good luck” Karrock tries to run straight to the pedestal, forgetting he had smeg-mar and gobshite attached to him. “Come on lets go” karrock screams.
Smeg-mar looks at him with a devilish look in his eyes “kills get us weapons right?”
Karrock looks straight at the other slaves “You’re right” he says with a grin and he lunges straight towards the middle thug landing a devastating blow. As soon as the first hit lands Smeg-mar and Gobshite attack like sharks in a frenzy. The thug tries to get his chains around Karrock but is stopped by the two slaves attached to him.
“Stop this! If we want to survive we have to work together” one of the slaves cries while holding back his tears. Karrock lands another blow to the middle thug, but just before he could land a killing blow smeg-mar leaps and bites the thug’s throat ripping it from him. Smeg-mar with blood dripping from his mouth smiles at Karrock “Guess I get the first kill”. Gobshite drags Karrock and smeg-mar to the keys and takes the chains off. “Come on guys let go!”
Karrock wrapped his chains around his fist “There’s something we have to do first” and he slowly starts walking towards the other two slaves that had tried to help him. They both begin to cry and beg for their lives. They tell Karrock about their lives back home and their children. Tears streaming down there face begging for him to reconsider.
Whoa whoa whoa you’re telling me the heroes just killed the two grovelling slaves? Did they not have any mercy?
This is just how the story went my comrade, these are no ordinary heroes. They don’t see evil or good they just do anything to survive.
Still kind of messed up if you ask me, but carry on bard.
Karrock with blood dripping from his chained covered fist turned smugly, “that’s two Halfling, try to keep up” Smeg-mar looking annoyed as he unlocked the gate and they all walked through. They cautiously stepped through a dimly lit corridor, shooting quick witted jibes and dodging all the traps that had been laid to kill them. They finally come to a stone room with a door to the right, big enough for only a small creature to pass through, a door way on the left, leading to another corridor, a stone sculpture of a crying man with three glowing gems seemingly imbedded into it and yet again, another golden glowing orb hanging in the air.
Karrock looked around in confusion “I thought this was meant to be hard? We can just walk straight though,” The half orc tries to walk thought the opening but is forced back by some sort of invisible barrier. “I guess not.” Karrock says with a bewildered look on his face. Smeg-mar eyes draw straight to the three glowing stones “if none of you are bothered about these I guess I’ll take them. Starting with this red one” as Smeg-mar snatched the red gem from the statue; the gem began to hurn and embed itself in to his palm. Gobshite, with a grin on his hideous face follows Smeg-ma’s example and takes the yellow stone out of the monument. “Well that’s not good” as he watches the yellow stone sink into his palm, “Say guys that didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.” Just as Smeg-mar keels over in pain as if something had just stabbed his brain
“Aahhh what the hell was that?” smeg-mar screams. Karrock looking very unimpressed with his new found companions.
“Guess I can’t let you guys have all the fun.” He decides to grab the blue gem.
“Shall we go thought the walk way now” Gobshite says while looking at the gem in his hand with confusion. But while Gobshite is trying to talk, Karrock begins to speak louder shouting over him “I THINK IT WAS A BAD IDEA TOUCHING THESE GEMS!” Again smeg-mar drops with the stabbing pain in his head. “Please Gobshite don’t use that” he screams.
“Sorry, come again, I didn’t hear you because the pig was talking” but again Karrock speaks over Gobshite. “WE SHOULD LEAVE!”
Smeg-mar, still screaming in pain cries out. “Guys don’t use that I’v told you!” Gobshite looking very agitated screams at karrock “STOP TALKING OVER ME!” Suddenly the gem in Karrock’s hand dissipates into ash. He looks at where the gem use to be and came to the realisation of what was happening. “Paladins, we have to work out the curse for each gem to be destroyed.
“So you’re saying we cursed?” Gobshite says looking worriedly at his palm. Smeg-mar again keels over in pain “Don’t put that letter in!” he screams begging them to stop. Gobshite looking worried for his companion tries to comfort him “Smeg-mar how can I help?” Smeg-mar screams and pushes the goblin away “You can help buy not talking.” Gobshite looking very disheartened that smeg-mar thinks he’s the cause of his pain turns around “sorry” Smeg-mar again screams in agony.
Suddenly Karrocks brain clicks “The letter S you feel pain every time you hear the letter S!” Smeg-mars pains stops and the gem leaves his hand. “Thank the gods for that” Smeg-mar says, happy that his ordeal is over. “Why did you always start your sentence with S when it was causing me so much pain?” As soon as Smeg-mar finished his sentence the gem in Gobshites hand disappeared.
“Well I guess you worked that one out all by your self little one. Think I preferred you in pain. Lets see what’s behind this tiny door” Karrock walks over to the small door and puts his entire force behind his kick. But alas the door did not budge. “Must be stuck with magic” Karrock says.
Come here pig let me show you how it’s done” Gobshite walks over to the door and give it a kick and crash the door smashes in to pieces. “You’re quite weak for such a big person” says Gobshite while walking through the now open door.
“What is in there?” Smeg-mar asks. Gobshite walks out with a sack and throws it on the ground. “”Well that was a waste of time. There’s nothing in that room other that this sack of feathers” Smeg-mar looks into the bag and examines a feather “these are Owlbear feathers no use to any of us. Leave them behind they will just slow us down.” And with that the three adventures walk thought the door and down a stairway that takes them deeper into this maze of misfortune.
The three dubious heroes come to the bottom of the stairs to find themselves in a dark room with a throne placed on the other side. Karrock looks around in confusion “What is this, where’s the exit?” While looking around he notices two deep engraving leading from the centre of the room to the throne. “What are they?” Gobshite screeches. As two dog like creatures walk from behind the throne and begin to growl. Smeg-mar with a mischievous look on his face says “we could tame them and use them for our bidding.”
Karrock immediately tries to walk up to one and calm it. “Easy boy we’re are not here to hurt you.” The dog barks and suddenly disappears and reappears behind Karrock trying to take a bite at him, but Karrock is too quick. The other dog instantly teleports to Smeg-mar and Gobshite. Smeg-mar quickly grapples the dog and trying to pull its rib cage open. Gobshite tries to help his fellow Paladin punching at the dog. Karrock unfazed by the dog attack, again tries to calm it. “Come on now, easy, I’m your friend” The dog still not having any of it, bites Karrock straight on his arm. Karrock screams in pain and starts to unleash his monk fist upon the dog. His beats the dog to a bloody pulp and looks over to see the two mighty Paladins rolling around on the floor with the vicious dog.
“I best come help you again little ones” Karrock sighs while walking over to Smeg-mar and Gobshite.
“NO! Stay away pig this is out kill” Gobshite screams at the approaching half orc. Karrock not listening comes over and begins to release a flurry of punches on the dog and killing it. Smeg-mar and Gobshite stand up looking very unimpressed with the monk. “Now what? How the hell do we get out this room” Karrock says. Gobshite notices that the blood of the blink-dogs start running down the grooves in the floor towards the throne. As soon as the blood slipped under the throne it began to drop down to make another staircase. “Guess that’s how” Gobshite replies. Smeg-mar starts to bite into one of the dogs. “What are you doing?” Karrock gasps in horror.
“Getting a weapon, what does it look like?” smeg-mar replies while pulling a leg bone from the now dead dog. “Let’s go pig.” Smeg-mar says while walking down the stair case.
The unlikely heroes make light work of the next few challenges and creatures they meet. Solving and slaying everything in their path. They come to a large open room with 6 doors in front of them and again a golden glowing orb in the corner.
“Before going though any of the doors, maybe we should call that gnome? See if we can afford a weapon or two?” Karrock says. Gobshite looking around shouts “Hello can you hear us? We seek weapons?” In the blink of an eye, the room begin to fill with a swirl of purple smoke and out of that smoke comes a small gnome with long ginger hair, adorned in robes of silk and other riches with a medallion depicting a symbol that Smeg-mar and Gobshite both recognise. “Hello fellers. My name is Gimmie and what can I do for you today?”
“Weapons we want weapons” Karrock replies.
“Well my mixed race friend, you will need a few more kills before I can give you a stabby stick. But I tell you what, I’ll give you all a little healing potion as you guys have been slaying it. I’m really routing for you. You’re really putting small people on the map.”
Gobshite slides over to the gnome with a cunning look on his face. “So I know we can’t buy any weapons but could we find any?” pointing at the doors with his eyes. Gimmie laughs and replies “you could always find something but I cannot point you in the right direction.”
“Come on Gimme. For the little people who are always being stepped on. Let me and Smeg-mar be a beacon of hope for all of us.”
Gimmes eyes start to dart around the room “look Gobshite, I can’t tell you anything as they are always watching” “What you mean they are always watching” Karrock asks.
“Have you guys not wondered what those glowing orbs are in the corner of every room? That’s how all the barons and kings watch this massacre.”
“You have to be kidding?” Smeg-mar says while looking directly at the orb. Gimme starts to look down at his hands and says “unfortunately fellows, you just got to keep going until you reach the end I guess. Just walk through one of those doors and hope for the best” Gobshite looks down at the hands of Gimme and notices he is showing four fingers. Gobshite looks up and smiles in appreciation. “Just survive and all will be good. Well if that’s all you need fellows I better be off. May Smol watch over you all.” and a swirl of the purple smoke takes Gimme away.
As soon as the smoke clears Gobshite runs straight to door four and kicks it open and sees a red velvet chest with gold embroidery covering all the seams. But as soon as he grabs the glorious looking chest… His hand sticks “oh no Smol please protect me” Gobshite says to himself while trying to rip his hand free. The once regal looking chest starts to open and a long tongue starts to slither out and strokes Gobshite across his face. Gobshite frantically tries to pull his hand free to no avail. Smeg-mar immediately runs in to help his fellow Paladin swinging his bone at the mimic striking a vicious blow. Karrock stands helplessly knowing it would only get him stuck to the monstrosity. The mimic starts to bite at the helpless goblin biting through his pale green flesh. Gobshite screams in agony and manages to pull his hand free. Smeg-mar continually hitting the mimic with his make shift club striking blow after blow. Gobshite throws a fist that rips right through the mimic’s skin killing it. It lets out a high pitched squeal as it is defeated. As it passes away it mysteriously retains chest form. Just as they think its all over the chest opens up… Gobshite is the first to look in to the chest and finds a pair of gauntlets. He immediately puts them on and he feels stronger that 10 goblins combined. Smeg-mars eyes light up as he sees his friend pull out a very unique item. He looks in side the chest and finds a old looking suit of dwarven plate. As he puts on the new found armour he looks back in the chest and laughs to himself. “Here pig you can have this” he throws a thin circlet with a small gem in the middle.
“What’s this, a tiara?” Karrock laughs.
“It will suit you pig, match your masculinity” Gobshite replies while laughing at the half orc.
Karrock jokingly puts it on and feels a warm sensation on his head. “This could come in very handy” Karrock says smiling to himself. The wall in front of them starts to move and make the shape of a door way.
A blinding bright light beams though the new formed door way. They feel a warm breeze coming though and the smell of fresh grass. “Freedom!” Gobshite cries running though the door way. Smeg-mar and Karrock follow behind all coving their eyes as they haven’t seen day light for what seems like an eternity. They bump into Gobshite who had stopped frozen in fear. “Why have you stopped?” Smeg-mar asks in confusion. Gobshite just points at a Tall golden tower shimmering in the sunlight and upon this beautiful tower sleeps a large scaled creature. “Is that a wyvern?” Karrock whispers. “I think so pig. We need to be quite and move slowly to the exit.” All three of them start to slowly move through the grass not making a sound. But nothing is ever easy; just as the bee loves the nectar of a flower a goblin loves the sight of gold. Gobshite just couldn’t resist going to the golden tower and trying to have a peak in side. He sneaks away from in companions slowly walking towards the golden tower like a hypnotised zombie. Smeg-mar and Karrock make it to the door on the other side of the green meadow to find out Gobshite is no where to be seen.
“Where has that bug eyed cretin gone?” Karrock asks in frustration.
Smeg-mar scans around tow see a small creature climbing up the golden tower. “He’s my friend but he’s one greedy goblin, we best get him.” So Karrock and Smeg-mar start to sneak back to the tower feeling very annoyed with the little greedy goblin.
Gobshite manages to climb to a small window on the golden tower and squeeze through. He finds mountains of gold and gems. Gobshite eyes widen like a child in a sweet shop and he starts to laugh and dance jumping into the piles of gold. Till all of a sudden he hears a rumble. The wyvern that once slept at the top of the tower is now awake and moving down towards the window Gobshites mood suddenly changes from happiness to petrified. He buries himself into one of the golden mountains. Smeg-mar and Karrock notice the wyvern have awoken from his slumber and hide in the grass. They wyvern pokes his head into the window that Gobshite climbed through but luckily for him he is not spotted by the beast. The wyvern takes a perch back at the top of the tower. Gobshite takes the opportunity to get out of his new found prison. The climbs down nearly making it to the bottom but he slips landing on this back he lets out an almighty cry. The beast hears this and lets out a scream of its own and flies straight up looking for the creator of the sound. Gobshite starts to run to his friends managing to catch up to them and all three starts to run for the door. Stealth is out the window and the wyvern easily spots them. It starts to catch up to them at immense speed. The three heroes are at full speed, running as fast as their legs will take them. The door is in touching distance but unfortunately so is the wyvern, its breath can be felt on the necks of all in front of it. Just as the dragon is about to take a bite through one of the adventurers, they make it through the door slamming it behind them. The wyvern can be heard hitting the stone wall and door with an almighty crash. Karrock breathing heavier than he has ever breathed before “That was close wasn’t it” Smeg-mar out of breath ask Gobshite “That creature must of took a lot of damage from hitting that wall. You think we could take it now?”
Gobshite with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath smiles “I think we could have taken it out before.” “What? You must be joking” Karrock screams at the two paladins. Smeg-mar kicks open the door and screams at the wyvern “Come on then I’ll slay you where you stand!” Running straight for the wyvern and leaping on to its back hitting it with his club. Not far behind is Gobshite who runs in punching the wyvern with brut strength. Karrcok hangs back and fires a scorching ray from his new found circlet straight into the face of the wyvern. The wyvern tries to bite and use its poison sting but can’t land one hit on any of the trio. But every attack the small Paladins carry out, each hit increasing in power. Karrock decided its time to have some fun and runs in unleashing a flurry of punches upon the wyvern. Smeg-mar climbs to the neck of the wyvern and does what he seems to always do and sink his teeth into the beast. Blood spews everywhere covering all the adventures. The wyvern drops dead and smeg-mar standing upon its lifeless body lets out an almighty scream of victory.
“How in the gods name did we manage this?” Karrock says relieved that they even survived. Smeg-mar slides down to the tail of the wyvern and begins to remove the stinger from it.
“Let’s go lads, think we may need to rest for a bit” all three of them walk away from the wyvern’s corpse not taking one look back, hungry for what blood shed lies ahead.
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