Posts Tagged ‘d&d’

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 1

December 10, 2018

1 – How Did You Get Started?

When I was a young lad, I was very close to going goth and at that time I met a woman who was running a Vampire: The Dark Ages group with her friends. She gifted me a rulebook and I devoured it but I could not get anyone to play with me. After college, I started listening to a lot of podcasts and I listened to a string of Dungeons and Dragons podcasts. I listened to LordKat and Penny Arcade mostly and I started to get back into that mindset. At one point, a group of my friends and I were going to start a 3.5 adventure and I was excited but it fell through at the last minute. Years later I got talking to my cousin’s brother in law and, long story short, I was invited to join their tabletop group. I was eager to get started but it took a while for us to get around to playing dungeons dragons after several more homebrewed systems. Finally, we played Dungeons and Dragons and I finally got my start. In the meantime, I listened to a lot more podcasts (Critical Role, Trapped in the Birdcage, Dragons in Places, and Dice, Camera, Action).

2 – What is Your Favorite PC Race?

Off the top of my head, I would have to say Half-Orcs. I find them visually appealing mostly because they look so different from the rest of the races. When your character walks into a new place, they are sure to be noticed. Also, I have kind of enjoyed playing social outcasts and Half-Orcs are often discriminated against. Canonically, Half-Orcs are also caught between human and orc natures. Orcs are inherently evil while humans have more free will. So, Half-Orcs feel the pull of evil from their Orc blood and must fight against it to do good. However, the human blood gives them the freedom to make that choice for themselves. However, society can be hard to Half-Orcs which makes being a good guy harder. Of course, it makes playing a selfless hero easier. It is not uncommon for Half-Orcs to end up neutral somewhere between good and evil. I feel like more than any other race they can run the gamut between being an uncultured savage and a cultured urbanite. Basically, it feels like they are versatile and a rich mine for character backstory and story beats.

3 – What Is Your Favorite PC Class?

So far, I have only played a barbarian although there are plenty I would love to try. Barbarians are driven by the central power of rage. When a barbarian rages, they take half damage from most sources and that is very freeing. My barbarian has laughed off damage that would have killed frailer characters die several times over. Being able to blunder into a situation instead of having to meticulously plan it out is pretty fun. Also, while in a rage, a barbarian’s attacks are stronger and attacks, in general, are more likely to hit. When I created my character, I approached it from kind of a cliche and stereotypical direction. I made a big dumb savage who wanted to fight the world. I had a lot of fun being dumb but sometimes I did want to contribute more to planning and detective work but I was not about to metagame. If I were to create a barbarian in the future, I might make one who is more intelligent and urban. Just a tough guy who can contribute in other ways as well.

4 – What Is Your Favorite Game World?

My favorite canonical game world is the Forgotten Realms. It is the world of podcasts sponsored by Wizards of the Coast like Acquisitions Incorporated, Trapped in the Birdcage, and Dice, Camera, Action. I feel like it is the most versatile game world with the possibility of darker journeys and lighter adventures. There is so much lore to draw from that it would be hard to explore all of its corners in one campaign. I feel like it is a brighter world than darker campaign settings like Ravenloft, Greyhawk, or Dark Sun. As for non-canonical worlds, I really love Matt Mercer’s Exandria because of my love of Critical Role. It is also a rather varied world with darker parts and lighter parts. There is also a slightly different set of deities to choose from and all of the lore is wiped away in place of new lore. I am also in the midst of creating my own game world which is unnamed so far. I have enjoyed creating my own lore based on my own preferences and what I think is interesting.

5 – Which Is Your Favorite Die or Dice?

This is a weird question. I guess I would say the good old Twenty-Sided Die. It is a classic and it helps form almost every point of the story along the way. It also just feels the best in my hand. If the question is about having a specific dice set that I like. I just have a big bag of Chessex dice, nothing special. They feel pretty good in my hand and they roll well. I am not very superstitious when it comes to dice. Sometimes I will switch one off of the table if I roll horribly with it for a while. It is not so much superstition as a way to deal with the frustration and it is kind of tradition among gamers.

6 – Which Is Your Favorite Deity?

Canonically, I really love Tymora. Something about having Lady Luck as a deity is really fun. Real world pantheons do not usually give a domain of luck as most societies did not seem to believe in it. However, in a world where your character’s fate is tied to the roll of the die, it makes a lot of sense to have a goddess of luck. Her motto of “Fortune favors the bold” is a great motto to get adventurers out into the world and in and out of danger. Non-Canonically, I have fallen in love with the idea of a kind Raven Queen. In my world, I have named her Azrea and she is based partly on Death from Deadpool comics. She is warm and accepting which makes being a death goddess less threatening. Still, I like her being spooky as well so it is a balancing act. Death as a friend is a way more appealing story to me.

Day 7 – Favorite Edition

I have only played Fifth Edition but I love it. The rules are straightforward but still leave wiggle room to add house rules to complicate it or simplify it at will. Most interviews I have seen have stated that Fifth Edition is their favorite because it is easier to parse and there are not too many complicated rules. I dabbled with 3.5 rules when I was preparing that first time for Dungeons and Dragons and I can definitely attest that those were more complicated rules. There are not nearly as many charts and not so many tricky rules to argue over.

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Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 3

November 26, 2018

Bahamut (God of Battle)
War Domain

Known both as the Stormlord and the Platinum Dragon, Bahamut was actually created by some of the gods in response to the emergence of some of the evil gods. They needed a champion to help defend the world from the more violent divine threats of the world. They created something based on the dragons they had seen roaming the land but empowered with the primal power of the storm and infused with a love for combat. He is depicted as a giant platinum dragon and as a winged knight based on what aspect people focus on. His followers are also varied. Some of them are ardent defenders, only seeking battle to bring peace or justice to the world. Some of them are just focused on his love of battle and are just looking for a good fight. Of course, there is also everything in between. In ancient times, he worked with Mala, Pelor, and Ioun to protect the world but also challenging other gods to friendly yet destructive fights. In the Final Conflict, he was instrumental in subduing the enemy before their eventual banishment, taking heavy damage. When it was time to go, he decided to have his own plane created Ysgard, a land for deceased warriors to endlessly battle and feast. His symbol is a lightning bolt.

Mala (Goddess of the Hunt)

Created a little later by the gods, Mala also loves battle but she loves the finesse of the hunt more. She is known as The Huntress. She lives for the thrill of adventure and was often relied upon to locate anything or anyone for the gods. She is not based on a dragon but is instead depicted as a feral woman with mottled gray and brown skin. During ancient times she often either hung out with Bahamut or hunted great beasts or tiny quarry. In the Great Conflict, she shot Gruumsh and Shar from behind with a bow and arrow, helping to turn the tide of the battle. When it was time to go away, she happily joined Bahamut in Ysgard where she can hunt as much as she wanted. She was also the leader of a group of warrior women known as the Freya who later became planetars in her service. Her symbol is the bow and arrow.

Akanay (Deity of Chaos)
Tempest Domain/Trickery Domain

Akanay is the genderfluid deity of chaos and tempest and has always existed outside of the continuity of good and evil. Akanay has never really supported either side but instead often made things stranger through altering reality or playing pranks on others. Not much is actually known about Akanay as they have never held a consistant form. They have often done things without claiming credit, letting chaos reign as people blamed each other. However, the only real enemies of Akanay are those who would spoil their good time. They dislike Pelor and to a greater extent, they absolutely hate Torog. In the Final Conflict, Ioun manipulated Akanay into occupying Torog. After that, the gods imprisoned Akanay in their own plane of chaos but their energy sometimes leaks into the other planes. Akanay has few worshippers and most of them are insane but those who do worship Akanay use a swirling whirlpool as their symbol.

The Children of Akanay

The Following deities fall under the domain of Akanay, the Chaos Deity because all three are hard to pin down and because there is some vagueness to them. Religious records are not clear whether or not anybody ever actually encountered these gods on the material plane. In fact, sometimes scholars wonder if Akanay made them up. Some other scholars theorize that they are merely aspects or alter egos of Akanay. It is not clear but still, the early elves wrote them down so they must have existed in some form or another.

Somnus (God of Dreams)

The lord of both dreams and nightmares, he is a hard one to pin down. He maintains the Plane of Dreams and most of the time his sleeping charges go where they will based on the currents of their minds and their hearts. However, he allows many gods to alter the trajectory and itinerary of various mortals in order to provide prophetic dreams or dreams of a divine message. A shepherd, he tries to keep the boundaries of people’s dreams separate. He also shepherds those who die in dreams to their true destination.

Lyssa (Goddess of Madness)

Born as the fire in the minds of early elves, Lyssa is rather harmless on her own. Like her patron, Akanay, she is just looking for a good time by shaking things up. She apparently did this by infecting those she met with various forms of mental disorders. She does not care about laws, society, or ethics in general. She is pure madness incarnate. Those who met her could not be fully believed but there is evidence that she existed. She was apparently caught and imprisoned in a cell somewhere in the Outland Plane. While she did not intend to be a villain, she was treated as one.

Sharess (Deity of Desire)

Both male and female and also everything in between, Sharess is desire incarnate. They are not “love” but physical lust and attraction instead. Also, to a lesser degree, Sharess is greed and envy. They are everything you want and therefore they proved to be far too distracting to mortals and gods alike. Sharess has no form of their own but instead is constantly shifting to attract those in their surroundings. Sharess was reportedly imprisoned somewhere. Nobody is quite sure where so it is impossible to verify. This has led to rumors that Sharess still walks the material plane or is perhaps traveling the planes at will. Or, again, Sharess never existed and is just a convenient excuse for previous drama.

 

Laverna (Goddess of Thieves)

Laverna is a goddess that was never spoken of in ancient times and has only appeared in the last few centuries. Many theories swirl around her existence. Some wonder if she is a new goddess, formed long after the others. Some think that she may have been around a lot longer but people covered it up. Yet more people think that she might have been made up by the thieves guilds which is where he legend is believed to have begun. She is known as Lady Luck, an enigmatic figure who plucks the strings of fate, doling out fortune as she sees fit. She is often depicted as a woman in rags, hidden by a long cloak with her eyes covered by a blindfold. She has no public temples but sometimes people might come upon a makeshift altar in an alley or other hidey holes. She is prayed to by thieves and criminals but she is also sometimes worshipped by the poor, hoping for her generosity. Her symbol is the question mark.

Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 2

November 19, 2018

Asherah (Goddess of Life)
Life Domain

Known as the Queen of Life, she is often depicted as a woman with four wings and five eyes. She was the kindest and least destructive of the original deities, preferring to talk to people, meditate or heal the damage caused by others. In the final conflict between the gods, she was instrumental in restoring the forms of Kord, Azrea, Lathander, and Sylvanus when they were nearly routed and overcome. While she herself is peaceful, she understands that physical intervention is sometimes needed in order to protect others. Her followers are often healers or those who choose to protect those who cannot help themselves. Her temples often double as centers of healing, tranquility, and sanctuary in both urban and rural settings. Her followers are not as preachy and usually let their actions lure people into their lady’s service. She resides in the material plane of Avalon in a simple cottage. Followers often use the dove as her symbol.

Azrea (Goddess of Death)
Death Domain/Grave Domain

Known as the original Goddess of Winter, many believe that Azrea killed the original god of death in order to seize his domain for herself. The other gods decided to let this aggression go unchecked since she turned out to be a more benevolent death god than Nerull had been. She is now sometimes known as the Raven Queen. She views death as a kindness, a reprieve from suffering usually reserved for those who reach a certain age. Death is a necessary part of the cycle of existence and at least a kind hand is guiding that force now. She also remains vigilance against the undead magicks promoted by Nerull, locking them into an eternal conflict. Her followers seek to facilitate funeral services, eradicate necromancy and its creations, and guide souls to their eventual destinations. In reality, Azrea was the denizen of an ancient civilization which was decimated by one of Nerull’s experiments. She seized what power she could and, through a miracle, used it to attack and kill Nerull. At that point, she was accepted by the rest of the pantheon after she pledged her allegiance to them. She is usually depicted as a heavily cloaked woman with a bone-white bird skull mask. She resides in her own plane called the Farplane which is a waystation to various eternal resting places, often conversing with souls to pass the time. Her symbol is the raven.

Ullur (God of Winter)

He is known as the Winter Lord, he is often depicted as a massive silver-skinned man with one massive eye and long light blue hair all over his body. He is known to not be very sociable but not evil, he just enjoys his solitude. He could be listed as neutral. Originally under the domain of Sylvanus, he left his service to convene with the like-minded Azrea. Still, there was an understanding between him and Sylvanus about the need for Winter. During the Great Conflict, he often fought by her side. In the end, he willingly left the material plane and made his home in the Elemental Plane of Ice. His symbol is a snowflake.

 

Sylvanus (The God of Nature)
Nature Domain

He is known as Father Nature, a mountain of a man whose form keeps changing based on his mood and his needs. He is very hairy but some of it is hair, some is fur, and some of it is vegetation. He and his entourage built the material plane and Sylvanus populated it with his and Asherah’s magic. He created animals, plants, and most of the other living things on the Material Plane. He spent a lot of time exploring the Material Plane and examining his and others’ handiwork. The other gods would lose sight of him for days, weeks, sometimes months as he faded into the wild (it was mostly wild at that point). In the Great Conflict, he used his power to change shape to battle the opposing gods. When he left, he passed through the barrier and created the Feywild and he has not been seen since. His followers are naturally often druids or barbarians. His temples are not often traditional temples. They are either open-air altars in clearings or are set up in already enclosed places like caves. His symbol is a wreath of vines entwined with a stag’s antlers.

The Four Elements

These four are the blue collar workers of all of the entourage of the gods. When the gods were formed, they quickly realized that their purpose was to build the material plane. They worked together with Sylvanus to put it all together after Lathander brought light to the material plane. Umberlee is the Lady of the Sea, she once enjoyed roaming the depths and often upset early sailors unless they warded her off with prayer and offerings. Geb is the Lord of the Earth who spent much of his time walking his creation which caused earthquakes. Akadi is the Lady of the Air and she once flew everywhere and people grew to worry when they saw her shadow for high winds usually followed her. Kossuth is the Lord of Flame but he lay dormant beneath the surface and people feared him emerging. All four eventually agreed to leave the material plane, enticed by the four Elemental Planes. Those planes are playgrounds where each can control their element as they wish. With their departure, their creation was allowed to operate on its own, growing and changing for the first time in eons.

Chauntea (Goddess of Farming)

Legend has it that she imparted her love of vegetation and animals to the first elves who, until then, could only hunt and forage. She taught them how to farm and allowed the first of them to settle and the no longer nomadic elves started to create culture and civilization. These methods were also taught to gnomes and dwarves who adapted the practices for their underground civilizations. Chauntea often wandered through orchards eating produce, squished her feet in the mud of the fields, and stopped by to pet the livestock. She was one of the most peaceful and least-feared gods to encounter before the Great Division. Her symbol is a shepherd’s crook crossed with a pitchfork.

Elorian Campaign Pantheon Pt. 1

November 12, 2018

Alright, I have rethought my campaign setting’s pantheon a bit to be more inclusive of creation. Of course, I have once again almost completely disregarded lore that I have not seen or experienced myself. My goal was to make this world my own with DnD’s 5e mechanics. Below are the corrections and elaborations needed to worship in my setting. We will start with the ‘good’ gods.

The Three Brothers of the Sun and The Sister of the Moon
Light Domain

Lathander (God of the Morning Sun)

Known as the Morning Lord, Lathander is the most positive of the Brothers of the Sun and that is reflected in his followers. His followers are very enthusiastic and often evangelical about their religion and often spread their Lord’s gospel to and fro. Their main message is one of hope as each day dawns after even the longest night. His followers seek to pull others from the darkness and use their faith to rekindle hope in others. Although the siblings of light are technically all the same age, Lathander is often depicted as acting and looking like the youngest brother. He is depicted as having shining golden skin and shining yellow hair. He was the one who urged his siblings to bring light to the multiverse, allowing the creation of the material plane. He spent a lot of his time delivering sermons of hope and fellowship to the earliest denizens of the world. However, when the final conflict came, he eagerly picked up his sword and fought as hard as the rest of the gods. Like other gods, he retired to Avalon taking up the east wing of the Shining Palace. His symbol is the rising sun, beams of light stretching forth.

Pelor (God of the Midday Sun)

Known as the Shining Soldier, Pelor is most interested in fighting the good fight among his brothers. His followers often hold justice and the vanquishing of monsters in the highest regard and make such ideals their goal. This is the church of the sun which is most likely to spawn adventurers, traveling the world in order to right wrongs and vanquish evil. When the sun is high, shadows run in fear. He encourages clerics and paladins to go forth under his banner in order to make the world a better place, eschewing personal glory for the glory of all. In urban settings, his followers might be involved in law enforcement. His temples sometimes double as law enforcement or military headquarters. Pelor appeared to many like he was the middle brother, putting himself out in front only to shield his siblings. He was reportedly hard to look directly at as he often shone like the sun as he walked the material plane. This was fine as he really only showed up to trounce evil and then departed again. In the final conflict, he led the charge against the evil gods with his grand mace lit up like a beacon. Like other gods, he retired to Avalon where he decided to live in the tower of the Shining Palace. His symbol is the full sun, fire on its rim.

Arrah (God of the Setting Sun)

Known as The Twilight Scholar, Arrah set himself up to be the border between the light and the dark. His followers are constantly vigilant for whatever darkness might threaten the world. They tend to be more strategic people, thinking through their problems more like a chess game than an all-out brawl. His temples are often partnered with temples to Ioun and Azrea. His followers know better than many that all good things must end but all hardship will end one way or another as well. He was always the quieter, more thoughtful brother and is often depicted as being the oldest and wisest of the brothers. He is often depicted as being more bronze colored and less shiny than his siblings. He often walked alone on the material plane, examining what his brothers had missed or studying their wake. He sometimes had long discussions with Lona, Ioun, and/or Azrea. In the final battle, he, Ioun, Lucia, and Oghma drew up the battle plan. When it was time to leave, he chose to retire to Avalon where he took up residence in the west wing of the Shining Palace. His symbol is the setting sun.

Lona (Goddess of the Moon)

The quieter sister of the three brothers of the sun she is known as the Watcher in the
Night. She watched peacefully over the night but would spring into action while her brothers slept if need be. Her ways are more subtle, akin to a classic rogue archetype. While not as forceful as her siblings, she has a quiet, subtle magic of her own. She is depicted as a pale woman with shining pupil-less eyes. She often had long talks with Ioun and often spoke with Sylvanus’ followers as well. She often spent her nights drinking tea either alone or with whoever happened upon her. Sometimes, she would preside over the Court of the Gods at night in place of her brothers. When it was time to leave, she chose to live with Ioun and her retinue in the Eternal Library but she does visit her brothers on occasion. Her symbol is the crescent moon but some worshipers use other phases.

 

Ioun (Goddess of Knowledge)
Knowledge Domain

Known sometimes as the Knowing Mistress, Ioun is tapped into the collective knowledge of all things on the Material Plane. She delights in keeping tabs on all of creation and waits in anticipation for creation to surprise her. She is rarely disappointed. She especially became interested in magic as it poured into the world before she departed it. She is interested in wizards and witches in particular as they are just as studious as she is. Her followers are often curious, studious, and observant. In ancient days she would travel the world interviewing people and observing events. In the great conflict, she wielded awesome and terrifying magicks and designed the spells that sealed all of the gods away. Her temples are often schools or libraries. She lives in the Eternal Library in Avalon, rarely leaving as she reads and stays in her observatory. Her symbol is an open eye.

Lucia (Goddess of Memory)

One of the librarians of the world, she is known as the Memory of the World. She spent much of her time cataloging the world to make sure that the absolute truth was written in stone. In the final battle, she used her encyclopedic memory to help plan for the final battle. When it was time to leave, she leaped at a posting in the Eternal Library and her home and office is in the Non-Fiction section. She spends her time meeting with Ioun and Oghma where she struggles not to correct Oghma’s stories. She loves them both with all of her heart. She appears as a studious, serious looking woman. Her symbol is a book.

Oghma (God of Imagination)

The other librarian of the world, he is known as the Story of the World. He spends much of his time writing wild stories and listening to the stories invented by the storytellers of the world. This is not all that different from what he did before the Final Conflict. In that conflict, he used his vast imagination to inspire the plans for the final battles. He spends his time regaling Ioun, Lucia, and Lona with stories and trying not to add embellishments to Lucia’s histories. He appears as a wild-haired man with a goofy grin. His symbol is a pen.

The Shield of Tau Pt. 2

September 17, 2018

“You should go back home to Lita,” Numa said. “You have a big day tomorrow.” She relaxed in her seat at the inn her family ran. She always felt safe and at home there.

“She is still doing her weekly component shopping, I think,” Jace said. “It takes forever and she knows how boring it is so she does it with her wizard friends.” He held out the bottle of Deneirian whiskey that he had been drinking from, offering a drink to Numa.

She pushed the bottle away gently and then thought better and took the bottle and set it back down out of Jace’s reach. “I’ll remind you that I’m on duty here and I can’t drink with you,” she said. “Besides, it’s unseemly enough that you are hanging out with a human. I can imagine the talk if you are seen drinking with one.”

“I’m not worried about that,” Jace said that, waving the question away with his hand. “Elves and humans are allowed to talk to one another. Besides, you’re my friend. Your family gave us shelter when the blink dogs came.”

“I remember,” Numa said with a shudder. “That guard shoved you and you and Lita through the door but that other girl didn’t make it.”

“Miza,” Jace said with a shudder. Even five years later it still felt bad saying her name. He was grateful that he had not looked back in the chaos and seen her shredded by the blink dog. It was bad enough hearing it. “The worst day ever.” As soon as he said it, it felt like an understatement.

“The silver lining is that it was the day you met Lita, right?” Numa asked.

“Of course,” Jace said. “It’s also the day that I first swung a weapon and hit an enemy.”

“Which led you to where you will be tomorrow,” Numa said. “The Grand Festival of Battle.”

“Yes,” Jace said. “Tomorrow. The Placements of the Tau. The final step toward my future. In front of the Lord of Tau himself and also everybody I have ever known.”

“You’ll do fine. Where do you think you will be assigned?” Numa asked with a smile. “Hopefully not the border.”

“I have no idea,” Jace said. “I just want to serve. I’ve always wanted to serve. The incursions have started to get worse again.”

“Do you think you might get tapped to investigate those?” Numa asked.

“I’m sure that won’t happen,” he said. “The incursions must be magical in nature and I have no aptitude for magic. I would definitely not mind protecting the city from the invaders.”

“You would be good at it,” she said. “and it would be good to stay close to Lita’s shop.”

“Those are basically the reasons I have for wanting that post,” Jace said with a laugh. “You’ve summed it up nicely.”

“The gift of speech is one of my best skills,” Numa said. “Oh! By the way, I might be able to watch some of your matches.”

“How are you going to manage that?” Jace asked with some surprise. “No offense.” The last was added in quickly.

“No,” Numa said. “I understand what you meant. My family was selected to help with the food for the event so we’re closing down our kitchen for the day.”

“Nice,” Jace said. “I will look for you in the crowd. You can stand with Lita.”

“I’d love to,” Numa said. “I so rarely see her these days since we are both so busy. But you need to go home, Jace. Sleep before your big day. Besides, we need to close for the night soon.”

“I have received your message loud and clear,” Jace said as he stood up. “I will try and spot you tomorrow.”

Numa walked him to the door with a smile. “Tomorrow,” she said. “Your destiny and my snacks.” Which earned her a laugh from Jace before she shut the door on him.

Jace walked down the street, briefly walking along a line of stones to test how drunk he was. He concluded that he was probably fine and he walked home through the cold air. He opened the door of what doubled as he and Lita’s home and her enchanting shop. He paused and sniffed and he could quickly tell that the shop was closed for the day. All he could smell were stale reagents and parchment. As he climbed the stairs to their small apartment, he could hear that Lita was home. He stepped through their front door and closed the door firmly behind himself.

“My husband,” Lita said, coming from the kitchen area. “Welcome home.”

“My wife,” Jace said with a smile. “How was your shopping?”

She shrugged. “It was routine,” she said. “It will be delivered the day after tomorrow. I’m in no hurry since I will have the shop closed tomorrow. I stopped by Marian’s to consult about an upcoming project.”

“And how did that work out?” Jace asked. He slipped his jacket off and hung it up.

“Do you really want to hear about mundane issues about my job instead of talking about your big day tomorrow?” She asked with a sly smile which drew a smile out of him. “Are you that nervous?”

“Yes,” Jace said. “I know how hard I’ve trained but I don’t know what I will face tomorrow and what I face determines much of the rest of my life.”

“Oh husband,” Lita said. “Whatever happens tomorrow, you will find a way to protect people. That is the fate you’ve chosen. And no matter what happens tomorrow, I will love you and I am proud of you.” She moved over to him and kissed him deeply. He kissed her back happily and pulled her close. When they had both had enough, at least for the time being, they broke the kiss and held hands. He looked down at his wife’s ink-stained hands and smiled. She was so smart and they had grown together so close.

“I love you, Lita,” he said with a smile.

“I love you too, Jace,” she said. “I am happy to spend eternity with you.”

“And I’m happy to spend it with you,” Jace said. “Shall we go to bed?”

“I think that’s a good idea,” Lita said. “Tomorrow is going to be a full day.”

In the Shanti Desert Pt. 2

September 15, 2018

Saara woke up slowly and she felt a bit like she had when she had fallen off a second story balcony during her second heist. She felt even worse when she contrasted that happy memory of freedom with her current predicament. She was laying on her back and she could see a stone ceiling above her. A young man who had been silent so far knelt down and pressed a hand against her shoulder and the pain lessened a bit and she felt like she could move again. She started to sit up and the young man gently pushed against her shoulder and prevented her from sitting up.

“I think he wants you to take it easy,” Arana said. “I have a feeling that he’s right. You passed out pretty hard.”

“Where are we?” Saara asked.

“After you passed out, I was able to create a magical shelter for us and we dragged you in here,” Arana said. “We’re on another plane. A sort of pocket plane.”

“Wow,” Saara said and she was genuinely impressed. She looked up into the eyes of the young man who was watching her intently. “And who are you?”

“He doesn’t actually talk,” Arana said. “We’re not even sure he can. His name is Adir and we hired him out of the Temple of the Winged Lady. He’s a great healer.” Adir nodded and smiled at that. He took her hands in his and gently helped her to sit up. Her head spun briefly but then she was alright.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened,” Saara said.

“As far as I can tell,” Arana said. “You held that protective spell longer than you should have and it drained a bit of your lifeforce. You have to be more careful.”

“Why are you being so nice?” Saara asked. Adir handed her a small clay cup full of liquid. She sniffed it and concluded that it was water. She took a big sip and she was proven right.

Arana shrugged. “For better or for worse, we’re on the same team now,” she said. “Also, you did kind of save our lives.”

“Where is everybody else?” Saara asked. She looked around and saw some of the group’s supplies but no camels or carts. There were a few boxes stacked near a door. There were rugs layered all over the floor and several bedrolls laid out. It was like a camp but the three of them were alone. She felt a little vulnerable all of a sudden.

“They’re out scouting for possible leads on the treasure,” Arana said. “Don’t worry, we’re safe in here. You have to have permission to enter my mansion. I’m not sure if any power on the material plane could force its way past that rule.”

Almost as if on cue, a large person pushed open the door, accompanied by wind and sand and then firmly shut the door behind themselves. Their face and much of their upper body were wrapped in cloth. Saara instinctively tried to gather her magic but it hurt so badly that her vision went dark for a moment. Adir held onto her hand to calm and steady her.

“Relax,” Arana said. “Like I said, they have to have permission and he has permission.”

“Who?” Saara managed to ask, her everything still hurting.

The man pulled the cloth wrappings away to reveal a simple red face mask. However, this caused Saara to instinctively flinch again. The Red Faces were known throughout Kofrain as the most brutal and efficient of law enforcers. They were rightly feared by the guilty and the innocent alike. The man slipped the mask off, revealing a rugged yet handsome face and a casual smile only partially obscured by facial hair.

“I am Sabri and I am the boss here,” the man said. “I bought your contract and I am sorry that we have not met until now.” He walked over and extended his hand and Saara shook it gently, she could tell he was strong. Instead of watching his face, she found that her gaze was drawn to the red mask hanging from his belt. “Ah, it is a little scary. A relic from a past life. I have changed my ways since then but the mask’s reputation is hard to pass up. It saves me so much time in negotiations especially.”

“It is nice to meet you,” Saara said. “I suppose.”

“How is your patient doing, Adir?” Sabri asked. “The workers in this room are the most versatile and useful that I currently have. We need to protect my investments.”

Adir gave Sabri a thumbs up signal but then qualified it by waving his hand in a ‘so-so’ movement which kind of made Saara nervous. Adir shot her a brief reassuring smile and a calming gesture.

“Let me guess, does she only need rest then?” Sabri asked.

Adir nodded in response.

“How many nights?” Sabri asked, his eyes narrowing.

Adir held up only one finger which made Sabri smile and nod.

“Excellent,” Sabri said. “You saved our lives and you won’t even delay our mission. Soon my men will locate the first marker that will lead us to the ruins that I found the last time I was out here. It can’t be far away now.”

“Then what?” Saara asked and Arana gave her a sharp look. Saara did not really care, she was already an indentured servant, there was not much to lose and Sabri seemed nice enough.

“Then you and my other three acquisitions help me get through the ruins to see if we can’t find any treasure,” Sabri said.

Saara nodded but then paused and counted on her fingers. “There’s only three of us here. Well, unless you’re counting yourself as an ‘acquisition’.

“There are five people in this room,” Sabri said and laughed softly when Saara looked confused. “I suppose it is safe to reveal our final participant.” He walked over to the pile of crates and pulled three keys from around his neck. He unlocked three locks on one of the crates and opened it.

“Oh, is it time for me to come out?” A voice from inside the crate said. “I was just about to fall asleep again, your accommodations were just so thoughtful.”

Taldonta Atlas Pt. 2

September 10, 2018

ContinentD

Khull
Orcs 56% Half-Orcs 25% Tieflings 10% Humans 6% Half-Elves 3%

The Kingdom of Khull is a large country full of desert and scrubland near the middle of the Emerald Continent of Taldonta. Since Orcs are almost certain to maintain a constant violent relationship with the other races on the continent, many decided to seize land inhospitable to less rugged races where they formed their own kingdom. This kingdom is undoubtedly ruled by one person, the Warchief, and everybody else is more or less on equal footing. With orcs, the strongest often rules and makes the rules so aside from the Warchief, the most brutal often keep the others in line. Their thoughts are constantly bent on war with their neighbors but it has been a long time since an actual war has taken place. Their southern neighbor is Shera which has built a tall wall all along the border to provide some relief from these vicious creatures as has The Bremid Empire. After its founding, the Kingdom of Khull opened its borders to any goblins, kobolds, tieflings, and even humans who wanted a new home. The newborn alliance worries the rest of Taldonta. The people of Khull have largely given themselves over to the darker gods and have created a religion that leans heavily on blood sacrifice.

Koshain
Humans 46% Half-Elves 14% Tieflings 12%
Elves 10% Half-Orcs 10% Dwarves 4% Halflings 3% Gnomes 1%

Koshain is a fair-sized desert nation ruled over by a King in the most fertile part of the desert, made so by magic. However, the nature of the desert nation’s isolation of urban centers means that local officials have more direct, actual authority over day to day matters. This has led to widespread abuse of power in the past. Examples include using prisoners for dangerous work, heavy taxation, harsh law enforcement, and even renting out prisoners to private interests. As a response, the criminal population is able to depict themselves as rebels. Public opinion is divided on the subject, usually along economic class lines, and the King seems to either not care or actively supports the corruption. There is a nomadic community that travels to stay separate from the government. Treasure hunting is a popular career and past time.  Another interesting tidbit is that the people of Koshain have evolved a fashion that often incorporates face paint and/or masks.  Originally, this was intended to block the harsh sun but it became a sign of status for the upper class and a way to hide identities for other lower classes.

Lavell
Dwarves 54% Goliaths 15% Humans 9% Half-Elves 7%
Elves 5% Gnomes 4% Half-Orcs 3% Halflings 2% Tieflings 1%

Lavell is mostly useless to surface dwellers. Not only is it a very mountainous region, it is also a fairly icy land as well. There are very few settlements on the surface and it is one of the few lands without an elf or human government. Instead, Lavell is ruled over by dwarves who, of course, live underground in massive cities. Because of the cold and barren climate, the other races have been welcomed into the dwarf cities where elves and humans are rarely comfortable. The citizens of the country pride themselves on being hardy and surviving what should have been an inhospitable land. There is very little trade and very little diplomacy especially since their closest neighbors have a difficult time traveling to the city entrances. Technically, Lavell has no central leader and is ruled by the leaders of the cities.

Mekar
Half-Orcs 30% Humans 23% Dwarves 20%
Half-Elves 10% Halflings 7% Elves 5% Tieflings 4% Gnomes 1%

Mekar is not really a country per se. It is a land whose borders were defined by people wanting to avoid and let alone the barbarians, druids, and monks that mostly reside there. This is a completely wild and lawless area but not in an inherently evil way like Khull. Most people who grow up in the region or move there just want to be left alone. Those who venture out of that region are usually seeking new challenges. There are a few monasteries in the mountains of Mekar and several monk traditions originated from there. Many monks issue forth from those monasteries to wander the land either cast out or to put their martial arts skills to good use. Most other residents of Mekar are largely nomadic and hard to pin down. Of course, there is usually no reason to go in and pin them down anyway.

Shera
Humans 46% Half-Elves 24% Elves 10% Dwarves 12%
Half-Orcs 5% Halflings 8% Tieflings 6% Gnomes 3%

Once known as the Kingdom of Shera, this place is mostly farmland, forest, and swamps. That is not to say that it is not civilized, it just lacks the diversity of biomes that Eloria has. Sherans are not completely unlike Elorians. The main difference has been formed by their more recent history. Years ago, the King of Shera decided to forgo all previous treaties and attacked the Kingdom of Eloria in a bid to gain all of the shipping resources of Eloria. As has been stated, that war was interrupted by Vistra’s forces and those forces killed the entire royal family of Shera. Liam III, the King of Eloria, decided not to annex Shera in the absence of their royal family. The grateful Sherans formed a Republic and they are now ruled by a council made up of the Mayors of their cities and various intellectuals. The new government reestablished treaties with all of its neighbors (except for Khull, of course) and work toward a brighter, more peaceful future.

Vedel
Humans 64% Half-Orcs 12% Half-Elves 9% Tieflings 6%
Halflings 5% Elves 3% Dwarves 2% Gnomes 1%

The people of Vedel are very superstitious and fairly resistant to outsiders which is why they erected a barrier around themselves. It is hard for a tourist to get in and it is apparently hard for tourists to get out as few have. The few that have reported on that land have reported a land of castles, put-upon villages, and a sort of gray feeling all over. A land steeped heavily in the feudal system, the people have no power and the nobles and royalty have all the power with extreme prejudice. The division between classes is also very rigid and many commoners could go their whole lives without seeing a single noble or royal. There have been rumors of vicious and exotic monsters within the walls as well.

Taldonta Atlas Pt. 1

September 3, 2018

ContinentD

Alscines
Half-Elves 50% Humans 20% Elves 10% Gnomes 10%
Dwarves 4% Halflings 3% Tieflings 2% Half-Orcs 1%

Alscines is ruled over by the Queen Cahlanas. Long ago, the great elven and human families of Alscines came together in a lasting and genuine bond of togetherness. As a result, the rulers of Alscines have often been half-elves and there is a significant half-elven population. Not all of the rulers have been half-elves but many of them. The country is also the home of the only gnome city at the base of Mount Eagle. The populace has a very magical bloodline in general because of the mixing of human and elven bloodlines. There are many empty plains in the country that are not explored because they appear empty. Most of the country is more concerned with the urban centers and the farms that surround them than an empty land of little to no worth. Put there, somewhere in the plains, is the vault of the true King of Crows, a powerful necromancer who was felled centuries earlier.

The Bremid Empire
Elves 50% Half-Elves 20% Dwarves 13% Humans 11%
Halflings 3% Gnomes 2% Tieflings 1% Half-Orcs 0%

The Bremid Empire has the largest concentration of elves on the continent of Taldonta. It has been ruled by an emperor (always an elf) for centuries. Before that, it was a loose conglomeration of principalities. One of these began to conquer the others and an empire was forged. Underneath this empire are the large Dwarf cities Angal and Lehnar. Much of the architecture and defenses of the Empire were inspired by the synergy between the two cultures and their alliance. The current emperor, Thal Karnar, is content with the Empire’s holdings and is content with taking potshots at Khull for entertainment and shows of power. The Empire is ruled by the iron fist of the emperor and his wishes are carried out by his governors and his legions. By law, the other races are not supposed to be treated as inferior to elves but in practice, elves have been in power too long for anything to change now. Still, anybody can have a happy life in the Empire as long as they follow the rules.

Callas
Humans 46% Half-Elves 17% Dwarves 13%
Elves 10% Tieflings 7% Halflings 3% Gnomes 2% Half-Orcs 2%

Callas is a destination for the very religious people of the continent. The culture of the land puts divine magic over arcane magic. In many areas of Callas, arcane magic is actually frowned upon and in the capital, it is actually outlawed. The biggest temples on the continent exist in the capital but mostly to the main pantheon. The Temple of the Three Suns is the biggest of them. Smaller temples are plentiful through the rest of the countryside and in the middle of a forest is one of the few temples dedicated to the Goddess of the Hunt. There is also a sort of safe haven for tieflings near the western coast where tieflings can go to be safe. It is one of three cultures guided mostly by elves and half-elves as they seek to teach the younger races about the gods. The government is ruled by a rotating priest figurehead for a religious council. This council is inclusive of representatives of all established religions except, of course, those who worship the evil gods.

Deneia
Humans 46% Half-Elves 14% Tieflings 12%
Elves 10% Half-Orcs 10% Dwarves 4% Halflings 3% Gnomes 1%

The land of Deneia is a land of lakes and rivers and because of that, it is a place of mostly swamps and forests. It is a very green land that is difficult to travel through because of the various bodies of water that must be crossed or avoided. There are very few large settlements in the center of Deneia. Most of the larger settlements are nearer the borders to enable trade with their neighbors and they have plenty of unique agriculture to trade. The royal court of Deneia figuratively and sometimes literally floats. The royal family of Deneia is notoriously paranoid and therefore moves their headquarters weekly to prevent being caught unawares by potential enemies or other undesirables. Part of the reason for this is that the royal family’s bloodline became Tieflings centuries ago. Some bad experiences set off long years of obsessions with protection.

Eloria
Humans 46% Half-Elves 24% Elves 10% Dwarves 12%
Half-Orcs 5% Halflings 8% Tieflings 6% Gnomes 3%

Sitting on a huge peninsula at the base of the so-called Emerald Continent of Taldonta, Eloria is a jewel nearly surrounded by the Calm Sea. For centuries, it has been ruled by the royal family in an unbroken chain since Galen I led the armies in the First Great War, defeating the evil, Vistra, and his Orc/Fiend alliance. This victory caused the formerly loosely allied districts to forge themselves into a new nation under the heroes of that war. The people crowned Galen and he laid down his sword in order to lead and protect his people. The crown was passed down the line from King to Queen to King and so on. Now it adorns the head of the current King, Liam III. He is supported by his wife Gianna, his heir Ariana, and twin princes Galen and Bram and Princess Cora. The Kingdom of Eloria is divided into six districts that surround the capital where the royal residence is. The land was divided into districts by land type and each is locally managed by a noble house, supported by lesser noble houses. The King has full say but cannot micromanage and a lot of trust is placed in the nobles and the people to maintain both efficiency and harmony.

Gosha
Elves 40% Half-Elves 25% Humans 20% Dwarves 5%
Halflings 4% Gnomes 3% Half-Orcs 2% Tieflings 1%

If you did not know better, you would think that Gosha was an uninhabited forest island. However, it is because the people on the island do not really believe in development or showing their faces. A largely druidic and simple living society, they are more in tune with nature and thus shun urban living. This also means that it is a greater hot spot for exposure to the feywild. The country is sometimes a destination for druid and ranger coming of age ceremonies. In exchange for being left alone, the druids of Gosha provide the rest of the continent with their fine wood from fallen and dead trees. That wood is used in some of the finest crafted objects, weapons, and boats across the continent.

The Great Seer

August 27, 2018

“That is the gnome delegation from Mt. Eagle,” Aara said. “They are here for the yearly trade negotiations.” She was pointing across the market at a couple handfuls of tiny but well-dressed creatures. It was kind of hard to see them as they were flanked by city guards who were humans and half-elves and were taller by nature. The presence of the guards ensured that the crowd parted around the delegation.

“The gnome diplomats?” Calend asked. “Is Onica with them? I don’t know what she looks like.”

“The seer? I think that’s her in blue and purple with the silver wound in her braids,” Aara said. “What is your deal with fortune tellers?”

Calend was too distracted catching glimpses of the young blonde gnome walking across the market. “Huh?” He asked.

“Fortune tellers,” Aara said. “you keep spending money on them. Everytime you find a new one, you keep dumping your cut on them.”

“First, a seer is different from a fortune teller,” Calend said. “A seer is like at least another level above a fortune teller. They are very legitimate.”

“Alright, whatever,” Aara said. “Why do you keep spending money on divination?”

“I was getting to that,” Calend said. “Second, I am looking for the Vault of Crows.”

“Oh that again,” Aara said. “I thought you had given that up.”

“My mother died looking for it,” Calend said. “In one form or another, I will never give that up. I have just hit a long dry spell when it comes to information.”

“I’m pretty sure that zero information ever is a pretty long dry spell,” Aara said.

Calend rolled his eyes. “That is less than helpful,” Calend said. “Where do you think they are staying?”

“I think I heard they were staying at the Golden Hawk,” Aara said with a shrug. “It makes sense. It’s one of the fanciest places outside of the palace.”

“So they’re not in the palace for sure?” Calend asked.

“I don’t think gnomes like being confined like that when it’s not on their own terms,” Aara said. “Besides, they have both city security and their own security. If you’re thinking of trying to meet her, you might want to think again.”

“Oh come on, Aara,” Calend said. “You know I have skills. I’ll see you later, all right?”

“What? It’s market day! You promised you would help me sell today,” Aara said.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Calend said, starting to step away.

“I doubt you will,” Aara said but she looked up and he had already disappeared into the crowd.

Calend asked a few of his other contacts and he found out that the gnomes were definitely staying at the Golden Hawk. He also found out that security was pretty tight. This was confirmed when he went to the lobby and asked if he could speak to Onica. He was told that was not possible. When he insisted, he was pushed back out into the street. It always seemed to come down to the hard way but Calend had been prepared for that.

When Calend’s mother had died, his father was at a loss and Calend was constantly looking for answers. He had met one of his mother’s associates who talked things out with him. His mother had met a lot of interesting people as a searcher of history, what some people called a ‘treasure hunter’. Caron had helped teach Calend’s mother how to infiltrate tombs and dungeons and, possibly out of pity, Caron had taught Calend the same skills.  Calend had practiced and had expanded on those skills. He had never used to them to actually steal anything, but they were definitely the same skillset as a thief. He would need those skills if he was going to meet Onica.

He waited until dark and then he snuck across the rooftops as light as he could step. He made his way toward the Golden Hawk and climbed the tower. There were small balconies that far up that he could grab onto and he took it slowly. He crept up the building, peeking in windows one by one. He eventually saw her. He suddenly found himself wondering if this was a good idea but he was desperate. If he could do this without getting caught, he would be able to solve not only one of the greatest mysteries of Alscines but also he would resolve a lot of personal issues.

He slid open the window slowly and as quietly as possible. He crept into the room and then put his hand over Onica’s mouth. She instantly woke up and after some surprise, she seemed to calm down quickly.

“Please do not scream,” Calend said.

She nodded in response and Calend let her go. “You will not hurt me,” she said.

“You saw the future?” Calend asked.

“No,” she said. “But I can see it in your eyes. Also, if you wished to kill me then you would have done so while I slept. Doing it after purposefully waking me would be foolish.”

Calend felt a little foolish now that she laid it all out. “I need your sight and wisdom, Onica,” he said. “I have a great mystery to solve.”

She sighed. “There is only one problem. I am not Onica, she could not make this journey,” the now mysterious gnome said.

“What?” Calend said. “This has been a pointless risk then.”

“I am her daughter,” she said. “My name is Lewin.” There was a short pause and then. “I also inherited her gift of sight beyond sight.”

Calend’s face brightened. “Can you help me then?”

“If I help you, will you promise to leave me and my mother alone?” Lewin asked. “In my experience, desperate people make things too complicated.”

“I promise,” Calend said. “I don’t want to complicate your life.”

“Ask your question then,” Lewin said and sat up in bed.

“Where is the Vault of Crows?” Calend asked.

Lewin’s eyes went a little wide and she looked worried. “You don’t want to go there,” she said.

“I must,” Calend said. “I must finish what my mother started.”

“Very well,” Lewin said. “If I cannot dissuade you, I will attempt to find the answers you seek.” She had a pitying look on her face that made Calend look uneasy. She closed her eyes and a point of light formed over her forehead and then that light sort of opened into the image of an eye. She remained in place so long that Calend worried that she had fallen back asleep. Finally, she opened her eyes and the third eye disappeared.

“I cannot find the vault itself,” Lewin said. “Some dark art still shields it from my sight. However, I have seen the first step in your path and it will definitely give you what you need and it will help a great many people besides. It is a blessing that we found each other.”

“Wow,” Calend said. He was not sure he believed her but at this point, he was ready to take what he could get.

“Go to the settlement of Bari in Kofrain,” Lewin said. “In the Inn of the Desert Tiger, you will find an expedition into Khull. Make sure you join it.”

“Khull?” Calend asked with apprehension. That was a lawless land dominated by orcs, evil men, goblins, and all sorts of other terrible things. It was the wasteland. “Alright. And then?”

“If you follow that path then I am confident you will make the decisions that lead to what you seek,” Lewin said. “But go now, there is a trade caravan leaving in a few hours that will get you to Bari on time.”

“Thank you,” Calend said. “If this works, I will remember you fondly forever.” Lewin just smiled and nodded and rubbed her eyes and Calend got the message and slipped back out of the window.

The Faith of the Raven Pt. 7

August 20, 2018

“Leave now or face the power and the might of the King of Crows!” A deep voice emanating from deeper in the woods said. After the sound of the voice, it felt like the whole forest was silent. In that silence, it was easy to hear Arne’s partially muttered response.

“More bullshit,” he said.

“What?” Carania asked. “What’s going on now?” If she was going to continue her greater quest, and she definitely was, she would have to study and learn. She needed to know these things herself. However, it did not hurt to have knowledgeable people along for the ride.

“It really is silly. The King of Crows is not one person,” Arne said. “It is a parade of necromancers each with aspirations of being the alpha necromancer. Most of them are crazy, all of them are dangerous.”

“There was a real King of Crows once,” Galath said. “He was a powerful necromancer who amassed an undead army in Alscines. He was in direct conflict with the Raven Queen and her followers. From what I know, he also had a Queen of crows with him. Sort of an undead bride. At least, those are the rumors. I read it in a book last year.” He shrugged.

Carania shuddered. “That is incredibly creepy,” she said. “The less I think about that, the better. So this guy is just a pretender to the throne?”

“I don’t know,” Arne said. “He definitely has power. We’ve seen that much already. I haven’t seen anything yet that has wowed me, though.”

“Right,” Carania said. “But we can’t let our guard down. Not until we take this guy out.”

“Agreed,” Galath said. “He is referencing the undead god and he is the fan club of one of the worst necromancers in history, those alone are red flags. Nothing has changed. We’re following your lead here, paladin.”

“We continue going straight for the heart of the matter,” Carania said. “If we kill him, the rest will be disorganized and, in theory, no new zombies can be created. That means those that die will stay dead.”

“I like it,” Galath said. “Elementary tactics but sometimes simple is best.”

“Now we just wait for that plan to go wrong so we can improvise,” Arne said.

“So negative,” Carania said. “Try and smile for once wizard.”

There was a cawing sound from the branches up above and all three looked up toward the sound. However, only Arne was already smiling as he had a full understanding of what that sound was. He nodded up at Grimalkin and they seemed to share some silent conversation.

“Grimalkin has spotted the main camp and can lead us there,” Arne said. “Are we ready for that?”

“We are as ready as we are going to get,” Carania said. “Do you still have prepared spells left?”

“I’m good to go,” Arne said. “I haven’t run out yet.”

“I also have some left to burn,” Galath said. “It appears that we’re good to go.”

“Lead the way, Grimalkin,” Carania said and Arne nodded up at the bird. Carania had only read about the connection between a wizard and their familiar and it was interesting to watch.

They worked their way through the woods as they did their best to follow the raven familiar as it fluttered along through the trees. It felt extremely right for Carania to be following a raven into battle. It felt a little like fate.

The three of them reached the edge of a big clearing and they were assaulted by the smell of freshly burned wood and other things. It looked like the King of Crows had burned a large circle into the middle of the forest, creating a clearing. They were lucky that the fire had not spread and endangered the surrounding areas. The burned clearing looked alien and lifeless. There were more men with crow feathers adorning their clothes and there were zombies both in cages and shuffling around some tents. Arne looked up at Grimalkin as if to ask ‘are you sure?’ and the bird nodded.

“Shall I cause a little chaos, boss?” Arne asked with a smile. Carania smiled and then nodded.

Arne conjured five candle-sized flames and tossed them one at a time into the clearing. The flames hit a couple of tents and also a couple of zombies and started some fires. One of the zombies panicked and ran burning into another tent. Chaos had been achieved.

Carania vaulted into the clearing with Galath and Arne trailing close behind. Her sword was once again a whirling blur as she carved into both living and undead enemies. At one point, she ran into one of the men who had shot and killed her. They barely had time to register her before being cut to ribbons. Carania fought with no anger or at least that anger was quickly fading away. This was a noble mission and that was enough to fuel her.

The battle was fiercer this time and a couple of zombies rushed Carania and managed to injure her. Galath moved fast to heal her while Arne protected them with a shield spell from his umbrella. After some more battle with a few more injuries, the clearing was quiet again. The three companions stood breathing hard as they looked around for their true target who had yet to reveal himself. Carania looked for Grimalkin for guidance but the familiar was hidden somewhere and was no help at present.

“You have crossed the line and I cannot let you go. I will be with you in a moment,” the booming voice said. “In the meantime, meet my friends. When they are done with you, I can add your bodies to my army.”  The thought of that happening was enough to turn the stomachs of all three of them.

The earth in front of the three adventurers broke open and two very large humanoids clawed their way into the open air. Carania could only guess that these had been deceased goliaths, a very rare race she had only read about. They were too short to be true giants but they were far taller than the tallest human or elf she had seen. There were definitely parts of them that were missing and she could see some ragged flesh and bones showing in places. They were caked with mud which made their wide, pupil-less eyes all the more menacing. They lumbered straight for Carania and her friends.


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