Posts Tagged ‘Elorian Campaign’

The Harvest

July 30, 2022

The lonely hawk flew along the city walls, zig-zagging as it looked for a good perch. This part of the city was still mostly abandoned after the giant attack. Average citizens had no reason to frequent what were now ruins. Engineers and builders frequented the area but they did not have a large enough workforce to be everywhere. So it was that just like with other unused spaces, criminals moved in to use them. None of the criminals installed anything permanent but the area was perfect for uninterrupted secret meetings.

If the workers and criminals in the area bothered to look up, the hawk would have been fairly unremarkable. Some birds of prey did stray near the city and helped curb the rodent problem, especially in the damaged parts far from the hunting grounds of any feral cats. The part that was rather remarkable was that this hawk had a passenger. A tiny mouse clung to the bird’s neck feathers, managing to stay on even with the crosswinds up that high. The hawk made big swooping circles but finally came in for a landing in the remains of what must have been a wizard’s tower.

The mouse chittered and smoothed its fur before jumping off of the hawk. As it walked away, the mouse slowly transformed into the elven form of Becka. As she attained her normal form, she shivered and shook off the feeling of the magical transformation. She did not look pleased.

“That was weird,” she said. “That was really weird. I’m not sure if I hated it or liked it. My head is still spinning.”

The hawk shimmered and was instantly replaced by the form of the young druid Joshua. The young halfling was smug and gave a half-hearted shrug.

“That’s probably the effect of your intellect dropping to that of a mouse and then going back up,” Joshua said. “Though, in your case, it’s probably not that great of a difference.” He was perched a bit on top of a broken-down bit of wall. They were mostly enclosed in the top of the tower, giving them a bit of privacy.

“Watch your tongue, boy,” Becka said, her eyes narrowing with annoyance and the early rumblings of anger. “You know who and what I am.” She smoothed her cloak and tossed her auburn hair, an arrogant habit she had. She was a little more relaxed, sure that they would probably not be spotted anytime soon.

“Oh I know,” Joshua said with a smile. “The Harvest. The Coming Winter. The Butcher of Khull. I know all of your names and the reputation that comes with them.” 

“So you know that I could kill you in any number of ways,” Becka said. “I killed with a table leg. Ten soldiers with a table leg.” She gripped the hilt of her saber with a somewhat haughty expression.

Joshua nodded. “I’ve heard the stories,” he said. “I also know that you only kill criminals or enemy combatants. I am neither. You hired me to get you across the city.”

Becka’s eyes narrowed again. “Because you picked my pocket,” she said. “Which makes you a criminal. I also thought you would point me towards a shortcut through the sewers.”

“Sewers? Not ideal. You know what goes into the sewers, right?” Joshua asked with a smile. “Learning how to be a fish is kind of weird too. Fish are also somehow more stupid than mice.”

“We don’t have to be fish,” Becka said. “Do you ever just walk anywhere?”

“Ugh, not if I can help it,” Joshua said. “It takes forever. Look how quickly we flew.”

“Not exactly stealthy or safe,” Becka said.

“Look, we could sit around here discussing my methods or you could get on with the killing,” Joshua said.

“You’re not needed here,” Becka said, pulling out her bow to assemble it.”You can go.”

There was a long silence and then Joshua spoke. “Oh, what’s your exit strategy then?” Joshua asks.

Becka barely flinched. It was subtle but Joshua spotted it. “I’ll figure it out,” she said softly.

“Maybe I want to stick around,” Joshua said. “I’ve never seen an assassination before.”

“Suit yourself,” Becka said with a shrug. “If you get in my way, I will take you down.” She pulled out her quiver of arrows.

“Noted,” Joshua said and pulled out an apple to eat.

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Butcherbirds

July 16, 2022

Mouse crept out from behind the crates they had been hiding behind. As the smallest member of the Butcherbirds, the halfling was the perfect lookout. Mouse always had their blanket draped around them. Very few people had actually seen anything but Mouse’s eyes and they had often been disregarded as a pile of rags by most people. This was by design. Mouse crept below the window and looked for signs of life. Nobody was about so Mouse pulled out a whistle and blew on it before flouncing against the wall and acting like detritus. There was a long beat of silence.

Dinah strutted into the alleyway and then reached up and cinched the band of cloth holding her matted hair up and out of her face. She looked up at the window and used her hands to measure things and do some calculations in her head. She checked the gear tucked into the silk tied around her waist. She sighed softly.

“This isn’t a fashion show, D,” Griffin said. “Can we just get on with it?” He crept out of hiding, looking up and down the alleyway with his one good eye. His constant paranoia could be annoying but it did keep them safe. He fidgeted with a dagger, flipping it every few moments. It was his most prized possession. He was the fighter, the scrapper, the leader.

“You’re such a dingus, Giffin,” Dinah said. “This should be at least a little fun, right? If it’s not fun, we should go straight to an orphanage.”

“You’re just a lot, you know?” Griffin said. “Stop being all girly.”

“I’m an artist,” Dinah said. “And things need to be perfect if this bird is going to fly.”

“Whatever,” Griffin said. “Come on, Five. The coast is clear. You didn’t fall asleep again?”

A large mound of trash started to move as Five crawled out of it. His green-gray skin was splattered with dirt and grime from all sorts of things that were best not thought of. He seemed unbothered by the mess decorating him. He grunted.

“Gods, you smell so bad!” Griffin said. “This plan did not hinge on you hiding in garbage. We could have put you in a crate, big guy.”

“I don’t know, I think he might smell better than usual,” Dinah said. “Ready to go Five?”

Five grunted and nodded. He was non-verbal and nobody knew why. They had guessed that it might have something to do with one of his tusks being broken but nobody wanted to press the half-orc on the issue to confirm. Five was the muscle of the team which meant that he was less sneaky than the rest of the Butcherbirds but just as welcome. He had earned their trust and a place in their weird little family. Five had moved under the window and cupped his hands together. Dinah nodded and ran at Five, jumping into his cupped hands so that Five could launch her up toward the window. 

Dinah’s slight half-elven frame made her lighter than most and she shot up and landed gracefully on the windowsill. She braced her legs and pulled out her crowbar and shoved it under the window. She stomped on the crowbar and she heard the window’s lock break. Just like they thought, the place was too old to have good security. She tucked her crowbar away and opened the window slowly. She attached an anchor and dropped a rope below. Griffin climbed up and shut the window. Five and Mouse would shuffle off somewhere in earshot in case they were needed.

“So what do we have here?” Griffin asked. “There had better be something worth it in here.”

“Plenty,” Dinah said. “I mean, there has to be. It’s old.”

A familiar bird landed on a chair nearby and stared at the two child thieves.

“Oh no,” Griffin said. “What are you doing here?”

“Be nice,” Dinah said. “He’s one of us.”

“He keeps going off on his own,” Griffin said. “He keeps screwing things up.”

At that, the bird promptly turned back into a young boy. The problem was that he was still perched on top of the chair and that chair tipped over and dumped the boy face first onto the floor. He instantly sprang back to his feet and tried not to show how much that hurt.

“I do not screw things up,” Kant said. “I might have made a few mistakes but I’m here to help.”

Griffin sighed. “Fine,” he said. “Less magic, more thievery. Don’t touch anything troublesome. We’re only stealing the good stuff.”

“Which means stuff we can eat, use, or sell,” Dinah said.

“Got it,” Kant said. He could not really control his magic too well. It was innate magic that came from his blood. He had been abandoned in the streets as a toddler so he did not remember where that blood had come from. His wild magic often misfired at inappropriate times but he meant well. When his magic worked, it worked well for the Butcherbirds.

The three thieves set about looking for the best things to take with them.

The Mirror Pt. 2

July 2, 2022

“A deal?” Kerzi asked. “What kind of deal are we making?” She kept her distance, standing on the opposite side of the wizard’s laboratory from her exact double. Well, not exact but very close. The differences became more apparent the longer Kerzi watched but an outside observer probably would not notice those differences. But Kerzi knew herself.

The Other Kerzi shrugged and smiled, trying to act nonchalant. “Nothing major, at least not for now,” she said. “Just a deal that keeps you from trapping me here somehow. I want your word on that.” She was acting neutral but there was a slight tinge of fear behind her eyes when she had mentioned being trapped.

“What do I get out of this deal?” Kerzi asked. “I mean, this was my face first. Now I have to share it with you. I’m not accustomed to giving away anything for free.” Kerzi had not let go of her knives and she flexed her grip to make sure her wrists did not get too tense.

“I can sympathize with that,” The Other Kerzi said. She stayed far out of the range of Kerzi’s knives. She had no weapons that Kerzi could see but that meant nothing. Kerzi had faced many unarmed opponents that were quite formidable.

“Can you?” Kerzi asked. “You’ve only been alive for only a few moments, right? How can you sympathize? How can you talk? How can you think?” She was still mystified by what was happening. Magic was not her specialty and this whole thing was still ringing alarm bells.

“I can’t pretend to know how this works completely but I sense that I got some of my faculties from you and some from,” The Other Kerzi said, pausing for effect. “Somewhere else.”

“Somewhere else, huh?” Kerzi asked. “What are you?” 

“I’d love to know that myself,” The Other Kerzi said. “Perhaps you can help me explore that question.”

“You still haven’t told me what I get from helping you,” Kerzi said. “I’m no hero. I’m a mercenary at best.”

“And the solving of magical mysteries isn’t profitable?” The Other Kerzi asked with more than a little mockery in her voice. “For starters, I can help you find the artifact you were sent here for. I can help you carry plenty of other things away from this place. We can be a team.”

“Splitting my pay in half?” Kerzi asked. “That sounds like an excellent deal for me.”

The Other Kerzi sighed. “How about a seventy-thirty split?” she asked. “Hells, I don’t even need much. I’ll take what scrolls I can carry as payment for this job and a few scraps of food. If I help raise your income, we renegotiate my pay.”

“You are not good at bargaining,” Kerzi said, almost with pity.

“I’m desperate,” The Other Kerzi said. “I don’t want my life to end just as it begins.”

“If we’re going to make a deal, you should have a name,” Kerzi said. “I will not allow you to introduce yourself as Kerzi. That’s me. Bad enough you have my face.”

“But it’s such a pretty face,” The Other Kerzi said. “I have no name. As you said, I was born moments ago.”

“Well, if you’re a reflection of me then why not Izrek?” Kerzi asked.

“A little clumsy,” The Other Kerzi said. “Call me Izzy.”

“I guess that works,” Kerzi said. “I suppose you’ve managed to present an attractive deal. Attractive enough.”

Izzy walked to the center of the room and stuck her hand out. “Shake on it?” she asked. “No tricks. I’m your partner. You can introduce me as your twin sister if you’d like.”

Kerzi walked up cautiously. She thought long and hard about it. “I guess that’s as good a story as any,” she said. She reached out to shake Izzy’s hand. “Deal.”

Kerzi flinched, half-expecting to find herself tricked into the mirror but there was her twin, smiling at her. What had she gotten herself into?

The Mirror

June 4, 2022

Kerzi had taken the quest as a solo act. She had a team that she relied on but they were several days’ travel away and she could not wait while some other party of adventurers swooped in. She was territorial about this region of Gallia. She was building her own legend and it was necessary to be on everybody’s lips if you wanted to be a legend. She had crept into the old castle quickly enough, avoiding the front door. She never used the front door if she could help it. The window was convenient enough. She made her way through the dusty, moldy place which had formerly been home to Count Edgewater. It had since been claimed by the wizard Ilin. The wizard apparently did not like visitors as there were plenty of traps to get through. Still, she was an expert dungeoneer. She made her way toward what felt like the wizard’s study which she had been told was in the undercroft.

 Even though the legends called it the Cursed Mirror of Ilin, Kerzi had been surprised when she opened a door in the old castle and came face to face with her own image. She instinctively straightened her hair and wiped some oil from her cheek. The mirror had been briefly mentioned in her briefing, emphasis on brief. It had not been very important at the time since it was not her target. She shrugged and headed over to a trunk and quickly picked the lock. Once it was open, she started rummaging. She only stopped when she thought she heard a sound behind her. Had she missed some hidden, deadly trap? She scanned the room and saw no danger. She slowly stood up and walked back to the center of the room. Something was off. It took her a few moments to realize what it was. The mirror no longer held her reflection.

“What were you looking for in that trunk?” a familiar voice asked.

Kenzi whirled around and once again came face to face with herself. This time, it was not a mirror. It was an exact doppelganger.

“Who are you?” Kerzi asked. She pulled her twin knives and spun them both into a reverse grip. She was a scrapper in a fight but she usually preferred the element of surprise. She did not believe in fair fights. 

The other Kerzi laughed heartily but drew no weapon. “Who am I, she asks,” she said. “I’m obviously you.”

“You can’t be me,” Kerzi said. “I’m me. There’s only one Kerzi Graybluff, acquisition artist extraordinaire.” She could tell that she was nervous. She had not meant to spout her tagline but it had come tumbling out of her.

The other Kerzi laughed again. “But I am you also,” she said. “See with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Know with your head and heart. I am also Kerzi Graybluff and we are gorgeous.”

“Impossible!” Kerzi said, narrowing her eyes.

“Magic,” Other Kerzi said as if that explained things. It unfortunately did. Mostly.

“Wait,” Kerzi said. “If you’re me, then why did you ask what I’m looking for?”

“You’ve got me there,” Other Kerzi said with a shrug. “I must not be a perfect copy. I can only guess at the mechanics of my creation. Magic can be very tricky.”

“I don’t mess with magic if I can help it,” Kerzi said. “Too many complications.”

“Oh but magic is so much fun,” Other Kerzi said. “It led to my creation so I must say that I’m in favor of it. Maybe you should give it a chance.”

Kerzi shook her head. “No thank you,” she said. “You should go back inside of the mirror and stay there. I’ll grab what I came for and get out of here. I then drink to forget this ever happened.”

“I cannot simply fade from existence,” Other Kerzi said indignantly. “I have been born and it would be a waste for this much glory to be tossed aside.”

“And people say that *I’m* conceited,” Kerzi said. 

“I can’t guess why,” Other Kerzi said with a smirk. “How about I catch you unaware, knock you out, lock you up here, and return to town as you. It could be the start of brand new Kerzi, a new legend.”

“No way,” Kerzi said. “Not going to happen.”

“Then we must work something out,” Other Kerzi said. “Let’s make a deal.”

Festival of Gifts

December 25, 2021

The city of Kante was covered in decorations for the Festival of Gifts. Extra torches and lanterns were strung up everywhere, making the city bright and warm even at night. Red, Gold, and White ribbons and cloth banners were hung everywhere. Statues in honor of the sun god Lathander and the demigod Tall Winters had been placed in prominent places. People were in the markets buying food and gifts for their loved ones or bustling off toward the temple district to make offerings to the lords of light to bring back the sun during the darkest and coldest part of the year. There was a lot of love and good cheer flowing through the city.

Sabina was indifferent to it all as she shuffled through the city. Sure she had tied some tinsel to her horns but that was more to blend in than actual celebration. She was wrapped in a patchy yet warm fur coat and a big furry hat. The coat was a little long for her so that the hem of it trailed across the wet pavement. Yet she pulled it off gracefully, moving effortlessly through the crowds. Nobody even realized that she had a knife slipped into the sleeve of the coat. They were so distracted that they did not notice that knife flashing in the torchlight as she liberated people’s coin purses. However, now her night was over and she headed home.

She slipped into an alleyway and sidled up to a nondescript doorway. Hardly anybody would have noticed the minuscule writing in Thieves’ Cant. She tripped the secret catch on the door and it popped open safely. Opening the door incorrectly would have locked it completely with twelve different deadbolts. At least it was better than the door had been in her youth. The mechanism had been potentially deadly back then. She stepped into the small room and brushed off what snow she could. The rest had melted and she felt uncomfortably damp and cold.

The room was empty except for a table and a mirror. She headed straight for the mirror and stepped through it and felt the surface of the mirror tugging at her a bit before she made it through. Then came the disorienting feeling of the teleportation enchantment a little bit like standing up too quickly after waking up. She was face to face with a huge portrait of Laverna, the Goddess of Luck. She smiled when she saw the portrait. It meant she was home and home meant warmth and relaxation.

“The real reason for the season,” a voice behind her said. “Our Lady Luck.”

Sabina turned to see the one-eyed visage of Jole. Out in the world, Jole was a lieutenant in the city’s law enforcement but secretly he was part of Sabina’s found family. He fed the thieves information and in turn profited off of their scores. He was so rarely in their subterranean hideout out of necessity. Still, he did manage to come around now and again to connect with his friends.

“What are you doing here?” Sabina said. She tried to act cross but could not fight back the smile from her lips.

“Busy night, eh?” Jole asked. “Out plucking your fair share from the revelry?”

Sabina frowned. “Don’t tell me that somebody saw me working out there,” she said. “I’m too quick. Their eyes can’t be trusted. How could they accuse somebody of that during the holiday season?”

Jole laughed. “Nobody saw you as far as I know,” he said. “I just assumed that’s what you would be doing. Looks like my hunch was correct.”

“You’re a very good detective,” Sabina said sweetly. “Sorry for acting so hostile right away.”

Jole shrugged. “I’m not down here often and almost never unannounced. To answer your question, I wanted to wish you and yours a happy Festival. I just happened to swing by when nobody was home.”

“Nobody?” Sabina asked and snapped her fingers three times and a small kitten crawled out from hiding. “Diamond is hardly nobody.” She took off her coat and hat and felt a lot better. She dumped her sack of coins into the bin before bending down to pick up the cat. “I’m sure she’ll forgive you.”

“A weight lifted off of my heart,” Jole said. “Forgiveness is good for the soul.”

“It is,” Sabina said although there were moments in her life that she felt she could not forgive. She pushed those invasive thoughts from her mind just as quickly as they came. “Happy Festival to you too. May the light return to us all.”

“Amen,” Jole said with a smile. “I brought you a gift.”

“Me?” Sabina asked and she was thankful that her red skin would hide her blushing.

Jole stuttered slightly. “Not just for you,” he said. “I brought everybody gifts.”

Sabina smiled. “You’re a very generous man,” she said.

“But I am glad that you were here when I came to deliver them,” Jole said.

Sabina smiled and smoothed her dress a bit to keep her hands busy. “Well, I do love a present.”

Jole held out a small package wrapped in colorful cloth. “Hopefully you love this one.”

She quickly opened the package and gasped at the silver pendant necklace that she found. “It’s beautiful, Jole,” she said and wished she had gotten him a gift in return. The Festival was not over yet so there was still time. “I love it. Would you like to stay and have a drink with me?”

“I would love nothing better,” Jole said with a smile that only made Sabina’s smile brighter.

Koshain

August 1, 2020

(I thought I would update information on one of the fictional lands of my fantasy setting which kinda sort of is still a D&D campaign setting.)

Koshain is a desert nation in the middle of the continent of Aldona. The land of Koshain is cursed with a desert climate due to the fallout from the events that occurred in what is now the neighboring nation of Khull. The magical fallout created a harsh atmosphere full of sandstorms and cloudless skies allowing for oppressive heat. Lesser nations might have been driven out but Koshain adapted their way of life several millennia ago. Many residents of the nation fell back to live in the more stable city centers where they could find shelter from the wind. Farming moved underground where magic helped sustain a lot of agriculture. However, in the transition, insects native to Koshain went on the menu and remain a delicacy for the rich and a necessity for the poor.

Others set up a system of nomadic life where people keep moving to keep ahead of the sandstorms. The constant movement helped in establishing a massive trade network that was needed to obtain foodstuffs and goods that were no longer readily available in Koshain. Dwarven stone-cut outposts set themselves up as outposts and shelters for trading caravans. The dwarves also found rich deposits of jewels and ore that became very useful for trading, allowing the nation to have a chance of survival and eventually led to success. However, the trade-based economy led to a large gap between classes. City trade barons and aristocrats (often the same thing) became richer and their workers were stuck under their collective thumb. This eventually led to a large criminal contingent who view themselves as freedom fighters and revolutionaries instead of villains.

At some point, the Koshani people adopted specially formulated face paint to keep their skin from burning. The lower class just slathered on one color while the rich often painted their faces in ostentatious multicolor art pieces. Face painting has evolved into an elaborate social status ritual with different classes and families following different patterns. A millennia ago, Koshain suffered from a horrible plague that killed many of its citizens. To combat this respiratory sickness, Koshani people adopted face masks as protection. The lower classes strapped on cheap masks and soldiered on. Once again, the rich went in an artistic and showy direction and had beautiful masks designed to hide their faces away from the world. When the plague subsided, the poor discarded their masks (except when traveling in sandstorms) but the rich kept their tradition. Criminal leaders adopted masks that are almost parodies of the masks of the wealthy.

Because of the large criminal population in the cities, the capital of Corren is also the home to the world’s greatest lock designers (and consequently the greatest lockpickers). The criminal element is broken down into different guilds who have each declared themselves as autonomous factions separate from the governance of the rulers of Koshain. The various thieves guilds compete with one another but are definitely also aligned with each other against the upper class. Alliances are common between the guilds and crews often encounter each other while out on the job. For example, a second crew might show up during a heist and would decide to distract law enforcement to obtain a later favor from a guild. The enemy of their enemy is often their friend.

Speaking of the rulers of Koshain, there is a Koshani King that passes through generations through biological children (legitimate or not). The King is the ruler, never the Queen although the Queen is revered as a celebrity. The truth is that it does not matter as much who is King. The King often consults a council in order to make decisions which is made up of the heads of the most profitable trading empires. Aristocrats often buy their titles and pass them down through the generations. These titles are much less restricted by gender as it is recognized that women and nonbinary people can be shrewd in business. The King rarely makes major decisions without economic input.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 8

June 13, 2020

Mariel, Asher, and Luther walked into the light coming from overhead. Directly in that light was the black crystalline form of the Thing that Had Not Been Gwendolyn. It was wrapped in heavy chains. Each link of those chains was carved with warding runes that would guard against magic and would limit the shapechanger’s abilities. The three surrounded the Thing with Mariel facing it directly. She smiled peacefully pretty self-satisfied. The Thing regarded her with malice so strong that one could sense it even though it had no face.

“I think you will find that you cannot move,” Mariel said.

The Thing tried to struggle regardless of Mariel’s warning and confirmed it. There would be no easy escape from this predicament.

“It doesn’t like being told,” Luther said. “Listen to her, she’ll only tell you the truth.”

“I think this discussion will go a little more smoothly if you have a mouth,” Mariel said. She waved her hand and the Thing’s surface ripple and it changed shape. It became a young girl, one who had teased and bullied Muriel back in school. It gave her some satisfaction to see the girl in such a bad way.

“Where am I?” The thing asked with a snarl.

“You are in my mind now, Devilspawn,” Muriel said. “You’ll find it is a lot stronger than the mind of a child. My mental defenses were well-trained by good education and experience. You are at our mercy.”

“You think I am afraid of you?” The Thing asked. She spat. “I’m not afraid of you, little elf.”

“We’re not particularly concerned with how you feel,” Muriel said.

“We’re more focused on your boss,” Asher said. “Hesper.”

“Hesper would devour you in but a moment,” the Thing said. “Do not look for what you do not want to find.”

“Oh we’ll find Hesper,” Luther said.

“With your help,” Muriel said. “Whether you like it or not.”

“You’ll get nothing out of me!” the Thing screamed. It spat and hissed.

“Oh? Is that so?” Muriel asked and then she laughed. “We already have the information we need out of you. You’re in my mind. I whittled down your defenses hours ago without you realizing.”

The Thing looked confused. “Then why am I still here?” it asked.

“You tortured a little girl,” Luther said. “You took days of her life for yourself and tried to take over her body and make it your own.” Images of Gwendolyn and her suffering floated in the air around the Thing. It looked at those images and felt pride at a job well done. Rage flitted across Muriel’s face but she maintained control.

“We wanted to make sure you died,” Asher said.

“And not quick,” Muriel said. “Slow and painful.”

“Do your worst,” the Thing said softly, staring defiantly into Muriel’s eyes.

“I will,” Muriel said. She walked forward and touched the Thing gently on the forehead. The point where she touched burned with green flame. A single candle-sized point of combustion and the Thing shuddered but remained defiant. Slowly the flame started to grow, surface skin started to flake and blow away. As its false face floated away, the Thing finally gave in and started to scream. The sound quickly went from human into something more shrill and inhuman. Muriel waved her hand and Luther and Asher disappeared. Muriel stood there and watched for quite a while as the flame slowly consumed the Thing and then she disappeared herself.

Gwendolyn was out of bed two days later. Everybody voted to stick around and make sure that she was going to recover and regain her health. She was able to walk to the gate where everybody was waiting. She had thankfully forgotten a lot of her experience in her long nightmare but she remembered the more recent positive memories of Muriel and her friends. She had asked them all a million questions as she started to recover but now it was time to go.

“Where are you going?” Gwendolyn asked. “Will you be back?”

“We’re going to go find the devil that hurt you,” Muriel said.

“We probably won’t be back,” Dina said before being elbowed in the ribs by her brother.

“Never say never,” Asher said. “You just focus on getting better. Alright?”

“OK,” Gwendolyn said. “Please get rid of the bad thing. Make sure it can’t hurt anybody else.”

“I promise,” Muriel said. “I promise you we will.”

And then they got onto their horses and they rode away.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 7

June 6, 2020

They all held hands and Gwendolyn wished them back up to the castle. Gwendolyn’s little eyes sparked with hope and relief to see that castle again. The adventurers gathered around the little girl as they approached the gates for the second time. Mariel put her hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“Gwendolyn,” Mariel said. “Things are going to get violent. We are going to have to fight that thing in there and I want you to be prepared for that.”

“I understand,” Gwendolyn said. “You guys are adventurers. You fight the bad things.”

“We do indeed,” Luther said. “We are here to protect you and that means getting that thing out.”

“If we could ask you to stay here, we would,” Dimitri said. “It’s going to be too dangerous.”

“But we need you with us because you have the power here,” Asher said. “You’re our back up, kiddo.”

Gwendolyn nodded timidly and smiled. “Okay,” she said.

Dimitri and Luther led the way but Gwendolyn nodded at the gate and it opened easily for them. There were no preliminaries this time. No mermaids. No unicorns. They arrived immediately in the throne room once again. The Thing That Was Not Gwendolyn locked eyes with Gwendolyn and, to her credit, Gwendolyn did not back down. Asher played a little tune to bolster Gwendolyn’s confidence. Everybody readied their weapons and there was a stillness. Sir Buttonface stepped into the middle of it all with his huge weapon. Something passed over the bear’s face as he saw Gwendolyn.

“Sir Buttonface!” Gwendolyn said with a pout. “You stop that this instant! You are my knight.”

“Master Gwendolyn!” Buttonface said. “What is going on?” He looked back at The Thing on the throne and clutched his weapon a little tighter. “Traitor! Abomination!” He raised his weapon.

“Sir Buttonface!” Mariel called out. “You need to protect Master Gwendolyn. We’ll take care of that thing.”

Sir Buttonface nodded but looked sad. “I apologize for what I have done earlier,” he said. “I will make it up to you.”

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Dimitri said. He was a man of honor and understood how the knight must feel having been fooled and controlled by something so foul.

“Speak for yourself,” Dina said. “Ouch.” However, she was smiling because what were they going to do? Hold a grudge against a teddy bear?

“Protect the girl, Sir Knight,” Luther said. “Let’s do this thing.”

Sir Buttonface scooped up Gwendolyn and lept to the other end of the throne room. She clutched his fur and brought herself closer to him to comfort herself. He shielded her with his body. Gwendolyn was safe and now it was time to get down to business.

The Thing on the Throne stood up and turned into a black, crystalline figure before multiplying into several creatures. They had sharp claws and glowing green eyes. Nobody had seen anything like them but nobody hesitated. They attacked as one but this time there was not an over-sized teddy bear knight in their way. With Gwendolyn returned to her palace, the scales were balanced once again. The battle was not short but one by one the creatures were shattered until one remained. The remaining Thing gibbered and cursed in some dialect from beyond. Mariel focused and summoned a chest and Dimitri and Dina dumped the creature into it. Mariel locked the chest and it disappeared.

“We’re done here,” Mariel said to Luther. “It’s over.” The two of them exchanged a look.

“I guess we can wake up then,” Dina said, looking around.

“I don’t think we got much rest,” Fern said as she stretched.

“We’ll get some soon enough,” Mariel said. “Ironically we have to wake up first.”

“Because that makes complete sense,” Dina said.

“Dream magic is strange,” Mariel said with a shrug. “It’s why people rarely mess with it.”

Gwendolyn and Buttonface walked toward them. “Is it over?” Gwendolyn asked. “Is the bad thing gone?” She seemed to be growing stronger, gaining her footing again in her own mind.

“We’re taking it away,” Asher said. “You can wake up now. We’ll see you when we’re all awake.”

“Okay,” Gwendolyn said. “Thank you.” Her smile warmed the hearts of the adventurers, really the only thanks they needed.

A bright white started to fill the chamber and everybody covered their eyes.

Cult Pantheon

May 11, 2020

What follows are the borderline and rarely worshipped mystery cults of the world of my Dungeons and Dragons campaign. These are often but not always the crazy people of the world and it shows.

The Nameless

It is rumored that this god or goddess was punished early on in the history of creation. This deity decided to expose the mortal races to knowledge forbidden by the other gods. While the good deities had the best wishes for the mortals of the world, they had wanted to keep them in the dark on certain things. That way they could more easily protect them even from themselves. Sometime later they realized their error much later, the damage had already been done to The Nameless. They nearly destroyed them and what survived had lost its name and form. The Nameless escaped into the Dreamplane, connected to the minds of the whole world. Not much more lore than that survives in the world but it is known that The Nameless survives as a sort of god of inspiration. The followers of the Nameless are few and far between but most are inventors and forward thinkers. Many, but not all, also contain some level of insanity.

Zeoron, The Limitless One

Many theorize that Zeoron was waiting for the gods when their eyes first opened to reality. One of the rumored “Old Ones”, Zeoron did not take kindly to the upstart newcomers who wished to form the world. He fought them all but either lost or realized his fight was futile. Instead of dying, he exploded and his essence spread across all of the planes much like the spores of an exploding mushroom. His followers contend that Zeoron’s essence is everywhere and is truly limitless. Many of his followers believe that Zeoron wishes this reality forged by the gods is illigitimate and must be destroyed. That is why they think that Zeoron’s essence may be the origin of all monsters in the known planes of the multiverse. Followers of Zeoron seek to destroy the foundations of society and any forces that might defend the multiverse from destruction.

Church of The Light

Worshippers of the Church of Light reject all deities in favor of the truth of the light. The light never intercedes on behalf of its followers but instead allows them to rely on the power within which makes them stronger and more self-assured. They view dependence on the gods as a drug, one that is dangerous to mess with since the power and favor handed down from the gods can be taken away on a whim. Followers of the Church of Light seek to teach others to abandon the gods and move on. All that is needed is the Light. The Church is small but extremely loyal to each other. Some outside of the Church have wild theories about what the Light really is. It could be a devil, a spirit, an Old One, or any number of things whispering in the ears of mortals to cause doubt of the gods. Some of their followers prefer the Church because they are tired of the eternal conflict between the good and evil forces.

Ganza, The Advocate

The self-styled spirit of Justice, the shadowy Advocate urges her followers to fight for both accusers and the accused. Therefore it is also a sort of deity of even-handed Law. Followers created the first so-called Lawyers and corresponding Judges. Worshippers pray to remain objective and unemotional whether they are on the attack or on defense. They are passionate only about making sure that their wards are given fair treatment by the governments of the world. Ganza is represented by the symbol of the scales. Her followers are expected to dress well while following their mission.

Dendar, King of Nightmares

Dendar was born as the God of Fear but he proved to be a loose cannon and he ended up being opposed by good and evil gods alike. He sought the destruction of everything that everybody had built. Therefore, the evil gods did not stand in the way of the good gods when they captured Dendar. They imprisoned him for eternity in a box floating through Outer Planar space. At some point after the Ascension, the box was cracked and Dendar escaped into the Dreamplane. Mortals and Immortals alike still feel the pure fear of Dendar’s power in their sleep. If he can, Dendar will be released from the Dreamplane and will not stop until he utterly destroys the multiverse.

Hesper’s Web Pt. 6

March 28, 2020

Even though everything hurt, everybody hurried toward the source of the plaintive cry. They pushed through weeds and charged through the fog and found a small clearing. In the center of the clearing was a little girl in chains which were staked to the ground. Tears were flowing down her face but it was clear that it was young Gwendolyn. It was easy to believe that this one was the real one. She trembled as she looked up at everybody, frightened and defeated. It broke Mariel’s heart and she knew she was not alone.

“Gwendolyn,” Asher said softly. “Your mother sent us to find you.”

“R-Really?” Gwendolyn asked. “What about the monsters?”

“We’re quite experienced with monsters, young lady,” Mariel said. “We’ll protect you.”

“Dimitri and Dina, help me pull these stakes up,” Luther said. He and the twins moved over and started to pull on the chains. The stakes stubbornly stayed in the ground and Gwen cried harder, shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Mariel kneeled down in front of Gwendolyn and took the young girl’s hands in hers. “Gwendolyn,” she said. “I know that you’re scared. This is very scary. However, this is your world.”

Asher kneeled down next to Mariel. “This is your story, Gwendolyn,” he said. “You hold all of the power here.”

“What?” Gwendolyn muttered. “I have no power.”

“That’s what I thought when I was your age,” Mariel said. “Then I went to an academy and learned magic.” She was proud of her upbringing from a powerless place to wield the forces of magic effortlessly.

Gwendolyn looked up at Mariel again, the first glimmer of hope returning to her eyes. “But I don’t know magic,” she said. “I don’t have any magic.”

“Magic is in everyone,” Mariel said. “Some do it like me and use words but some do it with their mind and heart.” She punctuated this by pointing at the girl’s heart which filled the girl’s eyes with wonder.

Ashe nodded. “Gwendolyn, you don’t have magic in here,” he said. “In here, you are magic. Just think it and it’ll happen.”

“Really?” Gwendolyn asked. “For real?”

“Just give it a try,” Mariel said. “Get rid of these awful chains first.”

The little girl closed her eyes and her shaky breathing slowed. There was a near-blinding pink light and then the chains were suddenly made of flowers instead of thick metal. She shrugged off the flowers and clutched one of the flowers to her chest as she stood up. Her tattered clothing became a princess dress even more spectacular than the one worn by the imposter back at the castle. She opened her eyes and suddenly everybody’s wounds were healed. She smiled so brightly that Mariel and everybody else could not help but smile. Even the usually unreadable Fern was smiling an enigmatic little smile.

“I really am magic!” Gwendolyn said and giggled. “I did it!”

Mariel and Asher stood up clapping. Everybody joined in on the applause and the landscape around them seemed to become more green and colorful. The area just felt happier which would not have made sense back in the material plane but here it made perfect sense. Asher started to play a tune on his lute and the little girl clapped and danced a little and sang along. It was great to see.

“Do you think you could help us get back up there?” Luther asked. “Help us save your friends and get rid of the bad thing?”

Gwendolyn faltered. “The bad thing is scary,” she said. “I don’t know.”

“Normally we’d do it for you, Gwen,” Luther said. “but we need your help. This is all yours. Your mother and father are waiting for you. We just need to get rid of the bad thing. For that, we really do need your help.”

“You know how to do it now,” Mariel said. “You’re so powerful.”

“You’re magic,” Asher said.

“And we’ll be right there with you,” Dimitri said.

“We’ve got your back,” Dina said. “Don’t even worry about it.”

Fern gave a weak thumbs up and a slight smile.

Gwendolyn brightened up again. “We’re going to get rid of the bad thing,” she said. “But how?”

“First we need to go back to the castle,” Mariel said. “Do you think you can handle that?”

“I think so,” Gwendolyn said. “What then?”

“One step at a time,” Luther said. “Trust us.”


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