Thursday, 28 June 2012

Khorvaire Session 11 - 28/06/12

Session 11: The Dragon (27th June 2012)
The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

Davon laid to Rest (days 43-45)

The party did not take the time to rest but headed straight into town to carry out Davon’s final wishes. Arken made the final arrangements at the Temple whilst the rest of the party made off to carry out re-provisioning themselves for the forthcoming journey ahead. Once they had finished purchasing the items that they required, the party returned to the tower, only to find that Arken still had not joined them.

The following morning Arken, after having spent the night in town, returned to the party to tell them his news. He had purchased the tower, in the name of Gerudos (apparently a name his aunt Zelda used to call him when he was a lad), and all the lands within a one mile radius for the princely sum of one gold coin. This deal did come with a few catches however; the forest had to be returned to as near its former state as possible but it took into account that the adventurers could build upon it; trade in town should not be affected by any premises set up on this land or a tax would be levied to compensate for loss of earnings. He had also put in plans to build a new temple to Din upon this land, for which he paid a high price in terms of usury; 10,000 gold pieces at a rate of ten per cent per annum for the first year and twenty per cent per year after on the original sum lent if not paid back on time.

Later that afternoon, a short wizened old man arrived at the tower. Rioja invited him in and directed him to Arken, who proceeded to discuss plans for the building of the new temple. A few hours later a group of Dwarf engineers and masons arrived to start work on shaping the stone for the temple. A party of woodcutters and workmen arrived just after to start on clearing the dead woodlands in the vicinity. They were told not to chop down Knil’s tree but all other woodland was to be cleared back to bare earth and the recovered wood was to be divided into a wood burning pile and a sawn and treated lumber pile for building work. This work would take the workers about eight weeks in total and they would charge 1000 gold pieces plus a share of the shaped lumber. A deal was agreed to this effect.

The Next Town (Day 73)

The party rested again overnight and then set out on their journey to visit the wizard who had originally hired them for the quest the following morning. They journeyed via the local town so that they could purchase a couple more riding animals; a pony for Korum and a warhorse for Bardan. The rest would travel in the wagon with the spare weapons and supplies.

The journey to the next major town was uneventful. It took four weeks of travel along the highways and major road networks. The weather was good and there was no sign of the Darkness.

Upon arrival at the town of Araj, they found there was a lot of work going on. Walls were being repaired and those made of wood were being rebuilt in stone. The guard house at the gate was fully manned, although they were allowed to pass straight through without any checks. Upon querying the work with the guards, they were told that there were disturbances to the east and many refugees were pouring into the town. The party were unable to get a description of the trouble other than that it may have been a large group of bandits.

Passing through the gates, the adventurers pulled up the first tavern they came to; the Sword and Cheese. There was another, better kept inn across the road but they were put off by its name; the Shield and Milk!

The Sword turned out to be a very large tavern with a good choice of food and drink. Bardan and Korum leapt straight in, but Arken was a little more talkative. He managed to find out that there were two refugees in the tavern who had come from the east. The barkeep pointed him in the direction of two young lads in a dark corner nursing two very small beers. Korum, over hearing the conversation between Arken and the barkeep, walked over to the boys’ table and topped their beakers up without asking. The rest of the party followed and were able to find out that the boys’ village had been attacked during the night over a period of a couple of days by what seemed like bandits because of all the noise and destruction they beheld each morning. However, nothing was ever taken and they were unable to say if there were any tracks left by the attackers as their village elders had sent them west to keep them safe.

The party decided to spend the night at The Sword, during which Rioja was able to study the diamond and chest in more detail. He confirmed that it still had magical traces about it but the magic would only activate in a certain area (the swamp).

Final Destination (Day 74-88)

Arken spent the night at the Temple of Din within the town of Araj but was late in meeting with the others before they left to continue their journey. As he was the highest ranked priest in the vicinity he had been asked to take morning prayers!

The journey to the town where the wizard lived took only a further two weeks instead of the usual three weeks it normally would have taken. The roads were empty except for a few people scurrying quickly away eastwards, so the going was good and the inns along the way provided good rooms and service to the party so they could rest better than if they were forced to sleep in the common rooms. All of the refugees they met told the same story; something was attacking their farmsteads and villages by night, causing lots of damage and not a few deaths.

When they arrived on the outskirts of the town, they noticed that it too was re-fortifying its walls and there was a large, armed presence all about. The party made their way into the town and headed straight to the nearest busy tavern to pick up on the news.

The barkeep recognised Arken and Bardan straight away, but raised an eyebrow at the appearance of the rest of the party. Arken quickly explained that these were now their fellow adventurers on the quest that the wizard had given them. The barkeep was satisfied with the explanation and gave the party free drinks and food whilst he updated them with the news from the east. Korum sorted out stabling for the horses and wagon and heartily partook of the free meals.

Arken, meanwhile, headed to the nearest Temple. It turned out that he was the only Priest of Din left in the town and the priests had made off with the takings in the collection box too! Whilst he was alone in the temple, the orb started to glow red, a colour it had never glowed before. Something made him step outside of the temple and look at the sky; there was a large patch of Darkness centred over a spot a few miles away, in the direction of the wizard’s keep where the whole journey had begun. He hastily made his way back to the tavern to update the party.

The Wizard’s Keep (Day 88 continued)

Time was getting on now, so the party made haste to the keep. The Darkness was about a mile across and centred over where the wizard’s abode was situated. The forest they had to travel through was thick and it hindered their progress sufficiently that it was nearly nightfall when the party arrived at the edge of the Darkness.

The adventurers pulled out their usual array of torches, lanterns and model unicorns with Continual Light cast upon them to give them some protection against the deep gloom. To check the strength of their old enemy, Bardan threw one of his Fire Bombs into the depths of the darkness. It exploded, forcing the Darkness back, but once the flames had diminished, it moved back to occupy the place it had been evicted from. The party reckoned they could get to the keep and still keep the Darkness at bay if they used all of their light sources and their newly acquired cache of magical weapons, which were known to at least cause it some anguish in the past.

The party pushed on into the Darkness in a tight formation, occasionally hitting out with their magical weapons. As they moved through, the Darkness parted before them but rapidly closed in behind them again. The Darkness began to form the shapes and outlines of beings again; it was obviously getting stronger and night was about to fall.

After a short time, the party emerged from the Darkness into an area that was not affected by it; rather like the eye of a storm centred over the keep. Off in the distance, behind the keep walls, they heard a mighty clang as if a large metal object had just collapsed. They raced towards the keep only to find the main gates locked. Without waiting for Korum to pick the locks, Bardan crashed them open with his mighty boot and the party followed him through into the courtyard. The Darkness had somehow got into the castle and filled most of the courtyard.

Forming a tight wedge, the party fought their way through the blackness towards the actual keep door. Each step they took was an ordeal with the shapes moving within the Darkness forming up and striking at the party. The party struck back causing many of the shapes to lose cohesiveness but they quickly reformed. The orb was used to aid in their fight, with the Darkness pulling back with a hiss, but reforming rapidly when the party had moved on. After a few minutes of desperate struggle, they passed the source of the metallic crash; the wizard’s Iron Golem had succumbed to the Darkness and fallen just outside the door of the inner keep. Their light sources had started to dim and the torches were no longer able to be relit. A few more hard fought steps had them arrive at the door, but it was locked. Korum could not force the lock so Bardan attempted to kick it down. He was unable to. Korum, remembering one of the magical items he had bought back in their local town was still around his waist, summoned up his strength and kicked the door. It burst asunder from its hinges. Those Giants sure were strong.

The party hurried into the brightly lit interior and quickly made their way down the only corridor to the door at the far end. It was locked. Arken knocked on the door, identifying himself and calling out the wizard’s name. It was swiftly opened. The party were ushered into a small study and the door was rapidly closed behind them, but not before the last to enter noticed that the torches at the far end of the corridor were starting to go out one-by-one.

Breathing a sigh of relief for the temporary reprieve, the party took a rest. Arken, however, rummaged in his backpack and produced the unicorn horn, the urn containing the troll’s heart, the chalice and the dragon orb. He handed them over to the wizard one at a time, but when the wizard’s hand closed around the chalice, he dropped it in disgust. It had been tainted. Black veins of writhing power could be seen all over the outer surface. He said that he must get on with the ritual straight away, although he was afraid that the party were too late, especially as the chalice was corrupted. Arken tried to Dispel Magic, but his spell did not work. The light from the corridor that was entering from under the door snuffed out. The Darkness was directly outside the room now.

The Ritual

The wizard stepped up to his bookshelf and pulled a particular tome from the shelf just enough to trigger the switch in the floor holding the desk in place. He swung the desk out of the way and pulled open the trap-door revealed beneath. He quickly ushered the party down through the door before closing it firmly behind them. The small room beneath the trap-door was just big enough to hold the circle of power drawn on the floor and a few items of ritualistic paraphernalia.

Arken took himself to one corner with the dragon orb and chalice to converse with his goddess. After a short period of preparation, the wizard stated he was ready to start his incantations but Arken still struggled in the corner trying to force the orb surrounded by an intense bright white light and the chalice surrounded by a pulsing halo of darkness together.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash and Arken fell to the floor, dropping the orb and chalice from his hands. The black veins of power that were threaded throughout the surface of the chalice were now gone. Korum picked the items up and handed them to the wizard so that he could begin his ritual and the rest of the party tended to Arken. Light began to pulse within the confines of the inscribed circle upon the floor, gradually obscuring the wizard within.

Rioja managed to force his three potions of Healing between Arken’s lips and the cleric slowly started to come to; he had been on the point of death.

The pulsing light from within the circle rapidly increased in intensity until it suddenly winked out and a massive out-rush of air knocked everyone to the floor. The pulsating light had gone leaving the shrivelled shell of the wizard upon the floor; aged beyond the aeons of eternity.

The Light of Day (Day 89)

Korum slowly pulled himself to his feet. The wizard was obviously dead, but it sounded like he had achieved his purpose; the battering on the trap door above had stopped and a calmness had descended upon the keep. He pushed open the trap door and climbed up into the study devastated by high winds and awesome dark power. He rushed along the corridor and took a look outside. The Darkness had gone but there was something else in the sky. For the briefest of instants he saw the shape of a gleaming, bright dragon dip below the horizon just as the sun broke free of the tree-tops ushering in a new dawn.

Arken, recovered from his ordeal, took up the orb and threw it at the wall of the ritual room. It shattered into a thousand pieces. The magic had worked.

The rest of the party pulled themselves from their reveries and slowly made their way out into the courtyard. Bardan joined Korum who was busily picking up the pieces of the Iron Golem. He mentioned it would make a great guardian for their home tower if only they could get it working again. He was aware that they needed a special incantation written down on a piece of paper inserted into its head or breast. He put his hands into all the rents in the metal carapace and found what he was looking for. Unfortunately he could not read it, so he passed it to Rioja, who quickly grabbed it and returned to the wizard’s study in order to decipher it. He grabbed a few relevant books from off of the shelves and started to read, nodding sagely to himself as things started to make sense. They would have a new guardian for their stronghold in the south.

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