Thursday, 27 June 2013

Dragon Warriors 2:12

Return to the Hall of the Trickster (26th June 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight
Hillson – Warlock
Nazir al Khalid – Barbarian
Solaran – Elementalist (NPC’d)
Karban Telos – Sorcerer (NPC’d)

The Chair of the Spear (Day 36 – the early afternoon (116)

Sir Erich, Hillson the warlock, and Aethelfrith returned to the ship again to rest and relay their news to the rest of the party. In an attempt to escape the boredom of the last couple of days re-provisioning the ship and hiding in nervous anticipation of the reappearance of the Bloody Bitch, two of the crew decided they wanted to join the adventurers on their next foray back to the Trickster’s Hall. Nazir also determined that he wanted to join them for an outing too.

So, the small band of six headed to the buried halls to seek adventure. The sight of the illusionary hall wowed the two crew members and they made to wander off on their own to investigate until they were called back to heel by the rest of the party. Sir Erich warned the crewmen not to wander off and sit at the tables when the adventurers disappeared when they sat on the next chair, or they might end up lost to the world forever.

The party sat upon the chair one at a time and each suddenly appeared in the midst of a huge battle between men, elves, dwarfs and giants. They quickly formed a defensive ring but realised quite quickly that they were actually being ignored as the battle raged around them. This gave them time to look around but they could see nothing of interest to head towards as a goal. Suddenly they heard a huge wolf howl from the distant side of the battlefield, but nothing came of it so they continued surveying their environs.

After a few minutes, a natural break in the ebb and flow of the battle meant that a path began to clear between the combatants and down the avenue between the fighting warriors loped an enormous wolf. Sir Erich and Aethelfrith managed to leap aside as the wolf attacked the party but Nazir and Hillson were not so quick and were bowled over upon the wolf’s arrival. Sir Erich tried to grip his battle axe for a firm blow but it seemed to slip from his fingers. Aethelfrith attempted to draw his sword but was unable to do so for the same reason. Nazir and Hillson tried to ready their weapons but they also had the same problem. They all decided to re-sheathe their arms and fight the beast with their mailed fists.

The battle proved deadly for the fighters, each of them was mauled severely by the giant wolf, but each gave a few mighty blows in return that obviously harmed the beast. It was down to Hillson to heal each of the warriors in turn to prevent their imminent deaths. Aethelfrith, remembering some of his childhood tales, realised that this was Fenris; the great wolf from the battle that would end the world – Ragnarok. He shouted to the others to draw their weapons but to use them with their left hands – they could not grip them with their right hands as that was the hand that Tyr had lost when the great Fenris was captured and bound by the gods. This proved to be just the inspiration the party needed and they fought back with a vengeance; the great wolf was slain quite swiftly thereafter as the three fighters hewed mighty blows upon their foe. As the body of the wolf hit the ground, one of its huge canine teeth fell loose. Aethelfrith picked it up and began to examine it. As he touched the huge fang, the path through the battle began to form again and a shimmering mist appeared a short distance away. The party rushed towards it and as they made their way through the mist they found themselves back in the great hall covered in blood and hurting badly from their wounds.

The sight of the injured warriors proved a bit too much for the two crewmen who had been left behind and they asked to be taken back to the ship. The adventurers were also eager to return to the ship with them, so they all hobbled back to the cog for a good sleep, a hearty meal and the healing powers of the sorcerer.

The Chair of the Snowflake (Day 37 – morning)

When the four adventurers awoke the following day, they quickly collected some more foodstuffs from the ship’s stores and returned to hall under the mountain; this time without the two crew members who had told the rest of their ship mates the tales of the Trickster’s Hall and decided that adventuring was a bit too much for them.

This time, it was Aethelfrith who sat upon the chair first. One-by-one they were pulled through to another world. They immediately found themselves surrounded by trees and a couple of berry bushes; the whole vista covered in a huge blanket of deep snow. There was no way to get through the trees as they were so close together, and as a result the party could not figure out what the quest might be with this one, but they did however notice that it started to become perceptibly colder as each minute wore on. They decided to collect some wood and kindling to light a fire, but each time the flames began to lick at the dried material, they went out. Sir Erich suggested that they should build a snow shelter in the hope that it would keep them out of the worst of the cold, but the small shelter they were able to construct did nothing to abate the bitterness of the biting cold.

Aware that they needed to do something fast before they all froze to death Sir Erich and Aethelfrith grabbed a few sprigs of the red and white berries from the bushes nearby. They threw a few of each colour onto the fledgling fire, but it was only the white berries that seemed to have an, albeit minor, effect. The warriors then nibbled at the berries but only encountered a very bitter and foul tasting juice contained within. Sir Erich, who realised that maybe the only wood that would burn would be from the white bush, rushed off to cut a few armfuls of the branches. These he fed into the fire and the fire did start to smoulder gently. The smoke from the small fire rose directly up towards the sky but a small amount of it also began to form a hazy mist off to one side of the clearing. The party gathered more branches from the white berry bush and fed them into the now slowly growing conflagration. This led to the hazy smoke forming a more distinct doorway through which the party stepped carrying a few handfuls of the white berry bearing twigs. The party now had a sprig or two of mistletoe to add to the wolf tooth and eye that they had previously earned from their encounters through the other chairs.

The Chair of the Bow (Day 37 – around noon)
Buoyed up by their relatively easy victory in the last encounter, the party quickly decided to try the next chair in line. The bow carved into the back of it suggested either more combat or hunting, so the fighters readied their missile weapons before passing through to the other side.

They were greeted by a warm, sunny day in part of a large forest. However, when they looked around they noticed that their companions were not with them. After just a few moments all of them noticed unmistakeable deer tracks leading away from where they were stood. Aethelfrith tried shouting out at the top of his lungs to see if his companions were nearby but all that he succeeded in doing was making his throat sore.

They all decided to follow the tracks with bows (or spells in Hillson’s case) at the ready. Hillson and Aethelfrith managed to come upon their quarry within a short space of time, but Sir Erich and Nazir wandered around aimlessly following the tracks but finding no sign of their prey.

After he had crept up on the deer to get a closer shot, Aethelfrith let fly with one of his arrows and struck the deer in the rump. This caused the deer to turn at bay and charge him down.

Meanwhile, Hillson tried to creep ever closer but never seemed to gain upon his quarry. Sir Erich also seemed to be losing track of his prey but decided to carry on following the path all the same.

Nazir soon spotted a grizzled and bearded old man trailing him. He made to call out to the old man but was shot at for his troubles. The arrow hit him but failed to penetrate his armour. He charged at the old man, drawing his morning star as he did so.

Aethelfrith took the charge of the deer (whose horns did not penetrate his armour) and struck it with his magical short sword, again causing a wound.

Meanwhile Hillson kept on stalking his prey but it kept getting further away from him. Sir Erich began to feel a little uneasy, as if he was being stalked, so he holed up in a tree to see who might be following him. Hillson’s prey seemed to disappear from sight, so he sat down on the forest floor to see if his prey would come to him.

Nazir, was charged down in return by the hunter and received a nasty sword wound to his side just after he struck the huntsman.

Aethelfrith, being a hunter himself back in the real world, thought that there was something unusual about the deer confronting him. Deer just did not act in that way. He stepped back from the melee and assumed a defensive stance. The deer backed away a few steps and did the same. Aethelfrith then put his weapon away. The deer then faded away to become Nazir – the illusion had been broken. As Nazir’s animal form finally faded, the antlers that were on his head (from Aethelfrith’s point of view) dropped to the floor. Aetheflrith picked them up.

Whilst Hillson waited for his quarry to turn up and Sir Erich looked about for his stalker, they too realised the illusion and both faded back to their original bodies. Sir Erich picked up the antlers that were now at his feet.

A haze started to form not far from the adventurers, so they all stepped through it and back into the Trickster’s Hall.

As a couple of them had taken a few blows in the illusory world, they decided to call it a day and headed back to the ship for another rest and round of healing from the sorcerer.

The Chair of the Boar (Day 38 – morning)

After a refreshing sleep and some decent victuals the four adventurers set off again. They mentioned to their companions still on the boat that they were now close to cracking the entire Trickster’s Hall conundrum and would probably only need a further day to resolve it completely. They would then set sail in the hope that this interlude had put off all manner of pursuit by the Bloody Bitch and her gang of pirates. They totted up their prizes thusly…

Well chair                    eye
Spear chair                  wolf canine
Snowflake chair          sprig of mistletoe
Bow chair                    rack of antlers
Boar chair                    to be investigated
Lyre chair                    to be investigated
Flame chair                  they know that the last person to sit upon it got burnt

This time upon their return to the hall, they made their way straight back towards the Boar chair. Sir Erich immediately sat upon it, closely followed by Aetheflrith, Nazir and Hillson.

As soon as Sir Ercih stepped through to the other world he was immediately confronted by a beautiful woman in a chainmail hauberk, with a shield and spear. She was standing before a chained up golden-coloured giant boar that was gnashing its tusks. She spoke to Sir Erich in the ancient tongue that the party had heard previously but he found that he could understand perfectly what she was saying to him. She asked him whether he would like to face the wild boar or her in mortal combat to test his bravery, or would he rather leave? Sir Erich, being the chivalrous type decided it was best he went toe-to-toe with the great golden boar. The woman shouted a command, the chain binding the great beast slipped away and the golden boar charged at his adversary just as Hillson and the rest of the companions arrived on the scene one by one.

The fight with the boar was ferocious and went on for several minutes, each combatant striking the other in turn, but eventually the superior strength and virility of the wild boar took its toll on Sir Erich and he collapsed to the ground with a final drive of the boar’s tusks into his stomach. When he had let out his last breath, a raven fluttered down from above and landed on his chest.

Aethelfrith’s blood by now had grown hot and he wished to avenge his comrade. The armoured woman bade him whether he would rather fight her, the boar, take his leave or honour his companion? He was sorely tempted to just charge down the woman and beat her senseless but his valour got the better of his temper and he asked whether he could join the fight right away. The woman smiled and said that that boar would be healed before he fought his next opponent. Aethelfrith said that would make no difference and charged into battle. The boar glowed faintly for a few seconds and did the same.

Aethelfrith’s fight went the same way as Sir Erich’s. He matched the boar blow for blow, and blocked many of its attacks with his superior shield craft, but eventually he too was taken down by the great golden boar’s tusks. Again, as his last breath left him, a raven fluttered down and landed upon his chest.

Nazir, seeing his comrades slain before his eyes swore an oath to avenge them. The lady asked again whether he would like to test his bravery and skills against the boar or the woman herself, honour the dead, or leave. Nazir’s response was “I will not fight the boar. I will take on its master - You!”

The boar was pulled back and magically re-chained as the warrior woman took up a combat position. The fight again only lasted a minute or two. Nazir could only match the warrior woman for a short time before her superior skill began to tell. He too crumpled to the floor, whereupon a raven landed upon his chest.

With the final warrior vanquished the woman turned to Hillson and asked him the same question. Realising he could not defeat either the warrior woman or the boar in mortal combat he realised he must think his way out of this predicament. He chose to honour his dead comrades.

The warrior woman bade him to pick up his colleagues’ bodies and place them onto the pyre that had just appeared nearby. He did as he was bid and then she handed him a torch. Upon her command he lit the pyre, but to his surprise the fire did not consume his comrades’ bodies. Instead the ravens sat upon their chests until the flames had died down and then the three warriors arose as if from a deep slumber.

Once the warriors had come to grips with their near death experience the warrior woman strode up to them and applauded them for their bravery and honour. She handed each of the warriors a small golden spear each and then ushered everyone through the now familiar smoky gateway back to the Trickster’s Hall.

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