The Mercenary Queen

Forming of the Company
Lots of Booms

In the Inn of the Siren’s Song, our adventures come together. After a night of heavy drinking and thievery, our heroes come together at that the behest of Cedric, a mysterious individual who needs help rescuing his wayward ward, Alorana. She has gone to negotiate with Cantus, the King of Thieves and not yet returned. He fears that something bad has happened and that she may be in great peril. Our heroes, led by Aislynn, and including Bram, Jimmy the Gnome and Lieutenant Roy, head off to infiltrate the King of Thieves lair in the ruins of the Caer Folsom on the near by peninsula to the port town of Ivory Bay.

They arrive at Caer Folsom to be captured by the minions of Cantus and brought before his court within the ruins. Aislynn reveals her previous relationship with Cantus and the two bandy back and forth. Cantus, however, is not amused and puts them all in the dungeon. Though all their gears is confiscated, Jimmy manages to keep a small amount of his “Experimental” Explosive. The putty compound is used to attempt to blow the lock on the cell door. Unfortunately it not blows off the cell door, it blows a twenty foot hole in the entire dungeon. Fortunately, our intrepid heroes avoid certain death at the hands of the gnomes insanity, but are captured again. This time, Cantus seems willing to talk. He takes Aislynn aside to his private office while Bram, Jimmy, and Roy stand out in the court room where Alorana is bound and hanging from the ceiling.

As Aislynn tries to negotiate with Cantus for the release of Alorana, Alorana convinces Bram to help her by putting out one of the torches. He isn’t sure why she wants this done, but thinking quickly, he grabs Jimmy and throws him at the torch. Jimmy collides with the torch, catching himself on fire and igniting the last of his secret store of explosive. The resulting explosion kills our friend Jimmy and brings the entire ruin down on everyone’s head. In the process, it also drops Alorana from her precarious perch dangling from the ceiling. Bram and Roy jump to catch Alorana and find themselves falling to the ground outside the Caer with Alorana in their arms. As they turn to see what has happened, they see the last of the ruins collapse in on themselves, sealing the horde of thieves within a stony tomb.

Aislynn manages not to get buried in the avalanche of stone, but is attacked by Cantus. The two fight within the tight confines of their prison, striking at one another. Cantus uses a poison blade and manages to strike Aislynn, but she survives to slit his throat at last. Alorana, Bram, and Roy search the ruins, finding their missing gear and arming themselves once more. Eventually they hear Aislynn crying for help and dig her out. The heroes stumble out of the destroyed the castle and are met by Cedric and a host of twenty High Elf warriors who have come to help them. Reunited with her companions, Alorana invites the heroes to join her company, which they accept. She reveals that what she was trying to do was get the key which Cantus had stolen from her family when he helped in the assassination of her father, mother, and siblings – the last of an ancient line of High Elf Kings and Queens in a distant land. The key opens the vault of their family mausoleum and would grant her access to the family valuables, including the crown of the King and other ancient relics concealed within.

It was decided, after the arrival of the local Magistrate and a few friends from the inn, that the company would excavate the ruined Caer and get Cantus’s treasure trove as well as turn the bodies of the now deceased Cantus and his chief lieutenants over to the authorities to receive the bounty for the King of Thieves and his minions. This provided the Company a war chest to establish themselves as a mercenary company and start up operational costs. It also provided them with supplies necessary to get themselves into a different land, now that it was obvious from the attitude of the Magistrate that they were no longer welcome in Ivory Bay.

So begins the adventures of the Mercenary Queen.

View
Forming the Company II

We received a summons from Duke Haidan Hanar today and were given our first assignment as a company. We are to travel north to the village of Dooley where we will assist in the defense of the village and deal with a group of barbarian raiders that are assaulting the local area. So far, all we really know is that some of the villagers have been taken captive.

We acquired a couple of more recruits today as well. Maria Valaeri is our healer now, recommended to us by Duke Hanar. She is a young woman with a wicked smile and brilliant blue eyes. The other was a gnome named Bill, cousin of Jimmy who met an unfortunate event during the last action. Bill seems to think he knows everything and is the greatest gnome inventor to have ever existed. We’ll see.

It took four days of hard travel northward through the foothills of the Fury’s Shield Mountains. The village is to the north east of Ivory Bay some hundred fifty miles. We arrived with Letter of Intent from the Duke to Elder Malistair Ramsey. He greeted us with a sigh of relief and a quizzical look. I don’t think there are enough of us to do the job. We have forty members to our company, it should be enough to handle a few barbarian raiders.

Elder Ramsey’d information says there are at least thirty raiders at any given time. We don’t know if there are more. He says the majority are Orcs but there are humans among them. This could be bad.

Aislynn and Eryndell of Greenwood went off to check with the other villages. Marn, a village about twenty miles west she reported was burned to the ground. Of the two hundred villagers she found only twenty bodies. Rather odd. They went on to check the village of Ezlynn. While in Ezlynn she and Eryndell came under attack by a group of Orcs. Aislynn is subdued by the surprise attack and knocked unconscious. Just as she passed out she saw what she called an angel of light burst into the scene. When she came to, she found that her angel is none other than Bram Tanrael. Bram heals both Aislynn and Eryndell and informs them that they were lucky as the Orcs had set up a trap for them. He offers to go back with them to Dooley.

Bill has continued to be a whinny little gnome, complaining that he is not being selected to work on the most important projects as his skills and knowledge should allow him. Lieutenant Roy finally gets tired of him, ties him up and hangs him up in a tree. The local children then use Bill as a pinata, whacking him with sticks. Aislynn and scouting party return from scouting with Bram, and give the information about the people being taken into the mountains. It is decided that Aislynn, Bran, Roy, Bill, and Bram will go with a couple of Archers into the mountains and try to seek out the missing people while the rest of the company continues to work on the defenses of Dooley. With that in mind, we set out toward the mountains, uncertain of what we will encounter next.

View
Kill Bill

Our adventure opens up tonight with a mission into the mountains of Fury’s Shield Mountains. However, we got such a late start that we didn’t get to go more than a dozen feet before we all fell asleep at the wheel. We’ll try again later.

View
Kill Bill, The Second Attempt

After discussing the consistency and flavor of the Gummi Bears being eaten at the table, we moved on!

We ventured to the Hillside Inn on the northern trail into the Fury’s Shield Mountains. There we met Ronald, a guardsman of Ivory who had been sent to investigate the disappearances. Ronald leads our group up into the mountains where they discover the Dark Citadel. The Dark Citadel is an ancient fortress that guarded the rich gold mines of the Fury’s Shield Mountains before the Cataclysm. They have been ruins for a thousand years, but now, it appears there are some renovations going on.

Ronald explains to the group that is where the captive villagers have been taken by the Orcs. Apparently they have decided to reopen the mines with slave labor to dig it out. Whomever is really controlling things, they are trying to keep things as quiet as they possibly can.

Bill decides that he is going to go and blow up the place, leaving the rest of the part behind as he intrepidly heads off to take on the host alone.

View
Kill Bill - Missed Opportunities

And so our intrepid adventures cower behind a rock staring out the rising spires of the Dark Citadel being rebuilt by an unknown foe. Bill has since headed off to explode his dastardly deeds upon the enemy beyond. As to our intrepid characters? They are left with a dilemma to contend with …

(And on this date, for all the world to know, Larissa snorted over 100 times in less than an hour)

The group decides to back track down to a point where they can more easily access the water and use boats to access a small spit of land down in the lake far below. However before the party leaves, Bran goes over and cuts the rope which Bill is using to rappel down the side of the cliff just enough so that the rope will break after the party slips away unseen. The rope snapped and Bill falls into the lake below with a loud, mournful yelp of surprise. Kersplash!

Our party reaches a point where they can access the lake, and there are a couple of beached boats there. As they are getting into the boats, Roy falls over unconscious and plunges face first into the water. After the party pulls him out of the water and leaves him laying on the beach, they decide that venturing into the evil castle and the dungeons beneath would be better accomplished after nightfall.

Bill, on the other hand, has managed to pull himself out the water, sputtering and snarling about stupid ropes, and crawls onto the beach. Miraculously, he has managed not to be caught or seen at this point, but it is only a matter of time. He decides to wait a bit, build himself a small, shielded fire so that he can dry out his clothes and equipment before venturing into the dark cavern beyond and beginning to wreck his havoc within the citadel.

View
Secrets in the Dark - Into the Den of Pirate King

On the trail of Bill, Asylnn, Bran, Roy, and Eysion Farstrider find a couple of boats tied up down river. Roy puts his superior sailing skills to use getting the party back up to the base of the cliffs and the waterfalls cascading down. Unfortunately he misjudges his position and nearly swamps the boat underneath one of Fell Watch’s waterfalls. Drenched, the team finds a place to land the boat with a dark, foreboding cave entrance to boot.

Unfortunately, it’s not the same entrance used by Bill. They find themselves in a labyrinth of caverns and passages that brings them into combat with three strange scaly monkey like creatures(XP 900)and a treasure cave filled with stockpiles of crated goods and coin. The battle with the monkey creatures ends up incapacitating Roy, who the party is forced to leave behind in the safest place they can find while they continue searching for where Bill has gone.

As they search, they come upon a man-made tunnel. A tunnel with fine stonework supporting the walls and ceilings. It is determined by Bran that the work is Dwarfish, and so with great curiosity they continue exploring. They come upon an old haul, complete with skeletons of various humanoids. A throne sitting upon a dais is occupied by a short, Dwarven skeleton with a circlet upon his head, an amulet hanging from around the neck and a crossbow bolt buried in it’s chest. At his feet is another dwarf clutching a heavily bound book. Aislynn grabs the circlet and amulet and then promptly discovers a large vault like door concealed behind the throne. She picks the locks and nimbly steps aside as the door comes crashing down and smashes the throne and it’s occupant.

She finds another door. Unlocks it and sets off all the traps which narrowly miss turning her into a pin cushion. A third door blocks their path, but she easily unlocks it and opens the door … and nearly faints. Within the enormous room is a Dragon’s treasure of gold, jewels, and magic items. Aislynn and Bran agree, they need to keep this quite. We leave them back in the throne room after having reset the traps and concealed the doors. Their choice before them is simple, head down the hall to the large stone doorway before them or try the small wooden door built into the side of one of the hall. The servant or the master? Which one will bear them well and which will spell their doom. Find out in the next installment.

View
A little Cut Scene

Aloranna stood and stabbed her shovel into the ground. She glanced out across the freshly plowed fields and wiped the sweat from her brow. There would be no wheat planted for a while there. The villagers were finishing up the last of the stake traps while her people finished their work on the palisades. Give us another few days and we’ll have the walls in place and the trenches dug, she thought. There was still a lot of work to do. Towers needed to be built and moats needed to be filled with spikes. Get that done and the marauders might think twice about attacking the village. She gave the fields another quick glance and stopped.

At the tree line she saw something move. In a moment the something became a man hurriedly running toward the village. Aloranna grimaced and glanced back toward the palisades.

“Eyes on the field!” She called out.

A stout looking dwarf glanced up, then a pair of her Elven Long-bowmen looked up. A few seconds later the alarm was raising and her people were on the walls, bows in hand and ready for action. She turned back toward the approaching runner, deserting the shovel and picking up her long sword.

“Are you sure you want to be doing that there, lass?” Called out the dwarf.

She glanced back at him and smirked, “Why wouldn’t I want to do this, Salaius?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because the last time Ye went off on yer own you ended up captured and hanging in a crow’s cage?” He stroked his long braided white beard, “Maybe?”

Aloranna grinned and nodded to him, “Good point, but I think I’ll go anyway.”

“Suit yer self, lass,” He sighed and hefted his huge bi-penis battle axe and disappeared from view.

She rolled her eyes and continued walking nonchalant toward the oncoming runner. A few minutes later the burly Salaius was at her side, whistling off key. They walked along like that for several moments, closing the distance between themselves and the runner. Aloranna noted the placement of the white washed stones used to mark the limits of her archers and stopped there, laying her hand atop the pummel of her sword and watching the runner draw ever closer. Salaius checked his axe, scrapping his thumb appreciatively across the blades.

“Well, he’s not stopping, lass.”

“No, he’s not,” She remarked.

“What do you want to do?”

“I guess we’ll see how much of a fight is left in him by the time he reaches us.” Her eyes narrowed as she got a better look at the runner. She caught the glint of something metallic, then saw the heraldic crest on his surcoat. “Damn it!” She turned and waved her arms at the men on the battlements, “Send water and a horse!”

Salaius scowled, eyeing her peculiarly, “You want to let me in on the secret?”

Aloranna turned and shielded her eyes to make sure she was seeing what she thought she saw. The runner was slowing, his breathing heavy. The surcoat and the heraldry were clear.

“That’s one of Duke Hanar’s men,” She said. “Go get Haran and assemble a squad. If this runner has a message from Aislynn, we might need to move quickly.”

Salaius nodded and gruffed to himself as he trotted back toward the wall. A moment later a rider bearing his long bow and a water skin galloped out of unfinished gate, headed toward her. Aloranna trotted out toward the man as he stopped and bent over, resting his hands on his knees as he drew in long deep breaths. She reached him about the same time as the rider. The man looked up, his elvish ears protruding from his long golden hair.

“My lady Aloranna, I presume,” the man gasped. “Please forgive my rudeness, but it’s been a long run.”

“Worry not, good sir, I’m not offended,” She reached up for the skin of water and pulled the cork, offering it to him. The man nodded his thanks and took a long drink. She waited long enough for him to catch his breath and asked, “What news do you have?”

“Your friends, Aislynn I believe is the girl that was their leader, are going into the fortress a day’s hard ride north of here. They are going to approach by the water there. One of their number, a gnome of some ill repute among them fell off the cliff and was swimming for a cave entrance. They meant to go after him and spy what they could find within the cavern.”

“Fortress?”

“Yes, my lady, it’s an ancient keep that once protected the northern approach long before the sundering stands there with waterfalls passing through its walls. It now stands nearly two hundred spans above the lake below and is nigh unapproachable save by a narrow pass that follows up through the mountains to the east and is clear in view of their guards.”

“Black stone, crumbling parapets, and looks like some giant kicked it over?” She asked.

Well, the stone is black, and many of the towers were crumbling, but someone looks as though they’ve set to putting it back together," the runner answered and took another sip.

Aloranna cursed and started running back toward the village. She yelled back over her shoulder at the surprised runner and her own rider, “Get this man a fresh horse and provisions, then send him on his way.” She dashed toward the gate, “Salaius, get your butt back here. We’ve got a big problem!”

The rider and the runner exchanged a curious look. The runner grimaced and shook his head, “Is she always like that?”

The rider shrugged, “Only when she’s in a hurry.”

Salaius and Haran came around the corner of the unfinished gate the same time Aloranna came dashing through the opening. She caught both of them by the shoulders and pulled them along, looking for the first shady spot she could find.

“Damn,” She growled.

“What gives?” Salaius bellowed.

“Hang on a minute, I’m going to spill me pint!” Haran howled.

Aloranna found what she was looking for and dragged the struggling dwarves toward a dark shadow of a building.

“No time!” She snapped.

“No time for what?” Haran finally managed to get loose of her grip.

“Hey guys, what’s going on?” A tall, muscular young man asked.

“Come on Ed!” Aloranna continued moving. She spun around, grabbed Haran by the beard and started to pull.

“Hey now, that’s me beard, damn it!”

“No time!” Aloranna repeated. “Got your Axe?”

“Yeah, I got my ax! but let go of the beard!” Haran shouted.

Aloranna let go of Haran’s arm and caught a hold of his arm and pulled him toward the shadow. “Got your sword, Ed?”

Ed smirked and trotted after them, “Yes ma’am.”

“Good!”

“You’re not going to zip me somewhere unpleasant are you?” Haran complained.

“What the hell is going on?” Salaius roared.

Aloranna paused long enough to say, “They’re in the tunnels beneath Fell Guard.”

Salaius’s eyes widened, “BLOODY SHITE WOMAN, WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT FIRST?!?!?”

Aloranna grabbed him by the arm and yanked him into the shadow. The last thing anyone heard as the four of them vanished into thin air was, “NO TIME!!!”

View
The Adventure so far

(It’s been a little while, but the campaign has been moving on. Here is the latest of what has been going on with our intrepid adventures.)

The Adventure so far …

Okay, Aislynn, Bran, and their Elven companion are still in the throne room. There is the door at the far end of the columned hall and a small wooden door to the left of the throne. There is also a dvergar body kind of sitting on the steps before the throne. He holds a book in his skeletal hands. What are you two going to do?

Aislynn looks around,m “Okay, treasure is secured….Wait, where did that book come from.” She walks up and looks at the cover, not touching, trying to see what she can of the book.

As she looks at the worn, faded leather cover, the first thing she notes is the intricate steel framework that edges the voluminous book. The other thing she notices is that the title is written in Dvergari (Dwarvish) and is written in silver. The book is extremely large, approximately six hundred pages of parchment bound in leather and metal. There is a metal clasp that keeps it closed with a simple lock on the front, but the lock is unlatched and hanging open.

The cover of the book reads, “Annals of King Seahammer and the Dragon’s Horde”.

As you are looking at the cover of the book you hear voices echoing through the caverns. One of the voices sounds like Aloranna’s. The other two voices are gruff and gravelly, like your two “favorite” Dvergar. You also hear a sound closer to you, a scratching sound like … bone on stone.

“Hey Bran, have you ever heard of a book called “Annul of King Seahammer and the Dragon’s Horde”? Also can you hear that, I think I hear Aloranna, but also I think our skeletal friends lying around on the ground might be waking up." Under her breath she says, “Damn! Us with no priest, this will be fun.” She sighs.

The scratching noise is getting closer.

“Bran, I hope you are ready with a blunt object.” Looks around to see where the scratching noise is coming from

As suspected, the skeletons once at peace have now risen. All different sizes of humanoids are represented here from tiny Nissi to towering Jotunn, each bearing the arms that they possessed in life. The voiceless mouths open and close, the creaking of the bones and paper dry sinew the only sounds as they lumber forward, raising their weapons in preparation for the fight. The skeleton on the throne struggles to raise, then starts to look around for its missing head.

Not too far away …

Aloranna, Salaius, Haran and Ed have materialized in a large, dark chasm. Though there are no real sources of light present, all of them manage to get a decent view of their surroundings. They are standing on the wooden deck of a ship which the deck is the only thing wooden on other than some railings. The cannons fixed to port and starboard are wrapped in heavy cloth and the two giant turrets to front and back have enormous guns whose’s muzzles have been capped. Off in the distance there are four other ships, though these are wooden and obviously sailing vessels from the wooden spars and masts that spring up from their hull. They have been left in stone dry docks, lifted out of the water where it is obvious at one point they were undergoing a refit.

The enormous ironclad ship is itself sitting in a stone dry dock nestled up against a stone quay that follows along the edge of this underground harbor for nearly a third of its circumference.

“Other than being a little darker than the last time, it doesn’t look like much has changed since we last left here,” Aloranna says, her voice seeming to boom off the walls of the cavern.

“No, a wee bit darker, that’s for sure, lass,” Salaius replies.

“You’ve been here before?” Haran asks, frowning at the two of them.

“It’s been a while,” Aloranna says non-noncommittally and walks toward the gangway down.

Salaius grunts and follows after her, “Not long enough for some.”

Ed quips a little teasingly, “So, care to elaborate a bit for us newbies or do we have to go in half blind?”

Aloranna looks at Ed and smirks, “Just reminiscing.” She motioned toward Salaius with a shrug of her shoulders, “Sparky there used to be a Pirate King and this used to be his lair.”

“Until she came and introduced herself with the pointy end of her sword,” Salaius forced a broad smile. “She can be quite convincing when she wants to be.”

“As convincing as a heart attack,” Haran grumbled.

Ed grimaces, “Point taken. S-o-o-o are these hunks of metal still able to function or are they only here to look pretty?”

Harlan puffs up his chest, “These my friend are genuine Dvergarian manufacture!” He smiles broadly as though he has announced something stupendous motioning to the cannon next to him, “I would dare say they could sit here for an entire millennium and still be working when you found them.” He reaches out and slaps his hand down on the cannon as he continues his delivery, “This here is the finest …”

BOOM!!!!

The cannon goes off. As the could of smoke clears you hear the unmistakable whistle of artillery as a cannon ball rockets toward the tall stone doorway at the top of the stairs across from where the ship lays in berth. There is a clang in the distance as the cannon ball hit something and then loud crashing and clanging before the ball comes bouncing back out the doorway and bounces down the stairs, rolls across the stone quay to where it hops the edge and drops into the water.

“Oops!” Haran grins sheepishly. “Someone forgot to unload it before they left.”
“You Dull whitted nincompoop!” Howls Salaius, “You could have killed us all!”

Ed says with a hint of mirth, “Haran, I’m guessing you’re not much for the element of surprise?” Looking towards Aloranna, Ed says, “anything down that way we should be worried about.. you know, big, mean beasties and the like? Only reason I ask is that our intrepid little friend here probably woke up anything and everything that could be sleeping in these caverns and I’d rather not get my butt handed to me on a platter if they don’t appreciate his style of ‘wake up call’.”

Aloranna grimaces and looks toward the doorway, “Well, as long as no one brings that talisman we left hanging around the skeleton we sat in the throne, we’ll be okay. If someone does bring it through the door …” She trailed off and her grimace intensified.

Meanwhile…

Bran readies his pistol and takes aim at the pelvic bone of the skeletal king and fires.

BOOM!!!!

The explosion is far louder than it should have been and Bran finds himself looking down the barrel of his now smoldering gun in amazement and quietly remarks, “I only put a hundred grains of powder in there, damn it!”

Coming from behind Aislynn and Bran comes a booming echoing voice “Insolent fools! Don’t you know that you awaken the entire castle from removing that amulet?”
A young priestess of light appears from behind. “I had a feeling to set camp on the far side of that dreaded lake and here you come making so much noise. All that aside name is Satidiana or Sari for short if you wish. Now for what I was waiting to do.”

Sari throws Bran a vial of holy water with a wink saying “Soak your bullets in this and get ready.”

Sari readies turn undead.

The sound of an object rocketing through the air at subsonic speeds draws all their attention toward the far door at the end of the hallo. Some of the skeletons actually stop and look back over their shoulders with a wordless cry. A 30 pound cannon ball comes bursting through the door, demolishes the throne and ricocheted off the throne. Shards of bone and skeleton go flying everywhere.

Sari dodges out of the way of the rocketing iron death as it bounces off the vault door, putting a huge dent in it and smashing the pin lock wheel before tearing back toward our intrepid adventures. The thundering gong of the ball striking the metal door reverberates through the throne room. What damage had been done by the shot’s passing is now magnified tenfold as the sonic vibration shatters the remaining skeletons and leaves our living adventures with one hellacious headache. They also find that hearing anything that anyone else is saying is difficult at best for at least a couple of minutes.

View
Where Did Sailor Boy Go???

AND NOW: WHERE DID SAILOR BOY GO???

Roy heard something move in the darkness. He opened his blood caked eyes and tried to glance around but his head hurt. The blow he had taken should have thoroughly done him in, but it seemed he somehow had managed to survive. He tried to sit up but nothing happened. He twitched his fingers. That was at least something.

The movement grew closer and he tried to turn his head, but all that did was bring sparks of pain and fireworks in his vision. He groaned softly, trying to find the hilt of his sword but found nothing but rock. So groggy was his thoughts that he didn’t even notice something touching his shoulder until it pinched him and a grimy face appeared in the darkness above him. Mutton chops fitted into a neatly trimmed beard without a mustache framed a round face, small nose, and beady eyes. He vaguely thought the sight amusing, wondering what kind of monstrosity lived in these caverns that looked like the Tomte called Bill. Then it hit him. Maybe this was Bill. An alarm rang in the back of his foggy mind as he considered the idea that maybe this wasn’t such a good thing. He couldn’t figure out why it was a bad thing, but it certainly wasn’t something meant for excitement and jubilation.

“Hey, I know you,” The husky voiced gnome cackled. “You’re that sailor boy that works for Aloranna. What luck!” He clapped Roy on the shoulder which solicited a whole series of groans and new pain sensations tearing through the young man’s body. It didn’t appear to Roy that Bill had even noticed let alone cared what he was doing, but his recollection of the Tomte was that he didn’t pay much attention to anything outside of what bright shiny object had managed to ensnare his attention.

“You can help me. I have set up a devious plan to bring down the mountain an ergo this sinister castle above in one swift stroke!” He giggled and caught hold of Roy’s shoulders, “Come on, no time to be lolly gagging around, there’s work to be done.” He grunted and started to drag Roy back the way Bill had come into the cavern. “Damn, you’re a heavy one.” He unceremoniously dropped Roy back to the ground and stared down at him with a considering look. His face lit with a moment’s surprise and he trotted off back into the darkness, “I’ve got an idea.”

“Gods help me,” Roy mumbled but there was no answer to his prayer.

A moment later Bill returned dragging behind him a large wooden cart. Grunting and huffing, he pulled Roy up into the cart and securing him there, grunted and huffed the cart back into the passage way.

“It would have probably helped to bring a team of ponies to move your sorry ass, but I’m afraid I don’t have time to go fetch them,” Bill grunted. “Fortunately we don’t have far to go.”

After much grunting and huffing, Bill managed to wheel Roy into a large cavern alight with torches. Roy’s head lulled back and forth, giving him a view chamber, the large stacks of barrels that reached nearly toward the ceiling, and the cords that sprang from the tops of each of those barrels, running down to the ground and then across to a large wooden box with a handle attached to a shaft at the top. Roy frowned, looking at the barrels and grunted. He wanted to say, “What the hell is that?” but it came out more as muff-mar-muh.

Bill, being quite versed in mumble, brightened and motioned toward the tower of barrels with glee, “I found this wonderful room full of gun powder. I figure they’ve been sitting here for the better part of a hundred years, but they’re still potent. Fortunately, I didn’t have to stack them as they were already stacked, but I have been busy setting up wires to each of the barrels and hooking them to my detonator there. Of course, we will have to be far from this room before we hit the plunger, but if my calculations are correct, which they always are, the castle is directly over head and once we detonate the stock pile here, it will bring it all crashing down
in one glorious eruption and we will defeat that bad guys once and for all. Mu-aha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!” He held his ample belly as he laughed at his own ingenuity, then beamed at Roy, “The others will have to accept that I am a genius then.” He cleared his throat and managed to get control of himself as he tried to look less sheepishly at Roy, “Don’t you think it’s a good idea?”

“Mu-na-upid-gah!” Was all Roy could manage to get out. What he was thinking was, “No, you stupid Trog! You’re going to get us all killed!”

If Bill had understood what he said, he chose to ignore it. Instead, he got behind the wagon and wheeled Roy up a slight incline away from the room a safe distance and parked the wagon. He made sure to set a rock under the wheel so that the wagon stayed in place, then hurrying back to the chamber of horror, Roy got the succinct feeling he was about to come back with some truly horrific idea that was going to put an end to them both. It was possible. Anything was
possible with Bill. A moment later, unable to disappoint, Bill trotted in with the plunger detonator and a long string of wire behind him. Setting the plunger on the wagon with Roy he set to work wiring it up. He patted Roy’s leg and nodded with a smile, “I’ll be back. Just a few last things to check over before we send them
all to kingdom come.”

He turned and headed back down the passage. The detonator shifted, falling forward so the handle was pointed down the passage between Roy’s feet. Roy groaned, trying to lift his head and see where it was. He moved his feet and wiggled, getting a little more feeling and use out of his hands. He managed to lift his head and see that the detonator was set to be the head of the battering ram that was himself. Again he tried to move, but all this managed to do was crumble the rock holding the wagon in place. Roy glanced around, raising an eyebrow in surprise and dread as the wagon creaked, then started to wobble and finally began to move.

Roy hadn’t noted how far up the passage Bill had managed to move him. As the speed of the wagon picked up it appeared to have been a good distance. Still, he wasn’t moving so fast that he should slam into anything with enough force to be disastrous. He focused all his attention into getting into a sitting position. As the wagon bumped and jostled its way down the passage he did finally manage to sit. He was reaching for the detonator as the wagon burst out of the passage and sailed into the chamber filled with gun powder. The last thing Roy say and heard was Bill’s surprised look from atop the stack of barrels and his statement, “Hey, that’s not part of the plan!”

MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE IN THE CAVERNS

Wringing a finger in her ear and shaking her head slightly “Nice to meet you too and you dear sir, what powder did you use? Way too much power for only 100 grains.” Looking the adventurers up and down slowing “Well down to business… I came here on a pilgrimage to exorcise catacombs to be a more full fledged priestess and was wondering how to stay safe enough long enough to do it, but seeing as what ever came through that door,” throwing a thumb over her shoulder and the broken door, “certainly did a dang good job at destroying everything dead in here. Seeing as you guys don’t have a priest let alone a healer I would like to offer my services in return I wish to continue to strive to become a stronger priestess.”

“I for one will be happy to have a priest along,” Says a weary and disheveled Elven Ranger who has been following Aislynn and Bran through the catacombs. “Too bad you weren’t around to help the sailor lad who was with us.”

“I have no problem with the extra help and company.” Looking things over Aislynn eyes Bran, “Shall we proceed on and see if we can find where Aloranna’s voice came from?”

With a sly grin Aislynn starts humming the harmony to the same song.

An eerie silence fills the room. Bone fragments begin to dance around, only a little at first, then bouncing with the ever growing crescendo that begins to shake the very walls and air. Dust falls down from the ceiling as one of the sconces and it’s long dead torch
break lose from the wall and clang to the floor. The rumble becomes a thunderous roar echoing back from the tunnel which our intrepid adventurers first entered the room.

The Elven Ranger looks back over his shoulder, “Um, guys, that doesn’t sound good.”

OUT IN THE SUBTERRANEAN PORT

“What the hell is that?” Haran perks up, listening intently. “Earthquake?”

“Nay, this area is stable. Made sure of that before I built me hideout here!” Salaius grumbled.

Aloranna listened intently for a moment, “Sal, that sounds an awful lot like an earthquake.”

“Don’t start going daft on me too, your highness,” Salaius growls, "This place has’na seen an earthquake in nigh two thousand years.

An that was at the time of the Cataclysm!" He walked confidently over to the railing of his boat and stared intently at the entrance to his marble halls, “That there is the sound of an …” He stopped, turning slowly to look at Ed, Aloranna, and Haran, “Oh shit.”

“Oh shit?!?” Aloranna exclaimed, raising an eyebrow, “What does Oh shit mean?”

“Ye remember those casks of gunpowder we stored down here before we left the place?”

Aloranna stood there a moment looking at him uncomprehending. The light of understanding filled her eyes as her jaw fell open.

“Oh shit!” She said.

“Um, forgive my ignorance here, but doesn’t gunpowder get really testy after about say twenty years,” Haran shrugged, holding his hands out, palms up, “Give or take?”

BACK WITH AISLYNN AND BRAN

Looking to her companions, Aislynn with much urgency in her voice says, “No that does NOT sound good at all! In fact that sounds like the words ‘RUN LIKE HELL IS CHASING YOU’!” With that she runs like her life depends on it. Until she is told otherwise she strongly believes that it does.

“Run isn’t the word for this, like fly low and hope your faster then the gods in doing so” as bran grabs the book and books it for the door the cannon ball came from.

“Run? Like hell run! More of flee like the devil is on your ass! Also wasn’t this place a thieves hideout? There are bounds to be quick ways out and that cannon ball brings idea of a boat down the way it came and it should prove a nice way out.” Dashing towards the door she shouts back at Bran “Hope you have an idea of how to read that book with out getting cursed cause I ain’t that skilled yet.”

The four race toward the stone archway at the far end of the hall as a pillar of fire erupts from the cavern opening. Unfortunately, the Ranger is caught in the blast and set aflame as his friends run for all they’re worth to escape the billowing clouds of fire chasing after them. They race passed doors yet unopened and reach an enormous archway opening to utter darkness. With a shriek of rushing air they leap from the corridor into the emptiness of space and go tumbling down the stair case as fire leaps out the hallway behind them.

As the fiery explosion fills the dark cavern with light, Aloranna, Ed, Haran, and Salaius are left with the afterimage of the explosion, the thunderous roar of the flames, the shrieks of falling women as they bounce down the broad stone staircase, and a very cold, chill feeling echoing in the pits of their stomach.

The ground where Sati, Aislynn, and Bran come rolling to a stop begins to glow, circles upon circles etching their way across the stone quay like ghost fire. Arcane runes and symbols appear and the ground shakes again, this time as though it is going to burst beneath them. Before anyone has time to flee, a howling shape erupts from the floor surrounded by fire and smelling of burning sulfur. Bran finds himself laying on his back next to the foot of the thing, and as he looks up he comes face to face with the horrifying visage of a Baal-rog, it’s fiery whip uncurling and it’s enormous cleaver of a blade cutting through the air as it stares down at him a moment, then looks toward Aislynn, then turns its attention to where Aloranna, Salaius, Ed and Haran are standing. The creature’s expression seems to darken all at once as it’s gaze meet’s Aloranna’s and it start’s marching toward her.

“I’ve got a bone to pick with you, your highness,” The monster’s voice is like the grinding of rocks together in a tumbler.

(Next Episode: Run Like Little Girls)

View
Run Like Little Girls

Sati curls up in a little ball, rocking back and forth as she sucks on her thumb, her eyes screwed tightly shut. Bran on the other hand has found a corner by the stair case and conveniently tried to push himself into non-existence as Aislynn stands, moving back away from the demon, watching it closely. When Aislynn casts a questioning glance toward Aloranna and the others, she is surprised to find Salaius, Ed, and Aloranna standing resolute. In fact, Aloranna almost seems to be glaring at the monster, hands on her hips with a look of, Who the hell do you think you are?

“I’ve got a lot of bones to pick,” Aloranna snarls back. “Least of which is with you, Tamathraniel.”

“What gives you cause to pick a bone with me?” The demon growled back.

“You told us where to find the anchors that bind you here, but they weren’t there,” Aloranna shot back. “We tried to live up to our end of the bargain with you, but couldn’t. Now you want to get in a pissing match with me over it?” She actually grabbed hold of the metal railing of the ship and climbed up on top to get closer in order that she might glare harder at him, “You had to use Marrek as a chew toy before we could get the information out of him, didn’t you! I ought to ram my sword up your ass and give you a True Steel enema you jerk!”

“Ah, now lassie, I don’t think we ought to go shoving things like that up places we don’t mean to be shoving them, especially since we be trying to negotiate here,” Salaius tried to be pleasant in his tone, but there was just a hint of anger there too.

“Where am I supposed to get that information, huh?” Aloranna snapped, still glaring at the demon. “Especially since you killed the only moron with the information A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO!!!!”

Tamathraniel points at Ed, “He can do it.”

*

Bran picks himself up from the floor, dusts himself off and looks toward Aislynn, “What in the bloody hells would possess anyone to leave an explosive trap that big …” He notes that Aislynn’s eyes are fixed on something and turns to look up at the gigantic demon standing before him. His mouth falls open and he gapes, starting to unconsciously back up, “and holy shit! I …” He stumbles over some loose stones and manages to get his feet back under him as he continues backing up. A small, dwarf sized notch near the base of the stone staircase catches his attention and he starts in that direction. He motions toward the stairs with a quick jab of his thumb and a nonchalant swagger, “I’ll … I’ll just sit back here and try to not make too much of a mess of me shorts. Thanks.”

As Bran disappears from view, Aislynn stands there, hands on her hips, but close to her short sword. She catches the sight of Aloranna’s tirade at the Demon, which just happens to have conveniently kept the monster’s attention and smirks, “Hey, nice of you guys to join the fun.” She catches sight of the dapper and strikingly handsome elf standing next to Aloranna and raises an eyebrow, “Hey? Who’s the new guy?” She glances back toward the demon, “And what’s Big Ugly’s deal, anyway?” She turns her attention back to the new guy, “You got something to take care of this problem?”

*

Looking at the Demon, Ed says, “If you mean to take me for a moron, you’ve got another thing coming buddy! I know damn well how you nasty beasties like to do things and there’s no way you’re getting my help without a little something we mortal folk like to call ‘unbreakable assurances’.” With a slight grin, Ed assumes a relaxed posture and waits for the demons’ head to explode at having been spoken to in such a way.
The Demon glares at him as he moves closer to the ship, “Unbreakable assurances? Are you daring to entreat with me, mortal? This matter far transcends a simple deal.”

*

No one seems to have paid much attention to Sati, who, rocking back and for in a tight ball Sati mutters to herself “Why did mommy have to die? Why did I have to watch Orcs kill her? Please help me oh lord, help me protect those who needed it like mommy did years ago.”

As she mutters her prayers through her chattering teeth and wide eyed terror a feeling of calm slowly sweeps over her. Her fear ebbs away and transforms into a growing sense of anger toward the demonic monster that has come into her presence. Sati uncurls herself filled with righteous indignation and assurance that the Nine Guardians are with her. In her mind’s eye she is certain that the Templars stand at her side, their swords raised in readiness, ready to bring the righteous fury of the Guardian Towers and the great Celestial Tree against this cretin of a darksider. She knows, deep in her heart that the Powers of Light will prevail in this battle.

*

Also unnoticed is Haran. Haran has a pleading smile on his face as he slowly tries to back away from the foul demon bearing down on them. He can’t speak, his throat constricted as though by ever tightening hands. The best he can manage is a soft whimper as he takes one step back, then another. Something catches on his foot and he begins to fall backward. His wordless scream is however silenced by the bellow of the mighty warship’s cannons as his foot has caught upon the firing cord. His weight falling back pulls the cord and releases the hammer which falls with the speed of a striking viper and smacks the primer, which in turn ignites the spark which burns swiftly to the tightly packed and aged gunpowder within the cannon. The explosion is so violent it tears the cannon apart , but launches the 30 pound cannon ball with violent precision.

Haran rolls away, screeching as hot metal screams passed him. He doesn’t see if the other’s duck or get out of the way. He can’t. His terror is complete. Haran leaps to his feet and runs for all he’s worth, diving through one of the stairwells leading to the decks below. He doesn’t even hear Seahammer howling in fury and frustration, chasing after him. No, his mind is on one thing, and one thing alone – Make the bad monster go away. Make it go away now!

He reaches gunnery deck and starts forcing open gun ports. In his fear fueled frenzy he manages to shove out all the guns on the port side and racing back to the head and howling like a banshee he starts setting them off one by one.

BOOM!!! BOOM!!! BOOM!!! BOOM!!! BOOM!!! BOOM!!

As he reaches for the final three cannons Seahammer tackles him to the deck. Haran fights back, struggling to get free but the Pirate King manages to keep him pinned long enough to get a bailing pin and smack him on the back of the head. Haran crumples to the floor and Salaius sags on top of him with a weary gasp.

“Damn, I’m gettin’ too ol’ fer this shite!” He mutters.

*

The cannon balls ricochet off the walls of the grotto. Aloranna manages to dodge, but pin wheeling she falls off the railing and into the water below. She shrieks as she bursts from the icy brine that envelops her. The Demon is too busy dodging left and right trying not to get hit by the speeding balls of iron. He pauses long enough to glare at the ship and the cannons belching their fire at him.

“Damn you, you little trog! When I get my hands on you …”

His words are cut short when one of the cannon balls bouncing off the walls connects solidly with his head. Teeth and blood go spraying everywhere as Tamathraniel slumps to the ground. After a moment, he shakes his head, lifts his gaze up to Ed and in a rather slurred tone says, “Okay, I make deal with you. Get me the hell out of here and we’ll talk.” Then he collapses unconscious to the ground.

*
Aislynn, seeing Aloranna fall from the railing and plunge into the water hurries to the edge of the quay. She pulls out a 50’ coil of rope from her backpack and tosses it into the water. Aloranna, seeing the rope grabs hold and tries to climb up the wall as Aislynn pulls on the rope. Climbing over the rock edge, she rolls onto her back and coughs water for a moment. A crooked grin spreads across her face as she looks up at Aislynn’s worried and irritated expression.

“Would you mind filling me in on what the HELL is going on?” Aislynn says.

Aloranna chuckles and pushes herself up into a sitting position. She tugs at her clothes, trying to get them to stop clinging to her damp skin and looks at the knocked out demon. She chuckles again and shakes her head, It’s a long story." She casts a speculative glance up at the ship and shakes her head, “We really gotta keep Haran away from those cannons. At least until we’re sure they’re all empty.”

She notices Aislynn’s look and realizing the other won’t be dissuaded from getting the answer to her question Aloranna sighs, “About two hundred years ago, Salaius was the terror of the inner seas. He was the Pirate King and I got hired by three kings to bring them his head. I hunted him down, found his hide out here and basically caught him completely off guard. I had him dead to rights and after a few minutes of discussion found out that he was just trying to keep the pirates from going completely nuts. He had gone the route to work on his inventions and get the resources he needed from the Kings who had said they would help him and then turned him away once he gave them secrets they had wanted. He had found it to be a justifiable response to their treachery.” She motioned toward the cavern. "The pirates, on the other hand, were wanting to be the ravagers of the waves and keep the seas in terror. Salaius was losing his grip on them and they had started to look to a Blood Mage by the name of Marrek over their ‘king’. Marrek had set up the defenses of the hide out, but he had done a few things that he hadn’t told anyone. Instead, he kept them secret in order to give him a hole card against Salaius. He was going to kill Salaius, which would have instigated a split among the Pirates, and Salaius couldn’t do anything about it, so I offered to help him.

“In the end, the split happened anyway,” She sighs, considering the vast underground harbor. “Marrek’s treachery made a big dent in the Pirate population that day. Marrek was killed by his own treachery when Tamathraniel there killed him. Marrek apparently forgot to put his own name in the protection circle. A little note that Tamathraniel didn’t bother to inform him about either. The charm the wizard had given to Salaius was discovered to be the key, so the survivors found a suitable dwarf who had died in the melee, chopped off his head so I could get paid, and we put the talisman around it’s neck and sat him on the throne. The pirates dispersed, a few going on to continue pirating, but most of them going off to find more honest trade. A few stayed on with me and Salaius joined my crew.” She glances at Aislynn with a crooked grin, “He’s been worth his weight in gold, and then some.” She gives a nod with her head toward the Hall of the King and grimaces, “We left the treasure trove here because it was safe and we figured no one was going to find it. We’ve got a couple of hordes like that to help fund the Company.” She returned her gaze to Aislynn, measuring her in silence. “The Company has never been about gathering wealth, but giving a home to those who need it. We fight for each other and protect one another. The fact that we get money for doing what we enjoy doing is just icing on the cake and keeps us fed.” She leans back on her hands and considers the harbor, “I suppose now its time to start thinking of things a bit more pragmatically though. We left these down here because we had no one skilled enough to pilot them. Salaius can do it, but we don’t have any sailors to manage them. In their dry docks, they were less likely to rot and sink, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to need some serious work to get them seaworthy again.” She glances back toward the Hall of the King and frowns, “and from the evidence at hand, I would have to say our cache of black powder just went up in flames. Ten Gold says it was Bill,” She grimaces. “I just hope it blew him up with it.” She shakes her head.

Chuckling at the thought of Bill ‘going up in smoke’ Aislynn says, “50 gold says you are right and that it would have been worth paying admission to see it.”

Aloranna chuckles and tosses a small pouch to Aislynn, “You win.”

Aislynn offers her hand to Aloranna and helps her up to her feet. Aloranna glances over at the demon and frowns, “Well, this isn’t going to be pretty when he wakes up. I’d just kill him, but it wouldn’t do any good. He’d come back and be even more pissed off than before.” She puts her hands on her hips and scowls at the cavern walls, “If only we could have found those damn anchor points.”

Smiling at her victory, Aislynn comments, “What anchor points?”

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.