It was hard to tell which part of the room was the worst. The brick wall with the crumbling mortar had greyish lime dust everywhere and a cold draft which smelled of wasting seaweed. On the opposite side of the small space was a wall made of natural, grey rock against which were set several dusty kegs of the most stale beer anyone might hope to ever come across. The sour smell of the drink permeated the whole room but it was strongest next to the kegs where it also mixed with the unmistakable scent of mold. To the right was another brickwork wall, this one even more cracked than the other and decorated at the bottom with muddy puddles that were undeniably urine. Small cracks in the wall dripped the fetid liquid, no doubt from a leaky sluiceway on the other side. The last wall had nothing wrong with it at all, except that there was a short stairway set against it which led up to the common room and the bar.
A bar full of patrons who might sell them out to the Shadow for a sum not even big enough to buy bread.
The six figures, looking like hazy wraiths in the disgusting haze of the basement under the Salty Curr tavern, had fallen far in the last few days. Only two weeks ago they were a triumphant band, leaving Erenhead under cover of darkness with the enemy in shambles behind them. The black mirror of Erenhead lay shattered, its magic draining power destroyed by the ensorceled dagger as Melton had promised it would be. The three fey travelers who formed the group's core were even willing to overlook the gnome's past as they let victory carry them quickly. Adrik saw the change taking place and even let himself feel buoyed by the atmosphere into imagining he had found a home. He was encouraged by Duncan's cautious optimism: without the mirror in Erenhead, the resistance could push farther into southwestern Erenland as it had in the northwest. If the dwarves fought their way out of the eastern Kaladruns at the same time then maybe, just maybe, there might be a change.
Upon reaching the hills of the Westlands, though, the cheer blew off and disappeared like the rising plumes of smoke they saw from the forest of Erethor. A host of orcs marched across the horizon, burning and hacking into the forest. It was hardly the scene of victory they had expected and checking with the locals they learned it was not singular. The Shadow had fought back hard and the resistance had crumpled under a concerted onslaught from the Dark Lord's forces. It was hard to know whether the entire stretch of victories had been a ploy by Izrador or whether he had turned to reserve troops no one suspected. It hardly mattered now, the dream was dead and the party was on the wrong side of the corpse.
After trying for several days to make it to Erethor and running afoul of two orc brigades, the party turned back to the city of Baden's Bluff, rife with rebellion and their only hope. They met with Kiros Swiftstride, Kiros the Albino, and hid in this basement while they decided their next step. Kiros stops in daily to report information, or lack of it, and the days stretch on while they wait here like pests waiting to be smoked out.
For many years, Belmorn was an honored member of his clan, and a great warrior of his tribe. Many times during battle with Izrador’s raiding forces, the sight of Belmorn raging through the enemy ranks bolstered his allies’ courage, turning the tide of the battle. One day, however, another raiding band was spotted head towards the tribe’s land. Leading the defenses, Belmorn was positioned near the front with his father, another mighty and honored warrior. He soon lost sight of the warrior though, as wave after wave of orcs, bugbears, gnolls, and many more of the Dark Lord’s minions crashed down upon them. The battle was long and bloody, and was in decline when Belmorn began searching for his father to compare kills, a clan tradition marked by cutting an ear off each enemy felled. What he found however, made his very blood run cold.
Belmorn’s father had been impaled on a longspear, obsidian in color, with a dazzling silver head. As he approached to help, a rather large orc stepped out of the fray nearby, a falchion clasped in hand. As if in slow motion, the orc slowly raised the sword, bringing it swiftly down. The last thing Belmorn saw that day was his father’s head roll across the ground towards him. At that sight, he flew into a rage, charging the orc and bellowing with all the fury of the world. The orc however, was ready, and as Belmorn neared, he sidestepped the Minotaur, bashing him on the back of the head with the pommel of his sword. Belmorn hit the ground, unconscious, and was not seen again by his tribe for a long time.
Belmorn spent quite some years in the torture rooms of Izrador’s dungeons. Many days he was dragged from his cell, still only semi-conscious from the previous torture session. He lost track of how many times he went back and forth, lost track of whether or not he resisted giving his tormentor the information asked of him. Slowly, the once proud warrior spiraled down into his bestial urgings, becoming more beast than Minotaur. After some long months, Belmorn looked around and found the shimmering, ghostly image of another Minotaur standing before him.
Thinking himself beyond insane from the years of torture, Belmorn quickly dismissed the vision, only to see it a few days later. As time progressed, the figure began to appear more often, until it never disappeared. Having grown accustomed to it, but trying to ignore it all the same, Belmorn was shocked one day when the image called him by name. Looking around to see if anyone else had heard, and then realizing no one else had, Belmorn was now absolutely sure he was insane. But then the image began to talk to Belmorn, telling of Belmorn’s clan’s history.
Of course, Belmorn, like the rest of his clan, knew most of it, but the detail the figure before him gave to each recounting was astounding. After reciting all that had happened to Belmorn’s clan since the great Asteron Taruskith the Exalted, the clan’s first and founding patriarch, Belmorn knew he was, in fact, not insane. He had somehow learned to commune with his ancestor’s spirits, and not with just any ancestor, but Asteron himself! Asteron informed Belmorn that he had to escape, or his clan would be destroyed, and that a chance was soon to be upon them.
Soon was an understatement, however, as the jailer suddenly appeared at Belmorn’s cell, a set of manacles in hand. Understanding what was to happen, Belmorn played along, allowing himself to be shackled and led out the the waiting orc lieutenant. In the dim light, Belmorn realized this was the same orc who killed his father, suddenly recognizing the longspear in his hand and the falchion on his back. Unsure what to do, he called out to Asteron’s spirit, seeking advice. Immediately, a fury so potent it rumbled out of Belmorn like thunder rolls across the plains welled up, and he charged the nearest orc lackey, impaling it on his horns.
Unceremoniously tossing the corpse to the side with a fling of his head, Belmorn turned and focused his enraged gaze upon the leading orc and loosed a ferocious howl, calling down lighting from them heavens themselves. The remaining orcs, save for the lieutenant, scattered as bolts of lightning struck them. As Belmorn and the orc stared each other down, a smirk crossed the orc’s face, and he let loose his own cry, though it was far less menacing than Belmorn’s. The two charged each other, but this time it was Belmorn who was prepared. At the last second, as the orc was swing his blade down to cleave the Minotaur, Belmorn threw his shackled arms up, spreading the connecting chain wide and ducked to the side. Sparks flew through the air as the sword split the chain, freeing Belmorn once again.
Thrown off balance by the maneuver, the orc wasn’t prepared for the weight of the Minotaur as Belmorn charged again, hitting him squarely in the side. Bones cracked and the orc coughed blood as he lay crumpled on the ground. Walking over and picking up the dropped spear, Belmorn stalked back to the dying orc, standing over him as the rage within subsided. Seeing the fury die down in his foe, the orc hacked up a chuckle and spoke in broken common. He only managed to get half way into his insult about Belmorn’s father, however, before the flames reignited in the warrior, who lifted the spear high into the air, then plunged it straight through the orc’s heart, driving it nearly half its length into the ground.
It took Belmorn quite some time to return to his tribe’s lands due to his extensive wounds from his torture. But with Asteron’s guidance, he made it without too much trouble, but all he found was the ruins of his tribe’s village. Fearing the worst for his tribe, he started out immediately, though he was still greatly weakened from his torture. He roamed the plains far and wide, not finding any trace of them. With little hope, and even less strength left, Belmorn turned toward the bordering forests and began searching there.
The elves who lived among the forests soon realized that in his weakened condition, Belmorn was no threat. They were wary of the lone warrior, however, and kept watch on him as he trekked through the woods. A few days into the forest, the sound of heavy hooves moving on the forest floor reached Belmorn’s ears, and he turned and headed for it. As he neared, he realized his ears weren’t deceiving him, and it actually was more Minotaur. Bursting in amongst them, Belmorn stayed conscious enough to recognize his tribe’s labyrinthine pattern on the clothing before passing out.
Waking up and smelling the familiar herbs and burning incense, Belmorn sat up and found he was being watch by his tribe’s shaman. The elder Minotaur was blind, having lost his sight the day Belmorn was captured. The two spoke long into the the night, and then resumed again the next day. Belmorn recounted as much of his imprisonment and subsequent escap as he could remember. He also included learning how to commune with the spirits and the shaman, who until that point had constantly worn a grim expression, smiled.
Then the shaman told Belmorn all that had happened since he had disappeared. The raids increased, and the tribe was forced to abandon their lands, seeking refuge among the elves. Even then, they hunted without mercy or respite, and their numbers were slowly but steadily waning. Among other things, he mentioned how the tribe was force to survive on the elves’ food which normally consisted of animals, fruits and berries, and various wines, rather than the hearty breads and water they were accustomed to.
One thing Belmorn never revealed to the shaman was a lingering fear that his spirit had been tainted by the Shadow during his years of imprisonment. Knowing that the northern tribes of Minotaur had long been under Izrador’s sway, and were corrupted even before that, he constantly battles within himself, suppressing his bestial urges. Eventually, through communing with Asteron’s spirit and many hours spent training, he learned to channel this inner anguish into physical prowess; knowing where and how to strike his enemies to cause grievous, lasting wounds.
One day, Belmorn was approached by a man claiming to be from ‘the resistance.’ He spoke to Belmorn, having heard of the Minotaur’s escape from Izrador’s dungeons, having come to ask for his aid in fighting directly against the Dark Lord. Remembering his father’s death, Belmorn agreed. But while he had become a part of the resistance, fighting alongside many different allies and groups of people, Belmorn still considered himself tainted, always going off to train by himself so as to keep the evil inside him suppressed.
After coming back from a partially successful raid against a caravan headed for the orc camps, Belmorn found himself In Baden’s Bluff. News of a ‘special assignment’ had reached him, one of great importance, and one that was sure to draw only the best of the resistance’s heroes. Belmorn wouldn’t miss this opportunity to cement his name in history, whether he lived or died.
The Caransil elves tell a bedtime tale of the Tri'Leon (Nightstalker in Elvish) to their young to scare them, a tale of Tri'Leon coming into the places where elves stay to kidnap and eat all the naughty children who do not respect the forests of Erethor.
The Caransil believe that Tri'Leon is a mythical beast, a great hunter living in the forests around Erethor, who helps protect the great forests from all threats. Indeed, there have been occasions where capable human hunting groups of the North Erenland have mysteriously disappeared while searching for rare animals and birds within Erethor. While there are other stories of elves having brief glimpses of a large beast, shadowing their hunting party, however, they never get a good look of the beast, and when they examine the tracks, they find nothing.
Since the orcs have started burning the forests of Erethor though, things have changed. The elves are abuzz of countless stories of the Tri'Leon separating individual orcs from the large tree burning parties, and slaughtering them when they are alone and defenseless. The orcs have become so fearful of the tales and the unexplained disappearances of their comrades that lots of them refuse to be assigned to forest burning duties, and prefer to fight in the south. It is only the might of one of Izrador's great generals that they manage to get any orcs to burn the forests at all.
The biggest shock though, was yet to come. One dark night, at a meeting between the great human and elven generals of the resistance, Tri'Leon itself appeared before them, seemingly out of the shadows. Even though the generals were surrounded by countless loyal rebel soldiers no one saw Tri'Leon travel through the campsite until it revealed itself in front of the leaders. Perched on Tri'Leon's shoulder was a Kingstar Parrot (revered for its splendor and innate intelligence) and it was the parrot who addressed the generals.
The parrot told of Tri'Leon's anger at the orcs for destroying the forests, of its need for harmony and balance. The parrot said that Tri'Leon realised it could not stop the orcs by itself and had decided that its best course of action was to combine its power with that of the rebels to rid the forests and surrounding lands of the orc menace once and for all.
The rebel leaders could not believe their good fortune. With the help of Tri'Leon the rebels may yet stand a chance of winning the war.
What the rebels don't know though, is that Tri'Leon has been in an epic struggle with the Wrath of Shadow for centuries. Tri'Leon believes that now is a perfect opportunity to help destabilize the dominion of Izrador and his Night Kings so much so that the Wrath of Shadow may show itself, or better yet find the lair of Scar'garath. Then, Tri'Leon can retrieve what is rightly its, a treasure it has coveted and hungered for so long, the Star of Caraheen.
Notes on Tri'Leon: Tri'Leon will always stay in beast form unless it has no other choice. It will always use the parrot to talk for it, but other than that the parrot will have no other function. The Tri'Leon is a solitary creature, and as such will not talk unless it thinks it has something to offer. I am not sure if you are happy with me choosing a Razorclaw Shifter as the race for Tri'Leon, Mephit James, but I thought that a razorclaw would be the best fit, I guess an elf could also work.
Tri'Leon will never talk about its ultimate goal, however, it will always be highly perceptive, and on occasion will search scrolls, ancient texts and historical documentation for any information on the lair of Scar'garath. Some in the party may find this strange, as the Tri'Leon will never explain its actions when it does this.
Details on Tri'Leon's Magical Items and rituals: Staff of the Serpent +2: Tri'Leon has been a predator for a long time. It has evolved to inflict fatal wounds that kill even after they have been cleaned, as Tri'Leon's has special glands behind its claws that excrete a deadly toxin. Eager Hero's Tattoo (Heroic): Tri'Leon carries a gruesome scar on its right shoulder. This scar is a reminder to Tri'Leon of why it is out and helping the rebels. In a grand battle long past, witnessed by none but the forest creatures that lived there at the time, Tri'Leon fought Scar'garath. In that battle, both creatures were equally matched and in the end, Scar'garath fled the forest home due to exhaustion, but not before leaving a terrible gash that slowly healed to the scar it is today along with the Star of Caraheen. Iron Armbands of Power + Claw Gloves: Tri'Leon is a deadly hunter, and especially damaging to a distracted or unwary prey. Boots of Free Movement + Hunting Beast Armor +1: Tri'Leon is a natural hunter and not much can slow it down. Years of stalking prey have given it abilities to master difficult terrain, and avoid restraining conditions. Cloak of Survival +2: Tri'Leon has weathered cyclones and tornados, forest fires and droughts, and as such has a natural resistance to some of the elements. Skull Mask (heroic): Tri'Leon has a gruesome appearance that can strike fear into even the strongest of foes, and since Tri'Leon has fought Scar'garath before, it has some resistance to its aura.
Rituals Known: Animal Messenger: Tri'Leon has a special affinity to the Kingstar Parrot that accompanies it. It is able to task the parrot occasionally to pass important information to Tri'Leon's allies. Brew Potion: Tri'Leon is a master of poison, but also a master of healing and other infusions. If the correct fauna is nearby, Tri'Leon is able to concoct special salves that help heal wounds and provide greater clarity in combat. Comprehend Language: No one really know's how old Tri'Leon is, but it has been around a long time, and because of this it knows ancient languages, and long forgotten texts that a mortal would have no chance of understanding. Traveler's Camouflage: Tri'Leon is a master of the hunt, and is sometimes able to mask its presence and passage. It is also able to convey this stealth to allies. Endure Elements: Tri'Leon has travelled the length and breath of the Erethor forest, and has experienced the extremes of the seasons and elements. It is occasionally able to ignore the biting cold of winter, and the searing heat of summer, and is able to convey this benefit to its allies. Eagle's Flight: When needed, Tri'Leon is able to summon its forest allies to transport it great distances at a moments notice. Commune with Nature: Tri'Leon has a nature affinity for all forms of nature, and sometimes is able to get a feel of the area, just by sitting still and letting its essence intermingle. Cure Disease + Raise Dead: Along with the ability to provide healing salves, Tri'Leon has mastered the art of curing disease and even death with the right mix of herbs and plants. Bloom: By speaking to the surrounding fauna just so, Tri'Leon is able to encourage growth at an accelerated rate.
POWERS Druid at-will 1: Thorn Whip Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts Druid encounter 1: Darting Bite Druid daily 1: Savage Frenzy Druid utility 2: Warding Wind Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry Druid daily 5: Roar of Terror Druid utility 6: Black Harbinger Druid encounter 7: Blood-Spray Bite Druid daily 9: Primal Wolf Druid utility 10: Serpentine Dodge Druid encounter 13: Claws of Retribution (replaces Darting Bite) Druid daily 15: Summon Razorclaw Bat (replaces Savage Frenzy)
ITEMS Ritual Book, Staff of the Serpent +2, Hunting Beast Hide Armor +1, Cloak of Survival +2, Skull Mask (heroic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Eager Hero's Tattoo (heroic tier), Potion of Healing (heroic tier) (5), Boots of Free Movement (heroic tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger, Brew Potion, Comprehend Language, Endure Elements, Traveler's Camouflage, Bloom, Eagle's Flight, Commune With Nature, Cure Disease, Raise Dead ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
“Hold fast men! Do not engage before my command!” Castigon’s voice boomed across the company battle lines. He was power hungry and cowardly, yet he was also cunning and scheming. Adrik let the words pass him by. He knew the right time to strike, and orders be damned if he wouldn’t react simply because Castigon wanted to exert his control.
As Adrik adjusted his gauntlets, he watched his conniving commander. How smug he looked sitting atop his warhorse in his polished and jeweled armor. How sweet it would be to find him in the midst of battle rather than cowering in safety behind an army of grunts. Adrik smiled as he imagined his hammer smashing into Castigon’s face.
Adrik had neither love nor respect for Castigon. In its place were feelings of bitterness and distrust. However, Adrik greatly loved to be on the winning side of battle, of anything really. Castigon had yet to lose an engagement in any battle, and any commission he was given was guaranteed to succeed. All that success brought wealth and power with which Castigon had no idea what to do. Perhaps that was why Adrik disliked him. Or perhaps it was because Adrik had learned Castigon worked tirelessly to manipulate higher command to put himself into no lose situations. Coward.
No matter, winning is winning and that’s all Adrik cared about. He stared across the field charred and burned as it was. A scant 200 paces away stood the battle lines of a small army foolish enough to take arms against Izrador. Army wasn’t even accurate. It was barely a thousand warriors and only a handful of mages. Against a full battalion backed by one of the Night Kings.
Long ago, Adrik’s people saw that their only chance for victory and survival was in following the Night Kings. Why couldn’t the rest of his race see that? Adrik wasn’t hesitant to smash up a fellow dwarf. He just didn’t understand how members of his race, a race so dedicated to strength, would choose to fight a losing battle. Adrik was convinced that there was no honor in death – no matter what others may say or believe.
Adrik almost forgot his pre-battle ritual. He scanned the enemy ranks comprised of humans, half-breeds, and the like. It didn’t surprise him anymore. Those weak races held strong to old religions that left them duty-bound to fight for freedom of lesser races. The dwarves, though…their presence still befuddled Adrik. He found one that he knew was looking at him. If he could see his eyes through his helmet, Adrik knew he would see hatred and betrayal. Black Blood is what they called Adrik’s people. Izrador gave them strength and power. In return, Adrik’s people did his dark deeds.
While Adrik knew that dwarf was looking at him, he mustered all his rage, loathing, fear, and malice into his mouth and spit it onto the black ground in front of him. That’s what I think of you and your weak old religion. What’s dead is dead. This ground is not hallowed.
“CHARGE! Leave none alive!” Castigon’s shout released doom. Adrik ran straight for his insulted prey of his pre-battle ritual. His victim thrust a spear at him, but Adrik easily danced around the undisciplined movement. The first time Adrik’s hammer hit the ignorant fool, it left his head ringing. The second time, Adrik could feel the surge of power that he always got as he knew he would kill many enemies today. The third and final time that Adrik’s hammer struck his mark it seemed almost too easy. The lackwit was never trained on how to use his weapon. Adrik could have parried and riposted in that manner in his sleep. The blow didn’t kill the weakling outright, but Adrik knew the hammer had smashed his ribs and destroyed his lungs.
The soon to be dead man fell to his knees trying in vain to suck in air. He tore off his helmet thinking it would help somehow to fill his lungs. Before Adrik turned to engage his next foe, he saw reality set into the dead man’s eyes. Did your hallowed ground save you? Where is your religion now?
Chapter II – Mysteries Unlocked
The pale and sickly man nodded. Adrik was old by many races’ standards. Yet this devil made Adrik feel youthful as a newborn colt without the strength to stand on his own yet. His robes were tattered and he stank of death. Disgusting freak, I wonder if the power is worth the price.
“Stand back” Adrik said. “Or don’t, makes no matter to me.” He took a long level look at the stone door in front of him. Double doors. They were sturdy and large enough to fit an ogre without squeezing. They were also sealed quite well – presumably by magic. Castigon, the rat, wanted Adrik to smash them open straight away. The reason was clear to Adrik. Any moron could see it would likely end in his death.
Still, Adrik walked up to prove his strength and immortality only to be have the soulless man with dark eyes hasten up the steps ahead of him. He muttered some gibberish, convulsed for a minute, then stepped back and gave Adrik the go ahead.
Hammer gripped in his hands, Adrik raised his arms high above his head. Arrogance pulsed with each beat of his heart. He held his breath for a slight moment and bellowed dark and deep from within. Adrik left nothing in reserve, even off balancing himself enough to add everything possible to the swing. Hammer met stone and the doors cracked.
The few warriors there that Castigon selected for this special task cheered and yelled in approval. Castigon smiled smugly. Unsure of how to respond, my commander? Happy to gain entrance, but disappointed that it did not cost my life? Adrik walked down from the steps and was applauded with slaps on the back and fists to the shoulder.
After a few minutes of magic and muscle the doors were no more than rubble. A strong and worthy commander would have accepted the small risk of his safety and entered first for the greater symbolism of leading his men. Instead, Castigon sent in two men to scout things. Of course, when death was a possibility, Adrik was selected. He and Loing walked in together. Adrik’s hammer was at the ready. Loing’s shield was in hand, but he held a torch instead of his sword.
Adrik is a strong and respected fighter in one of the most successful companies that the Night Kings command. He has seen violence and mayhem to offer a lifetime of nightmares. He has been a part of acts that some would call outright evil. He has traveled far in service of Izrador’s armies. Yet no event in Adrik’s life could have prepared him for what was inside.
An ancient masterpiece of stonework and architecture sprawled out before them. Steps were carved down to a massive great hall where the floor was checkered with tiles of white marble and black granite. The grout in between shone a bright gold. Statues of heroic figures towered high around the room. All of them faced inward to an exquisite crystalline fountain spewing water upwards beyond sight.
Adrik glanced sideways and saw that Loing was as much at awe as he. He took the torch from Loing’s hand and motioned for him to draw his sword. Adrik found a brazier nearby and put the fire to it. It lit up and within moments the entire room was alight as every brazier mimicked the one near Adrik.
Loing fell into step shoulder to shoulder with Adrik, and the two began descending the steps. The sheer size of the room was enough to make even the largest of creatures feel small and insignificant. Adrik found himself questioning his own existence and wisdom of his decisions. Had he known places like this existed, would he have chosen sides differently?
In Adrik’s world, there was only darkness and sorrow. He knew only survival, and that outlook dictated that no conviction was worth dying for. Life was ruled by the strong. No one could kill Adrik if he was strong enough. That was true his entire life…until now. Somehow, Adrik knew that no matter how much strength he possessed, there was something powerful in this temple – something that didn’t squash him like a bug simply because he hadn’t become a nuisance enough to warrant the effort.
Once they finally reached the bottom of the steps, Adrik could feel something. It could only be described as a presence. It was as if he could feel a life force beside him, and it took him a moment before he finally recognized that what he felt waslife. He felt Loing’s life. Judging by the look on Loing’s face, he was feeling the same. Whatever they had stumbled upon here, these two dwarves were becoming tangled in a web far too large for Adrik’s liking. Any minute now the spider would likely come down, poison them, spin them up, and save them for a later meal.
Almost as if Loing could read Adrik’s mind, he spoke softly, “Adrik, I don’t know why but I just got this feeling like we’re flies about to be trapped in a spider’s web.”
At that, Adrik did something so very unlike himself. He quoted an old dwarven proverb, “Speak not that which you do not wish to see.” Loing looked at him quizzically. He was young, and he’s only known the Black Blood Dwarves since they became thralls of the Dark Lord. Adrik continued, “It means don’t say something out loud when you know you don’t want it to happen.”
The young dwarf nodded at Adrik as if committing it to memory. Why would Adrik even think of that old adage not to mention actually saying it? He didn’t believe in superstition, religion, or the like. He believed in reality and the death that was everywhere while Izrador’s armies conquered kingdom after kingdom. Didn’t he? He was so certain of that for so long. But somehow, in here, he just wasn’t sure what he believed. This place had a power, a power that allowed Adrik and Loing to sense each other, a link, or something he just couldn’t explain.
Loing spoke up again, “Adrik, I don’t want Castigon to come in here. I think I would fight him to stop him from tainting this place with that dark man and his evil magic.”
“Hold you tongue, lad. Didn’t I tell you before? I have no love for Castigon either, but he’s got half a dozen men out there and devil magic at his disposal. We’d die for sure.” Adrik couldn’t believe what he just said…we’d die. Was he feeling the same way? Did he want to protect this place?
“I don’t care, Adrik. I won’t let him. I don’t know, there is something about this place. It’s sacred. Izrador, Castigon, their evil, none of them should be here!” Loing’s voice was quiet at first but turned into a yell as he got to the last part.
Adrik moved to shush him and his fears came to life.
“What’s that Loing? You got something to say?” It was Castigon. He and the rest of the party were at the entrance at the top of the steps.
Loing charged up the steps, sword drawn and shield in hand. “You shall not defile this holy place! For the Old Gods I shall end you!”
It all happened so quickly that Adrik could barely keep up. Instinctively, he knew Loing was a dead man walking. Whatever this place did to him, the only result was his defeat. Adrik never stuck with a losing side…and yet somehow he found himself charging as well. It was insanity, but he knew it was right. All the atrocities of his past seemed to fall away like old heavy armor. His fear, his hate, his inequity all drained from him. Adrik briefly saw a glimpse of two futures – one filled with darkness and pain, the other with light and hope. He knew which one he wanted to be true, but the more he realized it the less real it seemed.
He smashed into two of his former brothers in arms. They were well trained, but they were not strong. Their armor gave way like cloth under Adrik’s hammer. He moved himself to protect Loing’s unshielded flank and saw that their deaths were not so certain. Loing was moving sword and shield like Adrik had never seen. Already he had bested the cursed demon-mage and two others.
Adrik stood unchallenged while three of his ex-brothers started to circle around. “Come and get it you pea brained bloodlusters!” They moved to close in, but Adrik was quicker. His hammer took a large arc and caught each of them solidly. They did not retreat, though, so Adrik swung again and again while they stayed in close trying to restrict his ability to handle his large weapon. Things were getting tight for Adrik when a sword came slashing across the face of one of them. Loing again, fighting like a dwarf possessed. Those were moves, stances, that Loing was not trained to do. Where did he learn that? How is he doing this?
In what felt like days but was actually mere minutes, Adrik found himself on his knees and bleeding. He had gotten pierced under the shoulder through a gap in his armor. His strength was fading, and his arms were too weak to remove his armor alone. Loing had given chase to Castigon who ran like a coward once all his men were beaten. Adrik tried to feel for the wound, but he was too weak.
The light began to fade, and he realized that he was passing out probably from losing too much blood. Would Loing come back? If Adrik couldn’t remove his armor and tend to his wound soon, he knew he would not survive. This was not the death that Adrik imagined. Truthfully, he never imagined he would die. He had always foolishly held out hope that Izrador would show him favor and grant him immortality. Oh how foolish that seems now. At what price, Adrik? Immortality means nothing if you spend the rest of your days wishing death would take you.
Before Adrik passed out he realized one more thing. That last thought was not his own.
Chapter III – Awakening
Open your eyes, Adrik. His arm immediately reacted and moved to the wound under his shoulder. An old wound, long since healed.
“What’s that? Get out of my head and show yourself.” Adrik’s voice remained calm and serene. He realized his eyes were closed. As his sight began to return, he saw a blurry figure take focus in front of him. It was an old man, ethereal, with a glow around his body.
“I am the Guardian of Old Gods. The temple you found was the last remaining vestige of their power still on Eredane. When Izrador was defeated and banished, he cut off Eredane from them. Their clerics lost their power. The pious could no longer commune with them. Fearing for the worst, I sealed off the doors and protected their temple. I hoped for a day when they would return and liberate Eredane. I hope for that no more.” The Guardian lowered his head as to accept defeat.
Adrik was confused, “What does that have to do with me? Why did you say my wound was old? Speak up man!”
The Guardian continued, “That was centuries ago, Adrik. I had more power then. When your party smashed down the doors, I used a considerable amount to link to your spirit. Your friend Loing was less corrupted than you. I am ashamed to say it but I freely sacrificed his life extending him well beyond his mortal limitations. I could not risk any survivors getting away. He overtook your commander and made short work of him while linked with me. The price was that once I was done with him, his body was too weakened to sustain any life. Last I saw, his spirit wanders the temple area aimlessly for he was unsure of what was happening when he died, and so he remains that way in his afterlife.
“You were not so far gone, and I used less of you to begin with. I knew with no doors it would only be a matter of time before others returned to desecrate the temple. Izrador knew it was there. He sent your party because he thought it would be easy. Out of shame and pity I decided that saving you would serve as penance for taking Loing’s life. I put you to sleep and stole you away from that place.
“And, so, my power wanes. I have no way to recover so long as Izrador’s Veil remains. As a last act of defiance, I shall bestow upon you these gifts.
“There lies your armor. It is worthy of the admiration of even you – with heritage of crafters respected even among dwarves. It will protect you well, make you fiercer to your enemies, and make your justice more lethal.
“There lies your hammer. Over these long years I have toiled over it. The corruption and darkness for which it was used are gone. In their place is a divine spark. It will serve as a holy symbol. It is not a symbol of the Old Gods for they have no sway here while the shadow is so strong. Instead it is a symbol of the power you have within. Call upon that power to make your hammer burn with the light when you strike at those whom serve the darkness.
“Around your neck is an amulet that will aid you when the shadow tries to stop you. On your head is my own braided crown. It shall strengthen your will when the corrupt world weighs heavily upon your mind.
“Finally, I offer you the last remnants of my power. My existence is at near an end. With what is left of me, I shall give you the power to heal so that you can give life where before you would take it.
“Adrik, I no longer have the power to glimpse the future. But I have known your mind for hundreds of years now. I know that you have it in you to fight Izrador. Victory is of no consequence. The struggle is what matters. Find others, Adrik, and lend your strength to their cause. You know it is right.”
The Guardian’s last words come across as little more than a whisper as he finally faded completely away. As he did so, Adrik took a few minutes to think of all that was said. Centuries? Everyone I know is likely dead. I have been given a new beginning. I will not waste it.
Adrik squatted to the ground and placed his hands in the dirt. He let is slide through his fingers. He squeezed it in his hands and could feel the past. We all end up as dust, don’t we? Adrik looked at his now empty hand. It was tinted with the brown of the earth. He rubbed it on his face. I have found my religion. This ground is hallowed.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Adrik, level 15 Dwarf, Fighter, Great Weapon Master Build: Great Weapon Fighter Fighter Talents: Two-handed Weapon Talent Background: Convert (+2 to Religion)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 22, Con 20, Dex 11, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 9.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 18, Con 14, Dex 10, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 8.
FEATS Level 1: Armor Proficiency (Plate) Level 2: Dwarven Weapon Training Level 4: Weapon Expertise (Hammer) Level 6: Toughness (retrained to Lightning Reflexes at Level 11) Level 8: Vigilante Justice Style Level 10: Potent Challenge Level 11: Dwarven Durability Level 12: Armor Specialization (Plate) Level 14: Initiate of the Faith
POWERS Fighter at-will 1: Brash Strike Fighter at-will 1: Cleave Fighter encounter 1: Passing Attack Fighter daily 1: Villain's Menace Fighter utility 2: Pass Forward Fighter encounter 3: Parry and Riposte Fighter daily 5: Rain of Steel Fighter utility 6: Daring Shot Fighter encounter 7: Come and Get It Fighter daily 9: Thicket of Blades Fighter utility 10: Mighty Surge Fighter encounter 13: Anvil of Doom (replaces Passing Attack) Fighter daily 15: Unyielding Avalanche (replaces Thicket of Blades)
ITEMS Adventurer's Kit, Gith Plate Armor, Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Crusader's Mordenkrad +2, Circlet of Indomitability (heroic tier), Cincture of the Dragon Spirit (heroic tier), Throwing hammer (2), Holy Symbol, Amulet of Physical Resolve +1, Life Shroud (heroic tier) (2), Riding Horse, Tent ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
The Book The great orc general Flust directed the swarm of goblins and orcs at his command, "Take what's useful, and burn the rest!" They had finally taken the Tower of White, once a great pinnacle of light, and one of the few signs of hope for rebellion. The very walls were now streaked with black and blood, embers floated about the scene as the pillage, and all was laid to waste.
"Hold now, hold hold!" yipped the tiny little man overburdened with an array of bits, bobs and bundles of use to only him. He drew up his goggles and repeated himself several times as he took to the front of the raiding party. "The legate will have his loot before you lot." Melton Fark was chief investigator and collector of historical texts, and keeper of the Vault of the Dark where all great books found their end. The sage who had lived within the tower, until moments ago, was believed to hold a great many books of magics most heretical and profane. Yet this great library might contain secrets the legate could use, and Melton was the gnome to find them.
He stepped over the many bodies strewn about the courtyard until he found his way into the inner chambers where the sage lay torn to bits upon the table, papers and cloth and leather bindings all in disarray. "What a mess! Damn green skinned rabble got no respect." he grumbles as he begins to collect what he can from the scene; a few scraps of paper, small books bound in dark leather, jars and decanters containing all manner of herbs. With a flick of the wrist, he casts aside the worthless junk and sifts out what he deems worth looking into.
Then he discovered the book of pearl.
It lay just beneath the left hand of the fallen bookkeeper, the bindings smooth and pallid in the moonlit night. He had never seen a tome like this before in all this world, and it would not be the first. As he turned the pages and looked within, great knowledge was revealed that none were meant to know.
He knew his duty and had every intention of taking it back to The Vault, but somehow he never could. This codex would be with him always, and he would use it for his own sake.
The End Many years had passed until it seemed his work was all too productive, for few books remained free in the lands. The sum total of all history was now under lock and key, making his own power all the greater. None would learn of his secret, for he would we keep it close to his chest at all times.
Melton Fark had it made, enjoying the benefits of the Dark Lord's reign. Occasionally he would be sent on campaigns to provide his arcane skills from the safety of the back lines, knowing full well that HIS side would always have the advantage. But that all ended when for the first time in his life he found himself at a loss. Bound with rough hewn rope, he sits within the rag tag assembly hoping to bargain for his life...
ITEMS Spellbook, Leather Armor, The Tome, Fortune's Nod (heroic tier), Davros Elden's Defensive Step (heroic tier), Book of Five Truths (The First Truth) (heroic tier), Power Jewel (heroic tier), Raven Cloak +2, Philosopher's Crown (heroic tier), Bracers of Escape (heroic tier)
All his items are essentially boons gained from what he learned from the book, so rather than actual magic items he would simply treat them as abilities.
RITUALS Amanuensis Arcane Mark Aura Mask Battlefield Elocution Brew Potion Chameleon's Cloak Comprehend Language Conceal Object Cure Disease Dark Light Deathly Shroud Demicache Detect Object Detect Secret Doors Detect Treasure Discern Lies Disenchant Magic Item Duplicate Enchant Magic Item Endure Elements Excavation Eye of Alarm Familiar Mount Fastidiousness Find the Path Fool's Gold Hand of Fate History Revealed Inquisitive's Eyes Knock Last Sight Vision Linked Portal Magic Circle Magic Mouth Make Whole Object Reading Preservation Pyrotechnics Secret Page Seek Rumor Seeming Shadow Bridge Shadow Walk Simbul's Conversion Skull Watch Tenser's Floating Disk Tenser's Lift Transfer Enchantment Traveler's Chant Travelers' Feast Undead Ward Unseen Servant Visage of Life Waterborn Wizard's Curtain Wizard's Escape Wizard's Sight
FEATS Level 1: Initiate of the Old Faith Level 2: Timely Respite Level 4: Courage of the Lone Stag Level 6: Impaling Thrust Level 8: Acolyte Power Level 10: Alertness Level 11: Vital Form Level 12: Lifespirit Healing Level 14: Enduring Mountain
POWERS Initiate of the Old Faith: Pounce Warden at-will 1: Earth Shield Strike Warden at-will 1: Resilience of Life Warden encounter 1: Warden's Sacrifice Warden daily 1: Form of the Willow Sentinel Warden utility 2: Nature's Abundance Warden encounter 3: Pressing Attack Warden daily 5: Hail of Thorns Warden utility 6: Soothing Wind (retrained to Black Harbinger at Acolyte Power) Warden encounter 7: Guardian's Pounce Warden daily 9: Form of Paradise's Bounty Warden utility 10: Returning Strength Warden encounter 13: Healing Harvest (replaces Warden's Sacrifice) Warden daily 15: Form of Summer Fire (replaces Form of the Willow Sentinel)
ITEMS Bronzewood Longspear +2, Distance Javelin +2, Bracers of Brachiation (heroic tier), Periapt of Proof against Poison +1, Fortune's Nod (heroic tier), Feytouched Hide Armor +3
Rittachak awoke twelve years ago out of a dream. The dream was of towering mountains, shrouded in mist and impenetrable forests, and it crossed ages of the world's history. In what seemed like moments, his dream became a nightmare of growing shadow and flame. Rittachak awoke near the Burning Line in the forest of Erethor, a member of a race in decline. Wildens are tied to the balance of life, and as the Shadow of the North grows to cover the land in darkness, the wildens' time on Aryth wanes. Rittachak has devoted himself to the salvation of the natural world, like most of his kind. Unfortunately, most of the tribe has been lost to brutal attrition as the orc armies of Izrador push ever further into Erethor. Rittachak learned to channel the fury of nature against despoilers, and upon learning of an army of champions gathering, he set out to join the cause.
Appearance Like most wildens, Rittachak is a beastlike figure with long, powerful limbs. Featherlike leaves cover his body, extending into crests over each eye. Rittachak's coloration is the coppery tones of autumn, blending into grays that match the loss of natural purity in the world.
While trying to pass through occupied lands, Rittachak is forced to hide his fey nature. Sometimes he is able to disguise himself with a simple, hooded cloak and featureless mask. When he cannot avoid notice so easily, he falls back on his primal magic, and re-forms his spirit into the form of a raven. When he absolutely must get away from the Dark Lord's patrols, his fey armor allows him to vanish from sight.
Personality Rittachak is a totally inhuman creature. While he knows elven ways, he cannot easily relate to human thought. Their customs and beliefs are strange to him, and even their language and values are sometimes difficult for him to relate to. Rittachak's identity is subsumed into the natural world around him, and he considers the destruction of Izrador's forces to be vastly more important than the human civilizations that are under seige. He considers his allies in the resistance forces to be a second tribe, and fiercly fought to defend them. Among humans, he was called Red Jack, both a Common transliteration of his proper name and a moniker referring to his blood-soaked appearance in battle. In the wake of Izrador's destruction of the army, Rittachak is consumed with the need to bring death to the orcs.
Equipment Rittachak's spear was carved by him out of bronzewood (bronzewood longspear). This technique was taught to his tribe by an elven druid, in order to combat Izrador's walking dead. His amulet (periapt of proof against powder) is a capsule of powdered herbs used to treat the poison killing the forest. Rittachak has a deadly forest warrior, and his javelins boast extra range thanks to his specialized tactics (distance javelin). He is an expert climber (bracers of brachiation), and nature itself lends him grace (fortune's grace divine boon). Before setting out on his quest, the Witch Queen's emissaries gifted him a suit of enchanted armor (feytouched hide armor), charging him with the task of piercing the Veil and restoring access between the natural world and the Feywild.
In combat, Rittachak draws power from the earth itself, and this grants him increased durability and ability to recuperate. His main suite of powers give out small amounts of healing, either by granting surges to him or by spreading that healing to party members. A smaller subset of his encounter powers let him leap across the battle by leaning on the wildblood-themed warden powers. A handful of powers are simply plant themed (grant cover by triggering vegetative bloom, spray toxic thorns). And his two guardian form dailies allow him to channel the vengeful spirits of Erethor forest: form of nature's bounty increases his durability and resistance to necrotic damage, and lets him pin down foes with vine growth, and form of summer fire allows him to channel the forest's rage at its burning and defilement and deal plenty of fire damage.
Created for Izrador's service, pulled out of nothingness for the final battle to give the elder races no ground to go too. He used his void assumption to break through barriers to slaughter hidden rooms with women and children, with his green flames burning bright.
born 20 years after the end into a family of farmers. When all his siblings had been enslaved or killed senselessly for minor offenses he rebelled and took up his first Axe
The only son of an elder couple of rangers born just 1 year before the end
After the final battle his surviving uncle gave him his Bracers and Greatbow, gifts from his slain mother and father
Duncan was twenty when he first encountered the might of Kaddim-Sul while he was leading a small band thinning Izrador's forces. Amtril was with him, his great ally from the elves. By then Amtril had not only made many men his allies, but many gnomes as well, his goggles where passed to him from a fallen gnomish friend.
But Duncan was only excepting Goblins, perhaps some Orcs. He was entirely unprepared for the might and cunning of Kaddim-Sul. Kaddim-Sul matched his tactics and bested his might with his dark sword. Of the fifteen in Duncan's force, only Duncan and Amtril survived. Though not before Kaddim-Sul left his mark on Amtril's face.
In the depths of Amtril's cowardice that day he went so far as to loot his own companion's boots to further his flight. As for Duncan, Kaddim-Sul saw fit to cut his tendons and send him to a prison camp for hard labor.
It was a long thirty years before Amtril had the courage to return for Duncan. Older wiser and better armored he returned alone slipping through the dangerous lands of men to redeem himself to his old captain.
Fate would have it that Kaddim-Sul himself was sent to stop the trail of arrow filled bodies. Kaddim-Sul's sorcery had improved in those 30 year, but not half as much as Amtril's archery. Before reinforcement force his retreat Amtril plucked out Kaddim-Sul's eyes out of his skull, infusing them into his goggles as vengeance for his scar.
Even so wounded Kaddim-Sul was not yet defeated, and still yet held his rank. But that was a mistake, In his blindness he got sloppy and Duncan got his hand on an Axe. The one axe was all Duncan needed, while he hadn't touched one in thirty years in his mind's eye there was nothing but battle. He only saw things in there tactics. He had long since trained and drilled enough of the other prisoners, but not well enough to lead without strength left in his arms. His weakness betrayed him as his men fell to the guards.
Be it luck or fate his axe did make good on one fell threat. He wounded Kaddim-Sul so grievously Kaddim-Sul retreated into the Void, the axe still embedded into his chest. Duncan's losses where so great the remaining guards didn't bother to even shackle him up; though soon after they would regret it as Amtril arrow's rained down on them. On that day Duncan swore to never lift up an axe again. But since he could not stay he left with Amtril, and since he could not stand idle while Amtril defended them, he did what he could, guiding Amtril's aim.
Kaddim-Sul on the other hand never returned from the void. He became the void, the absence of all, for too long. He was lost to the wilds, lost to madness, lost to the void.
Thirty years passed easier for Duncan and Amtril. Duncan learned to accept the loss of his strength, he no longer saw it as a real loss, just a change in tactics.
Though not such a change in tactics as coming to the aid of the green flame that haunted his nightmares. It was the witch hunters that attacked this new being, this new abomination. It was Amtril's empathy that guided them to it. Amtril could see that the new being was no longer Kaddim-Sul, and Duncan could not see wasting the tactical advantage against the witch hunters.
The new being had no body, his skin has fused into his armor and into his gloves. His bones has diminished into his mask and necklace. His sword and Duncan's axe had fussed into something terrible to behold.
Tri'Leon, pacing back and forth in the confined quarters is feeling frustrated, frustrated and restrainted. It just can't get used to its humanoid form disguise, no matter how many times it uses it.
What it wouldn't give to be out in the open fields and forests, hunting deer by the pale moonlight, instead it's stuck in this filthy cellar, hardly large enough to contain all its occupants, waiting for news from unreliable humans and their allies. Tri'Leon stops pacing for a moment and growls at no-one in particular.
Tri'Leon starts to pace again, thinking of its main objective.
I have been with this so called resistance for over 3 years now, and I am still no closer to finding more information on Scar. We need to strike deeper into the heart of Izrador's Empire, surely there is information to be found there. And this mirror, given time to study it, may have been just what I would have needed to find his lair, but now it lies in pieces. This isn't going well at all.
Tri'Leon's human face darkens and a nasty feral glint can be see in its eyes.
And this Melton, he has definitely been resourceful when we need it most, but I just can't see past his history. When will he betray us..
I know it has been about 1-2 years since Melton has joined the party, but I don't think Tri'Leon will trust him until he directly provides information on Scar'garath. Being a beast that has lived a long time, 1-2 years means nothing to Tri'Leon.
With regards to the parrot, it will be somewhere around the town/city, trying to look inconspicuous...
Rittachak remains motionless, but a rustle precedes his response: "While we live, the enemy may still be undone. You said we would have a chance to carry on the war. You said to wait in this room until an opportune time. We are restless." His voice is a birdlike warbling, and groans like windblown trees.