Monthly Archives: July 2007

Nicolai’s Temple Tale

The mage cut lengths of Siswa robe to gag and bind the unconsious guardsmen. He hunted around for the leader and hoped it wasn’t the one with the crossbow bolt in his chest. He searched each body for any mark or badge of authority occasionally asking Saeth to give her opinion. Saeth seemed indifferent as usual.

“Once we have hidden the guard somewhere I would like to see if I can overcome the Charm placed upon one of the guardsmen. If this is possible it would give us a great advantage against the Rahib. Ideally we should try this on the leader as they would be privvy to the most information. Equally he would need to remain tied up for our own protection if my experiment fails.”

The Priest nodded in agreement, “I like your thinking Miklos.” But so as not to let the young mage get too big headed he added, “A shame you didn’t think of this when we first encountered the Siswa outside the temple…” He grinned.

“To be honest.” Maruc continued, “We must rest soon. We will be taking a serious risk if we try to hold out in our injured state, we cannot afford to be slain or captured, but equally we cannot allow the Rahib to leave unchallenged or have time to regroup. What say you all? Do we press on and trust our luck will hold or rest and attack from a possition of strength but risk having to assault a marshalled force?”

“To move on now gives us some advantage of surprise, however slight. The Rahib is in his element, and will continue to dog us were we to linger anywhere.” Saeth didn’t look at the others; she studied the fallen Elves. “I’d as soon press onward as rest in the midst of my enemies. And Miklos? That one looks like as much of the leader as they had.”

* * * * *

As the others engaged the Siswa who had exited the courtyard of the Temple on Gray Mountain, Nicolai check the doors to the temple, and found them both unguarded and unlocked. So, he snuck in.

He entered a 10-foot long entryway and proceeded to carefully and quickly check the curtained off areas. Finding them largely empty, save for some coffers, he headed east.

Moving east through the hallway, Nicolai came to a diamond-shaped chamber. Overhead, the ceiling opened into a great dome filled with stalactites. A broad platform jutted from the southeast wall into the center of the room. On the platform was a statue of a robed elf, who sat with his legs crossed. Probably, that Elyas character the elves had spoke about. A small altar stood before the statue. A neat pile of folded Siswa robes lied before the altar.

Nicolai donned one of the Siswa robes and searched the altar for traps and secret doors. Finding none, he moved north, attempting to keep to the shadows as he moves. He was prepared to retreat back to the statue chamber and hide in the event of any trouble.

He then entered the 10-foot wide arched hallway to the north. Several 10-foot wide dark rooms branched off both sides of the hallway. They appeard empty, so he kept moving. Ahead, two hallways met. Some shadowy figures and flickering lights were moving around far to the north.

Readying Saeth’s sword, Nicolai snuck forward whilst hiding in the shadows, ready to run back if required. As he crept northward, the shadowy movement ahead suddenly disappeared. Behind him, where there was once the hallway through which he had snuck, there was now cold stone wall. The way back was gone. Ahead there was another hallway junction, branching to the west, north and east.

With little choice, Nicolai continued north, as quietly and carefully as he can. After travelling a short distance to the north, he came upon a large doorway to his right. He examined the large, strong wooden double doors for a keyhole or some hint of what lie beyond. The doors were covered with ornately carved with forest scenes. After completing his examination, with Saeth’s sword still in hand, he carefully and quietly pushed open one of the doors and looked within.

The door opened into a huge, natural cavern, eight sided and 70-feet across. It was brightly lit by oil lamps on the walls, which rose 30 feet, opening into a great 40-foot high metal dome. A large compass rose was carved into the froor in the cent of the room. There were three doorways, one in the center of the south wall, another in the west and the last to the east. A raised platform jutted 30-feet out from the north wall. At the back of the platform was a 15-foot-tall clay statue of Elyas. At the front of the platform was an altar. A black-robed figure stood behind the altar, burning incense.

Upon hearing the door open, the figure turned to face Nicolai. He was a Ylari man, matching the description of the Rahib.

“Have you returned with the maiden?” he asked anxiously.

“No Rahib,” Nicolai replied. “She appeared, but was protected by hidden guards.”

“What is the meaning of this? You are not Siswa! Who are you?”

“No. Dentiata sent me to see if you had what he was after.” Nicolai walks steadily forward as he speaks, attempting to move across the area to the Rahib before he can get his concentration together.

The Rahib eyed the young rogue suspiciously. “Dentiata sent you?” He pondered for a moment. “Things have…changed since we made our arrangement. Since I breached the tower ruins, dark spirits have been awakened, and I serve them now. If Thaddigren wishes to get the eye, he will have to deal with them.”

“It sounds for that as if you can offer more than Dentiata for my services. Perhaps we can come to some arrangement? However, I suggest we deal with these troublemakers first.”

The Rahib regarded the young man before him. He did not appear to be a formidable, but looks could be decieving, particularly if he was employed by the likes of Thaddigren Dentiata. And, he had managed to get into the temple and reach the inner temple unharmed. “I need the elfmaiden. If you can bring her to me, you will be well compensated.”

“Hmm”, replied Nicolai. “The maiden herself does not appear to be a problem. I will see what I can do.” Nicolai backed slowly towards the door he entered.

As he moved to the door, Nicolai heard the sound of a relatively large number of people moving through the hallway. Waiting to quietly open the door until after they passed, he saw a number of elven Siswa marching hurriedly down the hall. They did not see him. Behind him, he heard one of the double doors open into the cavernous temple. “Master, there are intruders in the temple!” he heard an elf speak in the common tongue to the Rahib.

“Kill them and report back to me here,” demanded the Rahib.

“The guards have already been sent. I shall join them now as you command,” replied the elf.

Nicolai silently followed the Siswa who were racing quickly down the hallway, running straight through a hallway junction and towards a dead end. Then, in the blink of an eye, they vanish. Behind him, Nicolai heard the sound of the double doors opening and the Siswa that had been speaking to the Rahib was now headed his way.

It was a tricky maneuver, but Nicolai managed to move around the corner and avoid detection. The lone Siswa quickly passed by and followed his comrades into the dead-end hallway, and disappeared. Before he could follow them, he felt the ground start to shake a bit beneath his feet. Sounds of commotion came from back in the direction from which he came.

* * * * *

Feldard, understanding the grave implications of Nicolai’s story, was even more determined to press on against the Rahib. “Resting at this point will be nigh impossible. These are but the first of many that will be after us. We need to find and finish off the Rahib… quickly.”

At the conclusion of Nicolai’s tale, with the guards securely tied up in the hallway, Miklos picked one of the guards at random and cast his charm spell upon him. He rousted the elf back to consciousness to see if his spell had worked.

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Dropping The Last Two

As the elves crumpled to the floor the mage’s eyes widened, well it paid to ignore some of the rumours that the elves wove about themselves. It occured to him that he might rouse one of the unconscous elves and try a friendship enchantment on him. Surely he would aid them against the Rahib and his knowledge of the Rahib’s doings and whereabouts would bring a swift and decisive conclusion to their mission. Eager though he was to test his theory, he stepped back out of the way lest a stray blade catch him. Fortunately, he had commited the charm spell to memory.

Maruc knew his flail could not be de-natured in the same way as Saeth and Feldard’s bladed weapons. It relied on its swing and weight. Yet despite this he still held no quarms about felling the Siswa guard, holding the Rahib responsible for their deaths.

Yet he did not relish the attack and held back as long as he dared, trusting to the warriors to fend off the assault. Only then did he consider that Feldard was at best only capable of defending himself. The priest was slow on the uptake and was a step behind the dwarf at the first clash of weapons.

Feldard didn’t hesitate to drink down the small flask that was put into his hand even as he was stepping forward alongside Saeth. He immediately felt his body recover once more from the grievous wounds he had sustained. He met the Siswa’s charge, blocking with his axe then once more tried to use the flat of it to bring down his foe. Feldard’s armor fared far better against the Siswa blade than that of the massive bone golem they had faced in the temple room. With Maruc’s aid, he was able to knock out the Siswa without sustaining any further wounds.

Meanwhile, Saeth and Nicolai faced the other Siswa, and likewise were able to take down their foe with non-lethal means.

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The Siswa Attack

Miklos’s immediate reaction to the charging Siswa was to summon his sleep incantation.  He whispered the words of making and enchanting and as softly as a breeze he blew the dwoemer into the minds of the charging foe.

Maruc sprang to his feet and hoisted his shield up and said, “Who has the healing draughts? We might need them soon.” He stood next to the chanting mage preparing to defend him and himself.

Feldard cussed some nasty dwarven words and took a moment to load his crossbow. He hated the idea of killing the ensorcelled elves but he was in no state to be fending off the lot of them in melee. He fired off a first shot towards the crowd of Siswa. He had only time to loose one of the bolts before they would be upon him. The arrow lodged itself in one of the lead Siswa, and Feldard hastily switched weapons.

“We’re crossbowing them now?” Saeth’s muttered question was rhetorical, and quiet enough it needed no respose. She stepped past the Dwarf, slipping him a healing potion for a while. “Cradle a drink for a bit.”

“And this could have been so easy” Nicolai muttered under his breath. He then deftly tossed the enchanted sword to Saeth.

There was not much time before the elves were within melee range. Just as they were about to reach the group, Miklos let loose his spell of sleep. Five of the seven elves fell into immediate slumber. Despite losing most of their brethren to enchantment, the remaining two entranced Siswa continued to fight.

Saeth stepped forward, leaving the sheath on her blade, hoping the elves could be brought down without lasting damage.

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Return of the Siswa

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Maruc realised the Feldard would swiftly require more healing and sommoned Halav to bless the dwarf once again with renew’d vigour. “Nicolai, in your opinion can we afford to spend another half-night resting ourselves or not?”

Feldard kept his grumbles to himself at the familiar feel of the prayer. Mentally he noted, ‘I should consider paying the cleric service fees! It seems I’m the only one that require use of him!’ It was not a pleasant revelation.

The dwarf looked around, noting Saeth was not present. He frowned and stood, wincing slightly as freshly healed wounds protested the movement. “While resting, is definately needed. I doubt there is a safe enough location to do so until the Rahib has been killed. Where’s the elf?”

“Praying?” Miklos replied trying to keep the smile from his face.

As if on cue, Saeth rejoined the group. She had been talking to Miklos in the chamber, and then turned to see he was no longer there. The statue had made no move to follow her or take any other action while she was in the temple.

Nicolai says, “No we cannot wait out the night, the Rahib is not working for Dentiata any more, and has awoken something here, that would appear to be his new masters.”

 

Nicolai was about to relate what he was doing since their parting of ways, when suddenly from down the hall, they suddenly heard the marching sounds of the Siswa. They were hot on the trail of the temple intruders, and, waving their scimitars in the air, they charged down the passage toward the group. There were seven of them in all.

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Golem Theory

Saeth looked across at the spellcaster, a sardonic laugh in her good eye. “So, what makes the two of them worth fighting, and the two of us not?” Her gaze flicked to the creature standing on the other side of the altar. “And what can we do to stop it, as needbe? You think it’s merely that the Dwarf attacked it, and we’ll be fine if we just smile politely?” She waved slightly towards it, an exaggerated wave one might give to a child. “I hate just ignoring it, however. It could come alive at any time, couldn’t it?”

By the time she finished her question, she turned to the mage to see Miklos’s Siswa robes disappear out of the temple doors. Uncharacteristically for the talkative mage, Miklos had not paused to expound upon the nature of the strange, undoubtedly enchanted guardian.

Feldard groaned as consciousness returned to him. The ache of his remaining wounds reminding him that at least he was alive. “Did I finish it off?”
He slowly opened his eyes. At first, all he saw was the Siswa robes that they had disguised themselves with. He flinched, reaching for his trusty axe to defend himself, but then he saw that it was the priest kneeling next to him obviously having just prayed for a healing. He forced himself to sit up and looked back to the priest. “Before I forget, Maruc—thank you.”

The dwarf glanced around noting that they weren’t in the worship room anymore but rather out in the hall once again. “Are the others okay?”

“I’m not sure about Nicolai, Feldard. I was too busy with you my brave friend.” Maruc smiled kindly.

Miklos caught his breath after a few moments. “You dropped this Master Feldard.” He handed the Dwarf his axe back.

“What do you make of it?” Maruc asked the mage. “A creature that chooses its foes with a singularity of purpose? I though it might have been the magic weapons looking at who attacked it.”

The mage considered the priests words for a long moment. A smile crept across his face as he formulated a theory that seem to fit all the current evidence. “What you make of this idea? Do you remember the creature who guarded the key in Sevastian’s Castle? I theorised at the time that it might have been a construct, a ‘Golem’ as they are refered to in the mages guild. A mindless ceature with a series to basic instructions to follow.”

Miklos continued, “Now consider that before we entered the castle we were warned of a ‘guardian’. I believe this construct is he. Keep in your mind that the term indicates defence rather than attack. Next, consider we are in an elven temple consecrated to Ilsundal the Protector and the only person powerful enough to create the Guardian that we know of is the elf lord Elyas.”

“Now look through the eyes of an elf lord.” Miklos glanced at Feldard, “A somewhat bigoted elf lord and see who the guardian attacked. Dwarves and Thieves.”

“He obviously felt no threat from the clergy or fellow magi, but when all things are considered is not the wisest course of action.” He effected a Maruc-like grin. “For whom is he guarding the Black Opal Eye from if it was not from his fellow Magi? Yet both I and the Rahib were allowed to approach. A somewhat foolish lapse in thought in my opinion.”

Maruc listened carefully to the mage and replied, “But as you can see it ceased its attack. Surely it would not stop as it did not against Feldard?”

The group turned with a start at the sound of someone approaching. It was a Siswa! No, actually it was just Nicolai, whose Siswa robes were torn where the beast’s swords had wounded him after the young rogue had struck the golem. “Guys, I need that Siswa guy dead, like now, or we’re all in big trouble.”

Miklos paused in thought for a moment, “Perhaps so great a summoning needs a tight leash? I know not the full instructions it was given. However, for Nicolai’s sake I am glad it has some restrictions.”

The priest turned to Nicolai. “I’m glad you are alive, I’m assuming you mean the Rahib? He is not Siswa, he controls them, but that is no matter. Indeed we are determined to foil his plans and destroy him if possible. Have you discovered anything about him or his plans that might give us an edge?”

“Actually your story must wait, we have to find somewhere to rest up. The Rahib may well escape but facing him injured as we are, we would surely be slain. Miklos himself would agree we are facing a man armed with mighty magics?”

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Retreat From The Temple

Maruc guessed at what was causing the problem, the magic weapons. “Run to the west door and bar it Nicolai! It can detect magic somehow. It’s after the sword. I must save Feldard if I can.”

“Maruc, that sounds like a plan! Exit via the south door, and I’ll meet up with you later!” Nicolai quickly rans for the west door.

Forgetting trying to slow the creature, the priest ran over to the fallen warrior. With a great heave of effort, he hoisted the dwarf to his shoulders and ran to the south door. Yanking it ajar, he dumped the body unceremoniously into the corridor and shouted for Miklos and Saeth.

Miklos followed shouted command of the priest and understood what he meant. Then he saw Feldard’s enchanted axe on the floor and had an idea of how he might distract the bone creature enough for Nicolai to escape.

He waited until Maruc had hauled his burden out of the chamber then ran over scooped up the axe. He tried to think of some great battle cry that he had read in a book somewhere, “Oi! Um Excuse me….”, He waved it about in a poor imitation of Feldard and effected a ‘Dwarf-like’ grimace. His intention was to attract its attention and flee the moment it turned to chase through the door Maruc was holding open.

Saeth continued wrestling with the demon’s legs. The foolish boy, she thought to herself. An axe may be an awkward, ungainly weapon, but dancing around with it like that was certainly not going to work any better than usual!

“Bring that thing back here, Miklos! If you’re not going to use it properly, let me!” Under her breath, she continued, “as properly as an axe is ever used in battle, anyway.”

The skeletal menace paid no attention whatsoever to the dancing spellcaster clad in Siswa robes. It only concerned itself with chasing after Nicolai. The youth was fast and managed to reach the door before getting cut to shreds.

Suddenly, the only souls remaining in the chamber were Saeth and Miklos. But the creature did not come after them. Instead, the thing paused, turned around and marched back to its original position behind the altar.

Outside the chamber, Maruc knelt down next to his dieing friend, and shook his head sadly. Maruc calmed himself to call forth Halav’s healing powers to call him back from the dark path. His most critical wounds started to mend themselves, and the dwarf slowly started to stir back to consciousness.

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Feldard Falls

Well, if she couldn’t hurt it directly, she supposed she’d have to do whatever she could to help the Dwarf. Ducking low to avoid the newcomer Nicolai’s sword and its swings–HER sword, darn it!–she charged into the back of the creature’s kneecaps, grabbing its legs and trying to knock it from its feet.

The dwarf’s attacks were slowing. His wounds telling on him, yet still he refused to back down from the undead thing that seemed only to have malice towards him. While others might ponder the why and wherefor of the creatures motivations, Feldard was battling for his life and his attention remained on dodging and blocking attacks.

At this point the priest realized the creature posed no threat to him, yet. A movement to his left saw Seath grappling its legs. ‘Worth a try’ he thought, then launched himself at the other leg with all the force he could muster. “We’ll attempt to hold it Feldard!” he said grunting with effort to stay the creature. “It only wants you. Get out and we’ll regroup.”

At this moment, Nicolai, wielding Saeth’s sword struck a blow to the giant skeleton. Though it did little damage, it did succeed in getting the thing’s attention. Up until this point, it had ignored Nicolai’s presence, much as it had ignored the others. Now, one of its arms shot back to attack Nicolai. The beast’s blade cut through the Siswa robes and leather armor and inflicted a light wound to the rogue’s shoulder.

“I agree, this guardian is beyond us. I have nothing to affect it. We must flee!” Miklos made for the nearest door opening it ready to slam it behind Feldard as he passed through.

“I suggest a tactical withdrawal now. I’ll try and slow him down whilst you get Feldard out,” offered the brave young rogue.

”I can take him!”

“I knew you’d say that, fool dwarf.” said the priest struggling to gain purchase on the creature to slow it down. “This is not some game to see who is most valourous in the face of impossible odds! We are here to end the evil of the Sons of Night! I’d like to see you do that from beyond the grave! Now RUN!

But it was too late. The dwarf finally succumbed to his many wounds and fell into a crumpled heap on the temple floor. After the dwarf fell, the hulking boned behemoth turned the focus of its attacks totally upon Nicolai.

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