Monthly Archives: September 2007

Fetching Feldard

The priest rolled his eyes, the stubbornness of that dwarf was going to get him killed, or at least captured. Well with all this bickering over his head it was impossible to concentrate on his meditations. A flicker on anger passed his otherwise serene face. He sighed deeply, rubbed his calloused palms over his face, stood up and stretched. Again the armour bore down on him but he shrugged his shoulders to reposition the plates more comfortably. “That dwarf is more obstinate than Patriarch Beud.” Seeing the incomprehension on his friend’s faces he grinned, “Never mind, does he think I have any choice but to go and get him? Mighty Halav would demand nothing less.” He made his way toward the stairwell.

“Wait, Maruc.” said the mage. “The guardian won’t let him passed. It would attack you even if you are carrying him I sure. He’ll be safe a while yet.”

“Like the group of Siswa we left bound? They said they’d gone. This is not up for discussion, if I must I shall carry him back to the village to be healed. What do you think will happen if the Siswa get hold of him? He’s a Dwarf for Halav’s sake they’ll make dwarfmince of him.” railed the priest.

“It was his choice, you are not his keeper.” the mage reminded him.

“Give me your cloak, Miklos. I will fetch him down here and heal him myself. If he complains I’ll knock him out for his own good. I doubt the guardian would be able to tell if he was alive anyway.”

Shaking his head Miklos could see that the priest would not be dissuaded. Heh, hamstringed by morals, that the clergy for you. He pulled of his cloak and handed it to Maruc.

Maruc bundled up the cloak and marched up the stairs.

As the priest left, Saeth looked at Miklos with a shrug. “It would serve the stubborn Dwarf right if something happened to him. Still…” She glanced around, trying to figure out the lay of the place. “it would be nice to have his subterranean talent in a place like this. Where do you suppose they are from here?”

“Well, at least we know where one Siswa is,” interjected Hasan. “Miklos, can you show me the one you found? Maybe I would have better luck speaking with him. We need to figure out why he is down in this part of the temple. In all my life, I didn’t even know that a place that hosted such terrors as these …” he bitterly kicked a skelatal remain … “existed below the corridors we walked each week when we honored Ilsundal.”

“Lead on then,” said Nicolai, in his characteristically to-the-point manner.

“I don’t like the idea of releasing him. He is secure in there until I raise the enchantment I have placed on the door. Besides which I would prefer Maruc to be here before we investigate further. I didn’t like the mood he left in. You never know he might do something…clerical.” Miklos shook his head. “And another point is we are underground, and with the maze that this place is proving to be Feldard’s uncanny sense of direction might prove vital. But still, there are three of us and we all speak elvish. We are also armed. What’s the threat he poses? OK. I’ll lift the spell.”

When everyone was ready and prepared, Miklos lifted the spell on the door so that it could be opened.

* * * * *

On the level above, He threaded his way passed the the corpses and stopped at the dead Siswa. He said a swift prayer and then removed the robe from the body.

Tracking the dwarf wouldn’t be a difficult task. Quite thoughtfully, Feldard had been helpful enough to provide a trail of blood drippings out the temple and into the hallway where the cleric saw him slumped against the wall of the arched hallway. He was gravely wounded, but conscious and alert.

“Right.” Maruc said very firmly, “We can do this with good grace and we shall donn these robes and return to the others or,” Maruc paused for effect “I render you unconsious for your own good, wrap you in a robe like a child and carry you. Whats it to be? Halav knows what Saeth would say if I arrived carrying you.”

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New Masters

Hasan said “the strength of the Elyria shall be with you, dwarf,” to the slouching dwarf and the two elves returned to the chamber below the altar room. The others followed.

Feldard watched as Nicolai and the elves left him, and once they were out of sight, he let himself surcome to the seriousness of his wounds. He slumped in his sitting position against the wall. His movement left a scarlet smear of blood against the wall where it seeped through his bandages. He could feel how he was on the very edge of passing out. It took near everything he had to not slip across that threshhold. His wounds may be bound but he was far from being capable of anything more than mere consciousness. There was no choice of it, he would need the gentle healing of the cleric before he could move again.

The dwarf was too far gone to even grimace at the thought of being so helpless yet again. Perhaps he should have taken the Siswa Hasan’s advice and run or better yet worn the damn robe? “Bah..”

 

* * * * *

“Fool elf!” said Miklos backing off with his staff posied to fend him off. “If I wished you slain, dead you would be!” Keeping him at a distance with the staff but not actually attacking him the mage backed to the open doorway. He grabbed at the handle and slammed the door in the groggy Siswa’s face. He lent against it with his weight to block it. Then, just for good measure, he cast Wizard Lock on the door.

The group returned below to see Miklos finishing up his enchantment on the door. They exchanged information: the elves were still under the influence of the charm spell, the Siswa upstairs had disappeared, and Feldard, who was seriously wounded, stubbornly chose to remain behind rather than don one of the Siswa robes to get past the guardian safely.

 “If the enchantment is not broken, what is to be done now?” Saeth asked in confusion. “Is there yet another sorcerer hidden in these Dwarven halls?” Had she been more introspective, Saeth would’ve been glad Feldard was not there to hear.

“I think it is the ‘New Masters’ that the Rahib was talking about now controlling the Siswa. I doubt he would allow another sorcerer within these walls. Perhaps it is this Opal Eye we have heard about?”

 

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Intruder!

“Go on! The longer you folks dally, the less patience I’ll have and less likely you’ll find me here waiting. ” That said the dwarf let himself slide down the wall once more. “But for now I’m good to just rest here and await your return.”

* * * * *

Miklos looked at the guard and back to the priest. Well, he thought, I can at least see if this chap is all right. But just in case I’ll remove his sword.

He examined the elf at distance, but it appeard he was already unarmed. Someone apparently had already made of with his scimitar. Probably the same someone that had knocked him unconscious.

Miklos slowly pushed the door wider to get a clearer view of the room, half-ready to yank the door shut at the least unexpected noise or movement. When he was sure, he entered the room clasping his staff to him and with a quick glance behind the door he went over to the rebumbrant guard. “Rest easy Siswa, I have a friend who can see to your wounds next door. Can you walk?” Miklos wanted to help the guard up but thought better of it until he was sure that the charm was not affecting him.

The Siswa was slowly coming out of his daze. His eyes grew wide at the words of the human.

“Intruder!” he yelled in Elvish. Though he had no weapon, he groggily charged toward Miklos

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Siswa Lost, Siswa Found

The dwarf pushed himself away from the wall and scowled as he noted the lack of Siswa. “They were right here! Confound those damned long-eared, willow-limbed… ” the rest of his cussing he cut off as he realized he was in poor company with Hasan and Saeth. “Seems they’ve been retrieved…whether for good or ill—who knows. I assume, we will find out soon enough as we continue our search for this Elrond.”

Hasan replied, “I fear that is the best we can do at this point. Let’s head back to see the others. But before we go, would your gentle nature allow me to suggest that just once you walk through the temple chamber with a robe on?”

“Might be an idea Feldard, I’m getting all too familiar with the colour of Dwarven blood,” says Nicolai.

Feldard eyed the door to the Guardians chamber with a scowl. He knew he couldn’t fend of another barrage of attacks from the temple golem, but giving in to donning a Siswa robe was just not in the dwarf’s nature. Not now after, so much.

I need to rest some before I go anywhere. I’ll remain here. You lead the others on. Find this Elrond. I’ll be here waiting.”

* * * * *

Bored of watching the priest in his meditations, Miklos picked himself up and stretched. He spent a few moments studying the room then he went over to the open door, peered through the gloom and listened intently for further signs of movement.

After ensuring there was no immediate danger from the way on Miklos checked each door to see if it was locked and listened for any signs of movement. As the cleric continued to pray, the mage opened each unlocked door a fraction to see what lay beyond as, he reasoned, anyone beyond the doors would have already arrived due to the sounds of combat so it must be relatively safe.

To the east, there was a short hallway. At the east end was a double doorway, and against each the north and south walls were single doorways. The doors were all closed. Miklos moved to the south door. Behind it was a small room. A few crates were scattered here and there in the room. On the ground was a lone Siswa guard. He was groggily starting to come to consciousness as Miklos peered in.

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Where Are They?

Saeth strolled alongside the battling Dwarf, chuckling her amusement at his stubbornness, and its ill result for him. Once safe outside the shrine, she finally put a sentence together. “May I help you bandage those wounds? Oh, but this will be a fine addition to the tale…”

The dwarf merely glared at the warrior elf and leaned heavily against the nearest wall.

“Master Dwarf, they say in my village that pride comes before the fall,” chimed in Hasan. “When we are done here, let me take you to fish my favorite stream. Our dearest Mother Earth will there teach you the value of humility. It was a lesson my father taught to me … hmmm … thirty years ago. I remember it well: the sparkling light on the brook, the soft whisper of the early morning breeze. I was sure I’d spear a dozen fish by noon…ahh. The elf, lost in his meditation on the classic theme of elf versus nature, sighed in contentment.

At the sound of the footsteps of the Golem returning to its post, Hasan was startled back into the present. “Oh, right. The prisoners. Where are they?”

The Siswa should have been right there in front of them. They were gone!

* * * * *

The priest turned to Miklos, who had finished studing his book of arcania. “I wonder if they will remember where we left the guards tied up? If they’d have waited I could have reminded them.”

Miklos looked thoughtful for a moment. “There were…seven, I think, that assaulted us before the Temple Chamber. Two were slain and four bound in the corridor outside and one slain by the Rahib’s panthers.”

The priest put in, “Then there were those that were beyond the teleportation gate, the ones with the glowing lights? I can’t remember their number because we fled them. Then before that we met the guards chasing the thieves, again I think there were seven of them, three slain? And four we tied up behind the curtained off areas where the statues were.”

“And don’t forget the group outside the front of the Temple.” said the mage.

“Aye.” agreed Maruc, “I suspect the villagers would have come to investigate by now and taken them home. Have faith in their elven goddess Ilsundal the Protector. I’ll be glad to get out of this armour, it rubs in all sorts of unpleasant places.”

“Hmph, theres nothing like metal to ruin a good incantation.” replied Miklos. “But if you weren’t wearing it you’d not be having this conversation I think.”

“There’s truth in that my friend, Halav helps those who help themselves. An odd sort of remark really when you consider that a lot of thieves help themselves all the time.” Maruc grinned.

“So, what do you want to do whilest we wait for the others to return?” inquired the mage.

“I shall seek more of mighty Halav’s aid. Praying is good for the soul. You should try it Miklos.”

“I’ll keep watch over you my friend.” Miklos asssured him.

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Flying Off the Axehandle

Maruc glanced around his wounded friends and determined which required the most urgent healing. Ignoring his own wounds, which were the most serious of the group, he performed healing rites upon Saeth and Nicolai, who he had judged to be the most injured among them. Once finished, his companions were restored to full health.

“That blood…it may be the blood of the Siswa. We must honor the dead and investigate. But we must spare the living too. If there are living, defenseless Siswa above, we must free them or take them with us. We cannot abandon them to the horrors of the undead. Please let me secure these prisoners before we advance.” Hasan turned and began to head back to the Temple’s central chamber, turning as he left to Saeth and saying, in Elvish, “Come, you know we cannot leave a living elf behind.”

“More than leaving them to the horrors of the undead, we must stop them becoming undead,” said Nicolai to Hasan. “We do not know the nature of the magic here, and what may happen to them if they remain. That includes those already dead, as I’d rather not make cleansing this holy place more difficult than necessary.”

“Bewarned,” Miklos said “you must ensure any guards you release are free of the charm—remember their last command was to clear this temple of intruders. They may still attack!”

“It takes even the undead time to convert corpses into their brethren and from my experiences so far only dread Sevastian had the power to do this. These poor souls,” Maruc gestured at the pile of bones, “Would not be able to replicate their own. I do not like the idea of splitting our numbers so if you can find out if the Siswa we encountered have recovered then instruct them to release the other Siswa. You can return immediately and we can press on.”

“Very well, I thank you, friends. I think if the charm remains unbroken, we could lock these elves safely in the jail, to be freed on our return from the further exploration of these chambers.”

The dwarf waited..

“Well, let’s be off, then.” Saeth drew her blade in impatience. “Hassan, you should lead the way.”

Hasan replied, “I don’t know where they are. Maybe the dwarf can lead?”

Turning to the dwarf and speaking in Dwarvish—“And don’t forget to take a running start to get past the Guardian, little one.”

The dwarf’s mouth hung open speechlessly at hearing his own native tongue spoken by.. by.. by an ELF! He glowered at Hasan and on bootheel, turned without a word and lead the way back, barely giving the others even a chance to react.

Even for a dwarf, Feldard had a strong tendency to let pride and battlelust cloud his judgment. In fact, it was one of the reasons that he now found himself in this strange land far from his native Rockhome.

If he hadn’t been so irritated at the elf’s remarks, he may have thought to don the Rahib’s Siswa robe and thus negate the guardian’s attack directive. Instead, he was marching back up and out of the trapdoor. Once back in the temple, the bony guardian came to life again, raising its scimitars to attack the lone interloper who did not wear Siswa cloth. The dwarf purposely did not take a running start back in the Guardian chamber. He did not run, nor did he linger there. He marched with a measured but determined pace toward the exit door. Though it was merely an automaton with no emotions, there almost seemed to be a hint of menace as the bone golem chased the renegade dwarf for the third time. It seemed determined not to let the demihuman escape again. When the thing drew near to him, he turned to meet its attacks as he backed his way out of the room with as much dignity as a dwarf can muster.

Raising his axe to parry the slicing scimitars, Feldard managed to deflect two of the attacks, and another two were deflected off the dwarf’s sturdy armor. Still, with six arms at its disposal, the giant skeleton-creature vastly outmatched the dwarf. The remaining two blades scraped into the dwarf’s flesh, wounding him quite severely as the dwarf finally made it to the doorway and out of the room.

 

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Onward?

lowertemple2.gif

Saeth gasped at the speed that the others dispatched the interlopers. Shaking off the last of her meditations, she quipped, “I guess this is just what happens in a Dwarf-built temple.” She turned her gaze on the newcomer Elf. “Hasan, know you the way about, where these may have come from?”

“I claim no glory here over these poor souls, blessed is the mighty hand of Halav that he should succor them.” the priest offered up a heartfelt prayer then turned to the party. “My friends devilry and wickedness assail us, we must put an end to the designs of the Sons of Night swiftly. Lest we be outnumbered and drown in a sea of the walking dead. We are fortunate that Ilsundal the Protector was not offended by Holy Halav’s aid. Hasan could you tell if the Temple has been defiled?”

“I think our way on is plain, we must investigate where these creatures came from.”

The mage visibly relaxed as the the dust of splinted bones settled, “Well done Maruc.” he said then returned to hoisting his pack on his back and picked up his staff. “Shall we?”

From where they stood, they could see through the open doorway into a short arched hallway that led into another octagonal room. Just before the entrance to that room were doors on both sides. The chamber beyond appeared to be identical to the one in which they stood—30 feet across. There were 10-foot-square alcoves in the north, south and west walls. Old blood stains could be seen on the floor in the center of the room.

“Friends, I do not know this temple well. The Siswa were forbidden to walk in these chambers below the main hall. The prison is through the door to the south, but there is nothing of import in there, as I was the only prisoner.

“While I agree that we should investigate where these creatures came from, and I would like to go there soon, but before we go anywhere, should I speak with the Siswa you captured earlier?”

While Feldard was grateful for the cleric’s aid, especially when grievously wounded, the dwarf had just gotten into the feel of the fray to have it suddenly end—he felt somewhat robbed of proper battle. He moved to the door where the skeletons had burst threw and peered out the door somewhat hopeful for something else to battle against.

He glanced back as Hasan offered to speak with the Siswa. The dwarf stifled a groan; he knew it might take a while to talk to the Siswa captives, knowing Elves and their long winded and flowery ways. He mentally tried to prepare for a long, long LONG wait.

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