Monthly Archives: June 2008

A Rubbled Stairway

Feldard eyed the gems a moment, wondering if it were worth the risk. “Nicolai, anything heard beyond the door?” he asked, referring to the lone exit in the room, a set of double doors. ”If not, any chance of you disabling the trap we both know is present?” There may not be a decapitated body in this vault but the dwarf was rather certain the same sort of security measure were active.

Feldard stood back and let the rogue do his thing. While he waited, he moved back to the ladder, stifling a yawn and listened to the distant snores of the Siswa elf. “Pah! and humans say dwarves are loud..”

Ignoring the dwarf for the moment Nicolai lightly ran his hand over the lock mechanism of the door. If his intuition was correct, this door would lead to a stairwell if the elven structure maintained its symmetrical design. His questing fingers expertly searching for tell-tale signs of traps. Satisfied, he opened the door a fraction to look at the room beyond.

As expected, there were stairs leading up. Though they were covered with some rubble, the stairs appeared to be passable, at least the section that he could see.

He pulled the door closed and circled around the block to look at the vault entrance. His eyes scanned the opening. Nothing obvious, could be magical….no bodies. Disintegration trap? He pulled a coin from his pocket and tossed it onto the pile. No blinding flashes there so… something more mundane. Pressure pads? Dart trap? Blades seem to be a favourite. Nicolai checked a range of possible methods in his attempts to find out how the vault was defended. Hmmm, he searched and searched until he saw the two very small holes—a telltale sign of a poison gas trap…Though there were a few gemstones and coinage in the vault, was it worth it to risk setting off the trap, the rogue had to ask himself…

Meanwhile, back at the tomb…

Hasan’s snore was so loud, he woke himself. Staggering to his feet, the elf heard the sounds of the dwarf’s grousing as clearly as he would a bear’s roar at 15 paces. “I fear our thief’s role in the van may be a bit compromised by his traveling companion,” the elf observed as he passed the studious and devout humans. “Come on, Saeth. There’ll swordplay yet for you this day.”

…drawing the torus into the ethereal planar node, the element is charged with possitive magical flux within the negatively charged moulding channel. This can be suspended for a few moments to allow the recipent pattern to be embedded within the flux. Adept users can master ‘flux pumping’ or multiple yield, see appendix 24…

“..piet Halav un dominee. Omo domus et santu persil. Ajax Halav. Sanctus…”

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Vault Inspection

Nicolai waved the dwarf to silence and listened for a few seconds. Hearing nothing he turned to the dwarf. “Its a wonder you lot haven’t designed armour that doesn’t make so much noise.” He winked, just to ensure he would take it the wrong way. He flashed his light around the new vault once more. Seeing no movement he turned to his companion. “Fortune favours the foolish,” he intoned the old sea merchants adage. As lithe as a cat he spun and feet first he tested the first rung of the ladder. In this way with expert flicks of his feet he gauged the strength of each rung as he descended. He waited for Feldard at the bottom, then knowing the lack of imagination shown by temple designers since the dawn of architecture he went to the doors that would lead to the twisting stairs upwards…. just the check that they were alone.

As the thief complained the dwarfs’ lack of inventiveness, Hasan trashed in his sleep and his chain mail jingled, whilst the others remained in the other room concentrating on their spellgathering efforts.

Feldard peered down into the darkened vault room with a scowl. No doubt Nicolai expected him to clamber down the ladder—a ladder built sized for human. Ignoring the rogue’s request for quiet, the dwarf sat heavily at the top of the ladder, his heavy armor clanking loudly. Then he rolled to his stomach and the armour scraped audibly as he slid over the edge until he could reach the first rung of the ladder. From that point, Feldard took hold of the side poles of the ladder and let himself slide down. It was awkward but he managed it. Once on the floor of the vaultroom. He moved to inspect the vault itself to see if this one had been robbed like the other.

Opening the door, and taking care not to set foot inside, the dwarf found that this vault too had been breached, however unlike the other, some riches remained. Various gemstones along with gold and platinum coinage of an ancient vintage that the dwarf did not recognize littered the floor. It seemed that any larger relics or jewelry the room had once contained were now missing. Nothing that could be identified as Elyan treasury or specifically elven in origin was to be found.

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The Eastern Vault

“Aha. A secret door.” With the others still in the midst of meditations, spell studying or just plain sleeping, the dwarf joined the rogue in his assessment of the secret door, trying to find its release and listening carefully to hear what lay beyond.

If the truth be told, the dwarf was more than a little adventure-weary himself. He glanced towards the sleeping Hasan somewhat wistfully. Battle with the skeleton had taken it’s toll on him, more than in just flesh; but if he were to stop now, it would take a natural disaster to wake him from his slumber. Better to just keep active.

As he made his way over to the door, the cleric cornered him and quickly laid hands on him. Better to just get it over with quickly before the dwarf could grumble too much. The dwarf would never let his battle wounds appear to slow him down, but he felt much better after the healing, though he was still not fully recovered.

Miklos’s eyes flickered from his book momentarily at the new opening. Time to worry about that later. Aha! Here he was, line 24…. ‘first the the conjuration of elemental forces which binds to the thought-line focus. This energises the flow through the toral foci….’

Meanwhile, Maruc too was not paying attention to the two companions at the secret door, mentally shutting out the babble and Hasan’s snoring, he continued to pray.

Nicolai crouched by the paneling. Intuitively he lent against it and it swung open. He allowed a narrow beam from his lightstone to pierce the gloom beyond. Feldard joined him, looking over his should, battle axe ever at the ready.

The two saw before them another vault chamber, seemingly identical to the other where they had found little save for a decapitated body and swinging blade. The secret door opened up at the top of this chamber. A ladder led the way down to the vault’s floor.

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The Impatient Dwarf Waits For No Spellcaster

With his wounds tended the dwarf was impatient to move on, as much so as the Siswa who was already waiting at the door to leave. “Everyone ready to go?” But a last glance about showed the rogue peering intently into the skeleton’s coffin with interest. What now?!

“You find something Nicolai?”

Nicolai’s eyes swiveled to the dwarf then back again to the plate. He carefully examined it looking for subtle hinges, then for etchings on the worn surface. “Oh patient one,” he said to Feldard mimicking Maruc’s voice, quiet successfully he thought, “If you can bear to stand still long enough I could use your advice. Take a look at this.” He waved the dwarf over and showed him the plate.

“Well I didn’t mean straight away.” grumbled Miklos at the dwarf’s back, making sure he couldn’t hear him. His head ached at the lack of blood but the ministrations of the cleric had made him feel much better. ‘Well while they are climbing into coffins, I can do something constructive’ he thought. He cleared his mind and opened his book and started to read.

Maruc ignored the frustrations of the dwarf. He was just as keen to move on, but Miklos was right. They couldn’t face the Sisters unprepared. He knelt and began his ‘rites to the Incarnate’ preparation meditations that allowed the priest to commune with the trusted servants of his deity….

Hasan took the blade from Miklos. “Enchanted or not, this blade is hardly common, and one I should like very much to take, if for memory’s sake only.” He took the blade and turned back toward the door, idly testing the weapon’s balance. Seeing the humans collapse into meditation brought his own feelings of fatigue to the fore. But he walked on anyway. ” A rest at this time seems a luxury we can hardly afford, but if rest we must, I shall not do so here in this accursed burial chamber. Not when there is art of such importance to my people in the room next door.” He passed through the door and slid against the opposite wall (or is there a door – if there’s a door he’ll close it and rest against that). He stared at the display of his clan’s ancient days, pondering the events of then and now. He tried fitfully to remember the words and gestures necessary to summon a magic missile again. Soon, against his intent, the elf’s head nodded, and his eyes shut.

With a look of annoyance at the rogue’s wit, the dwarf tromped his way over to peer inside the coffin. The metal plate however, took the edge off his sourness. That it was a trigger mechanism for something was obvious…but for what? Secret compartment, another passageway or a trap. The dwarf stroked his beard as he studied the plate. “I’ll trigger it, if you’re too afraid to. It might open up a missed passageway.”

If the dwarf wanted to trigger the plate Nicolai wasn’t about to stop him. He stood back a way’s.

Saeth, though impressed with Feldard’s daring, was not similarly impressed with his plan, and stepped back alongside Nicolai.

With everyone backed out of the immediate vicinity, the dwarf gave himself a mental pep-talk, hand reaching out to apply pressure to the metal plate. Even if it were a trap—poison, magic or such; the past has proven that his dwarven constitution was more than a match for it. With a nod towards the others, he applied force to the metal plate.. first pushing, then twisting if nothing came of that, and finally both hands in there to pull if need be to trigger whatever the plate was meant to trigger.

Those in the room possessing sensitive ears noticed a faint clicking noise that emanated from behind them, against the eastern wall. When the dwarf eased back on the plate, they heard it again. Feldard immediately intuited that the pressure plate was held in the off position by the skeleton’s weight, and when it arose to attack it released the plate. They had been too distracted to notice the clicking noise the first time it was triggered as the skeleton attacked Miklos.

The group quickly moved to examine the area of the wall from which the noise sounded, and were able to find a very well hidden secret door that they had missed in their first search of the room.

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A Plate In The Coffin

Nicolai stalked back to the corpse. He kicked it over not showing any of the emotion, or sign, of his earlier flight. Grabbing his shortsword he wrenched it out of its back noting with satisfaction the perfect split in its chainmail and the positioning of the blow. If only it had had a heart.

With the undead dealt with, Feldard turned his axe blade down and leaned his tired weight on the handle of it.

The colour returned to the young mage’s face as the healing power of the priest coursed through him. “Thank you old boy.” he said. “You’re not a bad old stick.”

Maruc turned back the the mage after being transfixed with the swordplay of the demi-humans. He was thankful for their skill and bravery. “What?” he said.

“I was thanking you.”

“Ahh, you’re welcome. Anytime.” the priest replied.

“Are we quite done with reading aloud enchantments that bring the dead to life?” Feldard regarded the mage unsure if the near death experience had been enough to teach young Miklos caution when it came to dealing with things involving the written word.

Miklos pondered the Dwarf’s words. Normally you would give a brief metallic taste in the mouth at the release of the spell but there was not warning with the scroll. Still curse or not it was undone he glaced down at the blooded scroll. He reread it in silence this time.

“A second chance is seldom found,
to revenge those beneath the ground.
On ye this fate I do intone,
that you may feel the strength of bone”

“How very apt, a tomb-robbers trap. Created by the Sisters no doubt. They must be expecting some very tenacious people. There is of course the chance that the scroll may reanimate it. Unlikely though. Still this gives a measure of the capabilities of the Sisters. They may throw more of these at us before the end. The Stone Guardian made no mention of these things, so our expectation shall be the unexpected. Lets take a look at that sword a moment. It might be enchanted and we need all the help we can get.”

The dwarf waved off the priests efforts to help and instead enlisted the aid of the Saeth to bind his wounds. As she did so, Feldard watched the others pick through the remains of their foe. No doubt the sword would go to Hasan—it likely being some Elyan relic.

Miklos made a brief examination of the sword. He saw no mage-sigils or other telltales of enchantment. Its appearance was that of a brittle relic that would be of little use in combat, but the skeleton had somehow managed to wield it quite well.

Meanwhile, Nicolai leaned back over to the coffin and fished around inside for anything useful. Though there were no trinkets to be found, the reformed thief did see something of interest. Underneath where the skeleton had laid in rest, there was a square metal plate, about a foot wide, recessed in the stone of the coffin.

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No Ordinary Skeleton

Nicolai raised his head after the swing and pulled a wide manic grin that spoke of hotwired terror at the rictus mask of death glaring at him. A long second stretched by. Then he ran.

As the rogue went one way, Saeth stepped the other, hoping to give time for Maruc to heal the young wizard. Her blade sprang to her hand. But it was not with that she struck, but instead a spell that she wove, drawing forth through words of Elven a second copy of herself. Together, the two one-eyed Elves faced the rising skeleton.

Hasan tackled the fleeing mage and brought the human to the floor. “Come now, Miklos,” he urged. “Your powers are needed here and now. This enemy is too great.” With those words, he hoisted the human to his feet and saw the living could be as pallid as their deathly foe.

Feldard grunted at the wound; blood seeping from it in a steady flow—unstaunched. But unlike the mage, the dwarf stood his ground and fought back with determination. As like with the multi-armed golem previously, the dwarf would not back down; not while his companions were faced with such a threat.

To bolster himself and his party, Feldard roared a battle cry as he met the attack of the skeleton and did his best to fell the foul thing.

Grateful for the imposition of the sturdy dwarf and his enchanted axe, Maruc bent his attention to Miklos. He heaved his way over to him.

Halted by the Siswa Miklos snapped his head round to see the dwarf battling bravely with the coffin-creature. “What?” he said. “No…..no…I have nothing that will foil such a creature at hand! Foolish mage! I…I feel…..unwell.”

As the priest barreled passed Saeth he called, “Halav protect us all! But you especially…” he gave a weak grin and eventually caught up with the mage. He pulled his blooded hand out of the way and checked the wound. It was bad. He tried to keep the concern of his face. He looked up into the mage’s pale features. Better make light of it. “Miklos, I sorry to tell you but…..your tunics ruined.” he grinned.

“Remind me to come and see you next time I’m feeling really well,” he smiled weakly. “I can still move idiot cleric and I’m not dead yet. See to the dwarf and the elf, they’ll need your aid sooner than I. I’ll live.”

The priest glanced round at the combat. “Would that I could stay that creature. But my Holding prayer is useless against the dead. Before I see to them I’ll patch you up.” Maruc found a linen bolster. “Apply pressure with this. I’ll shall return.”

Miklos followed the priests instructions and twiddled with Dentiata’s wand with the other wondering if the creature could be stopped by it. He guessed it probably would work, but surmised he would need it against the Sisters if they ever got out of this alive.

The undead creature battled against the dwarf and the twin Saeths. Both of the demihumans managed to land blows against the whirling, slashing skeleton, yet it fought on. Its decrepit sword sunk deep into the one-eyed warrior, causing everyone’s eyes to widen in shock as they witnessed the deathblow. Shock turned to relief though as the elven illusion dissipated into a cloud of ether, revealing to all that it was merely the mirror image that took the hit.

The two warriors double-teamed the armored skeleton with their enchanted weapons. With every battle, their prowess had grown, and though what they faced was of far greater threat than an ordinary skeleton, it was not long before their attacks chopped the thing into harmless fragments of bone.

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The Stength of Bone Continued

Miklos cried out in shock and pain his hand clutching at the deep wound as blood bubbled through his fingers. He backed off a couple of steps dazed wondering for a moment what had hit him. He felt dizzy as blood drained from his head until the adrenalin galvanized him into an automatic flight.

The dwarf, who was still over by the doorway, upon seeing the skeleton impale the mage, charged full bore the length of the room. “Maruc see to the mage! I’ll cover you.” Feldard’s axe, swung up over his shoulder, as he ran; muscles ready to let loose with a furious attack upon the skeleton.

Maruc cursed. There was no way he could catch the fleeing mage in all this armour. Still, like Feldard said he could at least put himself between it and Miklos. It still had to climb out of the coffin.

The rogue jumped back in surprise. More through fear than thought, his shortsword sprung into his hand and plunged straight into the back of the skeleton. The sword was lodged in the tangled web of bone and armor, but seemed not to bother the creature in the least.

He ran between them one hand fishing out his symbol the other swinging his slung shield up into position. “Back to your darkness! You face a servant of Halav Reincarnate!” he cried.

The skeleton paused at the cleric’s intonation. For a moment, Maruc thought the undead creature would be turned, but his hopes were soon dashed as the creature rose up and whipped around to swing his sword against the rogue, who managed to duck the blow just in time.

Hasan had followed just behind the dwarf to see the skeletal remains rise up to impale his companion. Seeing Nicolai’s shortsword buried ineffectively in the thing’s back, he was sure his ceremonial blade would be of little use. As quickly as he could, he invoked the magical missile incantation he was taught years ago by Elrond and directed the bolt toward their unearthly enemy.

The crackle of the magical bolt echoed through the room as it wounded the monster while turned to meet the dwarf’s axe with its aged sword. Though the beast’s armor and weaponry appeared to be old and brittle, when steel met steel it was the skeleton who fared better, wounding another of the defenders of the Elyan.

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