Monthly Archives: February 2009

Map of Sukiskyn

Here’s a better map of Sukiskyn. No need to post any new comments, unless you want to add or change something from the previous post. Or if you have a question about a specific room, either ask me, or have your character inspect the area or ask an NPC

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Nightfall

Stephan was filled with wrenching emotions. “Oh Brother! ‘Tis good to see you. But I’m sorry we meet in such dire circumstance.” He embraced his mother and other kin, clearly delighted to be amongst them.

Maruc smiled warmly as he took Pyotr’s hand. “It is more than a pleasure to help honest folk, Pyotr. Your brother Stephan is a noble and honorable Halavarian. He aided us in repelling an attack from the Iron Ring. I hope that his selfless actions will not endanger you further. I at least owe you a debt of gratitude and I shall do what I can to rid you of this goblin threat.”

The priest continued. “Forgive me.” he turned to Masha and placed his hand gently on her shoulder, “Halav on His Throne shall bless the fallen. There will be time later to mourn them. Steel yourself child.”

He turned to Alfana. “Are there any injured I can tend or do we have time the recuprate?”

“Nay father,” she replied. “Novannes and Hakos are beyond your help. All the rest are unharmed.”

Maruc nodded, “I will be more useful given a few hours to prepare. Feldard, do you think we have time?”

Turning to Miklos and Maruc, “Aye, there may be some time to recuperate but please spend some of it in prayer.” He looked out the window. “If only the heavens would open and rain on the flames…” Frowning, “It sorrows me that my arrival is not under a happier sky. Tell me, Pyotr, is there any hope of putting the fire out? Is it at least contained?”

Feldard glanced toward the burning palisade, then to the trees beyond that hid the goblin invaders. “If Pyotr can lend me a good shovel, I will do what I can to slow the spread of the fire. That should give you the time you need Maruc.”

“The barn and gatehouse are lost,“ stated Pyotr. “The northern barrier is certainly breached, but I don’t think it will burn beyond that.” He spoke to the dwarf. “Brave warrior, we have no idea how many lurk in the wood, and what attack they may launch should you venture out. There is little wind, and I think the fire will not spread beyond where it currently burns.”

Miklos collapsed in the relative safety of the great hall. He introduced himself to the folk then immediately took advantage of the break in events to spend more time memorizing spells. What little time they have between assaults had to be used constructively.

Hasan had greeted the new humans quickly, and caught up in their obvious closeness, he echoed Maruc’s offer to help. But the elf chafed in the tower. Unlike the two humans, whose preternatural concentration on their meditations amazed all, Hasan stalked up and down the tower’s stairs, alternating between efforts to spy out their adversaries and halfheartedly helping the dwarf organize their defenses.

Finally, he could take it no longer. They were stuck inside, and the goblins’ patience would probably be short. He burst in the the tower’s main room and roused the group, “Come now. Here we sit, surrounded by enemies and fire and yet we lock ourselves into place? We must strike out. As soon as dawn breaks, we must take the battle forward. I can lock the door so no goblin shall pass. But we must prepare to fly.”

As the elf spoke, ominous chanting and the beating of drums emanated from the dark. Beyond the treeline, numerous small fires were lit, one after another. It appeared as if a horde of invaders lurked beyond the treeline. Thankfully, it was a cloudless night, so they would be able to see any attackers approach the compound. For now, the goblins remained in the wood, their glowing red eyes flickering here and there amongst the trees.

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A Warm Sukiskyn Welcome

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Miklos paused. He could down the five with a word. He did. With a defiant sweep of his hand, he released the last of his sleep incantations at the group to buy them time to get to the relative safety of the main buildings.

“At least they’ll be easier to shoot!” he cried as he hastily chased after the others.

Maruc nodded to the woman as he hurried after her. “We need somewhere safe.” The cleric eye’d the blaze. “Safe from burning. Do you have injured folk? I am a priest, I can help.”

The dwarf once again guarded their backs as they headed to the first floor of the tower. As he saw the 5 goblins drop thanks to the mage’s spell, he was tempted to go back and finish them off, but the archers from the tower were quicker than he. Arrows and slingstones fell upon the slumbering invaders, ensuring that they would never wake up again.

“How many do you have for defense?” he questioned once they were inside.

Hanging his bow across his back and hefting his shield, Stephan followed Alfana and tried to respond to Hasan as he ran.

“Believe me, while we’ve heard of more goblin activity in Dymrak, all of it has been far removed from these parts. This attack is very strange. To see Red Blade and Wolfskull working together is unheard of! And to have seen The Ring only today, and not but a league away! Something is afoot!”

He finished while jumping a fallen Red Blade.

Once inside, Stephan wiped the grime from his forehead, and asked Alfana, “Do you have any idea how many goblins there are? And do we have some pitch or else to cast on them from above?”

As she was about to answer, Stephan saw his brother come down the tower stairs.

“Stephan, you have arrived, and just in the nick of time!” said Pyotr as he set down his longbow.

They quickly ran forward to meet each other, clasped each other’s shoulder and pressed brows in the traditional Traladaran embrace. With their matching red hair, the family resemblance was immediately apparent. Pyotr wore a blue tunic over chain mail. He was about the same size as his brother, with a longer beard.

He turned to greet his brother’s companions “Welcome to our homestead. Here at Sukiskyn, we pride ourselves on giving a warm welcome to our guests—but not quite this warm,” he said, grimly joking about the fires.

“I am Pyotr. This is my eldest son’s wife, Alfana,” he said, introducing the woman that had led the group inside. “Taras has taken my position up in the tower with my wife Darya and daughter Irina—they are manning the arrowslits.”

Other members of the clan entered the room. They were all terribly frightened, but eager to see Stephan. The group was introduced to each of them. There was Kuzma, Pyotr’s mother, who was comforting Masha—the widow of the recently deceased son of the blacksmith. Little Matvey ran straight into his uncle’s arms—the ten-year old was greatly relieved to see him. The last of the group was Stellios, a bald, plump older man with only one arm—servant to the blacksmith’s family.

After the introductions, Pyotr quickly explained their predicament.

“The creatures seemed to have withdrawn back to the treeline for now—most likely, they are waiting for the barn and northern palisade to finish burning down. Thankfully, the main building and stables are intact. Thank Halav for your arrival! With your help, we may just be able to make it through ‘til tomorrow’s daybreak.”

“The Red-blade and Wolfskull you have seen, earlier the Viper attacked and took the horses from the pens. It is with great sorrow I tell you that our blacksmith, Novannes, and his son Hakos were both killed. The clans have been making intrusions to the settlements of late. That which could unite all the goblin clans of the Dymrak, to attack us in unison, is a terrible mystery.”

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Go! Through The Gate!

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“Go! Through the gate!” the dwarf called out to his companions as he grabbed up his dropped crossbow.

Stephan followed Feldard’s advice and, finding his footing on the bridge, lunged for the open gate.

Needing no further encouragement Miklos sprinted for the offer of sanctuary after Stephan. “Thank you.” he breathed as he barreled into the smoke-filled yard. “Shame. We almost had them there,” he added.

Another scratch. Feldard’s attitude must be wearing off in him, Maruc hadn’t even noticed it until several seconds later. A whistling sound of speeding metal and he pulled his head back. Close. A jaring thud on his shield. A muffled shout.

“What?” he called. Helms! Couldn’t hear a thing. Another wild swing of the flail to get himself a chance to look round. The others were backing off. Why? Then he caught the movement of the riders, and groaned inwardly, the shorter goblin in front of him ducked under his shield. “No you don’t.” Maruc planted his foot against it and booted it backward using the inertia to spin him around and a deft swing of the arm he brought his shield round to cover his back as he sprang away.

Hasan squirmed away from the blow of a yowling wolf-rider. He didn’t think much of their riding skills, but then he had to give the poor boys credit for the courage of mounting their steeds. He pulled Maruc on and through the doorway.

Being the slowest of the group, Feldard guarded the backs of the others as they ran to the bridge. The dwarf loaded his crossbow on the run and fired back towards the encroaching riders. They were almost upon him!

Hasan and Stephan fired arrows at the fast-approaching riders to help cover Feldard’s rush to safety. One of the goblin riders fell off his wolfsteed, his skull pierced by the elven-launched missile. The dwarf pushed his legs to a speed not natural to any dwarf, and was rewarded when he passed through the gate.

“Bar the gate!” Feldard called out, turning about pulling his axe in the chance that one or more of the riders slipped in before the gate could be fully closed.

Surprisingly, the gate had been held open by a young woman, who quickly shut and barred it. To Stephan of course, she was no stranger—she was Alfana, wife of his nephew Taras. She was the best horse tamer he had ever known. Spears, hurled by the mounted goblins, thudded into the timbers of the heavy gatehouse door as it crashed shut.

The light of the burning palisades and thatch angrily marauded through the barn and the northern part of the palisade, towards the gatehouse of the Sukiskyn homestead. It seemed as if they were safe for the moment.

“Well, now,” observed the elf. He turned to Stephan, “A fine mess we’ve found. And now we’re bound up in it. Who are the goblins, and what business have they with your brother’s people? Or the Ringmen?”

There was not time for an answer. Beyond the burning barn, a group of scarlet-clad goblin had broken through the palisade. Some fell to missiles fired from the main building, but the rest, a group of five pressed on. Unmoved, Alfana waited until her husband made his way down the ladder from the smokefilled tower. The couple then made a dash to the main buildings. “Follow us!” they yelled.

Stephan regarded the goblins. These were clad in the blood-hued dress of the Red Blade clan. Two goblin clans working together? Now that highly irregular. He was thankful that he and Pyotr had designed the homestead with defense in mind, as the arrow slits in the stone tower were paying dividends right now.

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Against the Wolfskull

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The sudden sound of an arrow being released; the whistle of an arrow in flight; the almost melodious hum produced by the bowstring’s reverberations—Hasan shot at the lead goblin, wounding him and prepared to shoot again.

Meanwhile, Feldard dropped his crossbow in favour of his trusted battleaxe. He grinned widely. Goblins—no matter what manner their training or clan—were something he rather enjoyed fighting and killing. He could hear behind him Miklos’ arcane mutterings and wondered what magics the mage had called forth. He was almost getting used to the use of magic in battle now, though he’d deny it if any would dare suggest such.

Grabbing the initiative, Miklos barked the first lines of his web spell “…transadhestro!” More use now than in the blaze he guessed. A halo if magical strands burst forth in a spray from his outstreached hand at the centre of the goblin pack as the groups charged to meet each other. As the creatures emerged from the trees, the strands of the mage’s web engulfed half of the group. That should even up the odds, the mage triumphantly thought to himself.

Being just behind Hasan and in helm and armour, Maruc’s only intuition of magic was the brief greasiness in the air and a vague pungent sickly sweet smell. It almost distracted him from the wild swing of the violent goblinoid in front of him. High on adrenalin, he shrugged off the first blow and brought his flail round in a viscous arc at the goblin’s head. He said no word. If they could finish this lot off without noise the others across the stream might not aid them so swiftly. Halav had blessed them. This was relatively easily to tell friend from foe at this stage.

The dwarf attempted to sidestep the goblin’s hand axe, as he swung his battle axe around in its wide sweeping arc towards his foe, nearly cleaving the thing in half. “You call that an axe,” he taunted as he turned to face another foe. “Ha! Now this is an axe!”

Stephan turned to face the immediate threat of goblins from the trees. It had not been since the dungeons of Korlo that he’d fought with a mage, and he found himself greatly relieved to see the magics entangle several of the Wolfskulls.

“Pyotr and his family may already be in the tower.” Stephan shouted as he readied his sword. “Darya and the others are likely there already. But they’ve the blessing of Havlav here, I can assure you. There be two here who have take the devotions to Him.” He gave a grimmace, and lunged at the nearest Wolfskull, body slamming him with his shield and knocking him into the path of the elf’s sure-shot arrows; giving Hasan a clear target.

Turning, he narrowly missed having his noggin pierced sliced. Swiveling with his blade, he struck at the out-stretched arm of the goblin delivering a wrist-crippling wound. Quickly then, shifting his weight to his left foot, he brought his right boot up and out impacting the bent over goblin’s side. The beast, clutching it’s arm, his weapon laying useless on the ground, lost its balance, stumbling away. Stephan raised his sword to deliver the killing blow but again the twang of Hasan’s bow sounded and an arrow appeared in the goblin’s throat.

Feeling the rush of battle but keeping his voice down, Stephan engaged the goblin near the bridge edge. “With a bit of luck,” he thought, “I might send this one into the river…”

The battle appeared well in hand, the last two remaining goblins were on the defense, and appeared to be on the verge of retreat.

“Look out!” cried a man’s voice from the gatehouse across the bridge. It was Taras, Pyotr’s eldest son. Stephan turned to see a squad of seven goblins mounted on dire wolves charging wildly along the riverbank.

“Quick, before they cut you off!” shouted Taras. The gate was swung open. There was not a moment to lose.

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Welcome to Sukiskyn!

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“On now,” urged Hasan. “To the horsefarm. Stephan must lead the way. Where will your brother defend himself?” He pulled an arrow from the quiver by his side. His heart pounded; a bloody din arose in his ears for the second time today. Battle awaited.

At least I’ll not have to don my armour in a rush! thought Maruc as he hurried after the much faster elf. “Feldard,” he said as they sprinted toward the conflagration. “I’d suggest surprising them. So try to avoid your infamous battle cries… for the moment.”

“Blessed Halav! ” Stephan ran towards the flames. “This way! To the bridge”

At the back of the group Miklos sighed as his friends speed off. “No chance for sublety then?” he said at their retreating backs trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. He spent a few moments realising that all of his spells, although not lethal, were indescriminate. And sending people to sleep in a blaze was tantamount to murder. Web in a blaze? Useless. He needed to get closer. Perhaps a situation might present itself.

Feldard ran following the others trying to keep up with the elf and humans, but his shorter legs were no match over the sustained distance.

As he ran, he unhooked his crossbow from the side of his pack and reached back for a bolt. He paused his stride long enough to pull back and ready his weapon, but kept it unloaded until he had a definite target.

The forest ended on the bank of a small, but fast-flowing riverlet spanned by a wooden bridge, which lead to the gate of a palisaded homestead. The buildings seemed intact, but were lit by flames leaping from a barn to the left of the bridge. In a clearing on the far side of the barn, the attackers could be seen—an indeterminate but large group goblins. On the other side of the compound, to the right, beyond the main part of the homestead come the cries of frightened horses.

Maruc lengthened his stride and scooping his shield round he unhooked his flail. Trying to count their number, he squinted as his eyes became accustomed to picking them out against the blaze.

“The unarmed will be inside the compound!” shouted Stephan, indicating the women and children, “Here! ‘Round this way to the gate! ”

As they continued toward the river, the dwarf spotted movement in the trees. He shouted a warning as spears launched at them from the undergrowth. Maruc and Feldard were the closest to the attack, and thus were able to defend the group with their armor—the priest added a minor wound to his growing collection.

Eight goblins, garbed in cloaks of wolfskin and armed with axes, charged forth. Stephan recognized their dress. Unfortunately, these were not ill-trained, half-crazed pawns of the Iron Ring. These were Wolfskull, the most dangerous among the goblin clans of the Dymrak. Splitting into pairs, the fellowship of the river engaged their attack.

wolfskull

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Flames at Dusk

flamesatdusk

Hasan saw the situation clearly. “Many men came from the north. Just one to the south, into the woods. That was a brave man. A dangerous one. I say we follow the one. It is his trail that will lead us deeper into this mystery.”

Miklos listened to Hasan’s assessment of the trail. “You are quite correct, Prince Hasan. We must seek to question the lone traveller. We may get some confirmation of our fears from him.” he added.

“Are we not forgetting something?” What of the folk at Misha’s jetty? These thugs visited there before they came here. Have you no thought for them? The lone man might not be hastening away with news of us, he may have left the campsite directly, making the assumption that such a force would easily overcome us? We might have time at least to check Misha’s?”

“True.” cut in the mage, “But, my theory is still supported by this new trail. He may have doubled back from the ambush site ahead of us along the trampled undergrowth to hide his tracks, and his purpose. Or he may have remained here and seen the smoke from the pyre and decided that the ambush was a failure. What say the rest of you?”

“Maruc, whatever happened at Misha’s happened over a day ago. There is little we can do for them after so long. I agree with Hasan and Miklos. This lone trail, of the man arriving alone, is the trail that will likely hold the most information.” The dwarf looked over to Stephan. “It seems your horses will have to wait.”

Stephan’s eyes narrowed slightly at the dwarf’s words.

“You assume, master dwarf, that I am beholden to you. Regardless of your path, I go now to my brother’s. For me, there is no other way.

“And look. Here are the marks in this direction,” Stephan indicated with his hands. He turned to the dwarf, “It happens to be the direction I am heading. Since there is proven unrest hereabouts, I can not tarry at Misha’s to gather information. I would hasten to Pyotr’s to see that all is well. And fulfill my pledge to him.

“The light won’t last.”

With that, the fighter began the trek to Sukiskyn.

Their purposes aligned, the group of adventurers headed further into the forest, following the footsteps toward the human settlements. The path being over a day old, it grew fainter as they traveled. As the path brought them ever-closer to Stephan’s family homestead, his pace quickened.

Dusk had arrived, but the group was nearing the horse farm. A twilight hush was setting over the forest. The peaceful stillness was broken by a faint cry in the distance. The evening breeze brought a whiff of woodsmoke. Ahead, a glimpse of flames rose beyond the trees. The sounds grew louder, and the shouts of men mingled with harsh, guttural warcries and the clash of battle came from the direction of Sukiskyn.

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