Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Invisible Room

“Well that answers one question,” said the cleric.

“What?” replied Miklos mildly, “That the Yellow robed man is an unscrupulous, evil… art dealer… that consorts with the most foulest of unspeakable vermin?”

“No.” the priest grinned, “That wouldn’t really narrow down the field that much. No I meant that your guess back in Dymrak was very astute.”

“Of course you expected less?” Miklos quickly responded.

“From you? Yes, a nobleman or a user of magic.”

Feldard had been ignoring the humans’ banter. Upon hearing voices, he had stilled momentarily, but a quick scan of the empty tower room showed nothing. He began to cross towards the other door, when it opened suddenly revealing the yellow-robed man. Feldard raised his axe, but the yellow-robed man was quicker and fled. Feldard, of course, gave chase, even as the warning and bellow sounded. Given that it was the voice of an enemy sounding, the dwarf mistakenly assumed the warning was for the yellow-robed man and ran on heedless across the tower room. He ran forward, determined to ram through the wooden door.

Stephan was momentarily taken aback by the sound of the familiar voice, but seeing nothing other than the robed figure, he joined Feldard in the charge across the room. As the dwarf crossed the room’s threshold in front of him, the warrior was shocked to see his friend was no longer in front of him.

Hasan was next to burst from the staircase. He expected to see Feldard and Stephan running toward the opposite door. Instead, he saw nothing. The elf saw no opportunity to help them, so he quickly scanned the room, looking for the second voice they heard, the voice he suspected was the voice of a prisoner. All there was to see was emptiness.

Ludo heard the bellow. “Feldard, Hasan, Stephan,” shouted Ludo into the empty room, “watch out something is in the room with you!” Ludo his sword extended before him in a guard position, slowly advanced into the room and moved to the left hand side where he thought he had heard the sound emanate from.

“Come out!” he shouted. “Show yourself! Surrender now and no harm will befall you.” The rogue looked down to see that he could no longer see the sword he was holding in front of himself. In fact, he could see nothing of himself at all!

“Did you note that Mr. Yellow was confounded?” the priest asked, continuing his discussion with the mage.

“Naturally. The art dealer comment was merely an entertainment, there could be many reasons why he’d be vexed to the point of torture over such an item. It could be valuable, but judging by the decor of the place so far I’d hazard a guess its not for its beauty he requires it.”

“My thoughts exactly.” agreed the priest. “it is magical or contains a valuable secret, or perhaps both? Doubtless the man we are about to free may be forthcoming?”

The two finished up their banter and looked forward to see that all of their companions seemed to have disappeared.

Feldard had nearly made it to the middle of the room. So intent was he on chasing the man, he failed to notice the mystical effects of the mysterious room. Suddenly, he was struck with a hard blow to his left shoulder, penetrating his armor and knocking him down.

Stephan meanwhile continued on, confused at the sudden sounds of battle occurring in front of him. He raised his shield to protect himself and ran straight into an invisible wall in the center of the room.

“The room is vexed!” the prisoner shouted to Stephan. It sounded to the warrior like the man was chained up right next to him. “All who enter become invisible, but the minotaur can see you!”

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All Axe and Impatience

“Ugh, grim,” the elf shivered. “Clearly for prisoners or captives. It’s interesting that it’s so well kept; no hobgoblins have been here. But let’s press on.”

The dwarf frowned at the elf’s comment. “Seems odd that captives would be given the luxury of a bed much less such nice ones. No. There’s more to this room than mere prisoners.” He considered for a moment a more thorough check, then shook his head. “But I agree, we should press on.”

With that said, Feldard crossed the room to the next set of stairs and continued on upward. The higher he climbed the more something nagged at him, but he couldn’t place what it was. Maybe he was just getting edgey with anticipation, but it didn’t seem like that. Fear? He snorted at the notion. Then what was it? He paused for a moment, glancing about and listening, causing a pile up behind him as his companions had to wait for him in the narrow stairway. He frowned, listening to their questions.

After a moment he shook his head, not having any answers, then resolutely began upwards again.

Ludo moved forward slowly into the dormitory. He wondered about the iron manacles as well and concluded that it was a symbol for the slavers that slept in the room to remind them that they were ‘bound’ to the man in the yellow robes. He stoppped at one the manacles and slipped it into his backpack, he thought that as they were hunting the man in the yellow robes that a set might come in handy if they had to take him back to stand trial.

Seeing the others had moved on he quickly shouldered his backpack and hurried to catch up.

Maruc took in the beds and manacles. “Miklos,” gestured at the odd arrangement, “What do you make of this?”

The mage almost bumped into the back of the armoured priest. “I’d be able to tell a lot more if you got out of the way.” The priest side stepped. “Ahh I see.” he paused to consider the options. “Three types of dweller present themselves to me. Firstly some kind of evil religious sect. I have heard tell of zealots that whip themselves, possibly flagelants? Or perhaps type of were-creature chained at times for their own safety? Or a converted guest room of a madman with a sense of humour?” He knelt down to inspect the underside of the beds. “Either way no one seems to be staying here. No belongings.”

“Hmm. OK It seems Feldard has decided to press on. You know what he’s like. All axe and impatience.” Maruc grinned at Miklos and followed him up the stairs. “Maybe the answer is up there. Maybe they were meant for us.” he left the question hanging.

Stephan didn’t like the creepy manacle room one bit. He was happy to follow Feldard away and up the stairs. The dwarf’s seemingly pointless hesitation caused not a little unease and an eruption of impatience in Stephan.

“Mind you, dwarf!,” he hissed in impatience. “Keep the march on. There’s not much room on these steps but if you want to go back down, I’ll assist you. I can give you a good push. Shouldn’t take you long if you tuck in well and roll.” He stopped himself and was inwardly glad not to see Feldard’s face at the moment which, he imagined, might contain a fury at his hasty words. He decided to keep quiet from there on.

The group went up the stairwell and opened the door to another level of the tower. As the door opened, they heard the voices of two humans, one loud and threatening and the other muted, yet defiant. The second voice sounded strangely familiar to Stephan. Yet, the voices seemed to come out of thin air!

“For the last time, tell me what you know of the tapestry!”

“I told ye that I’ve not seen it,” the man choked out.

“You lie! I can…”

Suddenly, the conversation ceased. The far door opened, and a yellow robed figure appeared in the doorway as if from nowhere. Without pausing, the robed man fleed up the stairs beyond, slamming the door.

“Look out!” cried the voice of the other man as a menacing bellow filled the air.

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Up The Steps

Maruc dropped the corpse to the floor. He surveyed the infested bed pallet and twisted stained covers that comprised Vlaak’s bed. He gave the bed a thorough search for anything useful.

Maruc then turned his attention the the wolf pen which seemed equally bare of any clues. “Nothing here either, I’m thinking the stairs next but before we try that I want everyone to be aware that there’s a good chance we’ll be facing magic if the yellow robed man is up there.” He looked meaningfully at the dwarf. “Its either me or you Feldard, I have the favour of the gods and you have the favour of your ancestry.”

“But thinking about it you do make a smaller target.” Maruc grinned.

“There are also the north door to the Library to investigate.” the mage offered. “Give me a second, and Hasan’s, help and we can ensure there are no nasty surprises coming up behind us.”

Feldard eyed Maruc sourly at the suggestion that he take lead and deal with the man in yellow. “Lucky me.”

At Miklos’ comment about the northern door, the dwarf shrugged, “Stephen says it leads outside.” Though when he thought about it, Feldard could not recall the man ever approaching the door to check. Perhaps the man was good with architecture. “But if you want to check it out, alright. You sure you don’t want more than just Hasan’s help?”

“We’ll just take a quick look, Feldard, and be sure to lock up behind us. Never fear,” the Hasan answered. “But perhaps Ludo can help.” The elf then moved quickly to investigate the north door. Indeed it opened to the outside as the warrior had said. Just to be safe, Hasan quickly cast a spell to ensure that it would remain tightly closed.

Once the others were assured of the north library door, Stephan said in a low voice, “I’ll follow the dwarf.”

With his sword out and shield ready, he kept a couple steps down from Feldard as the party mounted the steps.

Ludo finished searching the central room where Vlaak’s body lay. Every now and then he could not help glancing at the body, but any feelings of regret at what he had done he quickly suppressed. Vlaak was too dangerous to be left alive or even kept as a prisoner. He knew too much and had committed to much evil.

With his sword Ludo half-heartedly poked the central dry water fountain that was filled with rubbish, but deciding that he wanted to get out of the room he walked over to the door that had the staircase leading up.As Feldard was leading the others upward, the young rogue followed up behind, happy to moving on and leaving the unpleasant memory of Vlaak’s death behind him.

They traveled up the stairs to the next level of the tower. Through the stairwell door was an unoccupied room. It appeared to be a dormitory of some kind, with eight neat, austere beds against each wall. Above each bed hung a pair of iron manacles on a chain.

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Behind the Curtains

“Brilliant, Stephen. They never expected us to attack from within the tower,” congratulated Hasan. “But did anybody see a way up there?” asked the elf, pointed to the floors above. “We must have missed something, maybe in center of the tower.” The elf left to return to site of Vlaak’s death and began a careful search for secret doors or passageways.

The dwarf dragged the bodies out of sight and then followed the group into the main hall where the elf was looking for secret doors before speaking up. “There was another door in the library.”

Ludo after finding nothing of real value on the dead hobgoblins joined Hasan in the centre room and helped him search the room. “That other door in the library leads outside,” Stephan said in response to Feldard.

After assisting Feldard with the bodies, Stephan kept a watch while those more adept at finding hidden things searched the chamber.

Maruc wiped the remnants of the hobgoblin from his flail. His mind hadn’t really been on the job and he was glad of Stephan’s battle plan and Hasan’s timely sleep incantation. He offered a brief prayer of thanks to Halav for his companions. Feldard was struggling with the corpses so Maruc lent a hand. “Where are we going with these?” he asked, Feldard grunted. “Behind the curtains.” Maruc looked dubiously at the trails of gore and blood spatters around the guard room and recalled the howling wolf battle and Miklos’s deafening lightning magic.

“Why?” he asked. He thought about it for a bit, he supposed in a rushed attempt to flee they might trip over them. Or the Feldard just might be naturally a tidy dwarf. He looked at the fierce warrior, it was a struggle to make the two ideas meet. He helped him anyway.

Miklos was still preoccupied with scanning the books in the library. He was about the offer his services when Hasan had stepped in with his elf magic. Miklos was still interested in the subtlety of his gestures and the economy of casting. He would never tire of watching the ancient races at work.

He smiled at Maruc’s question though as he followed the elf and aided in his search of further passageways. The group finished their exploration Vlaak’s quarters, finding bedding behind the curtains, one alcove for Vlaak and the other for his pets. Alcove doors opened into a smaller room with a stone circular staircase leading upward.

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Quick Work

Stephan silently readied his bow. Kneeling, he trained an arrow on the nearest Bloodhead. He was about to shoot but hesitated.

In a bare whisper to Hasan, “We can circle back and attack from behind as well.”

The dwarf glanced back to his companions at the sight of the hobgoblins. He overheard Stephan and nodded as he readied his crossbow and quick strapped his battle axe. “Be quick if you plan to do so we won’t remain out of sight long. I’ll count to ten, ten times, then distract them with a frontal assault. He waited for their assent before starting his quiet count.

Ludo was impressed with Feldard’s plan. He hadn’t thought Feldard was capable of anything except a frontal assault. Ludo put out his torch, placed it on the ground and readied his bow.

Stephan nodded at Feldard as he started silently making his way with Hasan, counting as he went. They headed back through the library and main hall and to the door leading to the area behind the main tower doors and guarding hobgoblins. “Just like the siege of Castle Ramstein,” thought Stephan. He remembered a similar operation where he and a small party had to keep a steady count of time to achieve a coordinated attack. “Feldard must have done the same in the past,” he thought.

At the door, Stephan kept track of the count. He and Hasan arrived at the door quickly, and he still had 3 tens to count. The two fighters readied to barge through the doors behind the guards.

Stephan was proud of his plan. He hoped the others would realize that the idea to circle around for a two-pronged attack was brilliant…and his. He couldn’t deny, however, Feldard’s contribution with the counting. Not that he wouldn’t have done the same himself but, after posing the overall idea, he waited to be sure there was consensus. The dwarf’s response was perfect. The demihuman signaled consensus not just by nodding but by furthering the plan.

He only wished that the thief had decided to sneak back around with him and Hasan. He really thought it was the rogue’s bailiwick to stealth back.

As the dwarf continued his quiet whispered countdown, he looked towards Maruc and the mage. The mage looked thoroughly drained. Feldard doubted the mage could conjure up anything more than a yawn at this point in their travels this eve, yet here they were about to go into yet another battle. The dwarf looked to Maruc and head-nodded towards the mage and held up a hand motioning him to stay back.

It was a good idea. No need to risk their healer unnecessarily. Better to have him keep watch over the mage and guard their backs.

The countdown was nearing the end.. the last count of 10.

Feldard raised his crossbow and edged forward to get a better sighting on the largest of the hobgoblins.

“5.. 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. Ten!” He fired and dropped his crossbow, while pulling his axe and starting forward across the dark courtyard towards the open door.

Always one to count down, Stephan felt an adrenalin surge as he got to the last few seconds.

“5…4…3…2…”, he whispered the last numbers to Hasan and they listened for the sound of Feldard’s attack. The dwarf was on schedule! Stephan allowed the hobgoblins three seconds for their attention to be drawn to Feldard’s attack before bursting through the door. It was heavier than he realized. The elf joined him in pushing at the door and it was open just as the hobgoblins were charging out the tower entrance.

Hasan had been curious at how the human’s plan would unfold. When the fighter reached his favored shoot blind, the elf joined him in preparing an attack. Unlike the fighter, however, the elf cast a tiny globule of sleep magic within the hobgoblins. It was a good thing too, for there were more of them in the room than they had been able to see from their previous vantage point. The spell dropped four hobgoblins at the rear of the pack.

With the advantage of a rear attack, the human and elf were making quick work of the Bloodheads. A hobgoblin, sporting one of Feldard’s bolts lodged in his shoulder, realized the pinning attack and started to turn to run. But there was no where to run. Seeing Hasan and Stephan closing, he decided to run out the door only to be met by a deftly wielded dwarven axe. Another fell to Maruc’s flail.

‘Twang’, an arrow from Ludo wizzed over Feldard’s head and hit one last remaining Hobgoblin in the chest, moments before Feldard’s axe cleaving through the moonlight struck the Hobgoblin and finished off the creature. After the sudden chaos of battle, the silence of the night was deafening. Ludo placed the arrow he was about to draw to his bowstring back into his quiver and moved forward to search the Hobgoblin bodies for anything of value or or use.

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