Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chapter Twenty-Seven: A Hundred-And-One Uses For A Frozen Corpse...


As Cobblethwaite's Companions looked down upon the Stellarium of The Vinteralf and came up with various plans to gain egress to the ancient building, there was a flash of yellow-orange light in the sky followed by an almighty earthquake. Which triggered an avalanche!

The entire party was buried in the snow, but luckily Harry and Marigold managed to dig their way out and start finding the others and rescuing them. Unfortunately, they found Holly too late and the young sage had frozen to death!

[From beginning to end, this was all dice rolls and skill checks in the hands of the players, from the strength of the avalanche through to the numerous survival rolls. It was very tense, and we could see Holly's life trickling away, but the dice were against her and we're surprisingly strict in our 'let the dice fall where they may' attitude to gaming. And eventually Holly's endurance and strength just ran out... quite a time before they found her body].

The adverse conditions, and looming end-of-the-world made the party quite unsentimental. They looted their colleague's body then left her in the snow for wild animals to dine on.

Dark gallows humour took over and for the rest of the day they were positing random uses for her frozen corpse (from sledge to doorstop, to frozen meal or canoe).

Scaling the side of the stellarium, Harry peeked in through the massive hole and saw a giant - but damaged - orrery above a concave bowl filled with rotten books, paper, gold, silver, gems etc and something large and almost invisible curled on top of it.

The party then opted to scale down the front of the glacier and gain access through a tunnel there. The ice tunnel led to a complex of exotic stonework that mystified their resident dwarf.

Lengthy exploration unearthed a number of rooms across several levels; the deeper one being particularly peculiar and only Harry managed to gain access to that level.

They also accidentally woke up a party of "walrus-men" (actually Vinteralf), ogre-sized creatures with walrus-heads.

Vinteralf
Having 'robbed' the walrus-men while they slept (in our heroes' defence, they thought the creatures were dead) of a folding wooden picture book, the party saw a series of wood carvings demonstrating the use of the Gauntlet Of Angelus... and the (fatal) cost it appears to exact on its user.

By returning the book to the leader of the Vinteralf, Prince Thravir, Marigold discovered they both shared a knowledge of the Sorcerer's Tongue and haltingly managed to convince Thravir that Harry was the "chosen one", selected to wear the Gauntlet to face the two-pronged apocalypse of the tarrasque and The Yellow King.

The Vinteralf were also very impressed by Harry's willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good [due to the language barrier, I'm not entirely sure that Harry fully grasps what is being asked of him].

Thravir conducted the required "passing of the torch" ceremony and handed the Gauntlet to Harry. Kirchin produced the starstone which they slotted into the metal glove, which was then slid onto Harry's hand. There was a click and the halfling realised the Gauntlet wasn't coming off.

Our heroes then made to leave via the route they had come in by, but another smaller earthquake, bright yellow/orange lights in the sky, the melting/collapsing glacier, and the sounds of hordes of demons and sundry other unknown critters coming from both sides of the valley suggested that they might be making a final stand at the Stellarium.

CAST:
  • Davian (Pete)
  • Harry (Simon)
  • Holly (Erica)
  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Marigold (Clare)
  • Dirkin (Erica)

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Chapter Twenty-Six: A Brush With Death...

Revoreesh holds back the tide of evil sweeping across Elyntia... but how long can he last?

On the road to the Bright River Fort, Holly and Marigold were amazed to see a giant magical wall spanning as far as the eye could see in either direction, holding back the advance of The Yellow King's domain.

Braced before the wall, and clearly weakening from the energy he was channelling into it to maintain the sorcerous construct, was Revoreesh - last surviving member of the Wizard's Conclave.

Struggling with his words, he told the women they must find Peter Entwhistle's map to The Stellarium Of The Vinteralf, as there they would find the one artefact powerful enough to defeat The Yellow King: the Gauntlet Of Angelus.

Returning to Bendwyn, Marigold and Holly told their colleagues what was occurring down the road, then went to Betty Entwhistle for assistance in finding the map.

She helped them dig through her late husband Peter's stacks of books and scrolls, eventually unearthing a journal belonging to his father, Oblidah (a member of Jerrol's illustrious Most Excellent Brethren).

In it they found a map showing the route in The Gargoyle Mountains that would lead them to the Stellarium.

Betty also found an old etching, in another book, of the Gauntlet Of Angelus, a halfling-sized metallic glove with an oval indentation in the back, to hold a mystical 'star stone'.

After a lot of cajoling, the party helped stir Kirchin's "memory"/dream of the location of the "star stone", the sight of which Viktor Volkov had taken as a sign to found Bendwyn.

With the aid of Father Caleb they lifted the top of the chapel's altar and discovered the "star stone" resting there.

When Kirchin picked it up, Viktor Volkov momentarily spoke through him, confirming that this was the key to defeating The Yellow King.

Redmond, the village drayman, loaned the party horses for their trip to the mountains and they set off.

After a stopover in Littlehill, where Harry met some of his cousins, it took The Companions just over four days to reach the foothills, where they left the horses tied up, and made their way along the narrow path that led around the edge of the mountain.

Several hundred feet up, on a narrow ledge (but thankfully roped together), the party were surprised by a brace of harpies, whose hypnotic song mesmerised all save Davian.

Kirchin, having already proven susceptible to mind-control, stepped off the ledge, and became the prime target for one of the bird-women.

The fight went from bad to worse until, eventually, all except for Davian had fallen over the cliff, and the dwarf was bracing himself against the mountain, holding on to the rope that was keeping everyone from plunging to their doom, while fending off the harpy attacks.

Soon a third - the mother harpy - joined the fray and things were looking pretty grim; Kirchin, in particular, was being torn into easily digestible shreds at the bottom of the rope, and Marigold and Dirkin had suffered some vicious attacks themselves.

However, eventually, Davian managed to snap Harry out of the spell and as the fight continued the rest of the party - except for Kirchin - shook off the enchantment and, one by one, were dragged back onto the ledge.

The two younger harpies were slain and the elder flew away to her nest, to lick her wounds.

The bruised, battered, and bleeding adventurers pulled themselves along the narrow path to a cave, which turned out to contain the nest of the younger harpies.

They set up camp for the night, patching up their severe wounds, nursing battered limbs and bruised egos; thanking the Gods for letting them live another day and realising just how close they had gotten to all perishing.

Late in the morning the next day they headed further up the mountain, into the snow, and came to a pass the map told them would lead them to the Stellarium.

In the distance Davian spotted, circling, the same yellow dragon they had seen months earlier - flying overhead - when they had dared to cross The Bright River into the realm of Tanander.

Unnerved by the sight of the dragon, especially in the wake of their near-fatal clash with the harpies, the Companions made their way slowly through the snow-carpeted mountain pass, until they caught their first glimpse of the mythical Stellarium in a valley below them.

As they made plans for their "assault" on the building, Marigold pointed out the, more recent, large hole in the roof of the ancient structure...

The Stellarium Of The Vinteralf

CAST:
  • Davian (Kevin)
  • Harry (Simon)
  • Holly (Erica)
  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Marigold/Dirkin (Clare)

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Prelude To Chapter Twenty-Six...

Captain Dexter Hammerhand - Tending To The Refugees Has Brought Him Out Of His Depressed Stupor...

Morning came, after a night of dreams on the back on the back of a lethal pub brawl, and Kirchin knew the first thing he needed to do was call a town meeting. He tasked Harry with letting everyone know, and Harry - in turn - delegated this to his two new followers, Salli and Pham.

After the fight the night before, Davian had returned to his smithy and was pleasantly surprised to find it relatively untouched. The lock had been forced and a couple of swords taken, but otherwise everything appeared to be in working order.

He quickly found the two quarterstaffs he was working on, fired up his forge and set to work making metallic caps for them both, while trying to figure out how he could make a spy glass akin to the one Imogen had run off with.

Unfortunately, he quickly realised while he could craft the telescoping casing, he had no idea how to grind the lenses that 'magically' made distant objects appear closer to the user.

There were a lot of guilty faces in the crowd of townsfolk that gathered in The Golden Axe that morning for Kirchin's town meeting, a lot of hand shaking, and apologies for not trusting the old council.

Kirchin addressed the crowd, explaining - in broad strokes (and not apportioning any blame) - what they had witnessed on their expedition and what they had been up to. He then let the townfolk fill him in on how Skarg had whipped them all up into a frenzy about everything that had been happening since the old council left, and how the townsfolk had gone along with Skarg because they were scared.

Meanwhile Marigold and Holly had set out for Bright River Fort, to check on the refugees, and to see how Captain Hammerhand was coping with his new charges.
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