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.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Flashback: When Skarg Took Control Of Bendwyn...

Skarg and a couple of his gang in The Golden Axe...
SEVERAL WEEKS EARLIER...

Soon after Gunther Treszhnak, proprietor of The Golden Axe, left town (muttering about 'seeing his family before the world ends'), Skarg The Half-Orc relocated his base of operations to tavern.

Ever since the orcs had threatened to invade across The Bright River, Skarg had been agitating for a new town council and with the true council now being away for weeks, and no clue as to when they would return, he promptly called a meeting to whip up the residents of Bendwyn some more.

As well as the usual selection of low-lifes and ne'er-do-wells from his former hostelry, quite a large percentage of the town's population showed up to hear what the charismatic half-orc had to say (there was a general undercurrent of discontent with the town council, given their penchant for disappearing off on "adventures" without so much as a 'by your leave').

"We're sick and tired of having to pay a ransom to those villains on the other side of the Bright," he declared to muted cheers, "So let's not pay them. Let's keep them away from our side of the river. Let's build a barricade! A fence! And let's make THEM pay for it!

"We can use that money to improve the town, tear down that old healing house and build something decent. Hire a proper healer for the town, not someone who disappears all the time, doing Jen-knows what!"

The cheers got louder as more people were swept up in the moment and chanted: "Build a wall! Build a wall!"

"Build a wall! Build a wall!"
Skarg continued: "And whose fault is all this? Who's to blame for bringing down these troubles on our town? That so-called healer and his hangers-on, that's who. The council. They're supposed to protect you, but they're as corrupt as those orcs over there. Criminals and cultists, every one of them. What do we do with scum like that?"

"Lock them up!" someone shouted and soon the cry was taken up by others and the rafters of The Golden Axe were ringing with demands to "lock up" the old council.

And thus, the next day, even as distant earthquakes shook the ground and strange lights appeared in the skies to the west, Skarg was declared the new town mayor by the majority of the population.

Just days later, Skarg and his men were rounding up the relatives of the old town council, detaining them on charges of collusion, aiding and abetting traitors.

Little did the half-orc know his days were numbered...
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