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Bloodflame Successor (Demascatus, D&D 4e, Narrative)

Introduction

This is a was a rewrite of part of a character history for a D&D 4E game that I did for a player at our table, neurologist the 16-year-old son of one of the other players. I originally did a rewrite for when he wanted to intertwine his character’s beginning history with my characters’. Since I rewrote his original history, patient and because I similarly felt inspired with what he wrote, I rewrote and cleaned this up for him as well. If you are looking to understand a bit of what is going on then you may want to read his original history too to help give you a frame of reference.

This writing covers two related writings which will only really make sense if you played the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. This first narrative is narrating my friend’s character, Demascatus – a male tielfling warlock dedicated to the Raven Queen – taking on the Paragon Path of Turathi Highborn. The second narrative goes over what his character did with about a year of in-game time that we had off as a part of making that transition into the paragon path. Both of these re-writes took me about 3 hard-writing days to complete and are responsible for me looking into becoming a writer – near 9,500 words in 3 days! =O The quality has a lot to be desired, of course – too much telling and not showing, but we all have to start somewhere. =)

Narrative – Turathi Highborn

Battle after battle filled with screams, flame, and terror blurred together as the years passed by dotted by calm moments of training, meditation, prayer and service to the Blood Knights. It seemed like yesterday that he had  just arrived at the Citadel with Zerda and began his training as a boy, to graduate the next day as a full-fledged wielder of the Sacred Bloodfire in service to the Raven Queen. Her finding him was his the beginning of his freedom. Freedom from his personal demons, those angry and otherworldly voices that always called for blood, flesh, and flame. They have been quiet for a very long time, so long that he almost had forgotten what they sounded like, which, in some way, unsettled Demascatus. They were quiet so they must be planning something.

As he trained and gained in power and control over the Sacred Bloodfire. He advanced at a steady rate in the Order and, of course, held a special place in the Order, but his progress seemed to just stop. His ability to advance and to push himself further just reached a wall. This invisible wall where he knew that there was more on the other side. He could feel it. He could sense it. He knew that it was there and that there was more he was capable of. Something was holding him back. Something was keeping him from accessing that power and potential.

Demascatus spent some time talking with other warlocks of his order as well as his mentors, but their well-meaning and experienced advice did not help. Frustration set in and he began to feel alone and a little isolated again. He could not find someone that could really understand his block and his frustration, not even Tszeez’dar. Demascatus was unsure where to go next. He could feel the excess Bloodfire was burning inside him and it was beginning to roil and churn, yearning to get out, but he had no way of getting to it. No way to set it free. This is when he heard it again. The faint dark whispers in darkest and deepest recesses of his mind. It was faintly audible to him, but he knew it was them… his demons. This frustrated Demascatus a little for they had been gone for so long, and he hoped that he had broken their control or affect on him, but it looks like they may have found a way back.

Demascatus was frustrated so he went to Zerda and to the Blood Matron to let them know that he was going to be going away for a while, that he had some ‘personal demons’ to wrestle with. Because they knew Demascatus and his life they understood and they wished him well and a safe return. He left shortly thereafter to seek solitude and quietness so he could concentrate and call forth the voices, to summon his personal demons. They had something to say and it seemed that they currently held all the cards.

He took a ride through his past. He took that same path Zerda took him while taking him to the Citadel so many years ago. He was surprised to count up how long ago that really was and how long they have been silent. He felt hesitant about going back to the darkness, back to where the voices mentored him and were present every moment of every long, dark, and hungry day. Perhaps they have grown in power like he has over the years. Perhaps they would win and fulfill their desires to consume and possess him this time. These thoughts bounced around his head, but he was still confident in his abilities. He was sure that he could control them again as he had controlled them before. The closer he came to his ‘home’ of the past, the more he expected that with all of the quiet and solitude that the demons would return, but they did not, and that bothered him.

This bothered him for the rest of his several week trip back to his past. When he arrived at his place of darkness he was flooded with a familiar and unsettlingly comfortable feeling. Part of this comfortable feeling annoyed him, especially after having been used to the camaraderie and friendship of being a Blood Knight for so long. He still found this place, this darkness, strangely comforting. Even with these feelings settling in him, the voices did not return, which began to annoy and worry him at the same time. He wondered what is their game now? What trump cards were they carrying? No matter what their message or how good their hand was, Demascatus was determined to beat them at their game. He was one of the few wielders of the Sacred Bloodfire. If he could wield and handle that surely he could handle a few angry demon voices in his head that may have grown in power as he has grown during the intervening years.

After he put together his camp and arranged his things for the inevitable onslaught of the voices, he sat and meditated, which after closing his mind to them for so many years, felt strange and potentially self-defeating. As soon as he opened his mind and invited them forth they were loud and present like they had never missed a beat… like they had never been gone. Their message has changed little in all these years… death, violence, flame, and practice, but this time their words were more about the flame, fire, and burning…. They chastised him and cursed the very ground that he walked upon, they condemned his soul to the deepest and darkest recesses of eternity for suppressing them for so long. Their words were loud and they shuttered his body as if there was only one setting on the gate that kept them back and now the flood gates were fully open and they were livid at their absence and he could feel that to his very trembling core.

All these years of training to control them was put to good use after the first few moments of rage and anger they had unleashed into him. It caught him by surprise how powerful and present it they were. He could almost see outlines of creatures out of his peripheral, as if they were trying to manifest and attack him directly, but he slowly decreased the flow of the power that they were trying to unleash, and after a few moments he had their rage under control and they were not happy about it. They roiled in anger at him about all of the lost time, for what seemed like an eternity, and then they just raged about the flame and fire. They chastised him in no kind terms that so much time has been lost and that he is so far behind…. They cursed and condemned him in even more angry terms. Then they just screamed about FIRE!!!

Demascatus now had an advantage that he did not have before, he was able to have a little more control over the “conversation” and was able to coax some direct answers from his direct questions and every time he managed to do so they roiled in anger. He could feel their flames and dark energies trying to assault his mind and body during these moments, but he held fast. He was able to get them to teach him abilities and powers more directly and quickly. With their lessons he was able to manipulate the Sacred Bloodfire in ways he was not able to before and this made him happy, and more confident.

After each long daily session was Demascatus was drenched in sweat and hungry, but this time, he had plenty of food around, and he was able to mute the voices enough that they did not disturb his sleep too much either. He was in control now and he stopped when he was ready. Even in his dreams they were speaking to him and mentoring him. Revelations came in the dark dreaming visions of demons, flame, and death. These visions made his mornings an almost frantic rush to practice what revelations and thoughts came to him so he would not lose them as sleepiness wore off. He was always very, very hungry in the morning, almost as if he had not even eaten the night before. Mornings were a busy and fulfilling time for this reason and since he was readying himself for a new day with his “demon” mentors.

Several weeks passed with this daily ritual. He had eaten what food he had quickly and had to spend some time hunting for food and even that was not enough for him. He lost some weight during this, but this was not a process that he was unfamiliar with. There came a moment when the voice stopped talking about the fire.. stopped talking about the flame and training and continued with their talk of killing, death, and blood. His training was done it seemed, or perhaps they were giving him the silent treatment. He spent some time meditating following this change to even himself out and to renew the barriers he had put into place to hold back the voices, these demons in his head, so he could once again enjoy the quiet and peace of solitude.

Demascatus found  his ride back to the Citadel filled with a peace and satisfaction. He had proven to himself that he had control over them. They had grown in power, but so had he, and he still was able to control them… to not allow them to consume or control him. He was their master now, Damascátus thought to himself, as he chuckled at the mere thought.  He just enjoyed the ride back in a way that he had not enjoyed solitary rides before. He enjoyed the weather, the trees, and the birds. He found it quite relaxing to have this moment alone, which is something that he had not felt in…. well, it is not something that he has really ever felt in his life. Demascatus was not quite sure what that meant or even what to do with that. Being content in solitude like this was unsettling to him. He had never really felt this before. Perhaps this is something that he will have to get used to. Such a problem to have…

The ride back to the citadel passed quickly. He even stopped off by the shrine where he first met Zerda and where she took him under her wings and brought him to the Raven Queen. He could do naught but smile, this was one of the best moments in his life. The moment where freedom and family began. Once he returned to the Citadel he checked in with his mentors and their Blood Matron and he was able to train with them once again. A week or two later and he was now a properly initiated wielder of the Sacred Bloodfire of the Raven Queen.

Narrative – Bloodflame Successor

Shared Shackles

A few weeks following his return from campaigning he was brought a young tiefling of about 12 years of age. Demascatus looked over the young tiefling and she bore that same lonely, tired, and desparate look that he did all those years ago, which is probably why she was brought to him, because he knew exactly what she was going through. The girl was very skittish and not very talkative, but Demascatus knew just what to do. As he stood there he could feel his Bloodfire roil in anger and sadness at her presence. He could almost hear their whispers – those dark and rage filled whispers that he knew all to well, whispering in her thoughts and dreams, tormenting her every sleepless day. He was saddened that another would have to experience them and their horrid words and deeds, and the thing that they would require her to do in order to control them and obtain even a distorted sense of normalcy.

He asked the girl her name. She squeeked out “Tyrell.. Do you know why I’m scared?” Demascatus was slightly startled by such a direct question from her. Yes, he could feel that he knew exactly what was scaring her, but was there something about him that brought her out of her fear enough to talk. Demascatus quickly told her of his own problem – the demons – and the girl became excited for that’s exactly what she had been experiencing. She never expected that anyone would really understand, or perhaps she was going mad. She did not want to be burned as a witch or to be responsible for unleashing horrors upon the mortal realms.

Demascatus, knowing the hell that she was going through, took Tyrell in as his own daughter, to train her as a warlock and potential wielder of the Sacred Blood Fire of the Raven Queen, so that one day she could be powerful enough to control her demons too, and become a great asset to the Raven Queen.

Zerda was a little anxious at first to let this new girl stay with them, but with some convincing Zerda allowed her to stay. Zerda understood what being able to help someone who is going through what he had would mean to him. He would be the only person who would be able to understand or to really relate to what she was going through. He was truly the only person who could help her.

Tyrell wasn’t very open to talking to people yet, and she only really talked to Demascatus, who she called Demy, because he alone truly understood the problem she was facing – the angry and blood filled voices that spoke to her. Demascatus went straight  to helping Tyrell to acknowledge the demons and to try to teach her that they did not have control over her – that she really did have power over them and that they truly do fear her and need her. These facts were hard for her to truly accept for she feared them and their dark and evil whisperings which have tormented her for so long, just as his demons tormented him so long ago.

Demascatus was surprised by the will of this little girl. In the matter of a few days of shared exercises she was able to, at times, control the demons to the point where she could call them forth and banish them from her thoughts, but this was extremely taxing on her. Her body and mind was still young and needed hardening, practice, but above all of that she needed faith. Faith in herself and faith in the Blood Queen for she has been given the gift to wield the Bloodfire and their Queen does not choose its wielders lightly. Demascatus asked Tyrell how she was able to banish and call them forth so quickly and she replied, “I told them if they do not obey me then you will destroy them. You would destroy them wouldn’t you Demy?”

At first, Demascatus was confused by the question. He hadn’t really considered being able to do something like that, but he realized that if he could control his own demons then perhaps he could do likewise for her as well. After thinking about it, he told her “Of course Tyrell. Blood Queen willing – I would crush them with the power she has given to me. I do think, however,  that the voices that we share are part of our gift to wield the Bloodfire. These ‘demons’ are our trainers, tormenters, challengers, friends and our enemies all at once. They want us to succeed, but they also want to consume our very souls. It is our journey in conquering them that has us earn the privilege, power, and strength to wield the Bloodfire which can burn the demons of Orcus and other foul lords that challenge the worlds. We bear a burden that others do not have the strength to. The Blood Queen sees this strength to survive and persevere in you and has chosen you as she has chosen me. For me to battle your demons for you is to deny you your legacy as a wielder of the Bloodfire. The best I can do for you, my child, is to train you and prepare you as best as I can for their tricks and vile words.”  Demascatus sighed in sadness after finishing saying this. He did not like saying those words to her for it means a life of struggle and fear. He would not wish this on anyone, but he would also not give it up for anything for the demons bring him to power to wield the Bloodfire and to serve the Blood Queen in a very special way.

The thought and feeling just clicked inside of him. He had enough of them. Now that he had Tyrella to train his “demons” needed to go. He had suffered their existence for far too long. Even though now he had them under control he could still feel them testing and raging against the stout walls he had set up in his mind so that he may live a “normal” life. It was time for him to confront them for once and for all so that he can show Tyrella that there really can be an end to it once we are strong enough. The time had come. The time had come to be free of the demons.

Breaking the Infernal Shackles

Later that night after Tyrell and Tszeez’dar had gone to bed Demascatus told Zerda he would hopefully be back by morning for he had some things to take care of. Demascatus headed out of the Citadel to a secluded spot he had found along the cliffs around the citadel. He called forth the demons and they immediate flooded back into his mind as if they had never been gone. Their vile babblings and whisperings were as strong and angry as ever and they were eager to try to tear him back down. They raged at his weakness and uselessness to the Raven Queen. They, on promises of blood and mangled bodies, claimed their rightful place as his true masters. They whispered powerful words filled with doubt to Demascatus – that he was just an expendable pawn to the Blood Queen and that his existence did not matter to anyone.

Feeling this all too familiar emotional attack flooding into his consciousness he quickly turned their verbal and psychological assault aside and told them that he now realized how much power he really had over them. He could destroy them all right now if he truly wanted to so they had better shut-up and listen well. The demons suddenly became even more angry than they normally were for his insolence and arrogance, but he could now for the first time feel their fear. This was the first time that he really felt fear from them. Before he only felt anger, rage and a merciless confidence. They knew he had discovered the power they had given him. Demascatus told the demons that they were to obey his every command or be destroyed. Demascatus told the now livid demons they had a choice. They could obey him from this point forth or be excised from his enchained body and to be destroyed forever. Many of the demons quickly and angrily bowed, cursing in respect to Demascatus’ new found will, but in the same instant a few of the smaller and less intelligent demons began an all out assault to try and break down his walls before he could be even more full of his power. This is exactly what Demascatus had expected. He quickly vaporized these demons and his walls were intact standing strong and defiant.

The largest demons did not agree to obey for they knew that they were more powerful than any mere mortal. They came forward to play his game and to beat him at it once and for all – to make his mortal shell their meat puppet from which they could wreak havoc upon the material world. They came forward and requested to fight for final control and to prove who was truly more powerful and the true masters of his being. Demascatus thought that the demons of this rank would have fled out of fear of their destruction and the power that he now realized that he had over them. Hoping that they would just return to the vile place from whence they came, and to scorn him for his insubordination, but they did not, as he expected they would not.

Demascatus accepted their challenge and engaged these larger demons, and they were stronger than he really expected they would be. They truly were holding back their full power and he was getting their full onslaught with nothing being held back. This fight lasted for hours and hours long into the night, for the other smaller and fearful demons were healing and assisting the bigger demons indirectly so Demascatus couldn’t detect their game. When Demascatus was finally finished with them he was standing over all of the bodies of the ephemeral demons that hadn’t bowed before him. Following this final blow the rest of the demons just faded into a rage fill quietness the likes of which he had never felt before. He felt like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He felt a freedom – a true freedom from the demons that had plagued his consciousness for so many years. Perhaps he truly had won this time and this was truly the end of them – the dark and bloody whispers which had been so long a part of his life. He wondered if he would miss them and the struggle they brought since they were so much a part of his identity, but he quickly dismissed this thought for now. For now, he relished the thought of this new found quiet and freedom.

By the time he returned to the Citadel it was early morning and a few Blood Knights who were engaging in a sunrise practice saw him return covered in sweat and looking weak with fatigue. Demascatus collapsed half way back to his home from the sheer exhaustion of his combat with the “demons” and his return to the Citadel. When he finally awoke there were many people standing over him. He recognized the room as the infirmary he had been taken to for his burns from the immolith. Standing there was Zerda, Tyrell, Tszeez’dar, Tarrana, the kids and many of his brothers and sisters at arms. Demascatus tried to sit up, but found that he did not have the energy to do much more then rest lying down. His head was pounding, but his mind was strangely quiet. He also felt a drain on him different than he had before and he felt that he was being watched, not in an way that he felt threatened, but something else was also watching over him.

Late at night when he was all alone with only his thoughts and the quite of the night a small creature appeared at the foot of his bed. A small wretched demonic thing with small needly fangs, a stinger on its segmented tail, and respect filled and power filled eyes. Demascatus knew instantly that this was what he felt was watching over him. It was an imp and Demascatus knew that it was of the same breed of “demon” as the those that he fought for his freedom from – the ones that plagued him for so long and for so much of his life, and for the first time he was able to see one in the flesh. This simultaneously enraged him, scared him, and excited him.

Feeling Demascatus’ mixed and powerful emotions the imp involuntarily winced and moved its arms up to protect itself, but it quickly stopped and it bared an angry fang. Thinking better of being cronfrontational the imp pulled its demeanor into what could be best described as a form of deignful respect. It bowed before Demascatus and said in a creepy and multilayered voice “You, are now our master and we serve you. We are ‘The Ravage’ and are your “voices” incarnate. You have defeated us, whose only desire was to torment you, break you, train you, to prepare you to wreak havoc on the world. You are our superior and we are your reward for your victory over us so all will know that you have defeated us.” Demascatus did not know whether to trust it or not, after all it was a demon(s), but deep inside he could feel that in some way he could trust it, but time would tell just how much trust he could have in this thing. He slept that night with the imp watching over him… silently and invisibly.

Echoes of the Past

After a few days of rest and some healing Demascatus was ready to return to continue training Tyrell. He summoned his family, friends and other significant Blood Knight mentors and he told them what had happened out there that night – that he had conquered and destroyed the demons that had plagued him all these years. He also said that he thought that this was the end of them. Then he introduced them to his new “companion” – the imp who, as he has been told, is his nebulous reward for defeating his demons. He also explained for certain that Tyrell is like he, and she will be haunted with the voices, exhaustion, and fear that he has lived with his whole life. They all nodded in acknowledgement and their eyes reflected pity and concern for the young girl, but also a respect for the journey that she would have to endure, and the inevitable and valuable service that she will provide for the Blood Queen and their battles against demons and Orcus.

Tyrell became excited upon hearing that Demascatus has defeated his demons once and for all, and that it was possible for it all to end. Now, for her, there was a proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. If Demascutus could beat his demons then so she could beat her demons one day as well. The thought of being able to beat her “demons” made her smile. Seeing a smile on Tyrell’s face was a nice change for Demascatus to see, since she rarely smiled due to the heavy and fearful burden that she has born for so long.

Demascatus conferred with Zerda and other Blood Knights and he decided that he was going to take Tyrell to the place where he first learned to control his demons – in the darkness and solitude of that cave where he trained and learned so long ago. Training there worked for him so it should, hopefully, work for her as well, especially now that she has a mentor who has experienced it, and can guide her.

They packed up small wagon and they made the long trek back to where it all began. He spent the several week journey teaching her the scripture and parables of the Raven Queen just as Zerda had done for him so long ago. He had her doing meditation exercises, and he held her when the nightmares came and overwhelmed her into sobbing tears. He could sort of hear the faint echoes of their angry whisperings and vile words, but he could never really make out what they were saying. His imp was quiet and seemed a bit ill at ease whenever the girl was around, which was all of the time. The imp did not care for her presence, but it tried to not let it on that it felt that way. They had plenty of food and supplies for a few months of training, hoping that they could get the basics done in that time, otherwise, they would have to hunt for food, which was not an idea that Demascatus liked. He had enough of that from his lonely childhood.

As they came closer to the forest area where the cave was, he remembered the feelings like echoes of a distant past – the pain, the fear, the weakness, the isolation, the hunger. It has not been that long ago – a year since he was here last, but it seemed so far. The connection being severed has done wonders to separate his psyche from the damage and stress that all of those years had inflicted on him. The demons are still with him but he is now the master and they are now his tool to use whenever he pleases, at least that was how he was hoping it really was.

As they finally arrived, all 3 of them were quiet from the long few weeks of travel. They jumped out of the wagon, stretched their legs, looked around a bit, and prepared to set their camp and training area up. Doings so took the rest of the afternoon and into the early night. They turned in early so they could begin her training early in the morning refreshed from a full night of sleep. With ‘The Ravage’ to watch over them while they slept they had, hopefully, very little to worry about. They both slept strangely well and undisturbed. They were both a little unsettled by this fact – well rested, but quiet and unsettled. Neither really knew what was to come once they started this journey.

Familiar Training

The morning started with a healthy breakfast, a little stretching, some scripture, and some deep meditation to prepare themselves for the stress and fear of what is to come. A little after lunch they both stood up near each other and looked towards the center of the cave. There was just enough light peeking in for them to see an occasional stone outcropping from the caves walls. They really did not need their eyes for what was to come, since the demons were present in their minds and souls. They both could feel the demons’ power pulsing inside her, but they seemed to be waiting for something before unleashing their power upon them.

Demascatus went first. He had never done this before with someone else around, nor with anyone around that might even be able to perceive the demons, so he was a little unnerved and nervous about what was to happen. He looked upon The Ravage and called them forth slowly and in a very controlled manner. Slowly the his demons manifested before them and they were angry. Tyrell shrieked in fear, but Demascatus motioned for her to stand her ground. His hand seemed to just freeze her in place.

The imp seemed irate and very unnerved at this as well. Demascatus called the imp forward and he said to the imp and the manifested demons  “Bow before me.” The demons bared their fangs and hissed, but they did so slowly. The demons wailed in anger as they kneeled before him, their mortal master. Demascatus had to focus in order to compel them to obey, but they did, knowing full well that he could destroy them as he had done before.

Now, Tyrell, it is your turn.” Demascatus said quietly and firmly. Tyrell said fearfully “I… I cannot. I am afraid. I am not as strong as you, Demy.” Demascatus smiled lovingly to her, knowing full well how she was feeling, and he said “You have nothing to be afraid of child. I am here. We will get through this together. Focus and know that you are in charge and that they need you and as much as you need their guidance. If you are fearful then they will have an advantage and can grow stronger and more cruel to you.” His demons hissed loudly as he spoke. The holy truth searing their unholy forms.

A tear streamed down her cheek. She looked at Demascatus fearfully. As she looked upon his demons wailing and hissing quietly she seemed to shrink in place. She cleared her throat, straightened up, and focused on the center of the chamber as a tear ran down her cheek. As soon as she called them forth they burst into existence in the chamber which nearly blew them both over with its force. Demascatus staggered back a few steps and Tyrell dropped to her knees her eyes wide in terror. Demascatus had never felt anything like that from his demons. They raged in anger and black flames roiled off them. They howled and bored feasting eyes upon Tyrell. They hissed at the two of them and then seemed to growl even louder in disappointment and anger at his demons and the imp. “Command them!” he yelled trying to make his voice cut through the roar of their flames and howls.

Tyrell was frozen with fear. They had tormented her for so long and she had never felt them like this. They were larger, scarier, and more real than she had ever experienced them. Before they were just angry and blood filled whispers in her mind, and horrible dreams. Now they were here. They were definitely real and were given faces and eyes to stare into. There was no going back from this moment on. She could not try to ignore them or pass it off as her possibly just being insane. They were here and they meant business. This was real.

Seeing that Tyrell had frozen ‘The Ravage’ flew over to her quickly and stuck her with its tail barb. She yipped and shook her head and slowly stood up. She stared at her ‘voices’ incarnate and tried to focus her mind to try to control them, while Demascatus focused to maintain control of his demons. Demascatus said just enough for him to be heard over the noise of the demons “Light your sacred flame that you can feel burs in your blood. Let it empower you, child. The Bloodfire is the key. It is your power.  You’re are its master. It is what they fear and they want you to learn how to use it. LIGHT THE BLOODFLAME!!!!” his voice crescendoed cutting unusually clear through the demonic cacophony.

After a moment or two with her eyes wide eyes with fear as her demons drifted closer to her, the Bloodflame licked slowly to life in her right hand. They hissed in a way that almost seemed laugh, and then they roared loudly, which startled Tyrell which caused the Bloodflame in her hand to blast into life to cover both of her arms and scorched the ground all around her. Her demons recoiled and laughed maniacally at her fear and her lack of control. Their hate filled and predatory laughter resonated throughout the chamber and filled their skulls and bodies with it. They could more feel their pounding laughter than they could hear it. The Bloodlflame still pulsed out of her hand sand into the now scorched ground like two upside down flowers made of flames. The scent of burning ground and grass was strong in the air along with the scent of sulfer. Her hand tightened into a small fist and the flame became more controlled. She pursed her lips and then threw flames at the demons which they dodged easily. They mocked her clumsiness and lack of control. They called her many names and told her what horrible things they were going to her dismembered body when they get a hold of her. Her failure was their reward and her soul was destined to be their eternal play toy.

Tyrell’s eyes showed a little anger and she blasted more flame at them, but the blast was wide and dispersed which ended up being stopped by a protective field that the demons seemed to have around them. Demascatus’ demons never had that and this concerned him. ‘The Ravage’ perched on her shoulder, wound its tail down the front of her shoulder and under her arm to root itself to her, and it started to whisper into her ear. He could not hear what it was saying to her through the cacophony of howls, laughter, flames, and echoes. After a few moments Tyrell’s shoulders slumped and tears burst from her eyes and she sobbed deeply almost collapsing to her knees again.

The imp darted away seeming almost afraid of retribution from Demascatus or the demons. Demascatus began to raise his arm now sheathed in the Bloodfire in anger to strike down the vile creature for hurting her. Tyrell’s arm raised slowly as the tears continued to stream down and a concentrated blast of flame jetted outward, ripped through the protective barrier, and burned a hole through the demons in its path. The demons roared in pain and in delight as several were consumed by her Bloodfire. They all seemed to collectively smile maniacally and laugh, and then scorn her for not destroying them all in one blast. They let her know how weak and incompetent she was, and they leered at the imp who darted to hide behind Demascatus, wrapping its tail around his left ankle.

The demons hissed, and laughed, and laughed. Their noise grew louder and louder until nothing could be heard but their evil and manical laughs resonating throughout the chamber. They vanished just like they were never there, and all was quiet. Demascatus did not even notice that his demons had faded away during all of this somehow. Tyrell collapsed to her knees sobbing quietly sitting amidst the ground charred by her Bloodflame. She just sat there shaking and crying.
Demascatus was a bit taken aback by it all. His experience was never like this. Her demons seemed much more powerful, larger and more numerous. Their words and emotions were effectively the same, but her demons’ sheer power and abilities were more than his by perhaps an order of magnitude. His confidence in his ability to help her began to fade a little. The imp slowly flapped his way up and sat on his shoulder rather unceremoniously which seemed to pull Demascatus out of his thoughts. He rushed over and held her and they rocked together as she cried that soul-wrenching cry of fearful innocence that only children can cry. Demascatus, who was all too familiar with this cry, began to cry as well. They just sat there for an undermined amount of time crying and rocking together. The imp just perched itself a a  vantage point where it could seem them and the entrance into the chamber watching over them.

Weeks of tears and fears, and doubt, meditation, and studying went by. Tyrell grew stronger with each passing day. Demascatus learned each day something different about her demons, and not a day went by where they would strike the right chords to drive her to tears. He was finding that there was not a whole lot he could do for her but support her and help to steel her mind and resolve, and help to have the Raven Queen’s words guide her. Her nightmares grew stronger as the weeks went on. The demons would torment her during the training of the day, and even more so in her dreams at night when she was weakest. Every few nights she would wake up screaming or crying. Demascatus had some of that early on, but not as much as she has had to endure. All he could do was whisper words of support and hold her as she cried and cried. Each day was emotionally and physically draining on both of them. They spent the time that they were not training in quiet and rest.

Their food supplies had started to run out a week or so earlier than they had anticipated. That combined with that fact that her training was going to a much longer than he thought it would means they were going to have to start hunting for food which was a strange but somewhat welcomed distraction for them. While hunting Tyrell was able to work on firing on smaller and moving targets, which was a great challenge. It is one thing to try and blast somewhat stationary demon-things with raw concentrated power, and another to attack something that does not want to be hit. Tyrell found the hunting a great distraction and it helped her to cope with everything that she has had to endure here.  It seemed to empower and strengthen her for training. The more they hunted the less the demons were able to make her cry and the quicker she made progress. Hunting, for her, seemed to be a key to her unlocking her potential, and to open the gates of confidence and control. She made more progress in the next week while they hunted and trained than she did in the previous month or so of training combined.

As the next few weeks came and went, they hunted and trained. Even though she was a small girl she gained in confidence and in power. She cried less and less and the nightmares seemed to lessen as the weeks went on. She came to a point where the nightmares and breakdowns the demons were able to force were limited to once or twice a week. The demons still mocked, toyed, threatened, and insulted, but their words just did not affect her as much. She had grown used to their words, and only a few times did they inflict real harm on both of them.  With significant progress being made they decided to make their way back to the citadel. They had spent enough time in the forests and the cave. They needed real food and real beds, and perhaps it will be safe to continue her training at the citadel and the other mentors can work with her on the warlock aspects as he continues working with her to help her control her demons.

They started their several week trek back towards the citadel. With Tyrell having gained in strength, confidence, and control they were both in better moods. Tyrell was actually more talkative and even started a small conversation with a boy who was passing by as they rested. She was starting to sound more like a normal child and less like a tormented soul, and this made Demascatus smile. ‘We really were making progress.’ he thought to himself.

When they finally returned to the citadel about 6 months later and they were both looking thin, tired, and exhausted but in good spirits. The few Blood Knights that were on guard that night cheered when the two of them arrived. Looks of elation washed over their brethren since now they knew that nothing bad had happened to the pair of them. The Knights sent runners to let their family know that they had finally arrived. Food and clean warm clothes were brought to them and they both eat heartily and really appreciated the real food which they have missed for quite a few months now.

Shortly thereafter Zerda and little Tszeezdar came running in and Demascatus and Tyrell ran an embraced them. Tears and kisses flowed from all of them. They were all so happy to be home and to know that everyone was safe and sound. Zerda took the kids back home and Demascatus stayed behind to give a debrief to the Blood Matron and several other of the order’s leaders about everything that happened and what it all means. After several hours of retelling their tale and answering questions Demascatus and Tyrell rode home as the light from the sun was peeping out over the horizon. They walked quietly into the house and crept into bed and slept like a log throughout most of the day.

Demascatus and Tyrell spent the next week or so recovering from all of that time away. They ate, meditated, read and practiced with the rest of the order’s mentors as a sort of vacation from their real training. Demascatus trained Tyrell lightly and let her work by herself at her own pace as well giving her a chance to explore it with her newly empowered control. ‘The Ravage’ stayed around her to assist where it would or could. She progressed slowly, but steadily and the tears and nightmares seemed to lessen, perhaps happening once a month or so now. She had become a bit more chatty with people around and was asking more questions about being a warlock and the scripture.

Once Demascataus saw this change he told Tyrell it was about time that she started to attend a warlock apprenticeship here in the Citadel to become an even more powerful warlock so she can one day join the Blood Knights in fighting for their Blood Queen. This thought saddened her for he and Zerda were the only real teachers and family that she had really known.

“Demy, why does someone else have to teach me? You can teach me all I need to know. You can teach me about the warlocky stuff and Zerda can teach me scripture and I can stay here with you guys and help with baby Tszeez’dar. Please?” A large smile grew on Demascatus’ face, but it quickly faded. Demascactus told Tyrell, “Of course you will stay here with us, but you will have to turn to teachers other than us. You are our daughter and we want what is best for you. The mentors here taught me as well, and you are growing strong enough that you can work through the demons well enough on your own. Your journey in dealing with the demons is important to you and your utilizing the Bloodfire fully. Trust me, dear. The people here are wonderful and will be happy to help you in ways that I cannot. I had nowhere near the control you did when I started training here. You will be a great warlock one day.” Tyrell was sad with this, but she knew they knew better and cared for her, so she acquiesced.

Bastion

A few years have passed and Tyrell has grown stronger and more confident. She is picking up on the warlock training well. He has gone on missions for the Blood Knights with Tzseez’dar as needed, which was always a welcomed reprieve. Tzseez’dar has spent quite a bit more time in the field than Demascatus since he has been more occupied with helping Tyrell and ensuring that she advances and is safe. By this time Demascatus and Tzseez’dar have heard that their former companions of the Raven’s Host and their victory over the Tiefling army of Bael Turath and Orcus, Demascatus had also heard they were able to pursue the ambitious project of building a massive keep called Bastion as a new mecca for the Raven Queen’s faithful, and this new achievement excited him.

Demascatus did a lot of talking with Zerda and their daughter, Tyrell, to see if they were willing to head to this new citadel as a new home so he could work with his friends in the Host again. They all knew how much Demascatus missed being with that group and were happy to head out to Bastion to be a part of this great and holy project. Demascatus also took a lot of time to talk to priests and other Blood Knights and arranged for a contingent of Blood Knights to be stationed at Bastion to represent them and their sect. He also worked diligently to ensure that appropriate teachers will be going with to handle Tyrell’s apprenticeship.

The Blood Knights spent time accelerating the training programs for their apprentices and tried to acquire the extra resources needed to set up another temple dedicated to the Blood Queen at Bastion. Several months were spent copying or obtaining sacred texts, weaving new clothes, making extra armor, holy symbols, rods and weapons as well as candles, incense, and other items required for a new temple grounds. The entire Citadel was busy preparing to send this contingent to Bastion. Tszeez’dar, knowing full well what Demascatus was up to, talked to his family and superiors and obtained the go ahead to make his way to Bastion as well. He knew Demascatus was going to ask anyhow, and he was going to need to be around to make sure Demascatus and his family was safe.

Tszeez’dar approached Demascatus one day while everyone was abuzz in their preparatory work and he said “I know what you are up to and we are going too.” Zadi smiled  “but, my place will be training new recruits and guards for Bastion, and I will not be able to accompany you in your service with the Host, which saddens me deeply. My place in the temple is changing and you are going to have all of the fun. I will look after them for you, so do not fear for them. You, on the other hand, have been assigned to assist the Raven’s Host. They are going to need your Bloodfire in the days to come – our Blood Matron has foreseen this, Brother.

Tzseez’dar continued “I do not know how our people found Tyrell, but I am happy for her, for your family, and for the Blood Queen. Demascatus, you have done well with her. She will be a great asset to the Blood Queen and our order. You have brought great honor to us all.”  Tzseez’dar smiled broadly.

When everyone was gathering and packing things prior to the final trip through portals that were opened and humming with magic to allow easy transport of everyone quickly and safely to Bastion, some people had already been making their way back and forth to get things prepared and the logistics for everyone’s and everything’s placement finalized. The portal was busy with people and supplies coming and going every few minutes. Carts and people were lining up outside the portal chamber for that final trip to Bastion. The people were abuzz with talk of what they had heard so far about Bastion and its accelerated building and the beauty and holy glory of it all.

During the blur of finalizing their packing and lists, and meetings and arrangements, Demascatus found the ruby that he always wore around his neck was missing. Distraught at the thought of losing such treasured item Demascatus asked Zerda if she had seen it. She told him sheepishly that she had taken it and wanted to surprise you with it as a pre-moving gift. She brought it out and showed it to him and now. Underneath the name Tszeez’dar, was the name – Tyrell. His entire family was now completely on that stone and he pulled it close to his heart and he hugged her tightly.

When the moment finally came to leave their long-time home in the Citadel for good, they sat for a moment to take it all in. Their crates and sacks of stuff were in a small wagon outside. Their room was empty and as soon as they exited it, it  would no longer be theirs and someone else would live there. They would be leaving a significant part of their life behind to move on to something more exciting and new. A tear wandered its way down Zerda’s face, as baby Zadi cried not understanding what is going on. Tyrell was just quiet and a little excited to meet these friend of Demascatus’ that she has heard so much about, and to see what this Bastion was going to be like. With everyone’s excited talk and dreaming it seemed like the hallways were either paved with gold and/or the Raven Queen herself happily waited on everyone hand and foot. She did not care either way. She was with her family and she was not afraid of anything that was to come.

While making their way to the portal chamber to begin their new life in Bastion they chatted about everything they have heard and about Bastion and his friends in the Raven’s Host. The next few weeks went quickly as they acclimated themselves to the massiveness of Bastion and its precise dwarven built architecture, as well as their new place in Bastion’s hierarchy. Training had to be arranged for, bedrooms had to be filled, supply logistics had to be arranged for, meetings with Bastion’s clergy, mentors, and command had to be attended, as well as a plethora of other things to finish getting the place ready for a routine for the Blood Knights of the Gloaming Chalice and the rest of Bastion.

During this time little was seen of the Host as they were working on finishing up their various projects and getting themselves ready and acclimated to Bastion as well, but the moment came when he was finally summoned by Bastion’s High Priestess, Uldana Farthan. Demascatus was excited to get back to working with his friends, but also felt a bit guilty about leaving his family again. He knew that Zerda understood since this is their lot and a fact of their life in the service of the Blood Queen as they have chosen, but Zadi and Tyrell were a different story. They were children and they knew that what their father did was dangerous, not like ‘standing guard in a prison’ dangerous, but a ‘one false move and a demon could suck you soul and torment you for eternity’ – or a ‘vile undead could drain your life-force and use your meat-suit as a corpsey puppet’  sort of dangerous.

Zerda suppressed her tears and baby Zadi was screaming and crying because he did not understand why daddy was leaving for so long, and why mom was sad too. Demascatus said his goodbyes to them and made his way to say good bye to Tyrell. They pulled her out of her daily lessons with the other apprentice warlocks and she looked upset and on the verge of tears. She has known that this day would come when he would come during her class and that may be the last time that she might see him. Tears started to stream down her face as she hugged Demascatus tightly. Through her tears she sobbed  “Why do you have to leave? Why can’t you stay here with Zerda, baby Zadi, and me?” Demascatus started to become choked up at her extreme sense of loss and fear for him.

He said gently to her  “Tyrell, I’m doing what the Blood Queen needs of me. She needs me to fight with my brothers and sisters at arms, my friends. I promise you that these my friends will make sure I return happily and safely, so I can hold you and continue to train you again.

Until then, take this piece of ruby necklace. It is identical to mine except that it has the name of Zerda, baby Tszeez’dar, and myself. As you get older and pass your rites of initiation in the ranks of the Blood Knights we will add their symbol and your favorite scripture, and then you will serve as I do, as a wielder of the Sacred Bloodfire of the Raven Queen. You will take your place beside brave men and women and support them in battling Orcus and other vile things. I will return to you. I promise.” He kissed her on the cheek and hugged her one last time and then said “They are waiting for me, my dear. Be good and listen to Zerda and you mentors.”  He smiled at her and she smiled sadly at him and he walked slowly towards the High Priests’ chambers.

Having finished all of his goodbyes Demascatus was still upset that he had to leave his family behind, but he knew Tszeez’dar would watch over them just as Demascatus had done for him in the past.

Dark Voices – Demascatus’ Character History – (D&D 4e, Narrative)

Introduction

This is a was a rewrite of a character history for a D&D 4E game that I did for a player at our table, one health the 16 year old son of one of the players, generic who wanted to intertwine his history with my character’s. I worked with him on his history and then he sent it to me. I was inspired with what he wrote so I rewrote and cleaned it up for him. At the time I had been reading a lot on religion so, health system as a part of my original character history, I came up with this cult for one of the most popular gods in 4E – the Raven Queen, the goddess of Winter, Fate, and Death. My character was a tiefling warlock-knight named Tzeez’dar and he belonged to a minority cult called the Blood Knights of the Gloaming Chalice. They were a mostly tielfling cult dedicated to a unique view of worshipping and serving the Raven Queen. His character, Demascatus, was a tiefling warlock who had a special connection to the Raven Queen and was given a special gift because of it. This history is really going into the special gift and why it is more of a curse than a gift.

Narrative

Dark Voices

The darkness spoke in whispered and bloodied words to Demascatus for a long as he could remember. He has never been truly alone. The voices spoke to him and it was not at all about rainbows and unicorns. Mostly they spoke of blood, viscera, duty and rage, but sometimes, only sometimes did they chose to be useful.

On that fateful day during his youth when his village was attacked by servants of Orcus the voices, in a rare moment of lucidity and perhaps benevolence, led Demascatus away from the village to escape from the evil clutches of the Horned King of Undeath. Having run away, Demascatus was now free from the corrupt hands of Orcus and his minions, but what would he do now. He was all alone with no food or shelter, without protection from friends or family who were now slaves to the vile servants of the horned one or worse.

The voices, demons Demascatus called them, even though he was not sure who or what they/it was, spoke to him differently now. They were strangely helpful, which truly made Demascatus very uneasy. They were pushing him to learn, to grow, and to challenge himself, but he noticed that their “training” kept him moving through the darkness and seeking, even manipulating the darkness. In these strange and uneasy lessons Demascatus found a sort of serenity and solace there in the quiet and cover of the pitch black blanket of night.

During these “trainings” Demascatus listened and thought hard and carefully about their carefully selected words, about what they said and what they did not say, about how they answered, didn;t answer or redirected their answers. He had this suspicion that the “demons” were trapped inside him and were trying to get out. They were using him, training him, to set themselves free, or even worse, to possess him and take control of his being to do whatever bloody things that could be on their agenda for the mortal world.

Demascatus caught on to their game and focused his thoughts and everything he has learned to try to ensure that they would stay contained and would never get “out”. Whatever “out” would finally mean he did not want to know. Even though they knew that he knew they still kept teaching and pushing him to learn and grow more. He could feel that they were still waiting, like a powerful and fierce predator just watching for just the right moment to pounce and rend their hapless prey.

This training took time and Demascatus still needed food and other supplies. He still needed to survive. The “demons” did not pay so much attention to that, sometimes pushing him in his exercises, prayers, and meditations until he fell unconscious, sometimes from starvation or lack of sleep. Someone had to look out for him, especially since the “voices” did not seem to care for his wellbeing. He was just a tool to them – a means to an end, and that end was most likely freedom.

Demascatus crept into nearby villages during the night taking food and other supplies. It seemed that the easiest targets were the churches. There he found their books of scriptures and histories and he stole whatever he could find that was of immediate use. His mind was hungry, hungry for knowledge and understanding. His appetite for learning was borderline insatiable, much hungrier that his physical appetite for eating was by a large margin.

He found the scriptures and other books on history and the arcane interesting, but what intrigued the young Demascatus was the brief mentionings of the goddess of death – The Raven Queen. Maybe it was the voices or maybe it was the training or the lack of food, but he found death even more interesting than any of the other worldly writings. The ephemeral lights of death and of what happens when we sluff off our mortal coils to be embraced” by the goddess of death. What would she do with us? Would it be painful? Would there be a tomorrow when we pass from this world? Would we serve her for an eternity once we die? Do the dead of those of other faiths still go to her? So very many questions and not so many answers. The other books provided what seemed to be definitive answers to other worldly matters, but the answers for death seemed quite elusive and ephemeral, and this intrigued the young Demascatus greatly.

Years passed of this cycle: train, pass out, search for food and books, return to hiding to eat and read, perhaps even sleep a little, and do it all again the next day. Day after day his youth was spent alone and in the darkness, looking for refuge and someone to trust. The demons have tried on several occasions to harm him indirectly or to exert direct control over him, but each time he fought them back harder than they were able to attack him. There have even been moments where he has won their silence. The quietness in his mind, the emotional and mental solitude was scary after so may years, but also comforting, because it meant, at least to him, that he was getting stronger.

Salvation

Zerda was her name and she seemed young, too young to be a priestess at any rate, but in reality she was Tiefling about his age or maybe a year or four older. Demascatus was now in his mid teens. She was a priestess of the Raven Queen. He watched her from the shadows of the darkness inside of a small roadside shrine. He knew that she knew that he was there watching her, but she did not let on to this fact. She prayed to the Raven Queen and he even caught her preaching a parable or two of the Raven Queen to some locals. She came back a few times and he was there to watch and listen to her. In his mind he was begging, no, yearning to hear more about the Raven Queen and what knowledge and understanding she could impart to him.

One day while he was watching her quietly pray she smiled, stood up, and looked directly at Demascatus hiding in the darkness. She called him forth by his name. “Demascatus” she said whispered in a gentle, but yet commanding voice. It was sort of strange to hear his name being spoken in a “normal” voice – one not contaminated with disdain, hatred, and detachment. It shocked him. He had almost forgotten what name sounded like when spoken aloud. She spoke his name with a gentleness and compassion has has not heard since he lost his family so many years ago. Those words, those intentions, he knew, but they seemed so foreign to him now after years of a sort of a self-imposed isolation with just the demons as companions, if you could call them that.

Zerda could immediately sense the power and the struggle that was going on in him as he stood there unsure what to do. She smiled warmly to him and slowly approached. She gently caressed his tangled mess of hair and smiled as if she had known him all her life. It was a strange look to see from someone, well anyone, but it was comforting to Demascatus. Zerda said to him “It is time to come home, Demascatus. The Raven Queen is calling your name. She needs you and you need her.

Demascatus smiled the largest smile that he could ever remember smiling and he felt a great wave of elation, safety, and strength at that moment wash over him. Tears began to fall from his eyes. He did not know where they came from they would just not stop. He just broke down sobbing as Zerda held him. Finally, Demascatus was home. He had forgotten what home felt like.

What happened next seemed like a blur. He knew it all happened, but it went so fast and it was such a challenging and freeing joy. Demascatus rode with Zerda for several weeks on horseback, and all the while she was telling him the parables of the Raven Queen. During this time the demons slowly quieted themselves, as if they struggled to have themselves heard, or perhaps Zerda’s presence, the presence of a pirestess of the Raven Queen, silenced them, until all was finally quiet in his mind. She taught him the scripture of the Blood Queen and he devoured it like it was his life, as if it was his existence. At the end of the journey, they worked their way through the mountains to a citadel in where the Blood Knights of the Gloaming Chalice trained.

Years passed as he trained, and, prayed, and meditated, and learned. Demascatus devoured everything that they taught him. He relished the challenge and the feeling of belonging. He lost himself in it all. He was afraid that someday he would just wake up in the darkness with just the voices to keep him company, and that this ‘dream’ was their way of torturing or playing with him. Demascatus was blind to it, but Zerda became very close to Demascatus in those years, for she spent much of her time teaching him and preparing him for his eventual rites of initiation. She knew that he was unaware of her feelings and sometimes she grew impatient. She tried to show her affection without throwing herself on him, which she really wanted to do for he had grown from a boy into a man. A man of great power and respect. He, of all of the people that have come through in all the years that this citadel has stood, was chosen, as only one other has been chosen, for special a special gift from the Raven Queen. He was chosen to wield the Bloodfire of the Raven Queen that purging flame that not even demons or devils can resist. After several rigorous and intense years of scripture and training, he was initiated into the ranks of the Blood Knights of the Gloaming Chalice as a wielder of the sacred Bloodfire of his beloved Gloaming Queen.

Healing Wounds

During his years training in the citadel, Demascatus became close friends, no, brothers, with another Tiefling named Tszeez’dar. The paths that led them into the Raven Queens arms were similar. They both suffered losses of loved ones and spurned too many close connections, so they found “family” of sorts in each other. Most of their brothers and sisters in arms called him Zadi, but Damascátus preferred to call him his full name, Tszeez’dar, and Demascatus was probably the only person who did. They were most often paired up on almost every campaign given to the Blood Knights by their Blood Matron. Tszeez’dar and Demascatus were a very powerful pair in the field together, and after every battle they would share the ceremonial cup with the blood of their enemies in honor of the Raven Queen.

Distubing thoughts crept into Demascatus’ mind after several years of campaigning for the Blood Matron. It bothered him that he was thinking these thoughts, and this time, it was not the words of the malign demons that bothered him. It was a desire that he started to feel. After all of these years, he was starting to want a family or something more than what his brothers and sisters at arms could provide. This though has previously always scared him. He knew what it was like to love and feel safe and to lose it all again. He did not want that again. Tszeez’dar had similar sentiments. Such wounds were old, but still ever present for both of them. They both mused that all they needed was each other to stay strong. We have the family of the Blood Queen here in the Citadel. Why would we need anything else?

Tszeez’dar was moving on. He seemed to finally have found a sort of peace that came over him following his rite of advancement in the Blood Knights. Following these rites he confidently asked Tarranna for her hand in marriage. He let go of the pain and the regret, but has never forgotten his family and their loss. He has moved on with a peace that he has not seen in his friend’s eyes before. Seeing what was happening with Tszeez’dar, Demascatus had revealed to him someone in plain sight who has been waiting for his affection. It never occurred to him before now.

Zerda and Demascatus began to spend more quality time together, and when Demascatus heard that Tszeez’dar was engaged to be married to Tarranna, he knew that it was time for him to move on too. Right before he was about to ask Zerda for her hand in marriage their Blood Matron summoned her Blood Knights for a great battle. Tszeez’dar and Demascatus were among these selected individuals that were to prove themselves, yet again, in the eyes of the Blood Queen. Following the mission debriefing Demascatus returned to Zerda to tell her what was happening. He promised his safe return and told her that he had a very important question to ask her when he returned from the proving grounds of blood and combat.

The Scars of Battle

The battle was going well in their favor when something went horribly awry  – large undead creatures of fire and necrotic energy surged around them like ants. There were so many… these immoliths were everywhere and they were hungry for flesh and spirit. Many Blood Knights were lost on the field that day. Too many were lost, but then again, the dead found themselves in the loving and icy embrace of the Winter Queen. He would not shed a tear for them. In some strange way he envied them, his fallen brothers and sisters, for now they knew peace and were with Her.

Demascatus suffered horrible burns from the Immoliths. Their necrotic laced flames were more than his innate devil-born flame resistance could stave off. There were too many and they were too powerful. In the end, Demascatus and the Blood Knights prevailed with great losses. The surviving Knights returned to the Shadowfell, worse-for-the-wear, with their blood filled chalices being carried in trembling and weakened hands. Demascatus’ face was horribly scarred  to the point that he could not be recognized by his face which was now deformed by scar tissue brought on by the Immoliths and their relentless assault.

The surviving Knights were sequestered away in an isolated part of the citadel so they could heal and not be disturbed, nor be infected by outsiders. Their clerics tended to them, but even their expertise and magics could not fully heal their scars. Even with all the magics flowing from priests of the Queen of Death, it still took several months for him to be able to walk and talk again without support.

When he was able to he left isolation and went to find Zerda. She was shocked and deeply saddened to see what happened to Demascatus, but she did not care what he looked like now, for she knew the beauty of the man beneath that grizzled mess of a face. She knew his heart and soul. When Demascatus asked for her hand she squealed with delight. She just wanted to be with him. They were married within the week and shortly thereafter she became pregnant.

Even though he could now walk and talk without assistance his burn scars still greatly weakened him. Their lingering necrotic energies still held sway over his body sapping his ability to recover.  He very deeply wanted to return to the service of their beloved Queen, but these scars would just not purge themselves of their necrotic energies.

After a few more months of tending  by their clerics he was able and ready to return to service. Demascatus looked proudly at the his blood filled chalice from that fateful battle against the Immoliths. This chalice was waiting for one other person to partake of the honor of the blood of battle and that person was Tszeez’dar. Demascatus had not seen his friend in the isolation area and wondered what had became of him. He went to search for Tszeez’dar to see how he fared against the Immolith swarm, but he was told by the Blood Matron that his friend had been sent ahead to assist a group of the Raven Queen’s choice and faithful servants to stop of on-coming wave of Tieflings that threatened to wipe out large human civilizations. These Tieflings worked their intrigues under the fetid breath of Orcus and they needed to be stopped at all costs.

The very thought of his friend and battle companion being in the midst of a plot born on the horns of Orcus’ minions without him by his side enraged him. His friend needed him by his side to stop the mechanizations of the vile demon lord of the undead. With these thoughts and emotions roiling in his mind, his skin reddened with deep-seated and personal rage that brought something that he had almost forgotten about…. the voices… his demons inexplicably returned to the forefront of his thoughts and they were whispering their dark and bloody whispers as if they had never been gone. This angered Demascatus even more…

The Blood Matron told Demascatus that he would soon join Tszeez’dar in his mission. He must be patient and, when she says he is ready, he will go to this assist in this important mission. After hearing this news, the rage still warm in his skin, Demscatus returned to Zerda to tell her what he had learned. Zerda was very understanding. She knew how close Demascatus and Tszeez’dar were, and service to the Blood Queen was all that was important to all of them. There was much work to be done and they were all servants of the Blood Queen. They are all her soldiers and when there is war brewing and Orcus rears his putrescent mange then it is up to them, the Blood Knights, to stop them.

After a few days he was summoned to service and told he would be sent forth in a few hours and that he needed to prepare himself. He went to his room with Zerda to tell her the news. Zerda proudly told him to go and return safely, preferably returning more “safely” than he did last time. As a parting gift to her beloved she handed to Demscatus a red ruby engraved with her name to the left the symbol of the Blood Knights. To the right of the symbol was the name of their unborn son, Zadi. Zerda had also put what all Blood Knights think before they go into battle running along the top and bottom of the signet:

All ends lead to none but the serentity of the wintery embrace of the Blood Queen.

Demascatus was deeply touched by this gift and, after gathering all of his gear, he said goodbye to his wife. Demascatus was ported to the location of the Tszeez’dar and the faithful of the Raven Queen. He arrived with his ceremonial chalice full of the blood from that battle so long ago. It was the only way Tszeez’dar would be able to recognize him under all of the scar tissue that was now his face.

The Predetermined Fate of My First 4E D&D Character

I like the answers that the book and evolutionary psychology bring to the table. In many ways I can see how their answers make a lot of sense, buy information pills especially in light of the empirical evidence they provide. Evolutionary Psychology almost seems Freudian in nature, physician no – not the you want to sleep with you mother side, medications but everything is about sex side.

I think that they are are trying too hard to be the be-all-end-all definitively answer to all of life’s questions. I think that no specific field of scientific endeavor will ever be able to answer all of those questions. As living creatures we are too complex to be reduced to ‘it is all about sex and reproduction’ for each and every ‘question’ out there. I do believe that evolution is a large part of many answers, but I also think that there are many answers that will be sociological in nature and cannot be answered via evolution.

Just a few random thoughts brought on by this book. Thanks for reading. =)

With everything that I have heard of 4E Dungeons and Dragons I am quite looking forward to playing a Warlord – which a tactical leader type class. I very much enjoy the tactical elements of the game and this class will help me to have more fun with it.

Now, gerontologist
my luck with the dice would seem to insinuate that I was not Irish, salve when in-fact I am half-Irish. At times it seems that the dice have a rather significant grudge against me, and this is well known in my gaming group. Our DM came up with this little image to show the fate that will most likely befall him. Cruel, but most likely true. =)

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You are Crunchy?

This little phrase was forwarded to me by my mother and I thought I would share it with you. 1t 1z t3h k001x0r5! =)

Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons
For you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

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Gary Gygax Has Passed Away Today!

Gary Gygax, more about the creator of the Fantasy Role Playing Game (FRPG) ‘Dungeons and Dragons‘ (D&D) (owned by WotC) has passed away today. This is a sad day for gamers all around the world.

I met Gary at a Gen Con that I went to for the release of 3rd Edition with the guys and had hims sign my 3.0 Players Handbook.

So long, Gary. We, gamers from around the world, thank you for you vision and dream.

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Rings in 4E Dungeons and Dragans

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) just published a Design and Development article called ‘Magic Item Slots‘ in the upcoming Fourth Edition (4e) of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). The section about magic rings has caused quite the firestorm on ENWorld.

Rings: This slot has changed quite a bit. A starting character isn’t powerful enough to unleash the power of a ring. You can use one ring when you reach paragon tier (11th level) and two when you’re epic (21st level). And before you get started about how Frodo sure as hell wasn’t epic, discount let’s be clear: the One Ring was an artifact, treat not a magic item any old spellcaster could make. Artifacts follow their own rules. 3.5 Equivalent: Rings.

I am telling you about this just so I can post the following passage posted by Irda Ranger which has a very strong Tolkieneque quality to it – very inspiring.

Rings are special. They are endless, what is ed without beginning or end. And their shape, a bound circle, allows them to contain magic far beyond any simple spell embedded in your common “magic” sword or item made of cloth. Where any other item or weapon would warped and destroyed by the restless force that is magic, the magics within a ring swirl silently, falling back upon themselves … contained. Although less than an artifact, they are more than anything else you will encounter (other than perhaps the legendary Stones of Ioun).

Sauron knew this. It is no coincidence that he chose the form of the Ring when making his weapon. Nothing else would have contained his terrible power, or serve his terrible purpose.

But Rings cannot be worn lightly. Not just any soul has the wherewithal to withstand them; to command them. Only souls that have been tested, and proved themselves victorious again and again, have a hope of commanding the magic of a Ring. It is not a question of magical power, or command over vast sums of magical lore, but of personal strength. That resilient strength that can only be learned in overcoming adversity; in surviving the crucible. That strength that so few possess.

A few foolish men wear magical Rings that they inherited from their greater forefathers. They can not summon forth its power, and if they live even a year it is at the Ring’s forebearance. They would do well to put the Ring in a safe place, where no can harm themselves attempting what should not be attempted.

Rings are true power given form. Only those with an even greater power inside them have a chance of commanding them.

And if you ever meet a man who commands the might of two Rings simultaneously, tread carefully, for you stand in the presence of greatness; such greatness as legends are made of.

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"Orkjager: The Dwarves of the Midden Alps"

I wrote this after being inspired by one of the other characters in our party. I stopped writing this because the gamed ended. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, click but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

Fluffy white clouds are plentifully interspersed amidst the snow covered peaks that cut into the blue sky like razor sharp knives. The clouds block direct sunlight in a playful game of tag. In the distance you can hear the deep throaty screech of great eagles soaring on the mountain wind searching for all those that invade its domain. Here, far above the treeline, there are no trees and very little plant life to be found, you might find and occasional scrub bush and lichen or moss but that is about it. Barren, sharp, jagged and stark is what life is like here in the Midden Alps, not to say that there is nothing here, because there is… Life here is cold, harsh and deadly and you need to be tough as the mountains themselves to survive. Tough as mountains is exactly what the dwarves of the Blackhammer Clan are.

“The Midden Alps…such a wonderful place to call home.” Brogan AxeSpitter thought to himself as he smiles to himself. “Cool, crisp mountain air to energize the lungs and keep you going.” Brogan’s mid wanders some more, his face a mask of deep concentration, but his brother knows better. The whipping mountain wind throwing his 4 braided short black beard to and fro. His thick winter cloak keeps the biting wind mostly at bay and rest has been taken care of by a swig of Blackstone Blackmead. His expression turns from deep concentration to one of surprise and mild pain as the trail-chanter Mrodgar, his older brother, whacks him on the back of the head and bellows out a trail-chant to everyone in a deep rumbly voice

“Hrruuummmmm… Hrruuummmmm…..

Deep inside the dark’s tuuummmmm…. tuuummmmm”

“Earth-rush is found and the glory
of making rruuummmm… rruuummmm”

All people within earshot of his chant, which is about eveyone, come to a dead stop in mid-march to look at him. A look of complete disbelief and shock fills their faces.

“What!!” he said surprisingly and with a hint of fear. “A real dwarf does not drink rum, that is for those tree-hugg’n elves to drink.” is what is father has alway said with disdain at the mere thought of any dwarf drinking rum, let alone his own sons. Mrodgar liked the taste of Faule Starshine Rum. He did not understand what the big deal was.

Their father, Gargarock Axespitter, lowered his head in disbelief and walked slowly forward toward the confused Mrodgar. Gargarock patted him gently on the back and ushered him forward back in line with the other dwarves. Mrodgar, now cowed and embarrassed at his chant, walks slowly with his head down, like a dog with his tail between his legs, back in line. Gargarock clears his throat, straightens himself out, and then takes a deep breath slouching his shoulders slightly.

As he straightens himself out beginning to chant a low rumbling that seems to come from every direction at once and emanate from the very mountain walls rolls forth. A gravely, earthly tone spoken in the language of the mountains fills the air and permeates every dwarf there. All dwarves close their eyes and take in the very essence of the mountain instilled into them by Gargarock’s mountain chant. They turn back to the path and begin to march forth to their destination; the new found earth-rush on the border of the Greyfang ork tribe’s territory.

Earth-rush in the form of a vein of rubies was found by a daring and adventurous scout looking for earth-rush in places he should not be. The clan elders chastised him for endangering himself and possibly attracting the attention of the Greyfang tribe with which they war with constantly. After the stern and unabated lecture finished, a look of greed and potential crept into their eyes. A larger scouting part was sent to verify the earth-rush vein and the returned without incident. The team reported the vein looks promising and there has been some Greyfang activity in the area a while ago, maybe 2 fortnights or more.

Following that news the clan elders arranged for a larger party to go to the earth-rush vein and determine its potential to be mined – to see if the vein will be worth the risk and possibly set up a mining camp. They assambled some of there best warriors, miners and scouts to go survey the new earth-rush vein. Mrodgar and Brogan were Gargarock’s sons and were among the fifty some dwarves making the journey. Brogan just came of age in the last few months and was eager to join such a company. He was promising and talented miner – having quite the nose for gems.

Mrodgar and Brogan have heard stories about the adventures that survey teams have had in the past and were eager try their hands at one. Looking forward to seeing the greatest and largest vein ever know in clan history; blooding their war-axes, which are gifts forged by their father, and any other of the wonderous variety of adventures that survey teams have. The pair have been looking forward to this for a long time and begged and pleaded with their father to let them go with. Garagarock relented the night before the survey team left as he found out that two of the miner’s became sick and could not go.

The earth-rush is about 4 days travel marching by foot, one of which is through the FangHammer sub-range of the Midden Alps where the Greyfang tribe calls home. They patrol ceratin areas vigilantly – the areas nearest where our lands border. This cavern, named Dwal Mown which means ‘Dwarf’s promising vein that amounts to nothing’ in the common tongue, is in an area not well patrolled by the Greyfang tribe. Hopefully we can arrive at Dwal Mown and setup a small mining operation before patrols come around. After we get rooted in we will be able to take care of any Greyfang lime-rock that come a patrol’n.

Forty members strong all armed with studded leather to breastplate armor, crossbows, axes, picks, hammers, and trap setting and mining equipment. We have well bred mountain goats as pack animals. You laugh now at the thought of a war-goat, but imagine a war-goat charging you and pushing you over a ledge falling to your doom. Horses and other traditional beasts of burden are too big for this terrain and mountain goats jump and maneuver around the jagged rocks as a well as halfling walks through the meadows. Imagine a hellish bleating swarm of cantankerous, fearless beasts ramming foes into an orchestrated chaos with dwarves as the maestros. There is nothing like the sound of a bleating war-ram followed by crack, and then the sound of a scream fading into the darkness below.

We dwarves tread slowly but steadily, undeterred by all but the mightiest of hazards. Our path to Fools Vein will take us quite a bit beyond our normal patrol borders and just inside Greyfang territory. We do not fear them, it is they that should fear us. A dwarven mining party and earth-rush can be a dangerous thing to be standing between. Some of us are a little bit nervous, not that we would show it, as there are those that think something vile is a brew’n because the Greyfangs have been quiet in the last few months.

"Orkjager: First Two Rounds of Combat"

I wrote a small narrative to the first two rounds of combat/ I was inspired so I started to write. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, this site but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

After a long hard day with the trudging caravan train, your mind feels the tiredness of watching the same thing all day – morning, afternoon, and into the night. You have seen the same on all sides of you trees to the left, trees to the right, wagon in front of you and wagon in back of you. You hear the rhythmic squeaking of not so well fitted axles of wagons, the clomping of hooves of horses pulling wagons or carrying a sagging rider, and a short conversation that rarely pops up. Most have succumbed to the mind numbing pall of monotony to not speak and just trudge on hoping to soon see the end of their journey the frontier city Faule.

Towards early morning ominous dark gray clouds quickly take their place over the caravan and seem to follow a cruel script to ensure a miserable journey. In a way you welcome the clouds as they bring a change, a little something to break the sameness of seeming to march on for the sake of marching on. The temperature drops noticeably and it cools down quite a bit; enough to make you want to reach for some warmer clothes, and clothes possibly better suited for the coming rain.

Black clouds have shrouded your day in darkness so now everything is even more the same than it was before. There is darkness and everything is darker. There is less to see now and that which you do see is covered in the shadows of the foreboded rain. Sunlight occasionally peaks through the black clouds in an almost divine moment. As if Pelor himself is granting relief from the darkness, coldness, and storm to come. That is but a brief moment as the sun loses its epic battle with the storm clouds and shadows once again cover the land.

The rain starts to pour down as if the world is trying to purge itself of the putrescent will of settlers looking for a new start, the desire and hope of something new. It seems as if the very world is against you trying to keep you from change; wanting to drown you in a sea of water, cold and a nothingness. The temperature drops even more; a cool breeze starts as the rain falls. A cold wetness permeates your very being and the sound of rain drones out all else and it is hard to see anything more than a few feet in front of you. The oppressive darkness, rain and cold turning the world into more of the same. You close your eyes and attune yourself to the will of the march, the rhythm of the caravan and you march on. Drear and gloom are your companions; isolation and nothingness are the gifts they bear.

It rains and rains for most of the day, from mid morning and on into the early night. You thought that it might never end just as Pelor himself wins a great battle seeming to banish the clouds; the temperature rises and the rain is reduced to a fine mist. The temperature rises quite a bit, enough for you to want to shed you warmer clothes and take in the warming rays of the sun. A warm mist replaces the rain and a fog seems to roll from the ground as the sun begins to warm the ground. It seems like a strange combination to you, the warm cloudless mist and rolling fog. The sun cuts through the fog and mist like a beacon of joy and warmth. Your bones seem to drink it up and you can almost feel the bitter cold and wetness start to recede. The sun reflects off the fog creating a wall of fluffy whiteness making hard to see more than a few feet ahead of you. You rely mostly on feeling the rhythm of the caravan to guide you forward. You find the ground muddy and wet as those wagons, horses and people that have come before you tear up the ground and let the water create a long trail of mud two or three inch deep for you to muck through.

A cooler light rain starts again and seems to dampen the fog a little bit as night seems to slowly creep upon you. Darkness firmly set itself upon the caravan and you find yourself cold, tired, and your body aches from walking or riding and you wish a reprieve from the endless march to the glory of Faule. A whistle pierces the silence and echoes from group of guards to group of guards. Like a wave of sound starting from the front of the caravan and rolling all of the way to the back bringing the promise of rest and an end to the march. The Caravan Master’s call for a halt and rest for the night was welcomed by everyone and you could feel a large weight being lifted, and the air seems to clear as sprits are lifted with thoughts of rest and sleep.

When the whistling resides people start to move about, welcoming the change in movement. Instead of a forward walk permeated by an unending cool dampness we get to stop and mill about, pick things up and talk. The settlers stretch, yawn, sigh, and slowly break out the gear for night time; fires are started, bedrolls and rolled out, and tents are set up. Guards work on setting a perimeter and assisting people in setting up camp. Some settlers go out to search for more food and wood to be dried for the next time the caravan stops.

The poised relaxation and contentness is broken by primal cries and screams as new creatures charge in to fill the empty spaces. Large brutal creatures wielding huge axes with doom on their breath and in their eyes. Axes fall and horses whinny and rear up as an orkish horde charges into the midst of the caravan in a howling frenzy of violence. You hear women screaming, children crying, and the dying screams of men cleaved asunder. The orks attack the nearest person they see and try to carry off women and take horses. The moment of such a severe change from a bland nothingness to pure chaos catches everyone by surprise. Your senses having been dulled by the march and you find it hard to process what exactly is happening. Through the mist and darkness you can see less than a handful of raiders doing their business and seem to be unconcerned that there might be someone here that could pose a threat to their orkish invasion.

A slight smile crosses Franky’s face as the realization that boredom has just been banished. He looks to the wet and dour Dagmar whose face instantly changes from a wet tactiturness to an almost maniacal glee as the realization that Orks had come for their death. Franky’s smile grows even larger and he says “Here we go…” while looking to Felicity and Dagmar, and he is curious to see what his new found companions can do. Franky’s hands, slick from rain, wanders to his saddle bags and pulls out his crossbow and readies it to be loaded. He begins and old chant about a dwarven warlord hoping to see the glory of the axe wielding dwarven heroes in Dagmar’s arm.

With great enthusiasm Dagmar pulls about his Dwarven waraxe and charges the nearest ork and completely over shoots the creature, his zeal getting the best of him. The ork passing by him seems to take no notice of the dwarven fury that could have just ended its existence. The dwarve’s axe bites into the ground and its cold-iron blade sparks as it catches a rock.

In an excited and worried rush Felicity pulls out her crossbow and fires at the nearest ork she can see, missing completely seeming to underestimate the speed of the orkish attackers. A concerned frustration sets upon her face as she drops the crossbow to the wagon seat. Her practiced fingers seek something more comfortable and familiar – her pouch of spell components…


At the head of the caravan the simultaneous reaction of Koric and Percy is uncanny and empowering. They react to the orkish invaders in very similar ways, knowing that there is strength in numbers, they seek to strenghten the many to ensure they can last the fight.

Koric’s powerful voice booms “Lo, I hear the roars of the orken hoards! Steady yourself, Percy, for this day many orcs will rue the day they face us!” Koric brandishes the symbol of Pelor as if it was reason enough for the orks retreat; a fierce resolve that all salvation lies in the glory and light of Pelor. Koric roars “Pelor, heed my call! Grant us a swift and rightous victory in your name!” and the very air seems to be filled with energy and people in the area seem to feel as if the very will of Pelor guides them and gives them strength.

Percy says more to himself than to anyone in particular “So much for this being a safe area; and for our flankers.” He pulls his mind from focusing on the world at large and concentrates in the way that he has been taught. He draws confidence and an air of command seemingly from nowhere and shouts “Strike hard lads and take your openings”. His command of the field battle and the shout of a commanding prescence on the field pushes the guards and settlers on. He yells “Come on, give ’em some back.” not wanting to speak with too much military jargon as few here would understand. Percy’s tactical minds seeks a common ground from which the orks attack hoping to find a weakness in their plan. He pulls his bow about and fires towards the charging wave of orks. The arrow loses itself in the night and seems to give the viewing settlers more confidence and pushes them to hit harder.

The effect of a the commanding prescence of Percy and the blessing of Pelor fills the battlefield and the settlers fight on knowing that there are competent adventurers about.


A slience falls over Lindal as he quickly and carefully weaves his way through the scattering settlers like a hungry cat hunting his prey. Determination fills his eyes as he deftly slips his quarterstaff from its back holster and attempts to crush the ork’s skull in one smooth movement. His staff slams into the ground and dirt shoots up all around as it misses its target, his eyes never leaving his prey as the hunt has not ended. The speed of this ork is deceiving and it is not a mistake he shall make again.

After seeing Dagmar of the Clanging Armor swing and completely miss the ork Franky thinks to himself “…born to such weapons…?”

Dagmar swirls his dwarven forged death-dealer menacingly through the air as he snarls at the ork and then shouts “That’s your last warning ork, release the woman or the next one takes your head off.”.

Worry continues to distort Franky’s cherubic face as he fumbles around to load his crossbow and continues the Dwarven Chant of the Valar Dwarves. His keen eyes searching for the biggest threat to the struggling threesome and levels the crossbow marking his prey.

Not taking kindly to being ignored by the ork, Dagmar follows through on his threat taking a big two-handed swing partially severing the orks neck. Its body slumps to the ground with the face stuck in an expression that is half snarl and half confusion. Blood splatters on the ground and on dwarven armor; it spills onto the ground forming a crimson pool of the orks life essence.

“I warned ye!” Dagmar said confidently with a smile.

“Come on ye cowardly sows! Leave off the wimmen an bairns an face a real dwarf!”

Dagmar says to himself “I’ll need to ‘ave the lad, Lindal, teach me orkish. It’s not worth taunting opponents in combat who cannot understand ye.”

Felicity’s hands weave through the air, as if she is gathering floating pollen. Swirling motes of light begin to coalesce in front of her as she concentrates on the weave and the spell pattern she instinctively understands. The motes of light concentrate into a single bright point and she lets out a wild shout, “Bite of the Rat!” The light seems to scurry through the air like a thousand tiny ravenous rats rushing to eat the only slice of cheese left in existence. You could swear you heard the scurrying and gnawing of rats as the light impacted the ork’s shoulder causing it to visibly give under the force of the spell. The ork grunts loundly and turns toward the source of its pain eyes flaring with savage rage. The ork, seeming not to care, lowers its wounded shoulder and rushes towards her.

Felecity looks at the frenetic melee surrounding her and begins to worry. Her left hand grips the handle of her scimitar so tightly her knuckles turn white. “Franky! Where are the others? Can you see them? Should we run?” With the satisfaction of the success of Rats Bite her right hands goes back into her component pouches, preparing to unleash more of the wrath of the Green Path.


“Fear not, Percy, for my arm shall aide yours!” Koric roars as he raises his heavy mace in the air and swings it in a deceptive and seemingly wide path from the upper right. The ork does comprehend the what is about to befall and dodges to the left just a little thinking itself safe. Koric’s mace smashes against the ork’s ribs in a crushing horizontal slant. The ork folds over the force of the blow and slumps hard to the ground. Koric’s eyes light up as he quells his foe.

“Friend Dagmar!” he yells hoping that his dwarf friend can hear him. “Everyone! Protect the women and children!” He looks around for the next target who wishes to experience Pelor’s wrath. Koric raises his mace to the sky and shouts “Praise Pelor! First blood!”

“They bleed like anything else!” Percy states in a matter-of-fact yet jubillant manner as he sees Koric’s ork fold to the ground. The cleric’s display of martial prowess is enough to distract him from his own oppenent and his arrow goes wide. “Focus, focus.” He says quietly to himself.


Lindal’s eyes were full of an anger that none of his companions from last night would have recognised. His quiet demeaner belies a silent rage within. The hunter spun around swinging the quarterstaff over his head like a two handed sword, never missing a beat. The resounding sound of a sickening crunch announced the staff as it connected with the orks head crushing it, not stopping untill it reached the collar bone. The ork’s corpse slid silently down the length of the staff leaving a bloody trail and silently lay to rest on the ground.

"Orkjager: A New Beginning"

I wrote this as an introduction to a Play By Post game that I was in and it quickly died during March of 2005. I was inspired so I started to write, pancreatitis and this is much better than the Ceramic DM entries that posted earlier. At least I hope it is. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, diagnosis but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

The 9th of Sutar is a day like any other spring day in Vormarsch. The sun rises early, as it always does in the spring, and the sky is moderately clouded. The birds are singing and flying about on the cool breeze that carries the smell of spring tainted by dried fish, leather, horses and freshly cut wood. The sounds of creaking wagons, whinnying horses and the chattering voices of many people can be heard outside of the South Gate. The Markin Company’s caravan gathers outside and eager voices full of anticipation and a tense excitement fills the air. Small pavilions are setup for the caravan masters to answers questions and to decide on the logistics of their forthcoming journey.

A voice that reminds you of circus ringleader carries over the dim roar of talking and movement to announce “The time to start life in a new place is what living is all about, ladies and gentleman. Change!! Here is you once in a life time chance to start over…and the Markin Company’s caravan is your answer!! You…” The rest of what he says is drowned out as the crowd starts to clap and begins to talks amongst themselves.


Morgan’s form gracefully weaves his way through the crowd to a particular pavilion to register his family and wagon. He finishes this then quickly and quietly finds his way back to the wagon with his wife, son, and Phaelis. They appear somewhat distracted and nervous and try to use some small talk to break the tension. Phaelis is dressed very conservatively, not at all in the luxurious formfitting manner that she wore before. She now wears clothes that you would expect Endar to wear – muted, dull and not at all memorable. Her hair is pulled up and hidden in hood of her cloak, and not a trace of perfume to be found. This is an entirely different look for her, very different.


As the train starts out people are excited and talk about how starting life in Faule will change their lives and how it will make it better. Children playing in the wagons are soon chastised by their parents for fear of them breaking something. Lone travelers that happen to be within a conversation’s distance of someone offer a few moments of small talk and then gravitate into familiar groups. Settlers that see people they know arrange to change positions in the wagon train to maintain some sense of familiarity. As the day goes on the duration of the trip settles on everyone and a tense quiet hangs about the caravan. All that can be heard is the squeaking of wagon axles or the occasional whinnying and snorting of horses.

As you move farther and farther from Vormarsch the lands become rougher and more wild. The scenery moves from small rolling fields and small copses of bare trees to broad expanses of hilly plains and small forests full of bare trees. The roads become progressively worse as the distance increases from the capital city. A smooth hard-packed road becomes a rocky, muddy, jutted wagon path that has barely seen use. Your smooth ride becomes a bumpy and noisy and your butt becomes numb as you fidget to try to keep some feeling. Naked forests, devoid of leaves, seem to be alive and watch you curiously as you pass by hoping that you might bravely venture into their midst to an unknown fate.

The caravan stops several times to take care of problems that pop-up – a stuck wheel, a pet that becomes restless. In these moments caravaners take the time to adjust the order of wagons as some have requested and to give a small speech to pick up everyone’s spirits. The caravan guards help to quickly resolve problems and they watch everyone carefully looking for signs of trouble. Their wary eyes keep a careful watch on the surrounding lands for problems like the ever growing wolf population and ork raiders.

The sun wanders in and out of the clouds all day long giving you warmer and cooler moments.

It seems to take an eternity for it to travel across the sky to the western horizon. It feels as if it is intently watching the caravan, not wanting to miss anything that happens, trying delay the inevitable sunset. The sun finally relents as white clouds thicken above before it starts to dip below the horizon. When the sun starts to set the temperature drops sharply reminding you that winter has recently ended. A chill runs down your back making you desire to pull out warmer clothes to stave off this nights coming chill.

"Orkjager: An Introduction"

I wrote this as an introduction to a Play By Post game that I was in and it quickly died during March of 2005. I was inspired so I started to write, order and this is much better than the Ceramic DM entries that posted earlier. At least I hope it is. There is a lot of DnD’isms that I am not going to explain, capsule but I may someday try to explain or add definitions to it.

The Story

Morgan found the cool spring air refreshing as he stepped out of his house in the port city of Vormarsch. A breeze gently rustles his short, drugstore straight brown hair and cools an always cleanly shaven face that is commanding and strikingly handsome. Deep brown eyes take in everything and a keen mind that is not easily fooled keeps him safe and out of trouble. His strong and lithe body belies a surprising strength which is something that he has always used to his advantage. Morgan carries himself with a sure grace and presence that few common men will start a problem with. From his time growing up on the streets and his time in the militia he has seen a lot and not much surprises him. Today, however, he had a feeling that this all will change.

The sun has been out for almost a ten-day melting the snow that has accumulated on rooftops from a rather harsh and deep winter. The temperature has been wavering around the ice point keeping the snow around for longer than he wished. Morgan found the sun comforting and breeze gentle. The streets are wet and muddied from the melting rooftop snow. Ships bound from all over the known world have been bringing cargo sporadically for a little more than four ten-days in preparation for a new season of trade. The birds were singing and it was almost warm enough to wear a short sleeved-shirt. Morgan took a deep breath and slowly exhaled enjoying the scent of spring in the air. Life is picking up here in the capital city.

The town criers and the Fleeters were out and about doing their work. A dark blue tunic with the livery of a golden winged boot hails the coming and goings of the Fleeters and one just happened to be passing by. Morgan waved and said “Good morning, Faranis!”

“Hi Morgan! Happy sunshine!” the Fleeter responded and never lost stride to continue on about his delivery. Morgan smiled at this. A sense of familiarity and loss crept into his thoughts.

It is often said that Fleeters are the true harbinger of spring and trade and not the birds. The migrating birds have been early and late, or decide to settle elsewhere, but the Fleeters always seem to know when it is safe to start business for the season. They deliver packages and messages all around the city, or even to other cites if the price is right.

Morgan is one of the best Fleeters around. He knows how to handle himself and can swing a sword pretty well. Morgan carries and equips himself well enough that he does not have many problems, and if he does, he can take care of it. As the most senior member he is hailed by most Fleeters as almost a legend.

Endar hired him 4 years ago, during the first 2 months of Fleeter operation, after he saved one of his couriers from doom at the hand of one of Praga’s thugs. He is sad to see his prize Fleeter go, but the thought of expanding his business to other regions made him giddy and annoyed at the same time. In their time working together they have become friends of sorts, not close friends, but friends nonetheless. Endar respects Morgan’s common sense and clarity, while Morgan respects Endar’s business sense and influence. They have worked well together to build the Fleeters to what it has become today, and Morgan leaving is a great loss to Endar personally and professionally.

Saerra, Morgan’s wife, had just given birth to their baby boy, Shraen, a ten-day ago at the season’s first sunshine. He has talked it over with her and they have decided to make for Faule when the roads open for trade again. In preparation for this journey Morgan has saved some money and has purchased a wagon, begrudgingly, from Saerra’s parents. When the time comes they will pack up all of their belongings and head off for Faule to start a new life. He has made an arrangement with Endar to start a group of Fleeters in Faule, and then try to open a semi-safe route to Vormarsch. Besides, no matter what happens there it will be more than worth the trouble to get away from his in-laws.

Saerra’s parents do not approve of his occupation because he does not manufacture anything. Her father is a carpenter and carpentry has been in their family for generations. He can go around the city and show where his family has had a hand at helping to build the city. He says that “You will never be able to do that. You will not have anything to pass on to your children. No legacy! You will never have anything to show for your work At the end of a day you have nothing. Nothing.” her father says. “ I have a well provided for family, what more do I need to show for my work?” is what I say. Whenever I see them, which is not very often, they always look at me with eyes that are searching for news of a job change. They also worry because I take some of the more dangerous jobs. “Why not? Better pay and I am damn good at it!” Our home is in a better part of Griffon Ward than theirs and I think that contributes to their disapproval as well.

“Ack!!” A startled Morgan shouts, as he is yanked from his thoughts, as a smiling Fleeter appears in front of him. “Moooorgan!” croons the long haired blonde half-elven beauty that he has had not so innocent thoughts about. “Luria! It is good to see you!!” They both smile wide, obviously enjoying the untold knowledge of their mutual feelings. Her face shifts to a pout. “Endar told me to tell you that Vormarsch will announce that the roads will soon open for trade to Faule.”

“Great news! Thank you, Luria.” Morgan smiles warmly to her.

“You are crazy for leaving us… To Faule?.” Her pout grows deeper hoping that her concern will convince him to stay, but fully knowing otherwise.

“I know, but my family’s future is in Faule.” He smiles with a hint of playful regret.

Luria defiantly sticks her tongue out at him so hard that her eyes close in a wrinkled mass and then she gallops off out of sight. Morgan smiles, sighs, and then heads off to see Endar to prepare for his journey to Faule.

The streets of the Griffon Ward where Morgan lives are fairly clean, free of undesirables, and is lightly bustling with activity. People shopping for various supplies and seeking various services re scattered about the streets. The seasonal shops and businesses are gearing up for traders and travelers that frequent this city in transit to other destinations. His destination, the Fleeter Center, was on the other side of the Griffon Ward. The Fleeter Center was located at a very convenient spot – at the intersection of the Scepter, Griffon, and Candle Wards which are the areas from which most business is garnered. These three wards have modest prices for delivery and the prices to the other wards are a little higher, as is the risk.

The Fleeter Center is a busy building of people coming in and Fleeters running out. It is made of a dark unfinished drab wood and two double doors; one is used for entering and one is used for exiting. There is a double side-door for employees and cargo to be brought in. The double doors are rough and unfinished like the exterior, yet functional. The walls are thick and reinforced to prevent ‘trans-loctation’ magics from working. There are two magically reinforced windows in the building. A Fleeter talks behind one pane in the lobby and there is another pain in a client waiting room.

There are Fleeter guards milling about appearing to be not so vigilant, but their eyes and ears are always seeking for trouble. There is a single sign adorning the side of the Fleeter Center. It is of a modest size bearing a dark blue field with a golden winged boot in the center – the coat of arms for prompt and safe delivery. We Fleeters pride ourselves on the prompt secure delivery of our charge and proudly bear this as our coat-of-arms.

Morgan enters the building from the side door. The guards nod to him and clap him on the back welcoming him. He passes by several Fleeters which greet him and shake his hand. He sees that Endar is waiting for him as his corpulent midsection is the first thing Morgan sees as he rounds the corner to Endar’s office. Endar’s clothes are drab and functional just like his building. Made to not stand out and to just do its job. His short, straight black hair appears almost greasy and possibly combed. His face is chubby and wide, his fingers short and stubby, bearing but one gold band on his left pinkie.

Endar’s office is the size of a very large closet. Shelves line the walls are cluttered with papers and ledgers. An overflowing garbage is to the side of his desk and smells faintly of rotting food. Sitting not so comfortably in the chair next to his desk is an attractive female with long fine golden waves of well groomed hair. She wear is wearing a long, form fitting, red dress that compliments her voluptuous physique and she smells faintly of perfume. Definitely not Griffon Warder, most likely she is from the Scepter Ward. Morgan smiles and nods to the lady whose return smile is of a pleading polite nature, and then he nods to Endar.

“Morgan, welcome!” Endar smiles broadly and affectionately! Not wasting any time he motions to the lady. “This is Lady Phaelis.” and then he motions to Morgan. “Lady Phaelis, this is Morgan.” ‘This’ caught Morgan’s attention. He looks at Endar with confused and concerned eyes.

“As…we have agreed, Endar, at the first moment that roads become open to Faule I will be free to prepare for my journey.”

“Ye..Yes. Yes, of course my friend. My prize Fleeter.”

“He is perhaps the best Fleeter I have.” Smiling again hoping to appease Morgan’s fears. Endar clears his throat and a look of caution and hope cover his face.

“Morgan, we have an offer for you. One last job and you will not regret it!” Endar smiles broadly hoping that Morgan will play along and not make a scene.

“Oh, no! I will be transporting my family! I am not going to agree to anything that could endanger them! The last time you looked like this I was creeping around the Carrion Ward delivering a small unmarked package to an undisclosed location. I had to take a month off to recuperate from dispatching some of Praga’s thugs.” Morgan’s sarcastic smile made Endar scowl. Phaelis’ smile turned to surprised approval.

Praga is an infamous mafia boss trafficking in black-market goods and general thuggery. His code is brutal and so are his thugs. He is not a man to be trifled with unless you enjoy pain, suffering, and death. Fortunately, Endar smoothed that whole situation over so as to not start a war between the two organizations. Endar has tried hard to maintain his business as a solid neutral party so that everyone will feel safe using his service. Having Praga’s thugs following or accosting your delivery members or clients would not be good for business. “Taking care of it is just good business sense.” Endar said, and for that I am thankful.

Phaelis caught the moment of uncomfortable silence and began to speak to Morgan. “Mr. Ashfall. All I need is to be escorted to Faule. I do not, in any way, expect problems. I have lead a modest and quiet life as have my family. There should be nothing that you should have to worry about. I will ride on a horse separate from your family’s wagon if you are concerned. I will just feel… better… if someone is watching over me. A woman of my station does not travel alone, and it is hard to put a price on peace of mind, don’t you think?” Definitely a Scepter Warder, her tongue silvered probably from practice at court. Morgan scrutinized her looking for any form of deception….. None to be found.

“Why, in the name of all that is holy, are you going there? I could not imagine a reason that a ‘woman of your station’ could find anything in that frontier town.” Morgan’s look of distrust and scrutiny did not phase the woman in the slightest. Her face remained calm and unmoving. It then melted into sadness and despair, her eyes begin to tear up. Phaelis is quiet for a moment and then slowly her face begins to return to a practiced calm. The tears that welled up in the corners of her eyes are the only thing that betray her now serene face.

Phaelis’ voice cracks a bit as she starts to speak “My little brother has run away to relatives in Faule. I seek to bring him back where it is safe. We have family there that will escort us back. Please Mr. Ashfall!! Please!!” Seeing such a beautiful woman in such pain caused Morgan’s stalwart walls to break down. Even through the suspicion his mind caved in and that very moment irritated him This feeling was plainly shown his face. Phaelis smiles pleadingly and thankfully with a look of hope in her eyes.

“Promise me that he was not kidnapped. Promise me!!” His eyes were stern and seeking any untruth in her following words. A wide and very relieved smile washes over her and she says “I promise you! You have my word.” She sighs and takes a few breaths. “Thank you!! I will give you the full two thousand gold pieces now, Mr. Ashfall!! I know that I can trust you.” She hands Morgan a dark velvet jingling pouch. He looks into it and sees 3 smaller pouches containing gems, platinum, and gold and silver respectively.

She lightly courtsies and then quietly begins to leave, a trail of delicately sweet perfume dances in her wake. She stops at the door and then turns to Morgan “I have made the arrangements for us to join a caravan leaving to Faule in a fortnight. We will be leaving with the Markin Company’s caravan. I will seek you out the night before.” She smiles again, nods good-bye, and then leaves.

Morgan looks to Endar. “If anything happens to my family. I will hunt you down and……” He let that thought trail off. Shaking his head, he turns and leaves. “What have I done?” He asks himself quietly… Saerra is not going to be happy.”


The night sky is clear and full of stars. All is quiet in Griffon Ward except for the lone sound of a horse cantering on the cobblestone street. A brisk breeze pulls at the rider’s hooded cloak which is pulled tightly about its body and face keeping the cold night air at bay. The rider goes on for quite a while and stops at a tavern, tethers the horse, goes inside and melts into the boisterous crowd. After a while it melts back into the street seeming not quite the same as it did before it entered the tavern, somehow smaller and its clothes have changed colors and style. The figure walks down the street into the night leaving the sounds of talking, drinking, and the clanging of glasses in the distance. The path it follows weaves and wanders in a seemingly random path throughout the Griffon Ward sometimes crossing back on itself. The meandering trip finds its end at a familiar home, the home of Morgan and Saerra Ashfall. The figure cautiously looks around and knocks on the door.

As the door opens the figure’s form, melts into something more familiar, to that of a taller, well-dressed, blonde haired, perfumed, noble woman named Phaelis. Morgan opens the door to see the familiar sight of Phaelis and in a nonchalant manner says “Come in.” There is a tension visible in the air as she slowly enters. Phaelis smiles, nods and then brightly says “Greetings Saerra!” who looks up from tending to the baby. She looks at the baby laying quietly in its crib and says “How beautiful!! Congratulations.” Saerra smiles proudly and affectionately says “Yes. Yes, he is.” Out of the corner of her eye, Saerra spots Morgan cautiously looking out of the window. After a few moments of that he seems to be satisfied that there is no trouble following and returns to stand before Phaelis.

“Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Would you like something to drink? We have water, a little bit of honey ale, or Black River Tea?”

Phaelis’ friendly smile turns to something more sinister and arrogant. Saerra and Morgan let out a muffled yelp as short blades quietly sheathe themselves into the flesh of their backs. A look of shock and utter horror fills their faces as they look to each other and then to their new born son, their life slowly fading from them. The bodies of Saerra an Morgan slump quietly to the floor to reveal two figures enshrouded in shadows behind them with bloodied blades in hand. They soundlessly sheathe the blades and their forms shift to that of Morgan and Saerra. They pickup the two bodies and lay them in bed covering them in blankets. Their movements making not a sound. When they finish with that they return to the main room and all three surround the baby, Shraen, laying wide-eyed in his crib. Soundless moments pass as the three do not move, their eyes fixed on Shraen. Phaelis passes a hand over the quietly cooing child and it falls asleep.

"Ascension"

I wrote this for for the first round of what is called a Ceramic DM’ contest via ENWorld from August of 2007. A Ceramic DM contest is where the judges give all contestants the same 3 or so pictures with which they have to write a story around, no rx and then are judged on writing content and style as well as our use the pictures in the story. There is 72 hours from the time the pictures are posted in a round until the stories are due. Pertinent Links: Original Story Posted; links to pictures are included in the text. I left the judges comments at the bottom and I agree with pretty much everything they said. I wrote a lot for 72 hours.

The Story

And the answer was right in front of me the whole time.’ Anton thinks to himself as he looks at the mural in the lobby of his uncle’s office building. ‘How could I have been so blind. He is so arrogant.‘ as he continues his internal monologue. ‘I am, rehabilitation now, not surprised that he has not removed this archaic art as most everyone else has – vying instead for holographic banners and art.

The mural depicted the villagers of our great, great, great, great grandparent’s hometown to meet the priest who came as ‘angels’ descended from the sky to supposedly consecrate the horrible burning of his great, great, great, great grandparents alive for crimes against the church which included witchcraft and heresy. That’s what the history books say. Just below the mural were supposedly the last condemning words of the priest “By the flame of the righteous, I consecrate thee.”

Our family history paints a slightly different image. The local priest desired Anton’s great, great, great, great grandmother, Dorus’, recipe for her spiced kelp balls and she would not acquiesce a treasured family secret. Her rebuffing naturally earned the priest’s ire and then he condemned the pair to death for it. An annoying part of their family history, but that year marked the beginning of their family’s success and rise to riches. Shortly after Anton’s great, great, great, great grandparents’ immolation the spiced kelp balls started to sell like wild-fire and the money started to rolling in. The family has been rolling-in-the-spiced-green ever since.

This building has been in Anton’s family for a little over 2000 years and has had quite the history of violence, war, and disaster but yet it still remains standing in one form or another. Part of the building has been burned down to the ground in a freak candle fire. It has been bombarded by cannon fire during a civil war. It has been the home of human and halfling sacrificing religious sect that killed their members in a group pixie juice suicide. The family has kept this as their seat of power in spite of the many problems that it has had. Someone in the family has always owned it either personally or by a business that they controlled.

Anton is abruptly brought out of his thoughts as his shoulder is not so gently shoved forward. Behind him looms the chimpanzee brothers who look like two very tall, strong, dark haired, West Virginia, back-hill, inbred hillbillies with large ears, slightly protruding forehead, large mouth, and wild eyes that scream ‘I am my own Grandpa.‘. If you know what I mean? The not so bright and not so occasionally drooling half-ogre brothers that are errand boys for my uncle have bent sent to bring to Anton at his whim. His uncle is comforted in knowing that he receives a tax break for their full time employment.

The brothers shoved Anton from his thoughts about the mural and into the magic suppressing elevator a few feet away . Once they were inside the simian brothers looked at him and then at each other, furled their brows, and then grunted in unison. Brother number 1’s big hands mashed the controls for the elevator and they started to ascend to the top floor. Brother number 2 snapped out his stun baton and played with it menacingly behind Anton. He could hear the its quiet hum as well as the smell the ozone in its wake. He felt very naked without the charge pistol that they confiscated from him during his impressment.

Anton tapped his left arm a few times trying readjust the servos back into place. His cybernetic arm has been recently damage in a ‘misunderstanding‘ and he need to have it adjusted. The arm suffers from occasional spasms or ticks that have caused him to break a few peoples noses. It is the strangest thing. The random ion pulses discharging has not helped his case either.

Anton’s uncle is the current patriarch of the Seven Swords family and all of its estates. It is hard not to admire and loathe his rich and successful uncle. He has never met the man and as far as he has heard no one can remember seeing or meeting him either. As it is often said the rich are often eccentric, especially with our family. It is hard to argue when their leadership is so profitable.

The Elven Clan of the Seven Swords was very keen to keep their bloodline pure and looked unkindly upon the genetic stain that Anton was. The family was above having Anton killed or neglected outright as he is literally the red headed half-elven step child of this family. It is difficult to find a place in the various businesses that his family owns or is involved in so he am usually moved from place to place and business to business as problems occur due to his bastard origin.

As the elevator came to a stop and doors opened Anton looked quickly back trying to hide a smirk as he remembered that he broke brother number one’s arm as he left an elevator once. Brother number one squinted his eyes, grunted, and shoved the half-elf from the elevator and into the foyer.

The foyer room’s walls and ceiling was composed of a dark and shiny blue marble. It was an immaculately clean room that contained a small stand with the Xcentar 2000 Bionetic Verifier and the door. The X2BV appears more like a 4-person game controller because the manufacturer’s original chassis was destroyed in a freak fire storm at their factory and they conveniently found a rather strange and convenient replacement in the game controller that the owner’s son used for his virtual science simulations.

The X2BV is made for high capacity bionetic security points identifying 4 people at a time via a hemoscan, thermoscan, as well as a electro-resonant brain scan. The three of them approached the device and grabbed a hold of the handle and spoke out their names. Following the slight prick into their palms and the line of light that passed over their bodies quickly the light on the top of Anton’s handle lit up green and the other two lit up red.

The chimpanzee brothers scowled and walked their seemingly simian gait back to the elevator, mashed the buttons, and then disappeared as the doors closed and the elevator descended. As they left Anton began to feel really anxious and alone. He had never met the head of the family and he really had no weapons with himself. ‘You never can be too careful.‘ He had no idea what to expect, but assumed that it had something to do with his snooping around their family’s history and private archives, as well as asking meaningless questions about a long lost past. ‘Perhaps, my moment of reckoning had come.‘ he thought to himself as he tried to suppress a smile.

Once the the elevator had left this floor the light above the door that led to where the patriarch lay turned green. He could hear the heavy ‘chunk’ of presumably metal locks opening. The double doors quietly slid open little bit so that a dim light could be seen emanating from with in. Quiet sounds of microfans and, most likely, the glow of computer monitors seeped from the room beyond. Anton stood their and tried to slow his breathing and to keep his pulse from racing as this could be the moment when all is righted.

Anton walked slowly forward while nervously running his left hand through his hair. He used his right hand to open the doors and look into the room to try to assess the situation. Whether he should run or whether he should get ready for the showdown.

The half-elf walked slowly into the darkened room and he looked at the sole occupant in the room a woman not too much older than him – 24. She had long brown hair with delicate pale skin. Her eyes were wide, confident, and full of concern and fear as she sat in a bed with the covers pulled up to her bent knees. Anton was shocked. ‘This is no patriarch. But everything made sense in light of it.

The window was open behind her and the curtains were laying still with no breeze coming in. There was not a lot of light here as it was night time and the only light that was available was from the picture of the family crest on the wall screen behind him. His keen partially-elven eyes allowed him to see well enough and he stared at her. She stared at him as did her black cat who sat quietly at the foot of the bed and indifferently looked at him and then looked away at something obviously more interesting. The darkly wooded bed was contrasted by the statue of three scowling bulldogs’ heads with wide eyes that was made out of a light marble at the foot of the bed.

It was an all together surreal moment and it is nothing like he would have imagined. He expected to find a man here, his uncle who bore the family secret, but instead, he found the family secret. He imagined an epic battle to the death with thunder, lightening, storms of acid and hell-wrent flames. But there is only this. This moment looking at each other. Rather anticlimactic after a few years of searching for the truth, and for the right of ascension.

Anton cleared his throat and began to speak in an ancient tongue that has long been forgotten. “In the name of the fathers of Auld I command you, Dorus Seven Swords, heir to the patriarchy and secrets of the Seven Swords of the Fathers, and to the fabled recipe of the Spicey Kelp Balls to abdicate you throne at the head of Family.”

At that moment a great wind blew the curtains opened and it started to rain. Thunder and lightening ripped across the sky as the flash wrent the magics in the room. The cat bore the antlers of a hell-bound servant and the three dog-headed statue at the foot of the betrayed something more insidious – a Beyhound with swirling red enthralling eyes that beckon you to doze and relax. Its greenish skinned tentacles and toothy maw lashed out from under the bed and poised to strike.

‘This was more like it.” he thought as he readied the appropriate spell and incantation to take his place as the head of the family. The Beyhound’s eyes called his attention and assaulted his will. The hellbound cat glowered at me with a vicious and uncaring indifference while its horns pulsed and throbbed with electricity that lanced out toward Anton seeking his flesh.

The electricity arched to him and found itself drained by latent protective magical field that emanated from his cybernetic arm. Anton smiled and pulled out a black sapphire the size of a human fist and presented it as he continued “In the name of the Elders and the heirs of the Seven Swords I command you to relinquish.” The Beyhounds tentacles lashed out to him but he was not there, at least not physically there to extradimensional creatures as they were.

The wind howled and blew hard and lightening struck not too far away outside. The woman smiled and said “Thank you, my love. I am ready.” The black sapphire flashed and the room was empty of all creatures save himself. He could still smell the aroma of her perfume on the now still air. His heart sank.

The room was quiet and the tousled bed was wet from rain coming in from the open window. He could still see the impression on the bed from where the woman sat. He whispered to himself “By the flame of the righteous, I consecrate thee.” He sighed in sadness and a longing that no one else could ever understand, but this is necessary for the family line to continue appropriately. The surface of the Black Sapphire was warm to the touch and seemed to flare at small moments like flame was trying to free itself from within.

The mural at the entrance to the building fade slowly away and all that remained the phrase ‘By the flame of the righteous, I consecrate thee.‘ below was a clean blank wall.

Judges Comments

This is an interesting story. The circular use of the mural works quite well. When I first saw a picture used as a picture I went, “uh oh,” but you made it work. The other picture use is adequate, but nothing really knocked my socks off. Also, unfortunately, I am a grammar freak, and you have again broken my cardinal tense changing rule. Several times. The most obvious time was:
“Anton tapped his left arm a few times trying readjust the servos back into place. His cybernetic arm has been recently damage in a ‘misunderstanding'” Tapped, trying and has do not agree. His arm had been damaged. I hate to sound like a broken record, but a good story will only get you so far. Writing is a craft, and as such has rules. You have a great imagination and some really fun ideas, but the mistakes really pull me right out of the story. It also has a meandering quality which can work under some circumstances, but not in a story where you’re trying to build suspense. The payoff, the protagonist getting trapped, is great, but the suspense got diluted. I really got jarred by the story going from first to third person or maybe I was just never clear who was telling the story… and I don’t think I ever quite recovered.

The warhammer has been humming something that resembles a cross between an 80’s hair band anthem type song and the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but is now revving up to its keening scream. I’ll be glad when this competition is over. My poor old dog is in the very back room of my house howling, and the ancient cat is hiding under the bed. The hammer is only happy when it’s reducing someone to jelly. Sorry, FreeXenon, but you’re the flavor of the night. Squish.

FreeXenon’s story had a little more emotion to it. There seemed to be a little depth to the main character, and some sense of a greater story. The writing was very uneven, though, and it could have used another pass to clean up some of the more obvious shifts in tense and what have you. The McGuffin was a little off-putting, too — the frivolity of ‘spiced kelp balls’ seemed out of place with the rest of the tale. (At least they weren’t ‘Schwetty salty balls’ though), The descriptions were very good, though, and the pacing was tight and consistent. Picture use was pretty weak. The painting as a mural skirts way too close to the edge, and the others seemed merely descriptive and not essential to the tale.

"Children of the Henge"

I wrote this for for the first round of what is called a Ceramic DM’ contest via ENWorld from August of 2007. A Ceramic DM contest is where the judges give all contestants the same 3 or so pictures with which they have to write a story around, no rx and then are judged on writing content and style as well as our use the pictures in the story. There is 72 hours from the time the pictures are posted in a round until the stories are due. Pertinent Links: Original Story Posted; links to pictures are included in the text. I left the judges comments at the bottom and I agree with pretty much everything they said. I wrote a lot for 72 hours.

Prologue

The time has far past when pixies, neuropathologist dwarves, physician elves, and dragons dwelt upon the lands. Everything magical has passed from the world for long last leaving but humans, and the animals, and the plants. Magical things that were a part of the very fabric of life are no longer, and relegated to parts of bedtime stories read to children before they go to sleep. Magic was a spell that brought flames, or allowed one to travel great distances in a mere thought, to cause the one person to fall in love with another, or bring a kingdom to its knees. Now magic is but silly slight of hand. True Magic has left the world.

The gods had come to pass as well in these times. There were but a few that remember the influence and worship of the gods, and even they do not speak of them for fear of being labeled a witch or demon speaker. These are godless and fearful times, yet innocence and purity can still be found. There is still the spark of good to be found in humanity, yet one must still be careful.

The power and strength of the sword is what rules humanity now. Kingdoms and fiefdoms are conquered and controlled by the trickery or those with a hefty sword arm. We will now set our story outside of the small agrarian village of Dunmare.

The Henge

Sleeping

She slept there in a small clearing in the middle of a haunted wood – alone and serene. The grass was soft and full. There was a break in the canopy of the forest’s trees here where the twinkling stars far above could be seen in the clear night sky. The air was cool, but not too much so as to be uncomfortable or to chill the skin. The fresh scent of roses and a fresh dew was in the air and is a idyllic setting for a summer night.

The young lady, barely of 16 winters, slept. Her long, golden hair was splayed out above her, and her pink courtly dress seemed rather out of place with the dirt on her face and leaves in her hair. To those who knew not better might think that by the way the roses and the plants have come to embrace her that she has been sleeping there for many years. A crown of roses grows carefully about her head. A few roses and vines have grown about her as if they wish to caress her or watch over her. The soft pink of the delicate rose petals accents her dress and the slight blush of her cheeks.

This little clearing was surrounded by large rough stone pillars 5 men high by 2 wide – and there were 6 of these pillars arranged in a perfect circle. The stones were old – far older than any living creature may remember, and far older that any historian may have written about. Know one remembers for what they would have been placed here for even if they could find it. This was a holy place to some, and a place of evil and fear to others.

She begins to rouse from a deep sleep as the plants, crown and all, move slowly away from her and back to where they belong, as if they were never there about her. The roses went back to climbing the stone pillars and the vines as well. The young lady’s head moved to the other side and then her arms moved closer together to rest on her stomach. She slowly opened her bright green eyes to look into the stars above. She smiles happily and contentedly while breathing in fresh air.

Uncle Sarris

The young lady looks about the stone pillars and her eyes search about as if she is looking for something. She carefully stands up so as to not stain her dress and then she brushes the what grass and dirt remained. “So, why is it that only my Uncle Sarris can find me here and no one else?” she questions seemingly to no one in particular as a darkly clothed man walks from behind one of the stone pillars.

His cloak and clothes were black as the night and the silvery hilt of a sword poked out like a single star against the dark night of his clothes. He had short dark brown hair and piercing icy blue eyes. His strong jaw and muscular frame gave him and air of authority and presence that few would question. He had the strength and prowess of warrior and the wisdom of a priest.

He smiles affectionately to her as he walks forward to her and says “Perhaps a better question is ‘Why can you and I find this place at all and no one else can?’.”

“Now I know that you are not my real uncle and those people that I call family are not my real family, so why do they insist on calling me their daughter?” she continued.

“Why do you insist on remembering that they are not your blood-kin?” he stated as he smiles wryly enjoying this game.

She was rather use to this process, but has always hoped that he would relent and actually answer a question with something of meaning and substance instead of his fancy question-answers. “Why do people not like us and treat us differently, Uncle?”

He smiled remembering the path that she will walk in a few hours. “People fear us because they do not understand us. We are different. We see the world differently than they. We know things that they do not know.”

“Why are we different and what is there to not understand? Do we not bleed and breathe as they do? Do we not need food and water? Do we not think and feel as they also do?” she countered knowing full well that she may as well have been speaking to herself.

“Why can we find the this place as no others can?” was the circular answer that told her that there were to be no more questions and that he was definitely not going to entertain the idea of pseudo-answers anymore. Sarris was more like a father to her. He helped her to understand and put into words that which her ‘family’ could not.

Sarris sighed. “We are the same, Delia, You and I. We are but one in a couple of generations. We see and understand things that others do not and that is our place in life – to be misunderstood and to know that which they cannot. To act in moments that none can see the right action. We are here to work the gods’ will amongst the mortals even though they are no longer”

“The gods have long since past but there are places where their energies linger and hold on to very fabric of existence. We are their children and this is their place. Do you not feel at home here?”

Delia frowned in frustration as she does not really understand. “I know that is what you keep telling me but it does not make sense. No one worships the gods anymore. They do not exist. No one even remembers them. They do not matter to people.”

“The gods of auld may not matter to them, but you matter to them.” He walked over and embraced her. Delia hugged him back but she was still no closer to understanding her place in all of this.

“My dear Delia, you need to go back to town now. Your village needs you.”

“Uh-huh” she says sarcastically. He smiled enjoying her attitude.

Dunmare

Dunmare was a fell miles away from the henge and Delia walked quietly and nonchalantly through the forest towards home with her thoughts lost into her uncle’s ‘answers’ to her questions. The path to the henge was not worn or even bore a hint of passage no matter how many times in her life that she has traveled it. Uncle Sarris has been here countless times and no one at the village can remember a time without him. He was always been there in one form or another. Since he showed her how to find the path to it she has been traveling there herself as she desired. She would go there when she needed time to think or a place to win at hide-and-go seek.

Dunmare was a small agrarian village of about 60 people. Most farmed and few hunted, but everyone had there place in the village’s survival. Everyone, that is, except for Sarris and her. Sarris was only about when he chose to be and no one questioned him and pretty much no one even talked to him unless he spoke to them first. The people seemed somewhat flighty and frightened around him.

She came and went as she pleased. She helped with farming or hunting as she pleased and no one said anything to her about earning her keep. She had two ‘brothers’ and a ‘sister’ who were always busy doing something around their little farm and the parents were quite insistent about them doing their chores and schooling and such. The raising of Delia was left to Sarris and the rest of the time filled in by them. He was definitely more gone then around but he handed out lessons as needed to keep her on the straight path, so they hoped that is what their infrequent time together was. She was a well behaved young girl, but odd – very odd and blessed, but they knew not by who or what.

As she approached the village center she found the village meeting building (which no one remembers was a former temple dedicated to the gods) with lights ablaze on the inside and she heard plenty of murmuring and shouting coming from inside. Many a saddled horse is tethered outside which was a rare occurrence as most horses are draft horses and used for wagons or plowing and not so much for riding. It appears that the town has gathered to discuss something and there are visitors involved.

The Temple

The temple is a tall stone building with murals on all the walls above where any man’s extended arm could touch. The walls were probably 3 men in height and the murals were of natural scenes and of divine beings lost to time. Deep blue skies, crisp green trees and bright white sheep as well as others were found in this mural. As she has been taught the creatures and beings depicted represent the natural cycle and the ascendance of the divine and her guardians. The history and story of this mural is complex and long and they have not gotten far into it yet.

She approached the temple door and allowed her eyes adjust to the light and the sound of the people talking. There was a throng of people here many of which she knew and many that she did not on the far side raised podium and a small raised dais that were the only dominate item typically present here. On the near side there were many of the young ladies of the village all dressed up in their finest dresses sitting down and preening themselves.

The Neereman

Delia listened a little bit and it appears as though they village is attempting to marry off their daughters to wealthy noblemen that is passing through. A Neereman noble – dark skinned and of a painted face of blue, purple, white and black markings. The higher status a Neereman the more painted his face was and this man’s face was full and bore feline qualities. Neereman were very uncommon about these parts and she has never see one herself.

They were a tribal and cast people. They had nobles who ruled there tribes and the tribes swore fealty to a a king who ruled them all. They had peoples that were serfs and destined to not be more than that, and the those that were destined for all of the finest things in life. Breaking through the cast system was not impossible, but very rare. Neereman nobles lived well and usually had a lot of land and serfs. They were a kind but stern people. Neereman Criminals, no matter what there previous status, were generally reduced to serfs and left to a serfs life. In rare cases the offender was made a slave to the offended party. Non-Neereman were sometimes made serfs or many times they were exiled without anything to survive on. Most died within a day or two of exile.

The villagers were all about as the women went up there one by one and there family members went up with them to tell and display of the virtues of their daughters. This was a moment for these families that meant that their daughter might be given a life of splendor and riches the likes of which that they, themselves, will never see. The Neereman brought gold, furs and other sundry items to pay for the daughters hand. They were a generous people when they had it. Generous with their dowries and generous to their serfs.

The noble man was surrounded by 6 other Neereman warriors who kept the villagers at bay as they hawked their daughters on the dais. The warriors were strong and significantly less painted. The sides of their faces were covered bore paint and that is it. They wielded spears and had longs swords by their sides, and chaimail for armor.

Delia entered the room and the villagers after a few moments quieted down a little and they looked at her. She looked at everyone else not sure what she was doing exactly. She walked into the room, passing daughters that were waiting there turn, and right up onto the dais with a father who was previously testifying to the virtuous qualities that his daughter had.

She looked hard at the noble man for a few long moments and he looked back to her – never moving or responding in any way. She reached down deep into herself and brought out ancient words “Erigthiena Thslisthan”. The power of the elder words filled the room and everything was dead silent. Now, before her, in place of the dark skinned Neeremen were bipedal Yak men. Dark furred, broad horned, dark eyed, strong men whose furred faces are painted. She saw this and no one else did for the ancient words worked only for those who utter it.

She smiled at the Neereman noble knowing that he knew that she knew the truth, and for the first time, the Neereman smiled. He then said matter-of-factly “I will take her.” The whole crowd of villagers gasped and started to murmur. None of them were quite sure what to do.

“If that is what you and your family will, they so let it be done.” were the words that were emitted from him even though his yak lips could not actually mouth the words. His ensorcelled disguise could not fool the power that she could channel, yet it was very competently woven about him and his minions.

Judges Comments

Technical Writing(4/10):
You jump continually between past and present tense, sometimes even in the same sentence. You miss some words, and misuse some phrases (as … as, etc). You also use the wrong words in places (their turn, not there turn).
Creative Writing(6/10):
The story had an interesting premise – I liked some of the central ideas. I was left with some questions, though. More info about the young lady and uncle Sarris would have been nice. The community was established pretty well. The ending confused me a bit. The visitors were…actually yaks? Sent by whom? And who made them look like people and able to talk? And why?
Picture Use(8/10):
Young lady(8/10): Central character and opening scene. Well done – good description and led into the story. Could have used the crown of flowers or dress more, but good job.
Temple(9/10): Central location and scene. Good description, lead-in and use. Great job!
Painted Face(7/10): Supporting character. Nice description, though a bit more about the face-paint and design would have helped I think.
Total: 1/2(4) + 6 + 8 = 2 + 6 + 8 = 16/25

Comments – Combined:
freeXenon’s story had interesting ideas, but was a bit difficult to read due to grammatical errors, and left a lot of questions and holes. Great picture use! I don’t think the story was too long, but some parts were drawn out (the discussion between the girl and uncle) without much point, and some parts needed more flshing out. Round goes to freeXenon by default.

"Of Books and Blades"

This little short story is written as part of a background for a character I played while I was in the Navy (~1995), epidemic named Jaerle Blackmaine. He was a Human Male Paladin dedicated to the St. George in the DM’s game world where Mages very commonly summon demons and other vile creatures to do their bidding. For those of you who are not familiar with D&D I will provide a brief summary of the things that you may not be familiar with at then end of the story. This was a Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition game. I have not really touched this up since then. It definitely needs work but there it is.

Chapter I – Prologue

There have been many a warrior to impart to me their wisdom on the subject of books. They have said “Books are useless! Books are for girls and cowardly wizards! When will a book deflect a steel blade! How did book smarts protect that merchant last week?” There was a time when my studies gave me a split second and saved my life.

Every week I delve further and further into the Cannon of St. George. Every week I find myself needing a library to research references made, points that were unclear or vague, or conclusions that interested me. My studies at the time brought me to an interesting point. Demons warp, if ever so imperceptibly, the area around them. A telltale shift in temperature, a slight distorting or slowing of senses, or uneasiness in animals, that feeling that you are being watched or are not alone. These are all things that if you are not looking for or actively monitoring for you will most definitely miss. Woe unto you my friend.

I had just finished my little venture into Kilaran’s Tomb. Worn and ragged from my battle with the undead thing formerly known as Kilaran. Charred by his spell flames, bludgeoned and lanced by his force spells, I was finally victorious. I fought until his lifeless body twitched no more. Exhausted from my climb down from his mountain aerie and stumbling through the treacherous Steel Spire mountains. Tired and hungered from lack of sleep and food. After three days of travel I finally emerged from the mountains to greet a deep red sunset and a cool breeze of the fast approaching night. The mountain trail I followed led me to the main road between the border-towns of Belgian and Melodeon. I dropped what I was left of my charred pack and sat down for a moment to celebrate leaving the mountains.

Chapter 2 – Entrance

Off in the distance I heard horses and wagons over the hill. Hoping at every moment for something friendly, anything friendly. Bandits in this area were cunning and very present. With my hand resting on the hilt of my sheathed sword, body poised to hide in the mountain pass, I waited as the first wagon cleared the hill. Strange looking wagon. Almost boxlike. Then I hear the music and singing. Happy and lilting voices that sounded strangely familiar. By the glory of St. George!! Gypsies!! Thankfully the gypsy’s patron was Kyrie – She who holds knowledge in the darkness of a night sky. Those who worship her hope to pierce the darkness to see the light. So they say. They are a harmless, eccentric lot. Anxiously I shouldered my pack and walked slowly towards the small, now 3 wagon, gypsy train. Fortunately, as I have read, gypsies tend to be very friendly and welcome travelers to their camp to share in the food and fun.

As I drew near, the wagon pulled off to the side of the road, probably to set camp seeming as it was dusk. The three stocky wagons pulled into a circle and upon arriving I found they had a fire burning. An older gentleman came out to greet me as I approached. A bright red scarf adorned his balding head. A loose silk shirt and baggy pant draped on his robust lean frame. A few rings and a golden necklace glinted in the falling sun’s dying rays. I was met with a firm handshake and a very thick accented “Vvelcome – you enjoy camp vith us?” I smiled, and with a sigh of relief, I nodded yes. He chuckled heartily, clapped me on the back, and escorted me into camp. He barked some words in their gypsy tongue and a lean young boy and two voluptuous ladies came over to relieve me of my burden. They fed me, mended my equipment, cleaned my clothes and bathed me.

Long flowing black tresses of hair cascaded down their backs and long eyelashes teased as they tended to me. Sliva and Avriel had the voluptuous curves that only young women can. The kind that beckoned you to bed , but yet kept you at your distance. Their bright green eyes had a mischievous sparkle in the moonlight that spoke of a naive, playful innocence. Silva’s low cut halter and split skirt did not leave much to the imagination. Avriel was a bit more conservative. She wore a form fitting tunic and pant. Both wore an assortment of necklaces, bracelets and rings. Silva wore gold that would attract attention to her. Gold grabs you attention and invites you to gaze. Avriel wore less and more conservative jewelry. They were definitely sisters. Some one is most definitely watching over me tonight.

The boy was young and restless, full of questions about my adventures and equipment. He was young maybe 12 or 13. Avriel and Silva, while kneading out my shoulders, shooed the boy away several times to let me relax. He always came back stick in hand fighting off imagined hordes of demons, undead and mages. The fathers music and the kneading of my aching shoulders, drowned out the boy. Kari, I think, he said his name was.

In the morning, refreshed from a restful and much needed night of sleep, I roused from my slumber to see Kari sitting there, my breakfast in hand. “You’ll make someone a good squire someday.” I said. His face lit up and he ran to his sisters and father jabbering away. They all smiled, chuckled, and sent him on his away. I now noticed two other wagons had joined our camp and filled in the circle. Next to me I found my equipment repaired and cleaned. I began to dress and gather my things wondering how wonderful it would be to live their happy carefree life. Free of worries and fear just day to day contentment.

I asked if they would mind if I escorted them to the next town. They accepted happily and rather relieved. Gypsies tend to be easy targets for bandits and any protection is welcome. The two new wagons had several horses tied to it as well as various trinkets. Several of the men were struggling with one of the horses. This black horse was well muscled and had a wild eyes. The gypsies are renown for horse taming. They seem to have some sort of bond, or empathy with horses. After about 10 minutes they quieted the animal down. In the process the horse nearly trampled them but their agile movements saved them. I was going to ask if they would like help but they asked me to keep back. After all they did this for a living. As I watched I noticed something in the animal’s eyes – an intense desire to unleash a hidden rage, something primal – not fear, it seemed too proud for that.

Chapter 3 – Clash

That’s when I noticed it. That feeling that something was watching and ready to pounce. I snapped ‘Reaver’ from it’s sheath. The blade thrummed with lust for the impending battle. I could feel the sword begging for the taste of demon’s blood. Before I had a chance to have ‘Reaver’ search for the creature I was batted aside by an unseen assailant. A demon appeared from no where – clawed, ugly and wingless. Damn mages!! The creature reached out and slashed Silva to rivens. Blood spilling forth like a fountain. splattering the ground with a crimson pool. Her lifeless body slumped to the ground. The carefree beauty drained from her body like a fly sucked dry from a spider. I strode forward, ‘Reaver’ in hand, and slashed at the creature with all my strength. That’s when the fire erupted all around engulfing half of the campsite. The charred remnants of the gypsies and their wagons smoked in the wake of the spell flames. The air stunk of burned flesh and smoke tinged with sulfur. Damned Mages!! Where you find demons you find mages. Never fails. I’m not sure which is more dangerous spell hurling buffoons or the vile creatures they summon.

The remaining gypsies through rocks at the wizard which now showed himself. He wore black robes adorned with crimson runes of the Ithar, the elder tongue of scholars. He bore a goatee and a golden circlet peeked from underneath the hood of his cloak. The wizards spell was fortunately disrupted by the rocks the gypsies were throwing. Arrogance shall be his downfall. He is definitely too close for his own good. The demon roared as ‘Reaver’ tore into it’s flesh. The slash went straight across its chest down to the bone. A brackish black ichor oozed from the wounds. I immediately gained it’s full attention. We brawled around for several moment knocking over one of the two remaining wagons and spilling equipment everywhere. I dodged the creatures powerful claws and slashed to no avail. The demon made a wild swing knocking ‘Reaver’ from my hand. I grew very pale at that moment. My spear, ‘Soul Seeker’, was nowhere in sight. The demon sneered in confidence, knowing that it could tear me apart now that I am unarmed.

It went to finish me off when Kari jumped in front of me brandishing a pitchfork and snarling like a pregnant owlbear. I cringed at the grating sound. Kari poked at the creature once. Three rivulets of ichor meandered down it’s scaly brown-red skin. It looked down at the pathetic morsel named Kari, chuckled, and raised to it’s full height. It’s unholy and inhuman roar crescendoed as its noticed the the child drew blood. It readied to decimate the child. With the creatures attention shifted in search for a weapon of some sort – anything. Several horses bolted this way and that as another explosion erupted. I could feel the pressure wave blow past me. One lone horse trotted through the smoke and skidded to a halt kicking up equipment. In the shards of equipment scattered I found ‘Soul Seeker’ at my feet.

I shoved Kari out of the way, picked up the spear and set it butt first to the ground. The demon blindly brought its claws down. It stopped abruptly as ‘Seeker’ slid into its head from underneath it’s jaw stopping as it hit the creatures skull. The demons massive claws raked both of my arms sending pain coursing through them. Ichor oozed quickly down the length of the spear shaft coating it in a sulfurous black ooze. The demon didn’t move after that. Bless St. George.!!

I dove, tumbled, and pick up my crossbow as an arrow of roiling acid whizzed by burning a lock of hair. The acrid scent of acid and burnt hair nearly knocked me to the ground. Adrenalin pumping I popped up to one knee and searched for where I thought the arrow came from. Wizards have a knack for being not seen. An annoyance I have tried to learned to deal with. I fired where I thought the acid arrow came from and missed. Damn!!! I ran over to remove ‘Soul Seeker’ from it’s resting place. It’s shaft was hot and slick with demon ichor. I fumbled and dropped it to the ground. The demon body dropped to the ground. AAhhh!!! I yelped. I heard the acid splash and sizzle, and I smelled it burning through my armor. I dropped to the ground clenching my shoulder from the searing pain. I, again, dove for my spear, popped up and carefully aimed for where I thought the wizard was. Thud!! Thud!! Thud!! Magical waves of energy plowed into me nearly taking my balance. I staggered underneath the force of the spell. I spotted the wizard for a moment as he disappeared again. I launched ‘Seeker’ and it found it’s target. The wizard screamed and, in an invisible death throw, dropped slowly to the ground.

Chapter 4 – New Beginnings….

All is still. I hear only the sound of my breathing and the burning of the wagons and gear. I take a moment and survey the carnage that magic has wrought. The only survivors of this massacre are me, Kari, and a horse, the proud horse. The burning contorted bodies of the gypsies stood out of the from the charred remnants of the wagons and equipment. A happy, harmless gypsy band slaughtered for what reason?? Probably for the wizards amusement or maybe he needed slaves. You never can tell.

Exhausted and severely wounded I plopped to the ground. Kari walked over and bore a look of shock, fear, and disbelief. Eyes wide and mouth open he look around. He looked to the carnage, back to me and back to the remnants of his life and family. Tears started to flow down his face. I felt sorry for and pitied the boy. I understood how he was feeling. I lost my family to battle as well. I looked around and back to Kari who was now looking at me. Now more tears fell. His face was calm and had a look of understanding. Like he knew what has just happened and understood that his life will never be the same.

His voice crackled “Need a squire?” I do not need an extra person hanging around to protect. I can barely keep my self alive. An extra mouth to feed and then I will need to train him. Besides…..I looked back to him and I saw a little of myself in him. I then remembered my word to him “Some day you will make someone a great squire.” I broke and I nodded yes. He smiled and settled the the ground sobbing.

If someone tries to tell you that studying will never help you. Only a trusty blade will give you respect and allow you to survive. Recount this tale and laugh at them. If I would not have recognized the signs I may have been crushed by the demons first attack as readily as the beautiful and innocent Silva was. Fortunately I was prepared and knew what to look for. Arm your self not only in steel but also in knowledge.

Definitions

Demons
As you would expect – foul creatures from another evil plane of existence.
Owlbear
A large creature with and ursine (bear like) body and an owls head and fore claws. These creatures have a nasty temperament and generally attack things on sight. They are thought to have been the byproduct of magical experimentation.
Paladin
A warrior dedicated to specific divine patron. Paladins are generally the elite military arm of a religion.
‘Reaver’
A magical bastard sword that was forged to hunt and destroy demons.
Undead
Creatures such as zombies, ghouls, and skeletons that are unliving.
‘Soul Seeker’
A magical and very accurate spear.

Dungeons and Dragons 4E is Coming…

Pronounced ‘A-rion’ like Scooby Doo would say “Look Shaggy a lion!” – “Rook Raggy a rion!” Now that we have pronunciation out of the way and you are not thinking of me as an arian racist thug I can move on to other nerdy and kind of embarrassing facets.

The nitty-gritty is something that you may find a little strange but I will disclose it nevertheless. Arion was my favorite Second Edition (2E) Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) character. She was a 17th level Magic User and what is called (at least in those days) an Alu-fiend which are the half-fiendish offspring of a succubus and a mortal.

She was good natured, disorder wise and innocent, pulmonologist yet worldly and naive at the same time. She is passionate and protective of those she cares about and unleashes all of the arcane magical might that she can to destroy demons or anyone who would threaten her friends, family or the innocent.

I have not played her since then because the Third Edition (3E) rule set would not be kind in translation to such a character, and I do not mean by virtue of the implied and not at all applicable morale proclivities of her fiendish parentage as some of you may think. It more has to do with the offsetting and balancing the advantage and innate abilities of her race. I am thinking that with the impending horizon of Fourth Edition (4E) that her to return – Faerie Dragon Familiar and all – is in the making. Yea!

I have written a little bit about her history in story format and maybe someday I feel brave enough to to unleash my creative workings upon you to incite massive hemorrhaging and scarring the likes of which the literary world have not seen in a long time.

I do not normally post about this hobby, more about
but I thought I might today as the Fourth Edition (4E) of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is slated to be out in June (core books: Players Handbook, troche Dungeons Masters Guide, website
and Monster Manual I) with a preview adventure (Keep on the Shadowfell) preceding them in May. I am so very excited and have them all preordered via Amazon.

I have been playing D&D since the tail end of First Edition (1E) shortly before Second Edition (2E) came out, back in my 9th grade of high school which puts us to about 1989 or so. I have been playing since that day and have not regretted a moment of it.

I have made many friends, learned many new words, greatly increased my reading appetite, started writing,learned to thinking critically, and understand the importance of rules and the ramifications that they can have when paired with other rules. I have gained in interest in Shakespeare, Arthurian Legends, mythology, history and computers all from playing this wonderful game. This and Martial Arts have been the two most formative pastimes that have helped to greatly forge the person that I am today.

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Arion’s Home?

Pronounced ‘A-rion’ like Scooby Doo would say “Look Shaggy a lion!” – “Rook Raggy a rion!” Now that we have pronunciation out of the way and you are not thinking of me as an arian racist thug I can move on to other nerdy and kind of embarrassing facets.

The nitty-gritty is something that you may find a little strange but I will disclose it nevertheless. Arion was my favorite Second Edition (2E) Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) character. She was a 17th level Magic User and what is called (at least in those days) an Alu-fiend which are the half-fiendish offspring of a succubus and a mortal.

She was good natured, disorder wise and innocent, pulmonologist yet worldly and naive at the same time. She is passionate and protective of those she cares about and unleashes all of the arcane magical might that she can to destroy demons or anyone who would threaten her friends, family or the innocent.

I have not played her since then because the Third Edition (3E) rule set would not be kind in translation to such a character, and I do not mean by virtue of the implied and not at all applicable morale proclivities of her fiendish parentage as some of you may think. It more has to do with the offsetting and balancing the advantage and innate abilities of her race. I am thinking that with the impending horizon of Fourth Edition (4E) that her to return – Faerie Dragon Familiar and all – is in the making. Yea!

I have written a little bit about her history in story format and maybe someday I feel brave enough to to unleash my creative workings upon you to incite massive hemorrhaging and scarring the likes of which the literary world have not seen in a long time.