Tempest Rising

Wings of the Storm
Or-- Clerics without Borders

b6_1_.jpgOur heroes accepted the hospitality of the misshapen Müt and her mongrel tribe. She told them that the valley has always been plagued by strange creatures, and they assumed they were birthed by Pale Mother. But for the past couple weeks there have been a real influx of insect-aspected dangers. In fact, an entire hunting party of warriors vanished with in the past week.

A thunderstorm came up in the middle of the night, and shook the crowded hut. Boomah thought he heard a scream, but no one else heard a thing. He stuck his head out to look, and saw a man-sized creature fall from the sky and crash to the ground. Two other creatures scurried over to it. Boomah woke the chieftain, who told him not to worry, and that her people patrolled the village by night.

But then he saw a large winged creature swoop down and slash one of the creatures. Shockingly, they both doubled over afterward as the dark shadow flapped away.

Saerin clambered out of the hut and saw several dark shapes in the stormy sky. He started firing his bow, and was swarmed by filthy, vermin-infested bats nearly his own size. One screeched and put fear deep into out heroes, but only the magus Kallius fell victim to its cry.

Luix followed out, and the two faced several fly-by attacks. Kallius soon joined them, and one of the beasts crashed to the ground at his feet. It was only temporarily dazed, but he took advantage of the moment to slash mercilessly.

The bats turned away from our heroes and started tearing into huts, Müt called lightning, as well as a swarm of bats. The others fired ranged weapons and charged ones they could.

By the time the beasts were defeated, many members of the tribe had been infected by the diseases carried by the filth-ridden bats.

They healed what they could, and agreed to leave after healing more in the morning.

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Monkey business
Or-- Monkey see-- monkeys do

minecraft_witch_hut_by_algoinde-d8zs657.pngRealizing they were being spied on by a monkey, our heroes debated their next course of action. They decided that if it was under the sway of evil, it was too late to stop it, so they chose to leave it be. And they badly needed rest.

In the morning, rather than a hidden monkey, they found a chimpanzee sitting quietly on the edge of their camp. They quickly decided it was friends with the monkey.

They made peaceful contact, but were unable to communicate beyond basic sign language. But they agreed to follow it (and the several dozen attendant monkeys in the trees).

They were led to a clearing with a wide pool feeding a stream. They quickly became aware that there were other things hiding at the edge of the woods. Suddenly, there was a surge of bubbles and a creature emerged from the pool. It looked like sahuagin in its head and chest, but the lower half was covered in wet fur and clawed feet.

Sadly, they could not speak its language either, and Saerin used his magic to speak with the chimpanzee, who in turn communicated with the mongrel sea devil.

The ranger assured them they were peaceful, and that they were hunting the wizard Menso. He added that they also sought to destroy the flying lightning-hurling lizard.

The odd creature weighed this information, and conveyed that they should make a sacrifice to prove their sincere intent.

The group had many opinions about how to make this ‘sacrifice’, and Boomah even offered to cut his hand and bleed for them. The chimp suggested that perhaps he would move the blade to his chest as a more worthy sacrifice. The goblin refused the suggestion.

They decided to offer up the dragon statuette as a token of real value to them, and the creature accepted. Then, a raised hut appeared on the edge of the clearing that did not appear to be there just moments ago.

Inside the shadowy hut, our heroes met the mongrel shaman Müt. The elderly creature seemed to have command of the common tongue, and claimed that here tribe had been in the vale for a very long time. Before the flood. Before the invaders. Before the humans. But not before the Pale Mother.

This Pale Mother was some kind of god to them, who had once nurtured the tribe before they failed her and she turned her back on them. But she was not even the first in the valley, for the creature claimed that was he who came before.

The group noticed the symbol of the legendary wizard Sciao Si’ang carved on the hearth, and Müt said that it was the sign of he who came before.

She seem to indicate that they no little of him, and that he was indeed gone (not surprising, being that he was known to live at least 1800 years ago). Pale Mother did survive, but she was in a mist-shrouded vale that her people did not visit.

Her people were aware of the flying lizard, but no one had seen a wizard pass. But there was a hunting party that completely vanished more than a week ago, that may have come in contact with the stranger.

And that the lizard had been seen near the vale of the Pale Mother.

She returned the dragon statue to our heroes, but could offer little more assistance to them. She offered hospitality to them, as the night had fallen and the forest was dangerous at the best of times.

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Nightmare on Elm Trees
Or -- A wolf in sleep's clothing

weeping_wolf_by_sandara-d8he06n.jpgSearching about the swamp where the undead horrors rose, our heroes discovered a few items of enchantment and interest. First was a black banner of the Baorn, which held the power to raise those sworn to it from the dead in its defense. Learning that, Boomah decided that it must be shredded. and the pieces burned. And those ashes scattered.

They also found a chain from a siege engine that had survived the flooding in good repair, and seemed magical as well. And a sodden chest filled with the silver dining service of the now-defunct House-Aparo.

Leaving the field of battle, they traveled the rest of the day. Luix swore he saw a monkey eyeing him from the trees, but no one else saw the creature. As evening fell and they started to make camp, and he saw the monkey again. This time, others were aware that it was a monkey, but saw little of menace in it. They did move camp away from the monkey, and up against the sheer side of the valley.

During the first watch, the priest and ranger heard a nightmarish howling, followed by farther answering howls.

They woke the barbarian, and waited. After a few minutes the howls got very loud and a multi-eyed acid-dripping wolf stepped into the clearing. Its horrifying appearance unnerved all who saw it, but they stood steadfast against it. Luix charged, and smashed it with the flail. It struck back - tearing his flesh with teeth and caustic acid- and knocked him to the forest floor. A second nightmarish wolf came from the other side and engaged the ranger.

After that, three smaller wolves rushed out of the brush. The swift attacks of the wolfish horrors continually threatened to trip our heroes, and kept the healers busy stemming the flow of blood.

Boomah fired the fallen to stop them from rising. Kallius, flanked by illusory doubles, struck with his enchanted rpaier, searing the beast with electricity as well as his keen blade.

Luix fell, and only his faith kept him in this world, but in the end the monsters were defeated Our heroes stood against a cliff wall surrounded by burning acid-dripping wolf corpses.

While being watched by a monkey.

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Roiling the Bones
Or-- Zombie whack-a-mole

eeda6b03efcb78b59d0c7d2b1e624094.jpgSetting out toward where they saw smoke, our heroes made their way down the valley. The wind continued to howl with strange voices and the mists formed strange shapes, but did not impede their passage.

Saerin led the way, and Boomah followed close behind. Several hours into the march, the ranger broke through something solid in a marshy field. It opened a cavity and unleashed a horrible stench, and the water around their feet started swirling.

They saw a small rise nearby and stared making their way toward it, when the water started to form a column. Closer note showed that the column was filled with shards of bone and other rotted body parts.

The ground they ran across was littered with bones, and their shape edges and muddy surrounding slowed the group’s progress. The column expanded until it was a swirling whirlwind of bones, mud and debris.

The warriors charged, but their weapons had no effect on the entity. It swallowed Dremahl, and the priest had difficulty acting within the swirling maw.

Boomah repeated fired bombs at it, which seemed to do it harm, and Kallius’ magic had only intermittent effect. Celeste channeled the power of Methys, which tore great rents in the tower.

While most of the party tried to get clear of the fiendish presence, the priests assaults and magical fire eventually broke they thing back into piles of bones.

But before they could celebrate their victory, several other areas in the marsh began to bubble. Misshapen heaps of bone and mud began to rise and lurch toward our heroes. Luix smashed the first with his flail, sending it back to the mud. Only to watch it slowly reform and renew its attack.

The group could outpace the shaming dead, but even as they cut them down the monsters would reform. Only divine magic seemed to keep the dead in the ground.

So the group pulled back, and lured the zombies (if that’s what they were) closer together to focus the gods’ power. Boomah raced back and forth trailing fire to corral them. but the mindless horrors walked through the fire as often as they went around.

In the end, the channeled energies of the two priests were sent through all the enemies, returning them to the graves.

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Luix 1, Pugwampi 0
Or-- Down in the valley

vale.jpgLuix had smashed the small creature to the ground, and a stunned silence passed over much of the crowd. Except for the area where Kallius and Saerin were firing into the crowd, and being attacked by spectators.

Their quarry went invisible, and the dazed dwarf flailed wildly at the ranger. And then darkness enveloped the crowd.

Jotahj cried out for order from the lord’s box, and the fighting stopped. Then he ordered the area cleared of all except the our heroes. Celeste tried to explain what they believe happened, and the Mephitan (aka Vietella) connection to Menso and the Vale beyond.

The dwarf was swayed by the evidence, and agreed to open the south gate and defend the land around the dam. He also agreed to reward the party for their efforts.

The next morning they accompanied a troop of guards to the south gate, along with Corbel — who had been placed in charge of the giant’s den caves.

The spent the next night on the landing of the Nuran dam. They said farewell to the dwarf wizard, and set out after the wizard.

The moved through the caves and down into the flooded valley below the broken dam. A summer storm began to blow through the valley, but this one seemed slightly off. When it approached, they wind howled with anguished voices and cries for help could be heard.

The rain burned like acid, and the group fled to a cave for protection. The cave that Saerin found showed evidence of previous occupants, but nothing larger than insects share the space with them.

When the storm passed, they spotted a thin trail of smoke rising above the mist further down the vale. They decided to move toward that spot, and hoped to camp nearby at the end of the day.

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Shifting Luck
Or -- Another 'Rocky' remake

Adamante_Dwarf_Hero.jpgFollowing their battle with the forgefiend, out heroes explored the wreckage of its exploded form. They found no source of its animation, but determined that its twisted blades were made of adamantium and carved with evil runes. Separating them from the body, they moved on.

They traveled for several hours in the passages of the hall, and as they came to more populated areas began to attract attention from those around.

Corbel told them that it would be very late by the time they got to the Hall proper, and the group decided it would be best not to give their enemies time to prepare. So they pushed on.

When they reached the central galleries of Gilt Hall, a crowd was awaiting them. The stone lord Vanha met them, and explained that they would be able to meet with the Hallitae-rhim immediately. Ushered into the chamber, Corbel made a show of dumping the severed giant head before the leaders and demanded the dwarves return to the south gate and protect their entire realm.

The leaders muttered among themselves, and then told the group that they had merely done the task that was appointed them, and that they had already been compensated for their troubles.

Then the stone lord interrupted, and said as champion defenders of the Gilt Hall dwarves, the group had the right to have their proposal measured by the gods. The rulers reluctantly agreed, and gave them one hour to prepare.

Confused, our heroes asked how exactly the god were going to take the measure of their proposal. Vanha told them that it was trial by combat with the gods’ vessel in a sacred ring. He was not allowed to say much more about it. Luckily, Kallius finally figured out the secret of the golden dragon statue, and it explained that the vessel was a stone automaton with power to generate spikes from any stone. The ring was surrounded by a barrier that blocked all spells, and only one divine blessing would be allowed.

They chose Luix as their champion, and worked to maximize his potential for success. They armed him with the adamantine daggers, which they enchanted. They collected what potions they had and loaded him down. To protect him from rising stone spikes, Celeste gave him her potion of flight.

An hour quickly passed, and they were led to the ring — a large sand circle with three pillars representing the main divine protectors of the Gilt Hall dwarves. It rose above a second ring also divided into three, one filled with sharp stones, one with swirling water, and the third with burning coals. In the center stood a massive stone statue of a dwarf covered in spiky armor. A narrow bridge was set across the gap between the crowded gallery and the pit.

Luix stepped over, and immediately took the flying potion. The statue launched at him, swinging its massive fists. The fighter drank a second potion as the creature closed.

It lashed out and struck him powerfully at the end of its charge. He tried to attack back, but some power was turning his blows and throwing off his aim. This was noted by his comrades, who looked about to see what was causing this effect.

Luix flew from the guardian’s reach, and pleaded for the help of the dwarven gods at their pillars. This fell on deaf ears, but as the creature closed and grabbed at him again, he heard tinny giggling in the empty air. He shouted this to his allies, and hoped they expose the cheat.

Meanwhile, Kallius was moving through the crowd looking for anything that stood out. He laid eyes on a serious-faced ashy dwarf that was looking about the arena and not directly at the fight. Then, he realized that the creature was in fact a dredger, and called to the ranger.

As he did so, a dwarf from the nearest rank jumped up to attack him. Deciding that this man was probably being controlled, Saerin ignored his charge and fired his bow at the duergar.
Even as this was playing out, Corbel had excavated a chunk of the area to create dust and gravel, and Celeste summoned an air elemental. She instructed the outsider to swallow up the dust and scatter it over Luix, the guardian, and the mysterious giggler.

When it did, Luix became aware of a small winged shape hovering near the pillar. Ignoring the blows of the guardian, he swung the adamantine dagger at the invisible interloper, overcoming unlike, dust and invisibility, to land a mighty blow. The tiny creature was smashed to the ground, and the crowd was stunned by the sudden appearance of another creature in the arena.

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Forging ahead
Or-- Do you smell what the rock is cooking?

Forgefiend.jpgOur heroes continued to explore the giants’ caves, making sure that no enemies remained behind to threaten them. Saerin, using the climbing ring liberated the cave giant leader, made his way up the cavern wall and found a stash of supplies that previous dwarven defenders left behind.

He also climbed to the perch where the behir-monster had fled through. Bringing the others up behind, they found a sheltered vale littered with seeded skin and a vast collection of goat and lizard carcasses. Taking a sample of the behir scales, they returned to the caves.

There, the dwarf Corbel told them that she needed to return to Gilt Hall to demand her people shake off their isolation and defend their southern gates. The group decided to join her and please her case, as well as gain materials and perhaps information about awaited them in the vale below.

They pried up the bar they left on the gate and sealed it behind them. Searching the entry, Saerin found more dwarven tracks than simply Corbel could have made, but could not discern what they had done there. So they continued on.

They made their way through the mountain, slowly returning to the worked passage. They were moving down a wide columned passage when a fiery glow appeared out the darkness.

A massive iron figure, like a furnace with legs and long curved blades on the end of its arms blocked the tunnel ahead. Saerin, followed by those behind, moved to cover behind a stone column. With a wave, the creature made the column dissolve into a pool of liquid stone, solidifying around the ranger’s legs. He barely leaped to safety before it closed around him.

With another wave, the iron juggernaut turned Kallius to stone. Luckily, Luix had a potion of stone salve, and he tossed to the priests before facing the enemy.

He and Luix charged, and Dremahl created two giant spiders to join the fight. As they closed, the creature spewed molten metal from its fiery torso, burning the spiders and gravely wounding the big northerner.

Kallius hasted the warriors, and they rained blows on the creature. Corbel enlarged Luix, and his massive flail crashed down over and over.

Its thick iron hide deflected many blows, but in the end it could withstand the combined attacks off the entire group. In the end, it exploded into a heap of pig iron, sending a rain of molten metal onto the combatants.

They determined that the curved blades that passed for its hands were symbols of Mephitas (known as Vietella to the dwarves), and that someone wanted to ensure no one returned from the south gate.

This made them more determined than ever to rouse the dwarves from their isolation.

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Lightning round
Or-- Speaking with forked tongues

white-lightning-breath-dragon.jpgAfter resting the remainder of the night and restoring their magical energies, our heroes returned to the giants’ caves.

Boomah led the way, and was quickly back in the orcs’ lair. He stealthily creeped across to the rift in the middle of room, but was suddenly startled by a booming voice in the darkness above.

The voice stated that the goblin was not the one to kill, and demanded he bring him “the one that smelled pf the beast”. Boomah rushed back to party waiting in the entry passage, and asked for volunteers.

Kallius was ‘chosen’ to return, and the two marched back to the cavern. The voice in the shadows was pleased by Boomah’s choice, and offered him a chance to escape before it destroyed the elf. He stood by his comrade’s side, and the two were engulfed by a bolt of lightning from a cave high on the cavern wall.

Kallius turned invisible, and Boomah rocketed back to the entry. Once again the beast engulfed the area where the magus stood in lightning, but its effected was minimized by magical protections and the magus’ own skill.

The huge multi-legged, winged monstrosity pounced down to the cavern floor, swearing to the return the abomination (Kallius) back to the ground. It raged, claiming that his kind had been banished form this land.

Luix, Saerin, and the others rushed to defend the elf, suffering blows as they fought through its extended reach. The beast, now lit by fires and and its own crackling electric aura, was covered by rising boils and popping sores. Its many legs seemed grafted onto a body that was rejecting them even as it grew new ones.

It howled at the warriors that its master had forbidden it from killing them all, and that it was only going to destroy the tainted ones.

Once they closed, the warriors handed out severe punishment, while the healers worked to keep them standing.

Slashed by several blows, the beast lashed out with wings, tail and its many legs to clear a space, and took flight. Our heroes exhausted every avenue of attack as it fled, but stood helps as it slipped through the opening and back into the darkness.

With the creature gone, our heroes scouted out the remaining caves. They found the giants’ lair, and a pen of goats kept to appease the creature. They even found enchanted stone charms exactly like the ones discovered in the troglodytes’ cave. But nothing else rose up to threaten them.

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The bigger they are...
Or-- Another victory for the firehoses of healing

10930151_10152985861047530_783066020997476016_n.jpgOur heroes chose to fall back to the gate of Gilt Hall to maximize their defensive position and rest. The afternoon was spent keeping an eye out on the horizon, and allowing the arcane casters to sleep. Other than a pounding rainstorm in late afternoon, the day past without incident.

Night fell, and Kallius, Corbel and Boomah still slept. The large dark shape was seen again at sunset, winging toward the south, and soon the group picked up noises from across the Nuran dam.

Everyone was roused and the wizards quickly began to prepare what spells they could. Roughly 20 minutes later the sounds of crashing brush could be heard clearly from across the gap. The they head the satisfying snap and tumbling, as the rope bridge they had rigged earlier gave way under weight.

This gave them little respite, for soon a harnessed lizard trailer by two orcs appeared on the dam. They were followed by a trio of giants, barely visible in the gloom.

Arrows flew, and the angry lizard snapped its bonds and charged. It got swarmed, bull-rushed by an elemental, and plummeted from the parapet after getting stabbed by the ranger.

Then the giants were coming, tossing rocks as they made their way across the dam. The casters had not finished preparations, but battle does not wait.

Soon Luix, Dremahl and Kallius were faced off against three massive tusked giants at the base of the Hall’s landing. The giant in the rear lagged back and heaved spells at the group, while the front two smashed down with oar-sized battle axes. Boomah sent fire after the leader, and it was absorbed by a familiar looking red gem worn around the giant’s neck.

The power of Methys and Nox were once again taxed to keep the warriors alive, as the broken dam soon became slick with blood. The dwarf tried to topple the leader by crumbling the stones beneath him, but only ended up leaving him and the big northerner falling in a heap.

Boomah tossed a bead of force that sent shock waves out, and caught one of the orcs within its glowing sphere. One by one, the thunderous beasts fell to our heroes blows.

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Orcs < Ogres < What the heck is that?!?
Or-- Too Big to Flail

Monster_orc_invasion_large.jpgThe melee resumed as if there was never a pause. The small elementals aided Kallius in his struggle against the snipers, while Luix bore the brunt of the front rank of orc warriors and with their ogre captain.

But as quickly as they slashed at him, Celeste and Dremahl would heal the big northerner, so the battle continued in a gruesome equilibrium.

Saerin and Corbel fought off a small group at the side. Boomah heard the snapping of timbers from the cave mouth above them, and soon two huge rock lizards tumbled out of the passage and into the fray. The dwarf breathed a grout of flame at them, and the goblin joined in with his own. The elf slashed out with his blade at the burning enemies.

One by one, enemies fell to Luix’s gigantic flail. Once their leader toppled, the others were quick to follow. Kallius enchanted his blade with lightning, and protected by his illusory duplicates, made headway of his own. Soon he has alone at the edge of the underground brook.

The orcs and lizards were struck down as well, and our heroes stood, bloodied but victorious. Boomah found one staggered orc and demanded to know if there were more. The dying creature told him that the young ones would still protect their land, and at that even the ogres took orders from the huge ones that lived up the watery passage. In return for this information, Boomah freed the creatures spirit. Repeatedly, with his dagger.

Creeping to the edge the cliff that split the large chamber, Boomah noted that the fire had been completely put out. He also drew the fire of a handful of crossbows, whose bolts sailed harmlessly over his head.

blotig.jpgTurning back to the lizard tunnel, the goblin crept up the winding passage. Soon he found himself in a large natural chamber that stank of lizards. Not hearing anything, he tossed his torch in to light the room. This drew the attention of something large, which came to investigate. Boomah crouched in the shadows as a nearly 12-foot-tall hunched creature with massive elephantine tusks moved into the torchlight.

Bravely returning to warn his friends, Boomah fled. The group quickly decided to quit the cave in search of safer spot to rest. Boomah returned to try and retrieve a crossbow, but found three of the massive humanoids splashing through the brook into the cave. Once again, he took the better part of valor.

Once they were outside, they looked for high ground to rest on. They climbed up a couple rises before they heard voices coming from the cleft in the highest peak. They reduced Boomah, and he hitched a ride on an air elemental to spy out what was up there. He spotted a huge blue beast with scaly wings and more than a dozen pair of legs seemingly shouting into a cleft in the stone. Giant voices came out of the dark in aggressive tones. The elemental service is brief, so the two quickly returned to the group to report.

Hearing that, they decided not to camp in the open. The final decision was to return to the ogre dugout on the edge of the dam, and to fall back to Gilt Hall if necessary.

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