Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dex before and after blight pics

From the journal of Aranel Aelynsar...

It has been a week since we awoke upon that strange battlefield. Now, here I sit with my companions, with the Burning Plains to our backs, and a city bathed in holy light before us. In such a short time, we have traveled far, slain old monsters and made new enemies. I pray that we begin to find the answers we seek, and perhaps even save our world from this blight.

I should detest the monsters we have become. For an elf, the dead feeding upon the living is wholly unnatural, but I find myself...indifferent. While the others generally choose to avoid it where possible, it has come more easily to me. My years in the elvish army taught me to survive at all costs. I do tend to fall back on habits, but I wonder if it is something more. The hunger is present in all of us, but I am beginning to crave it. We become primal and violent when the hunger takes over and we lose control, and I fear those who abstain for as long as they are able may eventually lead to our downfall.

But these fellows are the closest thing to friends I have found since leaving Tellion so many years ago. Sieg, ever so pious, is by far the most stubborn. It has been good to see his spirits recently lifted. Dex, the half-breed, is an honorable man and a natural leader. I am grateful to him for helping me unlock some of the blight's mysteries. Veraxis, our living map, is a curious one. I fear for his safety around the likes of us, however. Even though our party of misfits may have only known each other briefly, we fight as if we have been battling alongside one another for a lifetime. I suppose in one respect, we have been.

Prior to being blight-touched, I was nearing the brink of my own mortality. I fought in battles before most of my companions were born, and suffered too many injuries in my long career. I do not know what fate we will meet in that holy temple, but if we do find the answers we seek, I know not if I will return to my former self. Since tasting the guard's blood in Fendis Ren, I have, ironically, felt more alive than I have in years. But for now, I must go.

Someone is coming...

The collected journals of the elven ranger would later be retold by the bard, in THE BALLAD OF BLIGHT AND BLOOD.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tales of the Bard 010


Taking stalk of events the party notes they are all standing and 3 blighted women lay at their feet. As Sieg and Dex attempt to pull daggers from inside thier necrotic flesh, Jaspyr makes a discovery of a different sort. Two of the featureless porcelain masks of the blight witches lay in shards, likely pierced by the arrows of Aranel. However the third, yes the third is still intact. Jaspyr looks closely at the woman laying without consciousness and sees that her blight tendrils have woven themselves into the mask, making it as much a part of her face as her eyes or nose. Pulling out his argent blade Jaspyr begins to cut the tendrils from the mask. They sizzle and pop, snap and recoil from the silvered weapon as the mask slowly peels away. The woman beneath is beautiful, such a shame such beauty perverted to such horrible means. They gather the rest of their things, the mask and a few of the blighted witches cloaks of crimson and orange and make way to investigate the chain gang.

We are here to help

Even with the best intentions some things can still go horribly horribly wrong. Approaching the chained humans, orcs and dwarf the party makes their intentions well known. Met with equal parts horror, intrigue and obedience the party makes contact. These prisoners are bound together by chain, all single file and pillaged from different nomadic tribes from the burning plains. The humans explain that their bonds are only accessible by the sisters' ability to phase through the locks to unlock its sealed mechanisms. The orcs grunt and spit their language at the would be saviours while their leader is bound with a type of mussel as well as his hands bound. The humans explain that he is likely a war priest with an arcane manipulating tongue.

Sieg continues to calm the crowd as some of the humans tell him the knowledge that there is a dragon born tribe that roams the northern most parts of the burning plains.

Desperation coupled with fleeting time motivate Dex to experiment with the Sisters' mask. He believes it will grant him their ability to phase through objects and remove the bonds that imprison the captives. As he brings the mask closer to his face his blight tendrils reach and stretch to pull the mask snug to his face. A whole new world is laid before Dex as his perceptions are completely changed. He has no sight, however in the darkness the roiling energies of the living illuminate them beautifully and gracefully. Also their is a sense with the blight creep, a sense that he perceives for the first time perhaps because his is blinded. He can detect slightly, as if they are shadows, his comrades. And the hunger, the hunger my god it is enhanced and hard to control with this evil thing attached to his face. However, Dex remains strong, if not aware of his fleeting time. Searching from within, Dex manages to activate the inate ability to phase, clumsily however and phases up to his chest in the ground. The others manage to pull him free and Dex tries again, this time with more control. He phases through a shield as a test. Next he tries to free one of the humans. Phasing through the lock Dex can almost feel the mechanism and with some trying manages to keep his fingertips phased to manipulate the inner mechanism while his arm passes through its outer barrier. Dex deftly releases the poor captive amongst a short lived shower of praise.

Looking upon the now freed human, his essence changing colour with the new prospect of being freed, Dex looses himself to the increasing hunger. He can't take it any more and lunges for the human. Sieg and Aranel try to stop him but as Sieg tries to reposition himself Dex breaks free of his grasp. He grabs the Human and bites his arm in twain. Screaming and fear boil over as Sieg and Jaspyr manage to subdue Dex. Dex looses consciousness and Jaspyr cuts the mask from his face.

Sieg manages to calm the chain gang and stabilize the wounds of the human cauterizing his stump of an arm. A terrible price to pay in such troubling times. Varaxis decides their must be an easier way, perhaps the warpriest can help. Varaxis removes the mussel from Rekvar'thra and explains to him in broken Orcish the situation. Rekvar'thra begins to chant and spell that is almost as a song dripping off of his Orcish tongue. With some effort Rekvar'thra loosens the bonds and the fall unbound to the ground from the chained captives. After a further exchange Varaxis is told of the nearby temple of Pelor known as Karnak which the party is seemingly headed towards. “A very dangerous place for blighted” they warn as the party takes heed. After further talk Varaxis limited understanding of Orcish grammar and context leads to insult. The party will get no quarter should they run into Orc kind again.

What pretty cloaks

The party continues through the night towards the maps navigation. After a few hours they see a large blight bringer on the horizon, the party decides to give it a wide birth and skirts around the large mass of tendrils. Again off in the distance more blight beings and the party worries they may be spied and again tries to arc away from the encampment. Just then ahead of them the party is approached by more 'Sisters'. The party is quick to tell the sisters not to attack Varaxis, as tasty as he may seem for they are on a “mission” of some importance. The Sisters explain that they should follow them to speak with “the mother” if Varaxis is so important. However Dex dismisses this notion and convinces them of a higher purpose. One sister asks if they have seen their new recruits and another group of sisters bringing them. The party lies horribly to the sisters as 2 of them are wearing their very same cloaks. After more intimidation and wheeling and dealing Dex manages to convince the sisters to allow them to pass anyhow. And forward they go.

Light, such brilliant light

As they progress the party sees a beaming and otherworldly light emanating on the horizon. Karnak! “Lets go around” Dex says, their is no place for blighted in a temple for the god of the sun. Varaxis speaks up, The map is pointing directly at Karnak. Whatever it is they seek, it lies somewhere within that Temple. Aranel finds the party a decent spot to camp for the day as Karnac is blight creepless and bathed in daylight, even before sunrise somehow. During the day Dex discovers that he can tune into the blight creep to perceive his surroundings. With effort Dex believes the party can use it to communicate eventually and he attempts to instruct the others how to use it. During 3rd watch 6 figures approach wearing the same colours and cloaks as the sisters. However these beings are indeed alive still and not blighted.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tales of the Bard 009


Walk a mile in another mans shoes

Sometimes in times of great peril and chaos the lines of morality are blurred in the name of the greater good. And yet sometimes you have to deal with a man like Dex. Dex having every ounce of his being consumed by the hunger that haunts his new un-life, still manages to make a case to leave the unconscious elf alive and able to follow his own path. This is a man that hates Dex and his kind, would kill him 20 times over if given the opportunity, he could be used as food, he could be a thorn in the parties side in the future, and yet Dex makes his case. Sometimes its the swing of an axe, sometimes sacrifice in battle, but today its words and leadership that mark a hero. Though they may be bereft of their old lives, these few and strong still have light in their souls.

And then Varaxis takes his boots....

Gathering up supplies of elvish rope and a few weapons, arrows and trinkets, the party makes way towards their map waypoint to find a suitable place to rest for the day.

Crises of faith

Madness, rage, hunger, cruelty, hunger, evil, hunger, hunger, hunger, hunger, how do I stave off the hunger? How can i still be myself? Has Avandra forsaken me? TALK TO ME! We are all tested by the gods, some more obvious than others, and poor Seig is at a crossroads in his belief. Seig takes time, trying to connect with Avandra, but will his god listen? A glimmer, the faintest feeling that he is being watched. Seig holds onto this feeling, bundling it up, shielding it from his hunger. Will this glimmer be enough....

Did you see that?

With a few roaming mindless blight after Varaxis very little happens in the encampment. The party gathers their things and begins their march anew. The road has a funny way of allowing strangers to bond, and these strangers are no different. Dex and Aranel talk at length of their former selves as the landscape changes from dead blight forest to rolling blight plains. Aranel describes how these lands used to be vast and colourful with the prominence of red and orange flowers giving the burning plains its namesake.

After hours of travelling the party spies a line of torches off in the distances of their vision. Aranel is sent closer to investigate. A strange scene lies ahead of him, weary and worn men and women of many races walk, bound by chains in single file. Who are these people, or more importantly who are their captors?

Meanwhile Varaxis is concentrating on some infernal tome of his as the party waits for Aranel to report back. Just then, out of nowhere a beautiful voice says to him “I should like to meet you” as a cold hand caresses his chest, pulling tendrils of life essence from the Tieflings very core. Pain! The party is alight in action as they try to make sense of what is happening. A woman cloaked in crimson and a pale featureless mask is set upon Varaxis, seemingly floating with toes barely touching blight, she is engorging herself with his essence. 2 More appear as the shift around calling each other 'sister' and pull more and more life from Varaxis. Jaspyr, Dex and Seig attack with varied results as the 3 sisters seem almost intangible at times. One of the women moves right through Dex, saying “what are you doing brother” to him as she phases in and out of existence. Varaxis pulls upon his infernal knowledge and begins playing a tug of war with his life essence, pulling it back from his attackers as they deftly take it back again. One sister through a series of a kind of beautiful and elegant movements phases in and out leaving a dagger inside of Dex.

Aranel rushing back to the party after hearing the commotion, takes aim and lets loose 2 quick and deadly arrows. Noticing their pattern of incorporeal shifting, Aranel places the 2 arrows perfectly into the brain pans of 2 sisters as they slump to the ground. Varaxis pulls life from the third as Aranel lets loose another arrow to separate the witch from her consciousness.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tales of the Bard 008

Something to show

Its funny how war changes people. Old enemies become trusted allies, right and wrong are no longer definitive tools of measurement, and hope becomes a powerful motivation, almost blindingly so.

The party decides to confide in Casey to garner favour with this leader of rabble. They show him the map of Collosia newly procured and blood soaked. A vision of which tantalizes Aranel's fangs at the smell of blood on parchment. Dex decides to tell Casey of the giant task at hand, that a hint of a hint of a cure is leading them towards an unknown destination deep within the Burning Plains. This peaks Casey's interest, he and his spies saw the party fighting other blight, just hours ago. Could it be true, a cure? After 51 years of war, nay survival how could you blame a man for grasping tenaciously at any hint of a solution. Whether from a devil, or the mouth of a half elven saviour, it doesn't matter to the beast known as desperation. “Come with me” he says, “i have something i want you to see”. And so they head for New Haven, the daylight giving Casey and his band some assurance that these cursed even if they go back on their word of “no harm” they wouldn't be much of a problem.

Arriving in town the party notices goblins, many goblins walking, talking, selling and generally living among the humans. Casey explains how war makes strange bedfellows, and that the goblins earn their keep with resourcefulness and instinct. The homes of New haven, if you could call them that are are make shift tents raised into the trees by rigging that looks like it belongs on a ship, not on a camping trip. Collars of silver line the trunks of trees and everyone gets the sense that this town could disassemble and relocate in a matter of minutes if push came to shove.

Casey leads the party to his tree grouping and lowers a crate down with a quick knot slide and pulley tug. Opening the crate, he announces, “this is what i brought you hear to see”. Inside is a mass, of blight creep, contently writhing within, slowed and nonthreatening. Casey explains, “this was my son” as his head hangs in self expressed failure. “after months of being confined to this crate without food he lapsed into this cocoon for a sort of hibernation we believe” he continues. “So as you can imagine, i have a vested interest in a cure for this curse, and if there is anything I can do to help you speed you on your way to finding it, then name it now”. “I only ask that you share the answers should you find them”. To this the party can hardly say no, a man who is obviously torn by his responsibility to the people of this makeshift refugee town, and his want to come with them and find the answers first hand.

The party is given what provisions they request. A shield for Dex, some goblin made goggles for Varaxis that allows him to see as the blighted do in blight fog. Also they are gifted a small messenger Drakin named Iro, to help them contact New haven again should they move on. Finally Casey offers food, bringing about a goat to help the blight cursed party feed. Seig is unable to contain himself again ripping out the heart of the poor beast as the rest take their piece of the pie.

Casey warns the party that they should stay out of site of the Elves should they fly overhead with their large Drakin powered air skiffs, on a patrol. As they bid farewell and gods speed Casey has his men see the party to a cave for respite from the noon day's sun.

Back through the tunnel

After a short rest they decide to head back out of Old Tellion through the tunnel they came in. Cautiously the party heads back through the tunnel and Aranel notices that the creep from the other side has spread into the tunnel and is inching its way towards New Haven. Heading back through the entrance of the tunnel the party spies blight thralls wandering aimlessly around the area. A small blight bringer is spreading creep and it is recognized that the blight thralls were those that the party smote just hours earlier. Up and fully regenerated and roaming. Varaxis' presence is not noticed and the party is allowed to simply walk through and away from the mingling thralls.

Don't trust those whose feet are not bound to the soil

After some time travelling towards the maps directions the party sees something heading in their direction in the sky. Hiding(and not well in some cases) the party peaks out to see an elvish air skiff flying over head and spotting their curious bodies hardly hidden, turn their skiff sharply and begin their decent. This skiff's rune covered hull pulses and glows as it decends rapidly on the parties position. All at once 3 elves nimbly leap forward unhinging the 2 Drakin that propell the skiff from their harness' and a forth uses arcane word weavings to set the craft down. The Drakin fly straight for Seig and Jaspyr as Dex and Aranel try to reason with these Elvish zealots. They would rather burn for eternity with no sons or daughters than speak with these blighted pigs as they curse and spit in their guttural elvish tongue known far too well to Aranel.

Seig and Jaspyr are grappled by the too Drakin and flown into the air. Jaspyr defly stabs the Drakin wounding it horribly as it lets him loose to fall. Jaspyr uses his blight enhanced leaping ability to land gracefully and deftly. Seig is not so lucky as he squirms free of his captors grasp and plummets fast slamming into the ground. Seig lifts himself up as the days “work” has just begun. As the Elves volley arrows into our heroes Dex and Aranel rush for the Elves. Varaxis lets out an infernal blast, engulfing 2 of the Elves in green fire. But Varaxis is not the only one on the battlefield with magic “tricks”. The Elven Mage utters some words in the arcane tongue, drawing his hands together and touching his finger tips to one another. As he arcs them back around, the crackle of lighting dances from finger to finger ultimately being directed out towards Aranel. Aranel dodges the lightning blast but it changes directions and catches Dex off guard. Jaspyr and Seig go toe to toe with these flying lizards getting blow after blow and receiving bit and claw. A defening boom of thunder erupts from the Elven Mage, and Dex and Aranel are knocked and dazed from the intense sound. Varaxis roasts one of the Elven Hunters and Aranel and Dex drop another. Jaspyr drops his sword and draws his Glaive thrusting it deep into the mortally wounded Drakin. Blood and guts spill out as he summons the strength to lift the beast over his head as it slides down the pointy end of his weapon. Dex stabs the remaining Elven Hunter as Aranel leaps in ripping the Elves throat out with the ferocity and jagged horror of one and a half fang-tusks.

The Elven Mage runs, but where does he think he can go from here with his Drakin's dead, his protectors bleeding and burning on the ground, and the Halfelf pig running straight for him. Its not long before Dex catches, grapples and questions him. He reveals nothing and spits in Dex's face, gaining a sense of satisfaction in the face of his judges. Aranel is fed up with the questioning going no-where and goes in for a feeding as Dex forcefully stops him. One more dead end response and Dex beats this man to uncontiousness.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tales of the Bard 007

52/1st/786ce(51-blight era)

Our weary adventurers not wanting another engagement with the Collosians this night decide to gather what they can and move on before the man that ran off into the north returns with reinforcements presumably. Finding an old map of Collosia with hand markings on it of towns and places crossed off and a large line splitting the land in two. Moving east along the river bank looking for a way into Tellion, Aranel hears the noise of beasts of burden and the faint scraping of an underground endeavour. Deciding to scout it out as he is rising over an embankment into the wood, Aranel is met by scores of men rushing at him. He runs back to his companions as he lets loose arrows bundled with falsehoods of “we do you no harm!”. Over the embankment many blight thralls rush at our party with the reckless disregard of controlled insanity.

Fresh from feeding the would be heroes receive the incoming wave of thralls like a steadfast stone breakwater. Seig and Dex quickly dispatch two of the thralls as more rush in with jumper blight thralls. Rushing down is an 8 foot tall Goliath blight champion screaming rageful comments at Aranel. Aranel and Varaxis and Jaspyr drop a few more of the unknowing thralls. Dex is then surprised by one of the blight thralls pouncing on top of him knocking him prone. Aranel backs up through the front line as the Goliath charges through. Narrowly missing Dex lying prone with a stomp of his heavy foot the Goliath strikes out in anger towards Aranel. Aranel pulls back dodging with his amazing manoeuvring abilities inciting further rage from the hapless blight champion. Varaxis pulls away un-life from the Goliath with his infernal ways, stunning him. Jaspyr and Dex seize the opportunity to cut into the blight champion with finesse and vigour. A blight thrall approaches Varaxis and is met with doom as Varaxis reaches out grabbing the once-mans face in the palm of his map hand. Searing glyphs illuminate and send beams of light through the blight thralls head as if it were not even there. The blight thrall drops having been bestrode true death by Varaxis' Magnatherian artifact. As the rest of the thralls are being cleaned up, Jaspyr unleashes a strike of his sword powerful enough to split the land in twain if it weren't for the Goliaths body getting in the way. The Argent blade cuts deep as armour buckles and breaks, bone spliters and the blight champions essence escapes him dropping him dead.

A tunnel

Investigating to see what these blight had been working on the party finds they had been fast at work digging a tunnel under the river into Tellion. Blighted giant boars had been used to haul the dirt out and makeshift tunnel supports in. The tunnel was almost finished when Aranel stumbled upon their operation. Digging the rest of the way through our party progresses cautiously through the tunnel into the lands that were once Elven. Dawn is coming and the party walks on searching for a suitable location to rest for the day as they no longer are in blighted territory. They find a little hollow out of direct sunlight to hunker down as the party discuss' an unsettling realization. “What do we do about Seig?” Dex queries the others. With is lack of hunger control, made worse by refusing to eat can he be trusted to remain in the presence of Varaxis? No is the conclusion, and tying Seig up with ropes is the short term solution the party realizes. Discussing the decision with Seig they bind him up for the day and set watch.

An old familiar face

A few hours into Varaxis' watch the encampment is suddenly surrounded by a dozen cloaked bow trained men. Keeping their distance they ask the party what they are doing here, and who they are. As the rest of the party is roused, and Seig's bindings broken and man from the back steps forth. “I remember your faces, i swore I would never forget them” An old, but well conditioned looking man, with scars to account for all the years says. “You are the ones that saved my life, all those years ago in Ostwick, i was a boy then, but you saved me, and you saved Eastbourne with the signal fires.” His name is Casey Brightholm and he is probably the only living being in all of the world that would not attack this ragged lot. The world is a funny and small place, the fates are hard at work here, that much is obvious.