Gather round children, and let Bill tell you a tale of bravery, honour and courage. Now you little ‘uns might be surprised by who I tell you about, because they don’t quite fit their stereotypes, cos you’ll be forgiven for thinking I am talking about some grand paladins of Light and Good power by saying the words ‘bravery, honour and courage’, and yes Smudge was there too, but most of my companions on this adventure were some really dark and scary individuals.
In fact the only truly Good (and here I mean having a connection to the Good Sphere) people who came to destroy the evil nasty Lord Cardinaris were Eziekial Bramble (henceforth known in this tale as Uncle Zeke) - destroyer of dead things and fiddler with naughty things; Ambassador Kudos – fiddler with politiks and grand master of chin rubbing, Hero and High priest Smudge – smasher of all things, drinker of beer and master of explosions and myself, Bill Jingle – technically High Priest of the Hospital (for how much longer remains to be seen).
We gathered to meet the Corsairs, led by stalwart Baron Irwin, ably assisted by the comedy duo Anthrax and Sutnac (well they laughed a lot, especially when taunting people and murdering them with extreme prejudice) and the sneakier types, namely Jack Morgan – cutter of throats and Dudge – now she’s a crazy one, dancer, bouncer, fiddler with traps, never shut up. They were dead keen to loot anyone or anything. In fact, I think one person was actually pillaged on his way to the ground after being slain.
Kylar came a-wandering too, but decided that he felt more at home removing limbs with his giant greatsword than the murdering with invocations more traditionally performed by Reapers.
Finally, having described the Heart and Limbs of the group, we come to the Brain. Lady Kevralyn and Master Harlequin (see? No inverted comma’s. It’s true, I can learn) brought insane magical ability and thinkiness to our party. I was guilty of over-curing Master Harlequin a LOT. He must be a demon with his weapons.
I end the description of our party with a complication. I do not know where to fit Lancorrin Bloodcall. He is smart but so reclusive that he doesn’t offer the opinions much like a Brain. He’s a good fighter, but not a Limb, but without him, we’d have been surprised and murdered a lot. I’d have to say he was more like our Third Eye. Especially if that Eye could be considered a sharp stabby Eye.
Anyway that us. Not a group of Paladins at all, but a typically diverse and multifaceted Valley group. Off to go and ‘help’ with the Halmadonian Crusade against Evil… I can’t see this going badly at all!
Well we wandered over to the Ikarthian triangle. For those of you who don’t know where this is, ask someone who can read a map, cos I don’t know either. All you gotta know is it is a place with lotsa nasty stuff, and dead stuff that isn’t dead proper-like, and magicky stuff too. There’s been Towers here, and they’ve all had weird stuff going on.
We encountered Dymwan (not surprising really as they were who the Halmadonians were having their crusade against, and this was where they were havin’ it. We killed them, but found they were all embodied with Undead. We had to kill them twice. Jack copped a Fatal Disease, but rapid fixing managed to get him up on his feet again.
Then we met some Halmadonians, who seemed to think we should NOT be helping them with the Dywman. Kinda like it was their toy and they weren’t sharing. They were Knights of Virtue, but they had with them a Knight of Purity, under orders from Sir Godwin, who is a pompous windbag. That is the best way to describe him. Any other way would be rude. He started the fight, which the boys finished. Smudge beat the poop out of the Knight of Virtue, who called for a truce to save his men’s lives. The Knight of Purity got very grumpy about this and had to be remonstrated to death. We sent the Virtue lads of with a warning that they owned Smudge one.
We was then accosted by some Shadowsfall. We chatted about stuff, and they said there were fewer Hordelings here and less mists near the Ikarthan Triangle.
There was some discussion with Master Harlequin and the Shadowsfall, seeing as how he is from Darkholme, and sworn to Arrakis, who is not at the Valley now, was Master Harlequin towerless? This was all silly and confusing and lawyerish. I think we had met some Shadowsfall Auditors.
Anyhoo, we wandered away from them, and walked up to a lodge. We were attacked by some Shadowy things on the way into the lodge. Lady-- Kevralyn thought this was somewhere she had been before ten years ago, in a party that had contained a person called Owadjawah. The butler of the lodge had treated Wadj like a master of the house. Wadj then slowly became the Master of the House (or Shadowlodge) and got absorbed into the Plane of Shadows.
This seems like a brilliant place to spend our time, and we heartily thank Sir Clavados for suggesting we stay in a building full of shadows and a very creepy butler. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, the Butler told us to ignore the servants (which I thought was very rude, indeed when I did talk to them they seemed terrified, so I think there was something creepy going on). We found the Book of Shadows in an antechamber, and an enchanted map. This map allowed us to get a realtime look at who was around, and sure enough there was a little guy in armour supposed to be real close, that HAD to be Sir Clavados. Later on we found that we were right!
On the wall was 9 mirrored frames, with nothing in them. I asked the Butler about the significance of this, and he said it was pictures of the Masters Favourite guests! Around the room were Crests of the House of the Ravanon, which apparently were an ancient cult who tried to destroy things. Well, that old chestnut hey? Evidently since they are all gone now (cos I’ve never heard of them) they must have been rubbish. I was told they had insinuated themselves into the Valley about 10 years ago. I was told that a prince Sardonix became the Guildleader of the Red School of magic. Apparently they insinuate themselves into other groups, not just the Valley. Is this significant? I don’t know.
There was a lot of frothing, and a lot of ideas bandied around about the Shadow lodge and who was in charge. It was all very confusing. It kind of led to me not really wanting to take part in many more brain sessions. This might have an impact on the accuracy of this story, but there is only so much rambling one mind can take. Either that or the Plane of Shadows has had an effect on my memory.
Kudos commed with the mirrors, and found that they attune to a person in the house, and they grant some boon, possibly protection to whoever it attunes to. He also said the Shadowlodge is trying to attune to us, and is deciding who it will pick.
A false alarm, and we all ran outside. Upon our return, one of the mirrors had revealed the first attuned guest – Sutnac! Closely followed by Uncle Zeke.
Clavados came around for tea. Dibbler was there as well, and he kinda wound up Sir Clavados. Now Sir Clavados is a reasonable man, and his temper was sorely tested by Dibbler. Let’s face it, that is what Dibbler does. After the shouting, the Good Sphere users of the party ended up in the Beer tent outside, in the cold, while the Evil people were inside, in the warm, drinking tea. Bit of a turn up for the books. Anyway, we drank and laughed. Who knows what Team Evil did.
A Fetch attacked, and we drove it off. Then it attacked again, and Team Evil came outside and beat it further to death. Sir Clavados and his unit of Good killy-ness stood and watched as we killed the undead. Hello? Crusade against evil?
We finished tea and discussed what to do. After a long convoluted plan session, we decided to go out and fiddle with things until we had an idea. We walked around towards an area the map had said was interesting, and on the way we met some Knights of Virtue. I don’t think they read each others mail, or even talk to each other, cos they also got grumpy and tetchy, and Smudge tried diploming with them. His style isn’t really polite, and he had to be told to go and drink beer. We told these Knights that as High Priests of the Good Sphere, we had been nice to some Knights of Virtue already today, and we didn’t want to smash them too much, and really wanted to go smash some Dymwan. They let us pass and went off to go and actually read their mail. Hopefully.
We met some interfering Khalid, and dealt with them in the usual fashion.
Then we found what was to known as the Neutral Node of Power. It was one of three Nodes that were part of the ritual Lord Cardonaris had organised so he could come and ruin Orin Rakatha. It was defended by a lot of Neutral Priests and Dymwan warriors, who were all behind a ward we couldn’t get through. They hit our front line with lots of huge Power Hammers, that they were able to invoke at vocal length cos of the power of the Neutral Node. We sat around getting smashed up, and I just sat at the back casting Mass Cure Mortals until we had had enough of being smashed. This was tedious as we couldn’t get through the ward. After a while the ritual the Dymwan was busy with must have been finished cos they left. We investigated the unbreakable ward and looked at the Node, and went back to the Lodge.
We then got beat up by some Hepath thingies, which we later found out was part of the group connected to Morghar’s Inheritance. Now that’s a truly diverse group.
When we was at the Lodge and I was trying for the life of me to figure out what the heck we were doing, we was told the Good peoples were to go visit Sir Clavados for tea and crumpets. Smudge had retired injured for the night, so the weakest members of the party went off into the dark by themselves. Cos that’s clearly the smart play isn’t it? We got chased around in the dark by undead stuff, and finally got to Sir Clavados’ camp. He gave us a bunch of temporary scrolls to aid us in our fight. He also gave Kudos a lot of port. So much for ‘tea’ and cake. And there was no cake. We went home, had some tea and slept.
Did I forget to mention the rain? Oh yes, there was a lot of rain. The ground was soaked, we were soaked, our shoes were soaked. Tomorrow promises to be a brilliant day. With more rain.
Waterday. How Ironic. Well it is a new day at least.
Some void Hordelings came to visit. For some reason they didn’t want bacon. Sir Clavados came for breakfast. We discussed the 30 scrolls he had given us. I wondered if they were writing out punishments for naughty acolytes. ‘You’ve been really bad Bran, now write out a Mass Heal Scroll 10 times.’ Maybe they are apology letters, ‘Dear Humact, I’m really sorry for being bad, I really apologise for that naughty thought, in return, please with you remove the paralysis….’ There was a heck of a lot of scrolls, so I could only assume, having met Bran, that he had continued being, well, Bran.
While we were there, digesting what Sir Clavados had told us, and our breakfast, the Dymwan Herald turned up. He was the chap in the last report I wrote who was taking names. Well he turned up with a whole bunch of Skeletons and tried to kill us. We killed his skeletons and he disappeared in a cloud of pain. I had to cast a Mass Heal after that one. What a git.
So after some deliberation, we decided to go and poke the Good Node. Figuring the Neutral Node was painful, the Good Node surely cannot be so bad? Just goes to should how wrong a person can be. When we got there, there was an Undead Death Knight, created from some Halmadonian and a retinue of revenant Knights, and passel of Dymwan warriors. They were fixing themselves up constantly and trying to kill us to death. Kudos cast Humact’s Sanction on the Death Knight, Sir Rulius son Toffen, and got smeared by him as a result. Turns out the revenants were immune to EVERYTHING as long as the Death Knight was alive, and he was hardly being hurt at ALL by all the damage our warriors could do. Kudos gothisself killed as I said, we got split up by a charge from the Knights, and I legged it. Not being silly or anything, but when you don’t use a weapon, and there be five horrible bastards coming your way, with only a Reaper in their path, it were definitely a case of ‘Feet do thy work’. Kylar provided me with a moment of bravery, either that or he was just too slow to keep up with a 19 stone Hospitaller. Had to be bravery. Well it cost him, cos they dropped him like a slab of beef. I ran in a big circle, while reading a Mass Heal scroll (thanks Sir Clavados) and bust back into the fight invoking its effect. We managed to chase off the Knights, or they left of their own accord. Either way we now had a look at the Good Node and found it very similar to the Neutral one, unbreakable ward, just soaking wet. It had cost us the spirit strength of Kudos and Kylar. Then we got attacked by Knights of Purity. They just don’t like us at all.
We then walked around the ritual area to find the Evil Node. I mean, by process of elimination, the Neutral one spanked us, the Good one rinsed us, the Evil Node HAS to be the easy one…. You’d think. There was a box ward, filled with 20 Dymwan. The Priests attracted the Good Sphere casters one by one and Harmed them and brutalised them. I got away, by running really fast into them when I was attracted and a 19 stone Hospitaller at speed in difficult to cast invocations upon. I did get Harmed, but the other effects missed me by a gnat’s whisker. That Node was definitely not to be messed with. I ran out of power completely, as I had to remove not 2 Fatal Diseases, but 4! There were Death Touchs, multiple Harms, what a bunch of bastards.
Anyway, we advanced quickly to the rear. I announced that I needed to med urgently, and that there would be no curing from me until this had happened. So with that firmly in mind, I was ignored and we climbed a chuffing great hill. We then accosted a group of Chaotic creatures who were really irritating so we could have a chat. Which then kicked off into a fight.Really smart there team ego. Still, no-one died. Luckily.
So after this I had a ‘toys-out-of-pram’ moment, sat on the ground, pulled my cloak over my head and meditated. Apparently this irritated the leaders of our soiree. Tough, I hope it hammered the point home that when I say I need to med, I bloody need to med. They then told me off about communication, and said that we should tell people what we are going to do, before we do it. My personal forecast of grumpy was upgraded to filthy surly outraged near incandescence. I had a quieter ‘toys-out-of-pram’ moment at that point, and mentally joined Team Thickie as I had had enough of trying to fit in with team Ego. I’m not saying we were divided, cos when it came down to the wire, we were one of the best, cohesive adventuring groups I have ever walked out of the Towers with.
Luckily for my sense of sanity, when we returned to the Shadowlodge, we were yet again assaulted by shadows. Apparently their blows sucked the mana right out of you, so our mages stood back while the rest went off after the shadows. They accosted all bar one shadow that leaked out towards us. Huzzah, Baron Irwin had left his mace behind, and I might have gone a little postal on the shadows. I felt fantastic after this. Mass Cure Mortal and a readjustment of my mental state.
We sat in the Shadowlodge, salivating at the smells coming from the kitchen, created by our silent kitchen staff. While we waited, the Dymwan Herald arrived AGAIN. He doesn’t get the message. This time he was accompanied by Lord Mian Gravestealer, mummies and banshees. The undead were killed, the Herald exploded with his customary cloud of horrendous damage, blowing up Sutnac. What a brave priest Sutnac is, a frothing psychopathic madman, but definitely brave and courageous. This left Lord Mian to have a chat with Lady Kevralyn. He stayed for AGES and made me wait for my tea. Yay! He left, and it was time for sausages! Nope – here comes the Valdemar. So now we wait to listen to some more waffle, while my food gets colder… Finally we get to eat.
Clavados popped over for a visit again. He filled us in on their days activities, which were that they had met the Knights of Mandragon (a Halmadonian Order) who were somewhere between the Knights of Chastity and Purity in their fanaticism. They too had encountered the Dymwan in the Evil Node, as well as the Hepath-like Chaos creatures. They had met a Saldorian called Gal UlEffierik, and the boss Khalid, a Colonel Brom, who later turned out to be an utter git.
Apparently Lord Cardonaris sought to bring the Plane of Sleepless Dead to the Ikarthan Triangle, by the end of All Hallows Eve. It will take a two part ritual to complete this, but the first part had already happened the previous night. He also sought to destroy each faction that opposes him, and uncannily, all factions that opposed him were present in the area right then!
He hadto be allowed to embody the Plane of the Sleepless Dead, or he would never venture forth onto our plane. Somehow we need to then remove his embodiment and trap him on the plane, and then destroy him before he can leave the plane. We sought to parley with the Dymwan of the Dark Pass. Hopefully they would be able to aid in removing the embodiment of the plane from Lord C.
We needed to better understand the shrines, or Nodes, and try out the Key on a Node. This key had been given to us by a Dymwan who did not really support Lord C, and instead sought his downfall.
We also knew that KraniumDoomwraith, whose body Lord C inhabits, wants him gone too. KraniumDoomwraith has surfaced a bit? How do you do that when you are inhabited by someone as strong as Lord C?
Anyway, Lord C sought to become the primary anchor for the Evil Sphere during the Cataclysm, and seize the Cataclysm for his own ends, as he did on the Aldonar Homeworld. So we went off to poke the Neutral Ward.
We got there and found it empty. All touching Baron Irwin, we shuffled through the ward while he held the key. We found a spirit, clutching a skull. She called it her folly. Fiddler with dead things, Uncle Zeke naturally took the skull from her, and I Blessed her and she disappeared.
While we pondered what we had found, a group of Dymwan teleported into the ward - Will-o’-the’Wisps, wraiths, and men. We slew these, but found a hideous hag in the Inner Ward. This was keyed to her alone, and we could not shatter it.
Dudge rifled through the treasure box just outside the ward, while Lancorrin talked to the Hag. She seemed rather grumpy, and complained that we were not Lord C’s men. She really looked scary, and shrieked and stamped her feet.
Another wave of Dymwan arrived, and these too were slain. While this was happening, the Hag disappeared. We took the treasure and left.
We returned to the Shadowlodge to investigate the loot, all potions related to the Neutral Sphere, a Diary of the Spirit (probably the one I Blessed) and several large pages of weird stuff.
While trying to figure all this out, we got attacked by Barrowwights and Fetches. The Barrowwights were slain by touch Evil Power invocations, but caused a huge amount of damage. We slept.
We awoke and found the House had fixed the Permanent Damage caused by the Barrowwights.
I was given the Diary and told to write down the names that had appeared in it. It was clearly written by a psychotic, sadistic sociopath. A whole bunch of strange names appeared on random pages and Kudos thought there might be a significance. Here they are, in order they appeared. EOLAS, EMAIN, ICARUS SHADOW, ZALEX, BRIGHT, AGOTH, VAETHOR, SOL. Whatever that is supposed to mean.
Apparently the ritual is setup to attune to the shrine ‘as described’
So to mess this all up, we visited some local Wizards Concillium people. They suggested we could possibly work together on this, and that they might be able to help trap Lord C and weaken him. We should ensure that all three ritual sites were knocked over and his Lieutenants slain before the ritual at midnight tonight. No pressure then.
Then we definitely did NOT see a group of Valdemar being pursued by Shadowsfall. Smudge and I went into some bushes out of sight, and when we came out there were no Valdemar to be seen, but strangely, there was a pile of Shadowsfall dead. Anthrax and Sutnac looked inordinately pleased with themselves. Whatever happened here? I had no idea, and neither did Smudge.
Then we went off to talk to some more Wizards, but had to get past their elemental guards. Harlequin made them go away very quickly, so quickly in fact that I never even got a chance to invoke. He really talks elemental well…
We met some more Shadowsfall, and Adjudicator Arain said he wanted to go visit the temple of the Four Winds in our Tower, I said he should write a letter, but he’d probably be allowed in to see. I think they’d better count their teaspoons before he leaves.
We went from there to talk to some Dark Pass Dymwan, but had to kill some other Dymwan first. Oh well, it is a crusade after all. Once we got past them, Lady Kevralyn told me I had to let one of them bite me, so ‘protect me’ against the Aura of Fear that Lord C has got. Ow!
We went back to the Lodge and the Dymwan Irritant (I mean Herald) turned up with a pack of Ghouls. He fell over again, and everyone got fixed and we carried on. Then we sat around drinking for HOURS. We wanted to go kill some Minotaurs that turned up on the map, but Team Ego said we couldn’t. Team Thickie sat around the fire for more HOURS and drank even more BEER. This was excellent preparation for the evening’s entertainment. Then the local Halmadonians turned up for HOURS, so we drank even more BEER out by the fire, cos we weren’t a good addition to the party in the warm. So we sat around the fire and bitched. Once the Halmadonians left, we were told that different people were going to kick over different nodes and we were going to nobble the Neutral one. Them other Halmadonians were going to attack the other nodes, with Sir Godwin thinking he was gonna kick over Lord Cardonaris with just his Knights of Purity. Now that’s brave. Stupid, but brave.Gotta give him brave. So Brave Sir Godwin, that pompous arrogant overbearing fanatical windbag went off with his favourite boys to kick over the biggest Evil thing around. Hope that works out for him.
By this time, Smudge has EromReebed himself into a state of non compos sociable, so he stayed behind, and Jack was three sheets to the wind too, but I guess being a pirate he takes stuff like that in his stride, the rest of us had griped and moaned so much that Dudge had to wave jewels at us. The jewels we had liberated from the Dymwan at the Neutral Node… very shiny. Improved the mood no end. And then we were told we were off to Neutral Node. This was all going to go incredibly well, I was sure.
We got to the Node, charged through the ward to the surprise of the Dymwan inside it, and dispatched the humans very rapidly. Then the embodied undead needed a second beating, duly administered. Then it was time for the Hag. I stuck my shield in her face, and her little arms couldn’t reach round it, Ah Bless, and everyone else beat her to more death. I know she was undead because Lancorrin said she was and I was allowed to beat on her too.
Then a Doomwraith came in, or was it a Wraithspawn, never could keep track of these. Anyhoo, she came along to reinforce the dead people, too late. She got smeared as well.
Then we cast a ritual to pop the Neutral Node. This involved casting half my power on it, and someone else casting a similar amount of evil power on it, as opposites to the Neutral Sphere. Then the ground it was on was Unhallowed by Anthrax and Sutnac. As the Node crumbled, Lord Cardonaris appeared!!! Thank goodness, he appeared somewhere else. Unfortunately he brought some of the effects of his plane too, and there was a constant Drain on everybody’s Power. This made me fall over a few times, until we got something sorted. As we returned to the Shadowlodge, we were assailed by packs of Lesser Undead. I claimed a zombie and two and a half skellies for the Hospital! Admittedly, Lady Kevralyn had to use a tiny fraction of her magic making me better at killing things, but it was worth it! Huzzah! For the Hospital!
We done cast a ritual then back at the Lodge, which involved blood from each of us, 6 Battle Magic spells of each colour and an invoke from each Sphere. To ensure no-one messed with our ritual, Sarathan drank the resulting cocktail. Kinda gross.
We had a few Undead attack us in the morning. Some Valley groups had been killed and possessed, and reanimated. Dreiden was one of these unfortunates, as was the incompetent Humacti, Al Bran. We beat the death out of them, and then had breakfast.
Uncles Rogan and Istvaan popped over for breakfast too, and had a chat with Lady K and the rest of the Brains. Apparently this was all about Morghars Inheritance. Seems that they was some order of a Broken Arrow, and they carried the Inheritance from plane to plane, allowing its benefit to help many planes. It would leave our plane if we gave it to them, but then in 10 years they would return with it so its benefit would re-invigorate Orin Rakatha. Or we could give it to Sir Clavados, who would give it to the Halmadonians, who would stick it in their Vault again. Sod them; let’s give it to the Hepaths. Yes that’s right, our Valley members were actually Hepaths, and the crazy bint up on the Hill was a Hepath, as were several other weirdos we had encountered. They then left after we had said this sounded like a good idea.
We went off to the Good Node to find Sir Clavados, fighting through several waves of Lesser Undead again. At the Node, who should turn up, but the Dymwan Herald! This time in the flesh. What a waking nightmare! The rain was pelting down from all sides, footing was treacherous, evil nastiness was being flung in all directions. He really had a boner for me, throwing a Death Curse and a Paranoia invocation my way. I had to use a scroll of Mas Heal during that fight, but it was too late for Jack and Sutnac. They had been magnificent in this, whirling dervishes, but for Jack it was a case of one Ghoul too many as he stood his ground defending Uncle Zeke, while Sutnac went toe-to-toe with the Herald. Were it not for their sacrifice, we would have been in a lot worse state. I think Lord C’s plane must be a very wet place, cos the rain he brought was insidious, constant, and demoralising. I did not have a dry inch of skin, my scrolls were getting stuck together and my drum was losing tension on the skin. Sarathan had a truly miserable time reading his scrolls. But after slaying the Dymwan irritant, spirits were slightly raised. Luckily too, because once dead, the Herald regressed through all his embodied undead, and whenever he was Blessed to stop this (to no effect I must add), a Fatal Disease afflicted the Blesser! What an utter GIT!
Having dealt with this, we moved off to the Central Ritual Site. What we knew was that a Dymwan had possessed Brother Anthony of the Micheline Sect and a Hospitaller, and several Halmadonians. Brother Anthony had the item that summoned Fairfax the Angel. The Hospitaller had one that controlled the Angel. We engaged this group right by the central ritual site, and held them to a standstill. Kudos and I prepared to Unshackle the Spirit of the possessed priests, and then hunted for opportunity to strike. The frontline forced the Halmadonians back and forth until finally a hole appeared; I charged through and managed to nail the Hospitaller, getting Harmed in the process by the controlling Dymwan. The Dymwan was then forced away by Lancorrin, and I managed to push the confused Hospitaller to the protection of the Angel. Kudos at this point broke two tackles and performed a buttonhook left and landed his Unshackle on Brother Anthony. Anthony charged past the Halmadonians to get to me as I was shouting at him a little bit. I got a big voice; you might have detected it so far as I am telling you this story? Rraargh! The fight was continuing now for no purpose, as the Halmadonians were fighting what they thought were Evil doers (and let’s face it, some of our party looked pretty darn evil), so I threw myself in front of the Angel, defenceless and unarmed, and got his attention. I blagged a LOT for a few minutes, and got him to enforce a temporary truce. Well, then Smudge and I managed to convince the Angel to give the Inheritance to the two of us, and we told him that we would be giving it to the Hepaths as soon as our business with it was done. No matter what any pompous windbag Knights of Purity might say. Hah! Fairfax healed me of the damage done by the Dymwan cos it turned out that they had made some evil voodoo on my booboo, which was why it hadn’t healed. Now I was not protected against the Fear Aura of Lord C. Oh well, we had scrolls to protect against that fear, so I was rather glad to be rid of it. I gave the Item that summons Fairfax back to Fairfax, so that he may never be summoned against his will again. I mean that’s just plain wrong, having an Angel who can be manipulated…
After all of this, we trudged back to the Shadowlodge for dry underpants. And lunch. But more for the dry underpants.
Sir Clavados congratulated myself and Smudge, while holding Morghar’s Inheritance, and declared that his part in the Crusade was now over, as this item was now recovered. I hope he said well done to the other people too, as it was down to us as a group that we were successful…
That eve, Owadjawah, the Master of the House, a Crusader of the Valley ten years ago, came to visit us. He reminisced with ol friends and made some new ones. He brought with him a Circus Macabre, in which were a Strongman, and StrongDwarf, 2 bearded ‘ladies’, a Duellist and a Ringmaster. Oh yes, and a Seeress. More about her later, cos she LIED to me. *deleted swearing unbecoming to a Hospitaller*
That evening passed with much drinking and silly games. There was a fighting contest, hosted by the Duellist, and Master Harlequin showed just why I had been over-curing him for the entire adventure, beating ALL opponents with swift and merciless blows. I didn’t realise it but he received a boon from the Shadowlodge for winning. If I had realised it, I might have thrown the next competition… You see, arm-wrestling is much like wrestling pigs and bullocks, which I had spent my life doing prior to my adventuring life beginning. As a vet, you see animals at their worst, and you need a good grip.
I had to arm-wrestle my opponents with unaugmented strength. Sarathan’s eyes bugged out of his head when he grabbed what he thought was my thumb only to realise he had gripped a finger. Little realising that the boons which were given might be beneficial for more useful members of our group, I laughingly beat my opponents, even the giantess (although there might have been some panic there). The house gifted me with unnaturally bounteous strength, making me stronger than three men! How useful for a Hospitaller. Oh well, I guess I’ll learn from these mistakes one day.
There was a Scholar in the group who chatted to Kudos, who tried to explain to me what he had been told. Something about that we should cast a Ritual from the Book of Shadows, it was terribly confusing and the berry drinks I had consumed made my notes indecipherable for that period, so I had no way of remembering what he said. Hazy recollections of the fact that this ritual would aid us when fighting Lord C tomorrow. Oh dear.
We drank until late at night, enjoying what could very well have been our last night of camaraderie and, verily, life. We drank with good old Owadjawah, and boy could he drink. He made the terrifying butler wear a silly hat, and told funny stories. This crusty old badger had lost none of his ‘charm’, and it was quite emotional watching him weave away into the darkness at the end of the evening. During the evening though, Harlequin got into a drinking contest with Wadj, and became rather vociferous and let slip certain unsavoury comments about Drow ladies. Lady Kevralyn was less than impressed, and spiders foamed out of Harlequin’s tankard. It didn’t stop him though, and he became quite descriptive. Lady K got an expression and used it. Harlequin then seemed to change topic, although he may have been planning to do that anyway. I think the expression was one that said ‘you’re going to regret this’. I never want that expression aimed my way. While this was happening, Uncle Zeke was playing musical statues, by sitting dead straight upright with his eyes closed whilst all the conversations wafted past him. Whenever anyone accused him of sleeping, he just squeaked out a creaky ‘cheeky!’ and carried on.
And the Chorien turned up at some point, outside, by the fire, to talk to his boys. No-one knew he was there, but then the minotaurs turned up and there was a scuffling and a roaring and killing. I ran over and banged out a Mass Cure Mortal, which might have cured the Chorien. He has NO sense of humour and hit me with a Death invocation. What an utter git.
Now the Seer, pretty much all of us had our fortunes told. Jack had his told three times, cos he was not concentrating on her crystal ball, just her orbs. She told me that I should stand in party when Lord C.’s minions surrounded us and shout that I was a Bastion of Light, and that I would shelter my companions under that light of the Good Sphere, or some such twaddle. This nearly got me killed later, as you will hear in time.
So today we gotta:
Slap the Aldonar for being naughty and messing with the area and us.
Do some ritual
Kick in Lord C
Fighting the Aldonar drained my totally. One fight.All my power gone. It was insane,every blow drained the Life Essence from us, removing power, mana and life. What a bunch of BASTARDS. When they had finally all decided to die already! we investigated their ritual. On their altar were the three Aldonar Buttplug items that Rex Mundi had played with. Kudos tried to figure out the Plugs, and couldn’t make head-or-tail of it. Smudge inserted one, well, because he is Smudge! He said he felt no different, but possibly a bit wider. That’s more detail than you young ‘uns should be hearing, so forget I said that.
We went back, ate lunch and shuffled power around. We were then to go and slay Lord C. We expected to come up against yet more hordes of shambling Lesser Undead. No. Sir Clavados let the Dymwan Elite Guard right through onto us. That was an epic struggle, with every single one of their blows causing mortal wounds. I counted, we had to invoke, reinvoke and reinvoke again, to produce no less than nine Mass Cure Mortal Wounds invocations. They were NAILS. Now coffin nails.
Then we went off to find the evil Necromancer. We fought past his last Lieutenants, and Mummy Lord, a Fetch Lord and Skeleton Lord, as well as Bonehand. After a lot of carnage, we finished off Bonehand, as the mages Firebolted the Mummy to more death (I mean, it was dead already, yes?).
A very musical mass invoke followed this, as we fought through our panic with the power of song. One can only imagine the chagrin on the Evil Priests trying to invoke their murderous acts next to the happy joyful sound of the Good Sphere quartet. Good old Smudge with his jangly balls of Steel.
Then as night was falling, the real pain started. All the misery we had felt up to this point was as nothing. Smudge had made a pact with the Chorien. He was to sacrifice his life and spirit strength in a bargain with the Chorien who would push Lord C back onto Orin Rakatha if he tried to flee our battle. Lord C turned up, and Smudge was sacrificed by Anthrax and Sutnac. Smudge was resurrected and the fight began. Well I don’t really know what happened in the beginning, as Lord C opened negotiations with a Mass Death invocation. I collapsed and was out of it for about a spells duration while the fight spread out over the entire ritual area. Lord C forcibly took over my body and forced a Skeletal Warrior spirit into me. Good old Smudge beat it out of me, and fixed me back up, with Dudge’s help. Smudge told me to Invoke right there and then, in the middle of the fight. He stood over me, and chased off any who attempted to stop me, even Lord Cardonarishimself. He was legendary.
There was Undead everywhere, you couldn’t move without bumping into a zombie, and the ghouls were like lightning. Then ZalexWraithspawn opened up, with every single blow causing Blindness, leaving people playing a very painful game of Blindman’s Bluff. He murdered poor Kudos. Anthrax was killed by Lord Cardonaris himself, and Baron Irwin tried facing the big Necromancer down alone too, costing him his Guardian Spirit. Uncle Zeke, that invincible reprobate, took on Lord C and bunch of Undead simultaneously, with predictable results.
I thought to myself, ‘this is going particularly badly, what did that Seeress tell me?’ So I did it, I shouted out loud, at the top of my lungs,’ I am a Bastion of Light, seek healing by the sound of my voice!’ 20 Dymwan warriors broke off any fight they might have been in, and charged me. Even Lord C had a go. I saw them coming for me from all sides, and my heart sank. As they reached me, I span (away from Lord C – I am not entirely stupid), ducked under my shield and took three steps to the left. In the darkness, they all started hitting each other, and ignored the 6 foot, 19 stone helpless Hospitaller standing two feet away. I quietly walked away, unhurriedly, nonchalantly, bricking myself, and as soon as I had clear space, ‘Feet do the work!’ while casting a huge cure on myself. Wow! 2 seconds, almost slaughtered, from being tippy top. Seeress, I think you need to polish your orb, honey. Or get Jack to do it for you.
Anyway, after this, we seemed to regroup a bit, and pick off the warriors, one by one, until there was none left bar Lord Cardonaris. At this point Lord Cardonaris disappeared, so we invoked quickly. Then without warning, the Chorien returned Lord Cardonaris to our plane. We beat him up and down the hill like a red-headed stepchild. Albeit a red-headed step-child with a lethal dagger.
Then he disappeared again, and was brought back as a spirit. Uncle Zeke read a scroll given to us by the Vampires of the Dark Pass, who had written each letter with the blood of a different person. They were really angry about what Lord C had done to the Aldonar Homeworld. This scroll dismissed Lord Cardonaris, and banished him from Orin Rakatha! Huzzah! We were victorious! At a huge cost in spirit strength. And the Chorien was so weakened that he took over the body of Aruna and she was lost to us….
We legged it back to the Shadowlodge, and Uncle Zeke communed with the Staff of Doom, or Stick of Peril, or Twig of Irritation…. depending on whom you talked to. It possessed him. While the rest of the group beat whatever it was out of him, the sneaky Khalid attacked. Colonel Brom had done nothing to aid in the defeat of Lord C, but he wanted his toys. They thought that since we had just defeated Lord C we would be low on resources. Quite possibly, but low on resolve, a resounding NO! The Corsairs defended their loot, and each other, like tigers, and very soon the larcenous Colonel was no more.
And then to the serious business of food and EROM REEB!!!
At this point I should have known something was about to happen, as I needed the loo, and we all know that when the main healer goes to the loo, it all goes wrong. Not the going to the loo part, that’s fine, I mean you generally get attacked. Well Sir Godwin, Knight of Pompousness and Windbagness, and a passel of his lads turned up to start their new game, crusade against Darkholme, since we stole their ball for their old crusade. I came out of the loo and found myself on the wrong side of the fight. I ran around the building and rushed in to give a Mass Cure, only to have a calm voice announce that in his presence, the Good Sphere would not work. So I might have said that I would prefer it if this unknown person would kindly bugger off so I could do my work. Yes, I didn’t see the AXE on his FACE in the dark. That wasn’t bravery, it was ignorance. Good old Arrakis had turned up to gloat and interfere. He was there with some Knights of Our Dark Lady and the Cruciform Sword. As is traditional, they didn’t lift a finger to help, and got in the way, and generally made life difficult. Sir Godwin got spanked and before he could be looted, his Adamancer spirited his body away. We mopped up the rest of the Halmadonians, and I had to drag injured people out of the fight and out of sight of Arrakis so I could cure them, which was problematic and power expensive. I kept thinking of what I had said to him during the fight, and my knees kept trembling. How could I have been so blind? Now I probably been written in pencil on the bottom of his To-Kill list… Great.
Well after this, Lord AXEFACE, Not-Lord of Fortune’s Keep, but chief in charge of murders and disappearances, ambassador of boating accidents and High Priest of Scaring-The-Poop out of people, told us a few things. He wants to ensure the ascendancy of the Evil Sphere this Cataclysm, and to ensure this, he intends to release the Black Pharaoh in six moons. I can’t see anything wrong with this plan at ALL. Oh wait a minute, yes I can. Is he INSANE!?! Every time we open something (like a tomb) or fiddle with something (like a ritual) we think we’re doing it to fix a problem and create two more. Yes it is the Valley way to, and this is I believe the quote, ‘Fix one, break two.’ That doesn’t mean that at some point we should maybe step back from a knee jerk decision and say ‘Hang on a minute, maybe Arrakis might survive the evil he brings out onto our land, but what about the farmers, blacksmiths, herders, tradesmen and artisans who we are supposed to be PROTECTING!!!’
This plan seems folly. I understand that Arrakis wants to be in charge, and to do that has to be the most powerful evil thing going, and to make sure that evil is ascendant during the cataclysm, he needs to make life difficult, but this plan is mad. I understand that Arrakis wants law and order (for everyone else, just not him) and that he believes that he can impose law onto the land, but by unleashing a long dead Pharaoh, he will unleash Plague and Disease, which most mortals will find really irritating, by which I mean, IT WILL BLOODY KILL THEM. Stupid idea.
I wrote in my last report that the Green is already on the Land, and is already judging people, by what is in their hearts. Well with his status, he is going to get a lot of attention from the Green, and in his heart seems to lay an indifference to the troubles of the mere mortals of our Tower, and indeed the rest of Orin Rakatha. It will not be just ourselves who die from Disease and Pestilence, but all the weak, all those who we should defend, and he expects us to happily go on about his bidding? So now missions will go out of the Tower to further the Dreadlord’s plan, and Good Sphere users will go forth too, to aid their fellow adventurers, as by inaction they will cause their comrades to die. Doing this, we show some degree of support for the Dreadlord’s plan. This is why I joined Team Thickie. Trying to understand the machinations of twisty minded people makes my head hurt.
One last note, the Dymwan of the Dark Pass Vampires returned to remove the marks from our necks. Luckily I had been cured by Fairfax so I didn’t need to be touched by them but Uncle Zeke, after some persuading, had his mark removed. I think he actually wanted to keep it! I know Sarathan DID keep his connection to the Dymwan, so if you want to send any messages to the Vampires, please contact Sarathan.
We all returned to the Tower, and while many in our party were flushed with success, and triumphant, I am instead filled with trepidation for what the future brings to our Tower and our Land. Our success against the other Anchor of the Evil Sphere has led to a greater importance of our own resident Evil Sphere Anchor, Lord (He has an AXE on his FACE) Arrakis, and I am not sure if this was a good idea.
What? You’ve all fallen asleep? Was I talking for that long? Wake up you git, and go and buy me that beer you owe me for the tale.