View Full Version : The Broken Mountains

September 14th, 2005, 00:10
Hello, folks. Since the shelfing of my previous adventure design (A Villainous Tale), I have been working on and building an exciting new adventure called The Broken Mountains. This good-aligned adventure is during the war between two nations across the ruined homeland of the dwarves.

I need 3-6 players for this adventure who fulfill the appropriate qualifications below. If you are interested, you can contact me at [email protected]

Adventure Specs

The adventure will span approximately 7-13 encounters. About fifty to seventy percent of these encounters are tailored, and the rest are somewhat random with a little tailoring. Each adventure has features that permit content from resources outside the core rulebooks, such as supplement books.

Note: These encounters are not considered 'battles'. An encounter can be anything. It could be entering a town, or meeting a new NPC, or finding an item.

Featured Prestige Class: Dread Commando

- In order to catalogue the prestige class to your character's history, your character must meet and associate (through conversation or cooperation) with the NPC or PC trained in the featured prestige class. Once it is catalogued, your character may take the prestige class when he or she has fulfilled the prerequisites for it.

- I tend to feature a prestige class every two adventures. (The original featured class for the sequel to A Villainous Tale - The City of Seven Kings - was going to be the Dirgesinger from Libris Mortis.) Since this technically counts as my 2nd adventure, I decided to feature one.

Featured Feats: Mounted Mobility, Shield Wall

- A featured feat only needs to be featured in a past or current adventure for it to be taken (if the prerequisites are met). I tend to feature one or two feats per adventure.

Featured Spells: Resounding Voice, Battlefield Illumination

- A featured spell works just like feats. It needs to be featured in a past or current adventure to be taken if the prerequisites are met. I tend to feature one or two spells per adventure.

Why I Introduce Supplement Material This Way
There are a few reasons why supplement material is not completely applied. For one, the world is constantly advancing through new discoveries, and this extra material is treated as part of those discoveries. Another reason is that I don't really like anything from supplement books. They are meant to rip people off, they drastically change the style of play, and I have to list all the material for players who don't have it.


- Session times are Fridays and Sundays at 6-10 pm MST. A session will consist of one to two encounters.

- Roleplaying is a requirement. You have to be able to roleplay decently. If your a wizard and have 18 int but act stupid all the time, this ain't yer game.

- Maturity: You must behave like a mature gamer. No whining about not being able to play your favorite prestige class, no temper tantrums because you didn't get a fair share of treasure, and no insults. Arguments are fine as long as they are controlled. The first "Well that's because your stupid." will result in immediate kicking.

- Attendence: Keep in mind that when you are absent from a session, that encounter cannot be played and is instead replaced with a session of roleplaying between the available player characters. Please plan ahead. If you are going to be consistently absent in the near future, try joining the next adventure when you have more time. If you are absent consistently in an adventure, your character will have 'fallen behind' in order to continue propelling the game foreward.

(Note: As frustrating as this might be to players not at fault, this is important because a single player character influences the encounter both positively and/or negatively. An absense would dramatically change the situation for better or worse.)

Room Setup

You will be able to connect to the server using the unique alias: ugly idol firm zone
Additional house rules will be provided there.

I may or may not respond immediately to your arrival as I might be working on something for the adventure (or refilling my coffee). If I catch you in there, I will share the house rules and adventure specs sheet for you to look at.

This adventure takes place in my own custom world which was designed back in 1999 and revised by merging another world with it and resetting the timeline from the very beginning. All my adventures will take place in this same world.

Please show up on a weekday anytime between 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm to arrange character generation if you are interested. Evil characters that were created in A Villainous Tale will not be permitted in this campaign, although they can be scrapped for name-reuse.

Whew... That's all of it. I hope I get more than one or two players after all of this still.


a. The server is no longer up constantly to wait for players. It'll be up whenever I get an e-mail someone is interested. (Due to lack of interest)

b. Changes made above will be colored blue.

c. A little bit I wanted to add was that this is just one adventure. There will be many more adventures and your characters can carry on in them. I don't tie adventures together in a large campaign anymore because the scope is far too vast to accomodate every player's level of dedication. People will quit and the story will be left unfinished. To still give the commited players a much more vast and lengthly tale, I will occasionally run Multi-Part Adventures - which are explained in my house rules.

d. I have been getting many requests from people who want to join this adventure. Unfortunately, I cannot invite anyone when the adventure is already in progress. However, this adventure (despite how many chapters posted) is nearly halfway complete and another is planned for sometime in November. There is already is a queue of people who want to join who will be contacted first.

September 14th, 2005, 21:25
Server is not going to be up today (Wednesday Sept 14/05) between 5 pm MST and 8 pm MST. However, it will be up between now (2:30 pm MST) and 5 pm MST, and also between 8 pm MST to 10 pm MST.

Tomorrow (Thursday Sept 15/05) will follow the same time status. 5-10 pm MST. The first session will be Friday at 6 pm MST.

There is still room for 4 players. If your interested, drop by so you can put together a character sheet.

September 15th, 2005, 14:18
I still need one more player before we can begin, otherwise we have to postpone until Sunday. If the times are too inconvenient, they are negotiable.

A few things I forgot to mention in my first post, this is a Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition adventure. Therefore we're using the 3.5 edition rules.

There is room for four more players, but I need a minimum of one more before Friday in order to start. The maps are all prepared and readied, (note: I only generate tactical maps between encounters since the journey could go anywhere).

If your interested, please drop by the server between 5 and 10 pm MST. That's 7 to 12 EST. Or send me an e-mail at [email protected]

September 27th, 2005, 20:27
...and the timing is perfect. I'm available for start times ranging from about 6:30pm EST to 12am EST (4:30pm to 10pm MST).

I haven't used FG before, so...be warned. hehe

September 28th, 2005, 17:45
Ah... Well, not sure if you were the one that e-mailed me or not. If not that makes two.

I'll still run with only two players, but the concern falls on the difficulty. While I do not plan battle encounters until I have the players, in order to keep things within realistic bounds, there's a minimum encounter difficulty and a maximum encounter difficulty (which is why it's for 3-6 players).

For example, a pack of wolves is going to be pack-sized (can't remember the exact size off-hand at the moment). Why on earth would there be less than that?

If you haven't used FG before, do not worry. They've made it incredibly easy, and what you can appreciate about it is that it's not heavily automated like PCGen. That's right. You can put practically anything you want in there. You don't have to spend hours and hours adding special prestige classes to list files, or other junk like that.

This Friday (September 30th), I will have my FG server up and running starting 4 pm MST in case you want to get a character sheet done up (or even some roleplay if there's enough players). Anyone else interested is welcome to join.

Edit: I'm not really getting my hopes up about this. Although many people have said there are more players than DMs, that hasn't proven true thus far for me yet. If less than two people show on friday, I probably won't be running at all.

Edit: Y'know... Maybe I can keep bumping this topic up by posting lore about the world. It'll consistently renew my undying hope of running this adventure, AND it'll keep it advertised until I get enough players.

Ram Tyr
September 30th, 2005, 22:48

I just pointed folks here out from the poll, I hope that is ok.

I figured, I'ld try to provide the feedback it seems like you want. Here goes my main points.

The adventure will span approximately 7-13 encounters. About fifty to seventy percent of these encounters are tailored, and the rest are somewhat random with a little tailoring. Each adventure has features that permit content from resources outside the core rulebooks, such as supplement books.
I like a long term committment.

- Session times are Fridays and Sundays at 6-10 pm MST. A session will consist of one to two encounters.
Wrong time zone and twice a week is rough.

Ok, that's it. I wish you best!


September 30th, 2005, 23:27
Long-Term commitments to campaigns are still welcome. Your epic story might unfold over a series of adventures. If I end up with 4 players who want to keep playing after the adventure is over, I'll run a multi-part adventure that will favoritize them (so to speak).

As for the time-zone problem, I can't really help that. Um.... I did say the time is flexible and negotiable I believe.

September 30th, 2005, 23:41
Sorry bout the lateness (and the mistake of posting this in the tavern). It's Friday (Semptember 30). The room is open and my firewall is temporarily down. I have to put it back up shortly, but you should still be able to connect.

September 30th, 2005, 23:48
Here I am looking for a game ... and I'm using the Demo that can't be used in any real gaming situations (since there's next to no one active with a Demo).

Sorry mate, guess I'll have to get back to ya in the future if I ever get FG (without being able to test it, which seems rather stupid to me).

October 1st, 2005, 00:32
k, well it doesn't look like anyone is going to show, so I'm going to shelf it again until someone else becomes interested.

October 4th, 2005, 17:37

Before the great stony peaks were all but fragments across the middle-most part of Thaves, there was a paradise beneath the earth for the dwarves. Trade was bridged between both sides of the great continent through this paradise. The dwarves native to the Middle Mountains called it Aurk, the nexus of their established Underway Tunnels that stretched across the land, touching each great nation.

Like a passing storm, the gnomes collapsed the tunnels with their powerful golem creatures and the city of dwarves cast into a pile of rubble by their unmatched siege weapons. The Middle Mountains became no more, broken as it were, by the plotting and scheming of the gnomes.

While the Underway Tunnels became collapsed, trade still prospered between the nations. The stubble trenches now easy roads paved for the caravans.

While still a home to dwarves, the Broken Mountains are still the coldest mountains in the Southern Highlands, even during the summer. Only the lasting grassy patches are a harvest for the pleasant little towns of Shomstream and Terropp.

Come fall, the security of one’s home is of no rival: the warm comfort of a feather bed, the soothing sip of morning tea, and the social blessing of good friends and company.

Winter is a scare, for a distinct and eerie feeling, like the unnerving howl of a distant wolf, seems to cover the land, like the blanket of a night sky. The mountains long for spring, the beginning of a new year of harvest. But such a season has not come soon enough, for the shaking earth of marching foot-soldiers rumbles across the land.

The war between Triant and Vanadict had now begun. The sounding drums and the cries of war, painfully shooting an echo to the very corners of the mountain land. The pleasant towns have now become bases of operation.

Yet a small glitter of hope rests in the form of a sealed letter, concealed in the leather rucksack - burden on the shoulder of a lone carrier by the name of Arthur Gavwin. As the chosen messenger from Triant, the unsuspecting lad was responsible for contacting the high king of Ehrnar to request aid on behalf of Triant.

Unfortunately, as unsuspicious as he was, Arthur’s journey had come to an end shortly after it began. While only four days away from Shomstream, he encountered a group of armed Vanadict soldiers, lead by Kanack – A human warrior as their leader.

“Please let me pass.” Pleaded the lad; “I am but a simple traveler yearning to see his grandmother in Shomstream.”

Kanack can only stifle his chuckle. While Arthur’s story had merit, Vanadict had many spies deep within the ranks of Triant’s army. He knew what lie within the leather rucksack the lad carried. In only a few moments, Kanack would relieve him of such possession and attain his promotion upon return.

“I will make it easy for you.” Replied Kanack, “Give us the contents of your pack, and we will let you live.”

Arthur swallowed hard. His body sweating and tense with fear. The cold weather begins to add to this trembling. But he heard the words of the king himself, and would not let Vanadict prevail here.

Without an answer, Arthur quickly turned and began to flee. But his feet began to trip and stumble through the harsh burdening snow. His four enemies proceed to chase after him.

Arthur then felt the icy grip of death clutch his shoulder, the hand of Kanack grabbing hold of him. He could only cry out for help as loudly as he could, hoping someone would hear him. But nothing could prevent his doom, the cold bitter blade digging deep into his back.

Blood began to sprout from his body, staining the warm wooly cloaks, spreading deep across the thick fabric. His voice is stolen as he can feel the jab sink deeper into him. His body begins to spasm as the pain consumes him. Yet somehow, he finds the will to scream louder, in hopes his voice would echo throughout the mountains themselves.

True was the voice heard not far from them, for emerging from the foggy blur of the winter winds came three travelers, each of a different kind.

They came as witnesses to the final blow that ended the life of Arthur. The blow that struck deep into the poor boy’s heart, a cold frosty knife into the hot core of his body. The life fades from his eyes, as he can only lie limp and empty in the bloodied snow.

The witnesses could only watch him die, but one dwarf in particular – Ingelri - felt the foul merciless cruelty in that sword from where he stood. He clutched his axe firmly and unlatched it from his belt, but one of his human friends – Aladane - held a hand outstretched to halt him.

“Ingelri does not answer a cry for help unarmed!” Remarked the dwarf.

Kanack immediately noticed the intrusion.

“Who are you?” He demanded.

Being the third member of the traveling band – Bella eyed Kanack suspiciously. Although she was a simple-minded half-orc, she knew well enough what could have occurred here. Yet Aladane seemed to try and make clarity of the situation first.

“We are travelers.” He answered, “We heard a cry for help.”

Kanack glared at the witnesses. Seeing how they were capable warriors, they could stand a fair chance against his small squadron of troops.

“Begone!” He ordered, “This is none of your business.”

“Foul murder has been done!” Replied Ingelri outright, “I think it is our business.”

“Then you will die for your intrusion.” Responded Kanack, “Prepare to fight.”

With that, Kanack’s soldiers held their weapons ready. It was a four-man team against the three travelers. Aladane and Bella armed themselves accordingly.

Ingelri was the first to charge, having been eager for a fight against these murderous fiends. Following behind were his comrades, engaging a foe of their own. The first collision of weapons began to ring out among them.

Kanack saw his opportunity when Ingelri, eager to exact justice on these criminals, left his left flank open to him. He planted the stab true to his side, causing the dwarf to stumble. But Aladane quickly came to his aid, thrusting his sword into Kanack’s arm, rewarded with his pained cry.

Enraged, Ingelri retaliated by ripping his axe through the gut of Kanack and into the body of his former opponent. Both flung across the ground as now nothing more than a pile of corpses.

Apart from the foe Bella had dispatched, one foot soldier fled for his life when he saw himself outnumbered. Aladane started in pursuit but Ingelri called out to stop him, causing the human to come to a halt.

“Let him go.” Instructed Ingelri, “Someone must tell the others of our prowess.”

Bella, having lost little breath, took a few short steps over to the body of Arthur, kneeling down to give it a nudge. He was in fact very dead. It was a shame to see a young man pale as he was.

“Poor chap.” Added Ingelri as he approached the corpse, clutching his wound and groaning a low groan, “Does he look familiar?”

Bella and Aladane could only shake their heads in reply. The boy was nothing more than a simple carrier, sent by the king of Triant. Nobody knew him, not even the grandmother he claimed he had in Shomstream.

Aladane noticed the rucksack on the ground near him. It remained in a heap at his side; the leather strap still clung to his lifeless body. He gave it a nudge with his boot.

“Maybe we should look in the pack?” He asked.

Aladane then knelt down and opened the pack and pulled out various documents all sealed and signed by highly regarded officials of Castle Triant, including the king’s. There was a folded little note near the front of the pack that caught his attention. It was the only one without a seal.

Aladane held it up and read out loud, since Bella could hardly read.

It read: To whom may find this letter, if you happened upon it without a living carrier along with the documents bearing the seal of Triant, please heed this call. I was the chosen carrier of these documents assigned to reach Ehrnar in an urgent mission to request aid against Vanadict. If I am indeed dead, or these documents have no bearer, please deliver them to the High King of Ehrnar. The fate of Triant depends on it. You would surely be rewarded, and you would be doing a great thing for the good of this land. Please do not delay when you have decided. Signed, Arthur Gavwin.

Ingelri scratched his beard in thought after Aladane had finished reading the letter.

“A promise of reward for being postmen?” He added honestly, “Do we really want to get involved in someone else’s war?”

“We could use the money.” Replied Aladane with a shrug.

Ingelri sighed and responded sarcastically, “Ah yes. Gold, gold, and more gold, is it?”

Aladane paused to think, and so did the others. They considered their next course of action. It would be dishonorable to ignore the plea of a dying man, as young as he was. But such a quest would indeed be long and perilous.

“Shomstream might know better.” He remarked, “Let’s go there first. We need supplies anyway.”

“What about this man?” Bella quickly asked, “Should we not bury him?”

“The ground is frozen.” Answered Ingelri, “We would need to build a cairn, and that would take a lot of time.”

“We will just head to Shomstream then,” Added Aladane, “And we will find out what fate this man has left us with.”

Comments: [email protected]

October 12th, 2005, 00:08
1: Shomstream

A biting blizzard rolled in over the now fortified town of Shomstream. The soldiers had set up wooden shelters and barricades along the town’s walls and it’s perimeter, overlooked by the erected wooden-structures for watch. Most of them had come down with a brutal cold, coughing and sneezing while they are huddled up in the conscripted homes and tavern rooms.

Warmly spirited amidst the whipping winds of the icy breeze is Perry Tallocks, a young armed soldier who signed up for the Triantian army when the troops liberated Shomstream. His family had moved to Triant for much needed security, but he had a great deal of bravery backing his decision.

Due to his weak endurance and his nature to be clumsy most times, he never claimed a rank higher than a simple recruit. He was often given the simple chores of carrying supplies, scraping mud off the soldier’s boots after dark, and killing off the rats in the cellars. He didn’t mind these chores, but he often wished he could be of more use.

He arrived with great haste late one morning to his superior officer: Galiot Braze. Galiot was no knight, but he was a respected captain – an officer in the ranks of Triant. He led the troops to victory during the liberation of Shomstream. Now he overlooks the defense of the city, examining maps and charts that have been prepared for him.

“Sir!” Saluted Perry as he came to a halt at the entrance to Galiot’s tent.

“Perry?” Remarked Galiot in surprise, “Your late.”

Galiot stood formally, adorned in his suit of plate armor, mildly decorated with emblems of Triant. His blue cloak drapes loosely down to his ankles, also bearing the royal crest of Triant across it. Perry looked up to Galiot with honest respect and loyalty.

“Sorry, Sir.” Apologized Perry, still standing at attention; “One of the locals prepared a meal and some tea for me when I woke.”

“Well then…” Preceded Galiot sarcastically as he lifts a brow, “Are you full?”

“W-well…” Stuttered Perry, “I wouldn’t mind a bowl of soup at this hour.”

Galiot could only sigh and shake his head. Perry never really had an unusual sort of appetite, but he often thought with his stomach rather than his head. Galiot’s question wasn’t a serious one.

“Perry!” He commanded, “Travellers not of hostility have been spotted approaching from the south. They are permitted entry, so you are to watch them until they leave.”

“Yes, Sir!” Replied Perry with a salute. He quickly turned and started his jog across town towards the south gate.

* * *

“What have we got left?” Asked Aladane to Ingelri after the noon had passed that day. They were nearing the town, and his stomach was a little weak with hunger.

“Here.” Answered Ingelri, tossing a light near-empty pouch to Aladane, “That’s the last of my share. I can hold out until we get to town.”

Ingelri and Aladane were travelers familiar with the Broken Mountains of Thaves. They were born and raised in this land in a town called Merdrig southeast of Vanadict. They had been friends since Ingelri got to swing an axe.

Unlike Ingelri, Aladane was a young land human that was raised by one of Ingelri’s uncles, Cresage. While Ingelri was a trained fighter in the dwarven axe of war, Aladane was inspired by the wilderness, and learned the land under the tutoring of Cresage. He learned to watch his footing, and exploit the concealment of shadows. He also inherited a keen sense of hearing capable of rivaling most high elves.

Ingelri never talked to his uncle much. He was too busy learning to swing an axe by Charner Firebroth – a retired Vanadictian soldier. To this day, Ingelri still relies on his axe, like a living companion in the heat of battle.

Before the winter overshadowed the land and when Ingelri and Aladane were destined for adventure, they started south on their journey towards the port town of Argride, nestled in the sweet serenity of Grider Woods. No better home to the born adventurer was the mystery-ridden forest, cooing with the soft echoing sounds of distant creatures.

There they met Bella, an outcast from a barbarian tribe. Bella was the product of a human and an orc. As a result, Bella never knew her blood parents. Her human parents disowned her and she never knew the orcish creature that impregnated her mother. As a result, Bella ended up in a crude barbarian tribe south of Grider Woods in the Ricrac forestlands before she came to Argride.

Bella didn’t have much to do since her husband and child died when the tribe was slaughtered. She buried most of her painful emotions with the ones acquired from having no knowledge of her parents. When she met Ingelri and Aladane in Argride and heard of the war that was ensuing across the land, the three decided to journey east towards Triant, until their journey took an unexpected turn.

When they happened upon the murdering of a young carrier of documents, they decided to learn more by going to Shomstream where the carrier was headed.

“How is your wound?” Asked Bella.

“It’s much better now.” Answered Ingelri, “Hardly a scar left.”

It’s been four days since their encounter with the Vanadict soldiers. Halfway into the fourth they had arrived at Shomstream to be greeted by guards standing by the south entrance. While they had no Triantian citizenship, the guards had permitted them entry under watch.

As it so happens, the one whose duty was to watch them was Perry Tallocks, arriving as they just depart from the guards who had permitted them entry. His clumsiness revealed to them as he stumbles a bit through the snow.

“Hail, travelers.” Remarked Perry.

Aladane merely gave him a passing glance, and then kept going onward, the others with him. This caused Perry to stutter as he then quickly stepped in front of them to halt them.

“H-Hey!” He demanded, “Hold on just one minute. You can’t just wander in here. I need to know where you’re from!”

“We just told the gate guards where we’re from.” Replied Ingelri, “Go ask them.”

The group began to move again, but Perry persistently charged in front once more.

“Stop!” He commanded, “I have been instructed to keep watch over you, and to bring you to my superior.”

“Oh?” Began Ingelri curiously, “And who would that be?”

Bella gave Perry a threatening glance. They ran out of rations a whole day ago, and they haven’t had a decent drink since they left Argride. Perry could only gulp and step away from the frighteningly strong-looking half-orc.

“H… His name…” Perry stuttered, “His name is Galiot Braze… He’s currently stationed near the north gate.”

“Look.” Began Aladane, “We’ve had a long trip, so why don’t you go tell him that we’ll be in the tavern and he can come see us instead.”

With that, the group began to continue on towards the tavern, but Perry quickly intercepted them again for a third time. Bella had started to become very frustrated.

“I insist that you come with me to meet him!” Demanded Perry.

Bella, having been exasperated beyond her patience, had decided to start towards the tavern on her own. Perry could only run after her.

“Stop!” He shouted, “Quit ignoring me! I warn you. I have a sword.”

Perry immediately unsheathed his sword, but his clumsiness got the better of him. The short blade had inherited from the leftover pieces of equipment had slipped from his hand and fallen to the ground. He quickly bent down to pick it up, but he was met with Aladane’s hand that had grasped it first. Aladane stood up and held it slightly pointed towards Perry.

“You know…” Began Aladane, “One could get hurt with these things.”

Aladane flipped the sword around, holding it by the blade with the handle towards Perry.

“Hold on to this end.” Instructed Aladane.

Perry took the sword hesitantly, and then sheathed it slowly. His eyes juggling glances at each of the three until he finally decides to leave with a fit of anger in his expression.

“Let’s go get drunk” Said Ingelri, “Been too long since I had a nice cold drink.”

“Take it easy.” Added Aladane, “We need to keep our wits about us tonight.”

“Bah!” Remarked Ingelri, “The moon’s almost up already, we can afford to down a few pints.”

Bella had shoved the large wooden door of the Shomstream local tavern with ease, peering into the dimly lit yet cozy home to the liquor-lusting soldiers who had been given a break from their duties. The tavern owner seems to be writing at his table and counting coins, constantly busy with handling customers. With a toss of a few coins, the three had paid for their drinks and table.

It gave them a moment of relaxation, and the three had reaped and exploited such a moment by letting down their protective senses. They let out their held breaths and stretched out their nimble-ready legs. Their dirty snow-covered boots would twitch and turn in the longing for breath of their own, a revitalizing freedom of comfort, not that their boots were ever uncomfortable.

Catching their attention was a dwarven stranger that approached their table. He wore no decoration or any emblems that would distinguish him to be a Triantian soldier. He brought a cheerful face and a full-foamy mug of dwarven-brewed ale.

“Hail, friends.” He greeted, “You are awfully brave to be journeying in these parts during this war.

“One must travel when one must.” Replied Ingelri.

Dwarves always looked at each other as though they were brothers. With the Middle Mountains broken and the Underway Tunnels collapsed, they were all they had for relatives. It was comforting to know that one’s own kind still forges a life out of the remnants of their precious beloved home.

“Aye.” Agreed the dwarf, “But with war, ye always risk a seizing and a death if ye ain’t careful.”

“Together we’ve been able to handle most problems.” Said Ingelri.

“And we always have.” Added Aladane.

Aladane continued to look about the tavern suspiciously. His eyes met the glance of a stranger from across the tavern, which looked away when their glances met briefly.

“The name is Dugenis.” Continued the dwarven friend, “It’s good to see a fellow dwarf these days. Not many of us left in this pile of rubble, aye?”

“Aye.” Replied Ingelri, “Damn gnomes.”

“Aye.” Agreed Dugenis, “Damn true too. Ye won’t find one in these parts, I tell ye that.”

“The name is Ingelri.” Ingelri proceeded to introduce, “And these are my comrades, Aladane and Bella.”

While Aladane had nodded his hello, Bella was too busy guzzling her full pint of ale.

Before the conversation could continue, a tall man dressed in the finest suit of chain armor, tailored with the emblems of Triant and decorated with a highly respected rank, had pushed open the doors of the Tavern with ease. The entire room grew silent. The soldiers turned to look at their leader.

“Take it easy, men.” He ordered, “Enjoy this fine day to it’s fullest. Tomorrow you will be facing a fierce battle. Word has come that Vanadict soldiers are approaching from the northwest. They are due to strike noon tomorrow.”

“Great!” Remarked Ingelri with a sigh, “We’d best finish our drinks and be out then.”

The officer had noticed Dugenis at their table however, and decided to approach with interest. It became clear now who this man was when Dugenis made the first remark.

“Sounds like bad news, Galiot.” Spoke Dugenis, “Looks like I’ll be leaving early in the morn.”

“I’m more surprised you’re still in town.” Replied Galiot, “And who are your friends?”

“We just met.” Answered Dugenis.

“We were just going for a walk.” Spoke Aladane.

“A bloody long one too.” Added Ingelri.

“Oh?” Inquired Galiot, “I see. Well, the name is Galiot Braze. I’m in charge of operations here in Shomstream.”

“A fine day for friends then.” Replied Aladane, “My name is Aladane, and this is Ingelri and that thing there whose mouth is covered in booze is Bella.”

Bella finally set down her mug to smile her crooked smile.

“A fine day it is.” Agreed Galiot.

At that moment, Perry had just entered the tavern, jogging toward his superior officer. He’s practically out of breath as if he had been running around the entire town.

“Sir.” He began with a salute, “There you are. I was looking for you.”

“Perry.” Said Galiot with mild surprise, “Didn’t I tell you to watch a group of travelers coming in from the south.”

“But sir.” Began to explain Perry, “That is them right there. I tried to bring them to you, but they refused to listen to me.”

“Yes, well.” Started Galiot, “They found me well enough it seems. I have suddenly a more important chore for you now.”

“Yes sir!” Said Perry, regaining some strength and saluting once again.

“The stable-boy has reported the presence of a foul creature deep inside the back of the stables.” Explained Galiot, “It emits a foul intoxicating scent, and must be removed at once!”

“F… Foul creature, sir?” Inquired Perry.

“Yes!” Stated Galiot sternly, “I am entrusting you with this dangerous quest. Your country is depending on you.”

Perry was stuck just staring at Galiot as if it was some kind of joke. He had been given chores like these enough times now to be able to recognize the nature of the quest.

“Horse… Dung… Sir?” He double-checked.

“Are you questioning my orders?” Asked Galiot sternly.

“N… No, sir!” Replied Perry miserably, “I’m on my way, sir!”

Perry quickly turned and left the Inn. Ingelri managed to comment after the young soldier had departed.

“Poor dumb lad.” He said.

Galiot proceeded to ordering ale and joining the group at the table. The five began to engage in mild conversation for the time being, drowned out by the talking of soldiers from other tables. That suspicious soldier across the tavern from them continued to eye them suspiciously, sitting at a table with a few of his less-spoken friends.

“I don’t trust those three.” Said the suspicious man, “They came in eight days after Kanack left town.”

“Relax, Whalack.” Replied one of his comrades, “If we stick to the plan, they shouldn’t matter at all.”

“Fool!” Shot back Whalack, “Keep your voice down! You’ll make things worse if you talk about it.”

“Look.” Continued his comrade in a more silent tone, “If your that nervous, I’ll take care of them myself tonight, don’t you worry. It’ll be swift and subtle.”

“You better not make a scene.” Replied Whalack, “Or else I’ll make your death swift and subtle, I assure you.”

Whalack returned to his drink calmly as Ingelri’s table roared out in laughter after the passing of a little history amongst them. These were the things that made you forget the hatred of eyes that could be watching you. The blessing of talk and tale, words filled with good times and bad that let loose the bellows of joy within one’s soul.

“So why the watch-dog, Galiot?” Asked Aladane, changing the subject.

“I was curious to know what your doing here.” Answered Galiot, “Your both from Vanadict territory, so I was concerned you might have been spies.”

“Spying is dishonorable!” Shouted Ingelri, standing to his feet, his outrage aided by his drunken stupor, “I think you should apologize for that insult!”

The whole table only chuckled, knowing how a drink could get one’s blood rushing.

“I meant nothing by it, friend.” Proceeded Galiot, “But one cannot be too careful during war.”

“It is not our war.” Stated Aladane calmly yet honestly.

“Aye.” Replied Galiot in defense, “I dislike war as much as you all do. Unfortunately, I have to defend my country and my people.”

“Defend your people?” Questioned Aladane.

“Yes.” Answered Galiot with finality; “It was my duty to liberate Shomstream from Vanadict’s power. Their brutal ways and acceptance of murderous punishments cost the local Thavien priest his life.”

“I see.” Began Aladane, “We ran into some of them south of here too.”

“Hm?” Mumbled Galiot in question, lifting his left brow.

“Ehh…” Hesitated Ingelri, “You must forgive him, his drink’s gone to his head.”

“You met Vanadict soldiers south of here?” Questioned Galiot.

“Well…” Muttered Ingelri, “Meet isn’t quite the word.”

“You had a fight then?” Asked Galiot.

“True.” Answered Aladane.

Galiot began to ponder this happening. He had to battle the fragments of his confusion through the impeding effects of his drink.

“Why did they attack you?” Asked Galiot.

“General bastards, I guess.” Answered Ingelri, his lower lip bunched with feigned clueless-ness combined with his shrug, “Although technically, we attacked them first.”

“Oh?” Questioned Galiot.

“They threatened.” Explained Ingelri, “I charged.”

“Perhaps they took you for Triantian soldiers.” Suggested Galiot.

“They must’ve had bad eyes then.” Replied Aladane.

“Well, they really didn’t bother to ask either.” Added Ingelri.

Dugenis started to become puzzled in all this conversation. He sensed there was a deeper hidden reason behind this engagement. He turned to Ingelri and nudged him firmly with his elbow to get his attention.

“Eh…” Started Dugenis, proceeding to talk in the dwarven tongue, “There must have been some sort of motive.”

“They killed a boy.” Replied Ingelri in the same tongue, “And we reacted.”

“How young?” Asked Dugenis.

“Too young.” Finished Ingelri.

“Anyway…” Began Galiot, wanting to get them all conversing in the same language again, “Where are you all headed? I take it you travel with them, Dugenis?”

“Goodness no!” Remarked Dugenis, “I have no plans of staying here in these mountains.”

“We’re going to Ehrnar.” Answered Aladane, “Way north of here through Gyre’s Valley.”

“Quite a ways north.” Noted Galiot, “Vanadictian soldiers have secured Terropp, so your journey will not be so safe.”

“Never is safe out here.” Replied Aladane.

“Well…” Started Galiot, still not satisfied, “Why are you headed there?”

Ingelri and Aladane were concerned. The contents of the rucksack were not safe to disclose to anyone, including those of high rank. However, they needed to learn something about these documents and the quest the young carrier had been on.

“There are too many ears in here to talk freely.” Replied Aladane, “Is there a place we can speak privately.”

“There is a back room we can go to.” Answered Galiot, “Come this way.”

Galiot got up with Ingelri and Aladane. Bella and Dugenis decided to stay at the table to finish their drinks. The three had chosen to discuss everything in an empty room that wasn’t being used.

The two travelers explained their story to Galiot in full detail, telling about the poor young carrier who was slain by four Vanadict soldiers who managed to cross the borderlines. They showed him one of the sealed letters.

“This is marked by the royal sigil of King Travis of Triant.” Replied Galiot, “I heard word that this was due to arrive. You must be very quiet about this. Only me, my brother, and the King know about these documents.”

“Your brother?” Inquired Aladane.

“Yes.” Explained Galiot, “My brother headed north to secure a reconnaissance camp not far from Terropp.”

“We’ve decided to take up the lad’s request.” Explained Aladane, “We’re going to head to Ehrnar with these documents.”

“It will be very dangerous.” Said Galiot, “You realize your life will be in danger the moment you leave Shomstream.”

“We were heading that way anyway.” Lied Ingelri, “And I’m sure we will be ready for any danger that meets us.”

“Very well.” Finished Galiot, “Come… I will arrange for your departure.”

Galiot led the two back out into the main room of the tavern. Bella continued to sit at the table, talking to Dugenis about her tribe and how she met her friends. When Galiot had finally left the tavern with Ingelri and Aladane, Perry had just jogged up to them.

The foul stench of the lad, having been shoveling horse manure the whole time, forced the three to cover their nose in defense. Repulsed from the horrid fumes of the hard-working lad, Galiot had to struggle to speak.

“What in the name Brashnique is that smell!” He remarked.

“Sir.” Replied Perry, “The stables have been cleaned.”

“Yes, yes!” Said Galiot, “Now, go take a bath! You’ll be joining these two in the morning.”

“Pardon sir?” Questioned Perry.

“You will be following these two north to Ehrnar tomorrow.” Explained Galiot, “Now, for the love of Thavien, go take a bath!”

Perry always respected Galiot, despite being put to do petty chores instead of real soldier duty. Galiot would listen to him, even when it was just nerve-easing ramblings. He couldn’t imagine being constantly ignored by this small group of travelers.

“With them, sir?” Proceeded Perry, “But… I could be better used to aid the defense tomorrow.”

“That’s an order, Perry!” Demanded Galiot, “Now go take a bath right away!”

Perry sighed and stormed off, once again frustrated with his powerlessness.

As Perry left, Galiot turned to face Ingelri and Aladane again.

“Try not to be too hard on him.” He said, “He signed on because he wanted to help his country. I’m sure he has good intentions, if only he wasn’t so clumsy.”

Galiot noticed the mistake in his last sentence. Odds were really good, Perry would not be enough, or worse, Perry would only be counter-productive to their quest. He decided that the group could use more help.

“Kurtis!” He called out to a nearby soldier under his command.

Kurtis was a very secluded individual. He never liked anyone, and most of all he never liked boring tasks. Ever since the liberation, he’s been edgy and looking forward to his next fight. But it’s been several weeks, and still nothing but unexciting guard duty.

“Yes sir?” Asked Kurtis as he started towards them from the idle corner of a nearby building he was killing time at.

“New assignment for you.” Began Galiot, “You will be joining these gentlemen.”

“With them?” Asked Kurtis.

“Yes.” Answered Galiot, “A chance for you to go somewhere. You’ll be escorting this group to Ehrnar on an important quest.”

Kurtis wasn’t like Perry. He wasn’t going to complain about the instruction, but he also didn’t want to be traveling with this small group for something so petty.

“Yes sir.” Kurtis agreed with a sigh.

“Go set them up with a cart and some supplies.” Instructed Galiot, “You’ll need enough for five people.”

Kurtis nodded and saluted accordingly, retreating to go follow his instructions. Galiot turned to face Ingelri finally.

“I will have a room and meal prepared for you this evening.” Said Galiot, “There is just one more thing before you head off.”

“What would that be?” Asked Aladane.

Galiot pulled off his glove, revealing a shiny emerald-encrusted silver ring. He removed it gradually and it began to glitter with a faint green hue, emanating a sharp yet subtle magical aura. He held it out to Ingelri, who accepted the ring willingly.

“That emerald bears the crest of Triant.” He explained, “Make sure you take care of it. It will protect you from harm.”

“Thank you.” Answered Ingelri, “I will take good care of it.”

The evening had come and went like the coming and going of a single ocean wave of a summer coast. Ingelri, Aladane, and Bella had all slept easy for now.

* * *

Somewhere touching the northernmost part of Grider Woods was a Vanadictian encampment cleverly concealed. Only a Vanadict soldier would know where to find it. One such Vanadict soldier who had barely escaped with his life had hastily arrived.

Grack – A vanadictian half-orc officer – was in a sour mood that day. Things were not going so well for him. The dispatches he sent out to Shomstream had been reported dead. When word came that there was a survivor from Kanack’s group, Grack was very angry indeed. Kanack had apparently failed his mission.

The weary and tired soldier was brought weaponless before Grack and his tent. He saluted respectfully despite his short breath, and knew he was in a lot of trouble from the sight of Grack’s frown.

“Sir.” He stuttered to explain, “I uh… Well… You see…”

“Where is Kanack?” Demanded Grack in a low tone.

“He…” The soldier gulped hard, being the bearer of bad news, “He was slain, sir.”

“And the carrier?” Asked Grack hopefully yet calmly.

“Dead as well!” Replied the soldier eagerly; hoping for a chance he might be spared knowing there is some good news.

“Excellent!” Exclaimed Grack with a grin, “Where are the documents?”

A cold chill ran down the soldier’s spine. His eyes darted between the several guardsmen around him. He tried to stop his trembling by biting his lip hard.

“They were lost.” He answered silently.

“What?!” Shouted Grack.

“We were attacked.” Explained the man quickly, “By three travelers. They were very skilled. We couldn’t defeat them, sir. By the time I drew my weapon, Kanack was already dead.”

Grack drew his weapon, causing the soldier to go very silent. He proceeded to circling the poor fighter, speaking in a rather calm yet frightening voice, concealing a faint threatening tone.

“You say that all four of you were defeated by a group of three travelers that were conveniently passing by?” Asked Grack, “Just by coincidence?”

The soldier quickly nods in reply.

“Tell me…” Grack proceeded to ask, “Who were they?”

“I don’t know.” Explained the soldier, “A… A dwarf, a human, and a half-orc.”

“Where were they headed?” Asked Grack.

“I don’t know.” Replied the soldier, “Maybe Shomstream. I’m not sure.”

By the time Grack had got his last answer, he was standing back in front of his tent, facing the soldier who was now sweating and trembling with fear.

“Good.” Finished Grack, “You may go home now. You are officially relieved of duty.”

With that, Grack had sheathed his weapon. He spun around and returned into his tent, plotting his next move. The soldier could only light up with joy, knowing he has been bestowed mercy.

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October 12th, 2005, 00:19
2: Traitor

One could only hope for another peaceful night, tucked in those warm wooly beds in their flicker-lit homes. The soldiers were peacefully resting their heads on the feather-pillows of their soft fluffy beds. Huddled were they in fight against the icy crust that had bridged across the glass of their windows.

Only more could they appreciate the night knowing that any of their lives could be lost in the battle that would ensue due noon. Some of them snuck away, preferring to face the bitter winds of winter with only a handful of food and water than to die in defending their country. But those who stayed would only cling to their pillows at night, or whatever charm they had for luck or other significance, praying to Thavien for strength and courage.

None would suspect the man named Whalack, crossing the innermost part of town by himself. He knew most of the soldiers on watch at this hour and the power of coin had proved worthy of convincing them to sabotage the town’s defenses. Lookouts never looked and guards never guarded.

Whalack was promised a full sack of gold and a promise of land should Vanadict be victorious. He made this arrangement with a sturdy yet honest dwarf named Brulong, before Shomstream became liberated. They talked about opportunities; one that Whalack had the privilege to take. He could live off the money and the land for years to come.

What Whalack didn’t expect were the three suspicious travelers from the south. They arrived during the middle of the day and engaged in much drinking and conversation before climbing into their beds that night. Fortunately, Whalack had the chance to press his ear to the door that the good officer Galiot Braze and two of the suspicious travelers had had a chance to talk behind.

During all those weeks of service in the army, Whalack never liked Galiot. But one who hates his kind also hates those who are of it. Galiot was the sort of man that would ruin Whalack’s chance at a good life of early retirement, and Whalack would not have any of that at all.

When he overheard the talk of precious sealed documents concealed in a rucksack, he was both delighted and disappointed. His disappointment was Kanack, whom he met briefly eight nights ago, had failed his quest to sabotage the young carrier’s plans. His delight was that he had a chance to prevent them from still being carried out.

Fortunately, he wouldn’t have to do it himself, for his clever roguish friend would do it for him over night. However, he never trusted anyone. He would have to double-check on them after his plans to destroy Shomstream’s defenses were complete.

The purchased turn of glances gave him the freedom to unlock the gates, break all the archer’s arrows, and untie a few wooden barricades that no one would really miss at that moment. This purchase entitled him wicked and foul hearted, but so is the price to pay for a good life. While some would rather earn it honestly, Whalack could hardly care which way he earned it.

The word of approaching Vanadict soldiers was only mostly true. Vanadict soldiers were approaching, but not arriving by noon the next day. However, the lack of knowledge the scout had brought was aided by the coin he got from Whalack himself. Now most soldiers will die in their sleep tonight.

So came the cries of battle as squadrons in waves stormed Shomstream with haste. The paid guardsmen having already left their posts and headed back towards their home city. But those who had not been bought had managed to hear the quiet treading of the enemies’ feet.

Storming in they came through the northern gates, between the barricades, and through the city streets. Guardsmen still around reached for their bows and ran to the nearest stacks of arrows, only to find nothing. Before they could react, they were killed without mercy.

* * *

The stealthy rogue had got his coin, but never kept it on him. He wasn’t ready to let his pay get in the way of his job. He stepped ever so lightly towards the room of the three travelers who were sleeping rather comfortably in their beds. Bella had chosen to sleep on the floor, not caring much for those fluffy pillows. While Ingelri was indeed a snorer, Bella made no sound at all, and whatever cries there were outside, the eve’s drinking had put them out.

The rogue had made sure of himself to oil the hinges of the door before pressing it open ever so slightly. Such is the life of a rogue, to know that every slip in your step or any brush of your elbow could end your life.

The door proved no obstacle, but such did his worst fears come true as his foot met with Bella on the floor, causing him to trip and stumble in a heap on the ground, waking the human and the dwarf. Even though he made no vocal sound, the thudding reply of the wooden floors was all their ears had needed.

Yet somehow, Bella was still sleeping.

Ingelri got up in his dwarven rage, grasping his axe and swinging wildly, not that he could see anything. His axe had somehow miraculously slipped through the body of one of the two rogues in front of him, leaving him unharmed. The wobbly dwarf tried to keep his fighter stance.

Aladane struck true however, planting his sword right into the rogue’s neck, killing him. The rogue’s clutched hand remained around his dagger, and so it would stay that way indefinitely as he slumped to the ground dead.

“Nice one.” Spoke Ingelri as he rubbed his eyes, trying to wake himself fully.

“Quick.” Replied Aladane, “Put on your things and wake her.”

They began getting their things together, while Ingelri took a moment to give Bella a jab with his foot. She started to rouse, but was still very tired. Her vision a soft blur.

Once they had armed and armored themselves with their equipment, they proceeded to head out the door. Not far did they get did Perry and Kurtis arrive, climbing up the stairs to meet them.

“There you are!” Exclaimed Kurtis.

“What’s going on, men?” Asked Ingelri, now knowing them more formally as their escorts under their command.

“Someone sabotaged our defenses.” Answered Perry, “We’re under attack.”

“Treachery!” Growled Ingelri, “Treachery most foul!”

“We’re to escort you out.” Continued Kurtis, “The cart is all prepared outside. We can leave immediately.”

Aladane who was standing behind Ingelri took a peek inside his room to make sure nothing was left behind. He noticed the dead rogue staining the floor with blood on the ground.

“Bella,” He began to instruct, “Throw that sack of garbage out, would you?”

Bella nodded. She loved doing simple muscle work like this, Scooping up the dead rogue and throwing them out the window in a crash, sending them flopping down onto the ground below.

“You know,” Began Ingelri with a frown shot at Aladane, “We could have looted the body first.”

“There’s no time for that.” Replied Aladane, “Let’s go before we get anymore visitors.”

The group, including Kurtis and Perry had made their way outside of the tavern, pushing past the chairs men left idly pulled out. Bella made sure to grab her enormous barbarian club before joining them.

Once outside, they could see the constant struggling between fighters scattered everywhere. Weapons were colliding and war cries were erupting from the depths of their heart before they are slain. Nothing but the melodic sounding of colliding steel could be heard within an acre of where they stood.

Triantian soldiers began regrouping near the southernmost part of the town, assembling into teams to try and maneuver around their enemies. The Vanadictian soldiers continued to pound the inner defenses of Shomstream mercilessly, and the defending town could only defend relentlessly against the storm.

The group had started their cart on towards an eastern exit between the buildings of town. They pressed on as fast they could, seeing warriors die off to the side of them, seeing the hopeful victories and the dreading losses of the Triantian nation.

Not long had they been moving were their path blocked by a small surviving squadron of soldiers and that once again suspicious man behind them, firmly wielding a longbow with an arrow notched. All five of the allied comrades, Ingelri, Aladane, Bella, Kurtis, and Perry wielded their respected weapons under their foreboding.

“You survived it seems.” Remarked Whalack loudly, “Kill them! Make sure none of them survive, and bring me the rucksack they carry!”

“Back in the cart, Perry!” Commanded Aladane, concerned for the lad’s well being. But Perry never liked Aladane, and thus chose to ignore him.

So began the fight, once again fueled by Ingelri’s storming charge towards them. His war axe held wildly at the ready as he burrows his axe deep into the skull of his first enemy. Following behind were his comrades, each engaged with a man or more.

They were left unsurprised by Vanadict’s soldiers. This was indeed the same fighting style as the ones they faced four days from Shomstream. The colliding weapons and shouting followed accordingly in sequence with their foes.

Aladane downed the next foe. His scimitar swiftly detaching his enemy’s arm and digging deeply into the shoulder, rewarded by a cry of pain. Yet pain was no reward for Aladane, having to kill his own kind was never a pleasant experience for him.

Ingelri took the first blow, his side-wound reopened by another damned attacked. He made sure to return the attack, burying every heavy swipe into another body, one by one.

Whalack and Aladane’s eyes met again, just as they did in the tavern. It was that moment of crude fixation, like a threatening stare, yet a call for answers. Whalack found this glance bothersome enough to fire his arrow true towards Aladane’s heart.

Aladane was motionless in a mild paralyzed state, his body only capable of a small twitch. Perhaps he wasn’t ready yet to continue on, but his hesitance cost him his defense, for the arrow had planted just below his chest, deep into his gut. He let out the last of his pained breath and buckled down to his knees.

His heart was beating fast, producing the spouting of thick warm blood that coated the shaft of the arrow. He felt the iron head burning like a torch inside him. It was too much to bear, and he could only let his back fall to the ground.

Ingelri and Bella noticed their comrade’s fall, and quickly dispatched their foes with haste. Before they had all died, Whalack saw that his side was failing, and the best he could do was turn to flee, hoping for another chance to fight again.

With their enemies no more, Ingelri moved to check on his fallen comrade. He looked at his two escorts.

“Kurtis!” He began to command, “Can you mend wounds?”

“I’m not a healer, sir.” Spoke Kurtis, “I’ve never actually treated a wound like this.”

“I can.” Replied Perry, kneeling down and carefully going to work, “I used to know the priest before he died.”

Perry had quickly gone to work with removing the arrow, and stopping the bleeding. Aladane had fallen unconscious long before they started, and was unable to move. Much of what was left in his rested mind was that glare between him and Whalack.

After finishing the treatment, Perry had placed several final bandages around Aladane’s wound that was nestled between his chest and stomach. The human was fortunate enough not to take the arrow in the heart, as it was very close to that.

“Now,” Began Perry, “Let’s get him in the cart.”

Bella, still the fan of muscle work, scooped up Aladane’s body and let it down in a flop in the cart, re-opening his wound again.

“Hey, take it easy!” Remarked Ingelri, “Treat your friends with a bit more care, lass.”

Perry quickly climbed inside to re-patch the wound hastily. Aladane didn’t need to suffer more in his fragile state. Kurtis proceeded to move the cart slowly.

With haste and heed, they carefully made their way out of the town, escaping its fury in desperation. As they looked back on the fires that had now been burning upon the city, they are filled with deep sorrow. No more would they have the comfort of those warm wooly beds, and those soft-feathered pillows.

* * *

Deep within the beautiful halls of the great Ehrnar royal palace, where only the finest of every delight decorates the tables and walls with tastes both nourishing and admiring. It rivaled every nation’s palace with the finest stonework of the finest mountain quarries. A perfect world encased in a perfect structure.

A blessing of a court deep within it’s many chambers, seizing the day with a bustle of debates between the great seven kings of the kingdom. Seven proud and honored leaders of the nation would fire their arguments away, ever serious and aggressive with honest concern for their people.

On the most elegant and richest chair of this fine silver-laden court was the high king, honored and respected the most out of all the kings that sat in his presence. A king only those who earned such blessing of an audience would get to see. But yet a king, he was young, having had to take his father’s place on such throne with a great responsibility to inherit.

He was known as High King Lavon of Ehrnar. Known was he by all of Ehrnar and respected as such, never doubted nor feared. Yet even as a High King, he must earn the agreement of the entire court before he can exact a decision on behalf of his nation.

It was in this court that Buelget, an armored scout who had returned from the Broken Mountains with a report of a war between two nations. Kneeling in the middle of the seven kings before the high king, he paid his respects before giving his report.

“Your majesty.” He began formally, “It is confirmed that a war between Vanadict and Triant has began across the Broken Mountains to the south.”

The high king pondered this discovery quietly, but the scout had more to say.

“My findings report that Terropp and Shomstream are no longer under Triant’s control.” He explained, “Neither motive for Vanadict or Triant has been discovered yet.”

“Thank you.” Replied the high king, “You may go now.”

And so did the scout leave as instructed, leaving the court to debate the issue he had brought before them. One of the kings began to chuckle in his own obviousness.

“It’s clearly Triant’s fault.” Stated King Drois Boatle, the sixth king of Ehrnar, “It’s so obvious. Vanadict is not an aggressive nation.”

“We don’t know all the details, Drois!” Snapped King Kenas Delos, “This could be anyone’s fault.”

“Well,” Started King James Lanal, “I already know my decision. Better not to get involved at all. Let them go to war.”

“Idiot!” Shouted King Keith Relecart, “A victory for either side could change everything. A hundred years from now, they could grow to power beyond our reach.”

Bitter arguing began to ensue across the court, once again bringing up old forgiven issues between the six families. But the high king would never engage in such pointless discussions. He would sooner restore the issue at hand.

“Everyone!” He demanded for silence, “We are all forgetting that Vanadict and Triant have been our allies for the past three generations. I do not intend to stand idly by while one of them destroys the other.”

“And how do you propose to do anything about it?” Asked King Keith.

“We will find out which nation is responsible.” Explained the King, “Fetch the dread rogue, Niles Affort!”

A servant had retreated out of the court to do as they were told.

“You can’t be serious.” Began King Drois, “The man will never agree to this quest. He was sentenced to a life of silence ever since he was discharged.”

“He knows how to learn the secrets of the other nations better than any of our spies.” Stated High King Lavon, “We cannot afford to be mistaken.”

“What makes you think he’ll accept?” Asked King Keith.

“Because my father did not agree to sentence him.” Answered the High King, “And I will continue to disagree in his name until you all decide to levy the penalties.”

Finally entering the court chamber was a man dressed in heavy dark cloaks, and a tattered black scarf. His hair drooped in messy strands over his disgruntled face. Beside him stood a very wise-looking mage.

He looked up at the high king, and then around at all the other kings who were responsible for his lack of voice. He cannot ever talk under the binds of the magic placed upon him.

“Let him speak again.” Commanded Lavon.

The mage would look for the nods of the other kings first for approval, and when he got the even half that agreed, he began to chant harmoniously. Flickers of light would start to twirl and dance around his head.

Niles’s body began to twitch and ache as the white flickers began to descend into his neck and release the magical chains that shackled his voice. He finally lets out a vocalist sigh, able to emit noise at last.

“I apologize for such restraints, Niles.” Preceded the High King, “Were it not for the rest of the court’s decision, my father would have released you long ago.”

“And I respectfully…” Niles paused. It had been so long since he heard his own voice, finally able to treasure it again.

“And I respectfully recognize as such, your majesty.” He finished, “What is it you ask of me?”

“A war has broken out across the Broken Mountains to the south between Triant and Vanadict.” Explained Lavon, “We do not know who is responsible. Both of them are our allies, and we do not wish to intervene unless we know for certain who caused this war.

“We want you to go there and find answers for us. We will give your voice and provide you with what you need to do so. And in return…”

The High King had paused to look around at the rest of the court. He could make a decision like this, but the rest of them would have to agree to it.

“In return, you will be free.” He finished, “Your voice will be your own, and you will no longer be a prisoner here.”

The court rang out in storming arguments, shouting remarks, and heated debates. No one was willing to let someone who knew so much free. It was simply preposterous.

“However,” Said King Lavon in a louder tone which put everyone to silence again, “You will be exiled from Thaves forever.”

This put the rest of the court into a state of quite whispers between each other. Silent little murmurings and uncertain little talks that made the High King very uneasy. When it was over, they all began to nod their heads in agreement, and the duty of the law-binder that day stood up.

“You will be freed from your punishment.” He decreed, “But you will forever be banished from the land of Thaves on a ship of supplies set for the northeast islands where you will live out the rest of your life. Should you return to Thaves, you will be executed.”

Niles could only nod in agreement. This was a decision he could live with, for it was far more preferred than never being able to speak. He missed his voice so much, he was almost tempted to laugh and cry, and ramble on about nothing.

But he merely stood there and nodded, agreeing with the terms. And yet despite the punishment, he still stared at the High King with a smile, one that carried the weight of his full respect towards him. He knew King Lavon’s father like a brother, and they had many drinks to share, and many times to cherish.

As the Law-binder sounded off the terms in full, Niles turned and left the court, still a happy smile on his face, concealed beneath the tattered remains of his scarf. He walked out of the doors of his majesty’s court; he walked into the doors of freedom.

(I apologize. The previous session spans about 3 whole chapters, but due to my work-life, I do not have enough time to edit my drafts for posting yet. They may delayed up to a week or more.)

Comments: [email protected]

October 24th, 2005, 18:51
3: Glintnis

A mighty blizzard began to nip at the faces and wrists of the travelers who set out from Shomstream a day ago. They had let Aladane rest in the cart while they traveled. Perry had covered him with a thick blanket to keep him protected from the sharp bite of the icy winter storm. Their travels were delayed half a day by the hampering winds.

Everyone spirits were at a low that day, worn down partly by the traveling and also partly by the sight of Shomstream as it was attacked.

Despite this brutal morale, Kurtis never let himself be burdened by the past. Before he even joined the ranks of Triant, his life was filled with sights of cruelty and mercilessness. Just like then, he would never let the sharp inner stab of remorse penetrate his heart enough to shed a tear.

Kurtis had taken up the responsibility of keeping the cart moving, despite the wear of the others’ endurance. The strain of his muscles did not burden his willpower, but the horse did have to rest and breathe from within the solid blasts of ice-crusted flakes. Ingelri and Bella would ask him to relax, but he would only ignore them. Somehow, they suspected he had a dark secret.

Perry had gone about naming the horse Gibbles, keeping a positive attitude to help drag their feet across the valley tundra. To everyone, the horse was just a motor for the cart that carried their things, but Perry had a certain appreciation for all life. It would help ease his discomfort after doing something clumsy and counter-productive.

During the second day, their spirits got a little brighter, met with a brighter morning than usual. They managed to stretch their walk to thirty whole miles, making up for the storm they faced the day prior.

The fifth of the camps they set at noon and night over the three days of their journey, Kurtis had made a count of their food and supplies. It was during this tally did he bring the unfortunate news to Ingelri himself.

“Sir.” He reported, “We are short on rations.”

“How come?” Asked Ingelri.

“I don’t mean to point any fingers of any sort.” He stated, eyeing Bella with concern.

Bella had an unusual appetite. Normally, Aladane was responsible for managing the supplies for their travels, but since he had been badly wounded, Kurtis had taken up that chore. Bella had been wasteful with her share of the food and as a result, shortening the supply necessary to make it to Myth’s Passage.

It was Kurtis’s glance that allowed Ingelri to guess what he had implied.

“We will shorten our portions then.” Replied Ingelri.

“But we may not have our strength.” Remarked Kurtis.

“We will make do until we reach the reconnaissance camp.” Reassured Ingelri, “Once we’re there, there may be some supplies Galiot’s brother can spare.”

Kurtis accepted the arrangement, as did the rest of the group. Ingelri expected Bella’s distaste for the suggestion, and with that anticipation, he had made sure she still received her adequate portion of the rations accordingly.

While this day did not burden the travelers so heavily with storm, they were weary and tired from their walk. Their feet were a bit sore and exhausted from the chore of crossing the land. This was a sign that it was time to set up camp once again, but when the deep blue hue of the night crept over the daylight sky, Ingelri had noticed a flicker of light coming from the cleft of a hill, aiding shelter by some stones and leaf-less trees.

Ingelri pointed to two of his more available comrades, Bella and Kurtis, leaving Perry to watch the cart. The three had set out to investigate the curious flicker. They suspected that it was probably other travelers they were crossing with.

It was true in fact that there was a traveler, and the flicker of light was a campfire nestled in a cozy dry spot amidst the snowy tundra. Ingelri could tell by the sounds of pleasant humming before the crumpling snow under Ingelri’s footsteps alerted the stranger.

“Hello?” Asked the stranger in a sharp raspy voice with the common tongue language of humans.

Ingelri slowed his steps, not quite trusting of the stranger yet. The voice seemed unusual and was certainly not human or dwarven by nature. He looked to Kurtis who seemed to understand more.

“It sounds odd.” He whispered, “Like the sound a goblin makes.”

“A goblin?” Questioned Ingelri.

“Yes.” Answered Kurtis, “Annoying buggers they are. Quite common in the Mistwell plains and known for their plundering of defenseless villages.”

Kurtis had encountered goblins during his service in the Triantian army. It wasn’t a pleasant encounter, as it was a spontaneous attack during his training exercises. No lives were lost other than the goblins’, but he still dreads their existence.

Ingelri knew a little bit about goblins from stories. They aren’t overly common in the broken mountains, so he hasn’t ever encountered one before. His mentor, Charner, told him a thing or two about them being small and hostile, but he wouldn’t take Charner’s words to heart yet.

“Hello?” Proceeded to ask the stranger in another unfamiliar language.

“If this is a goblin,” Began Ingelri, “It’s one very well educated one.”

“Hello?” Continued calling the creature in several other languages, “Hello? Hello?”

One of the calls was in dwarvish, and Ingelri began to suspect that this was going to be a very unusual encounter. He nodded to Bella and Kurtis in sequence, a sign of readiness, and then they all proceeded to approach the encampment, their weapons out.

As Kurtis had suspected, it was indeed a goblin they saw as they rounded the hill and met eye contact with the creature. At first glance, Kurtis was at the ready to attack, but Ingelri held his hand outstretched to stop him. Despite Kurtis’s first reaction not to listen, Bella managed to hold him back by placing a firm grip on his shoulder.

“Let’s try talking.” Suggested Ingelri.

Ingelri started towards the goblin, and the creature began to worry a little bit, suspecting that he might be in danger.

“Hey now!” The creature remarked, “I’m a friendly goblin.”

“Your no friend of our kind!” Stated Kurtis.

“Prove your friendly.” Demanded Ingelri.

The goblin’s eyes darted left and right, contemplating on how to prove his friendship. He always cursed his racial disadvantages, knowing well any human or dwarf wouldn’t accept him. Then it occurred to him that one way might prove he isn’t hostile at least.

“Would any other goblin be out here by himself?” Asked the goblin.

“A very good point.” Mentioned Bella.

“And a point well taken.” Replied Ingelri, “Now who taught you how to speak dwarvish?”

“Being a lone goblin,” Said the goblin; “I always need to talk myself out of trouble when I have to.”

“I still say we should kill it.” Remarked Kurtis, “Goblins are no good to this world.”

“Not yet.” Replied Ingelri, “You two go and bring the cart here.”

Kurtis was reluctant, but Bella gave him a rough jerk and he cooperated. Ingelri never took his eyes off the goblin as he told them to leave, proceeding to talk to him further.

“So goblin.” Stated Ingelri, “Why do you travel in unfriendly lands?”

“Since when is any land friendly to a goblin?” Asked the creature.

“Well, what about where goblins live?” Asked Ingelri.

“Hah!” Chuckled the goblin, “We don’t have homes. Any homes we build are torn apart weeks later by humans in armor.”

“While my cousins believe it’s to kill than to be killed in Mistwell,” Began explaining the goblin, “I strive to crawl amidst the rocks of these stoney peaks to find my place in the world. One not of loot or plunder, but of an honest life.”

Ingelri saw the honesty in the goblin’s eyes. It was a faint concealed pain beyond the reflective surface of those odd inhuman eyes that brought Ingelri to pity the thing.

“Quite a shame.” Stated Ingelri.

“Aye.” Replied the goblin, “That it is.”

Ingelri look a moment to look around at the camp the goblin had prepared. A well-set fire with some extra firewood, and a large leather backpack tossed against a sitting rock. A covered fry pan was sitting over the fire muffling the crackling sound of something cooking. The place looked very cozy, almost capable of making one forget about the winter surrounding them.

“So what are you?” He asked, “Thief? Treasure Hunter?”

“You could say that.” Answered the goblin, “I trade with other travelers mostly, although the dwarves around here don’t want anything from me. They won’t tell me why, but they seem to be going somewhere.”

Ingelri was a little puzzled at that answer, but before he could inquire about it, his comrades had returned with the cart. Perry had come with them, and was very surprised to see the goblin, wondering if there would be a fight. He was relieved to see Ingelri putting away his axe.

“Are we killing the thing?” Asked Kurtis.

“I do hope not.” Replied the goblin, “If you spare my life, I have some junk I can give you.”

“Junk?” Asked Ingelri.

The goblin proceeded to tugging at his large backpack, sending it flopping onto the ground, spilling out several objects. Several pieces seemed to make up very favorable chain armor, should they be all intact.

“Got this cheap I did.” Replied the goblin, noticing the interested glance of Ingelri’s eyes. He started pulling out the larger chain pieces.

“What is it?” Asked Ingelri.

“Dwarven armor.” Replied the goblin, “Traded it for junk I didn’t need. The dwarf who traded it was very nice to me.”

Ingelri approached and looked at the chain closer. It was quite appealing indeed. The pieces of chain were well fixed, complimented by belts and buckles that would easily strap the suit to his body protectively. He began to stroke his beard, contemplating the decision until he finally comes to a conclusion.

“Alright.” He accepted, “I accept your gift. Boys, make the goblin welcome!”

“What?!” Remarked Kurtis, “You can’t be serious.”

“I am.” Replied Ingelri, “So you better take it seriously, lad.”

Ingelri turned to face the goblin again, holding his hand out to shake.

“Me name’s Ingelri.” He introduced, “And I don’t know the custom goblins have about names.”

“Glintnis.” Replied the goblin with a smile, reaching to take the dwarf’s hand, “Since I give myself credit enough to have a name.”

Ingelri proceeded to take a seat, and the others started to tie down the cart. Perry and Kurtis went to set up the tent while Bella joined Ingelri at the fireplace.

“So who is the edgy one?” Asked the goblin.

“That’s Kurtis.” Answered Ingelri, “He’s a bit touchy about everything.”

“The short one over there is Perry.” Continued Ingelri, pointing accordingly, “He’s also a bit touchy, but he’s got a brighter spirit than most of us.”

Before Ingelri could even get to Bella, Glintnis had taken the liberty to interrupt.

“And who might be this very pretty friend of yours?” Asked Glintnis referring to Bella.

Bella is not the kind of woman most people would find attractive. Her half-orc tusks jut out over her upper lip, producing a very noticeable under-bite. She also appears to have quite a bit of hair in places she shouldn’t. If you had to choose what would be the most appealing feature about Bella, it would be her large robust bosom.

“That’s Bella.” Answered Ingelri.

Glintnis gave her a suggestive grin, bringing his brows together in unison and bouncing them up and down. Ingelri couldn’t understand the attraction, and Bella was somewhat offended by it. She had a human husband before and believes her standards are definitely higher than a goblin.

“Well then,” Replied the goblin, now in a dreamy-eyed state, “It’s good to have fine company.”

Bella frowned at Glintnis.

“Bella is a damn good warrior.” Replied Ingelri, “Probably the strongest of all five of us.”

“She looks like she could be good at anything.” Remarked Glintnis suggestively again.

“So where were you headed?” Asked Ingelri in an attempt to change the subject.

“North.” Answered Glintnis the goblin.

“Why north?” Asked Ingelri.

“Because that’s where the dwarves are heading.” Answered Glintnis, “I want to see what the fuss is all about.”

Ingelri could already guess what the fuss could indeed be about. In the steep mountains a little north of Gyre’s Valley was the most dreadful place to every dwarf in the Southern Highlands. It was none other than the ruins of Aurk, the home city of the dwarves.

Ingelri never talked about it, and neither does anyone else who respect the loss of the dwarves. Having no capital to call a home for their nation is a moralistic strain on their society. Even the mere mention of its name sends a deep uncomfortable vibe into the very bones of a dwarf, the kind that acts as a painful stab, reminding them of a tragedy.

“Scoundrels looking for ancestral gold no doubt.” Replied Ingelri in an attempt to change the subject.

“Maybe.” Said Glintnis still suspicious, “I like a bit of adventure though.”

“Of course.” Replied Ingelri, “In fact, we’re heading northward towards Myth’s Passage.”

“Why are you heading there?” Asked Glintnis, “It’s awfully dangerous with this war going on.”

“We’re messengers.” Replied Ingelri, “And that’s the most you need to know.”

Glintnis got a little curious about the messenger status, but paid it no real heed, knowing it wouldn’t benefit him any to know. Besides, he was a little more concerned when Kurtis returned, along with Perry.

“What if this little monster tries to kill or rob us in our sleep?” Asked Kurtis.

“Being alone as I am.” Replied Glintnis, “I’d be more worried about being killed and robbed in my own sleep.”

“We’ll be setting watch anyway.” Said Ingelri, “Nobody is killing anyone without my permission.”

“Good idea.” Remarked Glintnis.

“Perry gets first watch then.” Replied Kurtis.

“What?” Complained Perry, “Why me?”

“Would you rather be woken up in the middle of the night instead?” Asked Kurtis.

“No, but…” Hesitated Perry, “I have been walking all day and checking on Aladane.”

“Enough.” Commanded Ingelri sternly, “its agreed Perry will take first watch, and I will take the second. Kurtis and Bella can take third and fourth watch accordingly.”

Perry could only sigh and sit down at the campfire with the others quietly.

“Have you any food?” Asked Bella cautiously.

“Lots of food!” Said Glintnis excitedly, “Frog heads and gecko innards! Normally, you won’t find any of them out here, but you can scrape them off the underside of rocks.”

Glintnis licked his lips as he lifted the lid of the fry pan, revealing three heads of frogs cooked through and sprawled gecko innards all over the other half of the pan. Kurtis and Perry scrunched up their faces in disgust, but Ingelri could stomach the sight and Bella seemed unaffected entirely.

“Absolutely delicious, isn’t it?” Asked the goblin.

“I think I’ll just stick to trail biscuits.” Answered Ingelri.

“Why would you eat such things?” Remarked Kurtis.

“What are you talking about?” Asked Glintnis, “This is what I call fine dining.”

“If you can eat what no one else wants, you survive.” Replied Ingelri.

“True is that.” Replied Glintnis.

He flipped the frog heads and the gecko innards, then had an interesting idea.

“Say,” He began, “How would you guys like to come with me? The mountains to the north of here are a much safer passage.”

“We would be going out of our way.” Responded Kurtis immediately, “And we don’t have enough food as it is.”

“We also have a cart.” Answered Ingelri.

“Cart schmart!” Blurted Glintnis, “We can still tow it with a rope, and with me along, you have the power to help get it over those steep inclines.”

“We would still be doubling our travel time.” Replied Kurtis, “Where would we get the food for that trip?”

“I’m sure the dwarves got some to sell.” Answered Glintnis, “Besides, if you keep going north, you’ll hit a human outpost.”

“Ours?” Asked Kurtis.

“No.” Answered Glintnis, taking note of the emblem on Kurtis’s gauntlets, “Nothing like your emblem there. Its like a silver ring with a hawk in it.”

“Vanadict.” Concluded Kurtis dreadfully.

“Sounds like it.” Added Ingelri.

“I don’t know.” Commented Glintnis, “But the outpost will kill you on sight, that much I know.”

“It must have been set up to block the passage to Terropp.” Mentioned Bella, “Scouts will be about as we near that outpost. My tribe used to do the same thing to protect our village.”

“Looks like we have little choice in the matter then.” Replied Ingelri.

“Yes.” Added Glintnis, “And besides, don’t you want to know what the other dwarves are up to?”

“We dwarves mind our own business.” Suggested Ingelri, “Learn that lesson the easy way is my advice.”

“And we have an alternative.” Quickly added Kurtis, “I’m sure we can find a standing underway tunnel that’ll take us to Namasal Valley.”

“Yes.” Replied Perry, “Namasal Valley is safer.”

“If you want to die!” Shouted Glintnis, “Those tunnels are collapsed, and any standing are likely fraught with terrible monsters.”

“I don’t care!” Exclaimed Kurtis rising to his feet, “This job is not worth spending more than a month to get to our destination.”

Ingelri looked up at Kurtis. He wondered what the foolish human could be thinking. While taking a longer route might extend the length of the overall journey, it is far more preferred when there is a noble cause.

“Yes it is.” He stated, “If you want to win this war, it is.”

“We’ll be too close to Vanadict though.” Argued Kurtis.

“If I know this place well enough.” Explained Bella, “Vanadict won’t send anything across the mountains.”

“Bella is right!” Exclaimed Perry, “The ruins of Aurk are there.”

Suddenly, everyone went quiet, and Perry received a full collection of uncomfortable glances pointed his way. He covered his mouth and quieted quickly as he noticed Ingelri sitting silently and calmly. He was afraid he might have said something greatly disrespectful, but Ingelri recognized how clumsy Perry could be.

“S… Sorry.” Stuttered Perry.

“It’s okay.” Replied Ingelri, “He’s young.”

“He is right though.” Replied Kurtis cautiously; “Vanadict won’t send soldiers over those mountains.”

“So they should be safe.” Commented Ingelri.

Everyone seemed to nod in agreement, except for Kurtis who was still reluctant to follow this arrangement. But nobody acknowledged his sour attitude towards this situation.

“It’s settled then.” Stated the goblin, “We head towards the mountains in the morning. It’ll be perfectly safe.”

Glintnis reached down and picked up the fry pan by its handle, taking a stick and poking at one of the remnants of the gecko inside and holding it up.

“All done.” He stated, “Who wants the gecko’s testicles? Now’s your chance!”

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November 2nd, 2005, 20:38
4: Recovery

Sheltered by a simple tent tied down over the dry patch three days from Shomstream, Aladane began to regain some strength. Perry was already on watch, sitting out by the campfire with Glintnis the goblin. They began to exchange in mild conversation, inquiring about each other’s history.

Glintnis apparently came from a tribe of goblins that were popular in the Tomgale Woods. When he renounced his allegiance and decided to take up a life of his own in hopes of bridging a friendship between civilized society and goblin kind, he became more of an outcast to his people and they hated him very much. Some of them even hunt for him had they the courage to stray far from their homes.

But Glintnis wasn’t overly disappointed with his newfound life. Since he left, he became quite familiar with many of the different cultures of dwarf and human. Several different traveling parties would accept him and provide him with some shelter, and the freedom to trade.

Every party didn’t accept Glintnis with open arms, however. Several parties would attack him on sight for the simple reason that they could profit from his death and loot him of his belongings. His journey has been especially perilous since the war between Triant and Vanadict began.

Glintnis wasn’t overly familiar with the war. He couldn’t understand why it began or why it had to be fought. To him, war was another word for raiding and plundering. One side wanted to conquer for wealth, while the other side was defending their wealth.

Perry told Glintnis about the war and why it was being fought, although he soon discovered that he himself couldn’t rightly understand. Perry believed he was fighting for a noble cause because he was a citizen of Triant. Soldiers always obeyed a standard code that had been shared between them. Whatever the reason was for fighting, it mattered only to the lords of the nations.

The true cause of the war was irrelevant. Vanadict had always wanted a war with Triant ever since the Middle Mountains were broken. The strong bonds of their trade with Ehrnar and Banette would be fuelled greatly if they could harvest the rich land Triant had within their borders.

While Perry had become confused in his own discussion with Glintnis, Ingelri was in the tent, checking on the recovering companion. Aladane had regained consciousness several times in order to eat, but he still needed to rest for the sake of that brutal wound in his chest. Ingelri’s face returns a reassured smile when Aladane’s eyes open.

Their eyes had met, and Aladane expressed his confident delight to be alive with a warm smile as he lay there. His body very numb and tense, having been incapable of much movement since he fell in battle.

“Well that’s a shame.” began Aladane sarcastically, “You’re still alive.”

“Hah!” laughed Ingelri, “So this is the thanks I get for dragging your body along for the ride?”

“You know I meant nothing by It.” said Aladane, “How are we doing?”

“We’re still a good sixteen days from Terropp,” replied Ingelri, “And we believe, despite the longer journey, that it would be safer if we crossed the northern mountains.”

Aladane immediately got the same chill as Ingelri had earlier that evening. He could only guess that Ingelri had intended to pass through his destroyed home city.

“Aurk?” asked Aladane for reassurance.

“I don’t know.” replied Ingelri, “We met a goblin. His name is Glintnis.”

“A goblin.” remarked Aladane, “Sounds awfully reassuring.”

“There have been dwarves he’s met that are heading north there,” began Ingelri, “We decided to accompany him to investigate.”

“So this is an investigating sort of goblin then?” asked Aladane with a chuckle, “What next? An ogre who plays cards?”

Ingelri and Aladane laughed pleasantly.

“He’s friendly.” said Ingelri, “You needn’t worry.”

“Not that I ever was worrying.” replied Aladane.

They both returned to the topic of Aurk, which seemed to be their inevitable destination.

“So what do you think the dwarves are going to Aurk for?” asked Aladane.

“I haven’t a clue.” replied Ingelri, “That’s why we’re going to find out.”

“You don’t suspect its something dreadful, do you?” asked Aladane.

“No.” answered Ingelri.

“Tell me,” began Ingelri, “How much do you know about your home?”

“I never knew my real parents.” started Aladane, “I only remember your uncle Cresage. He taught me everything about the wilderness of these mountains. I never knew another dwarf who knew so much about the land.”

“Did my uncle ever tell you about Aurk?” asked Ingelri.

“Yes.” answered Aladane, “A grand majestic city deep in the cleft the middle mountains, surrounded by impassable mountain peaks. Their inner chambers lined with the pure mithral emblems that would earn the envy of any king. It’s only entrances are the Underway Tunnels they dug to connect each nation.”

“Aye.” replied Ingelri, leaning back and averting his eyes towards the ceiling of the tent, “I wish I was able to see it.”

“I know I would never have gotten to.” replied Aladane, “It was because of Merdrig I met your uncle.”

“Aye.” stated Ingelri, “Something good came out of it at least then.”

“I didn’t mean that.” quickly stated Aladane, “I just meant I’m happy to be so fortunate to have friends such as you and Cresage.”

“Family.” corrected Ingelri.

Aladane smiled very warmly, feeling overly honored by Ingelri. No dwarf on the Southern Highlands would ever consider any other race a member of their family. Yet Aladane had somehow deserved it, being that he had no other family to call his own.

“Aye.” agreed Aladane, “Family.”

While Ingelri and Aladane were able to rest that night, Bella and Kurtis had woken up early. Bella had been roused by a disturbing dream, and decided it best to take Kurtis’s place as watch. While Kurtis was overly thankful, he was reluctant. He decided to stay awake with her.

Dawn was still several hours away. Not even an hour had passed were they already uncomfortably silent around each other. Bella and Kurtis both shared something in common. They never liked talking all that much.

Somehow, Kurtis had managed to find a question that would put them more so at ease.

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Ricrac.” she replied.

Ricrac was the dense forestlands south of the broken mountains, touching Grider Woods. It was a place where barbarian clansmen were prominent. A powerful harvest for lumber and food became the major occupancy of the land within Triant’s border.

“You’re a barbarian, right?” asked Kurtis.

“Was.” replied Bella, “My tribe died.”

“All of them?” asked Kurtis.

“Yes.” answered Bella, “All of them.”

Kurtis smirked and looked aside.

“Serves them right.” he muttered.

Bella was quite outraged by his comment, and hurled a conveniently available stone at him, knocking him off his seat. He quickly picked himself up and placed his hand on the hilt of his weapon.

“I warn you, savage,” he threatened, “I’m not afraid to fight you.”

Bella slowly stood up, revealing her somewhat intimidating height.

“How dare you insult my kind.” she growled, “You think you and your common human folk are all privileged enough to deserve emotions. You have no heart for those who have lost everything.”

“What have you lost that matters so much?” he asked.

Bella slowly returned to her seat and looked back at the fire. Kurtis recalled his hand and took a seat himself.

“My husband and daughter were slain by your people.” she replied, “We were a clan that minded our own, and nothing more.”

“There are many clans in Ricrac.” said Kurtis, “A lot of them were savage and hostile. We may have made a mistake.”

Bella ended the conversation with silence, not wanting to talk further about the subject. Kurtis fell silent as well, also feeling somewhat uncomfortable again.

* * *

The siege upon Shomstream had been a success, but many Triantian troops had fled the town before its taking. Vanadictian soldiers had begun securing the place, and taking the opportunity to loot the Triantian citizens’ homes. Brulong was most pleased with the outcome of this battle, but something still kept him from ease.

Brulong was a sturdy yet honest dwarf in service to the Vanadict army. Unlike most dwarves, he never really mourned for the loss of his city, yet he never commented on the subject either.

Many of the surviving and imprisoned Triant soldiers were executed during the day, but some were kept alive to be tortured for information. Brulong was never a fan of such brutal arrangements, but they were strict orders brought down the ranks to him. Despite this agreement he had made, he wanted to find a particular survivor that he met before the attack.

Whalack eagerly came to him, unharmed and ignored by the other Vanadict soldiers. He was obviously recognized as the spy and saboteur that he was. However, Whalack was not met with a pleasant smile from Brulong.

“Something is wrong.” stated Brulong to Whalack, “Something is very wrong.”

Brulong began to stroke his thick black beard and squint his dark brown eyes in concern.

“We are victorious, Brulong!” Exclaimed Whalack, “What more could you ask?”

“To win one single victory is pointless.” replied Brulong, “To win a victory that could end a war intrigues me more than this petty siege. I heard word of mouth that there were suspicious travelers coming through here.”

“Yes.” said Whalack, “They escaped, sir.”

“What were they carrying with them?” asked Brulong.

“I don’t know.” answered Whalack, “I never had the chance to look inside their cart.”

“Can you describe them” asked Brulong.

“Most certainly.” replied Whalack delightedly, “A dwarf, a human, and a half-orc, sir. They were accompanied by two enemy soldiers.”

Brulong’s suspicions were correct. These were the three travelers he was told about and the fact they have already departed could only mean grim news.

“Off with you now.” commanded Brulong.

“And what of my reward?” asked Whalack.

Brulong produced a fair-sized sack that chimed with the sound of piled coins. He tossed it to Whalack in hopes of satisfying the rogue, and Whalack departed immediately after.

It was unfortunate that Brulong could not stop the travelers from leaving the town alive, but it was a matter he convinced himself that he could deal with easily. He decided to return to his tent.

Upon entry, his eyes met with the large half-orc standing at the innermost part of the tent. He was mildly uncomfortable with the tall creature’s un-amused stare.

“So?” asked Grack, “What did you find out?”

“As you suspected.” replied Brulong, “They came through here heading north.”

Grack growled furiously. In his outrage, he kicked a wooden chair standing idly by as hard as he could, breaking it in half before sending it flinging across the tent into a clutter on the floor. His heavy breaths complimented his heaving chest and his flared nostrils. His fists were clenched very tightly, as though he would strike the dwarf outright.

“Calm yourself.” said Brulong calmly.

Grack turned around to face the back of the tent, his eyes glancing about in his savage haste to find something else to break, but he could only see the stretched fabric that conceal them from outside view. He tried to control his temper, but he felt as though the rucksack he was after was escaping his grasp.

“Would it help if I told you they were traveling with a cart?” said Brulong, “It will take them weeks to reach Myth’s Passage.”

Grack suddenly paused and looked over his shoulder at the dwarf, somewhat pleased to hear this. His opportunity renewed.

“Cavalry…” he stated.

“No!” shouted Brulong, “They are too valuable to our next attack.”

“Give me cavalry!” demanded Grack as he approached Brulong and knelt so that they were facing eye-to-eye. He placed his hands on the dwarf’s shoulders encouragingly.

“Please!” he begged, “Just thirteen of your best. I’ll catch them and slay them all in less than a week.”

“Once again,” stated Brulong, “Your quest was given to you discreetly, while mine was to conquer Triant. I cannot give you anything.”

“Damn you!” shouted Grack.

It was at that moment Grack grabbed Brulong by the neck and started choking the dwarf. Brulong began struggling, holding the half-orc’s wrists firmly and kicking at him.

“Give them to me!” he demanded again, “Or I’ll kill you!”

Brulong managed to land a kick between Grack’s legs, causing Grack to grunt and release his grip. Brulong took this staggering moment to rush the half-orc and bear him to the ground, his hands tightly gripping the half-orc’s neck in retaliation.

The stupidity of their fight did not go unnoticed. Their shouts and cries are heard from outside, and several Vanadictian soldiers started to approach it hesitantly to investigate. They recoil when they spot Grack being thrown out of the tent, stumbling and staggering about. Brulong appearing out of the cloth folds shortly after.

“Fine then!” snarled Grack, “Keep your stupid cavalry!”

“Get out of my town!” roared Brulong, “And I warn you, the next time I see your face, it’ll be the last.”

Grack spit at Brulong’s feet and turned to leave. He decided to take his troops and try to catch the escaped travelers by heading north through Gyre’s valley. He made sure to steal a few horses for the sake of saddlebags, rather than slow himself down with a burdening cart.

They set out early that morning with great haste and little care for supplies and rations that could aid them.

As you've probably noticed in my previous chapters, there are some grammer errors, most specificly with dialog. These have not and will not be corrected.

Over 500 views, so I suspect people are actually reading this. Thank you. While it's for my own personal use, I do enjoy doing story revisions of all my adventures. I have been considering moving this to a more appropriate place on the web, although currently I don't have a website of my own yet. I might consider posting these story revisions for future adventures on AdventuresomeDreams.com depending on any feedback I receive (and if my future posts don't end up in internet dust and cobwebs there).

Your also welcome to post comments and criticism here if you'd like.

Edit: Wow. There's even more grammer errors in my new chapter. Now I have to fix everything all over again.

Edit: Now it seems like those errors aren't there... I'm so confused... This is starting to get really stressful.

Comments: [email protected]

November 3rd, 2005, 16:22
5: Reasoning

Of all the great palaces that bought each nation its pride and glory, one stood high in beauty and marvel above the rest. A palace so rich with decorative silver and gold strewn across the blue stone exterior, one can almost cry with envy as it sparkles and glitters in the sheen of sunlight or moonlight.

It’s massive cone-topped towers scale high above the building tops of its founding city below. Its pole-tipped peaks, bearing flags of Vanadict’s royal ring and hawk emblem, nearly touch the boundless reaches of the deep blue sky. The outstretched wands reach relentlessly for the heavens above.

The servants would avert their gaze on several occasions, not being worthy enough to look at those of higher stature. They would keep the palace spotless, lest the royal guards punish them. Unlike the standard trained soldiers that have been sent out into the field, the royal guards were hand-picked from the most experienced warriors in the nation.

Regular business owners envied certain portions of the palace. Unlike most nations, the palace had the best of everything, because the king who lived there was the richest in the land. The palace had its own special Inn, a smithy, a workshop, a tailor, and several other sorts of shops.

However, there was one such popular trade that wasn’t apart of the palace, due to its enormity. It was the arena, erected since the foundation of the grand kingdom. The stone-stadium could be seen from the outermost reaches of the city, scaling high above the view of other buildings. Envious were the merchants who were not privileged enough to perform their trades within its walls.

But the palace had a hand in the arena’s core foundation. They received a portion of the coins that would be earned from the arena matches. Rather, the King received a portion of the coins.

It was King Eliot Caskan who possessed such privileged riches and although he was a greedy king, his reason for invoking a war against Triant was not without good reason. His son had been murdered nearly a year ago when the war had started, and he had become increasingly outrageous ever since. More and more he dreads and mourns in his throne room, almost ignoring the talk of his advisors around him.

His smug unforgiving stare across the chamber would only quench the uneasiness of the others as they talked. It seemed as if his gem-encrusted crown would steep lower and lower with his narrowed brows, each step a chilling earth-rippling drop. His teeth had been clenched since the arena matches stopped when the war began.

Ikeos would dare to try and comfort him by offering him wine and entertainment, but nothing would cool the angry lord of the country. Ikeos was the most loyal to Eliot’s family ever since the king claimed the throne. He was even more loyal that his sister, Denise.

Her beautiful blue eyes complimented by the graceful lashes peering out from them encased Eliot’s sister’s plotting and scheming. Her pouted succulent lips would denote a feigned innocence, meant to produce lies and deceitful words that would even go as far to commit murder.

Eliot could never suspect such murderous deeds had become his sister. While Denise had thought of killing her brother long before the war began, she was more enticed by the thought of destroying him completely by ruining his life and taking the throne when he is at his weakest. However, she never wanted the throne for the power. She wanted the throne to sell.

The kingdom of Vanadict was a corrupt one. The throne itself was a trade, giving the richest family power over the country. When there was no heir, it was bid on by a massing of several families that would struggle to own such power over the nation, but only one would be wealthy enough to earn such a privilege. Yet somehow, it was flawed, for although they bid on such a position, the prevailing bidder would only exploit the throne of its taxation power over the nation.

Denise had such claim on the throne, should her brother be dispatched, but part of the plot was collaborated with her lover, Shavarn, a skilled fencer and a member of the second richest family in Vanadict.

Shavarn was a tall middle-aged adult with dark gray eyes and a thin black beard. He had just begun mourning the death of his father, or so he claims. He had cleverly lured his brother out of Vanadict so that he would be the only one to inherit his family’s great fortune, despite his mother’s disapproval.

Denise fled the throne room that day to run to her lover, desperately seeking comfort and reassurance in his warm embrace. Part of her felt tainted, even though her heart was black and cruel, complimented by a foul twisted mind. She wasn’t sure if she could openly say she loved Shavarn to others, but he she always figured she could find another lover as easily as him.

Yet more than satisfied with what she has, she quickly entered the guest chamber to meet him, letting her body fall against his chest to be greeted by his protective arms, shielding her from the outside world.

He would smile down at her in confidence.

“Are you alright, my darling?” He asked.

She smiled a luscious smile.

“Yes, my love. I just miss the way you hold me.”

“Something troubles you.”

They hadn’t spoken of the ill deed since it happened. They would never speak of it to keep it unspoken and unheard. But Shavarn began to grow suspicious of things.

It’s by chance that his suspicion would soon become his misfortune. Standing idly by in secret outside a window was a cleverly concealed rogue and warrior, listening very closely. His ears well trained to hear whatever secrets are passed throughout the inner walls of the palace.

Niles Affort was very lucky to be in this spot, suspecting that Shavarn’s visits played a part in this war. The noble had been a guest too many times in the past year.

“Nothing troubles me.” Denise replied.

“You know it will be alright.” Shavarn said reassuringly.

“I know.”

Shavarn smiled, thinking it might be best to encourage her somehow.

“You know,” he began, “Once your brother is dead, we could keep the crown for a just a bit.”

“Are you planning something?” Denise asked.

“With that power,” he started to explain with a confident smile, “We could attain many things.”

“No.” Denise said firmly, backing away, “We agreed when we killed Eliot’s son.”

Niles eyes lightened up in surprise.

“Yes.” Shavarn said, “We did. I still hold true to that bargain.”

“Good.” Denis said, suddenly looked very troubled. Denise never liked talking about killing. She was deceitful and murderous, but she never likes to be reminded of her foul deeds.

“Something else bothers you?” Shavarn questioned.

“Do you think anyone else suspects anything?” Denise asked.

“No. The only one that knew was Latarnan, and I killed him several nights ago.”

“I thought you said you paid for his silence?”

“I did.” Shavarn quickly added, “Now he speaks no more.”

“All this killing.” Denise began to notion, feeling a shred of regret, “So many people are dying because of this. I’m beginning to have second thoughts.”

It occurred to Shavarn that he would have to provide more encouragement and comfort to his lover. His embrace had coiled tighter and his words softened to a cooing gracefulness that would ease her mind of any trace of worry that clung to it.

“Do not worry, my love.” He said, “Death is not unjust, and your actions are always forgiven. You could do no wrong.”

Denise’s conscious mind would have denied such belief, knowing that a life could never be returned once it is taken. But Shavarn’s rich voice was like a soft blessed melody through her ears. She melted in his arms and nestled herself against his chest, relinquishing her principles and accepting that killing is inevitable.

“You should be overjoyed to know your brother will suffer.” Replied Shavarn in his ironic demeanor, “He will be punished for all the happiness you deserved.”

“Your right.” She accepted finally, “And whether his war succeeds or fails, I will kill him.”

“Did you poison his goblet?” Shavarn asked.

Denise nodded against him gently.

“Yes.” She replied, “But he won’t drink.”

“He will.”

“He still dreads about his son.”

“He should. But be patient, my love. When it is time, he will drink, and he will slowly die.”

“What if he finds out?”

“He won’t.” Shavarn answered with another confident smile, “And if he does, it will have been too late.”

That moment, Denise and Shavarn’s eyes had met followed by their lips in a deep soothing yet passionate kiss. Her arms had outstretched and locked around his neck, returning the embrace in full.

With having all he needed, Niles began to shuffle away alongside the palace’s outer wall. He had hoped he could return with physical evidence, but he found that such evidence would be provided to his king in the near future.

Although he dreaded the death of man who has been deceived, he paid it no real heed. Eliot’s death will be evidence enough to satisfy King Lavon.

Niles quickly made his escape into the city.

* * *

During the night, Vanadict’s marketplace would still bustle with activity. It’s capacity for trade so great that there were those who would do business overnight. It was during this time that merchants of a more illegal trade would reveal themselves.

Niles had recently resided in one of the local taverns farthest from town. As reward for his efforts in penetrating the defense of the palace, he decided to have a drink and converse in friendly chat with the locals. He was fortunate enough to find good company.

With one arm hung loosely around the lass he paid for, and the other hand lazily clung to the handle of his mug of ale, he sat across from the tavern owner, Urfhold Bragaxe, a dwarf. Urfhold and Niles had known each other before Niles was ever imprisoned.

“Why don’t you retire, old fool?” The dwarf asked.

“I already have.” Niles replied.

“What do you mean?”

Niles started to think thoroughly about that question. He implied his exile from the Southern Highlands forever after he had completed his quest for evidence. It was strange to be exposed to such fruitful experiences of common everyday life.

Here he was, drinking ale and sleeping with a beautiful woman after so many long years being imprisoned in Triant’s dungeon. So many years he had been locked away without the ability to speak. Now he can talk and express his thoughts and feelings verbally at will.

Niles explained his current mission and his price for his freedom. Urfhold was quite surprised.

“Why did they imprison you?” He asked.

“Because I know things about Ehrnar that should never be mentioned.” Niles explained, “Just the mention of a name could lead to disaster for the nation.”

“How so?”

Niles took a swig of his ale.

“One thing leads to another.” He explained, “Ehrnar has played a part in much espionage in order to keep relations stable. Nobles had to be killed for the sake of maintaining peace.”

“You’ve killed many?” Urfhold questioned with concern.

“I’ve killed too many.” Niles answered.

Niles began to lose his lust and thirst that moment, and slumped a bit. His eyes continued to linger down at his ale, the reflection of glass almost revealing the monster behind his skin.

“Men…” Niles dreadfully mentioned, “Women… Children…”

“You’ve killed children?” His woman asked with much surprise.

“Yes.” Niles replied, “I’ve done many ill deeds in my lifetime. I try to wonder why I took up such a profession.”

“A killer?” Urfhold inquired.

“It was for money at first.” Niles began to explain, “Until one day I was forced to work for the army of Ehrnar. When the Backclaw gnolls stormed the outer borders of the nation, I had to learn to conceal my allies.

“It was Teever, a human friend and ally, who taught me how to practice such tactics. It was a valuable skill he inherited from many wars he had been in. Because of me, every one of those men that worked for me became murderers.”

“A shame.” Urfhold stated with a huff.

“Indeed.” Niles replied, finishing with a bow of his head.

Another subject came to Niles’s mind when he heard about a strange gathering of dwarves east of Merdrig.

“What is this I’m hearing about Aurk?” Niles asked daringly.

Urfhold spit on the floor next to him and glared at Niles from across the table. Nobody had the right to speak of such a place, but when he saw Niles’s interrogating gaze, he knew he couldn’t bluff the secret.

“You should learn to mind your own business.” Urfhold remarked.

“But I’m very curious.” Niles asked, “I have a long way to go to get to Triant, and passing those mountains would be very convenient.”

“Nobody passes those mountains. Besides, it’s a war out there.”

“I’ve experienced war before, friend.”

“Well I’m not telling you anything.” Urfhold remarked defensively, “But I will remind you the consequences of going to such a place.”

“You seem overly protective.” Niles suggested.

“As I should be.”

“Come now.” Niles egged, “You and I are friends. Can you at least let me guess?”

“Guess as you wish. But I will not tell you anything.”

“Could it be that your kind is gathering in hopes of rebuilding your home city?” Niles suggested.

Urfhold had most certainly given it away with his expression. There was a combination of surprise and disgust, which wrote absolutely all over his face. Niles could only stifle his chuckle, turning to kiss his lady on the cheek.

“Bah!” Urfhold grumbled, getting up from his seat, “Think what you will, but heed my warning. If you head east, you’ll just be walking all the way back. Whatever we be doing, you’ll have no hand in its ruin.”

“Perhaps not a hand in ruin, friend.” Niles added in an attempt to calm the dwarf, “I would say more of a hand in its aid.”

Urfhold was a little bit comforted by his words, but he was never comfortable knowing someone else not of his kind was getting involved in the dwarves’ affair.

Once Urfhold had retired that night, so did Niles with his night of fine company to ease his troubled dreams. A man cannot sleep under pressure. Yet even though he had the warm bosom of a lovely woman, it wouldn’t set his mind completely at ease. He felt that somehow the gathering of dwarves played a part still in these lands.

Not happy with this one... Not happy at all. It's like Niles is a rogue when he's not supposed to be. Mnarg.

Comments: [email protected]

November 3rd, 2005, 16:25
Cool! I haven't had the opportunity to read it all yet, but I found the begining to be entertaining. Thanks for sharing!

November 14th, 2005, 17:18
Sorry about the delay of the other chapters. As you've probably noticed, my writing isn't as great as I thought it'd be. I'm currently doing thorough editing of the current chapters already written before I start on new ones. On top of this, I had to complete the Newcomer's Manual just recently and I already need to make edits to that.

Thank you very much for the comment, Crusader. The first chapter was probably a bit confusing because of the fact I packed alot into it. The manuscript version is about 80 pages so far, so I don't expect everyone to read the whole thing. :)