Sunday, 17 July 2016

2 Yarthmont: Into Cynidicea

Stepping over the corpse, Broneslav entered a short tunnel. The air was cooler in here and felt like a balm to his cracked skin and dry lips. He stumbled slightly, but righted himself and continued forward. As he moved forward he saw a crossbow in the wall facing the door. I was unloaded, but looked large enough to have fired the bolt in the corpse's chest. Turning a corner he was faced with another stone door. The dust in the corridor was thick at the sides, but disturbed in the middle, footprints evident in it. This tunnel was used. Warily he drew his sword and unslung his shield as he faced the door. Pushing hard he opened the door flinching slightly in anticipation of an attack that did not come.
Tier 1
The room in front of him was about forty feet on each side and contained three bronze cylinders, each about ten feet in diameter and reaching from floor to ceiling. In the centre of each cylinder, facing him as he entered was a door. Broneslav entered the room. The door swung shut behind him. Seeing nothing else in the dusty room, he opted to try the door in the central cylinder. Opening the door, he could see a ladder in the darkness of the cylinder. It looked like it was possible to go both up and down here.

Tentatively stepping onto the ladder, he started climbing and soon found himself in an enclosed space with a speaking tube and a number of levers. It was possible to look out from here. The view confirmed what would have been obvious were he not so exhausted; he was high above the desert inside on of the statues on top of the pyramid. With no way to go from here but down, he began to descend the ladder until he saw a light below him. He continued to descend. Perhaps here lay help.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

24 Flaurmont - 2 Yarthmont: Cynidicea

The sun was already baking the day when the caravan left Parsa for Sulba. It was well-provisioned and Arnulf had ensured that Broneslav had a djellaba to wear instead of his warm Karameikan clothes. Dressed appropriately, Broneslav found the heat more bearable as the caravan set off. It would be a week before they reached Sulba, so he determined to learn as much as he could about managing caravans through the desert. If he was to join the Torenescu trading firm as a fully-fledged merchant, this sort of knowledge might come in handy.

The day stretched on and one sand dune began to look much like another as the caravan followed the desert trail. Broneslav found himself dozing off in the saddle, despite his resolve to learn what he could. He only really awakened when the caravan stopped, which was regularly because of the need to water the beasts.

When night fell they camped in tents carried on one of the wagons. The night was colder than Broneslav expected but at least he had his Karameikan clothes to keep him warm.

The next day they set off again and once more Broneslav found himself dozing in the saddle. Suddenly he there was a shout from up ahead. He drew his sword and prepared to fend off attackers, but soon realised that the attacker they faced was not one that his sword could deal with. The guard at the head of the column was pointing to the south from where a wall of sand was approaching.

"Sandstorm!"

The caravan erupted in a flurry of activity as the guards and teamsters drove their mounts harder. Ahead lay a rocky outcrop that might provide shelter if they could reach it in time. But the sandstorm descended on them before they reached it. The shouts of the others were drowned out by the roar of the swirling sand. Broneslav raced like the others and stopped when he reached a sheltering outcrop. He could see none of the others around him because of the blinding sand, so he settled in for the duration of the storm.

What felt like hours later, Broneslav opened his eyes and blinked in the calm. He and his horses were half buried in sand, but the rocky outcrop had prevented them from being fully taken by the storm. he brushed himself down and stepped out to look for the rest of the caravan. Blinking in the strong sunlight he realised that he was alone. The others had been taken by the storm or found somewhere else to hide. Worse yet, the entire landscape had been changed by the storm. Dunes had shifted and there was no sign of the trail!

Checking his packs, he had water for a day for himself, but little enough for his horses. Likewise, he only had preserved food for himself. The horses' supplies were on the wagons, wherever they were. He would have to find his way back to the trail and the caravan, if he was to survive. He waited until the evening, as the sun began to cool, and set out.

...

The horses had collapsed the day before. He had not found the trail and had been wandering for three or four days. His own water had run out a couple of days ago and he was out of food too. He knew he would not last much longer, but a stony hill up ahead looked like it might at least offer shelter. He staggered onwards. As he got closer, he realised it was not a natural feature. It was a ziggurat. It was surrounded by ruined buildings, stones half-buried in the sand that tripped and hindered even as they offered hope. If this were a city, then there must have been water her at one point. Perhaps there still was. There was no sign of a well in any part of the city that he could see, so Broneslav turned his attention to the ziggurat.

It was five storeys high, and was topped by three statues, each 30' tall. That on the left was a strong, bearded man with a balance in one hand and a lightning bolt in the other. The middle statue was of a winged child with two snakes twined around his body. The third was of a woman holding a sheaf of wheat and a sword. A ramp ran up its steps to the top of the highest tier, where the statues stood. Broneslav began to climb. If nothing else, he might be able to spot a well or oasis from the top.

As he reached the floor of the highest tier, he realised that there was a hidden door to the side of the ramp that now lay open. The door was blocked by the remains of a Hobgoblin with a large crossbow bolt in its chest. The bones had been mostly picked clean, but the state of its tattered clothes suggested it was only a few weeks dead. He climbed to the top and looked around but could see nothing of help to him. Returning to the door, he prepared to step inside.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

11- 23 Flaurmont - The Road to Parsa

Keeping to a brisk trot, Broneslav made good time and caught up with Arnulf Armbruster on the night of his first day's travel. He handed over the parcel and Arnulf was delighted with the magical, jewelled songbird that Sindar had sent him. Looking Broneslav over, he came to a decision.

"I'll give you 100 gold to join the caravan as a guard. You look like you can handle yourself, even though you're a bit young, and I'm inclined to trust you because you got this bird to me in one piece. What d'ye say?"

What could he say? Broneslav agreed immediately. The caravan would afford him some protection, even as he guarded it, and who knew what might opportunities might arise for gaining fame and reputation along the way. Still, it was not going to be a short trip. They had ten days' of travel through the hills, and then the desert roads might be easier, but the heat would mean that they had to travel more slowly anyway. Ah well, that would give him time to just relax a bit, unless they were attacked along the way.

With mountains towering up on each side, the caravan followed the trail over the hills and through the passes between Darokin and Ylaruam. There was no noticeable change when they crossed the border into Ylaruam, but as they descended through the foothills, the air became warmer and the plants changed. They stopped shortly before descending the last of the hills to the desert plain below.

"This is the last watering hole before Parsa. Make sure all the barrels are filled," said Arnulf to the teamsters.

Broneslav helped out as they piled the wagons with water. It was not a long journey to Parsa from here, but an accident could leave them stranded without water if they were not careful.

With the barrels full, they descended into the desert and began the trek to Parsa. It was only a day's ride away under normal circumstances, but the baking desert heat slowed them to a crawl, and it was two days before they saw the town's walls. Arnulf led them through the gates to an inn that he frequented. After the journey through the desert, it was a blessed relief to be within the cool interior of one of the mud brick buildings of Parsa. With a twinge of regret, Broneslav realised that they would be leaving all this in the morning to trek once more through the desert. With this in mind, he chose an early night over pursuing whatever fleshpots Parsa might offer.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

9-10 Flaurmont 1000 AC - To Selenica and Beyond!

Broneslav was feasted and feted for several days but he eventually had to say goodbye to the elves and head northwards to Selenica to deliver the other package to Arnulf Armbruster. The journey northwards took the best part of a day, but passed without incident.
1 hex = 8 miles
It was easy to find an inn and a room. The streets of Selenica seemed to be lined with them, as befitted a city that made its living through trade and servicing the caravans that passed through. Broneslav took a room at The Desert Flower, an inn that specialised in Yluarami cuisine. He had acquired a taste for the spicy desert food when his family had hired a cook from Ylaruam for a while.

Washed and with his best clothes on, Broneslav went in search of the Armbruster residence. Sindar had given him directions, but even then he managed to get lost several times, and had to ask for directions. It was midday by the time he found Armbruster's mansion in the Merchants' Quarter. The door was opened by a flunky in expensive clothes who managed to look down his nose at Broneslav despite being a good three inches shorter than him.

Broneslav explained that he had a parcel that he had to deliver personally to Armbruster. It took a while, but eventually he learned that Armbruster had left the previous day with a caravan to Ylaruam. Some further dickering saw Broneslav now mounted on a rangy desert horse and leading another that was loaded with his kit. The flunky had sold the pair to Broneslav for 300 gold coins which he knew was outrageously high, but he really did need them, and his purse was still very full with Elyas' treasure. With two horses he should be able to travel faster by switching between them to make the speed easier on each horse. That way he should catch up with Armbruster very quickly.

He turned his horses eastwards and headed for the mountain passes that lead into the Emirate of Ylaruam.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

4 Flaurmont - Earth, Wind and Fire

Broneslav found himself in an alcove behind a statue. He stepped round it and into a circular room with alcoves to north and south.

"I'm not going anywhere near those," he thought to himself as he considered how many times he had been teleported around the remains of Elyas' tower.

The room contained four large statues of demonic figures. Each of the statues in front of an alcove had a human-sized handprint carved into its chest. The fourth statue was in the centre of the room and its front part had been carved out to fit an iron throne into it. A bright, pulsing, red light shone from the gems in the eyes of the statue he had just stepped around. Dimmer blue lights shone from the statues to the north and south. A black gem could be seen in the left eye of the central statue, and there was a hollow where a second gem could be placed. It was the right size to fit the gem he had just retrieved. He tried the gem in that eye, but nothing happened, and it fell right out again.

Examining the other statues, he realised that there might be a purpose to the handprints. He placed his hand tentatively into the handprint on the northern statue. His mind was filled with a sense of another person's despair. It was Sylva's! He realised now that the witches must have stolen the bodies of the elvish women, and their spirits were trapped here. Perhaps the clue to freeing them lay in this handprints on the statues. To test this theory he approached the southern statue and tried that one. He felt Merisa's despair. The red eyes on the other statue probably meant something else again. Only two elves had been kidnapped so perhaps the red meant that the witch was still trapped. He decided to forego testing that theory just in case.

There must be something more he needed to do to free the elves and destroy the witches. He needed to explore further. Turning south out of the circular room, he followed the corridor to its end. The wall had crumbled here and a small hole was there. It looked like he could enlarge it enough to get through, but he could see that there was someone there, and he was not sure he wanted to disturb them. He returned to the other end of the corridor which ended in a blank wall. Knowing that there had once been a secret door at the other end helped him, and Broneslav soon found the door, and opened it. It was not well hidden, suggesting that it was intended to stop access from the other side.

As he had seen through the broken wall, the door opened behind an altar. This one was empty but for an altar with red altar cloths. The second he stepped through the door, it slammed shut behind him. Grabbing for it only wrenched his arm. With the door shut, he could see a handprint carved into it. Well, he would check that later. For now he needed to find a way to activate this gem so that it would fit into the statue. Looking around he saw that the walls were decorated with frescoes of leaping flames.

There was only one door out of the temple, so he took it and found himself in a room with a carved idol in its centre. It's hands were placed in front of it  as if to accept an offering. As he entered the room, the hollow began to glow. The glow got stronger as he approached the idol, and noticed three alcoves to the east.

"What is it with all these alcoves?" He muttered to himself.

Suddenly the idol spoke, "Answer me and I'll answer thee in truth, if but to questions three! What is thy name?"
He took a moment to consider whether it was wise, and then answered, "Broneslav."
"What was the first name of the last creature you killed?"
"I don't know, it was a panther."
"What is thy quest?"
"To free Merisa and Sylva."
"Accepted."
"Right, so I now have three questions. Well, I think I only need one. How do I use the Opal to free the maidens?"

The idol began to recite more doggerel:
Beyond the three temples of the elements
The black dragon's eye waits for thee.
Find its secret through nearby magical ways
That have waited for many long years.
Beware the tricks of Old Elyas,
And return here with the Black Opal Eye, to give it power.
Then set it in its place and behold
The end of great sadness; the beginning of life;
The destruction of evil and the end of strife.

Broneslav took the Opal Eye from his pouch and placed it in the idol's hands. After a moment it began to glow from deep in its centre. He waited a while. Nothing more happened so he picked it up and headed west to a door there, reasoning that the door to the south must be to the temple with the broken wall.

The door opened into another temple, decorated with images of clouds racing across the sky and trees bent under the force of a hurricane. Behind the altar there was a handprint in the wall. Right, so, better check the person in the last temple before he returned to that statue ...

He opened the door as carefully as he could and sneaked into the third temple, noticing as he did so that it was decorated with images of mountains and rock formations. At the altar was a slight elvish woman with her back to him. He thought it looked like Merisa, whom he had encountered before. He padded as silently as he could towards her, using the pillars as cover. When he got to ten feet behind her, he gave up on all stealth and dived for the woman. Before she could react, he had pinned her to the ground and placed his hand over her mouth.

"No sleep spells for you witchy woman!" he growled as he trussed her up and gagged her. he was then able to clear the gap behind the altar so that he could get through and drag her behind him. She looked at him with a hate-filled gaze, as though she wished at this time to be a medusa. Once through the gap, it was the work of a moment to place the Opal Eye in the statue. There was a flash of blue light. The eyes on the two statues that had been blue flared red, then the eyes on all three statues went out. All that remained was black burnt-out stones. Merisa jerked and slumped slightly before sitting up looking confused.

Broneslav soon ascertained that she really was now Merisa and that the witch's spirit had been vanquished. He guessed that this had happened to the other possessed and dominated elves too. Given that the alcove to the west had brought him here, he guessed that the alcoves to the north and south might take him away again. Tossing a coin, he headed to the northern alcove with Merisa. The two of them found themselves in a room with dark stone platform. He recognised the layout, and checked the double doors to the west to see if you was back in the room near Sylva's bedroom. It turned out that he had got lucky; the doors opened into the treasury! He filled his bags with all he could carry before checking for a way out. The arch to the south no longer glowed, so he decided that the curse must no longer be in effect.

The pair headed through the arch with no ill effects and found themselves in the corridor with half a dozen groggy looking elves, dwarves, hin and humans. The platinum statues that had once lined the hall were no longer their. A candle lit in Broneslav's mind. The statues were of those that had tried to rob the treasury by going through the arch. The newly animated people seemed to be no threat at the moment, so Broneslav told them how to work the disc as he passed them and headed out of the tower with Merisa.

The journey back to the village was simple, even though they encountered many more people who had been transmuted into statues along the way, but all were too groggy to pose a threat. The pair were greeted on the path to the village by the joyous villagers. Sylva had come to when Broneslav placed the Opal Eye in the statue, and she had explained what had happened. Broneslav was feted as a hero, and was finally able to deliver the package to Merisa and return Rahasia's pendant to her.

With the experience gained here, Broneslav has now gone up a level. He gains +1 Attack Bonus, +4 hit points and 1 trait point. The trait is really difficult to decide. It has to be something related to his adventures since last going up a level. That means it could be travel related, dungeon exploration related or anything else of that ilk. I was tempted to give him something related to resistance to spells because of all the Sleep spells he was hit with, or perhaps to give increase his Hunting attribute, but in the end I opted to give him the trait Elf-friend. Rahasia has connections with the merchant Sindar, and with Arnulf Armbruster in Selenica, so I thought she might have connections further afield too. Broneslav may now be able to seek aid among the elves of a place by finding a connection of Rahasia's. I'm not sure how useful it will be, but it seems appropriate.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

4 Flaurmont - The Black Opal Eye

Broneslav returned to the tower and quickly made his way back to the lifting disc. He dropped down to the bottom of the shaft and headed back into the depths of Elyas' ruined home. He was pleased that Sylva was now contained if not quite right in the head. Now all he had to do was find Merisa, subdue her, and find a way to sort out whatever was wrong with them.

Retracing his footsteps, Broneslav was soon back in Sylva's bedroom. He cleared the remains of the cushions from in front of the secret door, and opened it using a key he had taken from Sylva. The room beyond contained only a large dark stone platform against one wall and doors in the other. The platform was simple stone, raised and appeared to conceal nothing. The doors looked more interesting.

He pushed the doors open and entered the octagonal chamber beyond. It was mostly empty, as he had seen from the north corridor, but now he could also see that a large black gem was suspended from the arched ceiling 40 feet above his head. The arch leading to the corridor had ancient writing carved around it. Broneslav puzzled the words out, and thanked the gods for his parents giving him a good education (Hard test against intelligence. +1 for Good Education trait made the difference between passing and failing):

"Once the portal is crossed,
Make no mistake,
A part of my treasury you will make."

Broneslav wondered what this meant. Perhaps some transformation, or just being stripped of all your goods, or maybe it just fried you so you remained here forever. He could not fathom out anything but that it would be a bad thing to walk through the archway. He was pleased he had not tried it before. He also wondered why wizards seemed to enjoy writing doggerel. Honestly, could they not employ a decent bard to do the rhyming for them?

Well, that aside, he obviously needed to get that gem. Why else would it be strung up so high and difficult to get to. For all he knew, it might be the Black Opal Eye that Ular-Taman had mentioned. There were carvings up around the ceiling that looked substantial enough to support his weight. Broneslav got his grappling hook from his backpack, spun it a few times experimentally and then let it fly towards the ceiling. It caught immediately on a carving and he was able to shimmy up the rope in a trice. He was then able to stand on a substantial carving and use the grappling hook to snag the chain that the gem was suspended from, draw it to him and undo it.

Safely back on the ground, he examined the gem. It certainly seemed to be the Black Opal Eye, based on the description he had. He pocketed it and headed for the other doors in the chamber. They opened smoothly into a room with a dark stone platform. He checked it out as he had done the other one, and found nothing. But when he stepped on it to check the wall behind him, he suddenly found himself transported once more. He cursed because now he would have to retrace his steps to the actual treasury. He had an idea about how to get in now, but first he must deal with whatever new randomness Elyas had cursed him with ...

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)

Traits:
Torenescu Family Member 1
Hunter 1
Keen Vision 1
Good Education 1
Empathy with Animals 1

Goal: Prove that he is an adult following the Shearing Ceremony
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village
Quest: Rescue Sylva and Merisa
Quest: Undo the greater evil under Kota-Hutan Temple

Allies

Roll of Honour
Alki (Level 2 elven warrior brutally slain while helpless by the Rahib)
Baik Telor (Level 4 human warrior from Ylari. Murdered by Merdiz the wizard)

Saturday, 4 June 2016

3 Flaurmont 1000 AC - Treasure!

Broneslav awoke feeling a little better. Sylva was still tied to the grate and no one had tried to get in as he rested. He was still a bit shaky on his feet, but he would manage for now. Testing Sylva's bonds, he hand-fed her some food from his pack which she accepted with ill grace and a look in her eye that said she might try to bite the hand that was feeding her. A bit of water followed and then he tested her bonds again.

"I'm going to scout around," he announced, "If I live, I'll come back for you."

She glared as if her very look could turn him to stone. Moving out into the corridor, he found himself with three choices of direction: double doors at each end of the corridor and a single door straight ahead. He dithered a moment before striding to the right, towards one set of double doors. The light as he opened them caused him to blink repeatedly. He was in a room with archways to north and south and double doors ahead of him. The light came from the two archways. Advancing stealthily forwards he peered through the north arch first. The floor was covered in treasure, enough wealth to start a merchant family of his own. He almost ran over to start packing it up, when he remembered how the illusion of treasure had caused him to keep running head first into a wall. He backed away. To the south, a similarly well-lit room held no treasure, although looking through the arch, he could see something hanging from the ceiling.

Broneslav decided to wait to explore these rooms when his wounds had sufficiently healed. He stalked forward to the double doors on the other side of the room and opened them carefully. The room beyond held three statues and a glowing blue disc with a statue on it.

"Aha, the lifting disc!"

He recognised the disc and its cargo immediately. An idea came to him. He knew his way out from here. He would take Sylva back to the village and get the healers to help him before he returned to deal with Merisa. That would prevent Sylva from attacking him and would keep her safe until he could work out what sort of charm the Rahib had used on her.
As you can see, I have mapped the other rooms in the dungeon but have not filled in the detail on the unexplored ones yet
Broneslav returned to Sylva and untied her from the grille. He lifted it so that he could use the teleporter if he could find the hat and dragged his reluctant prisoner with him to the disc. He then began to retrace his footsteps to the main entrance. As he rounded a corner, he suddenly came face-to-face with 3 Siswa guards. Cursing his carelessness and complacency, he rushed them. The target of his first blows dodged and all three closed on him. He blocked, parried and dodged for all he was worth, and countered with a blow to the gut that felled one of the Siswa, followed by a shield to the face that knocked another out, and a sword pommel to the chin that felled the third. [Phew! That was lucky. He rolled a 1 for his fray die in the first round, and missed with his normal attack. Fortunately they all missed too, and then he rolled maximum damage for both fray die and attack on the second round. Scratch three unconscious elves].

While he had been fighting, Sylva used the distraction to run. Unfortunately for her, her bonds hindered her speed and Broneslav was able to catch her easily. He brought her back to the three unconscious elves and tended their wounds after binding them all properly so that he could manage all four captives. The threat of his sword combined with their bonds kept them sufficiently docile for him to be able to lead them all. The rest of the journey was uneventful, although Broneslav was now on edge the whole way.

Back at the village, he explained the situation to Rahasia, and left the captives in the villagers care. The village healer dealt with his wounds, and Broneslav rested up for the day.

The following day, fully healed, he returned to the tower ...

Character
Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, HP 9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)

Traits:
Torenescu Family Member 1
Hunter 1
Keen Vision 1
Good Education 1
Empathy with Animals 1

Goal: Prove that he is an adult following the Shearing Ceremony
Goal: Slay a red dragon
Quest: Deliver a parcel to Merisa in Gray Mountain Village
Quest: Rescue Sylva and Merisa
Quest: Undo the greater evil under Kota-Hutan Temple

Allies

Roll of Honour
Alki (Level 2 elven warrior brutally slain while helpless by the Rahib)
Baik Telor (Level 4 human warrior from Ylari. Murdered by Merdiz the wizard)