As the long winter nights close in there’s nothing like huddling around a fire in a shelter or the local tavern to hear glorious adventure tales of the past. The War of Everlasting Darkness though currently taking place, promises to go down in history as one of those tales, recited by ancient warriors claiming to have been there. Whilst some will scoff at the tales and disbelieve them as old men’s ramblings, others will be in awe to hear how a band of brave adventurers fared against the coming Darkness and if they survived….
So, throw another log on to the fire, grab your third or fourth tankard of ale, get comfy and let me tell you the first part of my exciting adventure to save the Forgotten Realms from Darkness.
War of Everlasting Darkness
The village of Quaervarr on the southwest edge of Glimmerwood lay in silence. The early evening settled across the sky, whilst spring played mildly in the air. The sign of the Whistling Stag Inn creaked. Through the frosted glass windows a fire burned strongly, spiting onto the heath. The villagers and travellers mumbled wearily over their drinks. In one dark corner hidden from view sit two very odd figures.
Kay, an Eladrin cleric from the Feywild, stared across the table at the massive revenant druid dragonborn, Feron. He was scratching at a shinny blue scale with a long claw. Suddenly the scale dropped off. Feron flicked it to the floor. Kay rolled her eyes.
‘Are you going to explain to me how you came back?’ she asked in a low voice.
There was hardly any risk of being overheard, but the quiet atmosphere of the tavern was setting her on edge.
Feron shrugged his large shoulders. ‘It’s complicated.’
She sighed and rubbed her forehead. It had only been this morning that the two old friends had stumbled across each other on the road to Quaervarr. It had been a moment of sheer delight, which had quickly faded when Kay realised her friend was undead. At least once again they were on similar quests.
Feron gulped down the rest of his beer.
‘How about…’ he started, staring into his empty tankard, ‘I buy everyone a drink and we find out what’s going on around here?’
‘You have that feeling again don’t you?’ Kay asked.
He nodded and she crossed her arms over her chest.
‘All right. Do it.’
Feron stood up, knocking his chair over and banging his tankard on the table. ‘Inn keeper, drinks for everyone on me!’
Eyes flickered across to them. Most people recoiled at the sight of Feron and only a handful shuffled to the bar. He turned back to Kay. ‘See? Something is very off here.’
‘Point taken. Now I’ll have another.’
She tapped her goblet and with a gruff growl Feron strode to the bar. She watched him push his way between a dwarf and an elf before looking over to the far corner. There was an old man sat there, smoking a pipe.
She got up and walked over to him. Feron’s instinct was never wrong and she bet that if anyone knew what was going on around here it would be these locals. The old man watched her approach and didn’t say anything as she sat down in the chair opposite.
‘A drink for a tale?’
The old man nodded. ‘Aye and I’ll tell ya about the ghostie that walks this very night.’
‘What ghost?’ Feron said, putting the drinks on the table.
The old man stuttered and looked open mouthed at him.
‘He’s with me and its fine,’ Kay said, dismissively. ‘Now the ghost?’
‘N-no one knows where it came from. Only for the past week it’s walked the streets and disappeared into the woods.’
‘That’s it? Some tale!’ Feron cut in.
‘No!’ a voice cried from behind them. ‘I’ve seen it!’
They turned and a young man stepped over to them. He was dressed in patched up clothes and looked fresh from the fields.
‘It takes the form of a man in amour,’ he added.
‘Oh?’ Kay replied. She eyed the man suspiciously wondering how much he’d had to drink.
‘Bah! I’ve had enough of this!’ another voice, this time gruffer and a lot heavier came from the bar. A stool scraped across the floor and Kay saw the dwarf grabbing his axe and heading to the door. He was burly with ropes of muscles across his arms. He had long bright red hair and a beard, which was partly plaited. He wore simple dwarf leather armour and there was another axe strapped to his back.
‘You must believe me!’ the man cried.
‘Believe you? Nothing scares me, boy.’
The inn door opened and the dwarf stepped out into the night. The fire hissed loudly as the door slammed shut. The drinkers’ gazed down at the tables, suddenly finding a fascination in the warped, wet wood.
‘I believe you,’ a quiet voice broke the silence.
At Kay’s elbow was the elf. Her long blond hair was loose down her back and she wore green and dark brown leather clothes. Her features declared her noble born, but there was a hard look in her eyes.
‘And you do too, right?’ the man asked turning to them.
Feron scratched at another scale and Kay frowned.
‘Tell us more about the ghost.’
‘Well…..I was with Drana and we were standing outside here when we both saw it. It came out of the ground and walked straight through everything and into the woods.’
‘And no one has tried to follow it?’ Kay cut in.
‘Follow it? Are you mad?’
Kay shot him a look and he stepped back. ‘What else do you know?’
‘What about you?’ Kay nodded to the old man.
‘I know nothing else, but I do know someone who might be able to help you….If you decide to stop the ghost that is.’
‘Sure. Sounds like it could be fun,’ Feron said.
He drained the rest of his beer and then went back to their table together their things.
‘Then you need to visit Forestarm, the druid. She lives on the edge of the village.’
Kay took a final drink of the wine and placed the goblet down. The elf had done the same.
‘Are you coming with us?’ she asked.
‘Yes, if that is all right? My name is Adrie. I am a ranger and know all the land around here.’
‘Then yes, we could use someone like you.’
‘Then I shall meet you outside in a few minutes.’ Adrie turned and headed to the staircase beside the bar.
The door swung open once again and a blast of cold air swept through the inn. Feron grinned into the night and stepped out. Saying goodbye, Kay followed him outside. The door shut behind them and Feron handed over her things. Kay slipped the blue and gold helmet over her head, fixed her long sword at her hip and put her pack on.
‘So which way do we go?’
‘Down there. To the house at the end,’ she answered.
‘I need to call my bear….I know I left her around here…somewhere…’
Kay rolled her eyes. She’d forgotten about the bear once again.
A cry of voices echoed in their ears and they turned to see two figures outside the village hall. Sensing trouble, they hurried over. They stopped just before the arguing figures and Kay saw that it was the dwarf and a scared, but stubborn looking guard.
‘I do not care about appointments! Let me see the mayor at once!’ the dwarf growled.
‘No. That’s not possible. Your message is not urgent enough.’
‘What an incoming army of ugly Drow isn’t urgent enough?’
‘I’ve heard no such thing before! Where does your message come from?’
‘We’ve been through this already….how about a feel of my axe?’
‘Hold on there!’ Kay cut in. ‘I know of this coming threat.’
‘Oh, you do, now do you?’ the dwarf sneered.
‘Yes, I do and I also know that I could use a dwarf on my side to find this ghost.’
‘Are you drunk?’
‘No, but I believe that this could be very important.’
‘What? Chasing ghosts around when war is coming?’ The dwarf laughed.
‘Yes. We must help try and stop this war. My friend and I,’ she nodded to Feron, ‘that’s our plan. We were there when this threat first started.’
The dwarf raised his eyebrows. ‘And so was my father. He died at the hands of those Drow. I am Falgrim the fourth.’
‘Kay and Feron, nice to meet you. And that’s Adrie,’ she added as the elf joined them carrying a longbow and a quaff of arrows over her shoulder.
Falgrim nodded and lowered his axe.
‘We need to visit the druid and see what she knows about the ghost.’
‘Lead the way.’
Kay turned and led them down the street. She paused in front of the druid’s door, a green tangled circle of plants and flowers hung from the wood. She knocked loudly and they waited.
‘Who is it?’ a voice called from within.
‘We are seeking answers about the ghost and were told you’d be able to help us.’
The door opened and they beheld the druid. She wore a plain white dress with a golden threading running through it. Her silver hair was down to her knees and there was a large metal amulet with a white stone set in the centre around her neck.
‘I am Forestarm. What do you….’ she trailed off and paled at the sight of Feron.
‘He’s undead, but its fine, he’s with me,’ Kay said quickly.
‘What is it you seek?’
‘The ghost. Do you know its path?’
‘Ah yes. It walks to the old ruins and what they once were has long been lost. Why it walks I can only say that its bones must have been disturbed. You must go to the ruins and put it to rest once more.’
Kay nodded. ‘Where do the ruins lay?’
‘In the middle of the woods, all paths lead to it.’
The druid nodded and shut the door.
Kay turned to face everyone. ‘Shall we wait for the ghost to appear or go straight to the ruins?’
‘I think we should wait and if it doesn’t show then go into the woods,’ Adrie spoke.
‘We should go there right now,’ Falgrim cut in.
Kay looked at Feron.
‘I agree with Adrie. We should try and follow the ghost.’
‘Then we should walk back and try and find the place it’s appearing from.’
Slowly, they walked back to the Inn. The village stayed silent and they saw very little light coming from the windows of the houses. If she’d not already know, Kay would have believed the village to be abandoned. A snorting sound came from her right and her hand flew to her sword. A large dark shadow lingered beside a house.
‘Bear? Is that you? Feron called.
A grunting sound replied and the large, brown cave bear walked over to him. Feron patted the damp muzzle and spoke softly. He looked at the others and saw they had all stepped away, worried expressions on their faces.
‘She’s friendly enough. See? And only does as I command.’
‘You’re a wild animal tamer?’ Adrie asked.
Feron shrugged his shoulders, ‘It’s complicated and doesn’t matter.’
‘Its fine,’ Kay spoke. ‘We travelled here and the bear give me no problems.’
‘All right,’ Falgrim growled, ‘but if it tries anything it’ll feel my axe.’
‘And my arrows,’ Adrie added.
‘Well, she won’t. Will you Bo? You’re a good bear, aren’t you?’
Feron scratched her behind the ears and the bear made a number of happy growling sounds.
‘Come on. The faster we get rid of this ghost, the faster we can get back to drinking,’ Falgrim bristled.
They started walking again, keeping to the main pathway running through the centre of the village. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Kay saw something coming out of a wall. She stopped and Feron almost banged into her.
‘Look! There it is!’
The white outline of a tall man, wearing amour could be seen against the evening sky backdrop. He walked slowly between the gaps of the houses and went through another wall. He reappeared on the other side and continued walking.
‘He’ll lead us straight to the ruins,’ Feron whispered.
The others nodded and keeping their distance begin to follow the ghost through the village. At the last house, the ghost carried on and headed into the woods. Quickly, it disappeared behind the trees.
‘Adrie, you know these woods, take the lead,’ Kay said.
The elf nodded and stepped up, loaded bow in hand. Her feet made no sound on the leave and branch covered floor. Slowly, she tracked the ghost through the trees. The others followed behind, trying to keep quiet. Adrie turned and tried to get Falgrim to soften his loud steps. The dwarf puffed himself out and waved his axe at her.
She turned back and saw a flash shape of red and white drop from a tree. The strige hit her hard in the chest. It’s long beak burrowing through her leather jerkin and into her body. Its claws found a tight grab and its wings wrapped around her, infolding her in a mesh of pulsing see-through webbed skin. She swayed and fired her bow. The arrow soared through the strige’s wing. It yanked its head back, its beck covered with blood, giving a startled cry. ‘Hang on elf!’ Falgrim yelled.
He swung his axe at the strige, but the creature saw the danger and spun itself around, pulling Adrie with it. Its wings flapped violently, hitting her head. She gasped as once again the strige buried itself in her chest, feasting on her blood. She tried to reach for another arrow, but its wings blocked her hand.
‘No, stop! That was too close!’ Kay called.
Falgrim stilled his axe. There was a glint of madness in his eyes and a loud war cry on his cracked lips.
‘I’ll get it with my quarterstaff,’ Feron spoke.
As he reached out to hit the strige, it once again sensed the danger and twisted away. Adrie lost her balance and they tumbled to the floor. Quickly, she grabbed the strige and ripped it off her. She loaded an arrow and shot it into the strige’s heart in the blink of an eye. The strige hissed and sprawled bleeding and dead across the grass.
Adrie pressed her hand to her chest. Blood flowed over her fingers as she struggled for breath. She clutched her bow tightly and tried to escape the dizziness covering her mind. She felt warm hands on her shoulders, pulling her up.
‘I’ll heal you,’ Kay said and started whispering magic words.
Adrie felt the pain begin to fade, the blood stopped and she felt less dizzy. Seconds later, Kay was pulling her to her feet.
A snapping sound drew their attention and they looked to see Feron’s bear tearing up the strige’s body and gulping it down. The bear licked at the grass and then sat down. Her large eyes stared off into the distant trees.
‘I think she’s hungry,’ Feron declared.
‘Well she better not eat me, I standby what I said before about feeling my axe!’
‘Don’t worry. She doesn’t like dwarfs. They are far too chewy.’
Falgrim huffed and Kay looked through the trees. The ghost had disappeared.
‘We lost him.’
‘We just need to keep walking straight,’ Adrie cut in. ‘He can’t be that far ahead. He was walking slowly.’
Kay nodded and they set off once again. The woods echoed with animal cries and the wind rustled through the leaves. They got a glimmer of the ghost soon enough and carried on following the long lost pathway that he seemed to be walking.
The sound of Feron’s and Falgrim’s footsteps stopped. Kay turned and saw them peering through a row of bushes. She tapped Adrie on the shoulder and indicted to them. They doubled back and saw that in a clearing a tall, dark shrouded figure was talking to two orcs. One of the orcs had bright red fangs painted on his amour and the other had wrapped what looked like intestines around his body.
‘Enough of this!’ the dark figure snapped. ‘Just make sure you take Winter Edge village before the darkening!’
The figure looked up as if sensing them. Quickly, he turned and walked away, vanishing into a cloud of darkness. The orcs stared after him and then looked over their shoulders.
Feron stepped into the clearing.
‘Who are you? And what you want?’ asking the first orc.
Both of them had grabbed their pikes, preparing to fight.
‘I am no one….and I’m just out for a walk,’ Feron said. ‘Was that a Drow I just saw?’
‘None of your business,’ growled the second orc.
‘Fine….what are you two doing here? And…..you are from different tribes? Why is that?’
‘You ask too many questions. Go away.’
‘Or we’ll have to take you away!’
The orcs chuckled.
Feron held his hands up, ‘I did not mean anything by it, I was just wondering.’
From the bushes Adrie whispered. ‘What’s he doing?’
‘Being him,’ Kay answered back and she stepped into the cleaning.
‘You wonder too much,’ the first orc put in.
‘Actually, I was wondering myself,’ Kay called, ‘What are two orcs from two different tribes who are known enemies doing together?’
The orcs stiffened and became even more on edge to attack.
Adrie loaded an arrow into her bow and aimed it the first orc. Falgrim tightened his grip on his axe and fixed hungry eyes on the second.
‘Actually, you know what I’d really like to know? Which tribe is the strongest?’
‘Oh yes,’ Feron picked up, ‘I’d like to know that too. You can never tell with orcs sometimes…I bet you two have wondered as well.’
‘I think the Red Fang tribe is the strongest,’ Kay challenged.
‘Yes it is!’ the first orc shouted.
‘No, it’s not, the Ripped Guts are better!’ the second one jumped in.
‘I’ll prove it!’
‘You shall not! I am the best!’
The orcs turned on each other and begin to strike out with their pikes. Kay and Feron quickly left the scene and came back from the clearing.
‘That should sort them out,’ Feron said. There was a large smile on his face.
‘We didn’t learn anything though…Other than some planned attack on a village.’ Kay countered.
Feron shrugged. ‘I’m sure we will soon. I’ve a bad feeling again.’
‘Let’s sort out the ghost now. Adrie?’
The elf nodded and pointed up through the tree line the path the ghost had taken. They hurried back onto the trail, leaving the sounds of two orcs fighting to the death behind them.
The trail wounded its way upwards and they followed it for awhile, pushing through large spiky bushes and low tree branches. Just as the woods appeared to be closing in around them, they came to an actual pathway. Ahead an old woman who was huddled over in a cloak and leaning against a white staff was standing at a forked path. They approached her carefully and heard her mumbling about which way to go.
‘Can you help an old woman?’ she called to them.
‘Of course,’ Kay replied.
‘Which path should I take? The first is easily going, with lots of food and water. The second is hard and dangerous with no resources.’
‘Where are you going too?’ Adrie asked. ‘They both led in different directions.’
‘The journey is more important than the destination,’ croaked the woman.
Adrie frowned and Kay looked down both pathways. The old woman was telling the truth.
‘Which way did the ghost go?’
‘That is not important either. Which path should we take?’
‘You are right about the journey,’ Feron joined in. ‘I think we should take the second because it reflects the hardships of life.’
‘Then that is the path we should take.’
Adrie took the led once more and they followed her across roughly made path. The trees closed in around them, scratching out with bare branches. They walked in silence, listening to the sounds of a stream close by. The old woman, who had been behind them stopped.
‘Thank you, but now I must leave you,’ she said.
‘Was this the right path then?’ Feron asked.
The old woman nodded and handed her staff to him. ‘This will show you the way in the coming darkness.’
Feron took the staff and as he did so the old woman turned into a white bird and flew away. He tapped the staff on the ground and a bright light shone out of the top. The light pierced though the now settling night, showing the trees and the path clearly.
‘This is going to be very useful,’ he said.
‘I just hope the ghost came this way and that old hag did not lead us astray,’ Falgrim growled.
‘She has not,’ Adrie’s voice came from up ahead, ‘We’ve caught up to him. Look between those trees.’
A foot or so in front of them, they could make out the shimmering outline of the ghost.
They carried on walking and pushing through the trees and following the path upwards. Soon the trees became less and less. Adrie stopped on the edge of another clearing. At the centre was a mess of fallen stones and rubble. The ruins had possible been a small keep or a temple. The ground had been disturbed a lot and recently too.
From around a large stone appeared a male dwarf wearing chainmail, a female elf and two male humans carrying clubs. Adrie pulled her bow up, but Kay lowered it and stepped forward. The ghost appeared from behind a tree and drifted over to the ruins. The dwarf cried out and pointed as the ghost sank into a stone.
‘What are you doing here?’ Kay called out.
The dwarf rounded on her. ‘What? I think the question should be what are you doing here?’
‘We are following the ghost,’ Kay said and indicted for everyone to step out.
‘You brought the ghost? Are you mad?’
‘We didn’t bring it, we followed it here and no I’m not mad.’
‘What…is that?’ the dwarf asked pointing a stubby finger to Feron.
‘He’s undead and with me.’
‘And the bear is with me,’ Feron added.
‘Now what are you looking for?’
His bear was sniffing around the trees and taking no noticed of what was going on.
‘Nothing at all,’ the dwarf replied. ‘It’s all been taken now.’
Falgrim raised his eyebrows and cut in, ‘I don’t believe you. But luckily we’re not here for treasure.’
‘You’re not?’ the dwarf spoke and then seemed stunned that the words had come from another dwarf.
‘We want to lay the ghost to rest.’
‘I see…well…’ The dwarf turned and pointed to the pile of rubble. ‘Help us shift that lot then.’
‘All right,’ Kay replied.
She and Feron started to remove the stones, whilst Adrie kept look out and Falgrim inspected the ground. It appeared that something had been recently disturbed in a patch of earth close to the outer wall of the ruin. Placing his axe down, Falgrim dug into the soft earth and pulled up a yellow skull. The hollow eye sockets gazed into his eyes and the broken, half open jaw appeared to be laughing at him. There was a headband wrapped across the top of the skull.
Falgrim pulled it off and reburied the skull. He cleaned off the headband and placed it inside a pocket. He turned to Kay. She and Feron were all most done cleaning the rubble away and underneath they had revealed a trap door.
‘You’re a cleric,’ Falgrim said.
Kay turned and nodded.
‘I just reburied a skull. Could have belonged to our ghost. Why don’t you say a pray and see if that’ll put it to rest?’
‘I shall try.’
She stepped forward, knelt down and touched the replaced soil. Kay said a few whispered words, most of which the others didn’t understand. Then she stood up, made a sign in the air and turned back to them.
‘Do you think it’ll work?’ the dwarf asked.
‘It should,’ Kay replied.
‘Good…now let’s see what’s under here!’
They gathered around the door and the dwarf pulled it open. There was nothing but darkness. Feron tapped the old woman’s staff on the ground and the light burst out. He placed it inside and they could see the remains of an underground room with a staircase leading downwards.
‘Shall we all go?’ Kay asked.
They all looked at each other nervously.
‘No,’ the dwarf said, ‘I don’t want to be anywhere near that ghost.’
‘Then we’ll go down.’
The dwarf caught Kay’s arm. ‘We spilt the spoils. Thirty to seventy.’
‘No, forty to sixty,’ she replied snatching her arm away.
‘All right. Deal.’
‘Deal. Feron go first.’
He nodded and led the way into the underground room. The staff of light chased away the darkness into the corners. It had been a long time since anyone had stepped foot down here. There was dust and soil covering the floor and cobwebs hung across the ceiling. There was a door to their right.
Feron stepped carefully across and went to the door. It creaked loudly, the sound echoing through the chamber. He stuck the staff of light in and looked around. There were holes in the floor and the walls. He turned to Adrie.
‘Looks like traps to me.’
He moved and let her see into the room. She nodded and bent down to inspect the first of the trap mechanisms.
‘Think you can disarm it?’
‘Yes. It’s very old…but still holding up well.’
A few seconds later, she had broken the trap and was moving on to the next. Feron followed her across, allowing Kay and Falgrim to enter. The room was small and there were two other doors. One on the same wall they had come in from and the other in front. Adrie made short work of the other two traps.
‘Should be safe now,’ she said.
‘Good. Let’s see what’s down here then.’
Feron opened the first door. Shone the light in and then stepped inside. The room was large and dominated by a massive crumbling statue. Adrie checked the room for traps and when she gave the all clear, Kay stepped up and inspected the statue. She cleared up the areas she could reach, revealing the statue to be wearing full metal style amour.
‘This is Helm. God of Guardians,’ she breathed. ‘We should offer something.’
Their voices mumbled together as they search for an offering.
‘Wait…Falgrim found something on the skull. We could try that?’ Adrie said.
Falgrim pulled out the headband and gave it to Kay. She laid it down at the statue’s feet, bowed her head and started muttering a pray. Feron and Adrie joined her, though they were they did not recognize the God. Falgrim stayed in the doorway, grunting to himself. As the words faded from their lips, they felt a blow of hot air. Adrie’s lingering wound from the strige attack faded and she felt fully healed and refreshed.
‘Let’s see what’s in the other rooms,’ Feron suggested.
They turned and left. Falgrim stepped up and snatched the headband back. He stuffed it into his pocket and left. Adrie looked up at the statue. ‘Thanks,’ she said. She turned to leave as well, but then something caught her eye.
Kay had swept some of the dust away and Adrie could see that the stone on which the statue sat on was loose. She looked more closely and brushed her fingers over the surface. Digging her nails in, she pulled open the panel and found some hidden treasure. There was a fine pewter goblet with red stones, two large moon stones and a bag of money. She gathered them, put the panel back and thanked the God once more. She walked out, crossed the room full of traps, went down a corridor and found the others gathered around a stone font full of liquid.
‘Look what I found,’ she said.
‘Nice one elf,’ Falgrim said and looked closer at the treasure.
‘Whatever we find we’ll have to share with them remember?’ Kay spoke out.
Falgrim took the items and hide them away in his pack.
‘What do you make of this, Adrie?’ Kay nodded towards the font.
She looked in closely, ‘It’s just water….’
An image drifted into across the surface. In flash she saw herself standing outside her family’s home pleading with her younger brother. They resembled each other closely, only she was dressed in a long green gown and he was in dark leather. Guilt and sadness hit her stomach as she recalled the argument from so long ago.
Kay’s voice brought her back.
‘Did you…?’ she asked.
‘I don’t think I saw what you did….’ Kay replied. ‘This water is magic and plays on the mind. What did you see?’
‘I was arguing with…someone….What about you?’
‘The same. Feron? Falgrim?’
‘I saw…something I witnessed during my childhood, but at that time I could do nothing. I still regret it.’
‘Fighting with my kin.’
‘Then yes, though I’m still unsure about what this actually is….’
‘There’s something in there,’ Adrie pointed out.
She dipped her hand into the cold water and pulled out a small silver ring. There was an amethyst mounted on it. She showed it to the others and Falgrim took it to add to the other items.
‘You have an eye elf. There’s another door. Let’s move on,’ he said.
They turned and followed Falgrim through a stone door. Two braziers were stood in opposite ends of the room. The fire from them was casting shadows across the floor. Feron put the staff out and they slowly entered. There were strange red markings just off from the centre of the floor.
‘It looks like a symbol to call forth devils. Stay away from it,’ Kay stated.
A chuckling sound caught their ears and they all looked around.
‘At last sssome entertainment!’ a voice cried. ‘What have we got? Four pretty sssoulsss…A band of adventurersss by the looksss….Yesss. We think ssso.’
‘Come out and face us!’ Falgrim shouted.
‘No…We thinksss not. What are you doing here?’
‘We’ve come to put the ghost to rest,’ Kay answered.
‘Not unless you can sssolve my riddlesss,’ the voice responded.
‘Yesss…first one; we dance in hellfires and delight in tortures. Our sting will break your minds. My face cannot be seen, but can you identify me?’
‘We’ve not got time for this,’ Falgrim growled and raised his axe.
‘No wait…I think I know what this is….’
The voice burst into laughed.
‘Yes…You are an imp.’
The laugh faded. ‘Very good, but do you know this one? Now my name and I’ll return whence I came. First, a number whose letters count true to its name’s amount. Then subtract a letter, but add six, to get the second part. Then comes the sound of the start of start, and finally, with a blast, sound out the last of last.’
‘Can you repeat that?’
The imp’s voice chuckled and he began to repeat the riddle.
Adrie had been looking around the chamber, checking for hidden traps and objects. As the last line of the riddle faded and Kay started mumbling answers, Adrie’s eye caught something. In one of the braziers was a golden coin.
Without thinking, she reached out and put her hand into the fire. She screamed and the imp cried out and suddenly appeared before her.
‘My treasure!’ he howled.
Adrie snatched her hand back, clutching a fist full of coins. She ran from the room, flames licking at her hand and went to the font. She shoved her hand into the cold water and the flames died out.
‘It’s stolen!’ the imp screamed.
Falgrim flicked his axe up and sliced the imp into. The body flopped down and blood splattered across the floor.
‘Adrie? Are you all right!’ Kay called and raced after her.
‘Foolish elf. What was she thinking?’ Falgrim muttered.
He took out his water container and poured it over the fire. The flames died out and he looked down on to a small pile of coins.
The ghost appeared from the far corner and drifted across the room. He nodded to them and then vanished.
‘I think he’s gone now,’ Feron said.
‘Adrie is fine,’ Kay spoke from the doorway.
‘What was she thinking?’
‘She said her mind was suddenly overcome and she could hear the imp laughing at her. I found another font of water, though I believe this one to be different.’
‘How?’ Feron asked.
Kay smiled and led them back into the other room. Adrie was sit on the floor, her hand wrapped up, resting against the second font. Stepping up, Kay picked up a vial that was beside the font.
‘I think,’ she begin. ‘That this is the Tears of Helm. It is water that has been blessed by him and can be used as a light source and to heal. A powerful old relic.’
She dipped the vial in and gathered some of the water.
‘How is your hand?’
‘Better now. Thanks. I still have no idea what came over me.’
The floor shuddered and they heard a deafening cracking sound. Feron darted back into the imp’s room and then returned.
‘That symbol is opening!’
Kay rushed over and looked inside. The floor had ripped open, swallowing the symbol. A large crack had also formed in the ceiling and as Kay watched a beam of dark light instantly appeared between the two holes. An icy blast shot through the chamber.
‘We need to get out of here now!’ she yelled.
Quickly, they ran through the other rooms and towards the staircase. At the top, the dwarf and his party were waiting for them. They rushed up the stairs and as Falgrim who had been last came to the top, the ground gave a violent shudder and split open. The beam of darkness shot into the air and as they watched it appeared to take on the shape of a huge spider spinning a web.
‘What did you do?’ the dwarf shouted.
‘Nothing!’ Kay replied, ‘But we need to run now!’
The ground rumbled and the darkness began to spill around them.
‘You’re running? But what about our deal?’
‘What deal?’ Falgrim cut in. ‘I made no such deal.’
‘She did though!’
‘So? I’m not with them!’
Falgrim swing his axe and the dwarf dodged it and returned with his own axe blow.
Kay and Adrie broke into a run and dived into the cover of the trees. Feron turned to the elf, whom was shaking beside a stone. With a low whistle he called his bear and as the massive bulk came into view, the elf fainted.
‘Hey, you two! Get after them!’ the dwarf yelled at the humans.
Adrie heard the footsteps behind her, but before she could draw her bow, a heavy weight slammed into the top of her head. She went down, blackness and white spots dancing before her. Kay sent a blast of light through the trees, knocking both men down. She grabbed Adrie, pulling her up and dragging her to the trunk of a tree. From there, she peered out and watched as the dwarfs fought and Feron commanded his bear to attack.
The bear jumped on the dwarf, her teeth sinking deep into his body. The dwarf screamed and uselessly tried to hit the bear with his axe. But she crunched down on him and the dwarf’s next scream died on his lips.
Falgrim hurried away and joined Kay and Adrie in the cover of the trees. Feron tried to get his bear back under control, but she was having none of it and continued to eat the dwarf. Coming over to join them, Feron followed their eyes to the sky.
Waves of pitch blackness, darker then the night sky were quickly gathering around them. The waves joined together, turning darker still. They blocked out the moon and the stars, swallowing everything up as the web of darkness grew tighter and stronger.
I thought about writing another post and just linking it to this one, but then I didn’t want to confuse people, so I thought I’d just add it on to the end of here and try to stay as brief as possible. Like I said in my update post, I wanted to write about the next season of encounters but instead of focusing on how to play the game, want things meant and my reactions/thoughts, I wanted to focus a lot more on the actual story telling and events of my game. I also wanted to try and write it as a novel or as ‘novel styled’ as much as possible, because I believed that this would be the best format and also the most suited.
I know I’m a week behind already and that’s mostly due to being ill, being busy and not being able to write. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t have writer’s block, but I know the signs and it seems I might have a mild case of it. So, in writing this post I know it’s not what I really set out to do nor has it actually turned out how I wanted it, but stuff like this happens during writing. Most writing is down to trial and error; you learn what you can and can’t write, you discover you know a lot or hardly anything, you realise the hidden truth behind your words or can’t see them at all.
Maybe in the near future I will be able to look back on this novel idea and work it into something better, but for now I just want to share my DD experience with people. I think including this Reflections section at the end might be a good idea for some of the parts, but we’ll see how we go. DD was very different this week as they are trialing DD Next as they are upgrading or switching over from the 4th edition of DD which is the main current game. However, any edition of the game can be played really, the basic rules stay the same. We’d been told a bit in advance about things that were rumoured, so it was very exciting, interesting and shocking at the character builder meeting to hear what was to take place!
Firstly, the game has become more role playing, allowing players to get into the mind sets of their characters. There’s a chance to question anyone and everything, which wasn’t really present before, and chances to have longer/deeper conversations in with the group. The DMs play there part too, acting out a whole range of characters and getting involved in longer discussions. We are also having a different way of tables too. This involved us getting into groups of 5/6 during the character builder session and we have a different DM every week. (Instead of being in a different random generated group each week). So far the two DMs I’ve had have been really good; role playing the different characters/monsters and supporting us as we get to grips with the new style of play.
Secondly, there’s a lot more story-telling involved and a lot more listening to be done. I don’t mind that because it’s interesting to learn about what’s going on and pick up important /useful information. The players have a lot more say in this and whilst before the story was very linear with ‘a you have to do this and then you do this and have to fight these monster before moving on to this,’ style of play, we get to actually decided on what to do and who to fight nearly all the time. And I do like that! I’ve never been big on the fighting and now I can choose in most cases if to attack or not. Also I like that the players have more control over how the story goes and every game is now becoming unique.
Thirdly, the changes to healing surges and levelling up. I was shocked and unhappy to hear about the changes to healing. In the last session I just had this habit of getting wounded all the time, mostly due to the fact I was still learning to play and some bad dice rolls. Granted I never died, but I do rely heavily on my healing surges to see me through. Now you can only use a healing surge when granted by another player during the game. Using them in between game plays at what would be seen as rest stages isn’t allowed. However, because of how this game works and being spanned across two years, every week the characters level up and gain all their health, plus the added hit points from levelling up, so no heal surges are actually needed outside of game play really. By the end of the season all characters will be level 8s, which I think is pretty good because we only got to like levels 2 and 3 last time.
And that’s all they’ve really done to the game. I do actually like this and in away prefer it because you get to do a lot more and it’s not just a case of turning up, fighting some monsters, taking the treasure and going home again. Though that’s still at the heart of D&D and always will be. There’s so much more to it now and being an active member allows you to put much more in and receive a lot more out of it. You feel like you are doing more and actually being a serious a part of something, which I do think that last season didn’t do as well, by the time the ending arrived. And I’m still disappointed by that, but granted this is a trilogy campaign and it was my first real experience of D&D. I hope that D&D Next does become more popular and players start to see the benefits of it.
Until the next chapter. x