One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
Thanks to Mystic Scholar for prompting me to resurrect Aalas' adventures. There have been some in the past few months but less than he should have had as I have begun a new solitaire project set in Perrenland which I may also post here. Anyway, Aalas and company's adventures continue below.
EDIT: This is a retconned rewrite that will take the story in an entirely different direction. Didn't like where the original went.
Chapter 1 - Grim Duty
7 Coldeven 579
I led the company as far as we could go from the Fane before nightfall and there, in the ruins of a watchtower that overlooked the rocky Elsir Vale, we camped. Forwen fell into sleep quickly after telling some, but not all I felt, of what had happened to her in the den of the dragons. The wyvern that had fled from the battle in the temple chamber had let forth enough of a screech of alarm to draw the dragons away and give my sister a chance to escape. For that I had to be grateful to the creature if for nothing else.
Forwen fell asleep soon after relating what she would of her ordeal and after that we decided quickly that we had to return to the Fane to try to save Thaddeus however dark the place loomed in our minds. We split the watches between five of us and let my sister sleep so I took the first, the wind rising to a howl as darkness cloaked the vale. Snow fell steadily upon the high mountain shoulder where the ruins stood but my watch was quiet and so finally I will sleep. I hope that in time, Forwen will tell me all of how she suffered in the cave where she was imprisoned. May Pholtus grant her the strength to bear these new burdens.
8 Coldeven 579
I thought that the ruins of the watchtower had hidden the fire from prying eyes but I was wrong. The dragons came down on us this morning as we were busy making breakfast from the last of the dried meat and bread we had brought from Mittleberg.
Trellara saw them first and called out to us but even as she did, the green and black wyrms we had fought at the fane landed on a rocky outcropping just beyond the tower ruins. I looked to Forwen who had slept past the dawn and then drew my sword and ran to meet the black. He was called Regiarix, I remembered from what Forwen had told us, and while it was young for one of its kind, it apparently had high ambitions. While my sister had cowered at the back of the dragon cave, she had heard it hiss vengeance against men, elves and dwarves for the death of its father at the hands of what it called ‘warriors and a sorceress from the east’. I wonder still if it was my mother but Trellara counsels calm, saying I have no way of knowing.
Regiarix was perhaps the size of a carriage and typical of his kind with night black scales on the back of his upper body and dull grey ones on his belly. Horns curved forwards from behind his eyes to level with his snout and his mouth was filled with needle-sharp teeth. The black wyrm’s eyes glowed amber with a fury that would likely only ever be quenched in death.
Ozyrrandion the Green Wyrm of the Witchwood, was smaller by comparison. Sleeker, and covered in scales of pale green that would, if the tales of the Tiri Kitor were true, mature to dark emerald as the decades and centuries passed. Forwen had said that the green had always had an air of menace about him but she thought him a coward. Seeing him standing on a rocky outcropping behind the larger black wyrm convinced me that the girl was right in the latter judgment.
“We can call the others if you’d prefer,” hissed the young green dragon then, talking of the two other creatures that had shared the high roost above the fane. “But you’d find it easier on all of you if you surrendered to us alone.”
“Ah, our plaything awakes,” snarled Regiarix as I sensed my sister stirring behind me. “If we returned with her in one piece, it would bode well for the rest of you.”
“We surrender on the condition that none of our lives are forfeit,” said Ferzth then before anyone else could speak.
I looked back, aghast for a moment, as the githzerai threw down his sword and sank to one knee before the two dragons. Deciding then that I could not join him in yielding, I turned my eyes back to the black wyrm and raised my sword.
“We can’t win here,” Ferzth hissed quietly. “The last time we fought these wyrms, your sister was taken. Who will be next?”
“What’s he doing Aalas?” Trellara said to me then. Glancing to my right, I saw her drawing back her bowstring and taking aim at Ozyrrandion. “Has the menqualië lost his nerve?”
The olven word meant foreigner and was never used to praise someone, I knew and though Ferzth was a githzerai said to be from the lands beyond the mountains of the Western Wall, I had never seen his courage fail before. Just as I started to doubt my own wisdom in fighting the dragons, I saw movement in the corner of my eye as a figure leapt atop the rocky outcropping behind the green wyrm. She was clad in a golden tunic emblazoned with the lion of Mittleberg in red while her breeches were homespun wool and her boots worn brown leather. She wore her dyed scarlet hair long down her back and in two plaits that hung in front of her ears, one on each side. In her hands, she held an unornamented, but undeniably brutal, greatsword while on her back was strapped a crossbow and a quiver of bolts.
“Fear the Blinding Light,” the newcomer shouted as she lashed her huge sword down toward the top of the dragon’s tail.
The wyrm twisted around and avoided the blow but as it did I took the chance to abandon any thoughts of surrender to the foul creatures. I charged the black dragon with a cry that was swept away into a garbled roar by the mountain wind even as it left my lips. I lashed my sword into the top of the bigger wyrm’s foreleg before it had chance to react and then the chaos of battle engulfed us all. Behind me, I heard Kiriel shouting what sounded like a warning about goblins but then black lightning crackled through the air from the eladrin’s fingers. Trellara let fly an arrow and that drove straight and true into the shoulder of the green dragon. Just as I thought all consideration of surrender had been put aside, though, I heard Arianrhod shouting from within our camp to my left.
“This is foolishness!” she called out. “We cannot win here!”
“She’s right you know,” snarled the black dragon as he drew back before me and spewed forth a torrent of smoking liquid from its mouth onto my shield.
The caustic smell of acid filled my nostrils and caught the back of my throat as another arrow flew past me to my right. I gagged and staggered but ignored the splashed of burning liquid that touched my arm and lashed at the black wyrm again and again. My blade sliced through air or struck scales that were hard as plate seeming to harm the dragon little, but then, from my left, a blast of light seared into the battle that could only have been called forth by my sister. Ferzth was shouting something that was all but lost on the wind but then he leapt out of the ruins to join the battle beside me. Regiarix spewed forth more caustic acid and this time the dragon spread its wings, seeming to dim some of the pale dawn light but still my shield held firm.
The rest of the battle is a blur but I remember the green wyrm falling peppered with Trellara’s arrows and with the red-haired newcomer’s sword driven through its head. Forwen called down a searing column of light on the black dragon and as she did, I leapt forward to plunge my sword deep into the creature’s chest. This drew a roar of anger from the wyrm and it vomited forth another torrent of acid as if to purge its innards of the rage it felt but I leapt back just beyond the burning flow. From within the ruin, Forwen was heard praying while Ferzth leapt at the dragon from its left and forced it onto its back legs.
Arrows struck the creature in a blur of movement while I lashed my sword across the wyrm’s snout as it plunged down at me. Regiarix reared back and dived at me again, forcing me to jump to my left, its teeth tearing a gouge in the earth next to me just before its head slammed into my knight’s shield. I brought my sword down on the top of one of the dragon’s forward-pointing horns and again it drew back until more of Kiriel’s black lightning seared into its chest, drawing a shriek of pain. It staggered back on its hind legs, bleeding and wounded and then one of Trellara’s arrows slammed into the side of the wyrm’s head almost to the fletching. With a final shriek, Regiarix keeled over onto his right side and fell with a crash, to the ground, throwing up a cloud of snow around him.
Last edited by Flint on Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:59 am; edited 2 times in total
Welcome "back." Glad you and Aalas are still "alive."
Now, for what you want to hear.
The story seems a little rushed (not faced paced). I did that myself with the Second Part of That Infamous Key. My sister arrived from South America and I "skipped" a couple of "re-readings." I wanted to get the story to "Lord" Cebrion so it would be posted before he took "off" for Christmas and so skipped going over it a couple of more times. I won't let that happen with Part Three.
There are several examples of this, but I'll just use that last conversation between Lashton and Kiriel; Why the almost instantaneous confrontation?
Lashton is supposedly a representative of the Marchioness and that means that he's a politician, so he should be more politic than that. (Politicians do not deliberately piss-off anybody. Confrontation tends to do that.) Lashton's first words after Kiriel's comment should have been an effort to "smooth her ruffled feathers." Instead, your Lashton basically ignored her remark all together, in a confrontational sort of way, rather than handle it as a politician would have.
Also, a sentence, or two, to show that the adventurers were tired and short tempered would have paved the way for Kiriel's attitude; "OMG is there no end to the demands of these people? We're tired of serving others and have our own business to be about!"
And our boy Aalas agreed too quickly. Lashton's almost non-existent explanation as to how this adventure could aid Aalas and the others in Aalas' quest was unconvincing, invisible even. He provides no connection between the Drow and Aalas' mother. And having such extensive knowledge of Aalas, his friends and their quest should make Aalas and company very suspicious of Lashton, not acquiescent to his wishes.
When "Flint" is suspicious of someone's motives, he doesn't rush to do that person's bidding.
These things tell me that you "rushed it" just a bit. I accept responsibility for my own quilt in this, since I somehow "prompted" you back to writing.
Anyway, you're better than that and write better than that. Keep them coming, my friend. I like Aalas and company. Just take your time and do a little more proof reading. There's no rush.
Have deliberately not posted anything about Aalas in a while as whilst it has been sitting on my hard drive for a few months, I have been less than happy with what I've written. These newer parts involved some experimenting with how I've written it and particularly how I develop the story. These have meant that to my mind, the story has drifted a bit and it reached the point where I moved onto something else. The only thing I would say about this rushed intro is that the framing adventure is the LG Special - Rise of the Spider Queen and of necessity, LG adventures obviously need to dump the PCs into the adventure quickly. Not an excuse and certainly not a criticism of the adventure, which is excellent, but it does give an idea of why this might have seemed rushed. I should still have fleshed the start out more as you've said given what has gone before.
I will keep posting the story here for you to read as I'm now happier about where this is going and want to continue it but be prepared for some slightly rocky bits in the meantime. I will likely edit some of the future parts before posting to try to iron out problems but please continue to critique honestly if you manage to bear with this. I have another 7 chapters already written including a tangent adventure that doesn't involve Aalas at all but involves some of his companions and two new characters. Would rather post these (suitably edited) before I start writing new stuff for the sake of continuity.
Think I will probably also start to post my Perrenland / Ket stories at some point as I am relatively happy with all of these.
1. Module is not story, story is not Module. My "That Infamous Key" story is based upon a Module. But I'm telling it as a story and not as a Module, which take two distinctly different forms. Consider this as you write the story.
2. Criticismis not "negative," even though many of the younger generations view it that way.
The original meaning of the word has -- these days -- become the 3rd meaning, in most dictionaries. But it is still the primary meaning, since that's what the word's "creator" intended:
"The art, skill, or profession of making discriminating judgments and evaluations, especially of literary or other artistic works." -- The American Heritage Dictionary.
An artist/writer cannot improve without such critique. Such criticism is -- obviously -- nothing more than an opinion. So, how much do you value the person's opinion?
Many people will tell you that you need to go to school for such critiquing "skills." That's nonsense.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." And nothing is more "true."
I like all the movies the paid reviewers don't like, and don't like most of the movies that they do like. I am the "beholder," and I don't "see" the beauty -- no matter their opinion.
I merely express to you the things "I" see "wrong," but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are wrong. I'm just giving you my personal opinion.
I invite you to "return the favor," by offering comment on my stories. You can give me your P.O.V. (Point of View) and will probably help me to "see" things in my stories that need changing. Things I didn't "see" on my own.
In the meantime, keep Aalas and company "coming," because I intend to keep on reading about them.
Thanks again. And please be assured that I regard none of your comments as negative. I no longer (sadly) regard myself as one of the younger generation and understand how contructive "criticism" can be.
Have started reading your story and am certain I know the module its based on (I have the Dungeon issue on my bookshelf). As you say, module is not story and from what I've read so far, good job on varying this and hooking the characters in to get them together. Happy to read more and comment.
Will keep posting Aalas's adventures here and keep letting me know what you think. Glad you are following this and largely (I think) enjoying what I've written.
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