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.
After their return home, the party members spend some time resting from their long journey. Some just relax, while others tend to matters left unresolved. There is a feeling of unease, as three of their number nearly died. They did, in fact, die; only the use of great magics kept their souls bound to Oerth. Berenn used both of his holy scrolls, while it took the Elixer of Life to restore Thorgrim. Yet, they all knew how close they came, and the fact that they failed to keep the Necronomicon from the Old One weighed heavily. Thus, the desire to be alone.
Once everyone is through the mirror, Isilme tells the party, “I am going to scry for ervil - no one left behind right?"
She sees only darkness. At first, she thinks scrying still does not work there, but then she sees him curled up in a dark corner. He looks ok, but clearly wounded. She steps through and saves him, returning him to Hommlet as well.
It turns out he saw some movement in a side cavern, and when he went to look, a giant lizard grabbed him and took him deep into the depths of the caverns. It took him to its lair, where he killed it. He's been there ever since, living off the lizard eggs. He is overjoyed to see you, and happily comes wtih you back through the mirror. He is especially happy to be reunited with his other companions, in particular Thaddeus.
Isilme just gives him a hug. "I was really worried about you. But let's just say you might have been safer where you were than with us with all the demon fighting we found ourselves faced with."
Emyn approaches the newly raised Noot and says, "Noot, I was thinking. Maybe we should make our trade of rings permanent. I can really use the infravision and its of no use to you, while you could really use more protection, which the ring of fire resistance gives. Would you agree to the trade?"
"Done!” says Noot happily, and they exchange items.
"SIr Godwynn!" Emyn says as he clasps arms. "I head you will be heading back to Mitrik with the others. Know this, brother, you are a shining example of how wrong I was about your faith. I was foolish to think that the followers of Rao are timid and weak willed. You have proven to me the exact opposite, as have your brothers. To face wrack and ruin without fear, even in the face of certain death is something we should all aspire to you. I hope we cross paths again and know that should you ever make your way here again, lodging will be made available to you and your brethren at my Church in Nulb. May Rao shine upon your path and may Trithereon stand as a bulwark against those who would do you harm."
Emyn takes his morning star +3 back from the paladin but offers him a suit of full plate mail +1, if he can use it. Granted it has the symbol of Trithereon on it but that can be easily painted over if desired.
He declines armor and echoes your sentiments. “I thought Trithereon worshippers were always more impetuous and hot-headed,” he says, then smiles. “Glad I was only half right.”
Hepla then gives the newly risen Noot a huge hug. “Thank the Gods,” she says.
“Good to see you too,” he says. “How did the baby do?” he adds.
She puts her hand on her belly and smiles, "No problems beyond a little morning sickness, but my herbs help with that."
"Maybe we will be lucky and it is triplets. We could have our own little coven!" says Emyn excitedly.
Noot's having trouble getting his head around 3 mini-Heplas. "I feel dizzy"
Elrae kisses his wife when he wanders into the Welcome Wench. "I missed you very much dear." He shows her the loot that the party pillaged from the Lost Caverns. He drinks a cup of ale and ventures off to bed with his spouse.
"I have so much work to do for our theater in Verbobanc. New ideas for plays and what not. Still there's the matter of finding Manny's heirloom sword and trying to save the world from the Old One and his minions. They have a most powerful demonic book that must be destroyed."
"Come, Gotrek, let's make our way to the forge," Thorgrim says. "I need to hammer these ghosts out of my thoughts."
Gotrek smiles. "Aye, it would be nice to use the Blacksmith's Hammer, finally! I will make something BEYOND beautiful for Clar..." Gotrek stops in midsentence. "I am going to grab a pint of ale, Thorgrim."
Thorgrim notes the rare emotion, well, non-rage emotion, upon his friends face and nods. "Meet me at the forge when you're ready. Bring some gems, and I will help you with your baubles. I'd like your help with a few projects of my own, as well."
Sir Godwynn approaches Manny. "I would have died twice over in those dreaded caves," he says. "We all would have." He takes a knee, then holds out his dagger (+2 Dagger), head bowed. "This is but small token of the debt I owe you, but please, take it. Let it aid you in the quest to regain what was lost."
"You are too good a man to let fall in that hellish place,” replies Manny, though seemingly without emotion. “My efforts were no more important than any other. When they were the most important, I failed. In that, you are better than I. You owe me nothing, but I thank you."
"Do not despair Manny,” says Isilme. “We will use my mirror to recover your brother’s blade. Someday maybe you can introduce me to the elves of the Vesve and vouch for me, that I may begin the slow process of healing the rift between our peoples."
Manny seems inconsolable. "We are a people tired of the civilized, hidden deep in our forest. Evil assaulted us and we fight Iuz and his kind. Rare are our Battledancers for we have few with the art. That you are a Battledancer and a drow will astound my folk. Helping to retrieve the Battledancer relic for my people will go a long way to vouching for you, all on its own. I fear I was a miserable caretaker for it."
“We shall see to that soon enough,” says Isilme.
While we are all here, Emyn announces that with his recent donation to the construction of his church in Nulb, the building is fully paid for as is some of the operating costs. He asks Isilme, Thorgrim, Berenn and Hepla to help establish small shrines to their deities within the church. Emyn will pay the necessary costs but he needs to have them properly prepared and consecrated.
For Thorgrim, he hopes that he might be able to provide the full Dwarven pantheon. Isilme - Elistraee, Hepla - Rexfelis and Berenn - St. Cuthbert. If there are any other religions close by, he will ask their adherents to also prepare shrines.
Emyn also arranges to have missives sent to the Archbishop requesting the assignment of a priest or priestess of Trithereon to properly consecrate the church and operate it on a permanent basis. He also asks that martial training be given to those who would follow Trithereon. Emyn will pay for all associated costs.
The remaining Azcral are amazed by Hommlet, and they are anxious to go to Nulb and Verbobonc. Belak has now officially become a battlerager, after successfully raging with Gotrek in the last fight. The rest of the Azcral have gained a level. About a half-dozen want to stay here with Thorgrim and Gotrek, but the rest will return home as soon as you can make that happen. They are willing to travel to Mitrik, and thence overland if necessary, but if you can just get them home, they will do that. The mirror can do all this.
Meanwhile, Noot will check back into the Inn and put 2000 gp investment into it's expansion. Strangely, it seems to be getting a lot of tourist traffic. He speaks with the remaining dwarves about his expansion project and if they are willing, he will hire them (using the 2k gp). He will also just relax for a while and re-acquaint himself with some decent ale. He checks on the orphanage and donates another 1000 gp to help there. The orphans seem to be prospering, which warms his heart. Eventually he will head for Verbobonc and visit the thieves guild, giving them a treasure cut of 1000 gp. (He doesn't let on how much he truly has, figuring the 1000 gp will be enough to impress them.
He goes to the temple and offers a donation of 1000 gp to the priests of St. Cuthbert in thanksgiving for his life. Then he will meet up with the others when they gather.
Emyn takes the time to journey to Nulb and dedicate a portion of his share of the booty to the building of the Church. He is also making inquiries of the church builders about adding a rectory that would also house an apartment for his growing family. Upon his return from Nulb, Emyn also gives the orphanage 3K gold. He gave the church 10K.
Gotrek's palms get sweaty. He grunts. " I want to collect my armor."
Thorgrim looks at him. "Then what, my friend?"
Gotrek speaks softly. "Then, Clariece."
Thorgrim shuffles his feet, but says nothing. Gotrek's forearm ripples from the pressure, as he handles Goreblade. "Then," Gotrek whispers softly to himself, "I make right by Clangeddin."
Gotrek looks around at the group. His friends. He shakes his head wryly. In the past few years, they have been through a lot together. Yes, they argue, and bicker with one another. But at the end of the day, no matter how dark it looks, they were always there to help, protect, and support each other. Gotrek would freely sacrifice his own life, to ensure the continued existence of any them. They are his family.
With that thought in his head, he stares down at his axe. Giant Goreblade. He stares down in deep thought, then mouths something under his breath. Thorgrim looks over at him. "What did you say, my friend?"
Gotrek looks up, his lone eye bloodshot with anger. "Whur A Faeyn."
Thorgrim nods sagely. "Wake The Iron. Your clan, Delgrim's, battle cry."
"I have been thinking of my homeland too, as of late, says Thorgrim. And of the evil that currently harbor there. The slayers of my kin."
Gotrek's nose ring shakes violently, as he bristles. "WE WILL clear them out. And sooner, rather than later. I would swear it by Clangeddin, but he knows such already."
Thorgrim looks at Gotrek intently. His one eye boring into his soul. "And you will be my side, my friend?"
Gotrek abruptly steps forward and hugs the priest strongly.
Having returned wounded from battle, Thorgrim sees relief in the eyes of the Azcral assigned to protect the magic mirror. He takes stock of the surviving party members. "That's everyone," he says. "Isilme, you may seal the Gate behind us."
To the Azcral, he says, "Come with me, and gather your brethren. I've something to say to you."
Gilhak, nods and then gathers the Azcral. Belak seems almost unsure, the desire to stand by Gotrek pre-eminent now, but when Gotrek follows Thorgrim he relents and moves along. All the Azcral follow.
Gotrek grunts. He pats Belak, rather roughly, on the back. "Ye be a faithful one!" He grabs Belak by the shoulders, and looks into his eyes, intently. "Will ye follow me, and aid me in doing Clangeddin's will?"
"Aye," says Belak slowly. "I'll stand by ya."
"I am…sorry I was so rough on ye in the past,” says Gotrek. “I needed to know your heart, lad. You are strong and loyal. Like I said, follow me. And we will feast on the blood of the scorns of this place."
He grins, ready to follow Gotrek anywhere.
Gotrek nods, as he hands him his carafe of gutshaker. He looks at Thorgrim. "Well, shall we go?" Gotrek smiles nervously, as Thorgrim chuckles.
Thorgrim leads Gotrek and the Azcral back to Clanggedin's Shrine. To Gotrek, he whispers, "We need to give thanks, and I have words to speak with these Dwarves."
When they arrive at the Shrine, Thorgrim gives orders for some volunteers to gather some dead wood from the surrounding grove. "Gather what ye can, or get some from the Trading Post next door, if'n there not be enough."
Indeed, the grove has become too well-kept since the installation of the Shrine, and three go to the shop to find what they seek. Thorgrim sits in silence on the steps of the Shrine, facing the Azcral, feeling his battle wounds to make sure all the bleeding has been stopped. For a long while, all that can be heard is the sound of the brook and the wind through the trees.
Thorgrim asks Gotrek to retrieve his Ardarcer Warhammer that was gifted him by King Falal of the Azcral from its safekeeping in the Portable Hole. While Gotrek does this, Thorgrim performs the ritual to separate and remove his masterwork warhammer from his Bracelet of Charms, whispering the secret spell that allows this. The Azcral return with the wood, and Thorgrim thanks them for it.
"This needs be done the hard way," Thorgrim mutters. He speaks more loudly, to the assembled group. "Azcral! Gotrek and I must give thanks, in the Dwarven Way, for victory in battle, and the opportunity to slay many foes. Indeed, Clanggedin saw fit to bring me back from the very precipice of death, in order that I could further His aims."
He surveys the dwarves, their numbers greatly diminished by their joint struggles, but he is not sad. "Although your help was offered, and one could say sore-needed, I could not risk your lives on such a personal quest. Indeed, much life would have been squandered had I acquiesced, and all for the sake of a comrade's family artifact. Nothing awaited anyone in that valley except death."
Thorgrim faces the statue of Clanggedin and stacks the wood on the sacrificial altar. He casts Produce Flame, igniting the wood with the last of his spells. Thorgrim places his steel warhammer in front of the fire, and raises his one of Ardarcer on high, its strange metal glinting with a light its own. He brings it down with a mighty crack and clang, breaking the haft of the lesser warhammer. He places the broken pieces upon the blaze.
Thorgrim then draws his dagger and cuts a gash, slowly, across each forearm. He lets the blade bite deep, and feels his blood flowing freely once more. He holds his arms over the fire, his blood spatters and hisses. He hands the blade to Gotrek, who does likewise. Thorgrim sighs. A sweet smell comes to his nostrils, and he is at peace. He takes a moment to bind his wounds in the traditional manner, then turns and speaks to the assembled Azcral
"Blood. Fire. Steel. These are the Elements whence we are made. It is what binds as a race, all Dwarves, to one another. And it is from where we derive our strength. Blood, Fire. Steel. These are the trials we have been through together. A bond has been forged that cannot be unmade. A bond between Clan Duerkas, Clan Delgrim, and Clan Duergirn!"
At this, a mighty roar erupts from the Azcral. Thorgrim holds his Ardarcer warhammer aloft and joins them.
When silence resumes, he continues. "Together, we are stronger. None here will forget the perils we have braved together, nor those whose lives were lost in the thwarting of Evil. Give thanks to the dead and give thanks to Clanggedin that ye have lived to fight Evil once again! Yea, give thanks, also, to Ellistrae, whose divine light saved you all from being cooked for dragon fodder."
Thorgrim chuckles at the memory, then becomes serious once more.
"I return to Azcral, to honor my commitment to your king, and to give thanks for what he has sacrificed -- the lives of many of his finest. Some of you," and he looks at Belak, "have elected to stay behind, and others may wish to join them. You must make your own decisions, as Dwarves, and forge your own fate. I would have you answer to your king in person, and give account for yourselves for any such decisions you have made, before leaving your homeland to take on the wider world. If you elect one of your kin to speak for you, that is your choice, as well. But decide, Dwarves, what you will do. I make ready now and leave on the morrow. Those who go with me to Azcral should know, that I may not return by the route that I leave, or perhaps even at all, as ever."
Thorgrim looks at his closest friend. "Gotrek and I have some other matters that require attending, as well."
The dwarves watch as Thorgrim and Gotrek leave. Thorgrim glances back once, and he notes the Azcral are all huddled, speaking silently. They then look to the statue and altar and every one of them files passed it, touching it reverently and placing something beneath it as they make their way silently towards the Inn of the Welcome Wench.
Thorgrim stumbles a bit as he leaves the Shrine, and leans on Gotrek for support. "I am sore-tired, friend," he says. "But I've a mind to warm my innards with some Gutshaker before retiring. Let's away to the Inn of the Welcome Wench, and send some boys on errands to Smythe and Farmer Brown. I want three bales of Old Toby delivered by morning, and you'll need that Blacksmith's Hammer for our visit to Azcral."
"Come, lads!" Thorgrim shouts. "We're away to the Inn. Drinks and rooms are on me!"
Gotrek looks keenly at his friend. He frowns, and his eyes look troubled. He forces a smile. "Aye, let's grab a pint!" Thorgrim does not see Gotrek frown again, nor hear the small growl escaping his throat.
You find the rest of the Azcral at the inn already. You find them all raising a toast to their fallen kin. They have their mugs up, as you walk in, and Gilhak sees you. "Hold!" he says, grabbing two more flagons. He carries them over, handing them to Thorgrim and Gotrek. He nods as they take the mugs. "And too Delaim," he finishes, obviously saving their fallen leader for last. A lone tear falls down his cheek, but Gilhak ignores it. "Good a dwarf as there ev'r wuz."
Thorgrim raises his flagon. "To Delaim!" he shouts, before quaffing the entire contents.
He does not drink as much as usual at tonight's celebration. Besides being sore-wounded, he is consumed with second thoughts about how he could have acted differently, and achieved a different outcome which left Delaim alive. He takes a second flagon. As he sips it, he slips into a reverie of prayer to his god, Clanggedin. Thorgrim wonders how all these events relate to him and his life path. Perhaps all this death and collocation of circumstances were somehow necessary, in order to achieve some greater good? But what good was that, and how does it relate to him? He sits and drinks and sits, slipping deeper into silence and contemplation.
Gotrek also raises his flagon to the fallen. He grunts softly, finding himself on edge. Thorgrim's behavior worries him. He sighs, as Clariece crosses his mind, And his Mother, Gilora, known as Fiery Protector, ho died protecting him. He thinks of his uncle, Urgal. He wonders where the Deldukr are.
He has to get his armor back from the Azcral, and he has to kill for his God, Clangeddin. At this thought, his hand touches Goreblade by his side. He is edgy. His instincts have kept him alive for a long time now, despite his berserker tendencies. Yet, he feels something is coming.
He nods. Yes. That is it. He grins, and he swallows his beer. War is coming.
As he repeated it to himself, he knew the truth of it. It was finally here.
"Another round of beers, and a toast!" he calls out. Gotrek waits for the barmaid to refill all of the flagons with beer. "Here is to our fallen. We will never forget their bravery."
Gotrek pauses. "And here is to our future, and to serving Clangeddin."
"WHUR A FAEYN!"
"Whur a Faeyn!" Thorgrim breaks his reverie to toast with Gotrek and the Duergirn. His thoughts turn to Clanggedin's Shrine, and the words he and Gotrek had inscribed there.
"Whur a Faeyn. Agar un Acharn. Fasgaidh. Whur a Faeyn. Agar un Acharn. Fasgaidh," he mutters. He thinks upon the meaning of these words, and the reasons they were written. Fasgaidh, a vermin-cleansing, there at the top. Ideas begin to coalesce in his mind...
Just then, the door to the Inn opens, and of all people, Din Deadeye has returned to Hommlet! He is amazed to see so many Dwarves here in this tiny village, so far from their population centers in Thunderstrike and elsewhere. He seeks out Thorgrim, and immediately appears before him, to report. As soon as Thorgrim lays eyes upon Din, his mind is made up. His vision has been made clear once more, that which once seemed an impossible and far-away dream: the time has come for the re-taking of Dorob Kilthduum!
"Din!" Thorgrim shouts. "Your arrival is most timely." A smile breaks his stern countenance.
Din then reports the trials and travails of the Wild Bunch, their changing composition, their successes and failures. Thorgrim nods to all of this, knowingly. Thorgrim then relays to Din the recent actions of the Heroes of Hommlet, of the quest to make safe various artifacts, of the existence of the Necronomicon in the hands of Evil, and what that may mean to the good peoples of the Oerth.
Din, full of pride in his own accomplishments, looks chagrined. "It looks like you had things worse than we," he says dolefully.
"The price we pay," Thorgrim answers, "When we stand against Evil."
"But this is just one piece of the puzzle," Thorgrim continues, "And you and I are pieces, too. Only the gods know what their endgame is, and few of them have the prescience to know how all will turn out, in the end. And those who do aren't telling. It is the lot of us mortals to do what we can, in ignorance and hope."
"Nay, certainty!" Din retorts. "We can be certain in Clanggedin's favor, and in what we must do to earn his favor and live forever in the afterlife with Him and his cohorts!"
"Mm!" Thorgrim grunts. "Aye, there is that."
Thorgrim pauses to finish his flagon. "In regards to that, I have a new mission for you. Are you willing to leave your companions to do as I ask?"
"Aye, anything!" comes the response. "Sire, what would you have me do, then?" Din asks, all earnestness in his eyes.
Thorgrim replies. "Go forth, and do the things we discussed before your exploration of the wide world. Return to your home in Thunderstrike, and recruit what Dwarves would seek a new life, and a holding of their own. Explore what leads you find and see where the winds blow. Return here to Hommlet in a few months and tell me what you have found. I should be back by then, Clanggedin willing."
"Clanggedin willing," Din repeats. "I swear it shall be done."
Gotrek approaches. "Din, glad to see you!" He slaps him hard on the back, and then embraces him in a bear hug. "Are ye leaving already?"
Din looks guiltily at Thorgrim. Gotrek chuckles. His mood has brightened considerably in the last five minutes. "Din, I need a favor of ye."
Din looks at the Berserker uncertainly.
"I need you to find my Uncle Urgal,” says Gotrek, “and the dwarven mercenary band, the Deldukr. The fiercest dwarven fighters alive, besides here, of course." Gotrek grins. “Oh, and one more thing." He whispers in Din's ear forcefully, grabbing him by the forearm. Din look at him, in utter surprise. "Are we clear, laddie?"
Din nods in shock.
"Relax, Din," Thorgrim says, smacking his shoulder with enough strength to snap him out of his shock. "Enjoy the celebration and stay the night on me. "I'm to bed."
With that, Thorgrim retires to his long-unused home, and Gotrek arrives much later as the fire burns down.
The new day dawns cold and crisp. Gotrek awakens to find Thorgrim finished with his prayers and healed, and once again strapping on his armor. "Morning to ye," Thorgrim says. Gotrek grunts in response.
Ostler Gundigoot's lads have done their job. Farmer Brown arrives with three bales of Old Toby, as requested, and Thorgrim hands him a box filled with gold coin. The farmer tips his hat and says, "See you soon."
Smythe also has arrived in person, to return the Blacksmith's Hammer to its rightful owner. "I'll sore-miss that tool," he says to Gotrek. "I got twice the work finished in half the time, and I thank ye for its use."
Gotrek smiles, and simply says, "You've taken good care of it. I may loan it again, after I've had its use."
Thorgrim and Gotrek find the Azcral already packed and assembling near Isilme’s shrine, up early despite the night's festivities. Din is noticeably absent. Thorgrim waits for the rest to be ready, and for Isilme to arrive with her Magic Mirror transport.
Isilme takes you to her island, from whence she will use the mirror to transport you to the Azcral home. The Azcral contingent with party started at fifty. Their numbers now stand at eighteen including Orili, Belak, and Gilhak. All the rest are dead, including their leader, Delaim. It will be with heavy heart that the Azcral hear of their losses; however, there is no greater death for a dwarf than to fall in battle with such foes. Thus, the melancholy turns to celebration, celebration at the defeat of so many enemies, at the removal of the taint from Iggwilv's Horn, the opening of the kingdom to the outside world, and to a brighter future, made possible by the party's actions.
Sorry, we lost all the posts when our website got all jacked up. But the homecoming was cool, trust me! With powerful posting by the Gotrek and Thorgrim players, how could it not be?
Thorgrim wanted to present the survivors, deliver the bales of Old Toby per request, possibly set up some sort of trade, then be taught to work Ardarcer and bang out a suit of Ardarcer armor, realizing his Armorer skill. He wanted to cement bonds during this time and get King Falal's support in the retaking of his lost homeland, Dorob Kilthduum.
The armor, based on the proficiency description, would take about 18 weeks. It's safe to say that's too long. However, Gotrek can get a suit of Ardacer plate mail. Gotrek notes that the dwarves have copied the etching from his old armor, Two axes crossed, in tribute to Clangeddin. The trade is fine. Not sure on cost, but dwarves eat and drink a lot. So, take off a couple hundred gps. Should be fine. King Falal would love to get some trade going. From what you say of the Salach Valley (that's the long valley you traveled through) they can likely open up trade and relations with Karprun and Ammsee.
Here's the map, so you can see the layout of this area. The entire valley, from the broken statue to Karprun and Ammsee, is pretty much uninhabited, but that can change..... There is a lot of possibility for play up here, btw, if you guys want to return later and do some kingdom-building or adventuring up here. No big missions other than what you make, and just a lot of potential for pretty much anything you want. It's an area ripe for exploration/exploitation.
[DM OOC: A note on Ardacer. (I think I've been mixing the spelling up. It was Adarcer, but Ardacer seems easier to say to we will go with that!) here is what I have come up with.
Ardacer is actually an alloy, made from Iron and what the dwarves call Durang (Dark-Iron) which is, in reality, titanium. In the real world, titanium is the 7th most abundant element on earth; however it is nearly always in a form that is basically impossible for a pre-modern civ to extract. However, it does occur, incredibly rarely, in native, elemental form. So, for our purposes, let us say the Azcral have access to some of that rarest of ores.
The Azcral found that the Durang was relatively useless alone, but they eventually learned to create an alloy of Iron, Durang, and Carbon to create a very strong steel alloy. It is 50% lighter than iron, but at least twice as strong. Thus, all items made with it (and they basically have limited its use to weapons and armor) are 50% weight and have a BASE +6 saves bonus. It is NOT all masterwork automatically; however, the Azcral have tended to only keep Ardacer items that were of masterwork quality, so that is always what you will come across.
Now masterwork items have further bonuses. This steel alloy is stronger, but not as flexible, thus not all items are the same.
Slashing weapons have only a +1 to hit.
Piercing weapons have only a +1 to hit and damage.
Bludgeoning weapons have a +1 to hit and +2 damage.
Further, Ardacer armor is always +2, though the rare pieces that were not masterwork but not destroyed and remade may still exist, and they are still +1. The Azcral were just very particular about their Ardacer items and tended to ONLY keep the masterwork stuff. Still, as you can see, it is possible to make non-masterwork Ardacer items. I'm also going to go against the dwarf book and say that the Azcral make Field Plate from Ardacer.
Finally, the Ardacer is more readily enchanted. Now, I don't know what that means, because I haven't looked up those rules, but it'll have some kind of bonus! Anyway, Ardacer is basically really cool!
Further, Gotrek's new armor is finished. The old is melted down, reforged with the Ardacer alloy. It's new properties are:
It is Magical +3 Ardacer Field Plate. It has lost its temperature related abilities. It has a base AC of -1. It weighs 50% the weight of normal field plate, and gets a +7 on saving throws.
Thorgrim's is also finished. It is a suit of +2 MW Ardacer Field Plate. It has a base AC of 0. It weighs 50% normal and gets a +6 saving throws.]
Unfortunately, much of this was lost too. That is too bad, as it was such a critical event, with huge implication for the world. Sigh
Isilme puts on her gold spider silk dress, prominently displaying the arms of Furondy given to her by the king. She casts "seeming" to give herself the appearance of the golden haired tanned elf as she did before, so as not to startle any servants. She scries the private study the king showed her, and steps through to seat herself and relax reading a book until the king stops into his study.
I think they left you a bell to ring. Doing so summons a servant, who summons the king himself. As usual, he is pleased to see Isilme, though he clearly is losing hope that his son can be awakened. Still, just having him back is a blessing.
Isilme sits with the King and tells him of all that transpired, and that as promised, she did her best to save those sent on the original mission.
"I have never given up on finding a cure for your son. Even after all this time it is still my hope to restore him to you. With your permission, I would like to try again, I have found a great magic that may restore him fully. Please...don't tell the Queen. I would not break her heart if this fails again"
She follows the king to his son's chamber to apply the Oil of Disenchantment on him.
The Oil of Disenchantment show immediate results. The Prince's eyes suddenly flutter open, as the magic of the Wine of Eternity is finally and completely cancelled! King Belvor stands, dumbfounded, his mouth agape at the site of his son's awakening.
"Father?" says Prince Thrommel shakily. He glances around, "where am I? Home? How did I get here?" he asks, stammering and full of questions.
King Belvor simply stands there in stunned silence. "My boy!" he finally bursts out, and he smothers Prince Thrommel in the greatest hug of his long years.
And that’s it. Isilme leaves without a word, returning home to Hommlet.
Berenn arrives back in Warden's Station and is greeted by Seneschal Icar. "I am sorry Knight Commander, I have held it off as long as I could, but you hold the right of high justice on your land. Certain matters of court must be decided." Berenn wearily looks at the Seneschal, "I have just returned from a long journey, couldn't this wait until the morning?" The Seneschal give Berenn a silent shake of the head. "Very well," Berenn sighs. "Lead on." As the Knight Commander enters the main hall, he sees villagers from Noob assembled and the Seneschal informs him that the most influential of the villagers have been invited to court. Berenn takes his position at the front of the hall and Seneschal Icar announces, "All rise! The Knight Commander and liege lord of all The Watchlands enters." He turns to Berenn, "By custom the claimants make their case to you. I will advise you after, then you rule. The Seneschal can hold court as well, if you command it." Berenn pauses for a moment, "I am here, let us begin."
The Seneschal address those gathered. "Be seated! The Knight Commander will first hear the matter of the crown and against the farmer Alex." Bailiff Elmo speaks, "On behalf of the crown I submit that Alex store to two bushels of grain headed for the garrison at Warden's Station. When confronted by soldiers he confessed. The punishment for theft from the crown is death by hanging." The Seneschal turns to the farmer, "What say you Alex?" Alex stammers, "My farmer was destroyed when the Temple attacked. My ... my family was starving. I ask for mercy. Knight Commander. Mercy!" The Seneschal whispers in Berenn's ear, "Poor bugger. Had he stolen from anyone other than the crown, he'd escape with a flogging." Berenn looks at the man with pity and passes judgment, "Join the army and your life will be sparred, your family fed. You will also repay the crown what you have stolen." Alex exclaims, "Thank you! Thank you!"
The Seneschal speaks with Berenn, "The next matter is of a more civil nature and affects one of your associates. **** Rentsch and Wat claim to be the proper proprietors of the Waterside Hostel which is currently run by ..." **** Rentsch interrupts the Seneschal, "We cans speak for ourselves. This Noot character stole our inn and we wants it back." There is a flash of angry as he addresses the two men, "Noot stole nothing from you, since the inn was never yours! The land belongs to the crown and I control who owns the inn and anything else on my lands. I assure you would never allow two traitors reside or own an inn in the Watchlands ..." **** speaks up, "We is not traitors ..." Berenn takes a step forward and roars, "Interrupt me again and I have your tongue removed! You were agents of the Temple of Elemental Evil and I can produce a dozen witnesses who will testify to your status as traitors. So you have two choices, you can stand trial for these crimes or you can be off my lands by sundown. If you ever set foot on my lands again, I will have you executed. Bailiff Elmo, ensure these 'gentlemen' find their way off my lands!" Both **** and Wat hang their heads and guards drag them from the hall.
The Seneschal announces, "This session of the Knight Commander's court is over."
Berenn requests Elmo and Deric stay with Icar and the soldiers that were present. "Now for some more pleasant matter, Deric Vanic step forward." The squire steps forward and bows before the Knight Commander. "On my recent adventures I spoke with Canon Hazen who informed me of the location of your father. I have sent a letter informing him that you are safe and my squire. And while we on the subject of your squire status, I have something for you." Berenn produces a +2 spear and hands to Deric. "This spear is a more fitting weapon for a squire of mine, may it serve you well." Deric takes the spear, bows and thanks the Knight Commander.
"One last bit of business and I request Elmo of Hommlet to stand before his Knight Commander." Elmo steps forward and bows before Berenn. "You have served me loyally though this was not your first choice of assignment and your loyalty should be rewarded. Take a knee." Elmo kneels before Berenn and Berenn recites the following, "Be loyal of hands and mouth, and serve every man as best you may. Seek the fellowship of good men; hearken to their words and remember them. Be humble and courteous wherever thou go, boasting not nor talking overmuch, neither be dumb altogether. Look to it that no lady or damsel be in reproach through your default, nor any woman of whatsoever quality. And if you fall into company where men speak with disrepect of any woman, show by gracious words that it pleaseth you not, and depart." Berenn touches the shoulders of Elmo. "Now rise Sir Elmo of Hommlet." Elmo rises and thanks his lord for the honor.
"If there is no further business, I shall retire until the morning," with that Berenn departs the main hall and retires to his room.
Berenn wakes the next morning and takes Ra on a trip to Nulb to inspect the village and to see its progress. Berenn arrives in Nulb and starts to inspect the town and talk to the citizens. He decides to hold a sort of town hall at Noot's tavern. After spreading the word around town about a meeting of the citizens, Berenn goes to the town hall and waits for the citizens to arrive. Once the Hostel is full of citizens he brings the meeting to order.
"Citizens of Nulb, it has been a long road to recovery, but we have worked together and now Nulb, much like the Phoenix, has arisen from its own ashes. I have come here to listen to any suggestions on improvement or issues you may have regarding your town. If you come forward one at a time, all will be heard that wish to be heard."
Emyn suggests to Berenn that some defense works or walls would be wise. He offers to help pay for it. "It needn't be stone, Berenn. A wood palisade would certainly be less expensive and there are lots of trees on our doorstep in the Gnarley Forest. My church makes a good redoubt in times of conflict and I am happy for it to serve as such but I would urge at least some defensive works be put in place. I can even start them on my own, if desired. I do, after all have workers on hand now who understand the task of building."
"Cutting down trees in the Gnarley Forest indiscriminately could have some serious consequences," Berenn replies. "I will guarantee you some of the denizens of the forest will not be happy to see any tree cut down. We should at the very least discuss the issue with the elves before turning their forest into a fence."
"Certainly,” replies Emyn. “I hope those same elves won't melt into the woods when an enemy comes marching to our doorstep. The sacrifice of a few trees is far less than what a tribe of orcs or other humanoids might do to their precious forest."
"The Watchlands are a recently established part of Verbobonc and there is probably some who don't recognize Verbobonc's right to the land. The elves of the Gnarley Forest would be under no obligation to answer an call for help from The Watchlands. My guess is they would not answer such a call. Therefore, I am going into the Gnarley Forest once I have completed my inspection of Nulb and try to come to some sort of accord with the various factions of elves within as well as checking to ensure the hobgoblin tribe living in the cave we found Chaustichlorinus."
He pauses, then continues. "I think we can shelve the fence discussion for now. I would like to hear from the citizens of Nulb and concerns or ideas they may have for moving forward."
Still lots of building to do. The farms are yielding good crops, but they are looking forwards to the opening of the High Road and the increased traffic, and economic opportunity, that will provide.
"I will see what can be done to expedite the rebuilding process and I will be stationing a garrison here permanently on the command of Deric Vanic. It should make the residence feel more comfortable at night."
Berenn leaves Nulb the following morning on Ra and heads into the Gnarley Forest and heads to the nearest clan of elves. Berenn flies through the forest, or rather over it, to the town of Namburil (see map). It is in the center of the Meldarin lands, and probably the easiest place to meet with some elves of Clan Meldarin.
Although the name is elven, this complex of warrens and a few stone cottages in a fertile leafy valley is unquestionably gnomish. Namburil is home to 100 gnomes, with three times this number working in small mines within 10 miles or so of the main warrens. Farming, mining, and craftsmanship are how the gnomes make their living here.
One notable feature of Namburil is the extraordinary resistance of crops and plants in the area to disease-no blights, rots, rusts, or similar pestilences affect plants within a radius of two miles of Namburil. Druidic communing with nature does not reveal why this is so. The druids themselves are torn between a desire to find out why the earth seems so healthy, and a feeling that such wellbeing should be left alone/ Druidic concern with balance, however, suggests that another place may be suffering for this seemingly magical fecundity, or that some darker shadow may hang over Namburil, waiting to be manifested in some other way. Perhaps the druids fuss needlessly, or perhaps they are right; the gnomes don’t know, and don’t worry about it. They do, however, politely exclude any outsiders from settling in the area, for fear it will become overcrowded and overexploited.
Farmland plots and warren homes are handed down from generation to generation, often matrilineally, and while the gnomes are friendly, they are wary of outsiders who might want to take their land.
There is an inn in town, where Berenn met Nirifel for the first time. Berenn checks Namburil and sees if any of the Meldarin elves are in the village starting at the inn. He will be careful not to ruffle the feathers of the gnomes. He finds some and asks to be taken to their leaders. The elves seem to know who Berenn is, but they will not take him to their leaders. He is told to wait in Namburil.
Berenn waits, and waits, and waits. Eventually he gets a room for the night. The next day he waits until noon, and still no elves.
[DM OOC: Ok, I'm just going to skip ahead. I was going to "test" Berenn's patience, but there's no tine, no pun intended.]
After a week, just when Berenn's patience is about exhausted, a trio of elves appears.
And again, we lost lots of stuff. However, the gist was as follows. Berenn strikes a deal with the elves. He promises to watch over the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil and make sure its like never rises again. As the lands improve and its population grows, they will maintain a balance with the forest. He also pledges his support for the elves, and hopes get them to do the same. He does not get the mutual defense pact he wishes, however, as the elves basically say, “We shall wait and see.” But the borders are established with more certainty, and he is content to return home with at least having opened a friendly dialogue. He then turns his attention to ruling and rebuilding the Watchlands.
his is the thread for the birth of Hepla's baby. Now, I'm now going to worry about timelines or any such thing. This is going to just happen. Whatever else everyone is doing, assume that everyone who wishes to be around is here. I'm also going to leave it up to Protector to take the lead on this, as it's his story. Well, Goldie's too!
Emyn and Hepla were settling down for the night. Her tiny frame was bloated and swollen with the child inside her. She was taking it in stride but he knew in his heart that what she was doing was likely harder than anything he had ever had to do. To think that women, despite their frailties, were stronger than men in so many ways was both inspiring and humbling to him. He imagined his own mother carrying him in her womb and of the absolute love and devotion she had given him until her untimely and violent death. A tear formed at the corner of his eye. He blinked it away quietly so that Helpa wouldn’t notice but, of course, she caught him anyway. She was a remarkable woman. Smart and quirky and both brave and kind almost to a fault. He reached out and touched her belly. As if on cue, the baby rolled and he felt an elbow or heel against his palm.
“She likes you,” Hepla giggled. Somehow she had known it was a girl really quickly, probably because of her witchiness.
“I like her too,” Emyn replied kissing her belly. “And you,” as his kisses moved upward. Hepla hugged him fiercely.
He helped his wife up into the four pollster feather bed and helped her get settled before climbing in himself.
The idea of impending parenthood was hitting them in different ways. Both knew it wouldn’t be long but birthing a child was dangerous for both child and mother. Luckily, Isilme had taken a room in the temple a week or so earlier as Hepla’s time came near. Star was also always fussing about and spent practically every moment with them. Hepla had told him that when the time came, she would be summoning Hepala. Thorgrim was also staying at Noot’s inn just in case. He had taken a special interest in the baby and Emyn was glad for it. Even Gotrek and Elrae were in the area. Notes had been sent to Rakk and Berenn but both were away at the moment.
For Hepla, the imminent arrival of their daughter meant the continuation of a long line of witches who could continue their traditions and way of life. It also meant she could now repay the kindness her mother and grandmother. Certainly, they would be heavily involved in the baby’s life and development but now Hepla could give of herself in ways only a mother could.
For Emyn, it meant he truly had a family again. Ever since the loss of his parents so many years ago, he had yearned to replace what he had once lost. The profoundness of the thought was something he caould barely conceive. But he promised himself and his family that he would do everything he could to ensure she would have all the advantages possible. He envisioned her as a grown woman resplendent in armour wielding witchly powers like an arcane knight. He would see it done.
Secure in the knowledge that all was well in hand, he drifted off to sleep.
Emyn’s eyes snapped open seemingly almost as soon as he had closed them. Hepla was jabbing her elbow into his side hard enough to hurt. He sat upright so quickly he saw stars. He looked at his wife and said, “Is it time?”
“Yes dear,” you need to get Isilme.
Star took off like a shot into the shadows almost as quickly as Emyn ran for the door. He sprinted down the hallway and banged on Isilme’s door. She opened it with a quizzical look to see Emyn wild eyed and naked as the day he was born. “It’s time,” he told her before running for the exit.
“Emyn, at least put on some pants!” she yelled as his naked butt bounced down the hallway. One of his men quickly threw a robe over him as he rushed out the front door.
Isilme quickly gathered the things she had prepared for the occasion and moved over to Hepla’s room. As she walked in, Hepala emerged from the shadows with Star. They nodded at one another and moved to help Hepla from the bed. Between the two of them they moved her to a clean birthing room prepared for this very purpose. The room, perhaps 20 feet square, had brightly painted walls hung with herbs. Isilme lit a small brazier in the corner and a soothing incense began to fill the room with its scent. Hepla breathed in and the pained look on her face seemed to fade. They got her up on the birthing table just in time as her water broke sand ran into a large silver chalice Hepala had ready for the purpose. “Mustn’t waste good potion ingredients,” she mutters quietly as Isilme suppresses a smirk.
Meanwhile Emyn entered the inn. Noot looked up from behind the bar as his staff were cleaning up. Elrae was on stage packing away his instruments. The wily half-elf took one look at him and said, “Elrae, get the blue priest. I’ll get Thorgrim. Emyn, see that red bottle with the scorpion on it? Take a slug. You need it…and some pants.”
Both rushed off upstairs and it wasn’t long before they came back down with the others in tow. Noot threw Emyn the pants, which he dutifully hauled on. They were a little tight but would suffice. The whole troupe ran towards the Church of Trithereon. Emyn led them inside and to the birthing room. The two priests were let in but Emyn was sent to wait with Elrae and Noot.
Hepla settles down with some herbs to make her feel more comfortable. After about a hour she if feeling fine and Thorgrim is happy with how everything is going. Emyn is busy with boiling cloth. Just why he is doing this is a mystery but he is doing this.
Helala has some elves outside doing security to make sure no one attacks. Then Hepla starts to scream as the baby's time gets closer. She goes between telling anyone who will heat that NO MAN WILL TOUCH ME EVER AGAIN, and I WILL GIVE ANYONE ANYTHING THEY WANT FOR SOMETHING TO STOP THE PAIN.
"She needs the pain, do not worry." The blue cleric says.
Counter spells are erected so no one gets hurt by her casting spells. Star starts to howl. This goes on for 4 hours, then things go quiet. Thorgrim comes out of the room, motioning Emyn in and after Emyn goes in he says, "Its a little witch."
Emyn finds much of the room destroyed. Hepla is holding a baby and looking beautiful. "Choose a name dear, before mom gets in here. Otherwise it will be next time before you get the honor of the first name. By the way, lets start on the next one as soon as it is safe. She will need a brother or sister." Trays of glasses of Moonshine start to float around. Nothing is said about "till they are done."
To Emyn’s surprise, Manny was waiting for them in their apartments. “Manny! Your face is a welcome one. We are so glad you were able to make it.” Elrae and Noot also clapped the elf on the back in greeting while Emyn started pacing the room. He flinched every time he heard the echo of his wife’s screams from farther down the hall. Manny put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Don’t think of it. Keep busy. Pray.”
Take the idea to heart, Emyn knelt in silent prayer to Trithereon, beseeching him to bring both Hepla and the baby through this birthing safe and sound. In his mind he felt a warmth and pride and a sense of divine peace. He opened his eyes and looked at the others. “All will be well. Let’s do what we can to support her and the baby.”
He ordered a large cauldron of water be brought up and placed over the hearth and began to boil bandages. As the night wore on, they heard a lot of screaming and a few times Elrae could be heard to mutter, “That is an interesting turn of phrase…maybe it was better I wasn’t there myself….” Some of the invective used made even Manny and Noot blush. Finally, the cries of a babe could be heard and Thorgrim appeared. “Emyn, come. It’s a little witch.”
Emyn was in the room but even years later would not remember the journey from the waiting room to Hepla’s bedside. She look exhausted but radiant and swaddled in a warm blanket was his daughter.
“Hepla, may I offer a potential name?” She nodded and he said, “Hepesmal. To honour both our mothers.”
"I love the name,” she replies, “and her and you."
Elrae sheds a tear upon seeing Hepesmal.
There is a song in man
There is a song in woman
And that is the child's song.
When that song comes
There will be no words.
Do not ask where they are.
Just listen to the song.
Listen to it-
It is the greatest song of all
Hepla gives Elray a kiss and Hepesmal taps his cheek.
Suddenly Hepala comes in, and she does not look happy. She moves to Hepla, giving her a caress on her cheek, before picking up baby Hepesmal. Hepla looks at her, unsure of the nature of her mother's distress. As she is about to speak, Hepala shakes her head. "I'm sorry," she says, pain clearly showing on her face. "I must take her, now." She then turns to walk out.
"Mother, what are you doing, that is my baby!” cries Hepla.
Emyn stops Hepala and says, "Explain yourself."
"No!" She replies with such fervor that Emyn shrinks back. A strange power seems to infuse Hepala's words, something Hepla has never witnessed. "You have changed the natural order," she says to Emyn. "That does not come without a price." Hepala looks down at tiny Hepesmal, "and you are the cost my sweet granddaughter," she says quietly.
"Who will have this price paid?” says Emyn, reaching for a sword he does not hold. “I shall pay it in her stead. Thorgrim, cast dimensional anchor on Hepesmal.”
Hepla gets to her feet, "Who has set what cost? There is always another price. Why did we not know this before? Nine months we had to act."
Star leaps up onto Hepla's bed, keeping her from getting up. Hepla is taken aback by Star's action, and she can sense a strange kind of resolve in her.
Meanwhile, Hepala waves a hand, repulsing everyone in the room. "None of you will do a thing," she commands. "All shall be as it MUST be," she continues. "You have set in motion thing you do not understand, have affected forces beyond your comprehension." She stares at Emyn and Hepla, her face full of resolve but also love. "You need each other now, more than ever. See to each other and to your future " She looks again down at Hepesmal, placing a tender hand upon her head. "But she is no longer your concern."
With that she leaves the room. As she does, Berenn enters.
"Berenn!" Shouts Emyn. "Stop her!"
"Stop who?" He replies. You quickly come to understand that he never saw Hepala, that she is gone.
We must seek out an explanation. Hepla, what did you mother mean by balance? All I did when I used my wish was to bring your body back into balance, said Emyn."
He then thinks a moment and says to Star (if she is still there) through his speak with animals, "Star, I don't understand. What is she going to do with Hepesmal? What if we have other children?"
“Emyn,” cries Hepla, tears pouring down her tired cheeks, “mom seems to have left with our baby. I will not even ask grandma or star since they would be torn between levels of trust. Know this I will find our baby again even if it means killing my family. I can only gain more power and do good deeds to gain points with the gods so I and you will gain the grace and power to recover what we lost. Lets get ready to act."
She gets out of bed and starts getting healthy enough to kill something.
[Emyn OOC: I have to say I am really curious how this is all going to play out. Emyn is simply more angry than he has ever been in his life. He had his family back for a moment only to have it ripped with little to no explanation from him. What I don't get is why Hepala wouldn't give more detail. Something else is at work here though for the moment Emyn wont see that. He's too angry. The problem I have is with the deus ex machina that knowing Emyn, he isn't going to be able to focus on anything other than his baby and that may cause issues for the Dorob Kithilduum campaign.]
[DM OOC: Well, she did give you an explanation. Your wish came with a price and their firstborn was the price. The law of physics for every action there is opposite and equal reaction. Anyway he's supposed to be upset. But this isn't over yet.]
[Emyn OOC: Oh I know. She will come back as some sort of perverted form of herself or something or Hepala will eat her and serve up her blood to a demon lord to get rid of her own curse or something. You're going to have your work cut out for you getting Emyn and Hepla to focus on anything else unless the abduction is associated with the next adventure somehow.
I just know if something like that had happened in my own life when my son was born, I would have murdered the person attempting to steal him before I'd let them take him away. I can't imagine someone like Emyn who has vengeance in his heart and also has serious family issues would not do less. She was lucky he was unarmed.
From my standpoint, I thought the wish actually restored balance to Hepla and the universe which had been unbalanced by the deck of many things. But I suppose there are a lot of ways to look at this situation. It certainly provides great motivation. What I don't get is why the other characters are not at least posting some sort of reaction.
I imagine Berenn would put a warrant out for her arrest, after all. Not sure what others might do.]
[DM OOC: Hepala does not answer to Berenn. His "fief" has nothing to do with her. So, there is that.
As for the rest, you may consider how Arthur was taken by Merlin as a similar situation. There definitely is precedent!]
Thorgrim is more circumspect about such things. It seems Hepala doesn't intend harm to her grandchild. Who knows what goes on in crazy witches' heads? Gotta be rough for Hepla and Emyn, though. [OOC: It seems the DM does not want Emyn and Hepla to retire into parenthood at this time. The story also mirrors several fairy-tales. Food for thought.]
Then there is Star who seems to be siding with Hepala too. Hepla can also sense that this is for Heoesmal's own good. That should count for something. Once Hepla recovers maybe they can go find Hepala and get answers.
"Emyn, Hepla," Thorgrim says, all blood draining from his face. "I am sorry. I could do nothing."
Star, though she obviously kept Hepla from moving, also purrs on her chest, putting her head down on Hepla. She seems to impart the feeling that everything will be ok.
"Star, do something useful,” snaps Hepla. She is angry at any one who got in her way but she at least used her friendly name. If she called her Startle then she would really be angry.
Emyn is clearly furious and distraught and doesn't know what to do except hold Hepla close to him. He is literally shaking with rage as tears pour wordlessly down his face.
Hepla holds him. "We will get our baby back," she says grimly.
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