Archive for the 'Harn: Genesis' Category

19
Jun
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 26

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 26
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 25
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 27

23rd of Azura in the year 720 TR

Merrick has already thrown himself fully into the task of destabilizing the Church of Larani. It took less than a few words to enlist his aide, as though he already had the idea himself. The Shek-Pvar have insisted on a few more days of preparation in the Chantry, giving us ample time to sow the seeds of discord.

Again, schedule conflicts prevented everyone from getting together so we put off the journey up Mount Galatia for another week. This time it was just Merrick, Talon, Mai Lin and myself. Due to shifting schedules and the abundance of one off sessions we’ve been doing, Talon spent most of the session creating a secondary character to play from time to time.

After some discussion, Merrick and I elected to prepare the town for Ran and Agrik’s return from the mountain and the downfall of the Church of Larani. After all, he still has his mission he’s accountable for.

He spent the day walking among the townspeople. Word of the previous day’s events had already spread, he simply made sure to place blame squarely at the church’s feet and play up my own actions in defeating the fallen cleric. Once the story took root and began to spread of its own accord, we called a meeting among the Agrikians of Degong. Merrick accompanied me to this meeting, not as one of the faithful but no less important to our plans.

In the dank cellar they call a temple, I reiterated my intent to cull the weak dogs of Larani from this town and bring Agrik once again into the light where he belongs. Though I have continued to go by the name Scaurus, as my compatriots now call me, I introduced myself to the gathered men and women as my true self, Ran Oranus of the Clan of Oranus of Rethem, Terahni of the Holy Temple of Agrik, sent to tame this land in the name of the God of War to appease the First God of Primal Fire, mighty Manrasusha.

I challenged the weakness found among those gathered that allowed them to be driven to this low station and allowed the followers of Larani to walk so freely. They seek a champion to lead them and I will gladly take that place, though to be truly strong they must be taught to stand on their own.

Their leader finally made herself known, a Sindarin by the name of Talia. Strangely, she seemed familiar to me, though I could not place it at the time. Merrick later confirmed that he had seen Talia in the robes of Larani at their temple the day before, the head of the local guard as it were. Clearly, she is not all that she appears.

We dismissed the gathered followers to prepare themselves, spread dissent and gather support for our return. Talia, Merrick and I began to make plans of our own, plans that would put the church on the defensive and shake the townspeople free of the stupor Larani has lulled them into. With Talia’s aid and influence within the church, Merrick will begin the first stage of our plan tonight.

Before he left for his job and I returned to the inn, I reminded Merrick that, though privy to my identity and true purpose, he was to keep that secret from our traveling companions for the time being. I am still determining the loyalties of those who travel with us and if they may be of use to Agrik.

25th of Azura in the year 720 TR

The town crier in the marketplace this morning confirmed our first attack was a success. With Talia’s aid, Merrick broke into the temple of Larani, stealing uniforms and even, somehow, gaining access to their treasury despite armed guards and making off with a small chest of money, which he donated to the war effort. Talia leveraged her own special brand of pressure within the church and the crier indicated that the temple would be levying a tax of one pence upon the businesses, townspeople and travelers passing through to recoup their losses. Those who refused to pay would be assessed a larger fine.

Merrick immediately entered relations management mode, moving among the people and assessing their temperament in response to the tax and stoking fires where they presented themselves. The town of Degong is made up of some seven hundred souls, nearly a tenth of which are stout, prideful Khuzdul; a high percentage of the population for this island, but appropriate given the town’s mining operations. The Khuzdul and followers of Sarajin in the town were especially vocal about refusing the tax in their district and will likely make our most valuable allies, if unwittingly.

The Church of Larani largely runs the local government in town as a matter of convenience, handling local issues and managing the guard of the town. This uniquely grants them the most power of all of the major temples represented within the town, but also focuses the blame for their actions squarely upon their feet.

While he was out, I paused by the tavern where were staying and spied Mai Lin, sitting alone at a table with her two dogs. It was strange sitting down across from her, she regarded me not as a stranger but certainly unfamiliar while I remember each of our days traveling together since we met outside of Gerar.

I tried to engage her in pleasant conversation, but it was clear she found my intentions more uncomfortable than friendly. Briefly, I considered confiding in her my true identity, but thought better of it. For now, it will wait.

Mai Lin’s player and I are very close friends who have known each other a long time and I find it incredibly hilarious for my mail character attempting to flirt with his female character. It usually makes for a good laugh around the table.

27th of Larani in the year 720 TR

Talia has begun leading her men about town to collect the tax, flanked by a small contingent of guards as a show of force. When it came to our inn, my compatriots protested, but I volunteered the tax on their behalf to keep our involvement out of sight for the time being.

Merrick set out among the townspeople to see how the days of tax collecting had gone, focusing on the a local bar known to support Sarajin. To our delight, they had refused the tax and thrown the guards out for the time being. We were able to get a message to Talia and she left a pair of helmets and Larani shields out where we could reach them that evening.

We waited outside the bar in the shadows, admittedly not my favorite part of the plan though I trust to Merrick’s expertise, until the bar closed. With our identities hidden beneath helmets and clad in the stolen uniforms, we forced the lock on the inn and barged in. A young girl was cleaning up, surprised at our sudden entrance. We demanded she retrieve the inn keeper to pay his fine, which she initially refused, but went running into the back rooms as I began ransacking the bar.

A mountain of a man emerged moments later, squaring up on Merrick with a massive, two handed maul in hand. We demanded the owed fines, plus extra for his refusal to pay earlier, which, predictably, he flat refused. Merrick continued arguing with him while I paused behind the bar, struggling hard to find that deep connection with Agrik I once shared. Of all the things that have changed with this new body, that is the connection I miss most personally. Digging in and concentrating, praise be to Agrik, I was able to conjure a ball of flame alight in my hand. Pressing the searing, curl of flame into the bar, it began to smolder and eventually burst into light.

I was only able to achieve this through a fair amount of luck, making the roll by a single point, and a large expenditure of Piety. For any character, but Clerics in particular who tend to have higher amounts of it, Piety can be spent to act as a modifier to the dice pool, making success more likely. 

Clearly, regaining my clerical powers will take a fair amount of work.

The bartender was done negotiating and took a swing at Merrick, smashing into his shield which just barely withstood the blow. Finally a battle, something I could throw myself into. We dueled among the toppled chairs and beer soaked tables of the inn while the bar fire quietly grew. I got my nicks in on the man, but he was a talented fighter and held his own.

Finally, he was driven back by the attacks levied against him and retreated through the door into the back rooms. I allowed him to break long enough to slam the door shut against us and lock it from his side. While I certainly hope no harm comes to such a warrior from our deception, the ruse must be made clear. I jammed my stolen shield against the handle of the door, blocking it from our side, and turned to leave. I discarded the Larani robes into the fire behind the bar and left with Merrick into the night.

Should he realize what was happening, a man of that might should have no problem breaking out of the building before it is consumed in flame. Either way, the ruse should be complete and the attack on the townspeople over a tax should be enough to drive popular opinion against the Church of Larani.

In the morning, we will leave early for the top of Mount Galatia and see our tasks done with Spar Daymar. By the time we return, Degong should be ready to explode.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 25
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 27
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18
Jun
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 25

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 25
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 24
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 26

17th of Azura in the year 720 TR

After a day of rest in Ammon, we set out on the road again. The clerics of Peoni did their best to treat my wounds, I have no doubt they will heal much quicker as a result, but my head still throbs from the crushing blow we received. The townspeople spent much of the time picking up from the destruction and looting of their town. I overheard that the blacksmith in particular suffered as they looted many of his tools and goods in the attack.

Travel to Degong, the small Chantry at the foot of Mount Galatia was treacherous at best, but we did not run into any further assassins or wild threats. While I’m sure the break was welcome, the chill wind and rough road was not. I have spent little of my life this high in the frigid mountains and it does not not suit me.

Several of our regular group were unable to make it to game due to schedule conflicts. This left those who could make it to fill some time until the next game when we could set off up Mount Galatia.

Most were quiet during the several days of travel. The Shek-Pvar rode in the back of our cart with Spar Daymar, discussing the finer points of their convocations and preparing new spells to enhance our defenses after the last battle. The Cleric of Siem and Mai-Lin spent the time quietly observing the new plants and nature in the region. Even Echo has spared me few words, keeping to himself mostly.

He does not seem to have fared well after the battle and does not seem to be sleeping, though I have not seen any significant injuries. He clutches Conquest’s sword as if prepared for an imminent attack. Only Merrick seems content to chatter boisterously with whomever will listen. Without Echo’s heavy handed guidance, he and I have shared numerous conversations about our lives and our adventures on Hârn as well as Genisis.

In Degong, we found a small, but well equipped town outside of the small Chantry. Spar, Mai-Lin and Falcon headed for the stores to replenish our supplies while the Shek-Pvar left for the Chantry to take advantage of its attunement rooms for their research. At their request, we will be spending several more days here to recuperate from our wounds and complete their research before scaling the mountain.

Several temples to the various gods are scattered about the town, including one dedicated to Larani which Echo retires to, leaving me once again to my own devices. It feels good to be trusted like a human being again, even though it may only be his lack of sleep making him foolish. I accompanied Merrick to the blacksmiths to sell a number of smithing tools and armor he had apparently acquired in trade during our trip.

We set out to explore the town, Merrick was particularly interested in the shops and residences of the town, commenting on each building’s architectural features and noting valuable wares for sale. As we approached the edge of town, my collar constricted slightly, a none too subtle reminder of the leash I was still on.

Returning to the inn, we passed a tavern on the edge of town and a feeling came over me. It felt familiar, exhilarating and terrifying all at once. I couldn’t place it, but the Voice immediately took notice, urging me indoors. I turned away and continued on with Merrick, pausing only momentarily to take note of the tavern’s name, The Burning Pitch.

18th of Azura in the year 720 TR

I rose early, though I found Merrick was already making his way about the inn where we had stayed for the night. His awareness of my activities didn’t bother me, though the one I was concerned of, Echo, was also not about. The bed in our room lay untouched, indicating he had not returned.

Merrick told me later that a priestess of the Larani church had arrived with Echo’s gear and inquired as to the Cleric’s condition. Apparently he passed out at the church from fatigue and running a fever. They were caring for him and allowing him to rest, though he refused to part with either his armor or his weapon. Not unusual for a warrior, that is to be sure.

I left the inn before the others awoke, making my way back through the town to the tavern I had passed the night before, The Burning Pitch, and made my way inside. Even this early in the morning, I was surprised to find an assortment of individuals around the establishment. I took an ale and sat back to watch, trying to place my finger on the sensations we had felt before.

I noticed several men coming and going through a back door, likely leading to the cellar, though they did not appear to work there. Finally, I made my move, striding for the door, though I was stopped short by a large man, a bouncer of sorts. He demanded to know my interest in the cellar. I positioned myself casually near a chair, at an angle to knock him down the stairs should it become necessary before I replied.

To be fair, I myself wasn’t sure what brought me this way, but I managed to convince him well enough and he disappeared to gather approval from whatever man ran this place before leading me downstairs. In the cellar, to my surprise, I found an alter and burning braziers and incense floating in the air. Several other men appeared to be praying before a flat stone, large enough to lay a full size man upon.

My guide gave me a strange look when I inquired as to who the alter was constructed for, but he told me. The Lord of Fire. The Great One. Suddenly my weeks of travel, the visions and the dreams, they all made sense.

I spoke with the man at length. They hid with their alter under this tavern, worshiping in secret while those that hunted them, the Church of Larani, walked above ground in the light. These men, many of them clearly strong and capable warriors, were reduced to huddling in this dank basement in the worship of their lord, waiting and praying for a sign. A savior. A champion.

I am still unsure of my own role, but clearly our needs align. I will not be reduced to praying for help in this hole, but I cannot yet say that I am the champion they seek. Echo and the damned rod he carriers still bar my path. For now, I must journey to the peak of Mount Galatia, the highest point in all of Genisis my informant tells me. Legends say it is the place in the world closest to the gods above, that they might scoop you up to reward your service or vanquish you for your arrogance on the same, lonely peak.

Perhaps the journey will teach me what else I need to know. Perhaps getting closer to the Great One will reveal his true purpose. I resolved to return, instructing him to begin preparations to oust the servants of Larani. I stepped forward and laid my sword upon the alter, a sacrifice of sorts, a gesture of my commitment to return to this town and see His will done. I returned to my party, clearer of mind and more myself than I have felt in the last two months. Even the Other has grown silent, either in agreement of our purpose or fear of the Great One.

22nd of Azura in the year 720 TR

It is strange to find myself here, in this place. As if coming out of a long fog I find myself in a new place, in a new body but with old friends. It is only barely that I can recall the voice of the Other and the rage of the Berserker that once battled me. It would seem a distant, hazy dream if not for where I find myself now.

Agrik has indeed seen fit to deliver me through his divine grace as, through a mirror, I look back on a body familiar but not my own. From what I have gathered, my brother Aurelius was brought to this land by a Cleric of Larani, a cleric who became possessed and corrupted by the sword of true warrior.

My compatriots planned to set out on their pilgrimage up the mountain today, but when they went to check upon their holy warrior, they found he had rebelled against the priests caring for him and abducted a child as hostage. We arrived to find him on the edge of a cliff with the boy.

They say he was driven mad by the corrupting influence of the sword, though perhaps its power simply opened his eyes to the weak willed god he served that drove him mad. He demanded his supplies and horse, sending me to retrieve them. I have no doubt I would have but the man, Merrick, produced the rod he had used to control me. Apparently he had obtained it in the last few days.

I do remember, vividly, the laughter. At first I was sure such maniacal glee must have come from another, but the others assure me it was I who was chortling as I took the rod in my own hand. The Fallen Cleric in of Larani tried to battle me, but he was no match for the raw strength of this body Agrik has graced me with.

He begged for his life and I clearly remembered my last words to him as my axe sank deep into his chest. “No pity. No fear. No remorse.” Then I threw his body from the cliff edge into the ravine below and smashed the rod used to control me.

Quite unexpectedly, both to the players and somewhat to the GM, we ended up dispatching the character of Echo during this session. I gather she expected it wouldn’t come to a head until the next session, but as things rolled it naturally turned in that direction.

Both the player and GM have been working for awhile to slowly write out his character as he transitioned into Merrick. His death at Scaurus’ hands, awarding him his freedom, seemed an appropriate place as any. His player did a great job of playing up his haughty religious zeal, grating against the other players in many cases, and his slow decent into a means justify the ends mentality that resulted in his downward spiral and corruption as well as leaving the rest of the party happy that he was eventually gone.

For me, the result was that Ran regained dominate control of the shared body and most of his memories from his previous life, as though picking up from the day of his death. What that ultimately means for him and what connection he still has with Agrik remains to be seen.

Now I am free, there is much to do. I will accompany those who have traveled with me so far to the top of Mount Galatia, to complete whatever deeds this Cleric, Spar Daymar, needs done. It will allow me to size up the companions I now find myself with and determine if they will be of value to Agrik’s cause. Talon and Mai Lin can be trusted, though I am still wary of Marcus. Falcon fancies himself a healer, which could be of use. Merrick is of particular interest as I learn more about him and remember more of our travels. I believe he could be an especially useful asset to the cause.

When I return, Agrik’s vengeance will be brought to this town and the remnants of Larani’s church will be brought low and its people freed of her weakening influence.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 24
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 26
30
Apr
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 24

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 24
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 23
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 25

11th of Azura in the year 720 TR (cont.)

With little chance of fleeing the forces of Conquest in the night, the Shek-Pvar and the guards worked on ushering the townspeople into the Church of Peoni, the only structure that might stand up to some limited siege and placed near the center of town. Echo made a show of taking charge, ordering the Knights and guards about, publicly declaring to the people that Larani would protect them and otherwise making himself a loud annoyance to anyone who actually knew what they were doing.

Quietly, I gathered javelins the guards had brought in from their limited armory and the blacksmith’s, taking them outside. Echo didn’t even notice my disappearance at first, too busy with his theatrical performance. I set the javelins out by a low wall a short ways from the church with a good view over the town and the only main road leading in from the east. As the sun set, the barest hints of motion could be seen over the mountains in the night, like the very rocks of the mountain had come alive and were slowly crawling through the trees towards us as the light receded.

Echo appeared a short while later, berating me for slipping away. I ignored the opportunity to antagonize him, more concerned for once with the coming battle.

My plan was guided by the Other, who whispered of his experiences in the gladiator pits. While the army approached along the main road, I would rain what javelins I had down upon them. The front line would have to funnel through the nearby gate, making an excellent choke point to thin their numbers. In the end, if forced, I could retreat to the doors of the nearby church for our last stand.

That was the plan, at any rate. As night fell and the marching army grew closer, the party gathered one last time to administer blessings. The Cleric of Siem did lay a blessing upon me that filled me with vigor and strength. Perhaps he was not as useless as I thought. Echo blessed my weapons and armor, willing Larani to protect me, though I expect to see little sympathy from her, even if she were capable of aiding anyone from the great warrior who approached. The Shek-Pvar and Cleric of Siem took up a position in the Church’s tower while Merrick crept around the town’s streets and Mai Lin stood at the door to the church with her two dogs.

We waited at our posts, but the front line of warriors never manifested. Instead, black cloaked assassins once again appeared form the shadows with dark blades glimmering in the dim light. Cries from the others indicated they too were under attack as I was caught off guard with a javelin in my hand rather than my trusty axe as two of the bastards jumped from the shadows.

I ducked and stabbed between the two of them while Echo, nearby, screamed out what he must have thought was a ferocious war cry as he battled a third with his sword and shield in hand. In the background, I was vaguely aware of the great horn blowing again, closer this time and heralding something ominous.

Echo injured one of the three assassins and moved back to back with me, seeming to think I was concerned with protecting his flank as he called out to me. I drove my javelin through one of the men, killing him as I finally spared a glance down the center road. Between the dozens of guards and Knights fighting desperate battles against the cloaked assassin’s came a terrifying sight.

A giant of a man, clad in black scale armor and riding a massive war horse rode at a gallop up the main road as the horn blared once again in the background. Strapped to his back was a massive sword and shield and in his hand he wielded a giant, two headed flail as he rode. His face could not be seen beyond the slits in his helmet, but his eyes seemed to glimmer from within. Even his war horse, clad in heavy armor, seemed to have eyes that glowed like fire. The Great One of my dreams now become my manifest nightmare.

As he rode towards us in a charge, his flail caught one of the old knights in the chest, throwing him down as the plates of his armor scattered and a trail of blood arced through the air. I drove my javelin through the leg of the assassin facing me and left it there, dashing away to Echo’s angry cries as I abandoned him. I scooped up the pearl handled battle axe gifted to me in Moab as I dodged an arrow shot by another assassin and came to a stop in the middle of the road.

The thundering of the horses hooves mirrored the pounding in my chest as the Great One bore down on me and my end became clear. I gripped my weapon tightly and waited for my end to come. Conquest bore down on me, the horse’s breath jets of hot steam in the cold night air. The horseman raised his black flail high and swing it towards me and I stepped forward to meet it, then ducked low, spun and swung my axe up.

The silver edge cut clean through the bottom of the horses’ unarmored neck in a spray of dark blood. The horse crumpled at a full gallop, but the head of the flail smashed into the side of my head and everything went black.

Both Conquest and I rolled Critical Successes in a bit of epic coincidence; he on his attack roll and I on my counterattack roll against his horse. It would have been far safer to dodge or block, but I figured this was the fastest and possibly best chance at taking the rider off of his horse. It worked, though I paid for it.

In HârnMaster, every time a character takes a wound, the player rolls a number of D6 equal to the number of wounds they have taken. Minor wounds are one die while more serious wounds range from two to five for a Grievous or Killing wound. To avoid passing out or dying on the spot, again depending on the type and severity of wounds, the total dice value must be less than or equal to your Endurance value. Despite having taken a massive wound to the head, another minor wound and rolling an above average value the one time I don’t want a high dice roll, I managed to survive what likely would have been an instant death only because Falcon’s blessing had buffed my Endurance value by a number of points.

When Scaurus inevitably turns on and murders his entire party, I will allow him to be the last to die to show my thanks.

I awoke what seemed like an instant later. The dark sky stretched overhead and everywhere the sounds of combat and screams of the injured and dying. I rolled to my stomach, even as the sudden action blurred and doubled my vision from my pounding head. The crumpled body of the horse lay near by, its severed head several feet further.

A dozen feet beyond the horse, Conquest was slowly drawing to his feet from where he had been thrown. His pulled his large shield from his back and a massive, two handed war sword that he wielded in a single, mailed gauntlet as he stood snarling. I scrambled for my nearby stash of weapons, grabbing up my hand axe and broadsword in each hand as I stood, despite the protests of my wounds. Gingerly, I faced the warrior and we began to circle.

Echo charged, ignoring the remaining assassin, to strike at Conquest who was able to block the attack. I would have tried to take the offensive, but with my wounds and the horseman’s skill, I would most surely have been struck down. Instead I thrust with my sword, poking and prodding his defenses, looking for a break I could exploit. Arrows and enchanted darts from the Shek-Pvar rained down around us, aimed at Conquest from the tower. I had to push memories of the recent night to the back of my mind as the accursed shards of glass glanced off of his armor.

Finally, Echo landed a lucky blow, striking Conquest at the wrist and knocking his sword free of his hand. The horseman smashed his shield into the Cleric and I lunged at his back, hoping to make a quick kill. The warrior was too quick, though, spinning back around and bringing his shield up as I slammed into it. I stumbled as I was pushed back and both he and I fell to the ground away from one another.

I looked up in time to see Echo scoop up the horseman’s sword in both hands and swing it around in a wide arc, cutting deep into Conquest’s leg and nearly severing it despite the armor. I clamored to my feet as quickly as I could, but by the time I stood, Echo drove the tip of the sword though Conquest’s chest and the great warrior finally lay still.

The horseman’s mailed hands clasped the tip of his own blade, which I could now see was black with age and had four skulls carved into the blade, each with jeweled eyes that glowed with an inner light. His voice rasped at us from out of his helmet, “You think you’ve won… my brothers will end you…” One set of gems dimmed and then cracked, pieces falling out of the carved skull as the owner of the sword finally died.

I stood over the body of Conquest as the cries of fear around town turned into cheers. The remaining assassin’s fled into the night. Echo stood, catching his breath, one hand still on the hilt of the great sword. “Perhaps you should take it.” I suggested. “As a trophy your greatness and that of Larani.” I had to grit my teeth through that part. “If you can carry it, anyway.”

Echo’s look carried anger at first and I thought he might reach for the control rod, but instead a smug look filled his face as he pulled the blade from the body. “I’ll put it to better use than he was.” He slung the ancient blade over one soldier and turned to head back to the temple, declaring his victory over the horseman to the Knights as he passed.

As I gazed down upon him, Conquest’s body looked small and pathetic now, crumpled in the dirt in a dark pool of his own blood. This was not the Great One of my dreams. This was another. An imposter perhaps. It was at once disappointing not to meet the one who has begun to guide me and yet exhilarating that my destiny was not yet fulfilled.

There is still so much yet to do.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 23
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 25
29
Apr
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 23

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 23
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 22
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 24

10th of Azura in the year 720 TR

We have traveled west into the mountains for several days. Spar provided us all with strange creatures, like over-sized mountain goats, native to this region. He assured us that horses would find the cold and harsh road difficult, if not fatal, to travel. We procured the remainder of our supplies, included warmer clothes for myself, and set out, choosing to take the main road through Ammon rather than risk cross country travel.

Our travels have been largely quiet, though everyone seams tense, clearly concerned about another attack. During the day, the Voice and the Savage typically become quiet, but with nothing to do to keep my mind distracted they often come back to me, arguing and bickering. Nothing has happened yet, but if it does, I trust the Cleric of Larani will be able to control me. If no one else can, at least he can be trusted to do what is right.

My companions concerns were well justified, however, as we were attacked on our first night. Talon and Marcus were on watch when they spied movement. They got a call out just in time to rouse us before a rain of arrows fell on the camp and several more cloaked assassins appeared out of the night.

It is during these surprise ambushes that even I can admit some appreciation for the Savage. He is violent, merciless and cold, to be sure; but his never-ceasing itch to fight means he is never caught flat footed, even when that means rolling out of a bed roll to avoid an arrow and scooping up our weapons in a single motion.

Playing a character with multiple personalities, including one of a violent, crazed, berserker sets up lots of potentially comedic situations when played straight. Typically when ambushed in the at night, due to my high initiative values, I get to declare that my character immediately leaps to his feat, weapons in hand and ready for action as he charges into the dark woods to slay our attackers, which strikes of a combat heavy, power gaming player move.

This is usually followed by the GM asking if I mean that Scaurus charges into the woods towards the enemy. I reply, yes, if they happen to be in the direction I randomly charged into the woods, which is much more in character and hilarious.

At first, I had difficulty finding the attackers in the dark. My companions scattered into the woods, looking for the attackers; only Mai Lin had the good sense to stay by Spar and ensure no assassins crept past during the fighting. Though I could hear their cries from around the woods, seemingly suggesting that the attackers were everywhere, none presented themselves to me. I only finally came upon one about to stab Marcus from behind.

I threw my sword and was able to impale his leg, warning Marcus of the incoming attack, though it was Mai Lin’s arrow that claimed the kill. Moments later, a deep horn blew from the mountains and the others fled. I came upon Merrick, nursing minor wounds, who confirmed that he encountered, and grievously wounded, the man who fled the attack in the inn a few nights prior. He had made his escape, surely not the last we would see of him.

Spar consulted his book, then suggested we head out immediately, clearly concerned about whatever he had learned. No one seemed to disagree, though I could see the exhaustion and hints of fear in their eyes. Since then, we have traveled all day without rest, barely stopping to eat. If we are lucky, we will reach Ammon late tonight, before the assassins find us once more.

11th of Azura in the year 720 TR

We arrived in Ammon just after midnight, cold, hungry and tired, finding a small inn with plenty of room where we bedded for the night. The morning rose early and crisp, giving us the first peaceful look out over the mountain range since we began the journey. The inn keeper told us the population of the small town consisted largely of retired Knights from the local King’s army, just over the mountain ridge in Damascus.

We spent the day shopping for additional supplies, weapons and armor for the remainder of the journey. Echo insisted we travel a short ways to visit a waterfall after nearly every shop keeper we talked to kept rambling on about it. The followers of Peoni maintained a large church in the town and also watched after the falls and gardens around it as some sort of sacred site.

Upon our return, however, the day quickly turned sour. We were met outside of town by a small band of town guards and retired Knights wearing their old armor and weapons. I smirked under my breath to Echo, suggesting that I would deal with the majority of them if he could handle the two frail, elderly Knights on the end. Retribution from the control rod was swift and brutal, shocking the guards as well as the rest of the party who had not heard my suggestion. Echo seemed satisfied as I stood without saying another word, though I could see the other members of the party, the Shek-Pvar in particular, eyeing him strangely.

They escorted us back to town, then Mai Lin, Falcon, Merrick and myself were separated from the Shek-Pvar and Cleric of Larani for questioning. The lead Knight, Sir Shawn, deemed them not to be probable threats. An assessment I tended to agree with, having seen them fight. The Berserker was ready and urging to carve a bloody path to freedom as we were taken into a confined room with only a handful of guards for questioning. No doubt they would have fallen quickly, but I soothed and repressed his voice, intent on seeing what new opportunities might present themselves.

As the line of questioning progressed, the situation became clear. One of the Knights, a retired General, returned home to find his wife brutally murdered. As the only new comers to the small town, blame was immediately shifted to our crew. The majority of those with us declared their innocence, trying to come up with alibis for the obvious frame-job. I, instead, chose to feed it.

Innocently I fed Sir Shawn information about Echo leaving on his own early in the morning. Only Merrick seemed to realize what I was up to as he cast me a side-long, bemused look as I spun a tail inditing the Cleric indirectly. Sir Shawn seemed shocked but left from the room to question the others. He returned, suggesting that the others had fingered Merrick and I as likely suspects, though the others quickly provided alibis and claimed to be with us at the time of the murder, unintentionally shifting blame back onto the Cleric of Larani and the Shek-Pvar. The game was amusing, though I had no real hope that it would stick.

Getting to play the chaotic character with questionable motives once in awhile is a lot of fun and produced a lot of amusement at the table as I repeatedly insisted that Echo was likely the murder. More players got to partake in the interrogation as they were suddenly drug into the investigation as I added more and more casual details incriminating them as complicit in the crime.

After several rounds of questioning, Falcon seemed to get an inkling that something was not right. Calling upon his divine powers, such as the powers of Siem can be called, he managed to disrupt an illusion around Sir Shawn, revealing him to be one of the black robed assassins we had faced before. I couldn’t help but clap my hands and laugh as the truth of the murder and our framing became clear, though I doubt anyone heard me over the scuffle as the assassin murdered one of the guards and fled for the door. I wandered out after the others while the Knights and guards held everyone at sword point, watching the cloaked man flee. It seemed almost strange to see the assassin operating in day light.

Echo’s command rose over the yelling and confusion, ordering me to stop the man, alive unfortunately, despite the spear pointed at my chest. I easily slipped the old man’s weapon point, toppling him over a wooden bench and was off. I held no fear that the old men behind me would catch up, though my quarry was a bit more sprightly.

Quickly, though, I caught up, drawing my short sword and slashing his legs as he attempted to flee. He crashed to the cobblestone road in a flurry of robes and I seized upon him. Talon arrived at the same moment and fell upon him, surprisingly quick for the Shek-Pvar, and we drug the man back to the guard house for questioning.

The questions proved to be short lived, as the assassin taunted us, promising that “He” was coming for the book. The rider who would bring his forces down upon and destroy this city. A towering and ferocious warrior. The rider known as Conquest.

His words were no doubt threatening to all, but particularly chilling to my ears, even as blood began to drain from his eyes and nose as he died from some self administered poison or spell. For the last few weeks my dreams have been visited by the silhouette of a great, powerful warrior, the Great One who has urged me towards the mountains. Now this warrior rides on the town, the manifestation of my dreams. This town is well and truly doomed, as are we if the Great One has determined that we are his enemy to be slain for his glory.

Spar’s face was drained of blood as he whispered of Conquest, one of four great followers and legendary Generals of Lord Cowlin’s army. Though the story of Lord Cowlin was often believed to be legend on Hârn, the others seemed to already know it was true and, despite his banishment thousands of years ago, Spar was suggesting his army and his Generals still walked the world toward whatever purpose.

Cowlin was an ancient warlord banished to Genisis ages ago, whose spirit the others of the party have encountered once already in the past.

Indeed, this must be the Great One from my dreams. The great horn from the other night sounded ominously over the mountains as the sun fell to the west, signaling his imminent arrival.

The Great One comes to destroy us all.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 22
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 24
10
Apr
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 22

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 22
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 21
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 23

08 of Azura in the year 720 TR

The old man, Spar Daymar, seems to think Moab is safe enough for the time being. His attackers will need some time to regroup before trying again. The Voice and the Savage have been quiet since last night. Its been the closest I’ve felt to normal in quite some time. When they are quiet for long enough, memories start to come back to me. Many of them terrible, but a few of them nice. Days spent in training on the gladiator grounds. Long runs through the forests and grassy hills surrounding the pits in Retham.

We had a smaller than usual group of players for this session. As such, the GM elected to have us do a little side activity rather than continuing our travels on in the hunt for Alexander Marco.

Even Echo seems to sense my calm today. He is still recovering from the wounds suffered last night, but he allowed me to venture out into the market with Merrick, Talon and Falcon without a guide. We stopped for lunch when a frantic old man burst in, shouting for help. Merrick calmed him down and promised our aid. His daughter had fallen into a hole outside of town. Though it was a serious matter, I could not hide a little bit of a smile as I knew our party had some experience with falling into holes recently.

We followed the man out of town along a narrow road into the hills. He was holding an impressive pace given his age, babbling the entire time about the girl. It took far longer than any of us expected to reach the spot, a hole nestled between the large roots of a mangled tree, causing me to wonder exactly what the man and his daughter were doing this far out.

Outside the hole, we could indeed here the distant cries of the girl. Falcon used the divine powers of Siem to bless a rock, causing it to illuminate like a hot coal and tossed it into the hole. After falling some distance, it bounced out of sight. Merrick convinced the old man to allow us to tie a rope to him and lower him into the hole. The three of us would stand at the top and pull him up when he had the girl.

After some convincing, he agreed and we lowered him through the hole. He was barely out of sight when suddenly the thick braids of the rope began to unwind, wrapping around our fingers and wrists and the fibers became sticky like glue. Before we could react, there was a sharp pull on the rope. Merrick, Falcon and Talon immediately lost their footing and were dragged headfirst into the hole. I planted my feet at the entrance, trying to stop their fall, but the loose soil gave way and the rope behind me snapped as I too was drug down into the earth.

We fell through the widening darkness until we hit some sort of bubble, like thick foam, it slowed our fall as we passed through and fell safely to the floor on the other side. Nearby was Falcon’s glowing rock, illuminating the small cavern. Above us, the hole leading down was sealed by a mirror like surface. I climbed to my feet stiffly, obviously smarting from the fall more than I realized, and examined my party. To my surprise, Falcon and Merrick were still with us, but Talon was gone.

In his place, I looked upon an exact duplicate of myself, which in turn was staring back at me! It took a few moments to sort out what had happened, but upon passing through the bubble our minds appeared to have switched bodies! Talon claimed to be within my body and, upon looking down on myself, I realized I was wearing his clothes and equipment. Falcon and Merrick also announced that they had switched bodies as well.

The GM had us switch character sheets at this time, forcing us to adapt our game play strategies on the fly as we tried to get used to new characters.

Uncomfortable in this weaker and uncoordinated body, not to mention his lack of traditional weaponry, I pulled the short sword I carried off of my body as Talon fumbled with my axes. The sword felt heavy and clumsy in my hands, but, mentally at least, it was reassuring. Seeing no other way out, we ventured into the nearby tunnels and began exploring the caverns.

The tunnels twisted and branched often, forcing us to make a point out of exploring them deliberately and orderly to prevent getting lost. Many ended in collapsed tunnels or simply narrowed into impassible points, forcing us to backtrack. The others ended in small caverns with only the single tunnel leading out.

In the first, we came upon a nest of rabbits. Talon and I turned to leave, but Falcon insisted on trying to commune with the animals. He failed though, apparently his powers being left behind with his body. Encouraged, Merrick gave it a try and, to his amusement, the rabbits responded. By the time he was done, we had a herd of the things following us down the tunnels.

In the next chamber, we came upon a strange sight. Though the old man was nowhere to be found, a little girl sat in the center of the dimly lit room with another bunny in her lap. She greeted us warmly, but there was something off about her. It did not take long to deduce that the little girl all dressed in blue was no normal little girl at all.

She asked us if we wanted to play and Merrick, I think too afraid to risk upsetting her, agreed. She giggled and asked us a riddle. “Feed me and I live, give me water and I die. What am I?”

Talon answered back almost immediately with the answer. Fire. The girl giggled with the ease of the answer and congratulating us. Popping up from her seat and into the air with a twist, she vanished, leaving us alone in the cavern. Clearly, no normal little girl in blue.

Continuing on, we entered another chamber and were surprised by a Gârgún. Merrick took an arrow as the creature howled at us in surprise. Falling to old instincts, I charged forward with my sword, aiming to take off the creature’s head before it could drop its bow and draw its club. Unfortunately, my new body did not cooperate. My feet tripped over each other and the sword arm lacked the deftness I was used to, causing me to miss entirely. Fortunately, I was able to dodge out of the creature’s reach.

Talon dove in right behind me with my axes. He nearly cut the creature’s arm free in his first strike, while the other two were still trying to sort themselves out. The creature turned on him, flailing against him, but he ignored it and buried the second axe in its chest, killing it. Clearly he was having a much more enjoyable time in my body than I was in his.

We ventured on, finding the girl in a second cave. Before she got to her next riddle, Merrick was able to get her name, Alice, and also asked her if she was planning to let us go. Alice replied that, if we amused her and played well, she would let us go. The alternative, it seemed, was that “they” would eat us. Normally I might have taken on that challenge, but in this body it seemed like a poor idea.

The second riddle was slightly more difficult, but in the end, Talon cracked this one as well. “The man who built it, doesn’t want it. The man who bought it, doesn’t need it. The man who needs it, doesn’t know it.” A coffin. I probably should have caught that one earlier, given all the men I’ve put into them.

Again she disappeared with a mystifying giggle and we traveled on. In another cavern, we came upon two more Gârgún. This time, with better awareness of my body’s capabilities, I was able to follow closely behind Talon as he charged the first and I ran the second through with my sword, killing it instantly. Experience still trumps prowess, it seems. When I turned around, much to my surprise, Falcon had buried one of Merrick’s daggers through the throat of the first Gârgún in a spray of blood. Even he looked surprised at just how effective he had been. To be honest, I didn’t think the Cleric of Siem had it in him.

We moved on and eventually found ourselves in a strange cavern at what must have been the farthest reaches of the tunnel network. One wall of the room was made up of the same, mirror-like substance we had passed through on the way in. Alice appeared with a surprised sigh. “I didn’t think you would make it this far so soon. Very well…”

I interrupted her, cleverly I thought. “Enough. I have a riddle for you!” I proclaimed. “What is in… my pocket!”

Alice laughed and laughed, before replying, “Marbles, silly!” I was sure I had her there as I thrust my hand into Talon’s pocket. Even I didn’t know what was in there. To my disbelief, his pocket was full of metal marbles!

Getting back to her own riddles, Alice asked, “Pronounced as one letter and written with three. Three letters there are and only two in me. I’m double, I’m single, I’m black, blue and gray. I’m read from both ends and the same either way. What am I?” Proving his education wasn’t for nothing, Talon shot back immediately. An eye.

Alice laughed and continued. “Another! You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What am I?” This one took us some time and I think Alice’s look grew hungrier while we debated. Finally Merrick put it together and answered. An ear of corn.

Alice sighed, “This has been so much fun! Very well… one more and you may leave. I am the black child of a white father, a wingless bird, flying even to the clouds of heaven. I give birth to tears of mourning in pupils that meet me, even though there is no cause for grief. At once, on my birth, I am dissolved into air. What am I?”

“A fart.” I answered sarcastically. I thought it was under my breath, but Alice broke into hysterics. When her laughter finally subsided, Talon delivered the real answer. Smoke.

Alice smiled, though she looked half disappointed, then she turned and gestured towards the mirror. “A promise is a promise and you were so much fun. You may leave.” She disappeared into the air again. “But if you ever want to play again, just come back to me!”

Falcon and Merrick began to debate the nature of the offer and the trustworthiness of the girl, but I was already halfway to the mirror when their protests reached me. Whatever the risks, I was tired of Talon’s body and the mirror offered hope that I might regain my own, for all its flaws and difficulties I endure within it.

We emerged out the other side and I paused in the setting sunlight. Looking down, I was pleased to discover my old armor and weapons on my belt. Additionally, my wounds from the past day seemed to have healed. I turned in time to see Talon exiting from a seemingly solid rock wall. I snatched my sword back from him and sheathed it as the other two appeared as well.

We were set to leave when a white rabbit, much like the ones in the caves, hopped up to us. Merrick knelt to it, but we could all hear its voice in our heads. “The lady thanks you and wishes for you to know that she will come to you if you wish to find her again.”

Merrick got a peculiar look and asked, “And if we want to bring the lady some friends?”

“She will most gladly appear for them as well. She has left some gifts for you. Take them with her thanks!” The rabbit led us around a nearby tree and disappeared. At the foot of the tree was a wooden box. Opening it, we found it was filled with several jewels and an ornate, pearl handled axe gilded with gold. Merrick handed me the axe without asking and divided the jewels among the rest of the group.

We returned to Moab to get dinner and rest before we left the next day. It was late when we arrived and we met briefly with the others before they turned in for bed. I was exhausted as I ate and drank, while Merrick surveyed the room. Falcon took the opportunity to sing an old elven song for the tavern, while Merrick approached a table of drunks and began to speak to them.

Things seemed to be going fine when the table suddenly erupted in drunken yelling and the men, clearly excited about something, began falling over one another. One ran into Merrick and he deftly guided the man past him and into a nearby chair which promptly tumbled over to the ground. Falcon cut off his song in shock as the man climbed back up and charged Merrick, tackling him to the ground.

I casually walked over to the struggle while Falcon was busy with the others, chanting a prayer to Siem that seemed to have a calming effect on them. Without breaking stride, I picked up a nearby chair and smashed it over Merrick’s attacker. The drunkard fell to the side, unconscious, while Merrick regained his composure. I procured the man’s ale, who had clearly had enough, and sat down while the others dispersed and Falcon returned to his singing.

Merrick roused the man and continued their conversation, the conflict apparently forgotten. The man was clearly angry, but it was Merrick’s words that caught my attention as he spoke to the man of the futility of ordered society, that the world inexorably devolved to chaos. He spoke of the teachings of Naveh. He and his convert left a short while later, intent on setting the man’s life back on course as I turned in for bed. Clearly there is more to Merrick than he lets on.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 21
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 23
09
Apr
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 21

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 21
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 20
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 22

7th of Azura in the year 720 TR

We spent two days in Goshen, gathering supplies and, for the Shek-Pvar, taking much needed rest. I prefer the open road and was itching to get back on it. We set out for Moab, the next stop on our trip and the last known location of Alexander Marco.

At night, the Great One comes to me. I do not know his ends, but he clearly urges me on to some great fate. Answers, I hope, will be revealed in the mountains of Cush.

Two nights into our travels, I awoke suddenly. The Savage, ever ready, surged out and we rolled and sprang to our feet, weapons instinctively in our hands as a volley of spears fell on our camp. Merrick and Falcon were up on watch, though the former was not immediately visible and the latter was crumpled over with a spear through his side; dead, one could hope.

White skinned creatures could be seen flitting through the trees and we charged the nearest batch, hitting the first at a dead sprint and carrying it to the ground. As its chest and head split open under a pair of blows, I recognized it as a Gârgún, though stark white as opposed to the brown ones we had faced before. They died all the same and, before long, we had killed or driven off the remaining creatures.

Mai Lin identified the creatures as common to this region of Genisis while Talon extricated himself from the wagon where he had taken shelter during the attack. The Cleric of Siem’s wounds appeared to be more superficial than he had let on as he picked himself up. Talon, Merrick and Marcus also born minor wounds. I am continuously surprised at the Savage’s survivability, rarely coming out of any fight with a mark. His aggressive tactics coupled with his lethal skills rarely leave the enemy an opportunity to do him harm, a lesson to be remembered.

Scaurus’ tendency to counterattack rather than block or dodge when attacked is a dangerous gamble, but his high weapon skills means he rarely misses and tends to put enemies down quite quickly. A string of lucky die rolls (and unlucky rolls on the part of his opponents) hasn’t hurt either, though that luck has to come to an end sometime.

Though Mai Lin told the party that the White Gârgún were nothing more than a hunting party, with the main encampment likely a day or two of travel away, I sense the rest were too uneasy to sleep again and so we set out not long after. No matter, let the Other take control for awhile while I rest.

We arrived in Moab this morning and set about town gathering supplies, repairing damaged equipment and trying to gather information on Alexander. At the end of a largely fruitless day of investigating, we retired to a tavern to eat and plan for the next day.

While we drank and Echo was distracted with gorging his own belly, Merrick inquired as to why I was studying everyone in the room with us. I informed him that it was good practice to always have a plan to kill everyone you meet. He asked about two characters just getting up to leave whom he had been talking to a few moments before. “Bar stool. Short sword. In that order.” I replied. Echo caught the last bit and frowned in our direction, but Merrick seemed amused.

He gestured casually at an old man who had been watching us for some time. “His tankard of ale.” Merrick grinned and nodded subtly in Echo’s direction. “I’m still working that one out. Its complicated.” Nodding, Merrick turned and left to address the old man at his table. It didn’t take long for him to call the rest of us over. Apparently the old man knew him, and the rest of us, by name and wanted to talk.

He introduced himself as Spar Daymar and it didn’t take long for Talon to put together that he was a Cleric of Save-K’nor, the god of knowledge and so-called Sage of Heaven. Daymar believed that that someone would make an attempt on his life that evening and wanted to hire us to protect him. In exchange, he offered us information on Alexander Marco.

We agreed and retired to neighboring rooms for the night. Merrick rigged up bells to be used as a signal, should someone appear, and hid in Daymar’s room along with Falcon. Echo, Marcus and I took the room across the hall. I set up a chair not far from the door and sat, weapons in my lap, awake, vigilant and ready to spring into combat instantly.

My head jerked up as the frantic ringing of bells finally roused me from my sleep. I grabbed my weapons, which had fallen to the floor in my sleep, and rushed into the hall where I found Mai Lin trying to kick in the locked door to Daymar’s room. I slammed into it at a run, but the thick wood held until Marcus joined us and we were able to force it open.

Inside, the room was dark and hazy, almost as if it was filled with smoke. Through it, we could see Merrick dueling with a black cloaked figure near the bed. Falcon was in the corner with Daymar, trying to protect the old man. Falcon finished a spell, blasting a flash of light into the room, illuminating our enemies briefly but doing nothing to dispel the haze that clouded everything. Nearest us was a second cloaked figure. The Savage slipped forth and rushed our nearest enemy.

True to his fashion, the Savage lashed out with both weapons in a flurry of blows, ignoring the attacks of his enemies. Quickly, however, I could feel our strength lagging and his attacks becoming less effective. This enemy, it seemed, was as quick with his daggers as we were with our axes and adept at turning aside the Savage’s strikes. Our axe finally buried into his shoulder when Marcus’ shouts caught my attention just long enough to see a rain of glass shards cast from his hand bury themselves like small daggers in my back and sides of my face. The world went black and, I suppose, I passed out.

Apparently my luck ran out. This enemy was able to keep up with Scaurus in close combat and a Critical Failure on Marcus’ part was enough to knock Scaurus out of the fight with several serious wounds.

I awoke some time later to Falcon tending my wounds. Marcus was carefully plucking shards of glass out of my flesh, being careful not to meet my glare directly. Two of the men lay dead and the room was lighter than before. A third had appeared out of the haze and tried to strike out against Falcon in the midst of combat, but he had at least protected Daymar. When the other two fell, the third jumped through the second story window and out into the night. Several of the others also had serious wounds of their own and even Merrick had been knocked out during the battle, though he had struck down his own opponent in that time. We both agreed that the Shek-Pvar were no longer allowed to assist us in combat.

Daymar retired with us to another suite in the tavern to reveal more of his secrets. He has been in contact with the Shek-Pvar’s master, Lord Micah, and had been expecting them and their traveling companions. How he knew Merrick and Echo’s name remains a mystery. Throughout, he referred to me continuously as Aurelius, a name which I am unfamiliar with, though the Other reacted strongly to. Perhaps I have a name for the soul that wrestles with me for this body.

The Cleric of Save-K’nor apparently hailed from Hârn, though he traveled to Genisis a year ago with several holy artifacts and clergy in tow. Members of the senior council of his church had begun disappearing, being replaced by unknown outsiders as time went on. As a guardian of knowledge and fearing the church was being infiltrated, he fled to Lord Micah’s stronghold in Chantry Tigris. He left most of the artifacts there, but one, more important than all others, he still carried with him; a mysterious book which he showed to us. The pages were full of strange riddles and characters that meant little to us, though he conferred with it frequently during our discussions.

Micah, he reported, was currently on Hârn, investigating the threat to the Save-K’nor council. More importantly, to us anyway, Daymar believes the assassins sent to steal the book were hired by Alexander Marco. Our night concluded with another job offer; Daymar believes there is at least one place where the book might be safe. There exists some lost place atop Mount Galatia and he has hired us to escort him there.

Perhaps I also now know what it is that the Great One seeks.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 20
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 22
08
Apr
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 20

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 20
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 19
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 21

2nd of Azura in the year 720 TR (cont.)

We crawled into the mine and lit torches as the tree’s roots closed up behind us, sealing us inside. We explored the network of mine shafts, finding their supply room and tracks that led up to the collapsed entrance, a few limbs could be seen protruding from the rubble. Falcon seems particularly troubled around dead bodies, though he managed to perform a quick ritual, hastening their spirit’s journey to the other side.

Deeper in the cave, we came upon our first clue. The tunnel opened into a small chamber with a large, round, well like hole leading down. Using ropes, Merrick climbed down the twenty or so feet first to investigate, finding more tunnels. I jumped down into the hole after him, landing light on my feet and proceeding after him, while the others picked their way down. Echo’s heavy armor clearly did him no favors as I heard him tumble off the rope and down into the hole, grunting and cursing, a few moments later.

Following the tunnel on, we found a body cast on the floor. It looked like it had been torn at, by hands or by teeth I could not tell. Falcon stifled his urge to throw up and we continued on into a larger chamber. Over a dozen bodies lay about the room and rocks in various positions. Some looked like they had fallen there, bent and lying uncomfortably over large rocks, others like they had laid down to sleep.

Merrick and Marcus were the first into the room, sifting through the bodies looking for clues. I trailed after them, my torch aloft in one hand to light up the room and my sword in the other. It was Marcus’ scream that caught my attention first.

From where they lay, two of the bodies reached and clasped towards Marcus. Falling back on instinct, I surveyed the room. Merrick was also being accosted by one of the bodies that had suddenly sat up and reached out for him. Around the chamber, a number of the bodies were beginning to stir. Finally, though, my eyes set upon a crack on the far side of the room. Between two walls, too narrow for any human to squeeze through, some sort of rippling flesh was pushing through.

Falcon had picked up some lamp oil in the supply room and cast it on the ground, dropping his torch into it and creating a bonfire that lit up the room fully. Talon was already shouting out about the creature, clearly the largest threat, though the shear number of animated bodies was also concerning.

While Echo and the others ran to the aid of Marcus and Merrick, Talon and I crossed the room towards the beast. Talon went wide around the edge of the room, avoiding any of the overturned bodies, while I cut a more direct route. I could feel the Savage scrambling for control again, the Voice urging me to let him in, and, this time, I let him. The violence of the Savage surged forth with my adrenaline as we hurtled across the room.

I was vaguely aware of the bodies grasping at us. The Savage struck each one with barely a sideways glance, fixated on the eight foot mass of bone and flesh that was extricating itself from a crack far too narrow to fit its mass. The screaming. I could hear the screaming through everything. At first I thought it was my allies, being torn asunder by the bodies we were ignoring, but I later realized it was the bodies themselves. Every time the Savage struck one, it fell to the side, screaming.

In moments, we were upon the beast. Blood and flesh dribbled from its mouth as it swung at us. We easily dodged its lumbering strikes, pricking and cutting at it with our sword in one hand and our axe in the other, the torch we carried discarded somewhere in the chamber. The occasional body would join the fray and the Savage would turn and strike, quickly ending the threat and turning back to the creature. Then, a voice.

Not the Voice, but another, powerful presence, one remembered as though from a dream. The Being from our dreams that had visited us over the last few weeks, speaking to us. Urging us to calm. The Savage responded instantly, his arms falling limp at our side. This creature was the being. He held our promise, our future, our salvation. At his urging, we turned back to those I had called allies, clear to me then that they were truly our enemies.

I fell victim to the Nolah’s Charm spell. Unfortunately for my allies, I was probably the most dangerous party member for this to happen to, since few had a chance of going toe to toe with me in melee combat. Fortunately, they were quickly able to free me from the creature’s grasp.

Talon was nearest and we advanced upon him, but Echo saw our turn from across the room and the collar suddenly constricted tight, burning like some holy fire against our skin and driving us to our knees. He shouted at us, commanding us to slay the beast and, somehow, it made sense. I was confused then, but I sensed this creature was not the Being, though I had been sure only a moment earlier. The Savage was not so quick, but soon even he turned back on the creature, who seemed surprised at our betrayal.

Between our surgical strikes and the spells thrown by the Talon, the creature quickly fell. The Savage turned on the nearest screaming bodies he had left cast down around us, silencing them quickly. At first I did not mind, perceiving them as threats, though as the truth donned on me I struggled for control to stop him far too late. They were not threats, but victims of the creature’s influence as I had been. Now their deaths way heavy on my spirit as do the many other victims of my uncontrolled rage.

The Clerics and Shek-Pvar saw to treating the wounded. Most had at least minor injuries and nearly all were dehydrated and starved. Some showed signs of having eaten, though I hesitate to even think about what they had feasted upon. If they are lucky, they will not remember either. Among the survivors, an equal number of dead lie half eaten by the creature.

We took the survivors and led them up to the entrance before returning to the mine proper, intent on scouring the remaining tunnels for any additional survivors. We found one final chamber with another Ivashu brooding inside, this one a different, smelly and disgusting creature. Though I am certain I have never seen such a beast before, it felt strangely familiar.

It roared and I leaped in to attack before it could engage any of my party, intent that they should come to no harm. Our strikes against the creature seemed to heal nearly as quickly as we could impart them, though I felt my strikes drawn to its chest, wounds that seemed to bother it the most. Quicker than we expected, the massive beast fell to our strikes. Talon identified the creature as an Aklash, apparently they had encountered one before in the wilds.

With the creature slain and the mines cleared, we returned to the survivors and led them out through the tunnel reopened by the tree. We emerged to cheers and celebrations from the other workers who rushed to aid their friends and family as we emerged. Echo trumpeted our successes, laying credit for their survival to Larani. The Voice was clearly angry, bubbling deep inside in indignation.

We returned to Goshen with the survivors. Falcon called a meeting with the town elders and, as I suspected, was easily able to convince them to retire the mine. We shall see if their conviction sticks. We found Ferrin being escorted from the tavern to give him the good news. I saw a light in his eyes, not just from his intoxication, and it seemed a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders. I hope one day to feel the same sense of relief.

As the night drug on, we stopped by Craig’s home, but he did not answer our knocks, and we finally made it back to an inn for the night. Much later, we were awoken by bells summoning the guard. Talon, Marcus and Falcon went out to investigate. They returned a short while later, Falcon looking quite pale, with news.

Some of the survivors had seen that Craig was the one to collapse the tunnels and a mob of townspeople had gone to his home to confront him for his crimes. When they broke through the door, they found Craig lying in the middle of his home in a pool of his own blood. Several empty skins of ale lay on his table, a bloody knife on the floor near him and two deep gashes across his wrists.

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