Golden Palace - Ascension

From the view of a Stray

Game 6 : Demon Dwarves, marionettes and getting stoned

So that just happened?? Are we evening going to talk about it!? We discover a secret room with blood leading up to it, ok sure that’s weird, but we’re in a sieged compound. We bash in the wall ( which was built from the inside) to find a small work shop with an obviously crazed dwarf with eyes glazed over, working a mass of black stone amidst the remains of what appears to be a body. He’s emaciated, doesn’t look like he’s eaten or slept in days and yet he still works. I’m no Dwarf expert but last I checked they eat, a lot, and drink, a lot, and don’t work such obviously foul creations as he is making. He ignores my presence in the room, but as soon as the demon dog steps in, they lock eyes. All time seems to stop as the dwarf extends something to the gnoll, a race they have warred with for decades, an almost sworn enemy. After my gaze drops from the disturbing eye contact, I see what the dwarf holds, a ghastly haft comprised of the black stone, and bone and sinew from some pour unfortunate source, capped with a skull and riddled over with pulsing red veins of malicious and very evil feeling magic. I was wary of Grizh beforehand, seeing him wield this new …abomination… gives me pause, and I’ve slit my fair share of throats to lift a purse, I’m no angel.

The scholars of our group, mystical Vesmir and aged Xavardon, seem to have done some dark reading in their studies. Between their knowledge and what we can piece from the dwarves recollection, their race occasionally goes into a trance in times of need, to create stone and metal works, weapons and armor, to suit their Dwarven deities. Homage to the good gods they serve, very very rarely, a dark force besets the dwarf, and at this time, the pour soul is set to his work in a secluded place, and left to die after it is done creating the device. We don’t get much from the gnoll, due to his limited intellect I assume, I doubt he retained much, but he seems to have a new more focused goal in mind, this new weapon of his has a purpose to destroy the earth mage we are slowly closing in on.
With this all too disturbing exchange burned into my young mind, we all move to leave the room after comforting the dwarf a bit and giving him some food and water, we have more work in here, and he doesn’t seem to have anything worth stealing. I’m the last to leave and the dwarf reaches out a frail hand that still holds the strength of his race. He confides in me about his dead kin, his own brother sacrificed to make the evil weapon, and sees his own pain spark something in my eyes when he brings this up. Who does he think he is, to assume that he has felt what I have felt, lost the family and friends that I have lost, lived through the hardships I have? Sure he’s lost everyone in his life, and I can assume that hurts, but this dwarf is probably close to 200 years old or more. He lost everything in the last year at the most, so he still has 199 years of memories that he can feed on, to bring a smile to his face as he continues his long lived life. I was born to poverty, I left my home after watching my mother fade and die in our homes only bed. I’ve lived on the streets my whole life; I’ve been beaten for stumbling out of an alley and bumping into a noble, watched a righteous paladin slaughter my adoptive kin for a minor slight. I don’t have one year of happy memories, let alone 199. Let the world assume my lust for gold is just my greediness, even my companions know nothing about me, what I’m willing to do. Money can’t buy you happiness they say, well if it’s your only option, I sure expect I’ll do my best. Regardless, I accept his concern, I’ve lied my whole life, it’s made me strong, I’m who I depend on. I move out to the group, stewing over my repressed thoughts that have boiled to the surface, sure would be nice to kill something.
We descend down into what appears to be a newly constructed section of the complex, this earth shaper works quickly. He is quite slight at first appearance, in volumous robes, and standing atop a dais in the room. There is not cause for stealth so we approach. A multitude of voices, seeming to come out of the walls boom at us, accusing us of approaching, asking how we expect to beat such a force as him, it has all been foretold, it is legend. I see Xavardon taking it all in, his keen mind taking an ever running account of the world, of this speech, committing it to memory to be passed on to his kin, at least he was, until Grizh charges in to start the battle, you can tell your kin about battle tactics I guess Xav.
Immediately upon entering we take in the massive room. Around the earth shaper two massive columns form and begin rotating independently of each other, with two glowing ruins on them. The four corners of the massive room have pedestals with glowing plaques on each, depicting runes of different kinds. Lastly to either side of the central dais, flanking the room, a larger than life statue of the earth shaper and a battered and beaten dwarf stand, the ominous observers of our impending battle.
Grizh charges to a far column after his immediate prey disappears, and we soon learn the power of this geomancer. As the symbols align one of the columns flashes to life with the eerie blue magic we’ve seen, and 4 of those tentacle monsters appear from nowhere. As well, glaives, as sharp as any honed metal erupt from the ground around Grizh, slicing into him, and halting his progress. We too join into the fray, the 4 tentacle beasts splitting to engage us and the gnoll. Xavardon and Vesmir deduce quickly to eliminate the columns in an attempt to disrupt the magical effects; I look helplessly at my dagger, sure, smash a stone column, good idea guys.
I glance over to see Xav wield his vicious halberd into a column, cleaving the plate in half nicely; stone rumbles down from some unseen area and he turns to engage a beast. I watch as Vesmir is assaulted by the stone glaives, his robes, providing little defense against the attack. He’s on his own, as my honed reflexes barely allow me to evade a stone hammer, descending from the ceiling in an instant. I look to my own column to attack, just like a finely crafted suit of armor, it has a fault, and with careful precision, I slide my blade home, splitting it down the center. I put a bolt into one of the approaching monsters to kill it, as the other veers towards the immobile wizard, he’ll be alright, I think.
Grizh seems to be useless up in the corner, perhaps he’s turmoiling with his new weapon, or the earth shaper knows its power and is focusing on him, but he is stopped where he is, making no progress. Hopefully normal weapons can kill this man as well. I make a mad dash to a third column, and slash it with my sword, but I have not the musculature to defeat it. I see the symbol, and as I slowly puzzle it out, the rotating columns grind to a stop again, the flash of light around me shows me my folly, and the beasts appear flanking me on all sides. Desperate plans form in my head; I can’t possibly out race these ethereal floating monsters. Before I even enact a plan, Vesmirs shadow magic assaults the area around me, I don’t know what he did, or how I’m still alive, but two of the beasts are down, one of them dead, and the column destroyed.
Grizh seems to have overcome his poor start, and topples his column, smashing the final pedestal, and the true threat appears to our group. I see Xavardon calculate, weigh the odds and walk up to slash at the man, with his halberd, and I quickly dart in and bury my dagger into his back, wait, what, he’s made of wood, and doesn’t have a head. Upon close inspection this “man” appears to be controlled by some translucent strands of magic, suspending him. As soon as my dagger finds hold, a symbol flashes, and he disappears, showing up over by Vesmir. A spell goes off, and I’m instantly cemented to the floor, this can’t be good.
I barely see as Vesmir blasts the mancer into one of the braziers along the wall, his shadow magic lifting the puppet fully off his feet and bursting him into flame. Xavardon moves to my aid, but I quickly dismiss him to help the gnoll, who now seems to be facing the earth shaper and one of the mind control monsters. I see two of the other monsters quickly approaching me where I’m trapped in place, calling on as much dexterity as I can, I spin my torso about, blades everywhere, slicing to save my life. I do, and my part seems done for this fight as I’m stuck in place, I take a brief rest and a potion.
Vesmir has pushed the mage once more into a flaming brazier and with Xavardon’s healing, Grizh’naw the Charred, wielding his new demonic weapon, steps up and doubles the earth shaper over, his stone magics crumbling their hold over us, and our collective sigh of relief is audible in the destroyed room. We won… didn’t we, was he a puppet or the real earth shaper? Whatever we have to report back to our factions, my charge for this “simple task” has now tripled. I think I’ll get Xavardon’s help with my report, he seems good with words. A quick rest in this Dwarven complex, and back to the outside world, I miss civilization and the full pockets of drunks to pick.
Taking out the geomancer burn it down
Taking out the geomancer getting dire
Taking out the geomancer final blow

We're Going Deeper Underground : An outside look in on the party

Who are these invaders of our new home!! First we were captured by the 2 legs, and contained in their square trees. Then after days, when our hunger had grown to an insatiable level, we were set free again, what is their purpose, we hunger daily, not just after a few days, they know nothing of how we feed.

These subterranean chambers we’re in now are familiar to us, yes we’ve seen them before, they are the dark holes of the Dwarves, the tasty meaty dwarves. It would seem that there are still some of them in here as well, so scared, so succulent. We’ve hunted them all down mostly, our new home is littered with the picked clean remains, and it was nice and quiet. Then these new ones came!!

These four, with their biting blades, and burning magics! The ferocity of the big one is too much for our mental attacks. Some of us that have encountered him seemed to have an advantage, his brute size is a limitation to his mental capacity, but he preserves each time, hacking and slashing our tentacles, gouging our eyes, spilling our life force. If we can kill him we will feed for days, so big and full of tasty bits. It appears much hairier than the dwarves in here, but we’ll devour him all.

The small one doesn’t look like much to consume, although it is a plump one. Perhaps it is a young dwarf, so small it is. It proves difficult to catch, always scurrying about, and disappearing from our many eyes, we’re ever watching, but it passes undetected, meals shouldn’t do that. It doesn’t have the power of the big one, however its blades still bite at us, and often well out of range of our long grabbing tentacles. Its will doesn’t seem that potent, however his tricks hurt us, and burn us, using the dwarve’s traps to cook the younger ones, he will be a good snack if we catch him.

The robed one, with the glow to his eyes, we can sense his passing as he moves about this area. His highly magical nature, and the way he seems to have a foot in another realm is akin to our own ethereal state. He can’t possibly be one of us, and if we can just get to him his soft body will be a pure treat to eat, yes, we’ll pick him right from his bones. His magic assault us from a distance, our attempts at sneaking up on him have been thwarted by more of his power, and the assistance of his allies. He’s smart, his will is too strong for us, our tentacles and beaks will have to rip him apart, a messy but necessary means to our meal.

The final of the group is the metal one. He is old; almost as old as us perhaps, it matters not. He too has his ties to another realm, and much like the small one, he disappears from our site, only to appear all to close for our liking. His gleaming pole arm weapon, keeping him from our reach, assaulting us before we can get to him, get our many arms on his body. For one so martial, his will is also strong, having mental defenses to match his glowing armor. He’ll falter though, they always do, underestimate us, we will find a way into its mind, and we’ll consume him from the inside, then we’ll truly feast.

They are moving deeper now, now 4 levels down into this complex, our complex, how dare they come here. They are killing all of us that they find, and getting better at it. Even the leader they killed, the one large eye that rallied us against the dwarves on the upper floors, they tricked him out into the hall and cut him down. Still, there are more of us, and other things in these depths, we will have our well-deserved feast. Shutting off the dwarven traps won’t save them, it will make them confident, and un aware, and that’s when we’ll get them, that’s when we’ll eat.

Into the depths

Excerpt from the journal of Xavardon Starferval, tactical officer of the Weiss

Field Journal: Entry Four

The others sleep. I can hear the call of the feywild, and I must soon slip into my trance and relax my body as my mind continues to drive forward.

Our unit arrived at the dwarven stronghold’s underground entrance, locked by powerful magic. The magi Vesmir was quite efficient at unraveling the rune that sealed the entrance. I did see the look of recognition of the rune among both Vesmir and the scoundrel Corbin – I must keep an eye on this.

As we made our way into the underground stronghold, Vesmir conjured some werelights that helped lead the way. I had little trouble seeing in the dark, and would have preferred not to show our position by light, but not every member of our unit had this advantage. The scoundrel Corbin advised us to be cautious, just as the gnoll Grizh’naw barrelled through into an antechamber. I heard the shift in the stone as he activated a pressure plate and watched as a large bolt clipped his shoulder before he could move his large frame out of the way. Corbin took point after this, his sweeping eyes taking in the rest of the room for traps. Seeing nothing but empty crates and a skeleton, Vesmir launched a light into a chamber off to the side – only to be met by an ethereal screech. We saw creatures unknown to the world or the feywild, writhing masses of tentacles and eyes that appeared to be drawn to the areas of the room piled with dead rats. Grizh’naw rushed in with Corbin, who spared me a glance to point at the skeleton. I agreed immediately and rushed to action, picking up the bones and tossing them to the room, attempting to distract the creatures. The plan was solid, based on our limited knowledge, but tactical errors occur; the countermeasure was ineffective and we had to face the full force of the creatures. The mage conjured his powerful shadows, and between us we dispatched the foul beasts.

Exploration after this point was far more cautious. Vesmir kept the light closer to our party as Corbin swept the corridors for traps. He disabled traps deftly, with precise hands. I continue to be impressed by the young Halfling; however he fails to realize how much more he could become through militant training. His ancestors were proud warriors I stood by in the wars that ravaged this land many years ago; I cannot help but wonder how they would feel if they saw this young man – So obviously skilled, but so improperly channeled that he became a thief and assassin. I watch as he barely ducks to avoid a flame trap that he was attempting to disarm. I realize as he barely has to move that these traps were set up to allow for ease of movement of smaller races – dwarven traps made to stop those that are taller. Corbin effectively disabled one trap, jamming it so that the gout of flame was stopped, but the fix was temporary.

We came upon another doorway, and before entering, we heard noises similar to those we heard after Vesmir offended the tentacle beasts with his magic illumination. We were determined to take a more tactical approach this time, something I was proud of seeing – our party was becoming a positive unit. Vesmir claimed capability to mimic the screech the previous shoal of beasts that attacked us. Corbin claimed releasing the traps should effectively hamstring some of the force, and so we readied ourselves to break the jam on the first trap and release the second. This plan was more effective, and we headed off some of the smaller creatures. A shout from Vesmir indicated a second entrance to the room opened and a much larger beast was coming out – similar to the smaller masses of eyes, but much larger and predominately covered in a beak-like maw. I saw Grizh’naw rage as his partner was threatened, and I decided firm action was necessary. I placed my hand on the gnoll’s forearm and transferred myself to the feywild, bringing Grizh’naw with me. With a simple step, we reappeared in the line of fire. I tried to keep the beings at bay while Grizh’naw waded into the fray, and I watched in horror as the tentacles touched his head and he seemed unable to fight. I viciously cleaved the beast with my halberd, but there always seemed to be more tentacles attacking the gnoll and incapacitating him. Our group fought valiantly and soon enough the creatures faded to the mist and we were recovering from the challenge.

Our sweep of the rest of the first level showed some interesting features. A forge appeared to be heavily trapped, and Corbin indicated that the disabling mechanism could be reset, though he didn’t know where. With previous finds of hidden doors and hastily made traps, this stronghold is becoming more dangerous to both us and whatever was in here with us. Corbin also uncovered and dispatched a very dangerous trap involving the stills and alchemist’s fire, and a sealed door that sucked in metal objects. The traps all appear to be designed to prevent us from descending further, and with a farm and brewery present within the stronghold, the area appears to be designed to hold whatever is down further without needing to leave. I have to wonder now how disadvantaged we will be tracking the earthshaper through a mountain, but the needs of the army requires it.

My orders are clear. My directive is laid out. The only shroud that troubles my mind is the ever-growing darkness of the descent, and my worry that we may not be on the offensive within this stronghold, but playing into a more powerful gambit than we know.

Can We Kill Yet?
Jackal in Hide's POV

I dream of savagery. Of our last battle. Me and my pack. Vesmir from beyond with the power of the gods, to whom I owe my life. Xavardon, who is showing some battle prowess despite lacking a fiery passion for blood and destruction. And the annoying little gnat, who keeps scampering away, afraid to face his foes face-to-face.

… And then I am abruptly awoken by the scrawny warlord, his eyes glowing, alerting us to the arrival of a human on a horse. I think he’s called Bob. I watch them talk and wonder and plan. I’m tired and hungry. The recent slaughter only wet my appetite for more blood. As they continue to talk, my eyes begin to doze…

When I awake again, it seems as though plans have been made, and we are heading north. By foot.

We stop at a small village, and the gnat prowls around in search of shiny things. I look at Vesmir, urging him to keep moving. But then the eladrin spots a tombstone with blue mountain flowers atop it, with the name of some dwarf inscribed upon the stone. Blunthammer or something like that. My stomach is growling, so I take out a limb from our last battle and being to gnaw away. Finally, we’re on the move again, heading north. Lots of talk of some sort of ‘earthshaper’.

We arrive at what seems to be a dwarven encampment. The others discuss strategy, and I overhear something about killing, and my blood begins to run a bit faster a bit thicker. Stray and Vesmir (in dog form) attract attention via a campfire, while Xav and myself stay at a distance. Once we hear combat, we rush in only to find the gnat has taken care of two men alone. He kills quick, I’ll give him that, but this means there’s nothing left for me to decimate. More talking. And now it’s time to pick the lock on the gate.

After our first kill, they ask me to prop the gate open with the corpse while they lure out more combatants with Vesmir’s magic sound spell. Although luring the enemy to you is not an honorable form of combat, Vesmir and Stray take care of the first batch with cunning and illusionary shadows. I carefully step past the shadows to engage the next battle. I see a dual-wielding elf who looks worthy of battle, and I charge at him. Meanwhile, I see the gnat scurrying away from battle again, out of the corner of my eye, and Xavardon backing me up from behind. I notice an eladrin who seems to be calling out orders, and he is pointing at Vesmir. Archers begin aiming at my savior. A couple of swings by the elf send me reeling, but Xav’s new, glowing armor seems to quell my pain and stop the bleeding, at least for now. More magic. After a valiant battle with the elf, I pound him to the ground, while Xav stabs his new shiny halberd through his chest. I check on Vesmir again, and he seems to be unconscious. It looks like the gnat is tending to his wounds…

Now for the eladrin. I charge in to finish this half-man-half-woman off, which brings the battle to a close. Xavardon and the gnat won’t let me kill the remaining enemy, so that they can ‘talk’ to him. Guess it’s feeding time, then. As I chow down on our victims and claim some trophies in honour of the fallen Bloodmane, the rest of my pack inquiry into the locked gate that leads to what seem to be underground, dwarven tunnels… this could be fun – I’ve never mass-slaughtered dwarves before…

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On the Hunt - Reflections of a Stray

Well that could have gone better!! All in all, we’re alive, or at least we all are now, and who would have thought my first theft 11 years ago, would come in handy to save my life. Anyway, lets get this in some semblance of order.

After some quick scouting in the desert, we’ve managed to find the trail of the Yellow Hand, not too hard, even considering the shifting landscape we are pitted against, they still travel with wagons, and make an easy trail. We encountered a small outpost, and myself, and Girzh’naw opted to take a higher route above the small chasm we walked in, I opted for stealth, whereas the mutt seems not to understand that concept. The Eladrin, in true noble fashion, walked straight up, while the rest of us skulked, stalked and stealthed, what a good little soldier.

Upon our presence being known, it was clear there was no talking with this miscreants, and the battle was afoot. The minor foot soldiers our front proved little issue, however the hulking brute that emerged from the hut, came in to cut swaths into both the Eladrin and the Gnoll with his deadly reach. Vesmir quite successfully wreaked havoc from a distance, until some of my brethren appeared on the roof, few such as halflings are as deadly with sling stones, and the poor wizard was pelted. Avoiding the straight fight, it would seem a runner has left from the house, without him spotting me, I throw a dagger. And it would seem I lose it too as I fly well off the mark. In frustration, I call on some more skill, but it would seem I’m depleted, and that flies off the mark as well. With curses I scale the wall, and close with the man, getting in close I quickly disembowel him. As I round the corner and my party disappears from my watchful view, I see that the wizard has been to devastating effect against the foot soldiers, his nasty whispering magics ripping both the ones on the ground to pieces as well as those up on the rooftop. Unfortunately for him, he’s drawn the full wrath of the halflings, and his body lays prostrate over a small hill, perhaps dead. Grizh and Xavardon are working in perfect unison, flanking on their larger foe dispatching him, and his lessers with ease, good work front liners! The halflings seem to be fleeing, but unfortunately for them, they seem to have chosen a precarious rubble wall to escape over, with a quick search for the “loadstone”, I topple it below them, dispatching the halfling at my feet, while the Gnoll covers great distance with his long strides to bury his wicked axe in the other…. i try not to take it personally as he slices into the halfling.

We search the camp, finding a lovely cloaking dagger which I claim as my own ( hopefully I’ll have more luck with this ) , and magical cloth robes that seem to have the capacity to produce items at will, oh yes, and an unconscious wizard, which we revive and gift the robe to. Xav also procured a small map that directs us to a nearby town where the Yellow Hand seems to be at, and where this band was moving on to next, and we head off. I quickly add a halfling sized shirt with the Yellow Hand symbol on it, just incase a disguise/ change of allegiance is in order, a street rat must always be prepared.

We come to the outpost town after some travel time. Vesmir and I do some scouting, at which I reveal my alternate form to the company, this way they can spot me in my scouting, and the gnoll will know not to eat me, although I’m not sure if that knowledge is registered, or considered. We learn that this seems to be a shanty town, and they are using the river to transport their goods around to the troops. There seems to be some obvious commanders, and a contingent of dwarven cross bow men on the rooftops, which could prove quite troublesome for a ground assault, making the streets a kill zone. A plan is formulated, and I am going to do some guerilla tactics, taking out some of the rooftop snipers, and then the group will move in from a different portion of the town. Xavardon hands me a healing potion , stating I may need it, in case I get in trouble on my own, pfft, like that’ll happen. I head off, with all the stealth I can muster, and easily gain access to one of the buildings. Preparing myself, and my new dagger, I find shadow under the stairs and wait while a guard comes to investigate the sounds I chose to make. Unsuspecting, my blade slides home to deadly effect, and I lower him to the ground. One down, a few more to go.

My next target is on the rooftop, and will require some more stealth to not be noticed by the others, I move into place perfectly, however lose track of my blade as the guard turns unexpectedly, and I smash my hand into the wall. With a curse, far more audible than I wanted, my ruse is up, before it barely began, and they are alerted. I see from my rooftop perch, that my companions have come into the fray, to be met by the cross bow men. Grizh’naw the charred, the brave, the stupid? boldly charges a large human in armor, and wielding a great halberd, who iis then joined by an elf companion, wielding dual blades, they go to quick work flanking the man-beast. Luckily he is no novice to combat, blocking their blades, and still managing to keep them on their heels from his savage attacks. Xavardon, seems waylaid by one of the dwarves, now wielding a mace, and he continues to take bolts from the deadly crossbows on a regular basis. Even so, he manages to dispatch his foe, and wade in to help the gnoll, shouting commands, and bolstering our ally as he gets closer… I should have stayed with the group.

The wizard meanders through the buildings, and begins a deadly game of tag on the rooftops. Luckily for the skilled caster, his powerful blasts of magical energy, have far more effect than the small hand crossbow bolts. He begins picking off the dwarves, shooting them off the roof tops to great effect, he seems to be taking a few hits as well, but he is resilient, and has learned not to underestimate the ranged attacks from our previous battle. I however, haven’t seemed to learn from any of my mistakes. I dispatch the rooftop guard, however, I can hear the patrol below closing, more dwarves, and a human wielding a mace and well armored. Finding what little cover I can, I hide, waiting for their approach. From the cover of the dead dwarf, I strike out at my unexpecting foes as they come up the stairs, although what is coming to be quite expected, I miss horribly, blowing my cover, and squaring off against this well armed foe, in a FAIR FIGHT!!… I should have stayed with the group. After trading some very unsuccessful strikes against this foe, I am thankful for the potion I received from forward thinking Xavardon, as I quaff it, take a quick moment to catch my breath, and leap from the building, bruised, and taking to a tactic I know far better, fleeing. I sneak into a small notch of the building, and take a moment to gauge my options.

What worked before may surely work again, I stealth out in the shadows beneath the stairs to await my prey, however, with larger foes, an added perk may be needed. With a small smirk, I pull a bag of marbles, my first pilfering , from a large bully when I was a youth, i sprinkle them at the base of the stairs, hoping for a lack of dexterity in my foes. They come down, the dwarf first, not wanting him to spoil my trap, I slash at him from hiding, giving up my cover, but removing him from the equation with a quick pierce of my blade. Next comes the human, almost fully healthy and seeing me now without my cover. Praise halfling luck, his eyes stay on me, and not on the floor, and he quickly slips on the marble trap, as he loses control beside me, i lash out at the opportunity, burying my blade deep in him. He strikes me from the ground, clipping my knee and taking me closer to the edge of death, but not wanting to go alone, I descend upon him, burying my dagger to the hilt in my now prone foe. Taking but a moment to gather my strength after his death, I head out, the rest of the group hopefully fared better than I.

I come to the roof in time to see the bolt covered wizard dispatch the last of the dwarves, he’s quite successfully cleared the roofs, and eliminated the kill zone that was the streets. Grizh appears quite wounded, but with Xav now at his side, the two fight back to back, eliminating the flank of the Yellow Hand commanders. The Eladrin shows his races skill with the blade, and quickly dispatches the elf, slicing him cleanly in half, before he phase steps to flank with the human and his deadly halberd. The human, strategically seems to stop beating on the gnoll who should have died many wounds ago, and turns on the Eladrin, who is already weakened. Xavardon falls with a ghastly wound from the Halberd, which simply spurs on the enraged Gnoll at the site of another fallen companion, or it’s the excessive blood, i know not still, that one is confusing in his simplicity. Regardless, Grizh lays into the man, bowling him over with his axe and beating him to the ground, and without allies, he succumbs to his wounds.

We all rush to Xavardon, easily the most noble of us, and most deserving of aid, to attempt to bind his wounds, I worry that Grizh will just lick his wounds to heal him, and i hope I get there before any infection sets in. Luckily, Xav seems to revive, perhaps his constitution is slightly hardier than his heritage gives him credit. Regardless, we are alive, if quite beaten and bruised. If I thought the battle with the canines at the base camp a test of our ability to fight together, this was surely a battle of our ability to survive by our own devices, as we all surely fought separate battles. A lesson to be learned…don’t split up the party.
Marbles sneak attackRooftopStreet fighters

The Base Camp - From the Journal of Stray
Finally my days shadowing this opulent faction, the Grisa, has paid off, well not in a monetary way, but I’m a patient man. They appear to have met up with two other militant forces, in some form or lieutenant and officer base camp, where they seem to be organizing their combined forces. With a lack of an in to this group, as of yet, I’ve had to rely on my more stealthy nature to figure out a way in.

Thankfully for them, my skill set seems far more advanced than the scouts they have been sending out into the deserted lands, as their scouts have been unsuccessful recently, so it would seem a forward display of my skills seems the best way to gain their favor. Upon presenting myself to them, they are wary, and look down on me for my background, but a group as plotting as the Grisa will have a surplus of dirty deeds that need doing, so I’m still confident in my choice of ally.

I’m escorted, under guard, to an audience with Farrick, a half – elf in ceremonial armor, and to Amilian, the leader of the Grisa as near as my intelligence has gathered in watching this group. I appear to have been lotted up with a further set of allies, and a motley crew we are for sure. There is a young Eladrin, at least I think he’s young, it’s so hard to tell with them, I’ve spotted him in the camp, he seems associated with the Weiss faction, and to have a good deal of military experience. The other Duo I’ve noticed in with me, is kind of impossible to miss! The “human” seems to read each of us in the room with a very intelligent and calculated gaze, he seems to read into everyone a bit too much for my liking, I’ll limit my communication with him. Luckily for him, he’s plain as can be next to the 7 ½ foot behemoth he seems to have allied with. This gnoll is fearsome looking even for his kind, covered in burns and scars, sporting a dual bladed axe and an excess of strength. He seems in a barely contained rage at all times, for his sake, I hope his companion keeps him reigned in, the older soldiers here seem to remember the Gnolls of previous wars, and eye him cautiously.

It would appear that all of us have either been conscripted or “volunteered” to work together, as a scouting party for this conglomerate of factions. There appears to be some interesting infighting between Farrick and Corone, who I’ve learned is of the Red Water Loyalists, and her second in command , the grizzled dwarf, Dune Warsaw, seem to assess each of us, and don’t appear impressed. Their current plight seems to be with the Yellow Hand Rebels supply chains. These peasantry from my home lands seem to have finally gotten tired of their lack of food. At least this group of factions, seems to have the right idea, if the peasants are starved, and fighting for more food, take what they covet most, and they may be able to crush this rebellion with a minimal loss of life. There also seems to be talk of some officers, of which Weigref is one of them, the Eladrin militant, Xavardon, seems to know lots about him, from what I’ve gathered of his brief history lesson to the members of the tent, Weigref is the same man that drove the peasant armies hard in the Gold Expansion War, raping the lands with his slash and burn tactics, and then dismissing the army when it was over. The peasantry must be desperate indeed to rally under such a man once more.

We’re dismissed with vague plans to look for the rebel supply train to the south, and then steal what’s best, shouldn’t be too hard, and destroy the rest, and learn what we can , but to not engage, the officers. As we depart the tent, there are cries to arms coming from the gates, and as we approach the cliff there appear to be a pack of dogs attacking the base, I don’t fully believe they aren’t drawn to the smell of the gnoll.

All seeking to prove ourselves to our new doubting bosses, we each jump to action. The “Human” , Vesmir as I learned in the tent, instantly shape changes into a dog, and begins to bark at the dogs, his background is definitely not human! Regardless, I’ll take his distraction as cue, and quiet as can be, I stealth down the wall and move out to engage the beasts. Unfortunately the canines spot me, so I sneak in amongst the tents, let them come to me on my terms.

As I back into the tents, it seems diplomacy didn’t work, and the dog/man changes back to a humanoid form, moving along the wall, he eyes up a target, and with some intricate hand movements, a shadow shoots from his outstretched hands to take out one of the dogs in one hit. He calculates the distance and moves on down the wall calmly, mental note, don’t attempt to run from this one.

I glance back as I take cover, to see the beast begin to engage the fray. He initially seems to jump off the cliff, however with a quick move of his clawed hand, he seems to slide successfully the full 30 feet down the wall, not missing a beat, he emerges from the dirt cloud, axe in hand and a feral snarl to his face. He takes a bite to the leg with the first dog he engages, and he barely flinches and just snarls at the beast. He has an intelligence in his eyes, however dim, that shows he knows what he’s doing, and his ferocity is beyond any I’ve seen growing up on the streets. I’ll keep him at a safe distance, but in site.

With the beast, or Grizh as he seems to be called, drawing the attention of the beast, I take my moment to show my stuff. Some fancy footwork to get myself out from the tents, I see the dogs attention, well on the larger dog, with a quick spring, and practiced precision, I bury my dagger in the dog. Confident in the beasts death, I continue into a flip off the Gnolls soldiers, may as well give these fancy nobles a show. Mid air, I see as the Eladrin soldier, seems to instantly assess the situation, and just walks off the cliff. As is the tendency of their race, he disappears in a portal, appearing at the base of the cliff, crouched in the dissipating dirt cloud, drawing his gleaming long sword. He moves into the fray, shouting a command at the gnoll to move it, and unbelievably the creature obeys without question, setting them up on either side of the dog, while he buries his blade cleanly through the beasts spine.

Hearing cries from the gate, I sprinted off, to see a guard out there, crippled to one knee. With one dog with it’s skull smashed in, but another closing in for the kill, i make a quick wish for some luck on my side, I spin a dagger from my hand with all the skill I can. My luck holds true, the dagger flies past the kneeling guards ear, to bury into the dogs chest, felling the creature. A quick turn and a bow to the main tent, I see the battle is almost over. Vesmir up on the hill appears to have taken out two dogs more, one on the threshold of a tent, and the last I catch a glimpse of as, an area inside a tent he is intent on begins to fill with howls and dark whispers. The barks and growls of the dog quickly changes to cries and whimpers , then silence. The intent look on the wizards eyes are disturbing as he scans the grounds for more foes, I promptly averted my eyes.

The clean up begins, as I move about the camp, “helping” with the dead outside the gate, and checking in with my new allies. Xavardon seems intent on seeing how he can best help the Weiss faction, such a good little soldier. Grizh seems to have reverted to his primal nature, and is consuming a dog he killed. I strike the image from my memory and make a note to never share a meal with the beast. Vesmir has moved down to the tents , and seems intent on searching the beasts. His skill set is most definitely in the arcane, and he deduces that one of the dogs is carrying a scroll, either designed to deliver or receive a message. The fact that it is coming directly into the camp, we all begin to speculate, was a spy getting sent information, or is one of the factions sending information out to the enemy on their move to the north? He speaks on some form of tracking system with the canines relating to the lights on their chests, and how the ones in the tent is brighter,I stop listening and move on…scholars. The scroll is found in the Red Water Loyalists tents, and Dune seems distraught, and immediately goes to consult with Corone. I make my way up the hill to report to Amilian, who graciously seems to give me a nod of …. respect ….. admiration ….. acceptance, whatever it is, it wasn’t a sneer of disapproval, I can feel my coin purse getting heavier already, and not just from the young upstart guards contribution. He seems wary of the other factions, handing me a note, and telling me to stay alert when I’m out there of the others actions, like you have to tell a street rat orphan to be alert and suspicious of everyone.

The scouting party, I guess thats what we are now, are allotted some tents, and are directed to head off in the morning on our quest. However, as night sets in, my work is only just beginning, I head off to the larger peasant forces below. Desperate soldiers are always eager with drink, and lose with stories, and their coin purses, may as well see what money I can make in a game of dice before I leave “civilization” and my daily company is the militant Xavardon, mysterious Vesmir and the … mangy Grizh. We certainly were effective here, I suppose a quick allegiance isn’t necessarily NOT in my best interests.
Base camp


Once per session, I aim to have either myself or one of you enter a log of what happened during the session. It can be 1st or 3rd person perspective, as long as it keeps everyone in the loop!


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