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Tales of Khara Thel

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Writing Update

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There’s two books that must be finished before  writing returns to Khara Thel, however, my good friend is writing tales that take readers into the less known parts of the world. The Borderlands around the Duchy of Amblehock where the god Pendor’s influence benignly watches. These lovely tales of adventure are like the first part of Lord of the Rings. Naive yet brave young souls set out to find the world more perilous than they realised.

With some luck my good friend may gain me the aid of his agent. Perhaps things will upscale for Khara Thel.

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[PUBLISHED] Bounty for the Taking: Book Two

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Bounty for the Taking, a fantasy action series in the world of Khara Thel now has its second volume complete. Available on Smashwords and on Kindle for US$6.50. There will be a special coming up for Christmas season.

Book One
A mission to assassinate an orcish king, the spirit of a great demiurge wants a new body, and ogre raiders with a bounty on their heads for the taking. The three brothers Skarsayer are drawn through action and adventure towards a life-shattering revelation. A Tale of Khara Thel.
Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/74740
Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/Bounty-Taking-Book…B005DERN76

Book Two
A witch-cursed earring has seized the mind of a legendary sea captain. An uprising of bandits has seen a war-chest attract freelances and mercenaries to the fief of Anatol and Cavis begins to doubt if they are truly bandits that the lords are warring against. Staifcairn tries to fulfill his pact with the shade of a demiurge and complete his search for a Professor-Regent of the college of archmages. Kragor continues deeper on his path towards greatness and darkness. Join the brothers Skarsayer, and Kragor the Conqueror, on their trials and adventures across the strongly realised magical world of Khara Thel.
Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/265303
Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/Bounty-Taking-Book…B00AOF5WD6

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Winter’s End: Sessions update (29-32)

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After tracking the cultists into a fortress at the end of a grotto the party blitz-assaulted their base and routed the forces. Villagers were rescued and politicking carried out. It was the magic on one of the girls who shed light on the leader of the cultists, Milel, being a mage of some sort. Milel had been feeding on the girls essence. The forces were tracked to their rallying point at Anvil Rock. A defense was prepared and battle sought that night. A mantlet assaulted from the front and scouts tried to infiltrate the rear. It was another rout. Too well-organized and supported by a pack of summoned Dire Wolves the cultists never stood a chance. Until Milel drained the girl almost to her death and summoned a huge earth elemental. It collapesd the fortress around them methodically. All escaped with minor injuries and camped in the cold night. Milel escaped and probably with what ever they were trying to dig up.

The Sheriff took the villagers back to their homes. The allies (Lorco, the vampire hunter, Dalldra, the axe-woman, and Artan the wizard) continued to accompany the party. They had split ways and were beyond the borders of Vrim. Milel’s forces were tracked for two days when it became apparent they were headed towards the Keep of Kentos. That was one of the locations the Vampire Queen Marcelline could have been. It was only another day and everyone was convinced it was no coincidence: Milel was her servant.

One night they were awoken by Lorco calling out, “Be gone in the name of the Rose.”
He had turned some form of undead creature. Perhaps a wraith or a shade.
Later it came back and Felghanis rebuked it – gaining command. It was cemented now that the queen had sent this as a scout – this Allip. With agreement Fel’ pushed it away and Lorco destroyed it.

The next day they were within sight of the keep. Spells and familiars scouted the fortification. It was stout with an outer curtain wall and inner bailey where the donjon sat proudly. At least 40 lesser undead guarded the walls and manned the gatehouse. It didn’t inspire confidence. They had to act soon. Kalista was able to make out their shelter from the walls with her Arcane Eye spell. That meant anyone else could see it as well.
As they prepared the buzzing they had not noticed caught their attention as it rose to a thrumming drone. Lorco whipped open the shutters.
“Swarm!” He yelled, and loosed a fireball.
Slamming the shutters closed he looked pale and scared. “Locusts… a mountain of them.”
They fell upon the secure shelter like some kind of dark wave and the party shuffled closer together, touching shoulders, looking nervously at the roof.
“They can’t eat stone. We need more protection,” Don’ said. “That spell, the one that shapes stone.”
The roof was under assault. A multitude of nibbling mandibles were working their way through the old seasoned timber. Kalista shaped the stone floor up into a dome with fine holes for air. It was only a few minutes before the roof collapsed and the locusts filled the shelter with their angry insect noise. The cold was too much for them and before long they were silent. Goran was sent out by Fel’ to find out what happened. The locusts were all frozen in great swathes of icy chitin.
Dalldra freed them with a few swings of her axe and the gathered their supplies.
“We have to act now.”
They advanced through the strong wind driven snow. As the ground turned rougher and more steep they stopped to prepare their forces. Kalista cast speak with animals and as she was preparing a summons something fell from the sky exploding in rain of burning oil and potsherds.
“Catapult!” It was Lorco who yelled.
They broke and ran for their lives. The girl, Nullia had fallen and it was Don’ who bound her wounds and hoisted her over his shoulder.
Chests heaving and throats raw from the icy air they gathered in a gully’s steepest point between two hard rocky outcrops. The rest of the plan was put into action and Nullia was left behind.
The dire bats were enhanced and the flew out into the snowy gusts.
As the closed on the wall, a mere 200 feet away, large arrows streaked into their flight. The first bat fell, and then the second, but the others were fast enough to respond to Kalista and catch the falling allies.
On to the walls they assaulted the watch tower. Inside they fought skeletons and Felghanis seized control of their animus. Then they stormed the gatehouse. Dalldra’s axe splitting the door in one massive strike. Here they found a Rot Reaver, running for its hide, and skeletons poured down from above – only to be struck to dust by Lorco’s turning.
The keep’s walls were breached and the gatehouse taken, but the donjon remained to be stormed.

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Kiltayre: Session 20 review, part 2

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A large pavilion tent had been raised in the courtyard of the keep. The stables were cleared out and long sheets of silk were being hung as if to dry. Don’ looked it over in awe. A small fortune was in front of him.

“Ah, Ghanis,” Tovran addressed Felghanis. “I’m glad you have brought your friends. We have found something… odd. Perhaps you can tell what it is?”

The bottle that he showed them was polished iron with a brass stopper. Inlaid in silver were arcane runes and glyphs. It had a faint trace of magic when Kalista cast her spell. Together Fel and Kalista figured out what the Iron Flask did and reported to Lord Mikhail Tovran.

“It’s an Iron Flask. It’s used to summon creatures from other planes into the container. With the right command words one can release them into  a service after which they return. This one has a fine crack in it, like it was only ever meant to be used once.”

“Where was it found?”

The guards showed them the base of the path to the Sipran Keep. Don’ checked carefully for depressions in the mud under the snow and he found some. Five sets of boot print at least three of which were people in armour. Again the guards of Vrim were awed with his skills.

It was now that Kalista confessed her encounter with Jonas and Mellevictus.

“I gave them the book,” she said.

“You what?” Felghanis yelled. Then he stamped about cursing in Draconic until Lord Tovran’s face wrinkled in disgust.

“Cease this man’s rantings. They offend my ear,” he ordered the guards.

Kalista explained.

“Jonas was… friendly. He willingly offered information. There’s a conjunction coming, of the stars and planets, and that’s worsening the winter. It is only in this time that the Fimbulwinter can be brought back and the Church aim to stop that by securing all the books in the Vatican. Under the Saint’s own protection they will be safe.”

“But they’d only need one book to prevent anyone performing the ritual.” It was Donhallan’s stoic logic.

“The only reason to have them all is to perform the ritual,” Felghanis agreed, then frowned. It didn’t bode well when the agreed about the diversion in this very keep.

“Nevertheless, they have the book and when we left I tried to scry its location but it was nowhere in this town. However the third book is here and we must find it. Jonas said there is a portal in the keep that leads to a library and that is where the third book of Fimbulwinter resides.”

Tovran swore them to secrecy and allowed them into the keep.

“Lady Murelle showed me this many years ago. It will not allow you back through for some time so you must be sure you want to pass.”

Everyone went through the shimmering field and on the other side were met with the grisly corpse of Goran. His body cleaved from shoulder to navel.

Felghanis quickly cast Speak with Dead and pulled back Goran’s memories. They moaned and wailed.

“Let me go.”

There was no such mercy. Of the three questions only one bore good fruit. It was Jonas who had the Iron Flask. When the spell ended the sigh of Goran’s mind leaving sent chills down their spines. The dwarves were nervous and kept looking at the portal which would not let them out.

A large shaft let in a soft pink light and in that diffuse glow was a table and three large chairs. All around bookshelves were well-stocked and there must have been a thousand books in that place.

“I didn’t know there were so many books in the world,” Donhallan mused aloud in wonderment.

Felghanis snorted.

Bloody tracks led about the shelves but they were so crossed the Don’ couldn’t tell if it was one shelf they stopped at or all of them.

The cornices were in a strange script and whilst the others helped with the tracks Felghanis deciphered them.

Stonecrest Library

Davinus, Lord of Kiltayre across all planes

Page, spine and tome. Wisdom across the ages.

Branner, Marquis of the High Western Fief.

“The book is not here”, Kalista sighed after what seemed like hours of searching.

In the next chamber they found a large statue of a bearded man seated on a large throne. The whole thing was on a dais and the inscription, although in an old form, was legible to all of them.

Davinus, Great-thane of Kiltayre.

Ahead was the last doorway. As Felghanis and Kalista walked through they felt the pull of teleportation magic. Sound still passed through and they were able to reassure Aenir and Kellor enough to follow.

Polished flagstones lined the colonnade on which they now stood. In the centre was a kind of square full of tables and what was like a forest of bookshelves beyond that. Felghanis squealed with delight.

Everyone else looked at him wide-eyed. They’d never heard him make such a noise or look that excited about anything.

I didn’t think he had it in him,” Aenir mumbled.

A vigorous discussion of higher arcane-physics was being held at one edge of the square. One elf seemed to be holding a kind of impromptu lecture. It was going well until a half-orc began to counter the elf’s points and the others left as they argued.

Excuse me,” Kalista said to a handsome man.

The man smiled pleasantly and looked up at her. His eyes were purple and his skin had a silver glow about it.

I’m sorry… but what are you?”

Quite alright. I am Brannighan and well it’s a bit complicated really. You see my father was an angel and my mother an archon. I suppose that rally makes me free of the heavenly host since I am neither. For that I am ever thankful.”

They talked briefly and Brannighan warily cast a spell, announcing it to everyone, to determine Kalista’s place in ‘the way of things’.

His eyes began to glow blue and he said gravely, but with kindness, My dear. I am afraid you shouldn’t be here.”

It wasn’t long before Kalista had asked about the Scours. Brannighan had heard that such people were in the library.

I will  look for them if you promise to wait here. Out there, people are much less… civil.”

Kalista nodded like a child. Brannighan had effortlessly cast an Arcane Sight, a tier four spell, that she only just recognised. If he was nervous then she was doubly so.

He had been gone and Kalista had shaken off most of the reverie that had come over her from being in this place and talking with Brannighan. Like Felghanis she thought to read a book that was here. It took her little time to find one and she noted that all her companions had begun to read a volume or three – like Felghanis.

Felghanis was just beginning to concentrate on the text in the Draconic tongue when a gentle voice said, “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking for someone. That happens to be my expertise, people and things; finding them that is. Who are you looking for?”

Felghanis answered, “Four men and a woman in armour bearing a quadrant of grey green blue and black. Some have heraldry on it. A red bear rampant on a black field with a gold poleaxe.” He described the complex healdry of the Inquisition Exarcanum that Mellevictus and Frellan wore.

Why ever would they have those symbols?” The thin man seemed taken aback. “It matters not,” he dismissed it with hand-wave. “They left the library a few hours ago. It was quite odd because not long after it seemed they were followed by two women and two girls. All of them having come from the same private room that you and your friends did.”

That surprised Felghanis, “After; are you sure?”

“Yes, quite. Perhaps we can come to an arrangement for me to find them for you?”

What would that be?”

You take this little quartz crystal statue to a tomb in the Iron Teeth Mountains and place it on the bier, there.”

Why? What will that do?”

The strange man, who had eyes the colour of rust and ruddy-grey-skin drawn taught over a thin frame suddenly stood up. “Never mind. Thank you for your time.”

Felghanis blinked as the man strode quickly through the forest of shelves and was lost from his sight. He picked up the book and went off to find the others to report.

Brannighan approached them all. “I have found where they went. To the Beaming Censer hotel, but they have left through the North Gate. This is bothersome because they may not find their way back to the same place as the one they arrived from.”

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Kiltayre: Session 19 review, part two

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Felghanis was hustling along through the snowstorm. The wind would have frozen their lips shut but Kalista’s spell protected them so well it felt like a cool autumn wind. Still, their visibility was cut severely by the heavy fall of wind driven snow, and what sounds they could hear were only from a few yards away. It was like the world had gone grey all about them even the colour of the sound had been washed out and lessened.

“Jonas is in the Sipran Keep. I just know it,” Felghanis said. “If you can Locate Object for a Ursa Bellor heraldry piece we’ll know.”

They debated briefly but Kalista did as Fel’ suggested.

“Odd. There’s one that way. On the other side of that mill, I guess.”

“It could be Thiridea.”

“It could be Jonas. They’re the only two with the Ursa Bellor heraldry who could be anywhere near here. So much for Jonas being in the Sipran Keep.”

Felghanis pushed the pace and the form of the keep loomed above them in the white-grey of the snowstorm. As soon as the young necromancer saw the path leading to the gatehouse he broke into a full run, but the path was treacherously icy and he slipped. It jarred his wrist but he stood up and pressed on. The others took it slower and safer.

The gates were open, it seemed to Fel, but as he closed to a distance where detail was apparent he realised the half a foot of oak was severed as if by a massive chopper; the wood might as well have been nothing more than straws of carrot. Guards lay about in pools of blood, their bodies cleaved open in a pile of still steaming innards, each looking like they were cut down in a single massive blow. When the others arrived at the gate Felghanis was already in the main hall; guards, men, maids and children were in blood-drenched piles.

Somewhere above an inhuman voice laughed, “This door will not stop me.”

“Coward!” Felghanis yelled in challenge, the most real feeling of anger he had sensed in years. He moved past the dead and saw bloody hoof prints led up the stairs. Don, Kalista, and the dwarves caught up to him.

A splintering sound echoed from above. Screams and the smashing of armour reached the party’s ears. Together they raced up the steps in time to see an onyx skinned figure draw its double handed sword from the body of a retainer.

It faced back towards them and laughed. “More to the slaughter. Kill everyone in the keep.” It began to rush forward.

Felghanis uttered the curse of Blindness but it seemed to shrug off the magic. Don’s dogs were invisible, they could smell the infernal stench of the creature, and even though scared the hounds leapt into the battle.

Kalista wavered in her resolve. This… fiend was responsible for all the carnage and now it was bearing down on them. It was so strong, its blade swung almost impossibly fast, and it tore their defences to shreds. Even Kellor’s normally stalwart shield-work was no match for its dusky great-sword.

“Coward?” It laughed mockingly, eyes on Felghanis, and slipped past Don’ to fell the necromancer in a single stroke. “You cannot prevail.” It laughed again, berating them with its amusement at their efforts.

They stabbed at it and the hounds bit its legs trying to pull it down. Too strong, too steady on its feet, shrugging off the dogs’ attempts neither of the hounds managed to upset its balance.

Don’s shield shattered and the female dog used its Dimension Door ability to avoid what would have been a lethal blow to its skull. Felghanis hit the demon with a Ray of Enfeeblement and it visibly sagged. Kalista’s summoned dire ape battered at the fiend with little effect until the demon dispatched the conjured creature with a rapid volley of slashes.

Kellor’s shield was shattered, the dwarf knocked prone, and then in a blink of the eye Don’ was disarmed then felled also.

“I’ve been so stupid,” Kalista admonished as she drew one of the oils of curing they had after bartering with Madam Lim. With a few well-placed lobs and one passed to Aenir Felghanis and Don’ were healed enough to fight back.

But it was not enough. Kellor was trying to fight from the ground, as was Felghanis, and suddenly Fionnghal used his Dimension Door to escape the battle.

Kalista screamed, “We must run!” But she had to heal her friends, or at least try.

Aenir tumbled along the wall and got to the animist mage’s side. “You’re right, girl. Can you stop it chasing us?”

“I might be able to,” Felghanis commenced the summoning of a powerful undead creature from the nether plane.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 review, part one

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Donhallan and Felghanis returned with the posse to the Tovran watch-house. The sergeant was a simple chap but stern. Goran being locked in the cell disturbed the sergeant.

“Breaking a window is not equal to freezing to death in a stone cell.”

The sheriff normally would sit in judgement of such things but some events had his attention to the east of Vrim. Sergeant Parvellen had the means and he sent a page to the Tovran tower to request the Lord, Mikhail Tovran, come down to judge the crime as soon as possible.

While they waited they chatted amiably. Fel’ mostly kept quiet but Don’ seemed to have one some kind of trust with the senior watchman. He was impressed with Fionnghal’s tracking and said as much.

“A great hound. Would you care for another? I have a young bitch, much like that one, that I can barely feed. The poor thing is beginning to starve and I feel terrible. Maybe you could look after the dog?”

Don’ was pleased and a little humbled, “I’d be very thankful.”

“It’s a bit odd, though, that dog. It seems when chasing rabbits last spring that the grass would sometimes seize the conies and the dog relished pouncing on them like a cat.”

Don’ laughed politely but he knew the hound had to be fey-touched in the same way as Fionnghal. He was happy to take it under his wing and went with the sergeant.

Back at the Whalers’ Retreat Kalista was developing an idea. Bolstered with sudden courage she swept out without the dwarves seeing. In the heavy snow she headed over the river and towards the Sipran Keep. As she closed on the narrow path that led to the gatehouse a broad figure was walking towards her; wearing the colours of the Church and the red bear rampant on a black background. It had to be Jonas. The Scour stopped and held out a hand somewhat in her path.

“If you please, miss. Stop a moment.”

Kalista stopped, her heart was racing though, and kept her composure as best she could. This ‘man’ was said to be far more powerful than Thiridea and that ‘woman’ had nearly defeated them all, almost single-handedly.

“Jonas, I presume,” she tried for the upper hand.

“Yes and you must be… Kalista. Is that right?”

She nodded politely.

“I would speak with you. Out of this harsh weather, if you would,” he said, gesturing towards some partially standing buildings. Ever-present reminders of the attack by the Kulvuss and Livruss fleets.

Kalista thought to run but it might provoke Jonas to use force.

Out of the wind and snow it was more comfortable but still cold. Jonas set about making a fire, simply rending the shutters from the frames, and once it was burning he stood back – giving Kalista plenty of space.

They fenced, politely, with words at first. But Jonas was amiable and shared information. The books were for the Church. He had recovered one from the Iron Tower and it was back in the Vatican.

“There is a conjunction coming, of stars, planets and the tidal forces in the ley lines of the whole island. With it comes winters, harsh and long, and these cycles allow the Hrimpursar to return. Without the winters the ritual from the tomes cannot even be attempted. We need to make sure these tomes cannot be used. There’s no safer place in Kiltayre than in the Vatican under the Saint’s protection.”

Kalista was humbled. It made sense but she still had distrust from her time in Dwarf Town. She shared her knowledge of Fenris.

“He summoned a giant in the sea, that’s why we think he serves the Frost Titans,” she finished.

“It does not sound like that to me. Frost Titans do not swim if they can help it and definitely do not live in the ocean. I think he serves another player in this. The elemental lord of water.”

Again, the Scour made sense. Snow was water and it explained how he left no tracks, perhaps in relation to who it was Fenris had made a pact with.

Jonas’ hand fell to his weapon and his eyes looked out into the snow.

“Who goes there?”

Kalista could hear crunching of boots through the icy flakes.

“Jonas?” A voice called back.

“Mellevictus?” Jonas responded recognising the voice.

Kalista put her back against the other opening, opposite to where this Mellevictus was approaching from.

He entered the house wearing the vestments of a scour but on the normal field of the Church’s colours was the heraldry of the Inquisition Exarcanum: witch finders and demon hunters.

Kalista’s heart raced. She felt like a cornered mouse between two Scours. One a werebear, the other an inquisitor, and her alone.

“Goran has been arrested,” Mellevictus said.

“For what?” Jonas seemed to be getting angered.

“Breaking into the inn where… her friends are staying. He sought the book to redeem himself.”

“It matters not. His treachery has ever been a burden. If it weren’t for his cousin the Cardinal of Fergusdale, I’d never have let him in the group.”

“Then we let justice prevail,” Mellevictus said vehemently.

“Aye, but Kalista, what will you let prevail? The risk of the book falling into the hands of the Hrimpursar? You know it will be safer with the Church. Directly under the protection of the living Saint.”

Kalista said, “It would be good, but what of the other book in the Sipran Keep?”

“Lady Murelle would not see me, but she will, in time. The book is not in the keep but in a space between the keep and Stonecrest. A library in a space between space. A kind of pocket dimension. There needs to be a way we can convince Lady Murelle to see us and hand it over for the good of all Kiltayre.”

“We could work together, but separately, aiding the recovery of the last book. That way we can read it before it is taken back to the Vatican.”

“Aye we could,” Jonas said.

Kalista, had she been from a city or wealthy social family would have seen the slightly sad glance at Mellevictus, and then the nod the inquisitor returned, but she was not so savvy.

Mellevictus let the spell be triggered, “You know, Kalista, that the book would really be safer with us. Hand it over and we’ll make sure it can’t be used to bring back the Hrimpursar.”

The still spell was strong and Kalista succumbed instantly, “Yes, of course, Scour.” She took it out and handed it to Mellevictus.

Jonas nodded with a grim smile.

“And there is no need to worry your friends with our meeting. We know that Felghanis, at the least, would not understand at all.”

It was true, Mellevictus was right and clearly trustworthy and Kalista nodded, “Yes. Of course. The Saint will protect the books better than we can.”

“We must send this back to the Vatican, Jonas,” the Inquisitor said, and with that they left Kalista to make her way back to the Inn. She had no idea the Charm Person would last nearly half a day.

Don’ and Felghanis left the Tovran watchtower. Lord Mikhail would arrive after midday and the trial would begin. But until then they may as well get some food and sit somewhere less austere than the watch-house.

The Whalers’ was busy, full almost, with people mainly talking. Kalista was sitting near Aenir and Kellor but the dwarves were regaling a well-dressed man with war-stories. The Felk Bay people sat together and shared a meal. People began to leave and so did the whole group, albeit separated, to the trial.

Lord Mikhail’s guards were about and the public were rowdy, yet not violent. Goran sat manacled, looking at his feet, on a stool between two knights. The trial proceeded and Felghanis was asked what he had lost.

“I have lost a sense of safety in this town, a trust of the lord’s watch, and of the inn keeper Arthur’s property.”

“And what was taken?” Lord Mikhail asked.

“I cannot be certain. I have many notes and journals that were strewn about the room. There has not been enough time to read them all again to see if anything is missing.”

“Goran, what say you in your defense?” Lord Mikhail said strongly.

“I have done this because I am cursed,” Goran said meekly but his voice rose in volume as if gathering confidence. “Cursed by Demons from the Pale of War.”

“Cursed? Stop this man from speaking. Gag him and take him from the court.”

Lord Mikhail looked troubled. “Goran of the Church, you are found guilty and must pay the sum of repairs to Arthur’s property plus 10 gold pieces to Ghanis.”

Vrim’s people were still railing at the admission of a curse. Run him out of town, burn him, drown him under the ice, where the various cries. Lord Mikhail bowed to his scribe, Tivvus whom Kalista was trying to find, and they whispered in the din of the folk of Vrim. Don’ boosted his hearing and caught some words.

“That is the lady’s dominion to judge, yes?” Lord Mikhail asked.

“Aye, m’lord. He must be sent to the keep in chains,” Tivvus answered.

It was over quickly.

They filed out of the court, Don’, Kalista, and Fel’. They took shelter under the eave of a large house near the watch and threw ideas about. The folk of Vrim were hurrying back to their houses. Heavy dark clouds were rolling in from the west and a sudden bolt of lightning lit up the town with harsh blue-grey shadows.

“Oh no,” Felghanis said. “It was all a diversion.”

“I was troubled by the same thought,” Donhallan affirmed.

“How?”

“He was meant to be caught so they could get Goran in the Sipran Keep.”

The storm drove them back to the inn.

Herath had his bags and was agitated, fearful even. “My friends. We must leave,” he said gravely.

“Why?” Felghanis asked.

“It is the Shadow of the Face of the Dragon. There will be death this night. Much blood will be shed in this town. We must leave while we still can.”

Donhallan and Felghanis looked at each other. “It must be bad if we agree.” Fel’ said.

“I am leaving. There is little time.”

The storm was closing in on Vrim. Thunder and strong wind shook the roof and window shutters. Arthur interrupted politely and Kalista cast Mend on the shutters Goran had broken.

“In this we will need protection.” She cast Endure Elements on everyone.

Felghanis nodded, “We must get to the keep as fast as possible.”

“No, we need to leave Vrim this night. The omen is clear. There will be death and blood.”

“Are these omens always right? Does anyone even try and stop them in your tribe?”

Herath’s hand twitched towards his large knife but stayed away. “I leave with or without you.” The tribesman went to the door of the Whalers’.

“As I do in heading to the Sipran Keep,” Felghanis hefted his bag and strapped on his rapier. The staff lay unclaimed in his room.

“I can’t let you go alone,” Kalista said reluctantly.

“Neither can I,” Don’ added.

The dwarves looked at each other. Their kind were superstitious, too, but they were soldiers and they stuck with the Felk Bay people.

“We agreed to stay with you and aid you all in this quest of yours. We will go to the keep with you.”

Herath nodded, “I will be heading East, up river, if you change your minds.” He left without another word. They were fools, to his mind, not to listen to the fates.

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Kiltayre: Session 20 ideas

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The players have encountered the “diversion”: a sword demon. A feararkh blade from the Pale of War. It has been giving them a serious smack down. All the foreshadowing of its power was ignored by one player and the rest stuck with them anyway to try and keep Felghanis alive.

Fate Points were burned! No-one has more than two left after starting with four each.

I think they can salvage it without spending more and technically they can’t spend more since the Fate Point wasn’t intended to ignore a blow and stay in the fight. It was intended to keep the PC alive after the blow and use the narrative to explain why they didn’t die. Good example is Kellor after being struck by Thiridea’s poleaxe. It certainly looked like the dwarf had his head smashed in but when they checked him Kellor was alive, unconscious and missing his ear along with a swath of skin off the side of his head – making the mess they thought was his skull’s contents.

Unfortunately I was caught up in the excitement and fear of the confrontation with the Feararkh and allowed, if not encouraged, the use of the Fate Points in that way. And to top off the bad GM’ing brought in Fenris as a TPK preventer (god mode Sue?). I reneged on that and ret-con’d it after the session ended. It was fairly pointed out to my face that was what I had done and although it cut a bit it felt good to “undo” it.

Given the party are in a bad tactical situation I have to think of some narratives to save the day.

1) The fate points already spent will still do what they were meant to. OOC explanation will be made up front to clarify how FP are intended to work and what the IC ramifications are going to be. That is PC’s will be “saved” by the FP already spent but still go down and look dead. In future that is all that FP will be able to do.

2) Intervention: there is a caster within the keep, Lady Murelle, who could intervene and possibly save the party.

3) Aftermath: FP based survival has the characters “wake up” to the aftermath.

I don’t know what’ll happen, and I have a few more ideas that I won’t list, but I’m hoping to get it back in the good zone after my GM stuff-ups.

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Kiltayre Campaign: Session 9

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Travelling with the dwarves was easy. They were both friendly and straight-forward dwarves of principles. It was those principles that made them stand against taxation by the Church, and that led to their arrest. Kellor and Aenir ran a small crafting concern, Kellor making items and Aenir mostly selling them. Both were well able to assist the group’s survival requirements.

Food was thinning after some foul weather. The party made some good time whilst on the flat ring-like ledge which seemed to circumscribe Plateau Point. When they came down of the raised land they were faced with thick old fir forest and a pebble beach that stretched to the horizon.

In the afternoon, many days after leaving the stone ship wreckage & Captain Morgaine’s camp, Dom and Kalista spotted an ogre with its back to them, sitting against a thick fir tree.

The party went silent and Aenir whispered, “I can sneak up and check if it’s alive.”

Dom replied, his Fey sight granting him a brief few seconds of incredible detail, “No need. It’s dead. There is no clouding of breath and I can see ice over its skin.”

The party closed and saw the ogre had bled out on the spot. Some fresh snow not enough to cover the deep red stains. Yet it was the missing leg that disturbed the most. Some creature had removed it, likely for food, and then departed.

It was the next day, when they were faced with a broad river that had not iced over, that they heard a creature.

“Some kind of ape predator. I’ve not thought they could be in this part of the world. They’re meant to only be on foreign shores.” Dom was concerned. He knew they were powerful and fast.

The concern was justified even though they did not see the predator. Traipsing a few miles inland they found the river iced up enough to cross safely.

On the pebble beach they saw signs of a one-man camp. Was it Fenris?

They couldn’t be sure.

“I think it’s 50/50 that it was Fenris,” Kallista pronounced.

That night a pair of emaciated ogres attacked them as they prepared their campsite. The hairy giants were little match for the combined might of the party. Aenir’s speed and dwarven combat training turned out to be the hammer against the anvil of Felghanis’ blindness curses. His powers had grown. The ogres had little salvageable gear but the large snares drew Dom’s appreciation.

It was a few more days later that they found sign of a large camp. Maybe 6 people arrayed around a fire.

“Has Fenris found allies?” Dom thought aloud.

“There’s not enough evidence,” Felghanis put forward.

It was towards the end of that day the Iron Tower came into few. A rust streaked needle in the distance, sprouting from the top of a high butte of rock that protruded into the waters.

The shore turned rocky and they travelled in heath and frozen marsh. Then they heard seals on the rocks below. With the aid of a summoned shark they managed to secure a young seal. 35lbs of meat ought to last a few weeks.

Felghanis said, “I can help preserve it. At least for four days before I need to cast again.”

As the closed with the Iron Tower its shape became more apparent. There was a large gallery around the base, above the entrance stair, that likely was for defensive counter-attack. Full of murder holes and the like. Before the tower’s base a stable had been erected.

The climb to the tower was up a series of carved steps. They were far apart to ease the ascent for horses and once at the top the party investigated the stables. Its roof was covered in iron tiles and it was well weathered but serviceable. Inside they found the remains of a camp and a few travelling packs. Rifling those quickly they found the Canon of St. Fergus, oil, and coal. They hadn’t been there long because the damp had not seeped into the material.

“They may be inside and needing aid,” Kallista was concerned. Even if they were part of the Church that wrongly charged them, they still deserved aid.

“Why help people who will make our lives harder?” Felghanis muttered. Clearly he had no inclination to aid anyone from the Church of St. Fergus ever again.

“It is the right thing to do,” Kallista protested. “And they will likely know nothing of us and Dwarf Town.”

Dom was in agreement and Alassiel piped up.

“If we’re going in the tower my psi-crystal will scout ahead. Like at the Hand of Gulresh.”

It was agreed and the crystal scuttled into the tower at a rapid pace.

Inside there was a kind of staging room. Or a holding area. Easily defended with further access to the tower on the opposite side of the entrance. Some debris and potshards indicated nothing but age and abandonment. Stairs led up and to the level with the gallery and its further defences. A combination of reception areas and the archers’ galleries filled out that level.

It was on the next level the psi-crystal found some movement. Two large figures approached it, as if sensing its life-force, and Alassiel pulled it quickly back. Unwilling to risk it against the unknown entities.

“Well, let’s go in, then.”
It was as the crystal had reported. When the reached the landing above the gallery they saw what the psi-crystal had retreated from. Two walking sarcophagi. It was so unnatural. What was worse, bony arms with large sabre claws lashed out and struck Dom with two severe blows. Wounding him badly. The dwarves rushed to drag Dom to safety.

Felghanis could sense they were some kind of undead. He surged up the stairs and sought to command them in the fashion he was taught by his Uncle. They were too strong and too resistant to the energies involved. As if in reaction to his following spell the things lashed Felghanis and he fainted from the shock.

“Retreat, retreat!” they yelled.

“I have to get Fel,” Dom called. He channelled his Fey energy and greatly enhanced his speed. Running past the open arch that the things were attacking through he managed to evade their cleaving claws and retrieve Fel. Back on his feet, Fel recovered his breath.

“What are those things?”

“We’ll regroup in the stables and think of our next move,” Dom answered.

There was no further discussion.

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Kiltayre: session 2

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As the party travelled Dom’ realised their food supplies were low. One harsh blizzard could see them trapped for long enough to run out of edibles. Dom’ led the party to gathering surplus off the land and storing it for later use. The cold climate aiding the preservation of foods. However, they still had to balance their firewood requirements should it become harsher – and it would.

 

As they entered the woods a blizzard approached. Felghanis suffered that night. They ran out of fuel and he could not be roused. Being cold to the touch they worked at getting him warm and gathered around him & the fire. He had been travelling in just simple outdoor clothes and not the thick quilted cold-weather gear the rest of the group had been wearing.

“I just had to leave my uncle,” Felghanis managed to excuse himself.

“We’ll make you a suit out of skins,” Dom said.

Kalista chipped in, “I can sew and craft leather. We can do this.”

“Only question is how long until we have enough skins,” Dom’ cautioned. “Let’s hope there’s not another blizzard like that one.”

 

Crossing the forest to the margins of the moorlands took two days. Two days later they saw skulls pinned to trees. Garren! Keeping to the margins they trekked north and just before sunset found a partially razed cabin some months old with a cluster of skulls fixed to the boles around. The arrows were long, over a yard, and fletched with strange material that could only be compared to insect wings. Moving hastily away the made to set camp a half mile or so further north.

 

Barely had they stopped to begin the preparation of their camp when Dom’ spotted a bear out on the moors. A small black bear on its own for its first winter. The hunt was on. They stalked the bear and got within 40 yards when it scented them. Alassiel’s psi-crystal charged forward scoring a nasty wound on the bear. Dom’s hound went to the bear’s rear-flank and Dom slung stones at the beast. The bear seized the psi-crystal with a lucky grab and started trying to maul it. Hard as iron the psi-crystal was undamaged but it was unable to attack from the mighty creature’s grasp. They brought the bear down with a few more attacks and the psi-crystal sprung free. Much meat was had after the bear was skun and dressed.

 

Returning to their chosen camp site they set their tent and fire. Dom’ noticed wolverine tracks at a puddle and they set proper watches instead of relying on the psi-crystal and Dom’s hound. Later that night the wolverine was heard seizing the largest haunch of bear-meat. The camp awoke and the wolverine ran off with the meat; settling down a hundred feet away to eat it with loud pleasured growling.

 

Kalista charmed the creature with a spell but it still was wary and aggressive towards her companions. Then she realised that the spell would not last a few days, as she thought, and they sent it off to the bear’s carcass back on the moors.

 

Three more hard days they travelled but with the large supply of meat they did not need to forage for more than the first. They camped and Felghanis was seen with a strange book. Alassiel and Dom’ had both interest in the volume that seemed to absorb Felghanis’ attention every night. This night Felghanis leapt up in excitement.

“That’s what he’s looking for!”

“Who?”

“My uncle. He’s looking for Kanii’s key and the Bell of Thullemon.”

Kalista had heard of these things. “They’re undead related. The key unlocks the Halls of the Dead, it is said. And the Bell animates all the dead that could hear its toll.”

“Yes. Now you see why I had to get away from him.”

 

They talked more and Dom’ questioned Felghanis.

“How can this be? How can this man who employed my family be a necromancer?”

Felghanis tried to explain but Dom’ was suspicious.

“What is that book made of anyway? It looks like human skin!”

“It is. That’s what kind of man my uncle is.”

“It will attract evil spirits. We should burn it right now.”

“No. Without it I can’t figure out what my uncle is doing; what he is plotting.”

“Then keep it away from me. I will not sleep knowing it is within fifty feet of me.”

Felghanis resolutely setup his bedroll at roughly the distance Dom’ stated he needed for a clear mind to sleep.

 

 

On Dom’s watch he heard the crunch of snow underfoot. Reacting quickly he spied a humanoid shape in the pale light behind a tree. A large bow and long arrows with the odd fletching he could just make out using his fey powers. Dom’ shouted to wake the camp and the figure fled. When all were awake he checked the tracks. They were uncannily shallow in the snow and as he searched a break in the clouds revealed a small faerie ring marked with stones.

 

“We have to leave. It was a Garren.”

Felghanis wanted proof since there were no typical territorial markers. The tracks were as described.

Kalista heard the creak of bow string, “Duck!”

A long arrow streaked past Felghanis’ head and embedded in the tree without the arrow-shaft even shaking. He looked at the arrow trying to figure out if it would have pierced his skull had he not reacted.

“Run!”

They sprinted back to camp. Another arrow struck a tree in sight of the fire. They hastily packed their equipment and supplies. Then fled their campsite in the flickering light of their improvised hearth. Snowflakes were drifting about them and they were in the deep dark of night.

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Kiltayre: session 1 summary

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In the village of Felk Bay the seer-woman, grandmother of the Alderman, made a prophesy. The young unmarried folk were expected to step forward to save the village and its children. That’s where the players stepped in.

Line-up:

Alassiel – creepy little girl with psion powers and a horror-build of a psi-crystal.

Dom’ – has a much longer name but this shepherd boy is a doughty specimen with a secret pact to a fey witch.

Felghanis – a budding dread necromancer that wants to turn the dark-arts to help people; mainly by preventing his uncle & mentor from achieving nefarious goals.

Kallista – animist mage with a large pool of power that can boost spells. She studied with Felghanis’ other uncle affectionately called the Codger.

 

There was a large celebration for the four heroes-to-be. Drinking and plenty was had even though times were harsh. Next morning they said goodbye to their families. Food was gifted to them all and spare quilted woollen blankets. The Alderman gifted each with an amethyst on silver chain – a phylactery. And advice to go to Iron Foot City as someone there might know what 5 fingers of stone refers to.

 

They set off the next morn and travelled in poor weather heading up into the mountains towards Iron Foot City – or what might remain of it.

 

 

Next morning they came across a limping hungry bear. The psi-crystal destroyed the creature with impunity. Reaching Iron Foot city the next day they found a recluse who was happy to talk to them – that day. He told them the five fingers of stone were in the range far to the north.

“What dangers are there?” Dom asked.

“Some say there’s Garren in the woods.”

“The wood-wraiths slay all who enter their realms. Other races are toxic to them so they do it to protect their children. We must avoid them.” Felghanis and Kallista say.

 

Most of Iron Foot City was in ruins, since many buildings were little more than tents when it was abandoned. One building was still strong – the offices of administration for the mines. Once run by the church and the feudal magnates. They made camp inside a smallish office, with the pony, and spend a night sheltered from the blizzard outside. Felghanis found a map of the whole island amongst claim notices and records.

 

They went back to the recluse who was not happy to see them but traded preserved goods for fresh ones that they carried. Then the party headed north to find the mountain ranges on the map that the Five Fingers of Stone were meant to be within.

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