Campaign of the Month: May 2016

Mysteria

Asleep in The Desert

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Travelling through the Sarklan Desert on their way to The Tomb of the Elephant God, Arcael and The Oooze stumbled upon an ELITE KOBOLD PATROL See Below and, without so much as a nod or a wink…or even a friendly Draconic gesture, engaged in good old fashioned COMBAT!

The two kobold rogues, Snaretoe and Eggrunner moved close to flank their enemy but Eggrunner fell foul of Goran’s invisibility and paid the ultimate price. Xavier, the barbarian took some well aimed arrows from the five Gearcobbles and some channelled energy damage from the flying cleric, Crooktail; and started raging. With his own hovering abilites, Arcael delivered a deadly fireball into a crowd of archers, killing three and wounding two more Gearcobbles and their protective Orcacle, Grubgrinder, but the leadership remained at the rear, with Sorcerer, Bentfinger setting up a Minor Globe of Invulnerability for himself and his Dragonkin escourt, Silverscale.

Goran and Saabu Theet charged forward and Snaretoe tried to snuff Goran out with the aid of one of the Gearcobbles, but he could not score a hit against the deadly rogue. When Arcael dispelled magic on the flying cleric (thwarting Bentfinger’s prepared counterspell), Crooktail moved back behind a Gearcobble, who moved to help Snaretoe the rogue, opening up the cleric to the terrifying charge and grapple of Bartiman Greenbough in HUGE bear form.

From his vantage point at the rear, Bentfinger was already considering raising the white flag but it was too late. Goran, Saabu and his summoned cheetah and Xavier all moved in to attack his flanks and he was swiftly killed. With the Cleric, Crooktail, screaming in the death throes of a huge bear hug, the mighty Dragonkin warrior, Silverscale, advanced, and with a mighty critical sweep of his greatsword, ended the life of the shapechanged druid, Bartiman.

But Silverscale was now alone. Just as Saabu’s surrendered Orcacle prisoner fell foul to the intercepting blade of Xavier, so too did Silverscale fall the to combined fury of the group, and for Arcael and the Oooze, music is only their SECOND favourite activity…

But the great Bartiman is not destroyed. A Raise Dead scroll and two Resurrection scrolls cast by Thoth’s servant, Saabu Theet, brings him back into the game.

Travelling through this desert is thirsty work indeed!

Note on Kobold Sleeper Unit: During the wars with the Mharoti Empire about 40 years ago, when the dragons knew they were going to have to retreat, some of them dropped off highly trained kobold sleeper units to dig themselves into the ground and wait for a time when the dragons could return in a second wave. Bentfinger’s was such a group. Disturbed from their hiding place by a recent earthquake, they have been roaming around the desert looking for a new hiding place and just happened upon Arcael and The Oooze before they could find one.

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A hard day's wight

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In the great halls of Eternal Darkness that are the chambers of Anu-Akma, a minion of the God of the Underworld sits at the Midgard Communication Station, listening for prayers, promises and cries for help.

From the Deep Desert about a day’s travel outside of Siwal, a Dread Wight (and ex cleric of Aposis) calls out for help as his body is savagely torn apart by Arcael and The Oooze!

“My Lord,” cries the minion, “Will you hear the plea of a recently departed soul – a scion of evil, a lord of Undead, exiled from his home graveyard by a zealous church, and cut down in his Undead prime by a bunch of human murderers posing as musicians….Will you hear his cry, Lord?”

Anu-Akma does not even look up from his holy book. He simply utters a single phrase that seals the Dread Wight’s fate:

“Nah! Fukkim!”

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You scare me to death with your horrible breath...

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A yound maiden crosses into the realm of the Undead, lured by the Siren’s call of an Owl Harpy, and into a series of dangers culminating in her capture by the Evil Necromancer, Ramzhi al-Sharif, who wants to add her to his group of devoted wights. Her father, Panshal al-Marhji is distraught, and implores The Oooze to intervene.

Band practice is never easy with a replacement member. How do you replace metallic backing vocals with a softly plucked harp? Enter Xavier into Arcael and The Oooze! Practice is lacklustre, but the Yuletide performance at The Lingering Odour is a success, increasing the status of the band, and lifting their spirits enough to embark on the quest to save The Gravebinder’s Daughter.

The night is dark. The tracks have faded. The scent is gone. The Ghost of the Cleric, Abdul Quddus does not help them, but warns them that in their quest to find the maiden, they will find it is not the Undead who pose her danger, but other creatures who inhabit the graveyard.

The first of these is Milandra the Owl Harpy and her Fire Dancer Swarm. With both Arcael and Goran entranced by the will of the harpy, things are going to have to get a bit tight. Bartiman Greenbough chooses HUGE bear form, and grapples the seductress. Saabu Theet takes some serious burning arrow damage, but with his healing powers, keeps himself alive. Xavier manages to sunder Arcael’s enchantment, and the tables are turned.

With her life near it’s end, the Owl Harpy bargains information for mercy but there is NONE to be had. If Owl Harpies have souls, then this one has departed from Siwal, escourted by the harsh justice of Arcael and The Oooze! The Fire Dancers flee and the quest continues.

Old Golamesh the Gravedigger Fire Troll is a hardworking citizen by day, but much less so by night, as the party discover him unearthing the grave of one he has already interred. Realising he is discovered he seeks to trap his new foes with a web spell and pulverise them with his Fire Breath and Flurry of Blows, but he did not count on the battle-prowess of “The Oooze”. Soon, they have him begging for mercy, and spare his life in return for some information on the whereabouts of Aiysha. He directs them to the laboratory of the Nercromancer and creeps away to his fire on the East Gate.

Evil necromancer, Ramzhi al-Sharif likes wights. He has some already. But he wants more. And a beautiful maiden wight will do just nicely, thanks very much. In his well hidden undeground vault, fashioned out of the sunken tombs of scholars of old, he feels there is not much to stop him. But his Cacodaemon familiar Communes with its overlord and tells him that unwanted guests are expected. He must work quickly!

Preparing himself as quickly as he can, he is still shocked and horrified at the speed with which his assailants find him and enter his domain. Without even time to perform the WIGHTING ceremony, he is forced into battle, with only his wights, his wits, his familiar and his magic to help him.

The party are slowed down by the wights at first, and by the Wall of Bones that the Necromancer erects, but eventually, they make their way through. Xavier sunders the wall and Goran and Saabu’s summoned cheetahs give chase. They catch the evil human, they even damage him, but the necromancer is too well prepared, and on the back of a Phantom Steed, he slips out of the area, locking his exit with a sealing tombstone as he leaves.

But Aiysha is safe! She is returned to the Gravebinder and once more the deeds of The Oooze echo around the Garden City of Siwal.

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The Eyes of Zobeck

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Lady Wintesla Marack strode through the antechamber of the Blue House with swift purpose, but ever mindful of the web of plots that continually connected all major players in the city of Zobeck. The balance of “web-strands” between the council members were of particular importance to her and her recent capture by Darakhul crime lord Radu Underhill, had severely influenced her thoughts and schemes, even more troubled by the fact that she was miraculously still alive, and free.

It was not like Radu Underhill to make such a mistake, so the Lady of The Blue House, and supreme leader of The Spyglass Guild, still had to question the whole affair. Perhaps it was some secretive plot by Volstaff Greymark. He was ever a tricky one, and she knew from her spies that he was still smarting from the invasion of his secret chambers by those that called themselves The Oooze. She knew they had tried to steal The Fish and The Rose, and although they had failed in this, the very fact that they had discovered his secret chambers must be troubling the corrupt Zobeck Counsellor.

And after all, was it not Arcael the Caelmaran, who had been responsible for coercing Lord Greymark’s daughter, Ilyana, to leave town? The fact that The Oooze were currently in Siwal did nothing to quell Lady Marack’s suspicions – plots were her reason for living, and plots stretched toward all sides of the world, as far as she was concerned.

She turned to her officer, a stern faced man who seemed to notice every speck of dust that moved in the air around him: “Keep the watch on those musicians in Siwal. I want to know every move they make. And get more information on that were-lion Cleric. They may be far away in worldly position, but I would yet keep them closer in thought. And book me a meeting with the Guildmaster of the Arcane Collegium – It’s time he and I had another chat.”

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Afternoon Tea
Conversations in a spice bar

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Old Tolot the Toothless had come down from his tower in the Minarets of Dust to spend some quality time with some old friends, drinking quality tea in a reputable spice bar. The bar was awash with winter spices – cinammon, nutmeg, vanilla – and, of course, the stong coffee of the Tamasheq patrons.

Many tales and stories crisscrossed the room like flies aroud a corpse in summer. Some lingered, some buzzed quickly in one’s ear and then receded. Not all were true but not all were false. Some were inciteful. Some were outright lies. The emeperor’s daughter walking around at night? Ach! She died years ago! An army of dragons flying in from the North East? Some people still smarted from the old days and the Mharoti Invasion. Somewhere in this tale lay the dividing line between vigilance and paranoia, thought Tolot.

He turned to his spice bar companion, Ahmed Singh: “What have you seen with your own eyes, my old friend?”
“Well, I saw the burned and broken body of Ahebek the Lucky before it was taken to the Necropolis for burial.”
“A terrible sight, by all accounts…” surmised Tolot. “Any theories?”
“Some talk of a terrible discovery at some Oasis near the Sands of Sorrow,” Ahmed replied, “but these are just whispers. Nobody knows, really.”
“And what of the Northerners,” Tolot asked, “Any news of them?”
“They’ve been quiet since they returned with tales of that library. Some of them even may have left the city, I hear. The were-lion’s been seen a lot at the Temple and I believe that dark dancer pops in and out of Old Ralph’s place quite a bit. But otherwise, not much!”
“Ah, well…can’t say I’ve missed their music much. I’m not one for all that screeching. Give me the sonorous tones of Peter Lafayette anyday! More tea?”
“Yes. I’ll call the porter.”

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Saturday Night's Alright (for Singing)

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It was a cool winter’s day in Siwal and Arcael Rennaus was alone in one of the fine chambers belonging to his mentor, Emir Beg Khan of the Qamari, practising his sorcery, when he was interrupted by one of the Emir’s servants:
“There’s someone famous to see you, Sir. He awaits you in the parlour.”
Arcael gathered his sorcerous things together and followed the servant to the room to find a young man in splendid dress – a man he knew: “Ah, Peter my friend…” and he extended his hand in greeting towards Peter Lafayette, most famous singer in all of Siwal.
“Arcael. I thought it best I come myself to tell you the news: The Puddings are on tour! We leave the day after tomorow for Per-Kush and will be doing all the major towns – Per-Kush, Per-Bastet, Corremel, Laksor, and ending in a Royal Concert in Nuria Natal at the halls of King Thutmoses the 23rd himself!”
“That’s wonderful news, Peter,” Arcael exclaimed, hiding his disdain for the young man for the sake of the Emir’s servants, who were trying not to show their excitement of being in the presence of the shining star of Siwal.
“But we have a problem,” continued Peter, “and I was hoping you could help us out…..”.
“Go on…” Arcael replied.
“Well, we had the Yuletide Festival booked at The Lingering Odour and we can no longer meet this commitment. But I have spoken to Sheila and she will be happy for The Oooze to take our spot. What do you say? It’s a door deal and it’s the busiest night of them all. Last year we got almost 1,000 GP from Door Takings alone. So what do you say?”
Arcael thought for a moment. He’d heard Bartiman had returned from his journey south and he himself had just about perfected his latest charge. The group hadn’t yet replaced Iron Wall. Yes, it was time they started practising again:
“Why of course, we’ll take it. Tell Sheila Zweels that Arcael and The Oooze will be there! Now, will you have some tea?”
“Sorry,” replied the other singer, “I must run. So many fans to see before we leave. I’ll tell Sheila though! And good luck! We’ll send you a postcard!”

And with a smooth and graceful twirl, Peter Lafayette of Peter and the Puddings left the residence of the Emir.

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Elephant Talk

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For Saabu Theet, almost no pleasure could equal his days spent with Cassandra Per-Aten researching in the Temple Library of Thoth-Hermes. Sometimes they would ponder over bibliographic wonders together, sometimes they would study apart, meeting only for a light mint tea in the library gardens. Sometimes Saabu would conduct spell research in the antechambers, and sometimes he would do this in the library itself.

On one such day, alone, in an underground vault in the library, while Saabu was experimenting with Moonlight Magic, a very strange thing happened. One of the books in a shelf nearby his spellworkings lit up like a beacon and flew out of its shelf, lying open on the ground beside him. Saabu picked it up and delved into deeper research in that very chamber using moonlight that was not of the moon.

An ancient book it was, describing days of the dark desert, when gods fought with each other for dominion over the sands. Reading a chapter called The Serpent and the Elephant, Saabu learned of an ancient battle between the God Aposis, Dragon of the Apocalypse, and the God Maraut, the Elephant God – a battle of great sorcery and power, ending with the entombment of Maraut and the gradual destruction of his once thriving desert cult.

Saabu read for many hours of the horrors inflicted upon the local people by these two dark gods. He learned of the sorrows that created oases in the dry desert from the tears of the world itself. And one other thing: A prophesy made by a devout Priest of Maraut, that one day the Elephant God shall rise again! As he read this, Saabu received one of his Divine Inspirations from Thoth-Hermes himself: “Save the Gravebinder’s Daughter and ye shall know the TRUTH!”

After receiving the Divine Message, Saabu found that he was sharing mint tea with Cassandra in the Temple Garden. She knew nothing of the book, and he did not have it. Nor did he ever find it again.

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"Sail to me, Let me enfold you."

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In his great hall of eternal darkness, ANU-AKMA sits resplendent in gold and sapphires as he accepts new entrants to his halls. One of the servants brought forth is from the North, his soul ripped from its half machine body in an occulted library of Thoth.
“Send that soul to the Plane of Gears. And what of its companions?” the King of Jackals asked of the scribe to his right.
“One other entered the waiting room, my Lord, but he was recalled. The rest of his party have moved to the Garden City of Siwal.”
“Let me see…” and the God of The Underworld bent over to look into the scribe’s holy book, The Preservation and Migration of Souls.

There, in that book, that is an account of all living beings, ANU-AKMA, Purifier of Souls, glimpsed a slice of mortal life with his divine eye.

He saw two great scholars learning – one arcane, one divine. He saw a combatant of the Green Walker travelling to the jungles of the Kush, and he also saw a dark shadow searching for deeper darkness. “Lend that one a hand!” and he pointed to one in Fae Armor.

ANU-AKMA sat straight in his chair again and looked down the line of new souls stretching endlessly from the long entrance corridor. “Next!”

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The Book I Read
Thoughts of an Oracle of Aten

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Ali Akbar had been honoured when his current sponsor, Emir Beg Khan Malik of the Qamari had asked him to accompany a group of Northern minstrels on a quest to discover the lost Library of Thoth, but Thoth’s tests had been harsh. Two had died, and the mighty Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) it seemed, would not be returning.

As the recently risen, and usually invisible rogue, Goran descended into the darkness of the final plunging passage, Ali said a quick prayer to ATEN and prepared himself. Deep in the ground, a passage continued into a small room, magically lit. Goran discovered a trap, which was encouraging, but a puzzle awaited them in the underground chamber – a lifeless construct and a cylinder of ectoplasmic goo housing a withered head, its mouth held shut by silver string. He looked to the great sorcerer Arcael, and noticed that he stood at the back of the hall. “A great vantage point” he thought to himself.

After much debate, the glass was smashed and Ali tried to use his healing skills to remove the string. Alas, it set up a trap of loud noise, magic, and the attack of the construct, now revealed as a Posessed Pillar. The druid Bartiman Greenbough changed into massive bear form and engaged with the statue, while the others maneuvered as best they could over the slippery ectoplasmic floor. The cleric of Thoth-Hermes, Saabu Theet tried various options of translation but eventually had to join in as the whole group fought to destroy the statue, its eventual distruction opening up the secret door to the library below.

The library was massive, containing many books of ages past, all cared for by three Axiomites – creatures that looked like elves, and yet seemed somehow more powerful. Saabu went by himself into a secret chamber and returned with a self satisfied smile and an interesting ring on his finger that he was not wearing when he went in, and the axiomites offered writing materials to copy some of the most ancient hieroglyphic magic he had ever seen.

After spending two full days of wondrous study in the Holy Library, the group decided to leave, being escourted by the axiomites to a rising pillar that brought them out into the desert where they had found the temple. He looked around at his companions. Surely, these were mighty adventurers, and not only that – he had also heard they were most excellent musicians to boot. He made a mental note to himself to make sure he was able to attend The Lingering Odour next time they played.

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A Moment of Darkness

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Goran slumped against the wall and slid down until his rear hit the floor. When he had awoken from the darkness his memory had been a blank, but gradually the events of the last ten minutes started to flow unbidden to his mind. The entry to the library had gone with only a minor issue so far. A pit trap that he should have spotted had swallowed him up and left him to the mercy of some damn bugs. I guess managing to be invisible doesn’t help much in these cases. He had spent the next while playing chase with the bugs. Eventually his companions managed to get the roof open again and Iron Wall floated down to his rescue. Ah, Iron Wall….. The swarms must have sensed the fresher air and flew upwards to the groups waiting grasp. He had managed to acquire a set of shiny treasure hunter googles, but that hardly made up for what was to come.

The room had seemed not particularly dangerous at first. A pair of golden statues and some small golden statuettes waited. His first thought had been of their value, not that the fuzzy priest would have allowed it anyway, but it all a seemed insignificant now. Goran had let the others mess about with the statues. Understanding these southern gods wasn’t his forte so he tried his new googles to find a secret door in the corner. He informed the others and paced around, waiting for them to deal with the statues. Some of the smaller ones were moved about and the next thing darkness enveloped the room. It must have been magic or else he would still have been able to see.

The blackness wasn’t only it the room it would seem. It was only now the memory of the next few moments were coming back and even then only in snatches. Flashes across his mind of his hands, darkness stretching from them in vicious claws. Chunks of Iron Walls armour being gouged from his body. The beast had crawled into his body. Used him. Turned him into a weapon to harm his companions. The pieces of Iron Wall lay scattered across the room, blown there by the explosion resulting from the damage he had sustained. Goran’s hand slid across the floor, it brushed against a small gear, slightly singed from the blast. He picked it up and looked at it. It happened to be just the size to slip over a finger. A constant reminder. He looked to the ground and pushed himself up the wall. “I’m sorry my friend”.

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