The Journal of Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls is the campaign world in which our adventures take place. The Lord of the Realm, Dungeon Master, and published fantasy writer Charlie Dunwoody has created a world unlike any found in mere mortal textbooks. Charlie has allowed our team of adventurers the opportunity to grow in a world that is both multifaceted and goal oriented. There is no limits of what will be possible in this D&D 3.5 Adventure that is 20 years in the making!

Name:
Location: Mere Lake Region

My name is Phillip, and I've been a Dungeons and Dragons player and part time Dungeon Master for about 15 years. My first adventures with Thor the Fighter took place through a friend and his uncle, and over time I have played in many different games with many different players. My current DM, Charlie Dunwoody and I have played on and off with roughly the same core group of players for about 5 years. Darkness Falls is truly the adventure we've been waiting for, with the group expanding with the addition of Rom and Scott. This journal blog will be written from the viewpoint of Tredis as he grows in the world of Darkness Falls. Views of his friends and the world around him will be written from the perspective of this character.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Death as a friend


It was such a peculiar feeling. I don't remember all that happened, but it seemed to me that in an instant I had found both happiness and despair. Can you be happy and despondant at the same moment in time? My life has taken an unexpected twist.... Death.

I don't remember much of what happened. We landed at the Temple of the Aspect of Tiamat, seeking our quarry that was once so elusive in this struggle over Mere Lake. I remember landing at the entrance, and I remember being too head strong to form a good plan. I remember my friends were all there. Cerebrum, Skafloc, Dev, Aramis, and even that new sorcerer I hadn't really talked with much yet. I remember walking to a large door, my heart filled with rage and wanting to bring Justice to these beings that had tried and failed to rule the world.

After that, I don't remember much. The sounds of battle, a huge beast decending upon me, and pain. But my life is all about pain, and I welcomed it. After that I don't remember living events, but I remember watching myself play them out.

Tredis stood in a black room. No light, no walls, no discernible ceiling. Just black, all around, black. Had he done something wrong? Should he not be welcomed by Raziel and see the Kingdom of Solarus? Suddenly, he was no longer surrounded by black, but a pure incandecent white, brighter than he had ever known. A lone figure stood in the room with Tredis, a man tall and gaunt with a deep black robe, black as night. His face was sunken and hollow, his limbs rather withered and pale.



"Hello Tredis, at last we meet."

"Who are you?" was all Tredis could reply?

"I am your failure Tredis. Your band of misfits and you have failed. Solarus has been overthrown and his light snuffed out. See, you've been dead for almost 200 years now. It was just by happenstance that one of my minions stumbled upon your remains in that cave of Tiamat, our new Lord of Darkness."

"200 years? That is impossible!"

"So say it yourself I suppose, it changes little."

Tredis was a little apprehensive of this new development, but failed at hiding it from his new host.

"Would you like to see for yourself? I am of course ruler of Life and Death, if it is my will you would live again."

"No, to be restored by one like you Nuerull," recognizing the man at last, "would not be a life I would long to live. I would stay in this prison for all of eternity before I allowed you to touch my soul."

"Suit yourself, Paladin. Your kind fell quite easily after you died. Your friends proved to be quite easy to overcome for Lord Tiamat's minions."

Tredis had little fear of his friends dying because as a man of justice and good, he knew that life was only a trial where a soul was to be judged before placement in Heaven or Hell's armies after death. However, what if this were all true? What if everything had changed and Tiamat did rule the world? Could he have invaded the Outer Planes as well with his newfound power?

"You're starting to know what I say is true, I see that in you. Perhaps I can just show you what has befallen your world, and then you can make your choice."

In an instant, he seemed to be flying accross the expansive continent. He recognized Mere Lake at once, but something was different. Twilight, Saltmarsh, Darkness Falls. None of the towns were there! They swooped lower and lower, and he saw long lines of humanoids from Raptorans to Dwarves and Elves standing in chains, being whipped and beaten and cast about by demonic representations of Dragon's and Undead creatures afoul. Sickened, he averted his eyes, then saw to the north a swirling vortex. It was massive, and seemed to encompass the entire horizon before him. Inside the vortex he knew were souls, the souls that Tiamat was using to feed his power, like a giant vaccuum void, never able to be filled.

The next instant he was standing in the Throne Room of the Great Kingdom. Only now, unlike before, there was no King, no court. No anyone. Just cracking blocks, vines, mold, and dust. Skeletons strewn about, like an ancient tomb.

He stood in the Halls of Solarus, or what was left of them anyway. One of the walls had already fallen in, a home for nothing more than mangy rat creatures that paid him no mind. The great Alter of Solarus had been desecrated, with Runic inscriptions he did not understand but knew were etched with the intent of defiling his God and temple.

At last he was in the cave, where his last life's breath had been expelled. He stood over his own body remains, nothing more than a dusty skeleton, still gripping his battle axe and shield. He smiled, knowing as a true Knight, he had not dropped his weapon even in death. The bodies of his party, his friends, spread accross the room. Unplundered except by the ravages of time. Little care for treasure in this new world of Darkness.

Neurull approached him, "See now why your failure was so complete? See now why you could never go back?"

Tredis didn't even look at him.

"I can help you go where you want to be. But a price must be paid, for nothing is free. I can take you to Solarus, for he is alive, but only upon your word that you will never return to this world. You must bow before me, recognize my power over death, and swear to me that once I send you to your God upon your own judgment that you will never return here."

Tredis didn't move, didn't speak, didn't really think. He already knew. When his lips moved, it came out as a shout, "I AM HORSE LORD TREDIS SHADOWBANE, COMMANDER OF FAR KEEP NINE, DEFENDER OF THE PEOPLE AND KNIGHT OF THE HOUSE OF SOLARUS. I WILL NOT BOW BEFORE YOU OR ANY OTHER GOD THAN THAT OF SOLARUS. I FEAR NEITHER DEATH NOR PAIN, AND I SHALL SEE THAT YOU FACE THE JUDGEMENT AT THE END OF DAYS."

A massive tremor shook the room, the walls and floor seemed to shimmer, to waver ever so slightly. The darkness seemed to crack and split, once again becoming the white light that had broken through before. A huge being, made seemingly of fire, with huge angelic wings and a face of crimson ash, came before the pair. Nuerull didn't budge.

"You have no power here Raziel, you are on my plane. His soul is MINE! This world shall be mine as, as Lord Tiamat has promised!"

"That is where you are wrong Neurull. For Tredis is one of my own, a Fist of my own flesh. His faith in Solarus will carry him through this all, and Solarus has asked me to retrieve him from your grasp. You lose Neurull, his heart can not be tempted or fooled. Go back to the shadow, you insolent whelp of a godling!"

Neurull sagged back, seeming to shrink before the light of Raziel that burned brighter and more intense to the point of blinding Tredis. When the light and fire faded, they were alone.

Raziel put his massive hands on Tredis's shoulder, and looked him full on in the face.

"My son! I am proud to call you one of my own, you embody all the qualities of good, and are both noble and wise. Your work is not done my son. My time is short, I have borrowed Father's power for only a short time."

"Then the world is whole, humanity...."

"All lies my son, only meant to decieve and demoralize you. Neurull can be very influencial. And I was proud to see you see through him and defy his power. You must now return, your friends will need you."

Tredis turned to go, the only door out of this place. But stopped, "Will I see you again Lord Raziel?"

"Of course you will. Just make sure you win." and Raziel laughed in spite of himself.

"Oh and Tredis, be nice to the bard. You two are more intertwined than either of you can ever understand. Your paths are different, but your fates are the same."

When I awoke, I found myself standing outside of the Rusty Anchor, the rain was pouring hard. My body was healed, my flesh and hair restored. Had any of that actually happened? What was the future going to bring. I HAVE to find my friends, they MUST know I live!

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Mystery of the Shadar Kai


Although I have been trained to know good from evil, right from wrong, law from chaos, and injustice from justice, it is apparent that I do not understand the workings of some of these concepts. We have just completed what amounts to a wholesale slaughter of some innocent beings in the Lockewood forest. Although these beings are evil by my detection, they did us no harm and were even going to offer us assistance before we brought death upon their heads through our stubbornness to accept the truth.

We made a small camp in Darkness Falls following our landing and departure from Weelekoo's ship. Darkness Falls is a mine area whose workers are comprised almost entirely of Hobgoblin slaves. But, because it is the law here, we cannot directly oppose the slavery that plagues this land. We decided that we needed to focus on our immediate goal of locating the slaver hold first, then concentrate on working on the larger goal of liberating these lands. So we set out north from Darkness Falls, following the Andorian River as was indicated on our map. We entered the ancient elven lands of the Lockewood. We had a fierce fight with an underwater creature that nearly drowned me before my friends could bring it down, but eventually we found our target. It was an old elven town set high in the air on one of the huge trees of the Lockewood. While we were deciding how best to enter the establishment, we made contact with some rather peculiar looking individuals, who told us that the elves no longer lived in these woods and that they owned these lands now. At one point, a rope ladder was lowered and a huge grey and black beast came scurrying down from the tree. This beast had a look in his eye that unnerved the party, except for Skafloc, who was enraged at the prospect of these creatures stealing his peoples ancestral lands. I watched 4 men begin to climb down the ladder, and using my detection abilities, I knew all 4 were evil. Cerebrum asked me at one point if they were evil, and I told him yes. I remember him saying something about questioning whether they could fly or not, and the next thing I know, he had targeted the rope ladder they were climbing on with a ray of fire. Instantly, the rope was severed, and all 4 men fell to their death.

The people on the top began shooting volleys of arrows into our group, and the great beast on the ground attacked Skafloc. The beast was killed shortly after by the combined effort of the group, but something just did not ring true to me. Something about our fighting these creatures just felt wrong. So, I did the only thing I could do, I called a halt to the fighting. Our group backed off, and they in turn stopped their missile attacks. I then negotiated our entrance into their home by first offering myself without weapons to be the first up the rope. I managed to convince them to allow me to inspect their home for slaves, as our map from the slaver ship had noted. They agreed, but were feverent that there were no slaves and they did not practice slave trade. I convinced them that we had been duped into believing the way we did, and offered to make amends for killing 4 of their people and what they called a Shadow Beast. Our entire group was eventually brought up to the tree fortress, where I had to do my best to hold Skafloc back from killing these people. We learned they were called the Shadar Kai, and that they had lived in these lands for thousands of years. They told us they did not know why the elves had disappeared, or how a map to their small outpost had wound up on a slaving ship.

They were able to tell us something rather interesting, however. They have skill in astrology, particularly with the green comet Vermwood. They have received a rather interesting sign that seems to spell doom upon the Litorians in the area. They have seen visions of many Litorian slaves, as well as the great Cats being attacked by Elvish ghosts in their own homelands. Of this we will be investigating further.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Sword

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Plan Comes Together

The following is a letter to Anduin Shadowbane sent by Tredis following the Dwarven Rescue Adventure.

Anduin,

We are making great strides in locating the source of slave trade in the region. My compatriots and I recently liberated a gnome alchemist named Ein Trebla and two of his assistants from a slave ship named the "Stormbringer". Skafloc was able to negotiate passage for us onto the ship, and kept it's crew mesmerized for a short time until we could make our assault. We captured the ship fairly easily, and not only were we able to release the three captives, but we have also uncovered a map that shows a small outpost north of Darkness Falls on the Andorian river marked as a slave exchange. Weelekoo, our Darfellan ship captain friend, has agreed to shorten our journey by taking us north across Mere Lake. Once there, we have learned we will have to establish ourselves with a Company Writ, for we are presenting ourselves as a small mercenary company. We also must pay for an Explorer's Writ to explore the Three River's are of the Lockewood Forest. I am optimistic about our success in liberating, or at the very least positively identifying this slaver post. Weelekoo has warned us to be careful in Darkness Falls, he seems to think we may stir up trouble and bring death upon our heads. I don't know yet what it is he is worried about us seeing, but I am sure his worry is not unfounded. I will write again when we have established a foothold in this area.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Sword

Secrets of the Stormbringer

We were invited to a party held in the Old Quarter by the area elder and our friend, Mathis. It was a good time spent with good people, and I am glad that we were invited. Although we haven't earned everyone's trust yet, our presence now has the distinct feeling of being welcomed. People go out of their way to care for my companions and I, whether it be Varneen bringing us fresh bread she bakes every morning, or old Garn offering to take care of general maintenance of our lighthouse for a very small fee. We heard at the party from Mathis that they have learned a slaving ship is going to be in dock tomorrow evening. Obviously, we need to work to see about freeing the slaves on this ship. We decided to go back and begin our planning for attacking this ship, and I knew we were going to need Skafloc to make the right connections with contacts that none of us could, or would, deal with.

However, we did have a surprise visitor that I didn't quite expect at the end of the night. We arrived back to our lighthouse to discover our front door had been broken down. Not knowing what to think of it, we simply knocked on the door, we being myself, Cerebrum, and Aramis. A man answered from behind the door, telling us we needed to go away for a few days, and that he just needed to borrow the tower. Well, we continued to banter back and forth with the voice for a while, until he finally relented, saying, "Fine. But I warned you!" The door opened, and to our horror a huge Werewolf was standing inside! I think my overall surprise was fairly registered when the beast knocked me firmly on my behind before I could ever even draw my sword. Feeling stupid, I got back up and joined the fray, kicking myself repeatedly for selling that alchemical potion that would have turned my sword into a deadly weapon against this beast. As it was, Aramis and I had to scrap some finesse for brute force just to cause enough damage to actually hurt the creature. Cerebrum was by far the most dominant on the battlefield, his magic powers bringing the beast to his knees. Ultimately, we prevailed in killing the beast, and Cerebrum disposed of the body for us. Very strange events indeed.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Sword

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Reply from Anduin

The following letter was received by Tredis from Anduin Shadowbane, and bearing the official seal of House Shadowbane.

Sir Tredis,

I received your letter 2 days ago. I have to admit I was suprised that you would be asking me of all people about morality! Do you remember when we were children, and I had that great idea of putting that sneezing powder in Father Blackburn's Sunbook before his Sunday services? Or how about the time I had the idea of coating Sir Rathward's sword hilt in pigfat just so I could watch him try and hang on to it while he did the Draw and Salute. Oh yes, good times indeed. The reason I bring this up is because in each of those instances, it was you that convinced me that maybe they weren't the best ideas. You were always the rock of morality and ethics. Most of us had to learn while growing up the difference between justice and injustice, you seemed to be born with it. It is as if these terms are written on your soul.

You cite correctly that the evil should be judged and punished. However, it seems that you're running a little short on credible courts, arbitrators, or tribunals. It is in these dark times my friend that you will indeed find yourself serving as judge, jury, and sometimes executioner. In matters of your soul, remember only this: you need to come to your own decision based on the individual circumstances. For instance, you didn't let your party bully you into sentencing death upon the Priest of Death. Instead, I am confident that something was exchanged in the purpose of the greater good. In this case, he promised to banish himself from the country, and gave you knowledge of what was ahead on your mission to free the dwarves. The greater good was served. If you were to run accross him again of course, the sentence is death to be imposed immediately.

Do not be afraid to bring justice to the unjust, for in times of evil and corruption, you will be the only justice that people may have. You will find yourself being the bastion of light that others will look to for guidance, show them the meaning of truth and justice my friend. Show them the light.

~Father Anduin Shadowbane~
Priest of Solarus

Bringing Hope to Twilight


Keal Gseo, a representative of the Shining Crusade and a Fist of Raziel, paid us a visit today. He brought with him Anduin's greetings and talked to me about possibly becoming a Fist of Raziel someday. I would be truly honored to join this subsect of the Crusade. Anduin has relayed that no suitable cleric has been found to take over my duties, and I am still in charge of this shrine and considered to be on detached duty. He also sent new papers in which I have learned I have been promoted to Knight of the Sword, a great honor indeed! It seems these days I am wearing many hats. I am a Knight of the Sword, Priest of Solarus, Paladin of House Shadowbane, and the unofficial caretaker of the Old Quarter in Twilight. I have broad shoulders, and I would not have it any other way.

Our reputation has grown within Old Quarter. My position as Priest of Solarus has brought with it new problems with which need to be remedied. I find myself offering spiritual guidance to good people and bad, whores and beggars, thieves and laymen. I care for them all if they but take the courage to help themselves. Although I have never been formally trained as a spiritual advisor, I feel it is coming naturally, Solarus is giving me the wisdom and insight I need to aid these people with their problems. My companions have been most helpful. Dev, Druid of the Old Order, is able to assist me with healing of minor wounds and disease. He has been teasing me as of late because he has been snaring a few of my own followers to take as his own in the ways of nature. But it worries me not, for even if these people choose to follow a different path than Solarus, with Dev they will be following a good pantheon. Charnaset came to me yester eve with a sick child that he had discovered in an alley way. The child is only 12 or so, and was barely clinging to life with a terrible fever. Be rich and evil, and you can receive the best medical attention available, be poor and inconsequential and you are cast aside to die in some wretched alley. It only helps solidify my knowledge that my place is here with these people. Charnaset and I stayed up all night with the child until his fever broke at dawn. The Litorian continues to surprise me, I would not have thought one who looks like such a great beast could be so gentle and caring. I knew he was a good man, or beast man rather, but his level of concern for a creature not even his own kind really amazed me. The child for now has been taken in by one of the local families, though I will continue to pay his expenses because this family is already at it's monetary limits. He is apparently the youngest of a family that was robbed and killed during their journey to Twilight. He escaped death by pretending to be dead, and slipped off in the night for the lights of the city. It is amazing a boy so young was able to avoid being taken as a slave or worse. There is something different about this small human child, I do not know what it is yet, but something tells me that his future is important and that his destiny will somehow cross paths with my own. In time, I plan to take him under my own tutelage as my squire, much as the way Sir Brendan Shadowbane did with me. A boy with that much willingness and cunning to survive that great an evil surely has the makings of doing great things in his life.

I have decided to hold a service at dawn each morning, and I am receiving some 50 followers to these services. I do not collect tithes at this point, for I see an unbalance in which these people need spiritual leadership, and should not be burdened with having to pay for my services. It is I who have chosen to bring the light to these people, and it is my burden, not theirs. Someday, when true order can be restored to this city, then there can be a time in which they repay Solarus in whatever way they see fit. I have established a council of sorts for our small band of followers, in which I have asked Mathis to chair. The council will have precedence to make rulings in this church's business while I am away on adventures. While I do hope for these people that a formal cleric may yet take on these duties with more skill than I posses, I feel we have established a good following here. My next goal is to raise enough money to build a formal church building. This would have two purposes, to bring in more patrons, and to possibly be fortified to protect our worshippers from those who may mean to destroy them. My party has also assisted me in beginning the training of a militia of sorts, to protect against the corrupt city guards as well as the undead that seem to be an occasional problem in this quarter of the city.

I do not know yet what our part is in the grand scheme of issues in Twilight, but I am sure we will soon be shown.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Sword

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Question of Morality

The following is a letter to Anduin Shadowbane sent by Tredis following the Dwarven Rescue Adventure.

Brother Anduin,

Things have been busy here in Twilight. We were recently able to rescue a group of dwarves that had been taken hostage by a group of aberrations living in the hills near Twilight. There were some great battles and close calls, but the party and I prevailed. Which brings the point of this letter. If there is one question I ask myself more often than others, it is the question of morality and ethics. Specifically, where do I draw the line between cleansing and murder? There have been a few situations in which I found myself having to justify my acton of sparing an enemy's life to my party members. In fact, it nearly got my Bard friend killed during our last adventure. The last thing I want is a decision of mine to get another party member killed. Skafloc is brash and bold, but he is a good man and a good friend. Obviously, he made his own decision when he decided to pursue the enemy I had let flee from us. But I question my original decision still. Solarus preaches tolerance and mercy, both qualities I posses, but I do not know if I am showing too much mercy. I feel my soul is in conflict on this situation. Death to an enemy in combat or after being judged to a sentence of death I have no problem with, pronouncing death on an opponent who is helpless I do. I know my heart would have me serve justice upon these evil doers, because in Twilight there is no such courts or authority, save those who can be bought. Anduin, you are wiser in these matters than I, and I ask for guidance and insight from you and the Elders of House Shadowbane into my dilemma.

Solarus be with you my brother,

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Sword

The Rescue of Dwarven Captives


My companions received word while working on our lighthouse that Relgarn was eager to speak to us, and requested that we join him at the Plentiful Catch Inn in the Church Quarter. We have in the past visited this said Inn, and it was the poor hospitality and egotistical nature of the proprieter that caused us to seek out our lighthouse immediately upon arriving to this city. In a way, that foul innkeeper had allowed us to see the true nature of Twilight; the rich rule the poor in a way not unlike an evil lord would rule his serfs. We know now where our place is in this city, it is with the people. So, it was not a lie to say we were not looking forward to wasting our time in this particular establishment; if it had not been Relgarn who had summoned us, we may not have even bothered.

Relgarn was visibly shaken when we met him. Relgarn relayed to us that more dwarves had gone missing, and were likely being held in the Skarn kingdom of Tarsuska. Among those taken was Relgarn's own brother and our friend Tordek! The dwarves were likely kidnapped from the dwarven city of Deep Delve, where there not a great army to protect them from slave raids by the skarn. It was also possible that rogue hobgoblins were responsible. We agreed to help Relgarn, and in exchange, Relgarn agreed to work to right our lighthouse's crumbling foundation. Relgarn gave us the general direction of where to begin our search, we would travel first to the Copper Hills, east of the Black Forest and begin our search from there.

The Copper Hills made travel by mount more difficult, and we found ourselves walking our horses more often than riding them. My horse, Gluten, was most appreciative and only managed to step on my feet twice. It was about this time that we had a closer encounter with nature than I would have liked. A huge bear came shambling out of the woods on it's hind legs and let out a gutteral roar! This creature was huge, and could have seriously injured us if we would have had to fight it. But, before the bear could even charge us, the great Litorian Charnaset let out a great roar of his own! The bear did not run, but it did back down and probably re-evaluated its' meal possibilities. The druid Dev was able to convince the creature that we were not food, and the bear left our path and dissapeared into a small grove of trees.

It was then that we came accross our first lead to finding our missing dwarves. We came accross a small band of Hobgoblins as they passed below in a small canyon below us. I moved to where they could see me, and hailed them, not knowing if they were friend or foe. Their response was not so favorable, and ordered me to surrender myself to them. I gave them an opportunity to peacefully tell me where the dwarves were located, and they responded with an attack. Our counter attack was devastating. Charnaset and Ark the Barbarian charged down the hill at our foes, and I charged upon Gluten's back with a heavy lance in hand. Four of them died before their companions even realized how many of us there were attacking. All but two hobgoblins were killed, and the remaining two hobs were able to tell us exactly where we needed to go: we were to head west along the track they had been following and look for the blocked off tunnel. The hobs warned us to stay to the right if we wanted to avoid being crushed by boulders, and then warned us of a creature that would sneak out and choke us as we walked by it. Beyond that they described a barracks room, but were unable to describe anything else in the dungeon, for they had never been any farther.



The choker in battle was as described by the hobgoblins, a fearsome opponent with oversized arms and hands, and possessing superhuman strength. This creature nearly killed more than one in our party before we could bring it down. At the same time, the dungeon split off into many corridors, and it seems we were fighting monsters every time we turned around. Often, we found ourselves fighting on multiple fronts, with monsters attacking all sides of our party at once. We encountered a cleric of the Death God, and after a ferocious battle with him and his minions, he was routed. I still question myself now as to why I let him live, but I know this: I am no executioner, and I will not kill a defenseless man or woman. The cleric in defeat swore to leave this country and return to Darkness Falls, and also told us where to find his treasure. Against the wishes of my party, I allowed the cleric to depart the dungeon. Skafloc, however, had a different idea for this evil cleric's fate. He quietly followed the cleric outside of the dungeon as well as outside of my sensory range, and attacked the cleric with a vengence. Unfortunately, the cleric dispatched Skafloc. He did not kill him, however, and we were able to bring him back to life. This has been a sore subject between Skafloc and I, but neither of us has made an issue of it yet, mostly because we were both too busy fighting for our lives!

We fought our way down deeper into the catacombs, and entered a room that began filling with water. We had two decisions on which way to go before we would find ourselves underwater. We followed a passage down another hallway, to a place where the water was MUCH deeper. A large, tenetacled monster attacked our party, and pulled more than one of our members underwater. I myself drew my dagger, as my battleaxe would be useless underwater, and dove in to aid my compatriots. Underwater, the tentacle creature was aided by a skarn warrior. Ark became locked in mortal combat with his hated enemy the skarn, and I did my best to assist him in the fight. Above us and unbenounced to us, a battle raged in the air, between our party and a group of hobgoblins positioned accross the deep water. Arrows, spells, and death filled the air with the artillery of battle between the groups. Our party members above became dismayed when blood began to fill the pool we were fighting under, but eventually we surfaced. Luckily, Ark was able to help me swim, as it is most difficult to swim wearing a breastplate. We knew we had to continue the way we had started, it was the only way not almost completely underwater already. We came to another area where there seemed to be a deep pool. We noticed only what appeared to be 5 sets of airbubbles appearing on the surface, and knew immediately it must be our missing dwarves! Ark and Charnaset dove into the water to free the dwarves, and then we came into a new dilema: our passage from where we had came was almost completely filled with water, and none of us had the air to make it back that way save Ark the Darfellan. The dwarves told us the hobs that had run by knew another passage to get out, and described it as being immediately under where we were. We all took deep breaths and got ready to dive under the water, but Dev looked shaken. When asked why he looked so nervous, he nearly shouted, "I hate water more than I hate rats, AND I HATE RATS!!!"

We were, however, able to convince him to enter the underwater cave with us, and for the first time we thought we were going to escape alive. Then, like a sheer wave of terror, we were set upon by a horde of flesh eating pihranas! Charnaset was nearly killed and rendered hairless by the first wave of these creatures. Most of my companions, like myself, were weakened, drowning, and out of resources. It was Dev the druid that was able to kill the underwater monsters, and he cleared a way for our escape from the wretched tunnels. Seeing the daylight on my face again was akin to being born again, our time in that underwater tunnel had been so long. Our lungs drew deep gaping breaths, and we knew we were alive AND had saved the dwarves.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Lance

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Tale of Skafloc and Charnaset, Two Paths of Fate




Events are slowing down now. There is some semblance of restoration in the Old Quarter. My companions and I have now been able to provide some measure of hope to these desperate people. Many a man in this part of the city is earning his coin in the labors of rebuilding our lighthouse as well as the Shrine to Solarus. The work is difficult and must be exact, but progress has been made. It will take some time before it can be considered finished, but it has kept me occupied and has provided some freedom from the thoughts of our last encounter with the evil minions of the God of Death. I kept replaying the scenario in my mind, wondering if it was not my companions and I that were actually the target, wondering if something had already been put in motion before even our arrival to this bleak city. But my mind is now at peace, at calm in the warmth Solarus provides. The stout ale and fine pipeweed, both gifts of the land, have been my favorite companions in my solitude as of late. Last evening I shared a fire with Charnaset and Skafloc, and was able to convince the great Litorian to share with me the story of his life. He seemed to brush it off as being non-important. I reminded him that under Solarus, all life is important, and that all mortals play a role in this existence that we call life. Skafloc and Charnaset have known each other far longer than I have known either of them, and I feel their fates are indeed intertwined...

Charnaset was born the third male of his litter, not really a position of power within the pride. The two older males were always given favorable treatment during the kit years, which often left Charnaset fighting the carrion crows for scraps of food. However, none of this cause strife for the young litorian. It was his place within the pride and he accepted this without question or humiliation.

During this time his days were filled by playing with his siblings and learning at the feet of the elders. Charnaset learned to show reverence every morning as his god awoke and showered the pride with warmth and light. At night Charnaset would join the others as they gathered around the warmth given by the children of the god, listening to the elders offer praise and thanks to the god as his vestige, yet again, was hidden for another night. And during the darkness of the night is when Charnaset first dared to glimpse into the sky and see the green star that shown so brightly...colors seemingly swirling and dancing around the green omen.

But of more interest to the growing male were the tales of the great litorian hunter whom the elders said would one day return from the stars and battle great and dire evils for all races, not just the catfolk. The elders would point to the green light in the night sky as a sign from their god that the startouched hunter's time was at hand. Even while the other young males were preening in front of the females in shows of lustful boasting, Charnaset found himself drawn more and more to the elders and their tales of the startouched hunter. Eventually, even the elders grew weary of this lesser son's repeated inquires of the green star and it's litorian paragon and bade Charnaset to put his focus into other areas. In spite of his ranking within the family order, Charnaset grew to be strong and cunning, more so than the older males of his litter. So when the litorian was offered a position on the patrol (an honorable position that not only attracted the attention of the older males, but also a few females looking for a mate) he accepted. To Charnaset, being on the patrol was less about honor and more about being able to wander the grasslands with nothing but his thoughs and dreams of the startouched hunter.

And so it would have gone, day after day, except for one fateful night while Charnaset was patrolling the border between the pride's lands and the Black Forest. Several hours before before moon set, the litorian sensed a presence in the nearby woods. Lowering himself into the tall grass he spied a faint green mist enshrouding a humanoid figure. Immediately wondering if it was the startouched hunter returned, the litorian quietly moved forward to investigate....first to the edge of the woods, then into the woods, but only a few feet, and finally deeper. Time had no meaning as Charnaset continued deeper and deeper into the heart of the forest...the faint green mist always just ahead of him. Before much longer the litorian wished to turn back, but it was as if he had lost his will...he felt compelled to follow the spectral mist that seemed to be taunting him...whispering to him. And Charnaset whispered back; details about the pride; it members; patrol schedules; perceived weaknesses to be exploited. No question was left unanswered by the litorian. Eventually the whispering voices stopped asking questions, and the litorian became uneasy...the presence of unnatural auras around him had finally penetrated the fog of his mind, and he began to panic. Instinct took over and Charnaset began to finally fight thru the fog...both in his head and that surrounded him. But the green mist grew more and more constrictive...to the point that Charnaset felt as if his very life-force was being drawn out of him. Oddly enough, as the world around him began to fade into black, he heard a high-pitched voice singing a tune in a language he did not recognize. Despite this limitation, he oddly felt at peace when unconsciousness finally embraced him.

When the litorian awoke, he found a slender elf sitting on the ground next to him and stirring the embers of a dying camp fire. The god was high in the sky and Charnaset knew he had been asleep for many hours. Introducing himself as Skarloc, the elf proceeded to chastise the litorian for entering the Black Forest alone. Skarloc himself wasn't sure that passage thru the forest was safe, but the elf, who said he was a minstrel, had decided to look for a shortcut thru the forest in hopes of visiting the towns of the southern half of the continent. Regrettably, the elf had misjudged the forest, and found himself hopefully lost, much like the litorian, as he pointed out. It was surely providence that brought the elf to the litorian in "the nick of time, I must tell you". Remembering the whispering voices, the litorian grew fearful and pleaded with the elf to help him find a way out of the forest...to his pride. Swearing a life debt to the elf in exchange for his assistance, the pair spent the remainder of the day trekking thru the forest. Just before the god hid behind the distant mountains for his nightly slumber, the litorian and elf stumbled out of the woods, and into hell. The pride has been decimated. Nary a litorian remained alive. Many appeared to have been torn apart and partially eaten, especially the kits. Deep in despair with guilt and shame, Charnaset refused to leave the carnage. He brought this onto his people...he brought this onto his pride. To join them would be the most honorable service he could offer at this point. But the elf refused to let the litorian simply give up. Calling upon the life-debt owed him, Skarloc demanded that Charnaset journey with him to his master's home... a old human male who, claimed the elf, could help Charnaset right this wrong; Teach the litorian what he would need to prevent this horror from occurring to other prides in the litorian race.

Since that time, Charnaset has made a modest living as a hunting guide for the nobles of various cities. Often times, he would team up with Skarloc, whenever the elf was around, and lead groups of nobles on hunting trips. The litorian was getting the reputation as a skilled guide, and an even better judge of character. It was commonly known that if a hunter stepped out of bounds, or willingly broke one of Charnaset's rules, there would be hell to pay. The litorian, often sullen and quiet, was nevertheless content with his profession...until he got the news that Volkar had left this world for the next..
.


~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Lance
Priest of Solarus

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reply to Tredis from Anduin

This letter was recieved by Tredis Shadowbane from his friend Anduin on 26 Inspring 1005

20th Inspring, 1005

Tredis!

Can't you ever stay out of trouble. 2 weeks you're gone and you're already causing a rift in the countryside! Do I have to babysit you everywhere you go! I kid of course my brother, I've looked forward to your letters as of late. My service to the Archprelate is much more boring than the exploits of my friend the Knight. Your companions seem most fitting, and I am glad you share good company!

My letter of course is not without purpose. The Shining Crusade has decided to send you a rather large amount of money to help with the rebuilding of the shrine and the general wellbeing of your party as an extension of itself. They have agreed to replace the Cleric that was on assignment there, but request that you and your companions investigate his death, and possibly recover his body so that proper burial can take place.

I am glad indeed to hear that you are still alive my friend! Try to stay that way, Alicia would be dissapointed if you got yourself killed before she could force you to marry her. I still can't believe you left her to run off and play Paladin, what is wrong with you! Hello, need to remind you?

I just don't get it Tredis, but don't worry, I won't tell her about it or let her know where you are! Actually, I'm worried about you myself, I've sent some money just for you. It's only a hundred coins, but I want you to keep it for your own use. I know you can justify your own suffering to help others, but you need to maintain yourself and your equipment, I won't have you dropping dead of starvation on me! The Crusade has sent 3000 coins; more than enough to rebuild the shrine, enough to re-establish the lighthouse for yourselves, and the rest to do with as you see best.

The best of luck to you my brother, Solarus be with you!

~Anduin Shadowban~
Priest of Solarus


Letter to Shining Crusade




The following is a copy of a letter dispatched from Tredis Shadowbane in care of his friend Brother Anduin Shadowbane to be delivered to the Shining Crusade.

Starday, 12th Inspring, 1005

Anduin,

Time is short and need is great. We have worked to give hope to people who now have none in this old quarter in the city of Twilight. But as I indicated in my last letter, the local Cleric of Solarus here has come to a bad end, and shrine has been burned to the ground. I have not the funds to rebuild it, but I will somehow find a way. These people need the light of Solarus, and in return he would recieve their adoration.

Although we conquered powerful foes representing the Death God, whose name I shall not invoke in this letter, we were nearly attacked later by people who were tracking them. The armor that the dark knight bore I have taken for myself, as it represents fine craftsmanship, but no evil magics. Evidently, that is the sign that these people were looking for, as we were set upon by a group of mercenaries looking for them, or so we thought. We were able to convince them that the real persons they were looking for were dead, and were able to convince them and show them the bodies. When asked why they wanted these two followers of death so bad, they showed us a necklass that glowed with the blood of an abberation, a strange combo indeed if the leagues of the dead have taken up with other magical creatures.

I send this letter not only to recount and update the Shining Crusade, but also to ask for funds and a priest to be used in this town as best known how. In the meantime, I feel Solarus has personally called me here for this very reason, and I am taking it upon myself to answer that call and work as the Cleric for this town. I had always thought Solarus would have me serve with only my sword and faith, but now it seems otherwise. Although I am not as wise as others in our faith, nor as schooled, I am successfully serving the function of minister and healer for this forgotten section of town and the people who live here. I know as a Paladin my place is with these people. In addition, we met a pair of Dwarf Traders named Tordak and Relgarn, who are most interested in enlisting our aid to look for some dwarves that have gone missing inside the goblin lands. Apparently, there was a dispute that the government cannot get involved in, and our party has been requested to see about these dwarves' safety. My compatriots are willing to join in this cause, and we shall see what happens.

I don't know what the outcome of this situation will be for these people, but I do know I will serve them as best as Solarus allows.

Thank you for your haste, brother,

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Lance

The Battle on the Docks




Well, Mathis has relayed to us that when the Green Comet flies, the Dead Arise. He wasn't able to give much more information than that, other than he knew where they would be coming from. Apparently, there are many bodies bourne of the saltwater marshes in this quarter of town, and the dead rise from this area. Unfortunately for the townsfolks living here, those docks, with their derelect ships and mud huts are homes for many of these people. I swore that I would not allow the filthy undead to take anything more from these downtrodden people. We set about to make defense arrangements, and I was able to convince Mathis and a few other townsmen that we would fight for their homes, but we would also teach them to fight for themselves. Charnaset showed his battle cunning, and he took the lead in devising our plan for battle. The strategy was simple: soak the old dry docks in lamp oils, build barricades at the end, and lure them onto the docks. Then Skafloc with his bow could ignite the planks where they set food. My contribution was barricading the ends of the docks between the homes, and forming a death spot where villagers with home crafted long spears could stab and destroy their foes from a distance. Everything seemed ready, only we needed to somehow bait the creatures to one area, so that we were not fighting the battle on multiple fronts. I myself volunteered to be the bait, figuring a Knight Paladin of Solarus would be tempting food to any undead that may attack. The plan worked well, most of the undead walked directly into our killzone, between the fire and the long spears, we dispatched the zombies with ease.

During the fight, a boat appeared carrying a human and a dwarf. Both seemed comfortable and sided with the undead, so we found ourselves fighting them as well. Charnaset made an amazing leap from the top of one building, and engaged the dwarf in single combat. Ark the Barbarian and myself moved toward the human fighter, he had the lust of death in his eyes. Dev and his animal companion joined the fray as well, and during the fight scored a crucial strike to the dark knight. He then called upon the God of Death, whose name I shall give no credence in my journal, to strike me down. So weak was he, that the blow never came close. I could see the fear in his eyes as I drew upon the power of Solarus to destroy him. Charnaset and Dev made quick work of the Dwarf, who was apparently a priest of the Death God.

In the end, we were victorious, and not a single townsman was lost. I was proud to fight alongside my companions, we truly made rather quick work of our adversaries.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Lance

Our adventure in the Lighthouse

Wow, the lighthouse certainly wasn't what I expected, but I was shocked by what we found there. The rumors were true, the lighthouse WAS haunted. We first entered and encountered these strange undead creatures, small as they were, riding upon the backs of giant rats! A fierce battle ensued. I thought for a moment during that battle that I would be knocked unconscious, but I cared not, for my companions were in danger. At one point, I believe Charnaset physically picked me up and moved me. Bless his soul, he knows I would have gone to death in battle. We conquered our foes, but had to retreat from the lighthouse to heal our wounds before we could continue exploring. We rested the eve and the day with Mathis, who was most accomodating. It was then that Mathis relayed to us that the Green Star would be bringing changes with it, and that in 2 short days the dead would rise to walk again in this area. How kind of him to let us know while we were in the middle of another crusade. But no matter! We would succeed in taking back our tower, then we could deal with the wicked dead. We then set off again to reclaim what was ours. On the top level of the tower, we discovered our "ghosts".



Floating abberations, floating eyes to be more descriptive. Little wizards they were too! One even succeeded in overpowering my mind and cause me to lose focus. I saw a couple of our companions be frozen by magical frost, and another dazed by some unseen witchcraft. But alas, the battle was ours! We reclaimed the tower in the name of Volkar. We discovered the strange, magical torch that provided light for the lighthouse beacon, and something even stranger. We felt the presence of a strong magic in which none of us could quite describe. Skafloc, my bardic companion, was able to determine that this lighthouse had seen some heroic act of vigilance in times past, and that if we were to stay here for 24 hours, some of that magic would be transferred to us for a short time. We knew not what the battle with the undead would bring, but we knew we needed rest anyway, so we took up in the tower! That evening was peaceful, the best sleep I have had since stepping foot into this depressed town. My vision was clearer, and I seemed more aware of events transpiring around me. Strange indeed.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Lance

City of Twilight

The following is a copy of a letter sent from Sir Tredis to Brother Anduin Shadowbane after arriving in Twilight.

Sunday, 8th Inspring 1005, Town of Twilight.

Brother Anduin,

Evil is afoot within the city of Twilight. Upon arriving in the city, my party and I set to make accomodations with the Plentiful Catch Inn in the Temple District. The place was slightly out of my normal price range, but it was the attitude of the inkeepers that was enought to make me more than a little angry. I was nearly enraged when I inquired about a local shrine of Solarus, and was told backhandedly that the local priest had been killed and the shrine had been burned. I knew that this incident needed to be investigated.

We decided instead of staying at the Inn to set out to claim our property, and hired a small boat to take us to the Old Quarter. Before we were able to enter the quarter, we were stopped by another party of adventurers calling themselves the Incarnum Flame. Their apparent leader was a man named Priodin. Priodin was a bloated braggart who seemed to be more interested in filling his pockets than recognizing the need of this city. He told us of the flooding that was killing prisoners inside the insane asylum located in this area of the city. Even though the men inside are insane or criminals, you and I know that no man deserves an unsentenced death, caused by neglect of the jailers. I shall look into this matter should I gain some free time. Priodin went on to tell me how great he and his party were, and we patiently listened until they were finished spewing their tales of exploit. I'm hoping Skafloc can immortalize them in some "fitting" way in literature or song.

We discovered our lighthouse was more of a leanhouse. It had obviously sat in ill-repair for many a year. The locals of this district, led by a man named Mathis, tell us that the old lighthouse is haunted. We have established accomodations with Mathis before we face whatever does haunt that lighthouse. The people here in the old quarter are good people. Their only crime is being poor. Although I didn't tell my compatriots, I gave the last of my coins to these people; their need is certainly greater than my own. I fear with no strong leader and no hope, these seemingly good hearted people will start to become desperate to survive and begin the path of crime and the decent to evil. The hour grows late, and I am weary. Please pass these events on to our superiors, and I make a formal request to the Shining Crusade and House Shadowbane to send a priest to re-establish the following of Solarus in this area. I will personally inspect the leftovers of the Shrine of Solarus, and do what I can to repair it.

Your brother in arms,
Tredis Shadowbane
Knight of the Lance

Set Sail for Twilight




We have set sail from our camp making full speed for the Town of Twilight. Last evening, we met with the Captain, Weelekoo in a small dockside tavern. Skafloc made quite an impression upon the captain and his first mate, and was able to arrange passage for us across Mere Lake without charge. Skafloc was able to spin a tale that had the Darfellan all but weeping in their ale! Most strange indeed. We spent the evening in the tavern, not an uncomfortable one at that. The food was good, the ale was stout, and the service was excellent.

The next morning was a comical sight, as we witnessed the Druid Dev fall into the lake before boarding the ship. He must have been too drunk upon the ale from the evening before, that is the only explanation short of him jumping off the dock. But we were able to retrieve him, and set sail shortly after sunrise. While on the boat, we were able to reconnect with the Darfellan Ark, and he has joined us upon our journey. The winds have picked up, the air is crisp, and Solarus is shining upon us, speeding our journey. We shall see what happens upon reaching Twilight, but I look forward to the journey with my compatriots. Our Darfellan Captain, Weelekoo, has recommended we stay at the Plentiful Catch Inn near the Temple District, as apparently much of Twilight is extremely dangerous. We shall see.

~Tredis Shadowbane~
Knight of the Lance

The Journey to Twilight

The following is a copy of a letter sent from Sir Tredis to Brother Anduin Shadowbane, just prior to beginning the adventure in the Mere Lake region.

Starday, 3rd Inspring, 1005
Camped in the Mere Lake Region

Anduin,

Our party is camped for the last evening here in gloomy Mere Lake. We have learned more about the property that Volkar left for us. The deed itself is for the lighthouse in the Old Quarter of Twilight. I know not this region, but we will be seeing it soon, as it has been unanimously decided that we should venture there to follow Volkars wishes. I am beginning to learn more about my compatriots, and I find comfort in their company. Charnaset, the large Litorian scout is an avid follower of Solarus, and he is a trustworthy and honorable soul. I have enjoyed our conversation beside the campfire in the evening. The bard, Skafloc, is an interesting individual, which is not to say I do not like him for certainly I do. He has the voice that could put our choir to shame, and a wit that would rival your own. He knows much about his area and has been an invaluable ally as well. The druid Dev says little, but his actions alone are enough for me to believe he will be a great compatriot in combat. In addition, he has a command over beasts that I have never seen before. His love for all things living cannot be described in mortal words.
Our first order of business on this trip will be to make contact with Weelekoo, the Darfellan ship captain who should be able to take us accross Mere Lake to Twilight, saving us much time. I shall write again when I have reached Twilight and better understand the situation. Please pass this information on to our superiors.

Yours in Arms,
Tredis Shadowbane