Moonsong City

A Champion to Save Another

She crunched slowly across the endless plain of snow. Her feet barely cracked the frozen crust. The wind picked up ice crystals from the ground and hurled them at her, cutting unnoticed into her already numbed cheeks. She scanned the horizon again. There it was. A lone dark shape against the gray and white of the winter coated sky and earth. The raven. It circled as it always did, tracing long looping trails across the sky. She started forward again, shivering as another gust of wind cut into her. She hadn’t taken more than a few steps when a cry from above snapped her head up and stopped her in her tracks. The raven’s path faltered as she watched. It screamed again and plummetted to the ground.

‘Frack – that can’t be good’, she thought to herself, then smiled. ‘I sound like him…’ She picked up her pace, carving a path through the pristine snow towards the bank of trees where the raven had fallen.

In time, she reached the wooded area. ’I’ve been here before’, she thought as she entered the woods. She shivered as the memory took hold. ‘Not again…’ Things went black for a while.

She awoke some time later, half buried in snow and lengthening shadows. She sat up, shaking her head to clear it. The snow around her was trampled. She stood, gathered the remnants of her wedding dress around her and looked around. Something was different this time. She stepped into the deep gloom and pushed through some underbrush into a small clearing. Discarded and broken equipment was strewn across the ground. Much of it was coated with blood. A man lay in the middle of the clearing, a spear protruding from his chest. Its long haft shook as he took a shallow ragged breath.

‘Poe’, she whispered. In all of the torments she had endured, all of the repeated pain, she hadn’t seen this before. Steeling herself against this new torture, she raced forward and fell to her knees, cradling him in her arms.

“Alia.” The cold voice rang in her head. She froze. A woman appeared in the shadows, her long black hair still despite the breeze. “We need to talk.”

‘Bitch.’ She cursed silently, still unable to move. The woman’s gaze drilled into her, but she refused to look away, summoning all of her hatred to withstand the power behind the woman’s black eyes.

Black feathered wings unfurled suddenly from the woman’s back, flaring as if she were about to launch into flight. “Enough!” The word blasted into her.

“Now is not the time”, the winged woman continued, her wings folding carefully behind her. “Poe is lost.”

The man in let out a quiet rasping breath. He didn’t take another.

‘Poe! No! I would have known…’ She hugged the body in her arms closer.

“Yes, Alia”, the woman interrupted her thoughts. “You would have. If he were simply dead. It’s not that simple.”

The woman smiled grimly and stepped closer.

“But that complication is your opportunity. Are you willing to make a deal, Alia?” The woman reached out, grasping the haft of the spear extending from Poe’s corpse. “I have to admit that you’ve impressed me. Few have defied me so brazenly and lived.” She paused. “Of course, you were already dead.” She chuckled.

‘Frack’, Alia thought. ‘She knows…’

“Of course I know”, the woman cut off Alia’s thoughts again. “Your gift to Poe is why there is a chance you could be reunited with him. A chance that only I can give you an opportunity to seize.” With a vicious twist, the woman ripped the spear from Poe’s body. Alia fell backwards in the blood red snow.

“I’ve lost my champion and the heroes are without their guide.” She leaned closer to Alia as she spoke, hefting the bloody spear in her hand. With a quick twist she snapped its head off and tossed the haft to the side. Holding the spear tip like a dagger she caught Alia’s arm in her right hand. “Finish Poe’s task. See it through and I’ll see to it that you get that opportunity.”

Alias stared at the woman in disbelief. The Queen of fate was offering her a choice? She didn’t hesitate.

“Done.” Alia whispered. Then, louder, she said, “Yes.”

“Good”, hissed the Queen. She pulled Alia’s arm straight. “Let’s make it formal shall we? Using the old ways…” before Alia could react, the Queen sliced across her arm with the spear’s sharp tip. Blood welled up from the cut. The Queen did the same on her own arm, her pale white skin also parting under the razor sharp blade, and then extended it to her. Alia stared at it, hesitating for a second, then grasped it. The Queen squeezed Alia’s arm tightly, smearing their blood together. Alia suddenly felt lightheaded.

“Now it is done”, sighed the Queen, pulling her arm away. She handed Alia the spear tip. “Keep this,” she said. “It should prove useful, if only to remind you of this.” The queen shook her arm, small droplets of blood spattered onto the snow, hissing. Her arm was again, smooth and pale. Unmarred. Alia took the spear tip, tucking it into the waist of her dress like a dagger. Maybe it would come in handy, she thought. Her head was still reeling a bit and her arm was starting to burn.

“Of course,” continued the Queen, “you’ll need much more than that to be successful. Follow me.” She walked across the clearing and into a large hall with tall vaulted ceilings. Alia blinked. The frozen glen was gone, replaced suddenly with what appeared to be an armory. Armor hung from the walls, flanked by more weapons then she’d ever seen. “Select whatever you think will suit you,” said the Queen, gesturing at the equipment. “When you’re ready, step through that door.” She pointed at the heavy, ironshod door on the far side of the room. “It will take you to the heroes. After that it is up to you. I’ll be watching. When the time is right and you’ve fulfilled your end of the deal, you’ll find Poe.” The Queen turned to leave.

“Wait.” Alia stopped her. The Queen cocked her head and turned back.

“Yes…”

Alia shivered. ‘Too late to turn back now’, she thought and pressed on. “I just want you to know,” she said with all of the venom she could muster. “That I hate you. I’ll do this thing, for Poe, and for the world, but not for you. When it’s done, you will have a reckoning with he and I…”

The Queen laughed. “Excellent”, she said coldly. “I look forward to it. It’ll actually be nice to see Poe again. I’d grown rather fond of him…” With that she turned, her wings flared up and she disappeared.

Alia swung back to the wall of armor and equipment. She had no idea where to start. The tingling in her arm was spreading and strangely, she felt drawn to several items. She lifted a long handled, wickedly bladed weapon from its hooks on the wall. It fit her hand perfectly. Good enough. She turned towards the armor…


The Queen settled into an ornate throne in a long, barren hall lined with black pillars. A cup of mulled wine appeared in her hand and she took a sip. As she did, she noticed a fleck of blood on her sleeve. With a thought, she cleaned it and took another drink.

“So…it appears to have worked.” The hag spoke from the shadows behind the throne where she stood leaning heavily on a wooden staff.

“Yes”, replied the Queen tiredly. “I think it has. She will willingly fulfill her fate now. Who knows, maybe she’ll even keep her promise and confront us one day with her beloved.”

“I hope they do.” said a young black haired girl as she twirled out of the darkness surrounding one of the pillars. “‘Cuz that’ll mean the world has been granted the new beginning it really needs. Besides, we all like Poe…admit it.” She grinned and twirled again, dodging the glares of the two older women.

The hag grunted and spat, but didn’t deny it.

“We shall see…”, the Queen said softly. “We shall see…”

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Return of the Damned

It had been some months since he had acquired the crystal. The crystal was held tightly by its messenger. Or what remained of its messenger anyway. He had intercepted the emissary of the Oasis of Life as he had made his way to Havenbrow. It hung suspended in a vat of vile liquid, the messenger’s right hand, severed above the elbow still tightly gripping it. It was not pleasant to have this living flesh so near, but such was the sacrifice one had to make if he wished for the magic to continue.

Then the crystal flared to life.

He had watched over it eagerly, hungrily. While he was certain that they no longer carried the star metal with them. He was equally certain that they knew where it was. And there were ways to make the living talk.

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There's No Place Like Home

Poe’s Journal


Poe

You know, this fort – hell, it’s really practically a town now – is really starting to feel like home. Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent so long convalescing here lately. Or maybe, Alia, it’s because it’s starting to remind me of the little town you and I grew up in. Either way, it’ll be a sad day when I can walk steadily for more than a few paces and can accompany the heroes on whatever their next mission turns out to be. Mission, heh. More likely that it’ll be some greed-fueled trek across the country after some mythical hoard…

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In the Service of the Raven Queen

Poe’s Journal


Poe

So here I am again beloved…ahhh, Alia, why is it only in the dregs of my cups that I can find any solace without you? I thought perhaps dedicating myself to the Raven Queen’s service, dutifully praying and trying to advance her goals – though I still sometimes wonder at the import she has placed on this particular group – would ease that pain. It’s not to be. Only in the heat of battle do I find peace. At least these heroes of prophecy lead me into the thick of the fight more often than not…even when they decide to run, as they did in the forest.

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Denouement

Poe had thought the Raven Queen had finally decided to give him a sweet release. The rest of the party was breathing a collective sigh of relief as they attempted to catch their breath. It had been a harrowing experience. Multiple waves of Kobolds had threatened to overrun Ron Burgundy’s Follies. Guss was flustered as the Kobolds had used their greater mobility to great advantage, avoiding the stalwart defender to strike at other more tempting targets. “Did one get away?” He asked between breaths.

“Yeah, downriver” came the answer from Kleister Fokken. “These little bastards are so damn hard to see in these trees.”

The Cleartear River rushed past our intrepid heroes. Over the river, a mere 150 feet away was the far bank, were the grasslands that offered much easier passage and much better sight lines. They had just started the ritual casting required to get the six members of their party across when the Kobolds had begun their attack, once again calling out for Beros’s head. Ron had memorized how to say “Kill the elf” now in Dragonic.

While the party cleared a space for the ritual casters to begin, Durkon excitedly turned over one of the Kobold adepts. “We must have found a party going to make a sacrifice. Look at the size of this piece of jade!” From the waterlogged body that had washed up after being felled by Beros’s arrows as it sought escape over the waters was a huge piece of a unworked jade. “This has to be worth a fortune.” Durkon whispered excitedly. “Maybe a couple of thousand to the right buyer.”

As they prepared to start again the magic to allow for their river crossing, there was a horrible sound from downriver. It sounded like a sick buffalo in heat. Beros’s head snapped up. “They’re calling for more. That’s a horn.” he whispered in horror. For a few minutes, the sound just hung in the air like a putrid fog. Then from upriver, came an answering horn. Then another, and another until the air was full of the dreadful noise. Finally from across the river, still out of sight came a much cleaner sounding horn.

Kloister recognized it immediately. “The orcs answer the call. I hope we have the time we need to get across the river.”

“Doubtful.” Ron said dejectedly. “Those were pontoons they had in the villages. With this current, I’d say we’ve got about 15 minutes. Maybe less.”

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Redepmtion Part I

Poe’s Journal


Poe

This will have to be quick. I’m sitting in the woods, on the banks of a fast moving river, as the heroes weigh their options. Orc horns are sounding in the distance and Ron’s falcon friend (Baxter I think he called him), is reporting scores of kobolds heading our way. Yeah, as if we haven’t already killed enough of the little frackers. You’d think they’d take a hint. Anyway, we won’t have much time to lick our wounds before all hell breaks loose again. I figure I should get some of this down while I have the chance…especially since the last week or so I’ve been too busy praying at night to properly record anything. From the sounds of things – and the nervous arguing of my intrepid hero friends this might be my last chance. Ahhh! Alia! Perhaps I’ll be with you soon…

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A Hilltop Fort

The wind whipped up as Guss stood atop of the four watch towers warding his new fort. It had been a good couple of days. The gnolls had been routed, Ron apparently had a spell that could help fix up the holes in the fort, and those birds couldn’t get over the walls. A good couple of days.

Meanwhile, Tyr was with The Lions of Moonsong, escorting the freed human slaves to connect with the other half of the party. The plains seems like a long way from the mountains. The halfings had decided to move after capturing an orc scout. It would seem there were now two green dragons hunting the plains looking for the star metal and Kobe. They felt the chances were better in the fort.

Ron’s time was spent reviewing the new ritual book they’d found buried deep inside the burnt out shell of the keep. The book had a couple of rituals in it. Enchant Magic Item, Eye of Alarm, and Gentle Repose.

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Dragon Slaying, almost...again

Poe’s Journal


Poe

You know, a guy really ought to be told. I mean, I have no problem following the heroes of prophecy around – it is my duty after all – and I can even handle being out on these accursed plains. But teeming masses of flightless carnivorous birds leaving nothing but pecked over bones in their path is a little much. I mean really – flightless birds. What’s the point? Aren’t they really just lizards with feathers? Anyway, I first became aware of these critters when Beros lost Kobe’s tracks due to a mass migration of hoofed animals. That’s also when we first spotted some of the pecked bones. And our dwarf. Not that the two were related – unfortunately in this case. At least the heroes were careful – we took a break for the night rather then press on in the dark.

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Kliester Fokken's Recap
From PCs
ok, here’s Kleister Fokkens view of the last battle- just an FYI
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One and two half men.

Tyr stood on a windswept hill. The valley below was empty of life. But not empty of movement. Dwarf spirits patrolled here. This was not a welcome place for the living. Across the valley, orc sentries stayed at watch. They seemed to understand the limit of the spirit warriors. They could not leave the valley. At the center of the patrolling dwarfs, a single standard stood. The standard of the Stonebreaker clan. It was here where the final battle of the Dwarven lords had taken place. It was here where the sacrifice was made. And it was here that Tyr was to bring the ones whom the elders dreamed.

And with that, Tyr awoke.

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