Undead Horrors

A strange contraption
Stipish proves he is one of the best

Karo and the delegates walk with Stipish to his home. Everyone was skeptical about the boy, but once they entered his backyard, most of that skepticism was replaced by wonder. If one would guess that there is a person passionate about wheels somewhere in the Stoneheart region, then this boy was clearly that person. Wheels of all sizes, widths, materials were scattered throughout the backyard, amongst tools and measuring devices which looked like they were created by Stipish himself. He went above and beyond when it came to researching an apparently simple topic.
- By the seven old gods, son… What do you have here? Karo exclaimed, while the other delegates were lost in Stipish’s backyard like children in a candy maker’s shop.
- Sir, I am what you call an enthusiast. The wheel is one of my passions. If it receives perfection when it is executed, the results are unbelievable. Look at this model right here. This is an exaggerated version of an unbalanced wheel set mounted on a simple wooden base. I’ve built this to study the stress that the whole carriage is under while the wheels are not perfect. The joints are covered in a special resin that will show us how the spokes move around.
Stipish places a weight on the small carriage, then pulls it around the yard. Squeaking and creaking sounds are made by the joints. After a couple of movements, the young boy stops the cart, removes the weight and shows Karo:
- See the black marks around the joints. This is where they touched the frame, where they were pulled apart or towards the axis. This model is exaggerated but at a certain degree this happens over time while the caravans move along their path. These frictions cause the joints to brake, they stress the wheels and the whole carriage. And this is even ground. Is the road from Bard’s Gate to Reme even?
Some of the delegates let out a short laugh. Karo the replies:
- I was about to ask you, young boy, that the wheels are not the only ones that need to be aligned. The ground is not even, the routes are not that traveled yet and even if it were, we are moving through forests and hills. We are in the beautiful Stoneheart Valley after all.
- That’s what I’ve thought! Let me show you how your caravans will work…
Stipish goes inside his small house. Even though the house is too little to have more than one or two rooms, Stipish is gone for a while. Noises of doors being shut and heavy loads being carried or drawn come from inside the house.
Finally after a couple of minutes Stipish comes out, dragging what appears to be some sort of carriage with weird looking wheels and mechanisms. The other delegates are looking in wonder, awaiting Karo’s impressions. Stipish places the carriage on the ground and once he lifts the breaks, the contraption moves effortlessly on the ground. He climbs on the thing and by turning a special mechanism with his feet, he makes it move around. With the help of two levers he can go left and right and brake.
Everybody is watching as if they see wondrous magic unveiling before their eyes. Even old Karo is speechless.
- Sirs, while I move around, please pay attention to the following details. Look at the way that the wheels move around, adapting to their environment. There are two systems in place that absorb shock, one is part of the wheel itself, which you can see is made of both metal and wood and one is part of the cart. I can feel almost no shock from changing environment. Would you like to try? Asks Stipish after braking.
The delegates start whispering amongst themselves, acting like they’re a bit afraid of trying the machine. Karo steps up again and with a brave attitude moves around the contraption analyzing it.
- So the levers control direction, similar to a small sail boat’s rudder…
- In a way, yes. Here, climb on the chair. The levers independently control the front wheels. This allows some control, but the driver needs to pay attention to both levers. They need to act at the same time. The driving mechanisms are irrelevant though, you will have horses or oxen pulling the caravan. What you need to feel are the wheels. Just place your feet like this, start turning them and use the levers to steer. While you move, focus on what your behind feels, sir. The pain in your bottom never lies.
A few of the delegates let out a short laugh, becoming more and more comfortable with the boy.
Karo is on the machine and is ready to start.
- You old fools carry some healing salves on you, right?
- Yes, yes, get going, tell us how it feels, maybe we want to try it… One of the older merchants answers.
Stipish steps away from the machine and Karo, sweaty and focused, starts turning the round mechanism with his feet. Chains start creaking and the contraption starts rolling forward on the ground.
- This is unbelievable! This machine is incredible!
Overly enthusiastic, Karo starts gaining some speed.
- Sir, be careful!
Heading for the fence, like a galloping force, Karo pulls the levers in the same direction at the same time and steers the machine towards the house. He’s too close to the wall and tries to break, the wheels lock and the carriage glides on the rubble until it abruptly hits the wall of Stipish’s home. The impact is so hard that Karo flies from the chair hitting the wooden frame like a bird trying to get through a glass window. Everyone gathers around tryin to see if he is alright.
- Sir! SIR! Say something!
After a few seconds, Karo rolls around on his back and with little air, says:
- You’ve got the job…, then closes his eyes apparently losing his consciousness.

To be continued

Deep beneath the Stoneheart Mountains
Koraashag's reprimand

- You told me you could handle it, half-breed! Do you remember your words? I remember them exactly! Tell them to me!
- Koraashag, please…
- Do not address me by my name! You have lost this privilege!
- High priest, there are reasons for my failures, unforeseen circumstances. You have to listen to me!
- How dare you! Is this what our lord is expecting? Excuses? From a half-breed rapeborn? All you had to do is secure the keep and enlist the shadow’s help. Your work was cut out for you! You brought orcs of your own and you told me… You told me, no one else did, you told me you have knowledge of small tribes of orcs in the region. Don’t tell me that a weak cleric of Freya together with a guard made out of peasants were able to kill you… If this is your excuse you are banished to Calthraxus’s service as a slave to his needs!
- High priest, this was not the case, please listen to me! The might of Tavik could not have been kneeled by that whore of a she-elf! There were others!
- What others?
- They looked like a party of adventurers, looking for the treasures of the wizard…
- Eralion had no treasure… We took all of his treasured belongings.
- I do not question their reasons, neither their existence or their capacity. They were led by a cleric of Cuthbert.
- A dwarfold?
- It didn’t seem so, he was not white haired, and his show of power was less than the tomes speak about.
- What about the others? Were they followers of the new dwarfather?
The old orc spits on the ground, once he mentions the dwarven god.
- No, high priest. It was most bizarre. There was a tiefling with them…
- A tiefling? Are you mad enough because of your defeat, that you’re willing to lie to a high priest of the demon god Orcus, Lord of the Undead, Scourge of the Living?
- It is not a lie, high priest! On curse of eternal pain in the layer of Cania, I swear!
- Enough of your trivialities! What of this tiefling?
- A warlock of some fiend. He manifested an imp familiar, so he must be chained to one of archfiends.
- Is he someone known? There aren’t many tieflings on this realm…
- We will consult the divine knowledge of Orcus and we will commune with the lord’s darkest fiends! We’ll find his lineage…
- You are starting to intrigue me, Tavik… Carry on.
- There were four more, a shape shifting druid, a gnome wizard, a human sorcerer and a dwarven fighter.
- A band of looting adventurers… They may prove to be a nuisance. I trust you will exact true vengeance on them and bring them to our lord’s service.
- The wheels of true vengeance are already spinning.
- There is hope for you yet, but do not fail again, or you will spend an eternity in pain before we let you wander the mortal realm again!
From the long corridors, sounds of pain and torture are heard at every minute, providing a grim background music to the discussion. Cadences of louder and louder footsteps add a certain rhythm to the noises and in a few moments, five acolytes, led by a dark robed human enter the chambers.
- Ah, brother Tavik! I see you are alive and well! How did you reach the temple so fast? Master Korashaag, I have requested a stone of recall at least once for myself and you told me that we do not have resources for something like this.
- I am no brother to you, filthy human! Tavik yells like a mad man, frothing at the mouth and readying his mace.
- I will destroy you both! SILENCE! You behave like the lowliest of the gnolls, Koraashag intervenes.
- Master Koraashag, I was just expressing a curiosity. We certainly did not expect a failure from one of our most prominent disciples. I am so sorry for you, Tavik! Mazargul smiles as he finishes the sentence, gazing patronizingly at Tavik, then continues:
- Is there anything we could’ve done to support your efforts, Tavik? You do know that our acolytes are more than happy to help?
- I do not need, nor want your help… Do not dare to assume you would have done better!
- We work towards the same goals, disciple, you will learn better. Master Korashaag, I would like to inform you that the recent divinations reveal that indeed the spirit of Eralion has been freed from the service of Orcus. There is reason to believe that the adventurers that have defeated Tavik are behind this. Shall we dedicate acolytes to their study?
- No, Mazargul… This would be a great opportunity for Tavik to set things straight. Tavik, you are to handle these nuisances as you see fit.
- But Master, Mazargul smiles, given the record of disciple Tavik…
- YOU do not command me, Acolyte! You are not of black blood, be grateful for our lord has received your service!
- Yes, Master.
- Now, join Barzag in the burial halls and finish your work. We need leverage for our plans!
- Yes, Master, I will see to it… Tavik… The human nods, as if bowing before the two.
The Half Orc growls, then the room is filled with silence and only the footsteps of the acolyte group leaving are heard.
- Master, I will see to this task and I understand that failure is no longer an option.
- Do not fail me again, Tavik! You have shown promise, but our lord has little patience with disappointments.
- I would also like to engage in securing the service of the black orcs near our temple, on the surface.
- This is for another time, disciple. For now, Calthraxus has precedence over them and we do not want to battle the ones that have similar purposes of existence. You have yet much to learn. See to your current task, and the death of your enemies will show you the way!
- I will not fail, Master!
- Report to me with your plans, when they are ready. If you travel on the surface, be wary, for you still carry savage blood and even though some may be used to your kind, you will still be noticed. Use the acolytes, this is why our lord has provided them. They are expendable…
- I will return at the next nightfall with my plans.

To be continued…

Dear Zhog
A letter from Arialle

Dear Z!

It’s so wonderful of you to send me word from your adventures in Crimmor and it’s even better that you’re trying to help that poor community. My father used to tell me stories about that town and it’s beautiful people. They were the perfect example of what new communities should be like, once the Great War was over. It’s sad that things can go astray so quickly and so rough. Be careful though, I have heard bad things about some of the people that control the city now. Rumor is that a thieves guild actually has the town under control and they don’t take kind to strangers meddling in their affairs.
Darling, please don’t worry yourself about sending me precious trinkets, I am interested more in you right now and you have other interesting gifts you can give me. I dream of you during many nights and my body trembles in anticipation as if possessed by the very demons that made you what you are.
I’ve heard that your group has started rebuilding the old road with the help of some dwarves and word goes around that you are going to become the new lords of the region. Already the keep is getting called a new name, the Shadowbane Keep. The Grand Duchy is not going to like that, but you are not some fat nobles looking to enslave a few towns for your own gain and vanity.
I started studying your way of doing magic, and the books talk of powerful pacts that unleash great power. It’s much different than the way I wield the Weave, its simpler, more focused. I feel like I know you better now, but still I know so little about what you are and where you come from. This feeling of unknown is both scary and exciting. Whenever I am with you I feel like the greatest of the bards, exploring the edges of the known world.
I know that you are going to travel more than I could ever follow and you will have responsibilities far beyond a mere explorer and I accept that. I only ask you do not forget me. I have my own roads I need to walk on and I will have to fulfill the same thought.
The people here already miss your misfit troupe, even if some are glad you left. Peasants will always be happier with nothing extraordinary happening in their life. Even father sometimes tells me to forget about you, that I am better off without you, but what does he know?
He still doesn’t understand that I want to join the college in Bard’s Gate and I am telling him this ever since mother died.
Again I am glad you thought about me and I assure you are in my thoughts as well.
I really hope you’ll be back soon! I miss you so much!

Your always beautiful,

P.S. My father is leaving town on the 21st, he’ll be back at the end of Mistfall. We’ll have the house all to ourselves… Think about it…

Visiting Derindin
A mage of many talents

- Welcome back, old friend!
- Nultar, my brother, I am so glad to see your friendly face! You will not believe the stories I have to tell!
- First, let’s get some ale in that elvish mug of yours! My treat, your choice between The Drunken Dragon and the The Fork and Plate, but not the The Fork and Plate.
- Hahaha, I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor my short and stout friend! Allow me to bathe and exchange clothes, first, please!
The dwarf replies, imitating the elf’s voice with exaggerated pretentious gestures:
- “Allow me to bathe and exchange clothes. I would also like to perfume my genitals and have my nails done.” Go bathe! I’ll pick you up in an hour from your place… Old man Thomas wants to see you, I’ll bring him along.
- Yes, sure. It has been at least two years since I’ve seen him. Is he alright?
- Old Tommy? Never better! Wait till you see him drink! He is so detached from all of this day to day nonsense, enjoying his retirement. He is getting older though, you know how commonfolk are. I think he’s going to ask for a favor on that matter, wouldn’t give me any details, but he kept asking about your return from Derindin.
- You know that magic rarely heals the problems of old age… We’ll see what Tom wants to talk about. For now, I really need a bath, haven’t felt the pleasure of warm water in more than a while. It is true that travel is as tiring as it is rewarding.
- We’ll catch up in an hour, I’ll holler at you. Don’t be late, or you’ll have to deal with your neighbors!
After an hour, in front of the elf’s house, a dwarf starts shouting:
- Veliooor! Veliooor! Come out and drink with your friends you uptight elven fairy! Velior! I can see your naked lady parts from here!
From one of the windows, a middle aged woman starts yelling at the dwarf:
- Shut up, you drunken vagabond! There are old people here tryin’ to get some shut-eye!
- Sorry ma’am but I ain’t drunk yet! Velior! Your mom is being a nag hag. Hahaha! We’ll have fun tonite!
After a few moments, rushing through the door of the apartment building, comes Velior, all clean and well dressed.
- Oh my goodness, Nultar, you’re going to get me kicked out of the building. You know that they don’t tolerate savage behavior in this part of the city!
- Don’t get your panties too wet! Nothing’s gonna happen, that old lady wanted a piece of this dwarven godlike figure. She just couldn’t handle rejection!
- Where is Thomas?
- He’s waiting at the tavern. I told the old fool to get us a table! I want to sit near the stage. Tonight, Brumelda and her band have a show and I’d like to be near that dwarven bosom!
- You sound like you’re the one who spent the last year traveling! Says the elf laughing and they both start laughing even harder, while Nultar mimics what he would do to Brumelda if he had the chance.
They walk around the busy streets of Bard’s gate, from the noble district to the busiest district of them all at this time of the day – the theatre district, or how the more poor inhabitants call it, Pubtown.
Once in front of The Drunken Dragon, they look around for a table outside. Seeing there is no sign of Thomas outside, they walk in and find him sitting at one of the side tables, nursing a mug of dwarven ale spiked with a dash of elven spices.
Once he notices them, his eyes brighten up a bit and he rises from his chair to embrace Velior.
- My friends! I started a bit earlier, couldn’t wait any longer, the waitresses were looking at me funny…
- Thomas! I am so glad to see you again! You look fine!
- Looks are deceiving, my old friend…
Nultar loses his patience and exclaims:
- Drink first, talk while you drink! My throat is dry from all the yelling I had to do to get him out of the house! M’lady! Bring us two of what he is having! Make it quick, I am thirsty as a dwarven miner!
The drinks arrive quickly and the three friends join mugs in a dull sounding clink. They then drink the specialty of the house with enthusiasm, Dragon’s Ale they call it.
- Sorry for bringing business at the table Thomas, but since I am the one arriving from far away lands, I feel it’s my prerogative to detract the conversation to matters that one might think would be impolite. I understand Tommy that you have some problems… Please, we’ll have time for stories later, once the ale takes hold. Tell me what can I do to help you?
The dwarf stares at his mug, avoiding the conversation for the first time this evening.
- Velior, I am so sorry to bother you with this! I know that once people started dying from the elixirs, they became illegal and you know that age is catching up to me…
- Tom, I can’t…
- I’m not asking you to brew, I know the academy keeps the Weave monitored… But my health is deteriorating… My eyesight is getting worse. I need people to repeat the words they say too often. We’re not like you, we age quicker, we die faster.
- But you live in one life as we do in two, Nultar intervenes.
- True that as it may be, I do not want to live as long as an elf, if I did I would’ve asked the druids for a new body. Time I’ve had enough. I just do not to live my last years on this plane as a decrepit old fool. I do not ask for time, Velior. What I ask for is health, until the day my spirit leaves for Celestia. I know that there is magic that grants your body and mind timelessness, until the day your time is over. Do you know about this? Can you cast such spells?
- These sound like Weave manipulations done by clerics or druids. Even bards might reach these kind of qualities with their songs. But mages like myself are rarely looking at ways to maintain the health of the body.
- Maybe with necromancy! I am not a stranger to Weave bending myself. This feat sounds like it requires a necromancer’s hands.
- I will have to study this, Thomas. But do not raise your hopes. It’s one thing to grant you vision if your eyes fail you, or hearing if you go deaf, but granting you timeless body and mind requires great magic, especially for the mind. Not even a reincarnation spell doesn’t grant you immunity to an old man’s delirious rants.
- I am sorry to place this burden on you, but I really need this, for the few years I have left.
- I’ll do my best, I promise! In the mean time, go to the temple and ask for help from the clerics. You have the coin for the best treatments!
- Ah, you know how the clerics from the gate are… Much coin for nothing, empty blessings and holy words. There are few that haven’t conceded to the pleasures of the coin. Either way, thank you for your promise, Velior! I’m sure you will find something. You always do! Now… Tell us about Derindin!
- It’s the least I can do for an old and faithful friend! We were in many perils together and we will meet each other on the outer planes… Now let me tell you about the great city of Derindin!
- Ah… Yes! I was afraid I was going to listen to you two whine until sunrise! Go on, Velior, is the city as wondrous as the bards sing it? Says the dwarf, suddenly awakened by the ending of the slightly awkward conversation.
- Oh, my friends, you couldn’t believe your eyes! It is one thing to see the paintings and hear the songs, and it’s another thing completely to watch the wonders of chasm. House upon house built in the rock of the canyon, rows and rows of stairs, taverns built where sinkholes were before, markets filled with travelers from many realms, elevators built on pulleys that take you from the bottom of the city, up to its most luxurious villas. It’s like watching an ant farm made of people. Hundreds of bridges form a web of passage ways so full, that even if you felt from the sky in the exact center of the canyon, you wouldn’t reach the bottom. The social hierarchy is as structured as the housing and distributed in the depths of the canyon. The lower levels are like the slums of Bard’s Gate, while the top most structures hold the temple district, the rich’s villas and the officials. The middle ground has the most intense activity though. There you can see the school system, the playgrounds, the mines and the artisans that harness the wind from the earth’s lungs, huge cylindrical sink holes that go from the bottom to the top ground.
- Sorry to interrupt, V, but Brumelda is about to start her show and I won’t be able to pay attention to you…
- Oh alright, we’ll listen to a few dwarven songs, and we’ll carry on later. I’ll tell you about the perils of reaching Derindin. The trip takes a half moon, from the Gate, but you can consider yourself lucky if you make it. Indeed the scarred lands are still savage.
- Shhh! It’s starting! Brumelda!! Woooo!

To be continued…

Once upon a time in Crimmor
The Cart Master part 1

The streets bustled with people, the sun was high in the sky, the birds were singing in the trees and fishing boats lined the peer, gathering their riches from this morning’s fishing trip. It was a normal, yet beautiful summer day in town. And like any other day, its fair share of traders were visiting on their way to either Reme or Bard’s Gate.
This day was special in one way, though. Today one of the traders was part of a group, commissioned to establish a caravan trading route between the major cities after the war.
The cities had crafters, but the prices were too high and the turn around too slow. The leaders of the merchant guilds from both cities could not agree on who would have the caravan’s responsibility and competing artisans did not want to share caravan room, so they decided that crafters from outside the city would build the convoy’s carts and equipment and the route will be owned by the Grand Duchy as a sign of goodwill towards the larger powers.
Thus it was decided that specialists from each city will form a group and search the region for craftsmen and artisans.
Today they were on the shore of beautiful lake Crimmormere. One of the traders from the group, a man called Karo, was a big fan of the silver cod, a fish found in this lake only and he insisted that the group start its search in the small town near lake Crimmormere. They’ve wandered the town for a few days, looking at a few artisans. Nothing was impressive enough.
That is until they met him. A young half-elf working in a blacksmith’s shop was kind enough to show them around his master’s workplace. At one point during his walk around, noticing his passion for the trade, Karo asked him:
- Boy, what is your name?
- Stipish, sir, the young boy replied.
- And you do understand we are here for barding and carts for a convoy in the dozens?
- Sir?
- What I’m saying boy, is that we don’t really need weapons and shields, the shops are filled in Bard’s Gate with such steelworks. We need wheels, carts, horse barding, leather straps, the whole package destined to travel between the great two cities that line our frontier. We need carts that can haul as much as two horses can pull, and wheels that can pass through even the muddiest passage in the rainiest days of Stoneheart’s woods. Can your master do that?
After a few second of staring like a blind man, Stipish replied:
- No sir, my master is no cartmaker…
- Sorry to have wasted your time, son, replied Karo a bit disappointed, since this was the last shop on their list. As he turned around to face the gates to the blacksmith’s yard he heard Stipish say:
- But I am!
- What? Karo turned again, intrigued by the young man’s boldness.
- I am sir… I am a cartmaker. I don’t have a shop, but I can show you some of my work at home. I’ve mostly done repairs, but I can build, sir, if you give me tools and gold for a few men. I can make what you asked for, before the new moon.
Karo started laughing with his booming voice.
- My boy, I appreciate your courage, but you still don’t realize what we’re asking for…
- I most certainly realize. You need twelve carts, sturdy body, but light in weight. Treated wood preferably, wide as half the road and long as a boat. You need strong wheels, reinforced with steel, since the distance is long and you need then to be sturdy, yet easy to replace. You need light barding for the horses yet you need them protected, in case of battle. Am I on the right track?
- I see you understand our needs, yes, but again I do not understand how are you going to make all of these… What workers do you have? What skills do those workers have? You are but one blacksmith’s apprentice. You’re smart and bold, I’ll give you that, but what about the labor?
- Give me 4 workers of my choice, paid 1 gold piece per day and you will have what you need.
Again Karo laughs… He stops abruptly when he realizes that the boy is as serious as he can be. Stipish means business.
- Alright son. Lead us to your home, we’ll see what you have and then we’ll discuss your plans…

To be continued…

South of Crimmor
A thorn in life's paw

The humming… The humming is unbearable. Different pitches mix with different frequencies in a cacophony of continual hums and buzzes. It drives me mad… But am I not already mad? What does mad mean, anyway?

Am I mad for leaving “civilized society” as the scholars call it? It cannot be, since I am one of many who do such things and they get to be called “wise men” and “savants”. Am I mad for spending my entire life dedicated to another species than my own? That cannot be, since there are others like me, and all species should be equal in the face of this argument.

They called me mad for trying to show them the superiority of a much lesser species. “They are too dangerous!”, they’ve said. “They are beyond taming!”, they’ve said…

They were right. These are useless creatures to whom I dedicated my life for nothing. Why would the gods create such insignificant beings and disguise them with intelligent looking ordered hives, only mimicking the metaphysical awareness of the ant or the bee? Oh, what a trick has fate played on me…

All these experiments, all this variety, for nothing. Their only desire is to feed and to reproduce… No awareness, no instinctual intelligence, no nothing. I have to release them, for there is nothing else left for me to do.

My life has no meaning, my experiments have no purpose… They will feed, while I rot until there is nothing and I will be forgotten.

At least there will be less humming. Maybe I can even rest, sleep… Maybe I’ll get to dream again, who knows. They were starving here anyway and the blood of game isn’t clean enough.

It’s time, my useless pets, to leave your cage! Ah… What do you know of freedom?

The Yard
A mission well done

- Are they back?
- Yes, my old friend.
The white haired man that asked the question, raises from his chair carefully, challenged by his weight. His movements are slow and small taps are heard with every step he takes on the hardwood floor.
- The blacks have their value…
He says with a raspy voice. He pauses for breath. Needing two long breaths to continue his idea, he carries on.
- Their experience with such dealings is second to none. They are not good at discovering new sources, but have always been great retrievers when the need arrives.
- Like dogs? Asks a tall man, who answered before. He is resting his arm on the window’s sill and is watching what happens outside in the yard.
- Like dogs, yes, they cannot find unless you give them a scent, but they are loyal and dependable… Are they carrying anyone with them?
- No, they are alone.
- That is curious. The merchant told me that his gem was stolen. I would’ve expected at least one body, if not an organization of sorts. From my understanding, the gem is almost an artifact, worth at least 15-20 ingots. I have a few buyers lined up and I believe we’ll have an auction, so the price might end up even higher than that.
- Who knows? Maybe the body was beyond transportation…
The fat old man starts moving towards the window. He helps himself by resting his arm on the desk. Tap, step, tap, step. His wooden leg fills the room with a syncopated rhythm.
- Let me take a look at them…
The tall slender man turns around to help him. His face is smooth, his hair is long and brown, running down his back, almost merging with his carmine cloak. His eyes betray a certain compassion while he helps the old man, while trying to keep his calm and calculated attitude.
The old man pulls out a monocle from his and slowly fits it on his eye.
- They look unharmed! He exclaims, almost breaking his voice.
- Are they this good?
- They are one of the lesser teams. They’ve shown potential, yes, but not like this. Are you sure they brought it back?
- How often are we guilty of miscommunication, sir? On such simple matters, even for blacks, this question is an offense.
The old man smiles filled with pride, while enjoying the view in the yard…
A tall short haired blonde woman in her thirties, followed by a bald olive skinned dwarf and two massive half-orcs engage in conversation with the two guards that recently allowed them to pass.
- How is the boss feeling? Asks the woman, with a deeper voice than one would expect.
- Better, I think, he’s inside with the Red Cloak. I don’t think they will have time for you this week. Do you have anything worth private time?
- Nah… It was underwhelming. Peasants being unaware of their realities, that’s all. Only thing worth mentioning is that I’ve met an adventuring party, some type of local heroes, led by a sorcerer.
- Anyone we know?
- I don’t think so. We should check the records though. I was dismissive of them at first, thinking they are local trash. After some snooping around it seems they’re pretty able. They’ve cleaned out the Old Keep near Fairhill.
- Wasn’t it ruined by the army of the Duchy when they passed through?
- That’s what I knew as well. What I actually found out is that savages took hold of the keep. They were some band of orcs, not a known camp.
- After you drop your bounty at the vault, you should have a talk with the librarian about all this. Maybe he has more information, or at least some records about the area. Maybe some reds can go have a look.
- Will do. Before we left I heard they’ve had some casualties. I even sold them the druids’ oil.
- The desperate kind… For how much? The guard laughs a bit and with a smile on his face, anxiously awaits the answer.
- Eighty plats. They did help me with the bounty.
- Eighty plats is fair enough for a friend. Still it’s a lot of coin.
- Yeah, and look at these stones. This is clearly an adventurer bounty, found in some troll’s cave or some other beast’s den.
The woman pulls out a bag from her backpack and shows a few gems of different shapes and sizes. Then she continues with a lower voice, as if sharing a secret:
- I’ve heard from a passing merchant that they’ve had their hands on some elixirs too.
- Of longevity? You mean…
- Yes, there are still brewers somewhere. Or at least there are still some elixirs to be found.
- Do you think that they…
- Nah, they don’t seem to know anything about the elixirs. And none of them seemed necromancers. I don’t know if they have more, or if they have a steady supply. What it proves though is that they proved their mettle. I offered myself as a contact, and I’ll put a good word with the market, in case they need to move some treasure around.
- Suit yourself. You should probably go over this with the boss. Or at least with the Cloak. You know they don’t like being overextended in any way. It exposes the reds.
- I’ll see. They might not even make it to Bard’s Gate anyway…

In the depths
Failure was not an option

- Welcome back, high priest!
Gathering his strength after the ordeal, the Half-Orc rises to his feet and barely with any breath left in his voice asks:
- Where… is my… mace?
- Right here, sir, but please, you must rest. Koraashag will want to speak to you and you have to be full strength…
- The disciple is still here?
- Yes sir… Sir?
- Yes, acolyte, what is it?
- Mazarbul is here as well…
- Great… I’ve been through the Abyss already, my soul has endured. I am prepared for my punishment in life as well. Acolyte, ready my garments and weapons. I do not want to appear weak before the human Mazarbul.
- Sure sir, they are busy with the plans for expansion. I’m sure they will make time for your story in the following days. You have time to rest, I’m sure it was a difficult task.
- What about the prisoners? Is there anyone captured from that damned town? I need to know who those people are.
- Yes sir, we have captured two humans from that area and they are prepped for torture.
The Half-Orc dons his armor and readies his weapons. Still weak, he reads texts in Abyssal and goes in a short trance. After several minutes he regains focus.
-… and the girl seems to be a mage of some kind. We have found arcane spell components in her pouch.
- Acolyte?
- Yes, sir?
- Do you embrace death and understand that our lord will guide us towards a higher state of existence?
- Yes, sir, of course!
- Then you will assist me in torturing these fools. I need to exact my revenge and I need to know what I am up against. The visions had me hunting them. I will need minions once again and there are no orcs here.
- Sir, what about the black orc camp from the south? Are you not half-black orc, sir?
- How many are there left? A hundred? Two hundreds?
- Sir, the gnolls… they have wiped out the tribe… Only a small camp remains…
- They are too weak, acolyte.
- In life sir, maybe, but you have to look at Mazarbul’s latest research…
Both ready themselves to leave the chambers and head to the torture chambers. Before leaving, the half-orc takes another look at the stone table from which he has risen.
- I need to bring sacrifice, for this has taken a toll on our Master.
- Anyone in mind?
- Two dwarves, A gnome, A tiefling, a Human and an Elf halfbreed.
- Strange arrangement sir…
- They all die the same.

A light in the shadow
The birth of Shadowbane

- Let me tell you son, he said with a raspy voice, pointing his pipe at the boy, about the story of the Crucible…
- What Crucible, Pa?
- Why, the Crucible of the Goddess my boy, the golden Crucible of Freya. It was the reason the town where I grew up was so bountiful.
- How come?
- Son, it was a magic crucible, not just an old one you may find in any temple. Our priestess used it to bring blessings to our fields and to our lives. Cows were making the fattest milk, grains were lasting from a year to the next, corn was growing tall as trees, apples were sweet and one sheep could grow wool for an entire family.
- And what’s the story about it, Pa?
- Well, when I was a young boy, about your age, I was there in Fairhill, earning my copper as a farmer’s helper and it was a good life. And it was mostly thanks to the blessings of Freya. But one night, the town was attacked!
- Attacked? By whom? Dragons?
- No… Not Dragons! Don’t joke about Dragons attacking towns, people are still terrified after the attack in the port! It wasn’t Dragons, they were Orcs! Green, slimy, dirty, savage, bloodthirsty orcs! And we’ve had attacks before. After the Savage Invasion, orcs were still in the forests. Even now, there are places south of the mountains that still have problems with savages. But this attack was different. They lit the roofs of the buildings with flaming arrows, they’ve murdered the guards, they didn’t come just for food or trinkets, they were after the Crucible.
- Were you there, Pa?
- Oh yes! I was right there in the middle of the action. It was the first night we didn’t spend out at the farm, for fear of something bad happening. We’ve heard that some farmers just down the road were killed by brigands, and the farm was too far from the town. So my master decided we should stay at the Drunken Cockatrice for a couple of weeks, until the days are longer.
- What happened?
- In the middle of the night the guard bells started ringing. I got out of bed as quickly as possible, and rushed down the stairs and out the door. It was horrifying. People swarmed the streets trying to put out the fires from the rooftops, orcs were fighting with the town guards, townsfolk were being chased everywhere. And right there, my son, right then and there I saw them first. Later they started calling themselves Shadowbane, but right then and there, they were just a group of wanderers, trying to make sense of life. It was the craziest gathering of common-folk I’ve ever seen. One of them was a demon of some kind, had a tail and horns and everything.
- Where they with the orcs, Pa?
- No, no, no, no, no… They were not allies of the orcs. Not at all. They all had something about them, they had a certain savagery within them, but they were not allies of the orcs in any way. No my boy, he said lighting his pipe and pondering his words with squinted eyes, as if looking in the past…
- Pa?
- There were six of them, the coarse voice pronounced with severity. The only human among them was a strange earth mage. He had a savage power in his eyes, as if nothing can destroy him. The demon wielded power like his kind. We were glad he was wielding it at the orcs and not at us. The gnome was savage in his desire to control. He would play with the battlefield, the way you play with your toys. The half-breed was the leader of the team, silver tongued and imposing. Then there were the two dwarves…
- There were two dwarves? Were they brothers?
- Oh no… I don’t know for sure, but if those two were brothers then at least one of them was adopted… One of them was a priest of some dwarven deity obsessed with hammers. He was the most driven of the group. The other though, was the closest a dwarf can get to an orc. He was a savage killing beast. He was cutting through orcs the way I’m cutting grass with my trusty scythe. Not even the one-eyed orc shaman could stop his dwarven fury.
- What about the gnome, dad? Was his name Bumble?
- No son, I’m not sure what he was called, but he was one helluva mage… Anyway, this night was not over yet, since the orcs were just using this as a diversion. Another group of orcs moved inside the Temple of Freya and stole the Crucible! But they were not far! With lightning speed our newest protectors ran after the orcs, followed them into the dark forest and slayed them all. Then, at the dawn of light, while townsfolk were still praying to Freya, the two dwarves, the half-breed, the earth mage, the gnome and the demon returned! They were wounded, dirty, tired and pushed to their limit. But above all, they were victorious! The crucible was returned and our community was saved…
- Dad?
- Yes?
- What’s a diversion?
- You’ll learn in time son, you’ll learn in time…
- Dad?
- Yes?
- What happened next?
- There are many stories about the Shadowbane son, but that’s the first time and the last time I’ve seen them. They’ve been to town that year, but eventually after a couple of days I left to try and make it on my own. Fairhill turned out to be too dangerous for me. Who knows what they’ve been up to ever since? One day, maybe we’ll cross paths again…

Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.