Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Chronicles of the Seventh Moon, Session 4 (Part II)

I forgot (again it seems) to mention that the last campaign post was just the first part of the 4th session. A good part of the night session was spent talking with other NPCs. I was impressed by the player’s interest in interacting with other adventurer companies. They really enjoyed it.

Day 30, Month of the Festival, 757 years since the Fall of the Gods, end of spring

The aasimar Hilguen, the blind monk Nogard and the elf Heian decided to rest for the night at the Lonely Inn. The hian monk, always quiet, did not lingered for long, going up to his room. The elven rogue seated with the Emerald Champions – a fey adventurer company – and heard about their quest for the Seven Iron Crowns of the Troll Kings of Volkeslag. After that, Heian told them about the adventures of his own group, the Hammers of the Dawn, and the strange ruins below a small town at the Shinning Principalities. Together at the table was the archer Taerim Satyrbow, a female elf and member of the Circle of El’dar. While these tales were told and sang, Hilguen was close, always worried that the chaotic Heian would talk too much and reveal the discovery of the Black Mirror, the artifact found below Silvery Palms.

However, the paladin also found time to enjoy the night and talked quietly with Kanaruk Shadowslayer, the half-orc* hunter of the Lunatics. The paladin felt obligated to impart to the hunter the exact dates of the next Darkness – discovered throught the manipulation of the Aldarian Orrery. Hilguen even told him about the coming of the mythic Alignment**. Kanaruk laconically thanked for the information and complained about his fellow adventurers from the Lunatics, implying that his present association with them was somehow forced.

After talking with the half-orc, Hilguen went for a quick dinner, but was interrupted by a young half-elf called Jargas the Bastard, who claimed to be the leader of the Circle of El’dar. He was recruiting companies interested in hunting down the Black Wyrm, a dragon which was a common figure of folklore among the western nations of Aldar, famous for desolating entire villages and dales, living behind none alive other than vast carpets of lilies. Many believed that the dark flowers were grown overnight were the strange breath of the Black Wyrm took lives. The problem with these tales is that no one has ever saw this dragon. Hilguen sensed that Jargas was on a personal vendetta (and also very inexperienced) and tried to diplomatically dissuade him. At this moment, the warning bells of Baer’s Tower started to toll. The city was under attack!

Deafening shrieks were heard above the Lonely Inn, coming from giant vultures that were clearly visible against the Blaze’s crimson luminescence. Riders with black armor controlled the beasts that dropped big bone cages over the town. When those hit the ground, they shattered, releasing masses of undeads. Other vultures were bombarding the city with iron spheres that released poisonous gas. The aerial attack was concentrated in two places: the Tower itself and the Lonely Inn (where the adventurer companies were sleeping).

Few adventurers were up (or sober), among like Hilguen, Heian and Nogard, that led the disorganized groups. They secured the inn’s gates against a swarm of undeads. They got some help from Kanaruk, Jargas and Taerim, besides a few drunken dwarves of the Erased Rune. However, poisonous gas filled the yard and those that came close to iron spheres discovered that each was guarded by a pack of shadows.

Heian and his fellow fey allies from the Emerald Champions climbed the stairs and attempted to engage one the Black Riders with magic, but the creature reflected all dweomers thrown at him using his sword. One of the adventurers from the Lunatics – the human warrior Axar Weaponmaster – charged recklessly the Rider, only to be thrown from the rooftop.

Nogard also went up. Haflway he met the mysterious Mask, the half-elf leader of the Lunatics, who gave to him a small pulsing red potion before wishing (while giggling) good luck.

After saving another adventurer from the toxic gases, Hilguen summoned the Divine Spark to jump to the rooftops, executing a vertical charge against a Black Rider, severely injuring his giant vulture mount. A few seconds later, Nogard sneaked behind the creature, throwing the red potion that burst into a fireball when shattered (the monk heard from behind scandalous screams of joy from Mask welling “It finally worked!”). The Black Rider wasn’t defeated, but retreated from battle. The iron spheres were also neutralized by the local spellcasters (including one of the inn’s owners, a retired sorcerer called Brisna).

Garet was separated from his fellow Hammers during the battle, but he helped the members of the Halfling Caravan to fight off undead goblins. In this regard, he was assisted by a young female halfling Crow, that sold potions, acids, drugs and other alchemical items.

At the Lonely Inn all the wounded were gathered and treated by clerics from the various companies (on which Hilguen and Nogard helped). Miraculously, there weren’t casualties.

Day 1, Solar Month, 757 years since the Fall of the Gods, beginning of summer

Next morning a horn sounded over Baer’s Tower, summoning all companies and mercenary troops. There were 10 companies at the city: the Hammers of the Dawn, the Stonefists, The Red Wolves, the Lunatics, the Emerald Champions, the Circle of El’dar, the Avengers of Gôteintor, Knights of the Mug, the dwarves of the Erased Rune (mercs) and the amazons of the Daughters of the Unicorn (more mercs). Baer’s Towers also had its own Sentinels, the city’s guard and small army of heavy infantry.

The Road Marshal, Garamus the Hawk, veteran of the War of the Dark Banners, talked with all the summoned. At his side was the Master of March, the warbard Mellius Words-of-Power. During the Marshal’s speech, rumors start spreading among the present adventurers that one of the famous “Champions of Concordia”*** has arrived at Baer’s Tower. Shortly after, two men step before the companies and the Marshal. They’re clad in black and followed by a chill aura. Their names were Mistranides, the Wight, legendary swordsman (and assassin), and Zaram, a sorcerer famous for his deep necromantic lore and the ability to interact with the shades of the dead. Both belonged to the famous (and feared) Company of the Black Lantern****.

After the ruckus passed, the Marshal informed that the night’s assault was an attempt to poison the city’s water wells. This indicated, he explained, that a siege was imminent. Diviners were consulted and the Marshal believed that their best option was to march at once to the Eye of the West, a lighthouse and the main fortresses on the road above Baer’s Tower. Constructed by dwarves, the Eye allowed a small force to hold an army coming down from the mountains.

Ended the oration, Garamus invited the companies’ leaders inside the Tower to organize the march. Once inside the Hammers got a glimpse of the renowned Hammer of Baer*****, the artifact-weapon that eternally hovered in the main hall of the keep, alerting with its glow of any attacks against the city. After the debate about who would march where, the two members of the Black Lantern informed that they quest would lead them to a place know as the Cavern of Nightmares. Implying that this obscure mission was more important than the goblinoid barbarians, the Black Lanterns would march ahead, and alone, and would dispose of any threat on the road.

The last problem faced by this war council was of a diplomatic nature. The Stonefists dwarves refused to march together with the renegade dwarves from the Erased Rune. The Hammers tried to talk with their allies but dwarven “honor” was unyielding. The Stonefists would march ahead and alone from the army, until they reached the rock formation known as the Three Giants – here the army would camp for the night, before reaching the Eye of the West. In a gesture of vast dwarven “respect”, the leader of the Stonefists – Kazdum – invited the Hammers to march at his side, but they politely refused, arguing that the Marshal’s orders should be followed. The dwarves, probably the most lawful people on the Seventh Moon, understood the argument without becoming offended******.

With the plans drawn, an army of 200 (half of it composed by adventurer companies) moved out of Baer’s Town and start to climb the Mountain Road. The march to the Eye of the West would take two days and if the enemy got there first, it would probably mean a siege (and the fall) of the last city by the Mountains of Eternal Fire.

*Half-orcs of Isaldar have their own culture and heritage, a legacy from the fallen orc empires the reigned over Isaldar before the Fall of the Gods. More specifically, half-orcs are called Shadow Hunters, because most of them are trained to fight the dangerous beasts and the Sceadugenga that rise from the deeps during the Darkness, the dreaded eclipses of the Seventh Moon.

**The doomsday alignment that marks the waning of the Seal of the Seven Moons around the Orb of Elaria, possibly realizing the living apocalypse known as the Annihilation.

***The ten most famous adventurers companies of West Aldar, whose deeds are chronicled by the bard colleges of Concordia, the City of the White Rose.

****This adventurer company was created by a folkloric sorceress from Huan Ti, in far East Aldar, known as the Lady of the Black Lantern who possessed power over Death. If the rumors were true, all members of the Company were raised from dead and obeyed the will of the Lady.

*****Bear was a Luminar hero from just after the Fall responsible for imprisoning Gromunfang, the Terrible, below what would become the Mountains of Eternal Fire.

******Put together a samurai, a spartan warrior and Conan. Imagine that if, somehow, these three had a baby, it would be an Isaldarian dwarf. In other words, you would get an entire race that’s amazingly easy to offend and that starts feuds and duels with the same enthusiasm that Isaldarian elves start mischief.