Friday, June 19, 2009

The Storm Avatar

Awakened by the crush of the Dragon Forge, the Storm Avatar, a being of iron and lightning comes raging through the Feywild toward the Sherriff's Party as they find Tim in the Towers of Ragyiel. Zarconus summons his Lightning knights, one of whom is destroyed forever, before bringing the arching beast down. The creature forever destroys Ragyiel in its death throws, reuinitng the party in a bruised and exhausted mess.

The Ancient Love and the Treachery of Now

Walder quickly found his ancient love Tirara who had been waiting for him...heavy with child, Walder's child. There was no love lost between the two as tragic as it is that five thousand years separate them and together they can never be. In the later battle during and against the Storm Avatar, Avari helps birth the child and steals the baby and the mother off to the relative safety of the Feywild.

What treachery! Walder discovers the Rydikos Demon, the Liege of the Pit, the creature at the center of the Cult of the Liege is none other than Thallia, His regent Captain. The Vampiric hellspawn nearly usurped Walder's throne but not for the keen arrow of the awakened Tim Tigean who caught her between the eyes.

The Coming of Khepathia

For five thousand years, five thousand years ago, the Valley of Gavin Wel was Khepathia. Khepathia was the greatest city that this or any world has ever eladrin city a mile deep, bolstered by planar connections and machinations that are beyond contemporary conceptualization.

It is the Oracle of Fuhema who informs the Sherriff's Party that now the Feywild seems to be crashing in on the Dream Water due to the liberation of the Seeds of Everet, the destruction of one of the ancient Dragon Forges and the missing Sherriff who can not tend to the Unicorn of Fengdeign.

Walder gathered up his friends as they were all in trance of spell and violence, and sailed a little red sailed raft up an ancient river through a City that had not existed for five millenia. He sailed with an intent heart to Ragyiel, the place he knew to find Tim.

Many eladrin of today remain embittered to the fall of their glorious nation under the rule of the Dragons Kings and the Raven Queen. With the Seeds of Everet, tears that fell from Bahamut's face upon the burning of Khepathia, there are some who say Khepathia could be raised again.

the Lightning Knights

Scianna, a marksmen from old Khepathia and a knight of Bahamut, found Zarconus as a bright moment of light while his body lay broken at the bottom of Amo. She had been sent from a time of weaponary long since lost to those of Gavin Wel. As a blessing, Zarconus returned to his own time with a squad of elite troops known as the Lightning Knights who respond and unyieldingly follow the power of the Storm Dragon Mark.

The Tearing of Tiamat

The Oracle of Fuhema is a ancient priestess who exists in Avari's own time, from House Fuhema. She comes to Amo to assist in the awakening of Zarconus and to enlighten Avari to her circular destiny of ritual after ritual that have been performed so many thousands of times before.

click to enlarge In old Khepathia, in a secluded grove known as Emerus, Avari was to marry the lovers Tiamat and Bahamut. Bahamut did not show. Avari witnessed the Queen of Dragons awaken to Pain, the nature of her true identity and the secret cause of so many tragedies.

The Capture of Tim Tigean and the Breaking of the Dragon Forge

The husk that was six hundred pounds of charging fury then lay ruined and gutted at the bottom of Amo Valley. The Goristo Demon was face down in the thin stream and trailed a column of smok from the hollow of its crushed chest.

“I have at least three broken ribs.” Zarconus murmured to his friends as his spit a tooth into his hand. Tim looked up to the cold full moon as a shadow passed over.

“Zee. Avari. Get that cellar door open. Let’s get what we came for and get outta this hole, man.”

The Ranger jogged through the puddles of demon blood holding his nose from the terrible reek and pulled his ten arrows from the destroyed thing.

Walder leaned over the horizontal marble doors as he wiped the last of the demon gore from his black cape. Then kneeling began to pull his thin beard in consternation. “This sigil is Angelic alright, I saw something like it in Dimnir…Khepathian. That is you Avari.”

“No.” Avari softly whispered, leaning over the Thief King. “This isn’t me yet…Rengray and Amanir are to open another seal which is probably a secondary lock to this one.”

“Ah man, don’t be talking about that sword so much man, I’ll throw it in the damn river once again.” Tim tossed Avari a smirk that belied his very real threat.

Whispering holy words to himself and his god, Zarconus surrounded himself in a silver glow that beat, accompanied by a sound akin to the beat of a dragon’s wing and a distant rumbled of thunder resounded down the narrow river chasm. Standing, Zarconus pulled his hood over his head, sheathed his sword and now fully healed, strode over to the massive entrance to the ancient and sacred Raelfaen site of Amo.

“Here come the storm clouds again.” Walder muttered while standing and letting the half-elf knight inspect the doors as the moon disappeared behind the rolling tempest.

Avari looked at Zarconus as his eyes turned silver and followed Walder’s thought. “I just hope he will be able to control his continued growing power.”

With a crack of light followed by a snap of thunder, the seal of Amo was broken in an instant and the doors opened. Then revealed was a second set of doors, this one with a small small slot of strange shape that only an alien key might fit. Avari danced over to the lock and pulled the sword Rengray from inside the extradimensional space of book in her hand. The Sword transformed in her knowledgeable as if it were a puzzle box, collapsing into itself to form the wood and metal key that had been designed to open just this door. As she slid the key into the lock she addressed Zarconus “So it turns out paladin that we both needed to be here to get this door open.”

“Once again we find the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Zarconus put his hand on Avari’s shoulder as she turned the key, reconciling for the previous transgression in their friendship. “Be careful little wizard, I sense powerful dragon magic down there.”

“I just can’t believe there is a door you couldn’t open.” Tim tapped Walder on the shoulder and the two smirked at each other.

“Hey, I didn’t get a chance yet.” The thief laughed back.

Zarconus was the first to descend the stairs into the old place. With Stickarus held aloft, the silver glow of the sword illuminated a vast chamber at the base of a wide staircase. Centuries of dust were disturbed only by one set of small footprints that lead to an awkwardly placed, tiny chest near the middle of the room. As Zarconus stepped from the stairs toward the chest, a huge blue light flooded the space and the paladin yelled in sudden and agonizing pain and was lifted by an arc of lightning that fanned from two over -head light sources like he was picked up by four massive fingers.

Avari was right behind Zarconus, as Walder and Tim had yet to enter past the doors. The two sets of doors shut behind the paladin and the wizard with a deafening slam at a seemingly impossible speed.
Walder instinctively jumped behind a nearby boulder and transformed into a rat while Tim was attack by a terrible shock of black energy. Bolting waves of shadow cut all oxygen from the ranger and his consciousness was quickly stolen. Lifted on a bed of writhing and angry spirits wailing in terror and agony nearly obscured Tim from Walder’s sight.

With a massive crash of stone and dust, the dragon known as the Hundune appeared at the bottom of the ravine where the four adventurers had stood not a moment before. Opening his gaping throat in a deafening roar he pinned Tim to the ground under a massive claw, triumphant in his capture. Walder could only hide in the mud and witness the dragonfear like a sheet of fire of his mind, enveloping his ability to react with paralysis.

A few heartbeats followed when Walder was not sure if his friend was dead or not when a voluminous shout came from further down the valley. “Hundrune, you idiot! You attacked too late!”

The chastised dragon silenced its long growl and reared back from Tim. Walder could see that he was still breathing and while still cloaked by the void spirits was probably in non-lethal stasis. The newcomer who called to the dragon came striding in front of the dragon and was the size and shape of a man. Accompanied by a large, glowing hound, he continued his chastisement “It is not the Sherriff we need, but entrance to Amo. Now the Dragonforge has the Paladin caught and sealed away forever. The seeds of Everet are lost now for all time thanks to you.”

“Watch your mouth Blendhaven.” The Hundrune leaned in low to stare at the now named Eladrin.

“Although you are aligned with Rydikos and my lord Epheliun does not mean I can not feed on your tiny heart.”

“On the contrary, beast! I have survived dragon stomachs before and now with my Silver Soul I would tear my way out of your throat in a breath. Which perhaps I shall still do since I see know that because of your idiocy I am denied my new kingdom!” Walder’s eyes grew large with the awful revelation of the moment. If Blendhaven was in it with the Dragon, there is now no end to his treachery and betrayal of the once friends. Silver Soul! Blendhaven is a cathoid lord! A Blight Master! And he means to raise Khepathia. That could mean so many things…not the least of which, Walder speculated, was the loss of profits from a potential rival.

Walder looked up to see what could only be described as fear in the face of the Hundrune. With a wave of his hand, the eladrin continued as he turned with his feyhound and began to walk into the darkness. “Nevermind. We have the Sherriff, he is valuable. Let’s see if you can get our prize back to Ragyiel without fouling it.” At that, the dragon lifted the still unconscious ranger in his massive claw and with a crashing beat of his wings headed to the sky.

Meanwhile, under the earthen doors, Avari found herself trying to save her friend from being torn apart by ancient magics. “A dragonforge. An ancient Khepathian machine of both draconic and cathidic energies.” The taking book, AkinAhton reported to Avari. “The device is wripping the dragon mark from Zarconus’ soul in order to feed its own power. Its purpose is war.”

“What can stop it?” Avari cried as she pulled the book from her satchel and began frantically flipping the pages.

“The question is not what can stop it, but who is powering it? All machines need someone to command them to work.” The book’s calm voice resonated against Avari’s shrill.
“Rengray!” Avari tossed the sword, still in key form to the ground and watch it unravel as an uncurling snake to its original form as a thin, silver rapier. “Have you the power to operate this evil machine? Is this by your will?”

“It is my original function my love. Amanir.” The scraping timber of Rengray’s voice reminded Avari of a sword being sharpened against steel.

Zarconus, now disrobed by unseen hands and thrashing in apparent agony so high from the floor, suspended in a web of blue fire and lighting. Blood spilling from eyes, ears and screaming mouth. Avari glanced up, her mind racing a surgeon who had a patient to save and only moments to do it. “The Anethamancer!” Avari again opened her book and found a puzzle cipher embedded in a page she had copied in the chamber of the Anethamancer when they had battled in Gaverdeim at the beginning of her Planes-walking studies. She wasn’t sure how it could be used because she was missing particular translations…gaps in the history of purpose and power. She had no gaps any longer.

AkinAhton reiterated “you could stop the Dragon Forge, but for one catalyst.” A Catalyst? How strange the world works, she thought as she pulled from her pocket a machine only recently found in the Shadowfel. Holding the silver ball to her forehead Avari closed her eyes and whispered “Thank you Festil.” Rolling the ball forward and chanting a durge of Making, the wizard watched the ball grow in but three heartbeats to many times its original size as it scraped across the floor. As the lighting hit the globe Zarconus was blasted to the floor in a tremendous torque of broken energy. The Ball itself cracked open and absorbed all the lightning from the forge and Avari could detect the sound of snapping clockwork from deep inside the ancient machine. Then running over to the tossed knight, Avari cradled his head in her lap as a thin trail of steam leaked from his broken face. Tears welled up in her eyes at the thought of Zarconus passing from this world.

With a small snap followed by the sound of sliding tumblers the massive doors of Amo opened once again to reveal Walder against the night sky. “See, not so tough…Holy crap! Avari, what happened? …”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Goristo Demon at the Doors of Amo

The Goristo Demon, a slave demon of old Khepathia, summoned at Ragyiel thousands of years ago comes screaming out of the darkness to slam both Tim and Zarconus. Blood rains and lightning bolts from the enraged paladin and his hawkeye partner. Avari and Walder arrive via portal and assist in the destruction of the beast. Why is this creature here? From Ragyiel? Is it related to the mysterious Liege of the Pit, Rydikos? Are they searching for the Tears as well? It turns out that both Avari and Zarconus are needed to open the doors. Zarconus engages the seal with lightning and Avari breaks the code of the ancient lock with her knowledge of the Dragon Court. Then of course, the Hundrune shows up just as the doors open...

Welcome to the Shadowfel

Festil was found by Avari working on a terrible weapon in a backwater bar in the lonely and dark world of the Shadowfel. Avari was able to bring Walder through her tiny portal, manifested by her new found powers as a planswalker, as a rat in her pocket. The weapon the once good, and now mad, cathidimancer was working on is somekind of deliverence system, both creative and destructive of a new kind of nature, a new kind of ecology. A most interesting development.

Walder, in human form once again, enters into a card game with acouple of locals. A grizzly discovery soon unveils as, after cathoid is injested by the party of cardplayers, one player explodes from the neck up. An alien creature writhes from his neck and immediately transforms into a beast that Avari identifies as a Githyanki, a human like creature that comes from a far off world by means of cathidic-parasite, portal-blood magic. At that point Avari burns the bar to the ground and the still transforming Githyanki inside.

The Fey Hound and the Werewolf

Avari and Walder left to track down to Amo from Needlefalls by way of the Shadowfel. Tim and Zarconus left by way of ropes to traverse the chasm to the bottom. They saw the Feyhound of Bhlendaven, the caretaker of Starry Gardens who was obviously searching for Amo as well. A most ominous sign. As the two heroes descended the river valley they spied another creature on the opposite rim, a werewolf! the werewolf of EthilisTyr, the one and only Faedless. The two hounds were soon heard in mortal combat with one another benieth the winter moon.

The Hundune

It was in the guise of a man that the creature known as the Hundune came into the home of Tim Tigeon and shared a glass of wine. The Hundune is the wardog of the Epheliun and searching for the Tears of Everet.

The Place of Amo

Upstream from Needle Falls is the Place of Amo, an ancient site of Raelfaen knowledge passed then to elfen caretakers. It is here that Lady Ryal, in her escape from the sacking of Maradin, hid the Tears of Everet in a secret and sacred spot.

It is immediately clear that the Epheliun will stop at nothing to find the Tears, artifacts that could potentially be used to destroy the valley by "raising the ancient City of Khepathia from the blighted soil of Gavin Wel Valley."

Avari learns that the evil sword, Rendgray, that she is stewarding right now is also enchanted by Amanir, a similarly ancient voice of magic. It is in this voice that Avari, a daughter of the Dragon Court, believes that she and only she can open the doors of Amo and retrieve the Tears of Everet.

Simultaneously, it is Zarconus, who inspired by the Storm Mark in his blood that is increasingly taking over his body, mind and spirit with righteous zeal believes that is himself who must be the one to open the doors.

Needle Falls

Needle Falls is the Current retreat for Tim Tigean, the Sherriff of Gavin Wel. Its location is secluded enough to afford Tim some peace but central enough so that he may jet out to any locale should the need arise. The Ancient Copper dragon Morgholt, an old resident of the Needle Falls Valley, has become a trusted ally of Tim.

His Valley to Watch Over

Tim spent a month tracking the Unicorn of the Lady of the Mountain in the last days of the year 1103. With the Lady missing or perhaps killed by the Twilight Shepherd there was no one of valorous heart to guide the great spirit of the wilderness to the heart of the wood on Mount F'edyel.

The Ancient Library of Biscaux

It is in Biscaux at the Heart of the Old City in Gavin Wel that Avari finds her greatest piece among the sacred questions and the laid answers. Much of the knowledge at Biscaux is hidden in the lifesource of the flora that is tended by wizened and arcane spirits.

In the Big City

The mysterious warriors who attacked the City of Gavin Wel and who were subsequently repelled by the Radiant Might of Zarconus are, according to Avari, the blighted spirits of a long dead coven of Medusas who were trapped in an armored shell by a force that has yet to be revealed.
Hallia the Tiefling is Walder's current lover and regent officer in charge as he leaves the City after the attack by the blighted warriors.

Walder, the Brutish King of Thieves sits on an Throne unsafe from the swordpoints of enemies, but most especially friends.

The sheriff's party returns to the sprawling urban hive of Gavin Wel.

Each of the party's members find that they've acquired a certain amount of celebrity, if not notoriety, amongst certain circles and social castes since their embroilment in the civil war and victorious opening of the Shadow Road. The sheriff himself, however, doesn't feel at ease in the often filthy and chaotic metropolitan setting, so Tim Tigean heads back into the wilderness to Needle falls to begin construction of his retreat.

Zarconus, the half-elf Paladin of the Platinum Dragon, had achieved an almost messiah-like status amongst many who study the ancient prophecies. He took his place amongst his fellow knights of Bahamut, known as the Vassals of the Blade, in their ancient monastic cathedral of Sinis Oebir.

The maiden crone Avari found Gavin Wel's virtue lay in Biscaux, the ancient site upon The Hallowed Hill, where she gained access to enough ancient tomes to keep satisfied her hunger for long-forgotten knowledge.

Walder, the Dark Fist of the Mice Eyes, returned to the city and resumed his management of the well-established infrastructure of misconduct that the guild had always controlled. After his abrupt rise to power, he had yet to prove his worth as a guildmaster to a number of his capos, sergeants and assassins. Indeed, he survived 4 assassination attempts. His new and fiercely loyal bodyguard Lyak prevented two from outside the organization, but the one that Walder discovered himself was a threat from one of his own highest-ranking capos, which he neatly took care of by stabbing her through the eye with her own poisoned dart in front of the rest of his cabal of thieves.

Zarconus was subject to an alarming revisit to combat when an monstrous undead drake threatened to destroy whatever it came across, swooping through the Gavin Wel streets, and meeting its end at the edge of the platinum knight's Stickarein blade. The beast's rider Hallia, an unstable Tiefling catspaw of the Mice Eyes, seemed to be a clue as to what to expect from the gathering blight forces. She was delivered to incarceration in Sinis Oebir by the holy knights. Walder visited the tower cell as the paladins locked her in, seeking to bargain for her release, and found the only way for that was by sly lockpicking. He was caught in the act by Judicia and sent away from the cathedral by an enraged Zarconus.

In a meeting with Lavinia, a conniving member of the Council of Eagles, Walder unwisely agreed to to accept a large loan from the COE to fund a healing center for the casualties of the front lines of the blight conflict.

The 4th assassination attempt on the Dark Fist, from within his own guild, nearly met its mark. It came in the form of a deadly-sized dose of cathoid caking his entire face in his sleep, intended to make his death look like an overdose. Zarconus, who came to visit his chambers that moment, and had been increasingly concerned about Walder's hopeless addiction to the substance, took action to bring him to Sinis Oebir for rehabilitation. What ensued was a bloody brawl between the drug-crazed miscreant and his ruthlessly determined friend. Walder was bested and slept off his oblivious state in a cell.

Delivered in a shock of magic, the blight warriors attack in great numbers accosting the city. Avari and Zarconus front the defense on the street of the Fire Holm District. Zarconus calls the light of the dragon in a brilliant burst, incinerating the intruders. His dragonmark grows.

Cowritten by Benjie Watterson

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Zarconus and the Stickarein Blade

Zarconus received the Robes of the Enclave Masters upon his return to the Raven Dragon Cathedral at the end of 1103. Leading the Paladins of the City against much unrest, the Dark Knight aligns himself with the Justiciars of the City and becomes a preeminent and popular character in the stories told City folk.

The Fall of Maradin, City of the Star Bloom

click to enlarge map.

Thraytin, home of the Deep River Elves, ruled by a cruel and warring eladrin spirit called Epheliun.

Maralin, ancient springs well up through trees that grow from ancient Khepathian ruins. The City of the Star Bloom elves had aligned with the People's army of Gavin Wel in the Civil War that had ended with the opening of the Shadow Road. Thraytin and Maralin continue to war. Epheliun will have the death of Maralin.

After a creature called the Woodcloaker destroys Isa Omlor in a the first act of war in what will be called the Season of Sorrow (Ima Nohel), Evershae, The Hive Master of the Star Bloom travels from Nekeshtom to plead assistance from the Griffon Riders and is refused.

Horned Warforged warriors known as the Vitu-Ghazir (the Dark Walkers) march on the Shadow swamps destroying the terraced farming architecture of the south county elves. this act ignites long battle campaigns between infantry and warwizards from both cities.

Matron Ryal of Maradin, a shaman, hides the seeds of Everet in the Cellar of Amo. The seeds are said to be tears of Bahamut.

Human riders from Felledeign, Lead by Harod, defend the Road of the the Dead Grove from Northward vengeance in a misguided attempt at peacekeeping. This intervention spells doom for the communities of Fel Karo and Asir Amo: two Star Bloom towns nearly destroyed by the long demon inspired blades of the Deep River soldiers.

Epheliun has his conquest and accepts the unconditional surrender of Matron Ryal and Maralin after "Cenji's Enlistment" when 100 male Star Bloom elves are routed by the Deep River elite. Ani Kai comes to Maradin with Epheliun and a sovereign nation is petioned to the COE via sending magic. A martial law and false armistace is established.